At BlizzCon 2010, I was particularly impressed by the Blizzard-made custom games for StarCraft II. Honestly, I didn’t really think that Aiur Chef, StarJeweled and Left 2 Die would ever really see the light of day – but the terrible three have just been launched on Battle.net for beta testing.
All you need to do is fire up StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, head to the Multiplayer tab and look for the “Custom Games” window. Pick the one you want, select the level of difficulty that suits you, and off you go!
Mode: Free For All
Players: Up to 8
Each round of Aiur Chef features a theme ingredient and three succulent recipes that play upon its unique flavor. Before you can master these themed dishes, though, you’ll first need to scout across the map and collect a variety of tasty ingredients (including the theme ingredient). Each recipe has its own set of required ingredients, listed in the recipe menu in the upper-left of your screen, which can be picked up off the ground or acquired by killing specific creatures. Don’t get too greedy when loading up on ingredients, though — inventory space is limited, so you’ll want to focus on collecting ingredients for one recipe at a time.
Once you’ve collected the proper ingredients, you’ll need to return to the kitchen in the center of the map and use the Beacon to prepare your dish. Each dish created using the theme ingredient will award you points based on the complexity of the recipe. Some dishes even award special one-time use abilities like Hearthstove, which allows you to quickly port back to the Beacon, and Decoy, which places a fake theme ingredient on the ground for other players to scavenge. Take advantage of these abilities whenever possible, as they could provide the competitive edge you need to outcook your opponents.
The player with the most points at the end of three rounds will be named Executor Chef, culinary guru of the entire Koprulu Sector. With such a prestigious title on the line, expect some fierce competition… and get those psi blades ready!
Mode: Solo vs. A.I., Co-op vs. A.I., Player vs. Player
Players: Up to 4 (1v1, 1v1 A.I., 1v2 A.I., 1v2, 2v2, 2v2 A.I., etc.)
StarJeweled focuses on matching groups of jewels according to color and strategically selecting StarCraft II units to overcome an opponent’s forces and destroy their base. StarJeweled can be played several ways, including cooperatively against the A.I. or competitively against other players.
Each successfully matched jewel combination provides a burst of energy; the larger the jewel combo, the bigger the energy burst. This energy can be spent to train a variety of StarCraft II units, including zealots, banshees, and ultralisks, which will help you eliminate your opponent’s defenses. You can also use energy to cast spells that heal friendly targets and do damage to enemy units. To activate a unit or spell once you’ve gained enough energy, simply click on the corresponding icon located beneath the jewel board.
Since the goal of StarJeweled is to destroy your opponent’s base while protecting your own, you’ll want to choose which units you purchase carefully. StarJeweled is not just about matching as many jewels as possible, but also managing your energy efficiently and understanding how the units in the game counter each other. If you’re unfamiliar with all the units’ strengths and weaknesses, each unit’s tooltip (which you’ll see by hovering over its icon) includes a list of what it’s strong against and what it’s weak against. Use this knowledge to use your advantage, and pay attention to what units your opponent is building.
A game of StarJeweled consists of five rounds. Each round will continue until one player’s or team’s base is destroyed. Take out your opponent’s base in three out of the five rounds and you win!
Left 2 Die
Category: Survival and Siege
Mode: Co-op, Night 2 Die
Players: Up to 2
[img_big]center,2,2011-01-26/Left2Die-0XIAG9M295NM1295400661832.jpg,Left 2 Die[/img_big]
Left 2 Die is a cooperative take on the StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty campaign mission Outbreak that shifts between two phases: a night phase and a day phase.
At night, you and a teammate are tasked with protecting your base against waves of infested terrans. In order to survive, you’ll need to use defensive structures like bunkers and coordinate your defenses against the invading zerg armies. You’ll also want to watch out for special zerg units such as the Kaboomer and Stank that can perform unique and powerful abilities capable of overwhelming even the strongest front lines.
During the day, the attacks on your team’s base will cease, giving you and your teammate time to train additional units and take them out to destroy infested terran settlements scattered across the map. It’s also a good idea to continue building up defenses during the daytime so you can survive the merciless onslaught of zerg that swarm your base at night.
While the struggle to survive in Left 2 Die can be daunting, you and your teammate will have some help along the way. You can earn zerg Biomass by killing special zerg units and destroying infested buildings, and then use the collected Biomass at the Science Facility in your base to research new units and structures like medics, firebats, and perdition turrets. Both you and your teammate will receive these upgrades, which will aid you in your struggle against the zerg strain.
In order to achieve victory in Left 2 Die, you’ll need to eradicate all traces of the zerg virus. Work together to survive at night, assault and rebuild during the day, and use Biomass wisely for epic upgrades to win!
Night 2 Die: If you’re looking for a different kind of challenge, be sure to try out Left 2 Die’s Night 2 Die mode, essentially a “survival” mode in which infested structures are invulnerable and daybreak never comes. You’ll have to fend off wave after wave of the infested, with each wave becoming increasingly more powerful. While defeat is inevitable, the challenge comes in seeing how long you can endure in the dark.
All three games are now up and playable now! If you do get a chance to play them, Blizzard would like your feedback. Let them know your thoughts on Aiur Chef, StarJeweled and Left 2 Die – they’re particularly interested in any bug reports or other feedback you might have.
The more eagle-eyed among you will recognise that there were four custom games that were playable at BlizzCon, but only three of them have now launched. Never fear, the amazing Blizzard DOTA is still being worked on – it’s just taking a little longer than these initial games. The team at Blizzard are still putting the finishing touches on it and we can expect to play it when it’s done.