Preview of 2.0 in Starcraft II

Everyone jumps on to crush the Zerg, to slaughter Ogre-Magi, and to hold off the hordes of Undead.  You've probably also logged on to mete out justice against Diablo and Baal. 

Everyone jumps on to crush the Zerg, to slaughter Ogre-Magi, and to hold off the hordes of Undead.  You've probably also logged on to mete out justice against Diablo and Baal.  Yet, all of these years have passed and that all too familiar has changed very little.  All of the games have been able to interact with each other, but alas your time of talking with your friends playing the latest games while you're still playing Warcraft II is at its end.  The new 2.0 has completely revamped how you join games, look for friends, and even name yourself!  Brace yourself for a whole new way of how you play Blizzard games online!
The Account and Identifier

The basic multiplayer menu for the new 2.0 in Starcraft II.

The first thing you'll do when you log into the new system is note the account name is now different.  Where as before you might have gone by a moniker such as OWNAGE1337, now it's an email address.  The very same email address that you use to manage your account will be used to log into the game.  This makes guarding your account information more important than ever, and if you have an Authenticator, it is enabled and required every time you log in.  You'll then create a persona for yourself using the following format :
Nickname.Identifier, an example would be Bond.JamesBond
You're probably thinking what the heck this is good for?  This enables multiple people to have the same name, so now you can see 7 or 8 players in a game with the nickname Goku.  The secondary part is what makes you a unique little snowflake, and that identifier is key for people to look you up and not get someone else.  You need both aspects of the name to add someone to your friends list or look up someone's profile.
The Friends List
This is the one system that desperately needed help.  Resembling something from Steam, the friends list of 2.0 can be pulled up at any time and can notify you of people logging in or logging out.  There are now two types of friends.  One of course, is the general Starcraft II friend.  All you need is a Nickname and Identifier and you can add that punk that just whipped you and ask for a rematch.  The second is the Real ID friend.  This requires you to also know the person's email address, but provides you with more information on the player, their actual name (You know them already, right?), and you can rename them with tags to note what games they're playing at the moment, their race, or anything else of interest.  A simple right click of any friend enables you to invite them to a party!
No, you're not running any instances.  Parties in the new are a group of friends that can join and create games together.  No longer do you have to struggle to get in the same custom game of DoTA or the like before the game is full.  You can even create a game as private, set up your teams and settings with all of your friends, and then open up the game to the public custom game list.  Of course, you can also queue up for arranged teams of up to 4v4 of the actual game, or create custom games for the all-too-important grudge match between buddies!
The League System
Note that when you start an account, that's it.  There are no more name creations, which means everyone you play against will be that person, and not a smurf, or an account created just to bash newbies around.  Now that you know you're playing for keeps, your first login to multiplayer will provide you with 3 options-- Novice, Experienced, and Expert.  The first option will give you 5 'introduction' placement matches against players on maps that are nigh impossible to rush well on, giving you some time to get accustomed to the game.  After those 5 matches are over, the actual placement of 5 matches takes place and that's what you'll do on the other two settings.   

The qualifiers will be against a variety of opponents, with at least one being of Gold or Platinum skill level to see if you can hold your own.  These matches are not just won based on win or loss, they are also based on your statistics such as speed (Actions Per Minute), resource collection and use, and more.  The formula isn't known for sure, but if even if you win all 5 placement matches, you are not guaranteed a place in the highest league.  Also, don't think about throwing your placement matches.  The game can and will move you between leagues if you are outperforming everyone in your current league, and will also do the same if you are, well, getting rocked.  Over time you'll find your ideal league, and be placed against players that will give you a run for your money most of the time.  This will go very far to help split players up into skill levels, and ensure everyone has a good time playing the game.
It can take some getting used to, but once you realize that there's more to the commands of the new than /friend soandso, or /w Stow "where the hell are you", you'll realize that this isn't just one big step for Starcraft II, it's one giant leap for Blizzard's gaming community as a whole!

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