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The 20 best strategy games on PC

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The 20 best strategy games on PC

Update 26/11/2014: We say goodbye to Company of Heroes, and hello to Company of Heroes 2: Ardennes Assault.

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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Why pro StarCraft 2 has rejected the classic maps

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Why pro StarCraft 2 has rejected the classic maps

If you tune into any StarCraft tournament this month or next, you’ll note that everyone is playing on the same map pool we’ve had since midsummer. In fact, just last week, the DreamHack Open Twitter account reassured viewers that DreamHack winter would be decided using the Season 3 WCS map pool.

What’s striking about all this is that every single tournament organizer has rejected Blizzard’s Season 4 ladder map pool, which was compiled via fan vote from a list of StarCraft 2’s oldest and best-known competitive maps. While fans might wax nostalgic about the days of Daybreak and Ohana, the pro scene seems to be saying that the past is best left to memory.

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David Kim and the impossible balancing act of StarCraft 2: Legacy of the Void

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David Kim and the impossible balancing act of StarCraft 2: Legacy of the Void

Blizzard designer David Kim is “the balance guy" for StarCraft 2. His name is at once a curse and an incantation, the Godot of StarCraft. If something is broken — and something always is — it is Kim’s fault. But Kim will fix it. Kim will make it worse.

It’s easy to parody Kim. His role is one of inherent conservatism. He’s constantly dealing with the physics of avalanches. His goal is to try and ensure that each race can beat every other race roughly 50% of the time, all other things being equal. But then he must also look at how those games are being won and lost, and ask whether StarCraft remains an entertaining and rewarding game to play and watch.

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Radical changes for WCS StarCraft in 2015 — the full rundown

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Radical changes for WCS StarCraft in 2015 — the full rundown

Speaking of StarCraft’s Global Finals, Blizzard have just announced some fairly comprehensive changes to the way the WCS is going to work in 2015. Gone are WCS Europe and America and in their place is a single league for non-Korean players. Meanwhile, Korea is rolling out a brand new individual league alongside the storied GSL.

But as with any and every change to competitive StarCraft, the real question is whether these changes reflect a dying game and community, or the dawn of an exciting new era for the venerable RTS? The answer, of course, is yes.

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WCS StarCraft 2 Global Finals round of 16 starting now

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WCS StarCraft 2 Global Finals round of 16 starting now

StarCraft’s 2014 WCS series is in its closing stages, and the Global Finals are kicking off right now as the sixteen top-ranked players in the world compete for a $100,000 grand prize. Today’s round of 16 is just getting under way, and features some absolutely fantastic matchups. Those who survive today’s best-of-five matches will move on to the quarterfinals at BlizzCon next weekend.

It’s a very long day of StarCraft, however, and not everyone will want to buckle in for 12 hours of play. So here are the must-see matches of the round of 16.

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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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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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