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Prepare for BlizzCon 2014 by joining a Hearthstone or StarCraft II fantasy league

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Prepare for BlizzCon 2014 by joining a Hearthstone or StarCraft II fantasy league

BlizzCon 2014 is close, kicking off on November 7th, and to celebrate the big fan event, Blizzard and ESL have teamed up to create the BlizzCon ESL Fantasy League for StarCraft II and Hearthstone. 

While Hearthstone and StarCraft pros will be duking it out at BlizzCon, you can relax at home, on the sofa, and set up your own fantasy team. If you make the right picks, you might end up winning some prizes, too. You won’t be showered in gold, but you will be able to win a plushie. The latter hurts less when it lands on you.

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Buy a BlizzCon 2014 virtual ticket for loot in WoW, Diablo III, StarCraft II and Hearthstone

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Buy a BlizzCon 2014 virtual ticket for loot in WoW, Diablo III, StarCraft II and Hearthstone

Between the StarCraft WCS, Hearthstone world finals and inevitable announcements of the opening ceremony, some would say that watching the BlizzCon stream is its own reward. But Blizzard wouldn’t be among that number: they’re determined to bribe you with trinkets and treats for every one of their five undying PC games.

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The 20 Best Strategy Games On PC

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The 20 Best Strategy Games On PC

Update 01/09/2014: It’s been over a year since our lovely chum Joe put together this list, so we’ve decided to take a second look, make some changes and expand it from 15 to 20. And where before we listed a few series, we’ve now plucked out the best of the bunch.

Here are the 15 best strategy games that I think you should all play right now.

Every game has strategy, and as a genre “strategy" can mean a lot of different things. Turn-based, or real-time? “Grand" strategy, or tactics? A great strategy game isn’t necessarily one with good graphics, or a wide unit variety, but it’ll have excellent core mechanics, and ultimately it’ll make you think. 

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Last chance to make the finals: Red Bull Battle Grounds Detroit has begun

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Last chance to make the finals: Red Bull Battle Grounds Detroit has begun

Red Bull Battle Grounds Detroit kicks off today after last month’s event in Atlanta. Once again, 128 StarCraft II players will send their forces against each other in hopes of making it to the final in Washington DC this September. 

Seven players have already secured their slots from the previous Battle Grounds, including last month’s Atlanta winner, Choi “Bomber" Ji Sung. You can watch this weekend’s fights below.

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A StarCraft classic for a new Proleague era

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A StarCraft classic for a new Proleague era

On Saturday night in Korea, the StarCraft Proleague season came to an end with an all-time classic matchup. Not between individual players, but between two of the biggest names in Korean eSports: SK Telecom and KT Rolster. It was yet another duel between the McLaren and Ferrari of Korean eSports, a battle between the two teams with the proudest histories and most famous stars.

It was the kind of battle that Proleague fans live for, and an ideal ending to what’s turned out to be a terrific season. What’s most remarkable about this finale, however, is that it happened at all. Because just over a year ago, it was an open question as to whether Proleague actually had a future.

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Blizzard restore the StarCraft II widow mine to former glory in balance test

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Blizzard restore the StarCraft II widow mine to former glory in balance test

Blizzard have just last night published a new version of StarCraft II’s balance test map to the great PC strategy game's Custom Games list. Catchily titled ‘(2)OvergrowthLE (2.1.3 Balance v1.1)’, it’s seen tentative changes to one unit that’s made its mark on the competitive game since Heart of the Swarm - the Terran widow mine.

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Spend the weekend watching Red Bull Battle Grounds Atlanta right here

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Spend the weekend watching Red Bull Battle Grounds Atlanta right here

Red Bull Battle Grounds is in Atlanta for the weekend, seeing competitors duke it out over three days in StarCraft 2. The victor gets a spot in the Battle Grounds Grand Finals in Washington DC this September. 

A whopping 128 players will be whittled down to one across the three day event. It’s a diverse bunch of players, too, as it was an open registration format, welcoming old pros and new competitors alike. Take a gander below to watch the stream, and come back each day for more StarCraft 2 battles. 

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Ban rush: how Blizzard tackle cheats in StarCraft II

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Ban rush: how Blizzard tackle cheats in StarCraft II

Blizzard aren’t really interested in catching StarCraft II cheats - not really. Ultimately, they’d rather deter them, stop them from even trying - so that nobody has to have their match ruined before the banhammer comes down.

Consider this post, then, the Blizzard equivalent of a ‘Neighbourhood Watch’ sticker - and learn something about the anti-cheat measures in one of the best PC strategy games in the process.

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StarCraft II launcher to be absorbed by Battle.net desktop app in the next few weeks

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StarCraft II launcher to be absorbed by Battle.net desktop app in the next few weeks

Like a hiveminded horde or undying demon in one of its videogames, Battle.net wants only to consume everything. Once StarCraft II’s various launchers have been subsumed by the Blizzard desktop app, every one of the company’s games will be collected in one place for the first time.

StarCraft II players can upgrade now - or be forced to adjust once a mandatory update arrives in the coming weeks.

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Back to terra with a thump: Blizzard sue "insidious and harmful" StarCraft 2 cheat devs

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Back to terra with a thump: Blizzard sue "insidious and harmful" StarCraft 2 cheat devs

Blizzard make a point of fortifying all of their games on battle.net, keeping them online even when they don’t necessarily need to be. That seems to make life tricky for would-be hackers, who for the most part are kept at bay by the developer’s server walls.

It turns out they’re the lucky ones. The hackers that do slip through, who manage to sell software that throws the competitive founding of games like StarCraft 2 into disarray - they’re the ones Blizzard take to court.

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Blizzard's sorting out your friends list in the latest Starcraft 2 patch

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Blizzard's sorting out your friends list in the latest Starcraft 2 patch

Awww yiss: "New chat tabs should no longer appear when continuing a conversation with a player who has logged in and out of multiple games."

Not every Starcraft 2 patch can be thrilling, but if your friends list was looking a little scrappy last week, this week's 2.1.2 update will see to it that your buddies will arrange themselves appropriately from now on. It's a bug fix special!

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There's no rush: Blizzard test tentative Zerg balance tweaks for StarCraft II

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There's no rush: Blizzard test tentative Zerg balance tweaks for StarCraft II

Oversized insects were heard joyously clattering their mandibles together last night, as Hydralisks had their anti-air capabilities upgraded. As the other bugs partied, however, the organic turrets remained inconsolable at their stations. The Spore Crawlers had no legs to dance with, for one thing, and had lost a portion of their own power to boot.

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"It's not easy being queen": StarCraft 2's Kerrigan trailered for Heroes of the Storm

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"It's not easy being queen": StarCraft 2's Kerrigan trailered for Heroes of the Storm

Kerrigan is the perfect candidate for the game formerly known as Blizzard All-Stars. A major presence in all four StarCraft releases to date and subject of numerous tie-in novels, she’s as much coated in lore as she is spindly insect bits. 

Consequently her every word is now fan service - a fact Blizzard seem to have begun to recognise. Hence the very silly introductory reference here to that other great Ker - Kermit the Frog.

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Pull up a chair by the hearth: Battle.net desktop app now supports chat with friends

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Pull up a chair by the hearth: Battle.net desktop app now supports chat with friends

Hearthstone with Friends has been a slightly complicated process since launch - more often than not involving an external meet-up via Skype, followed by an exchanging of numerical game IDs from a main menu determined not to minimise under any circumstances.

That’s to change - and in WoW, and Diablo, and StarCraft - with the introduction of direct chat to the battle.net desktop app.

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Lone Star Clash 3 wafts $35,000 prize pool for StarCraft 2 and League of Legends invitationals

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Lone Star Clash 3 wafts $35,000 prize pool for StarCraft 2 and League of Legends invitationals

Lone Star Clash is a deeply Texan gaming event - one which crowns its winners with cowboy hats and fills its quiet moments with chicken wing eating contests.

Started up in 2011 by a group of Austin students, the Clash has since become known for its decidedly non-amateur production values and prize pool. This summer, it promises a piece of $35,000 for top players in League of Legends and StarCraft 2 - including first invitee Choi 'Polt' Hun.

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UNPRECEDENTED APRIL NEWS BLOWOUT: Blizzard Outcasts, Arma 3 Karts and World of Tanks: Crayfish announced

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UNPRECEDENTED APRIL NEWS BLOWOUT: Blizzard Outcasts, Arma 3 Karts and World of Tanks: Crayfish announced

What a relief! To begin a Bank Holiday Monday and be met not by a wave of snoozy out-of-office emails, but an unexpected plethora of games announcements - it's unheard of. Suspicious, almost. During what scientists predict will be a 24 hour coincidence spike, developers from around the world have chosen today to launch shock new games or declare company u-turns. I’m extraordinarily grateful.

There are really too many happenings to separate out into individual news posts, so I’ve dutifully collected them all here.

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DDOS attacks disrupt European servers for Diablo III, World of Warcraft, StarCraft II and Hearthstone

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DDOS attacks disrupt European servers for Diablo III, World of Warcraft, StarCraft II and Hearthstone

Somebody told me yesterday that April Fools' Day is for people with no sense of humour; that its jokes leave only the teller laughing, and are therefore the opposite of comedy. I’m still not convinced, but a morning of DDOS batterings certainly makes the argument persuasive.

A series of attacks against certain European online services have triggered a wave of disconnections and latency issues across Blizzard’s four pillars of connected PC gaming - Diablo III, World of Warcraft, StarCraft II and Hearthstone.

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Starcraft 2 senior game designer not comfortable with making big changes

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Starcraft 2 senior game designer not comfortable with making big changes

Starcraft 2’s senior game designers David Kim just finished up a Reddit AMA on Heart of the Swarm balance. 

He managed to answer a lot of questions, and covered a lot of ground. But for anyone hoping that the team will start making bigger updates or big changes when the new expansions drops will be disappointed. 

The point reiterated the most during the AMA was that Blizzard’s Starcraft 2 team are unlikely to ever change their minds about the effectiveness of large changes. And Kim seems quite risk averse, unwilling to make a change unless it’s “completely awesome."

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