Fear the Reaperman



May 4, 2013

My fellow Terrans, sunny and glorious was the day that Eurogamer allowed me to write about the greatest race in strategy gaming history. Finally, I can tell it like it is. The release of Heart of the Swarm has put Starcraft 2 in a very happy place. In short, it's a hit with both players and pros, and also manages to be an even more exciting spectacle than Wings of Liberty. Blizzard's ever-evolving design for the game is fascinating to watch, and one of the key changes in HotS - from the perspective of the galaxy's greatest race, anyway - brought an end to the Reaper's long and lonely journey.

The Reaper is one of the most altered units in Starcraft 2's history. This means that, for much of its life in a competitive game, it was a failing design. The changes were legion and, in looking at how they affected Starcraft 2, this dinky jet-packed psycopath shows a wider arc. At different times it's been over-designed, stripped-back, buffed, nerfed, while being given strange powers along the way.

The first thing to emphasise is what a big deal it is for a game like Starcraft 2 to have a bad unit. It just wouldn't matter in other strategy games - no-one would use it, and that would be the end. Starcraft 2 is different because it is the gold standard for eSports, which is to say competitive gaming, and built from a limited number of pieces - each race has about 15 units.

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