Monday, February 28, 2011

"goddamn it day9"

This made my day.

I was rolling over a fellow Terran player on Xel'naga Caverns with a banshee-hellion mix.  As I was mopping up the match he expresses his true feelings for Day[9] in chat.  "goddamn it day9 [...] He is alwas changing my metagame [sic]".

I had to smile and let him know that I love Day[9].  This was especially amusing to me, since Day[9] often comments during Funday Mondays that he messes up the ladders.  Apparently Nuke agrees.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Rushed! Silver League TvZ

As of the writing of this post I'm placed Rank 32 of the 1v1 Silver League Division Adun Iota.  My game history is 86 wins to 73 wins.

After finding the Day[9] Daily I rapidly climbed out of the bronze leagues, and continued to rise through my current silver league division.  The only thing holding me back at this point is how much I actually get to play SC2.  As an undergraduate in chemistry, I've only been able to squeeze in a game or three every other day for the past few weeks.

Today is one of those every other days.  I'll be taking this opportunity to dissect a Terran vs. Zerg on Scrap Station I just played.  You can find the replay at the following link:

In this game I approach Terran vs. Zerg as I usually do.  I scout for any hints of early zergling rushes, and then try to determine if the opening will be zergling-baneling or roaches.

The zerg player decided to go 6 pool on a whim, canceling the first drone he had started to save for the spawning pool.  The pool goes down at 0:46 and finishes 1:51.  This tells me something about zerg timing that I had never investigated.  I can start to expect zerglings only as early as 2 minutes or later.  Since Scrap Station has a very long run distance between the bases, it took a bit more time for the zerglings to appear in my base than it might on a smaller map.

Fortunately I scouted the pool and was able to spot the very first zerglings leaving his base for mine.  At that point I began building a bunker to house the single marine I had.  The placement of the bunker could have been better, but it wasn't awful.  Naturally the zerglings skirted around the bunker to harass the mineral line.  A very good way to deny access to my mineral line all together would have been to place my buildings tightly as a block around the line.

During all of this, a very usual problem emerged.  Focusing on microing to deflect the zerglings was causing me to neglect my macro.  I reached 600+ minerals, had an idle barracks and refinery, and hit a supply block at 19/19.  This issue recurs again and again during the match.  I focus on micro to the detriment of my macro.  This is something that is going to improve by simple repetition and conditioning.  If I'm focused on micro, I need to have the thought "macro" and then tap through my production hotkeys and check my supply.  Ideally I'll arrive at a point where I'm always tapping.

I have to say, Hellions with Infernal Pre-Igniter are so awesome.  They were wonderfully effective against the few zerglings remaining around the map.  However, the zerg player transitioned into roach-hydra, so they became somewhat irrelevant.  In retrospect, I should've taken a medivac and dropped them into his mineral line.  This is a favorite tactic I use in TvT, and having made the investment, I could have easily made it happen in this match.  I think the lesson here is to use what you have.

More macro issues cropped up in the mid-to-late game.  I had a command center idling waiting to expand, was supply-blocked continuously, and my minerals were very high.  There was a large difference in my mineral to gas ratio, over 5 to 1.  This was likely due to building tanks and banshees, while producing marines off of only two barracks.  Consistent macro might have kept the money down, but I can't really say.

Again, building placement played an important role when the zerg player burrowed roaches through into my mineral line.  At one point I had lowered a line of supply depots in my base to let tanks through.  Had these been up, the roaches would've had a harder time getting in.  That said, the major blunder came in the form of a single hellion.  While I reacted very quickly to the roaches, a choke between my barracks and command center was blocked by a single hellion, content to spew blew flame toward the roaches at extreme range.  Meanwhile the mass of marines and tanks I had were blocked behind the hellion, something which I was ignorant too at the time.

A very similar issue occurred while I was containing the zerg player's main with banshees, marines, hellions, and tanks.  The hellions were caught behind the mass of marines, unable to do much of anything.  That said, baiting the uncontrolled hydralisks back into my siege tanks was very effective and could bear repeating in future games.

Overall this was a poorly played game on both of our parts.  However, I found it enjoyable and challenging.  I'm certainly glad that I didn't resign in the earlier stages of the game during the zergling rush.

In summary:

Areas of Poor Play, Needs Improvement
Need to tap, keep an eye on supply
When microing, macro!
Trust-funds are bad
Bind all orbital commands to 1
Against zerg, build to block your mineral line

Areas of Good Play, Keep It Up
Scouting will save your ass -- scouting with the idle barracks was cheap and effective
Baiting the AI of units into danger is awesome

Important Discoveries
Spawning pools complete at ~1:50 at the earliest

Anyway, if someone reads this, I hope it helps you in some way.

Take it easy.

Hello World

I played Starcraft religiously as a kid, completely ignorant to the progaming scene.  I mostly played the campaign with cheats enabled and against my brother, only ever using to enjoy Use Map Settings games.

With the release of the SC2 Beta, I took a stab at playing competitively, reaching Gold League in 2v2 with my brother.  After hitting a skill plateau and being steam-rolled game after game, I was frustrated and so I decided I wouldn't buy SC2 with the closing of the beta.

Recently I've returned to SC2 to try my hand at 1v1.  While I was decent enough to achieve Gold League during the beta, looking back it's clear that I had no sense of macro and relied entirely on rushes, hard counters, and stiffly mimicking replays of highly skilled players.

With the help of Day[9]'s Day[9] Daily, I've begun to develop macro skills I had always struggled with, namely constantly producing workers and units.  I had always been able to micro fairly adequately, but when it came time to multitask between combat and production, my production always went neglected.

One thing that surprised me with my return was how savvy the average low-league player has become.  During the beta, achieving Gold League was effortless.  In the beta, the Copper League player was struggling to control their chosen race with passable intelligence.  However, these days it seems that the low-league player is much more competent in terms of of unit and map control, and economy. 

I'm both impressed and pleased to see the bar set higher.  Enjoying the game is much more than just winning.  It's recognizing and then growing to meet the skill of your opponent.  A hard-won victory is far more satisfying and there's an element of respect cultivated between two players playing at 100%.  I really think it's a sign of the health of the Starcraft community and e-sports that so many people are capable and willing to pour their souls into becoming better players.  It says to me that we all see SC2 as an experience so engaging and enjoyable that it's worth our devotion.

All that said, I look forward to growing as a player, highlighting my failures and successes, and really just enjoying SC2.  It's more than a game, I think.  It's really about the experience of self-development and the trials we put to each other with each match up.

Take it easy.