Before I start on my holiday blogging break (cause nobody reads this thing over Christmas anyhow), I have a bit more rambling on StarCraft to do, plus a rant on digital holidays.
Last week saw the addition of another playable commander to StarCraft II’s co-op scene in the form of Admiral Alexei Stukov, otherwise known as the only good thing to come out of Brood War.
Stukov is an unusual Zerg commander who leads an army of infested Terrans, combining elements from both races.
I was a little on the fence about buying Stukov, but then I saw the previews for his “apocalisk” cooldown: a giant cyborg ultralisk with flamethrowers and rocket-launchers strapped to its back.
Yeah that’s worth $5.
Stukov is, in a word, weird. Along with Nova and Karax, he’s another commander who’s so unusual it’s like playing an entirely different game.
Many of Stukov’s core units are only temporary, lasting about a minute on average, but they’re free or cheap to make and can be produced in vast numbers. He does get a few permanent units, but they’re very expensive and not terribly strong all things considered. I’ve had some luck with mass diamondback, but that’s about it.
Like a lot of people, I thought he was very weak initially, but as I’ve grown accustomed to his playstyle, I don’t think he’s bad so much as strange and awkward. It’s like fighting with one hand tied behind your back, but the other hand has a chainsaw.
He does struggle in the early game, but once you’ve got your economy up and running and have upgraded your infested colonist compound a few times, the endless flood of zombies will eventually wear down virtually any obstacle through sheer attrition. Back them up with a small force of diamondbacks and infested bunkers and you’re good to go.
He’s definitely not going to be my favourite commander anytime soon, but there is a certain satisfaction to unleashing the zombie apocalypse on your enemy and overwhelming Amon with literally thousands of disposable units.
For all that he’s ostensibly meant to be a hybrid of Zerg and Terran mechanics, Stukov is probably the most fundamentally Zerg commander in the game. His units suck, but you simply choke your enemy to death with the sheer number of them. It doesn’t matter that his units are weak individually because you’re sending hundreds at a time.
My biggest complaint at this point would be that he has so few strategic options. Infested spam seems to pretty much always be the way to go. Mass diamondback can work, but it’s expensive, and it’s hard to recover if you suffer any significant losses. They’re also worthless versus heroic air units.
He’s also unusually lacking in polish for something Blizzard puts out. He has a lot of bugs, reused assets, and quality of life issues. Having to constantly spam the button to spawn infested marines gets really old, really fast. Why can’t we just spawn them in batches?
Nova guide and holiday article:
Also on the subject of co-op, I’ve now published a detailed guide to playing Nova in co-op over at MMO Bro. If you’ve been unsure how to best wield the power of this legendary operative, this will help you master her abilities.
Also at MMO Bro, I’ve written an article on why MMO holidays suck and how to fix them. I don’t know about you, but I’m almost always underwhelmed by the holiday events found in most games.