One of the many panels featured at this weekend's BlizzCon celebration -- "StarCraft II: Secrets of the Masters" -- offered up a ton of new information on the game's extensive matchmaking, ladder and league systems, as well as a number of pro tips guaranteed to improve your game. But first, some things you might not know about the StarCraft II matchmaking system…
The team at Blizzard has crafted an adaptive matchmaking mechanic to secretly run everything behind the scenes. This constantly learning, ever-adjusting system is keeping continual track of your wins and losses while judging them against the relative difficulty of the matches in which you play. Your overall value as a player isn't simply determined by your win/loss ratio, but by the system's assessment of your overall performance, meaning that a handful of wins against easier opponents or less challenging scenarios are ultimately worth less than one hard-fought victory against well-matched foes. Additionally, your performance and stats are tracked separately for each mode you play, so if you're dipping your toe in some new game mode and are being oddly matched in PvP or co-op, it's largely because the game doesn't assume your same level of skill from gametype to gametype.
With regard to the various leagues, they're divided evenly with 20% of the total population assigned to one of five existing leagues. The system is set to be conservative when considering whether to promote you, but gamers shouldn't be concerned that their matches will suddenly get 20% harder once they've finally been promoted. Blizzard wants a smoothly scaling increase in difficulty as you increase in skill. Lastly, your system ranking will ultimately be persistent from season to season -- though they will wipe your last-season win/loss record -- so you'll never lose the sum total of your progress in the matchmaking system.
Then the folks at Blizzard revealed a handful of upcoming changes to the user interface including new graphics that'll visually display your standing and progress within your league, a revamped details page for more engaging stat tracking, and the reveal of not one, but TWO, new leagues. The Master League will consist of the top 1-2% of players in the region, while the Grand Master League -- the very best of the very best -- will feature the top 200 players in a region.
The last major reveal of the afternoon was the announcement that a Featured Replay system is on its way to StarCraft II, offering extensive replays of select competitive matches. Players will be able to command the camera, track resource management, study the strategies and pause/rewind/advance the chosen battle. This feature is poised to hit in January or February of 2011.
Finally, the masterminds behind the microphone offered up a handful of useful stratagem to ensure your success in battle:
- Beef up and utilize your workers; don't minimize their role
- Don't horde your money; build up your army
- Scale it up! Always better to have more than less
- If you have a big army, expand everywhere; if you have a small army, group your units together
- Coordinate the number of refineries you operate with the amount of gas required by your strategy
- Factor in Rush and Air-to-Air distances when studying maps
- Don't focus on the choke points directly in front of your base; use the others in the world to whittle down enemy armies
- Use your terrain wisely -- high-ground, flanking, choke-points, etc.
- How you position your squad in a close-quarters battle can often turn a 50/50 or worse scenario to your advantage
- Force your opponent to react to your choices; command the field
- Don't under-estimate the psychological factor; you WILL lose, but you can't let it lead you into a series of losses
And with that, folks, we're heading back out onto the BlizzCon floor to bring you even more coverage from this massive event.