Kerrigan is back and this time players get to guide her on her quest to remove Mengsk from power. I’ve looked forward to this game as the Zerg are my race of choice in the StarCraft universe, and Blizzard did not disappoint me with Heart of the Swarm. Adding to this fun was my opportunity to review the Heart of the Swarm strategy guide from BradyGames.
As all good guides do, this one starts out with some basics on game mechanics. I’ll just assume most everyone knows how StarCraft 2 plays at this point, but if you don’t, take a few minutes to acquaint yourself with this section. Veterans should skim over it as it does provide info on the changes between Wings of Liberty and Heart of the Swarm; however, the bulk of text here is fundamental base management, resource gathering, and combat tips.
Blizzard did make the single-player campaign a bit easier, so I found myself only hitting this portion of the guide when I was trying to complete a few side objectives. For example, I would hunt down the tips and maps on where certain items were scattered about a map so I could quickly snag them before a timer expired or I drove the computer to an early grave. The players who want to tackle the harder difficulties will find some solid nuggets of advice that will make dominating harder opponents that much easier. At the end, we find the evolution of the swarm along with some thoughtful reasons why a player may choose one mutation over another. Also, let’s not forget how nice it is to have maps that clearly show where that third base can go and where the enemy might be hiding! While I may not have relied on this portion too heavily, when I came here for advice, it delivered while it held my hand and gave me that achievement I lusted for.
From here, we move into the multiplayer area where I am still spending a whole lot of time. Not only does BradyGames provide a solid foundation for players to start their ladder climb with, but also there is some rocking advice for those that want to make their way from bronze to masters leagues. Everything from base management to military and economy receive plenty of attention and detail. I found myself relying heavily on the Tech Tree while I honed my skills as a Zerg player, but also to use this info to know what my opponents might be doing and how to effectively counter them. What really took my game to the next level was watching profession level players while studying the units, maps, and tips that fill these pages. Yup, I’m rocking some bronze level players, and I don’t even play that seriously. Thank you, BradyGames!
While I am still using the guide as if I were cramming for a final exam, there is one thing that hinders it, and all strategy books for that matter. This does a fine job of giving players a good foundation for both destroying the single-player campaign and some legs to stand on as they try to climb the competitive scene. What print cannot do is change as patches, or even the meta of the game, ebbs and flows from month to month. Don’t get me wrong; everyone should know their tech trees, basics of economy management, and units, but as players introduce new strategies while changing existing ones, the book cannot stay current. This is just the nature of the beast.
At the end of the day, I love this strategy guide. Just short of the Dark Souls strategy guide, I find that this is one of the most useful books to grace my desk in recent months. I should also mention that I am reviewing the collector’s edition, so it looks really sexy next to my Wings of Liberty guide and I have to keep fighting my wife away from the paper craft toys that came with the guide. While I would have loved an art section, BradyGames did a magnificent job with the page layouts, and bringing the Zerg aesthesis to the pages. Now I am super excited to see what they do for the Protoss expansion!
SGR Rating 4/5
Author: Rick Barba, Phillip Marcus
Editions Available: Hardcover
Acquired via Publisher