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10 Must-Play Maps On The Starcraft Arcade
While the recent rise in the popularity of MOBAs like DOTA 2 and League of Legends has definitely led to a shift in attention away from Blizzard’s premier RTS Starcraft 2, there are still plenty of reasons to stick with Starcraft given the new focus that the 2.1 update has given to the Arcade mode. Although the Starcraft Arcade has always hosted more than a few gems, its new free-to-play status means there’s never been a better time to convert your friends to Starcraft 2 for free with these fun arcade maps.
Raynor Party is hardly a new addition to the arcade but it’s still well worth checking out. It takes all the assets of Blizzard’s campaign and recycles them to create a new vision for the game with a Mario-Party inspired twist. There’s a ton of fun minigames to play through that appeal to both new and old players. More experienced Starcraft players have the chance to refine their micro-management skills while new players have the chance to learn those same skills.
A surprising number of board games have been remade in the Starcraft engine and now the classic party game Mafia can now be played through Starcraft. While the map doesn’t do all that much new (it’s a pretty faithful adaption) Mafia is pretty fun game in its own right and with a player base the size of Starcraft’s it’s never hard to find players to play with.
Phantom is a special form of custom map which often results in some pretty hilarious games of intrigue. Things play out like a multiplayer free-for-all with one player being designated ‘The Phantom’ and the other players are tasked with identifying and eliminating The Phantom. Where it gets interesting is that The Phantom gains a bonus to his resources and supply that is constantly growing so the longer that the game drags, the harder it is for The Phantom to hide himself and the more difficult it becomes for the other players to defeat him – it’s an absolute blast to play with friends over Skype.
Starcraft Battlefront is one of those cool maps that pushes the Starcraft 2 map editor to its limit by turning the game from a real time strategy game to a class-based third person shooter. Players can choose to play as the ground forces for either the Protoss, Zerg or Terran factions. While map diversity isn’t the map’s strength – most maps are Defense of the Ancients clones – some of the maps do have some unique quirks such as a rising tide of lava. It’s well worth giving it a try with some friends.
Star Battle takes the ground based warfare of Starcraft and moves it into space. Players can control all sorts of space based units and engage in enormous and frenetic space battles, it’s a truckload of fun and a genuinely well made mod that gives you a different taste of the Starcraft universe and is a lot of fun the more players you can get involved.
Hive Keeper attempts to bring the fun of the Bullfrog Classic Dungeon Keeper series to Starcraft. Players play as a Zerg overlord and can dig tunnels and build rooms to expand their layer and build traps to deal with pesky incursions by enemies seeking to destroy your hive. It’s a good take on a classic and the map’s not complete so it’ll be quite cool to see what other features make it into the final version.
I’ve long been a believer that Nexus Wars could very well be the next big strategy sub-genre in the same way that Defense of the Ancients has. The Starcraft-native custom map sets two teams of four players against each other. Each player builds structures that then march against the enemy; the strategy of the game comes in which units you send against the enemy – will your forces directly counter theirs or will you attempt to pick a single unit and overwhelm them with sheer numbers. Every game of Nexus Wars is a fun tug of war and I highly recommend it.
Where Starcraft Battlefront pushes the Starcraft 2 engine to its limits, Starcraft Universe: Chronicles of Fate goes well and truly beyond them. It’s set in an alternate timeline in the Starcraft universe and sets players as members of a Terran-Protoss alliance scraping by against an unstoppable Zerg and Hybrid threat. The ambitious project is still in the works but it’s aiming to build a Starcraft MMORPG with its own character classes, loot and even achievement systems. The project is so ambitious that it even ran a recent Kickstarter that outlines some of the bigger features in the pipeline – this is definitely something to keep an eye on.
While both Starcraft 2 and its cousin Warcraft 3 have a strong track record when it comes to tower defense maps, Lottery Defense is a genuinely fresh take on the genre with players earning random units through lottery tickets that are earned by killing enemy units. There are a whole bunch of external systems such as an XP, banking, unit-merging and betting system that round out the map as a rare kind of tower defense map that you genuinely want to sink some time into.
While it stands as the only official Blizzard-developed Arcade map that makes the list, Starjeweled is definitely still a gem worth checking out. As its name suggests, the map fuses the gem-matching gameplay of Bejeweled with the strategic tug of war of Starcraft. It’s a genuinely fun combination and the map also boasts a co-op and 2v2 mode that help give it some replayability.
Warships sets two teams of three players against each other with each player building, controlling and upgrading their own warship. Building and upgrading your ship is fun and having to strike a balance between the damage you take and the resources you gather is a good challenge. It’s much smaller in scale than Star Battle but still well worth checking out.