Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Starcraft 2 - Remembering What "All-In" Means

Ever try an all-in, and then think you can come back from it?  There is no better way to frustration and the desire to BM your opponent than the thought that his build is unfair because your all-in failed and you couldn't come back from it.

This situation happened to me the other day when I did a Roach/Ling all-in against a Protoss FFE and then railed at the unfairness of a 2-Stargate FFE build.  Now - if I had made Hydras, this would be much less of a problem.  However, after spending that much gas on Roaches, and cutting economy to get enough Roach/Ling produced, there's no way to truly come back from mass Void Rays - Spore Crawlers get picked off gradually, as do Queens.  The Void Rays deny anything else until you get swarmed by Gateway units (even just Zealots + Voids will kill you at this point).

What you have to remember when you choose that strategy is that if it fails, and you can't continue to push because he's hard-countered you (meaning his units will just crush yours no matter what you do), you might as well leave the game right then.

Monday, November 7, 2011

FFE and the Roach All-In

I've come across a dilemna regarding the Protoss FFE - at the time you decide to all-in, you cannot tell if they are going double Stargate (your Overlord won't be there in time).  If you try to Roach-Ling all-in the Stargate build, you will lose, because you won't have enough to stop that many Void Rays (even multiple Queens die too fast to that many Voids).  Even if you do a lot of economic damage and balance the scales, 5-6 Voids will take your base apart.  Throwing up a ton of Spores doesn't work because they can simply avoid them or pick off buildings outside your Spore Coverage.  Your only way out is to build Hydras, which requires a Lair, which you won't have if you tried a Roach attack.

I suspect Protoss players are gravitating towards this build because it forces Hydras, which are slow, cannot counterattack worth crap, and are vulnerable to Zealots (which Protoss can make after spending all their gas on Void Rays).

Time to give up the Roach-Ling all-ins...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Starcraft 2: How Platinum is Different From Gold

Well, I've played a LOT of Starcraft 2 over the past 3 weeks, and what do you know?  I got promoted to Platinum in Season 4.  Yay me!

Now I have a whole new set of problems.  First, I'm losing a lot more.  No one likes losing. Most of all, I'm losing to "early air strategies" against Protoss and Terran.  But WHY am I losing?  I'm losing because:


What does this mean?  It means that I scout too late, don't scout BOTH the front AND the main base itself, and I don't Baneling Bust against tech builds, which should be a tool in my arsenal.

Scouting the front is important because it will tell you things like army composition, and it will tell you about impending early-aggression builds such as Hellions.  It will also tell you whether your own early aggression will pay off, such as "how many bunkers or cannons or spines did he build?".  I suggest scouting the front at the 4, 5, 7 and 10 minute marks, at minimum.

As a Zerg, you should be floating an Overlord into your opponent's main base at about the 30 supply mark, which should give you an idea about his tech.  If you're smart about the direction your Overlord comes from, he should see SOMETHING before being shot down.

Taking Xel'Naga towers is another important one.  I lost a game because I Roach-Rushed RIGHT BY A TOWER I didn't hold, giving my opponent the time to build Bunkers and Marauders, and then crush me with Banshee harass and a follow-up Marine-Tank push.  /facepalm

So... while Macro got me to Platinum, it's not going to get me into Diamond unless I get smarter about scouting.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Starcraft 2 - Macro DOES get you Promoted

After struggling for two seasons to improve my league ranking, I've finally finished the season at Rank 2 Gold, and I'm now regularly playing (and beating) Platinum-rank players.

What changed?

Okay, MAYBE I've got better game awareness, and I've been playing more smoothly.  I've stopped making some mistakes, and learned what builds I can get away with.

However... my secret is MACRO.

As Zerg, I've been nailing my injects, and this has allowed me to spend my resources.  I couldn't believe how much of a different this made.  For Terran or Protoss players, that would mean constant SCV / Probe production, and building enough production structures to match income.  I just find that I have more stuff, and never get that moment of "Omg, how does HE have so many troops?".

The second secret to Zerg macro that no one mentions is EXPAND AGGRESSIVELY.  Don't worry so much if you can absolutely defend the expansion - most of the time, when you can afford the minerals to expand, it's time to expand.  This step is similar to Protoss or Terran building more Gateways or Barracks/Factories.  Hatcheries provide more larvae, which allow you to spend resources.  Zerg also needs to aim for AT LEAST 70 DRONES, and since you only want 22 drones per hatch (16 on minerals for minimum saturation and 6 on gas), that means you want at least 3 bases mining by midgame.

Some practice suggestions:
- Play against the Very Easy computer, and try to get maxed on Roaches by the 13-minute mark.  Yes, it is possible.  Doing this will give you a sense of what your drone / expansion / queen timing should be when you're powering (for e.g. vs. a FFE Protoss).
- Play against the Very Easy computer and try to get as many Drones out before the 9-minute mark, which is when a Protoss FFE build will start generating any significant number of attack units.
- Play some custom games against your worst matchup.
- Watch your replays.  Focus on one aspect at a time.  It's a lot easier to notice your mistakes when you're not in the game.

But most of all, PLAY THE DAMN LADDER.   Many people are nervous to ladder, but keep this in mind:  if you're losing, you're getting closer to playing people of your skill level, which will be more fun than getting crushed all the time.  Also, you never improve as much as when you're playing against people that are better than you.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Starcraft 2: Adding Harassment to a Build

One of your goals in every Starcraft 2 match should be to keep your opponent on the defensive, even when, and ESPECIALLY when you don't have many units on the field.  Unless you are going for an all-in push, you will be vulnerable to timing attacks while you get your economy going.

What you want to do is harass, so plan for it!  Here are some examples:

  • Mech?  Hellion drop or driveby.
  • Bio?  Early 2-rax pressure, or marine drops
  • Heavy air?  Banshee harass.
  • Lategame?  Nukes or Ghost drop with snipes.

  • Twilight Council tech path?  Dark Templar.
  • Robo first?  Try some warp prism drops or warp-ins.

  • Muta harass (typical)
  • Baneling drops on mineral lines (my new favourite)
  • Zergling run-bys or counterattacks whenever he moves out
  • Infestor drops
  • Burrowed Roaches or Infestors

The most common mistake to make when figuring out how to add harassment to a build is thinking that you have to add a lot to your build.  Try adding as little as possible.  If going heavy Roach, add Tunneling Claws and no more.  If you're going Mech, don't try to marine-drop - just use Hellions as obnoxiously as possible.  If you're doing a 3-gate robo, don't feel that you have to add DTs - just drop or warp some Zealots.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Starcraft 2: Roaches do not stop Bunker Rushes

I was trying this new(er) Zerg build order:
  • 15 pool
  • 14 gas
  • 16 hatch
  • 18 Roach Warren
  • 18 Overlord
  • 18 Overlord
  • 8-10 Roaches
  • Queen
... but it's still weak to a bunker rush IF YOU LET THE BUNKER FINISH.  The Roaches do NOT counter a completed bunker (unless you can hit it from the high ground, maybe), and DEFINITELY does not counter the ramp double-block.  I suggest going Banelings if you get contained, and break out ASAP and counterattack - you'll be too far behind otherwise, especially if your expansion hatchery is destroyed.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Starcraft 2: ZvT Troubles with Thor+Hellion

I had an interesting game against a Terran player, where I could have held off his pushes with better building placement and better scouting.  I was actually ahead in economy the whole game, but just couldn't fend off the last push (due to poor micro).

The replay shows that the Terran player was doing a 1-base push the whole time, where Zerg was on 2 bases.  I think what did me in at the last was larvae - I had tons of resources but no way to spend them.  An in-base hatch would have been the answer.  Ah, beautiful hindsight.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Starcraft 2: Making the Wrong Counter in TvZ

So you've scouted, you saw Roaches, so you make Marauders.  Then a mass of 12 Mutas comes into your base, wipes out your few marines, and demolishes your base.  What happened?

It's easy to make assumptions based on what you see.  It's important that you keep checking your opponent's army composition.  If you watch GSL, Day9, HuskyHD, or read my previous blog posts, you may have heard the phrase "scout the front".  Most players keep their armies near the front of their base, for the sole reason that it's where the attack usually comes from.  This positioning means that by sending a single cheap unit to die, you can scout your opponent's army composition, and you should do it on a regular basis, so you aren't surprised.

Buildings can't tell you everything, especially against Zerg!  Don't rely on the fact that he build a Roach Warren that any Roaches will come out of it.  Some buildings are "just in case" structures.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Starcraft 2: Learning to All-In

A lot of us are of the opinion that a failed first rush pretty much dooms your macro.  While this is true, it doesn't mean you can't all-in and counter your opponent's attempt to "get more ahead" by expanding.  The following pro game shows how a failed 6pool rush by July leaves him very far behind in economy.  However, instead of his Protoss opponent going for a 4-gate counter, HongUn decides to "get more ahead" (as emphasized as the "right" thing to do by Day9 and Artosis), and expand off 3 gates.

JulyZerg vs. HongUnPrime

July foils this attempt with a large Zergling push, which, despite forcefields, allows him to eliminate his opponent's army and push him back into his main.  July Zerg expanded just prior to the push, leaving him on 2 bases to his opponent's 1 base, and able to make drones without fear of counter.

I'll leave you to watch the game (which anyone should be able to watch, even without subscription), to see how it ends.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Starcraft 2 and MLG Tournament Play

I was just watching MLG Raleigh this weekend, and I was struck by the fact that many players go into their second game of the same match with an idea that they are going to try the same strategy again.  I have seen at least two examples where the players made the same mistake in two back-to-back games.

For example:
  • IdRA makes too many Mutalisks and loses to a superior Marine-heavy ground army.
  • Players quit too early
  • Players make an assumption about what the opponent will be doing, and don't bother to scout and check
On the ladder, using the same strategy or build repeatedly doesn't really matter - your opponents aren't exactly going to catch on.  But in tournament play, change it up.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Starcraft 2 - 3v3 Strategy

I just played a bunch of 3v3 games and did really well, so I thought I'd share my experiences.

The Early Attack
First, discuss with your teammates what you consider an "early attack".  I played (as Zerg) with Terran and Protoss allies, and my 10-pool build gave me a LOT of Zerglings before they even had much of a force ready, because they were using builds with later attack units.  As a result, my economy was much smaller, I still hadn't expanded by 40 food (which is death for a Zerg player), and though we eventually knocked out one opponent, we couldn't take on the armies of the other two.

You should NOT try the early attack strategy when your opponents have a common main.  The whole idea of the early attack is to overwhelm one player and remove them from the game, turning the game into a 3v2, where even if your side has sacrificed economy for the push, your 3 economies will still beat (or at least keep up with) the 2 opponents remaining.  If your early game push fails, you are going to lose the game unless you do a lot of economic damage.  What sometimes happens on these big 3v3 maps is that the two attacking armies pass each other, and the game turns into a 2v2 as each side eliminates one opponent.

The Harass+Expand
In another game, we illustrated the fact that if one player early expands (preferably not the one in the most vulnerable map location!) and chooses a harassment units (Mutalisks in my case), it can go very well.  However, what sets apart a gold-to-platinum player from a bronze one is knowing when to switch out of the build.  I've been both on the giving and receiving end of a partnership where one player massed nothing but Void Rays, and the opponent massed nothing but Marines.  Needless to say, the Void Ray player loses, almost regardless of what the other two players do, UNLESS the Void Rays stay with the rest of the joint army.  If they are used for defense or attack by themselves, they tend to get chewed up.  What they SHOULD be used for is decimating bases and harassment.

Alternately, if you don't want to go for the big mid-game push, you can pick one player for harassment, while the others expand and tech.  However, if the map doesn't have common bases (i.e. each player is spread out), this approach can leave you highly vulnerable to pushes, since you don't have much ground defense.

In general, 3v3 requires you to specialize.  For example, the Protoss player could make an army with more heavy-hitting units, such as Colossi, Void Rays, or Immortals, while the Terran player goes MMM, and the Zerg player makes the meat shield of Roach.  You'll frequently see things like mass ling+bane, mass hellion, or mass (blink) Stalker.  Most massing strategies rely on fast units that can shut down enemy expansions and give map control such that those players can expand and switch into heavy-hitting endgame armies.

Big, High-Damage Units
The problem with big 3v3 battles is that they rarely take place in wide-open places where all units can attack.  This means that if you're going for a big push, you need to have the big, high-damage units such as Colossi or Siege tanks to deal splash damage at range.  Units such as Broodlords can be good (although very slow!), and anything with AOE such as Infestors or High Templar do more damage than in 1v1 or 2v2, where players don't have such a large mass of units, and can more easily micro the whole army around the AOE.

Fixed Defenses
In smaller games, fixed defenses chew up a lot of resources that you could put into army.  However, on big 3v3 maps, with so many opponents, the importance of denying harassment is game-winning.  DO NOT expand without adding fixed defenses.  At the very least, slowing down an opponent's attempt to deny expansions can give you time to call for help, and possibly even crush the opponents' combined army while they are in your territory and far from their own reinforcements.

I don't know how many times I've turned around a big army by rushing 20-30 Zerglings into the opponents' main, or an expansion.  Best of all, if the opponents are controlling their armies separately, you have a good shot at dividing the combined army and then killing the smaller army with the help of your allies.  If your opponents don't build fixed defenses, or even just a good wall, more opponents simply means more targets.

If you die to cheese in a 3v3, you probably deserve it.  There is really no such thing as "all in cheese", because even if one player sacrifices economy to "cheese", he has two allies backing him up such that he can recover economically.

However, with the large maps and common main bases, cheese is extremely unlikely - it just doesn't arrive soon enough to be effective, and is defended too easily (even just with workers)!  However, if you forgo scouting, and you get double 6-pooled, chances are that you won't have a wall up soon enough to block it out, and the game will be over.  3v3 doesn't mean you can omit scouting, or assume your allies will do it.

I've seen things like a double-worker rush, where two players send workers to attack one player, and you MUST respond by pulling your own workers to save that ally, or else you will be the next target and things will only get worse from there.  If you DO pull your workers, your side will have an advantage of numbers, and in reinforcements, and you should defend the worker-attack easily and win the game.  Don't fall for this cheese.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Starcraft 2: Countering Proxies as Zerg

I just wanted to go over a defensive decision that all Zerg players should make part of their Starcraft 2 decision-making toolbox.

The subject today is bunker rushes and proxy barracks / gateways.  If you open with a hatch-first or early-hatch build with Zerg, YOU NEED TO CANCEL IT when you scout a lack of Gateways / Rax in the enemy base.

Immediately throw down a pool if not already started, and you NEED to get a spine crawler up.  I also recommend Roaches over Banelings, because early banelings can be kited and killed by good marine micro, and Roaches use less Larvae, which you will be severely limited on.  Roaches are surprisingly good against small numbers of un-upgraded marines.  But again, it's more about the larvae, so make sure to build a Queen, or replace her if you lose her.  However, if you are really tight for money, build 2 Roaches instead of 1 Queen.  However, chances are, with no Queen and only 1 Hatch of larvae, you will have plenty of minerals to build Queens with.

If your opponent is NOT all-in (and most proxy rushes are), you can't afford to just make spines and be contained, because your larvae count will suffer.  Make sure you check just how many marines your opponent continues to send to your base, even if he dares not attack because of your Spine Crawlers.  If he expands and doesn't keep building marines, you need to bust out ASAP, and either expand yourself or counterattack.

Counterattacking is always a good strat (if you manage to get units out of your base), because without his early barracks / Gateways at home, he won't have a wall-in.  Even a few Zerglings, if you attack when he's also attacking your base, may go undetected long enough to kill a LOT of workers.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Starcraft 2: Zerg Strategy and Upgrades

Well, I just played a game today where something very interesting happened:  my upgraded Roaches (+2/+2) took on a Protoss army built to counter it (Stalker/Immortal/Colossus, although not many of the latter two), and absolutely destroyed it.  While I think micro had a lot to do with it, as well as Zergling support, it really emphasized for me the power of early upgrades, especially when you can stay ahead of your opponent.

The difference becomes really evident when the numbers of units get higher - you don't want to upgrade early so that your early units are effective - when you're pressed, it's better to spend the gas on more units than on upgrades that you don't get as fast as you get units!  Also, upgrades are no good if you have no units left for them to affect...

The key to the game I linked above was probably offensive play.  It's important for your opponent to feel pressured, and it's important, as Zerg, to have forward-positioned units to see attacks coming so you can pump reinforcements.  Delaying my opponent's third, while getting my own up and running, was also highly effective.

I also realized just how effective even 2-3 Infestors can be in slowing and damaging an approaching army.  It's the only AOE (area of effect) attack that Zerg has, but it's very very good.  The problem is that making TOO many infestors costs a lot of gas that could become units that keep attacking, rather than having energy-depleted infestors trying to clean up the last few units.  Again, if things are tight, don't go with a pile of Infestors - get a base army going, THEN pile on some more Infestors.

Yes, my macro could be much better.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Starcraft 2: Out of Shape and Out of Supply

 Well, I just had the crappiest run of losses I ever had in Starcraft 2.  Sure, my strategy may have been okay, my build orders okay, but after about 30 supply, I started hitting the supply block wall.  Supply blocking yourself FOUR TIMES in a game is pretty much a guaranteed loss.

Here's an exercise for those with the same problem (thanks Powerfang!):

  • Play the computer on Very Easy
  • You must make SCVs constantly. 
  • Watch the replay 
  • If you hit the unit cap without ever not making an SCV, you win.  Otherwise, you lose.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Roach before Queen Zerg Build Order: Adaption

I both love and hate the late-Queen, early-Roach Zerg build order.  On the one hand, you can expand versus Terran or Protoss without worrying about an early couple of units taking you apart - slow Zerglings are easily killed by Zealots or Marines, but Roaches aren't.

However, the key to this build isn't executing the build, it's using your firepower properly.  In short, you sacrifice early counterattack capability (Sspeedlings) for a secure early expansion (Roaches).  You also get the option of a Roach all-in if unscouted.  But, if you are scouted just after your Warren goes down, you'd better switch back to your usual unit mix (i.e. Roach/Speedling vs. Protoss or Speedling/Baneling vs. Terran), or else you are going to lose.  While Roaches work very well against small numbers of Marines, they fair poorly against larger numbers of Marines with upgrades.  Speedlings are required vs. Protoss Stalkers, too, or your Roaches just get kited to death.

For those Zerg players who hate-hate-hate bunker pushes against an early expand, this build is for you.  However, I would recommend transitioning out of it before Terran opponents build Marauders, or else going all-in and trying a 8-11 Roach push.  Don't wait for your last Roaches to come out, though, or he might have Siege tanks.  Bring your first 5-6 Roaches and attack, rallying the others to his base.

Tip:  Have an Overlord to give vision of the high ground, so you can snipe buildings from below.

Tip:  Get Speed (Metabolic Boost) AFTER you've committed (or not) to a Roach push.  If you get speed first, you won't have enough Roaches for a push, but you need Speed later.

Monday, July 4, 2011

ZvT - The new Roach Rush

I came across this Zerg build order on the TeamLiquid forums, and thought it was one of the best Zerg Strategies to come out in awhile (thank you JulyZerg!.

The build order
*from TeamLiquid forums*
The Build
(Optional early drone scout)
15 Spawning Pool
15 Extractor
16 hatchery
(Optional 0-6 Zerglings)
(Optional Metabolic Boost research)
@150min Roach Warren
Overlord x2 (Optional x1 if you made 4-6 lings)
Roach x8-11

* If you opt for 6 lings, you can allow meta boost to finish, and not impact your roach timing.

* Be sure you have OLs spotting the ramp. Due to your map control, you should be able to position two overlords (one on either side of his ramp).

I like it because it's tricky - it shows the player one thing, and does another thing.  Perfect scouting would cause this not to work, and it wouldn't work against Zerg, because without a Queen to chase away the Overlord, your opponent could simply park an Overlord above your base and see everything he needs to see.

I've also been having an issue with ZvT lately (stupid bio pushes!) so this might be a good, aggressive answer to Terran stim pushes.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Custom 2v2s, aggression and micro

Well, I got completely stomped today in a few 2v2s.  I am going to have to work on reining in my aggression, and doing better on my micro.  I hit 2v2 platinum with one of my 4 teammates (although he's Diamond, so I guess I'm just being carried), and at this level, you can win or lose small fights with good micro.

For example, did you know that it's possible for 4 Zerglings to beat 4 Zerglings with 3 Zerglings left over, if you micro yours and the opponent doesn't?  I still have to learn the trick, but it involves moving your almost-dead Zergling away for a second, and then coming back to gang up on another Zergling.  It's a version of focus-fire, but you can't target just one Zergling with all 4 of yours, or you'll spend too much time moving and not enough time attacking.  It's very tough to do.

Aggression is normally good in 2v2.  However, what I have to learn is NOT to throw units away doing it.  It's often not worth it, either because either:
  1. You force your opponent to go all-in, and after losing your harassment units, he'll have more army than you and roll you over, or
  2. You don't actually do as much damage with your harassment as it cost you to make the units!
These 2 points are why Mutalisks are so good for Zerg - they are fast, their damage is quite high, they fly, and can easily escape.  Banshees are similar because they can cloak.  Blue Flame Hellions with a Medivac are also effective, because you can load up and fly away.  Protoss have their Dark Templar, but often those end up being throw-away units, or a sucker-punch that you hope will end the game.

And remember: if you're getting stomped, sometimes it's just better to stop playing for awhile rather than lose, lose and lose some more.  Go play the AI a bit, and you may figure out what the problem is.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Starcraft 2 Ranting - 1v1 screws up my 2v2!

I've been playing a lot more 1v1 on ladder instead of my usual 2v2, and while I'm enjoying Spanishiwa, my 2v2 strategy is suffering terribly - I'm trying to play it like a 1v1, and it's not working.  Worse, I'm not syncing with my partner very well - it's like we're each trying to play separately, despite being on ventrilo and everything!


Things to remember:
  • Attack (or defend) together
  • Follow up with a successful attack, but don't throw units away, or I'll die to the counterattack!
  • Make sure at least one player builds anti-air and detection.  Losing to DT's when you would have won is very disappointing.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Starcraft 2 Zerg Strategy - An alternate Spanishiwa Build

Despite what it says on the Team Liquid Wiki, Spanishiwa has altered his build on occasion to the following (you can see it in some of his replays):

This Zerg build order is good in ZvT match-ups.
  • 9 Overlord
  • 13 Hatch
  • 15 Spawning Pool
  • 16 Overlord
  • Double Queen when Spawning Pool finishes
  • 2 Zerglings for scouting
  • Use both Queens for Creep Tumors first
  • Spinecrawler at Expansion
  • Once at 40 supply, take all 4 gas
  • Double Evo Chamber
  • Lair with first 100 gas
  • Roach Warren
  • +1 Range / +1 Carapace Upgrades
  • Roach Speed
  • Lots of Roaches, big Roach push to deny expansions
  • Infestation Pit
  • Spire ---> Greater Spire for Broodlords
This list isn't a complete step-by-step for this build - it obviously starts changing depending on what your opponent is doing.

Starcraft 2 Zerg Strategy - How to, the Spanishiwa Style

Well, after some more laddering with the Spanishiwa style that I referred to in my last blog post, I've learned the following:


  • You HAVE to make 4 Queens as soon as you possibly can.  Building this many Queens doesn't come naturally, and it feels weird, but is absolutely essential.
  • Queens must be used to block your ramp
  • You must not fail to transfuse your Queens.  Try to use your Queen energy such that you have at least 1 Queen that can transfuse in the early game, and make sure that Queen isn't the first one to engage the enemy!
  • When fighting against Zerg, put your Queens between a Spinecrawler and your expansion Hatchery.  Zerglings will do very little damage to them if they can't get a surround.
  • In general, you're supposed to make drones until 40 food with this build, THEN get gas.
  • Despite the above, if your opponent slows you down for any reason (such as a bunker rush), you need to get the gas earlier, or you will die to things like Marine / Tank pushes.  You MUST have banelings and Speedlings by that time, or you are dead.
  • Don't be afraid to abandon the build if you see your opponent 10-pool, for example.  While it's possible to hold it off, it requires really good micro.  If you're not a high-ranked player, you're risking a loss.
Scouting & Creep:
  • Creep spread saves your Zerg in this build.  You NEED to be able to move your Queens between bases quickly, and you NEED your slow-Lings to be on creep.  The creep also helps banelings, because you won't have speed for them for awhile, either.
  • Scouting on 9 is key.  There are games I would have lost if my opponent had scouted and pushed just a bit earlier, and there would have been nothing I could do.
Rush Defense
  • If you suspect your opponent is going to go for some early pressure with Zerglings or Marines, a Baneling Nest becomes very important.
  • Alternately, plan on building at least 1 Spinecrawler, and vs. Zerg, if he's 1-basing, expect a Zergling Rush, and you can defend it with your own slow-lings and Queens.  Make sure you snipe Banelings with Spines or Queens.

    Saturday, June 25, 2011

    Starcraft 2 Zerg Strategy - Discovering the Spanishiwa Style

    So I recently discovered the Zerg style of Spanishiwa - a heavy macro-style Zerg with early-game weakness traded for mid-to-late game dominance with Broodlords.

    You can see the guy's stream at Justin.tv - here's a sample of some streamed games.

    Anyway, what's intriguing about the style is that it works against all 3 races, but takes gas REALLY late. This means no speedlings almost until getting your third base! He drones heavily until about 40 food, then takes all 4 gas. He takes his third around 50 food typically, and relies on an early 4 queens (that means ASAP), Spinecrawlers and Zerglings to defend even against ground pushes. None of these things require gas, meaning a massive mineral surplus.

    I think one of the strengths of the build is that it plays upon the strength of Zerg - with a lot of minerals you can build workers faster than any other race, and as long as you can hold off a few early pushes, your midgame soars because of your high drone count. You can even get Hive around the 16 minute mark! You can also get a lot of gas-heavy units and sustain their production once you are on 3 bases with 6 gas, and Zergling / Speedling / Infestor into Broodlord seems to work pretty well for Spanishiwa. He often throws in Roaches and/or Banelings, and 5-10 Mutas for harassment.

    Other tricks I've seen him use:
    - Burrow banelings beneath your opponent's next expansion mineral line. 4 Banelings means a lot of dead workers, and they are pre-positioned!

    Tuesday, June 21, 2011

    Experimenting with 1-base Zerg

    Experimenting with 2-Hatchery, 1-base Zerg

    So, I know this isn't a pro-level Starcraft 2 strategy, but I'm a bit curious why 1-base Zerg, by design, frankly sucks.

    Ever notice that:
    Extra Hatchery + Baneling Nest + Spawning Pool:
    minerals = 300 + 150 + 200 = 650
    gas = 50

    2 Barracks + Factory + Starport
    minerals = 300 + 150 + 150 = 600
    gas = 200

    3 Gateways + Core
    minerals = 600 (+50 for Warp Gate)
    Gas = 0 (+50 for Warp Gate)

    All three indicate an early-game building set.

    Looks similar, doesn't it? Why doesn't anyone build the macro hatch where it's safe, and 1-base until after the first push, or until you hit 24 Drones? All you're doing is getting on equal footing with the Terran or Protoss player, who can build extra production buildings, and can still build workers while they build military units!

    I had this done against me once in a 2v2 - the Protoss player went Zealot / Sentry, and the Zerg player built a macro hatch FIRST, then proceeded to roll us over with 40 Zerglings plus the Protoss force.

    While I see the economic weakness in 1v1 vs. Terran (who can drop MULES), and it doesn't quite match the ability of Protoss to chrono-boost upgrades, we still have the Zerg strength of massive unit or drone production, due to larvae.

    I won a game against Terran (as Zerg) in this replay with a macro hatch first.

    EDIT:  Here is a very interesting article from the Teamliquid forums that discusses the use of an in-base Hatch.

    Saturday, June 18, 2011

    Starcraft 2 Hardware Review: The vertical mouse

    For those aging gamers out there - thought I'd mention this one.  This (picture) is the mouse I use, and I find it's helped stave off some carpal tunnel.

    The mouse feels a little weird at first, but after awhile, you get equally proficient with it - I even switch between this one at home, and a normal mouse at work, so that I work different muscles in my hand.  I haven't experience a lot of wrist pain since doing this (and some regular stretching).

    So... forget that Razer mouse or whatever fancy things are available now, and try this weird-looking but effective mouse.  Comes in wireless with more or less buttons, too.

    Starcraft 2 Strategies That Stop Working

    I was doing very well with one of my 2v2 partners originally doing a Roach + Marine rush.  Very powerful, tends to annihilate one opponent, and then easily fend off the reinforcements / counterattack by the other opponent.  However, as we started playing against Diamond and Platinum teams, our super-strategy stopped working.  Why is this?

    Simply put - scouting and preparedness.  Good opponents know how to interpret what they see in your base, even if it's just gas and when your buildings get produced.  The trick is to do this yourself, and counter what they are doing.

    For example, we lost a game recently to a Zealot - Marine all-in, which was obviously directed at me, the Zerg player, since I can't wall off my base and shoot the attacking units.  I scouted it, but didn't build Spine Crawlers to fend off the massive push.  Even with my ally matching the Marine numbers of the attackers, I couldn't take on the Zealots without Roaches or Spines, and lost (despite my banelings).

    This situation is similar to what cannon-rushing opponents sometimes find as they climb the ladder - eventually their cheese stops working, and they have to abandon the strategy and start learning new ones.

    Morale:   Brush up on other races' builds, not just your own, and know what's coming, and when.

    Sunday, June 12, 2011

    Why two Macro players are hard to beat

    My Terran partner and I had two games in a row against the same two Zerg players, and they creamed us both times.  Sure, we drew out the game, felt like we were doing well, but they either out-expanded us or out-tech'ed us in both games, leading to a loss.

    Despite repeated aggression (but no harassment sadly), we weren't able to match them on macro.  The second game, we prevented them from expanding to more bases than us (and for Zerg, that's pretty good), but they proceeded to stomp us with Ultralisks off of 2 bases each.  Strangely, no mutas that game.

    What lessons were learned?  Well, Zerg certainly have mobility, and can harass you pretty much anywhere on the map with 12 Zerglings.  Double-Zerg is doubly dangerous because they could either both 10-pool you and crush one player, or they could both macro hard.  I think the trick is for one of them to do the 10pool and then both macro hard, scouting enough such that an army can be spit out if the enemy approaches.

    I think their weakness would have been a marine drop, or even just repeated drops before Mutas were started in quantity.  Honestly, I don't know how to beat that.

    Saturday, June 11, 2011

    Starcraft 2 - Weird 2v2 Strategies

    Well, we didn't scout, and we lost to two very screwed-up strategies.  Note to self:  Scout what they are doing before 6 Carriers walk into your base.

    What our double-Protoss opponents did (and made my ally rage-quit 2v2s for awhile), was cannon every expansion, base, and pathway, and then proceed to go heavy air.  I think they built absolutely no ground units all game.... and we lost.  Shame on us.

    Had we been able to counter, we would have expanded before them and Turreted everything - but of course the AI turrets are stupid and target fighters.  I have no idea why.

    Monday, June 6, 2011

    Starcraft 2 - ZT Strategy in 2v2

    I've been having a lot of success as Zerg with a Terran partner in 2v2.  There are some pretty sweet synergies that Zerglings or Roaches have with marines.  Generally, Roaches are better, because their movement speed is similar to marines, and because they soak up damage while marines deal it.  However, Zerglings can work well because it's nearly impossible to get through a mass of Zerglings to get at the marines, even with other Zerglings.  The whole thing falls apart when one of your Zerg opponents make banelings, so after the first push with Zerglings, switch to Roaches (or get banelings yourself, if you like baneling wars.  I don't, personally).

    I really like the Infestor, as well.  With a range-heavy ally like Terran, stopping your opponent's army in place with Fungal Growth while getting a great concave yourself is crippling to the enemy (not to mention the Fungal growth damage itself).

    One thing you may think is good, but we've beaten a ton of players who do it, is when facing a Zerg player who masses Mutas.  While a lot of mutas can destroy your economy, we've won at least 3 games where our economy was heavily damaged, but the knowledge that at least one opponent invested in harassment forces instead of a ground army allowed us to go stomp them both flat.  In our last game, I pretty much lost my main base to Muta damage (especially after stupidly not building spore crawlers despite his wall-in with Spine Crawlers), but we simply marched in and wiped out their bases.  They couldn't do the same to us because marines and turrets would have ripped up the fragile harass forces had he proceeded to my Terran ally's base.

    In the words of Day9... "just go f-ing kill him!".

    Saturday, June 4, 2011

    Starcraft 2 - Zerg and Protoss 2v2: Using 10pool early aggression

    My partner and I played a bunch of Starcraft 2 games today on the 2v2 ladder, and the strategy we were trying out was a 10pool early aggression by Zerg (me) supplemented by whatever early Zealots my Protoss ally could afford to send without hurting his economy (usually 3-4), and do as much damage to our opponents as possible.  The usual result was to kill a Protoss pylon, slowing down his Gateway units, killing a Queen, reducing the Zerg's ability to spam Zerglings in defense, or to kill all a Terran player's marines and force his SCVs to come off gathering to defend.

    The key Zerg tactic was to keep the first 6 Zerglings alive for as long as possible, doing as much harassment as possible (this means  you have to hotkey your Hatchery and try not to go back to look at your base for more than an eyeblink, for either upgrades, making buildings, or moving drones to/off gas).  When the second wave of Zerglings arrived, you could take on even a lone Zealot or 3-4 marines, and then go on to harass workers some more.

    If you want to see what build I used, please go see my 2v2 10 pool article.

    Tuesday, May 31, 2011

    Starcraft 2 - More 2v2 Ladder

    I'm gradually increasing my ranking with 3 different teammates in the 2v2 ladder.  What I've learned is:
    • Scouting is more important the longer the match goes on
    • There is such thing as attacking too late with a rush - your opponent's economy will outstrip yours the longer you wait.
    • It is vital that your opponent send whatever he has with your rushing force.  Even 3 marines can make a big difference when the number of defenders is so low.
    • Preventing your opponent from expanding or killing his expansion only works if you have enough troops to hold back his counterattack.
    • It is usually better to keep attacking a weakened opponent than to stop and go heavy economy.  Usually, you will forfeit your advantage and the scales will balance again, since you sacrificed early economy to attack, and the small amount of damage you can inflict that early in the game usually balances the cost of making the attack in the first place!

    Saturday, May 28, 2011

    Zerg Strategy: Timing the Opponent's First Push

    I was recently playing a series of games against Terran and Protoss Very Hard computer opponents, and I noticed that as Zerg, you had to make Drones constantly until about 30 supply, and then spam either Zergling / Baneling (vs Terran) or Zergling / Roach (vs Protoss) or I'd lose horribly to the computer's massive push.  Occasionally, the Protoss opponent would push slightly later, adding Immortals or perhaps a Colossus.  Making an excess of Roaches to defend this second push would render me very, very dead, even with 2 Spine Crawlers, unless I built a ton of zerglings to rip apart the Immortals and Stalkers.

    So... figuring out when your opponent's first push will likely come, and with what units, will allow you to defend it without drones, and if you do this, you will be ahead in economy, and even a simple double-larvae spawn + all military units might let you counter-push and win the game, even on low-tech.

    Tuesday, May 24, 2011

    PvZ - Lessons in Harassment and Pushes

    I just played a whole bunch of games against my Protoss buddy, and here's what we learned:
    1. An early push of 2-3 Zealots from a 2-Gate opening forces Spine Crawlers or Zerglings.  However, it really doesn't do anything for the Protoss player, either - he ends up sacrificing economy to force defenses instead of Drones.
    2. If the Zerg player doesn't block his/her ramp and makes spine crawlers at the natural expansion, it's plenty easy to march your zealots right past everything and attack the main.
    3. A Zerg player can almost always get away with a hatch-first build on the newer, larger maps.  However, defending wide-open expansions with spine crawlers is a bad idea.
    4. The Protoss mid-game army really should include Colossi, even against Roach.  Colossi do SO much damage their splash effect that they are really worthwhile, and unlike High Templar, they don't run out of energy.  Immortals are good, but if the savvy Zerg player brings in Zerglings from behind, Immortals / Stalkers get trounced pretty badly.

    Monday, May 23, 2011

    Zerg 2v2 Strategies: The 10pool + Macro Team in ZZ

    When you are your Starcraft 2 teammate are both Zerg, here's a strategy for you to try.  I've tried this out quite a few times and it seems to work well, especially when the enemy bases are spread apart.

    The Builds:

    The first player will do a 10-pool build, meaning that they will build drones to 10 supply, followed by a Spawning Pool, then an Overlord, then Drones to keep larvae from being wasted (you want to make a drone or two before your pool finishes), and then 3 Zerglings as soon as your Pool finishes.

    Meanwhile, your ally will fast-expand with a 14 hatch build and scout on 10.  If he scouts an early attack, such as a double-10-pool, two gate zealot, 2-rax, he will 14-pool instead, and help you with the defense and counterattack.  However, it is still likely that even if the map is large, your early zerglings will mess with at least one opponent's build, and if you don't throw away the Zerglings too quickly, your ally will have time to get his pool up even if he's doing a 14-hatch.

    Things your Zerglings SHOULD be doing:
    • Scouting
    • Destroying Pylons that power key structures
    • Harassing / destroying SCVs building structures
    • Kiting Zealots
    • Killing stray workers
    • Making sure your opponents cannot easily combine their early forces (if bases spread apart)
    Things your Zerglings should NOT be doing:
    • Getting pinned in the worker line (his workers will kill your Zerglings and you'll lose more zerglings than you'll kill in workers.
    • Trying to kill more than 1 Zealot or more than 2 Marines.

    Sunday, May 15, 2011

    Starcraft 2 Strategies: Denying Expansions in 2v2

    One of the most effective things to do in Starcraft 2 when you're playing 2v2 is to deny expansions to the enemy while expanding yourselves.  It's not that important to destroy your enemy's main - that will come at the end of the game.  Instead, try to take the map and expand, while denying your enemy any expansions.

    This strategies does two things - first, it gives you a bigger economy while only attacking in a hit-and-run style, then retreating.  Most of the time, the defenders won't mass their army near one of the expansions, but rather at their main base.  Their placement thus gives you the ability to quick-strike their expansions.  All you have to do is force them to cancel or to destroy the Nexus/Command Center/Hatchery, and retreat.  Don't go for the drones unless you are attacking with such a small force that you aren't going to be able to get the main building before the defenders arrive.

    Better yet, do a two-prong attack.  Station your main army outside their base, and send good building-killers to an expansion (anything that does high damage to armored is good), and simultaneously do a drop on one of their mineral lines.  Most non-pro players will react by moving their WHOLE army to one location, which both splits their forces and allows one of your attacks to do good damage.  If they DO overreact to the harass, you can use your massed army to hit their front door and destroy some buildings or defenses.  After this, retreat - you will have likely lost some forces, and only the presence of your expansions (and the loss of theirs) will gradually gain you ground.

    Monday, May 9, 2011

    Starcraft 2 Protoss 3v3 Strategies

    When you're looking for a 3v3 Strategy in Starcraft 2, it's important to realize how difficult it really is to wipe out three separate opponents when they have the defender's advantage.  Thus, you really need an overwhelming force that's strong against some of the toughest units in the game, which the opponent could field en masse.

    If you've read my other 3v3 strategy, you'll note that specializing and making the big damage-dealing units for your team is a great way to use Protoss.  If you can get a teammate to feed you gas, you can get Colossus or Immortals out before the opponents will have enough of the counter units.  Chrono-boost allows you to get these units out even more quickly as well.

    I suggest that the Protoss player go Immortals when you see mass Roach, mass Stalker, or Mech.

    This unit hard-counters most big units, and many tough, mass-produceable units like Roaches and Stalkers.  Let your allies go with Colossi or Siege Tanks or Banelings/Infestors to counter mass-zealot or marine, while you annihilate pretty much everything else.  Mix in a few anti-air units, and you have quite the killer army.

    Shutting Down Mass Muta
    The other function of the Protoss player is to shut down Mass Muta strategies by threatening mass Phoenix.  Mass Phoenix can actually be better than you might think, even in straight-up army battles, because they can lift and kill high-dps units, such as Hydras, Templar, Ghosts and Infestors.  While this requires a lot of micro, it CAN turn the tide.  However, you should avoid such scenarios whenever possible, and instead use Phoenixes to snipe Overlords or other scouts, to discourage further Muta production, to maintain air dominance, and to protect against drops.

    Photon Cannons
    The Protoss player also has another item in his arsenal that can be overlooked:  Photon Cannons.  This single building can be placed virtually anywhere (except on creep), and can also defend against nearly anything (or at least slow it down).  Use Photon Cannons liberally at expansions (yours and teammates'), and you'll find that enemy harassment dries up quickly.  What you must be careful of is not to overbuild cannons before you have the economy to support it, otherwise you won't have much of an army, and you or your allies can be hit where you don't have cannons.  Cannons can't counterattack, either.  However, because team games tend to be longer than 1v1's, your side will eventually have the resources to cannon up key expansions and choke points.

    I also think Chargelots are among the best meat-shield that you can get in almost any race.  They are fairly tough, small enough to be fielded in large masses, aren't worth using Neural Parasite on (unlike Archons) and only cost minerals.  Better still, they move in quickly and chew up other players' meat shields quite well (even Roaches, which are usually thought to be their counter unit).  Because of the mass of units in a big 3v3 battle, the Zealots will not be able to be kited, and will do great damage for their cost, especially with attack upgrades.  However, Zealots can also suck when faced by enemy Colossi and Infestors, so their use can be limited by the opponents' unit composition.  Yet, in 3v3, it's not as likely that the enemy army will be able to micro well, if only because of the sheer amount of stuff on the screen, and then Zealots can perform uite well (it doesn't matter if they are Fungal'ed if they are already doing damage!).

    Dark Templar
    Protoss also have the most annoying unit in team games:  Dark Templar (DTs).  Almost every player has lost a game to the sudden appearance of 5+ DTs in their main base, and a team game gives a Protoss player the ability to mass Dark Templar without the risk that their own base will be flattened by a counterattack if the DTs are spotted early.   If you aren't facing any Protoss opponents (i.e no enemy Observers), I recommend throwing in even 4-5 DTs at the front of your army.  They will prevent enemy melee units from reaching units directly behind them, and many opponents won't realize they even exist - stuff is dying so fast that they won't notice the extra damage from the extremely-powerful DTs.

    Mass Blink Stalkers
    Last, you shouldn't ignore the possibility of going mass blink-Stalkers.  Stalkers are a fast unit with decent damage, and should be used in packs to continually harass enemy locations.  Because they can stand up to or run away from many enemy units, and have the speed to run away from many more, Stalkers are great for harassment.  I recommend accompanying them with an observer, so they can blink to high ground when pursued by their one counter:  mass upgraded Speedlings.

    Monday, May 2, 2011

    Scouting: Rushes, All-Ins, Timing Pushes, Tech Switches and Macro Battles

    Scouting really is the secret to the game.  You've passed Gold league, you know your macro.  You've learned the basic "elite" micro moves.  You know how to pick your battles.  Now... what the hell is my opponent doing?

    The better you know the game, the more you will pick up from clues about what the opponent is doing based on the amount of time that has passed and what he would be able do have done in that time.

    For example, if you scout the enemy base, and you know that a Terran opponent should have been able to make at least three barracks by the 4 minute mark, and only has one, chances are good that he has a hidden expansion somewhere.

    I recommend sending a scout to the enemy base when you've hit 9 or 10 supply.  That is, you'll have 9 or 10 workers at this time.  The reason you send one so early is that some early strategies, such as the 6-pool, will require you to change your build order quite early to defend against the early attack.  Furthermore, your opponent can wall-off his base such that your worker scout cannot enter the base, thus denying you ANY scouting information.

    You should check the following things with your early scout:
    1. Gas, present or absent
    2. Number and/or timing of Barracks, Gateways, or Spawning Pool
    3. Number of Workers
    It's important to know that the ABSENCE of any of these is as significant as multiples of them.  If you don't see a Barracks and you really should be seeing one by this point in the game, check near your base for Proxy Barracks.

    No gas for Terran and Protoss usually means an early attack or expansion, because they are forgoing tech in exchange for a fast expand or a low-tech rush.

    The number of workers is also important, because early in the game, it is difficult to afford both workers and a constant production of attack units to offset the defender's advantage.

    Starcraft 2 Strategies: The Defender's Advantage

    New players to Starcraft 2 may not know the term "defender's advantage", or how it applies specifically to Starcraft 2.

    In short, the defender's advantage is usually one of position or the ability to reinforce more quickly than the attacker.

    Positional advantages:
    • Vision / Sight
    • Choke points near your base, either existing or made with buildings
    Reinforcement Advantages:
    • Combat will be close to your unit producing structures
    • Structures are well protected behind a choke
    What does this all mean?

    It means that if your opponent builds mostly army with his resources, and you build your army and go attack him, by the time your forces get there, he'll have more stuff than you.  Thus, your only chance against his army happens if he decides to expand or tech rather than build attacking units.

    And this, of course, is where scouting comes in...

    Saturday, April 30, 2011

    Starcraft 2v2 Strategy: Don't Overcommit Your Early Attack

    Starcraft 2v2 Strategies usually involve either an early wall with fixed defenses, or an early army to either attack, or defend-then-counterattack.  If you're the one on the attack, and you notice that your opponent has built an early army, you are far better off doing a bit of scouting and then retreating rather than going head-to-head with his army, when he has the defender's advantage.

    A common mistake when early-attacking is to bring your combined army into one opponents' base, but then get pincered into the base by his ally's army.  That army, plus any reinforcements the first opponent may field, might be enough to hold you off and have enough for a counterattack.  I've lost many games doing this.

    The other important factor, which I've mentioned in another blog post about 2v2 macro, is to continue to macro when attacking, such that if you DO lose your whole army on the attack, then you have enough defending units to fend off the counterattack.

    Sunday, April 24, 2011

    Starcraft 2: Macro is key to 2v2

    The key to winning Starcraft 2 2v2 matches is macromanagement.  My recent realization, which should probably be accompanied by a "duh", is that what wins you games is the ability to macro as your units are attacking.  Why?  Well, if you lose the battle, you still have units coming to defend you. 

    I really recommend attacking first in 2v2, especially when the bases are separate, not shared.  It's not very common for players in the lower leagues especially to set a common rally point for their units, and if you can take your combined army and hit half the opponents' army, you are going to simply roll them over.  Granted, they will reinforce, but so will you, and if you manage to do economic damage (which you should), then the game is yours.

    For the sole reason that you have TWO players' combined income against you, I don't recommend "all in" type of strategies in 2v2.  It's far better to have that multiplicative-macro bonus working for your side, rather than trying for the quick kill and have your opponents possibly get ahead of you.  It's even possible for ONE of your two opponents to beat you if they are left to build up and tech up fast enough.

    Day9 coined an interesting phrase in his podcast on 2v2 strategy.  He called it "die slowly". He implied that in some games, where you and your ally are separated by a fair distance, it may not be possible to save your ally's base, while still being possible to win the game.  Simply put, the more time it takes for your ally to be finished off, the more time you have to tech up, expand, and put down fixed defenses.  Meanwhile, you opponents have likely sunk a great deal of resources into their attack, at the expense of economy.  This sacrifice of theirs allowed them to destroy your ally's base, but should also have given you time to create an army capable of defeating the remainder of their COMBINED armies.  And thus, back to the idea of macro winning you games - if you can't build up in the time your ally gives you, you need to work on your macro.

    Thursday, April 21, 2011

    Starcraft 2 Strategy: How to Practice

    A lot of people like to play Starcraft, and want to improve their Starcraft 2 strategy, but they keep doing the same things every game.

    Here are a few pointers to improving your game while still having fun:
    1. Go into each game with the idea that you're going to do your best, but you are there to lose.  Losing means learning, and it takes the pressure off.  If you win, bonus.
    2. Pick ONE thing each game to work on.  This could be your marine-splitting (slicing), your baneling-dropping, or your force field usage.  No matter what, do that one thing at least a few times that game.  If you improve, you can consider that a win.
    3. Work on one build at a time.  Granted, you may have to pick a few different builds to suit different races your opponents play, but try to narrow it down to one per enemy race.
    4. Make sure you scout and macro, no matter what.  I've lost SO many games due to lack of scouting or massively high minerals in the bank.

    Monday, April 11, 2011

    Can't Sleep After Starcraft

    I've heard from a few friends that not being able to sleep after playing Starcraft is not an uncommon problem.  It happens most to the more intense people who really want to do well, and tend to over-analyze their losses while trying to get to sleep.

    That would be me, in a nutshell.

    It's fine if I win all night, or have losses that are understandable and clear, but how often does THAT happen?  All it takes is some repeated stupid mistakes, or some jerk who mouths off and pushes your angry buttons, and BAM - no sleeping until 1 a.m.

    So... what to do?  I've often wished for a great big hammer to put the lights out at night.  One whack, and I'd be down for the count.  That'd be nice - except for the bruising.  Drugs are right out - who wants to be addicted to sleeping pills, brought on by too much Starcraft before bed?  No thanks.

    My solution is a poor one - don't play past 9 pm, and don't make Starcraft 2 the last thing you play before you go to bed.  If a game is bugging me, I go watch the replay until I understand what happened, so I can let it go.  Alternately, do something else afterwards that requires an active brain, and at least you might be kept awake thinking about THAT, which is hopefully more productive to your life...

    Sunday, April 10, 2011

    Zerg Versus Terran: The Bane of my Existence

    A friend of mine and I are playing, and Marine-Tank is just killing me.  He does this very interesting double-push, where he doesn't rally his second batch of units to his first batch, instead he saves it up and does a sizable second push immediately after the first (right at the time when you think you're safe to build drones).

    I don't really like the fact that you pretty much have to build Banelings against early Terran aggressiveness, or you are dead.  If he keeps coming at you with Marine-Tank (with Medivac, possibly), you have to tech to Infestors, or you are also dead.  Some people say Muta works, but if you mis-micro at all, you are equally dead.  Fungal growth just does SO much damage to marine balls, and prevents your banelings from being kited.

    But... Infestors don't really last that long against Siege Tanks.  In fact, it's rather crazy.  The whole matchup is all about you engaging Siege Tanks while they are moving, or your Zergling / Baneling / Muta / Infestor, or whatever combo of that you try, will explode to rapid-fire marines and the heavy splash from tanks.

    Thursday, April 7, 2011

    Starcraft 2 Timings - Learning From Day9

    I watched a really good Day 9 episode recently, giving lower-level players a sense of when you can go in for the kill.  In short, you count the number of major advantages ("blunders") you get over the other player (losing a battle, you destroy an expansion, you successfully harass and do a ton of damage), and if the answer is more than two or three, you try to go in for the kill (build mostly attack units, mass up and go for the big finishing attack).  Day9 suggests that number of major advantages really depends on your own play and your ranking, and you're going to have to figure it out how many advantages you need before you can go finish your opponent off, but this "blunder counter" gives you a method of deciding when to push.

    Generally, immediate counterattacks after winning a single major battle can lose you the game, because by the time you get there, you hit both his fixed defenses and his reinforcements, while yours are further and further behind you.  This is a "wait for another blunder" moment, or a "get more ahead" moment, rather than a "go frickin' kill him" moment.  All of these moments are explained by Day9 in his various 'casts.

    2v2: Learn your Lategame Strategy

    I was recently in a 2v2 where I felt like I was winning.  It was Terran-Zerg (us) versus TT (them, double Terran), and some early aggression seemed to put us ahead... or did it?

    Watching the replay, I noticed that our aggression really only put us back even, after all the resources spent on banelings and marines.  We expanded with our perceived lead, to match their existing expansion.  As Zerg, I double-expanded, and again, felt that we were in the lead after some more poking and prodding.

    Yet, lategame was a huge fiasco.  In an attempt to break their Siege-tank + mass Raven (with Vikings added later), I built Corruptors and Broodlords.  This turned out to be a big mistake.  Why?  Well, simply put, we weren't going to outproduce both players making Vikings, and their vikings would kill Corruptors + Vikings, because of attack range and point defense.  So we gradually lost the air war, and then the game.

    Thinking back, I should have ignored the air and tech'ed to Ultralisks, and gotten 3/3 upgrades on them.  Heck, I could probably have even dropped the Ultras on the Siege tanks, or even just a few zerglings and let the Siege tanks kill each other with splash.

    So what am I trying to say?  Well, despite what the enemy does, you still have to think of how you're going to push him back, NOT how to kill his existing units.  We didn't NEED to push back the Vikings, only to kill the Siege tanks and get the ground back, so we could take the middle expansion, instead of seeing it fall to the enemy.  So, try to make your opponents' mix "irrelevant", and get an army composition that they'd have a hard time dealing with, rather than playing "their way".

    Wednesday, March 30, 2011

    More Lessons From GSL: Zerg Aggression

    Okay, so I won't make any spoilers for anyone, but in the recent GSL (Global Starcraft League for those who are new), ST_July, a Zerg player, used constant and early aggression to beat both Terran and Protoss players.  Specifically, he massed roach against an early-expanding Protoss on a large map, and Baneling-busted through a Barracks wall on another map.

    Mind you, his micro and timings are perfect.  He can afford to throw large masses of units against his opponent, knowing that he'll either have time to build defenses if his attack fails and there is a counterattack, or he knows how to avoid forcefields (in the case of Protoss opponents).

    However, in the most recent championships, MC totally dominated all opponents by clever use of force fields, but I don't blame July for his loss, there - he was simply outplayed and outmaneuvered.

    Sunday, March 6, 2011

    Know Your Zerg - Spotlight on Zerglings

    Zerglings have it tough - they are sacrificed as scouts, area-of-effect (AOE) weapons slaughter them, they're always the first into combat, and they never get the bed to themselves.

    So... what are they good for?  Zerglings' main purpose switches from core army in early game, to scouts and runbys late game.

    Are Surprisingly Good At:
    • Counterattacks:  Even 12 Zerglings into someone's unguarded expansion might cause their main army to turn around to defend.   While 12 Zerglings shouldn't turn the tide of the battle for you, if they kill 12 enemy workers, the next battle will be far easier.
    • Killing Roaches and Stalkers, early game.
    Zergling Tricks
    • Get Burrow.  Burrow Zerglings all over the map, preferably under enemy expansion locations and where you DON'T have creep, but need vision.
    • Put a Zergling outside the enemy base.  If he moves out, you'll know it.  All it costs you is 25 minerals, and is easily and quickly replaced.
    Words of Caution
    • Although it may LOOK like you have a lot of Zerglings, they are so cheap that numbers are often deceiving.
    • Do not send Zerglings against walls, into AOE, or through chokes.  Do not send them against large masses of marines, except as a means of preventing them from kiting your banelings
    • Keep Zerglings away from enemy banelings.  You are almost better not engaging at all than engaging enemy forces anywhere near banelings.  If you must, send 1 zergling at a time into banelings to reduce their numbers 1 for 1.  It is possible to kill over 16 Zerglings with 1 Baneling.

    Saturday, March 5, 2011

    Know Your Zerg - Spotlight on Mutalisks

    Here is some key information on Mutalisks.  All information relevant as of patch 1.3:

    Are Surprisingly Good Against:
    • Void Rays:  equal numbers of mutas will kill a nearly equal numbers of Void Rays.  Void Rays cannot escape Mutas, and are more expensive.
     Are Countered By:
    • They cannot outrun Phoenixes - stay and fight unless you can find nearby corruptors or other anti-air to save them
    • Are shredded by most anti-air, but especially low damage, high-rate attacks such as Marines or Hydras
    Best Purposes

    • Should be constantly on the move, preferably harassing something:
      • Workers
      • Enemy Reinforcements
      • Slow enemy units (Siege tanks, Immortals, Banelings
    • Attack upgrades are better for them, since you will generally be using them to attack things that can't fight back, or that need to die fast, such as turrets.
    • If you intend to make the "big Muta ball", armor upgrades are actually quite good.  Still, mutas should not linger when they are being target-fired by enemy units.
    The Magic Box
    • The magic box technique , conceived by Team Liquid, is a positioning tactic where you mutas are spread out and not overlapping.  This allows them to take on even scary units like a Thor or two without taking massive splash damage.
    • To magic box, give the mutas a move command to a safe area, and then wait until they all arrive at the spot - they will naturally spread out.
    • When attacking with your magic box, do not target-fire units.  If you do, the mutas will lose their magic box and clump up.  Instead, use a move command and park your boxed mutas over your target, using the Stop command when your mutas are in position.  Mutas have a bounce-attack and will hit what you want them to most of the time, since their range is so short.
    • Watch a video tutorial on the magic box and its benefits

    Starcraft 2 Strategy: Watching the GSL Pros

    Even the pros can make horrific mistakes.  Some of their mistakes, aside from micro (which can always be improved) are:
    • Throwing away too many early game units in the name of "scouting".  
    • Losing units by not committing to fights, allowing the opponent to whittle down your army without causing any damage to his.
    • Not having a strategy or goal or build
    • Sticking with the same unit combination over a long game
    • Throwing away units into fixed defenses instead of expanding
    • Failing to pull workers away from an attack
    • Failing to scout opponent expansions
    • Not enough harassment
    • Fleeing with units that are going to be run down and killed anyway

    Wednesday, February 23, 2011

    Starcraft 2 Macro Tips from Day9

    • Keep your eyes on the minimap most of all
    • Hotkey all your production buildings
    • Use F5, F6, F7 keys to hotkey screen locations
    • Do "tapping" of production-building hotkeys before, during, and after combat.
    • Know your reaction in advance, before you go look on the mainscreen what's at the back of your base (you're likely sending some marines against a drop or air attack)
    • Send your worker to the build location BEFORE you have enough minerals, to be ready for the exact moment when you DO have the funds
    • Hotkey your scouts
    • Check rally points when combat starts.  Don't end up sending units to die in dangerous places

    Sunday, February 20, 2011

    Starcraft 2 Strategy: Zerg Solutions to Containment

    If you play Zerg very often, you have probably run into the bunker rush, or just not had enough units to move out with, while you opponent sits outside your base.  Heck, they might merely be force-fielding your ramp and preventing a quick expand.

    Why does this hurt?  Larvae.  It's what stops Zerg from building to full capacity (even with Queen injects), and allows the contain to continue.

    So what do you do?

    This situation calls for an in-base hatch.  This means building another hatchery inside your main, for the sole purpose of generating extra larvae.  If you position it really well, you can use it to spread creep for spine crawlers - but ensure that it can't be hit from below.

    Second thing:  Get a Roach Warren going.  You need ranged units to break a contain, and the Roach is both tough and has decent range (as of patch 1.3, anyway).  Zerglings, when you're trying to move through a choke to an entrenched position, are merely a distraction to your opponent.  Banelings, however... are also a decent option if they aren't killed too quickly (this is where the distraction comes in handy).

    Third:  Make sure you're sure you can break the contain before sending out your forces.  What stops him from coming into your base is a mass of units ready to eat him.  If you throw these away without killing him, you won't have enough time to build more.

    Last, do not attempt to build Mutalisks on 1-base!  Mutas are far too gas-heavy, and for the few Mutas you would be able to build, you could build FAR more Roaches, which will get you out of the contain.

    Starcraft 2 Strategy: When you lack larvae, build more Queens

    I ran into this in a recent game, and although I lost the ZvZ match to a Roach contain, I found that I had money, but no larvae.  But yet, I need more units.  So, I built Queens!  This allowed me to break the contain, and had I built a ton of Queens earlier, I may not have lost. 

    The good things about Queens:
    • They can heal
    • They damage air and ground (in case your Zerg opponent accidentally rallies Overlords to your base, too)
    • They are tough
    • They only require minerals to build
    • They can spread creep (even ZvZ, this gives you vision and your units really don't perform any better or worse than his)
    The bad things about Queens:
    • They aren't an attack unit (unless you REALLY spread creep like crazy)
    • They consume minerals you should probably be spending on drones or (another) expansion

    Starcraft 2 Strategy: Cheese builds and Anti-Cheese builds

    Today we'll talk about Zerg vs. Protoss cheese.  I was introduced to an interesting cheese build, where the Protoss player uses cannons, as usual, but then proceeds to build a Gateway inside the Zerg base as well!  Since Zealots are very powerful against Zerglings, especially in small numbers, if the Gateway finishes and a Zealot gets out, it's game over for Zerg.

    So I'm playing a custom Obs-Xel'Naga game against AluCard... no, I'm not sure if it's THE Alucard from SC1, or if it's someone similar, but he's Diamond-ranked, and he just used the build, while I observed the game, to destroy another Zerg player.

    The key to beating this cheese is to pull enough drones (I'd say at least 5-6), to destroy what he's building, in this order:

    1.  Probes

    You really have to kill his probe, or he will keep building things.  You don't want that.  You also want to force him to send another probe, reducing his economy.

    2. Photon Cannons

    If a cannon is being built, you need to take it out, before it takes you out.

    3.  Pylons

    The other buildings are tougher, and they can't do anything without pylons.  A smart protoss will drop a bunch of pylons, but it's easier to kill them than the buildings they power.

    Once you get all those things down, he should give up. 

    If he doesn't, counterattack his base with your accumulated Zerglings, whether they have speed or not.  Do not wait!  You need to hit him with whatever you've got and finish him off before he can wall his base in.  If, by stopping the cannon rush early, he is able to wall his ramp off, expand and build a ton of drones (until about 30 supply or so).  After that, scout what he's got, prevent him from expanding himself, and you should win the game.  A mutalisk harass wouldn't hurt either - but get that second base up first!

    Thursday, February 17, 2011

    Starcraft 2 Strategy: Using a Meat Shield

    I say "have more stuff", and you say "duh".  But there's a deeper concept here, and one that you'll see players like White-Ra use, that will also work surprisingly well in the custom scenarios such as Desert Strike.

    Concept #1:  Ability to absorb damage.

    Generally, and with exceptions, lots of small units have more hit points than single large units, cost for cost.  Low-tier units cost less gas, and are faster to replace than higher-tier units.  Therefore, if you have more of them, your opponent has to deal more damage to you to destroy your army.

    Concept #2:  The meat-shield

    Yes, I said it.  And yes, I'm implying it.  Those zealots really just are pieces of meat, ready to be shredded, that get in the way of the enemy destroying your heavy damage-dealing, important units like Colossi and Immortals.  Or Siege tanks.  Or Hydralisks.  Every race has a meat shield unit:  Marauders for Terran, Zealots for Protoss, and Roaches for Zerg.  Protoss have Force-Fields through their Sentries, which also act as barriers behind which their big units can shoot.

    So... try it sometime - build more cheap units that have good damage absorption, and you'll notice that you don't have to waste as much money on the fragile, expensive units, because they'll stay alive longer to do their massive damage.

    Starcraft 2 - Gaining or Preventing Critical Mass

    You may have heard of a concept called "critical mass" when talking about Starcraft 2 and its strategies and tactics. This term means "An amount or level needed for a specific result or new action to occur", but in Starcraft 2, is usually referring to when you have produced and accumulated a certain number of one unit type, such that the number of units becomes more dangerous than they are individually.

    Typically, the following units can gain "critical mass":
    • Marines (with Marauders)
    • (Blink) Stalkers
    • Siege Tanks
    • Mutalisks
    • Void Rays
    • Carriers
    What tends to happen in games is that once your opponent achieves these numbers, they become really hard to stop, unless you have been accumulating units directly against what he's been massing.  Even if you have a balanced army, with a certain amount of anti-air or etc, his critical mass will generally do more damage than you can absorb while killing his mass, OR that he can use his mobility, slow unstoppable advance, or range to destroy key structures, but yet you will have a hard time countering it or attacking into it.

    I've played several 2v2 and 3v3 games where one person masses one of these units and pretty much walks over bases like they weren't there.  To counter this strategy, you must SCOUT OFTEN.
    Massing is a poor strategy if you can build counters against those units in time.

    The other game aspects I can mention are key to success in any game:

    • Pressure your opponent with harassment or even trade units to keep numbers down
    • Expand more often than your opponent
    • Defend against his harassment better than he defends against yours.
    • Force him to build other units than the ones he'd like to mass, to defend against your harassment
     I discourage massing, because unless you are truly pro with your micro, or unless you've heavily scouted and the opponent's aren't massing the counter-unit, small mistakes can cost you the game.  For example, while your mutas might be able to outmaneuver a pile of marines, if you happen to fly directly over them, stimmed marines can really deplete your Muta count, and the unit-trade of marine kills for muta losses is a poor one.

    Monday, February 14, 2011

    Starcraft 2v2 Team Games: Aggressiveness as a Defense

    In a recent 2v2 team game, my Zerg partner was the type of player who liked to sit back for a bit and macro up, whereas I advocated early aggressiveness.  Whether I played Terran or Zerg, aggression seemed to pay off - the opponents were thrown off their game, assumed that we were going to keep sending units, so when we backed off for a bit and pumped economy, they would be preparing for an attack that could come any second, but never did, thus setting them behind economically while we surged ahead.

    What's sad about some of the greatest resources on the web, where Diamond-level game-casters tell us all about great strategies and show top-level games, is that there's really nothing I've found (so far) for team games.  It seems that the focus is all on 1v1.

    The main problem with 2v2 is that it's possible to completely overwhelm an opponent by about the 25-food mark simply by having you and your partner send 3-4 units each to one opponent's base, especially if they are Zerg and can't wall-in.  To anticipate this early aggression, you also have to have minimal defense, meaning you're probably going to have to make some attack units regardless, sacrificing economy.  However, if you make attack units, don't attack, and your opponents don't attack either, you are behind on economy and you're eventually going to get rolled over by a larger enemy army.  Thus, early aggression gives you both scouting, defense against their early aggression, and keeps your economy even with your opponents', and might even help you win the game.

    Sunday, February 6, 2011

    Trash Talk: Making People Feel Bad

    So I just had an experience where my practice partner, of all people, was giving me some trash talk.  Now, sometimes it's all in fun, but he's better than me, and when he repeatedly beats me and trash talks me as he's decimating me really doesn't make me want to play again.  It's possibly time to find another practice partner - aren't they the one to help you improve and want to play again and again?

    I know that some people do this on ladder, although I don't know why.  Does it make them feel big to make someone else feel small?  Sure, maybe they are just figuring out what this whole "social conduct" thing is about, but for the rest of them, they're just ruining someone's day.

    3v3 Team Games

    Today I played some 3v3 team games with some Starcraft 2 friends, and found that early aggression is the key to success.  The other lesson was if you're NOT going to attack really early, don't sacrifice economy for defenses, because if they DON'T attack, you'll be behind.

    One of the prime reasons for this is that you get to combine the power your armies and push against a single point, and your opponents have to struggle to react to it. 

    I had a terrible time keeping control of the sensors towers in one game, and that allowed the opponents to both know when WE were coming and consolidate their forces.  Lesson learned there:  if you're going to try for the sensor towers, don't just throw away units - move a good chunk of your forces there (and move them away if you see something coming you can't beat)!

    Thursday, February 3, 2011

    Lose and Keep Losing

    I just read a post on TeamLiquid.Net that reminded me why one shouldn't get so nervous on ladder games - go in with the expectation that you are going to lose.  No wait, lose and improve.  Yes, you can get higher in the ladder by following your same, 80% success-rate build order, but chances are you won't learn anything, and you won't ever be able to counter those one or two builds that beat yours.  You may even encounter a single race that you can never beat, even if you regularly stomp the other two races.

    Experiment with build orders.  Do some crazy things.  Try attacking at different supply milestones.  Try seemingly stupid things you read on TeamLiquid.  Try copying a pro's build.  Try practising your marine-micro, or dropping banelings from Overlords on TOP of marines!  (What fun!)

    So... lose, and keep losing.  Keep learning.

    Tuesday, February 1, 2011

    Watching the Pros: Tips from GOM (GSL)

    • Scout EVERY base location at around the 30, 50 and 80 food marks.  Hidden expansions will put you behind, and you'll wonder why.
    • When facing Siege tanks, spread your units out.  A big round group of anything will get demolished by siege tanks, whereas a long line still gets you the concave you need while minimizing splash.
    • There is no reason to tech too fast.  A safer play will win you more games.
    • When behind, expand in a remote location.  The gold bases are especially good - even if you can't hold them and they get destroyed, they make up their initial cost very quickly.
    • When ahead, avoid the temptation for a final battle.  Get more ahead by taking another base and securing your own against drops, harassment by air units, etc.  Hold key areas of the map and go for map control / containment.

    Sunday, January 30, 2011

    TvZ tips - Preventing Zerg Scouting

    Early game, pre-Lair, Zerg doesn't really have a lot of good scouting options, and certainly not as good as your scan, or even your SCV, which doesn't have to contend with a Zerg wall.

    So, what do you do?
    • Wall in, even with supply depots + barracks is good.
    • Block with an SCV if walling with 2 Barracks.
    • Station some individual marines at Overlord entry points.  You'll start doing damage immediately, and your other marines can rally and kill the Overlord before it sees too much.

    Watching the Pros: Learning When to Fight or Run

    One of the things the pros know that you don't is what beats what - just by looking at the units and numbers.  In an instant, they can tell whether they should press on or retreat.

    The thing that newer players don't realize is that in Starcraft 2, you don't really just trade off units.  That is, if you have a 15 food army and he has a 20 food army, he's not going to have 5 food left over after the fight.  In fact, he'll probably have 10 or more, and then he'll come wipe you out before you can rebuild.  Instead, if you retreat towards your base and get those few reinforcements, a losing battle becomes a winning one.

    But how do you know?  Experience.  Whose experience?  Anyone's.  You can watch replays, other matches, and just start to know.  You'll also pay more attention to this aspect of your game if you're not the one doing everything else, and just watch the battles, like a spectator.

    Make this a good excuse to watch GomTV or Pro Replays.

    PS - Thanks to freshmeatt for the correction.

    Why Terran are best... even though I play Zerg

    Terran is better because:
    • Surprise (cloak)
    • Stim / concussive = slowing/haste
    • High-damage units (siege tanks, banshees, thors)
    • Repair/healing (scvs/medivacs)
    • Unit synergies (marine/tank/medivac - gives mobility, drops, aoe, anti-air, healing, long range, and isn't weak to any one unit type).
    • Mobile units (hellions, banshees)
    • Ranged attacks > melee attacks
    • No early-game weaknesses (MM are good against basically anything Tier1 and 2 - no glaring weaknesses (aside from Banelings))
    • Very flexible openers (1 gas could mean anything, tech labs interchangeable.
    • Uncounterable scouting (scan)
    • MULES on gold patches.
    • Come out ahead in base trades (flying buildings FTW)
    • Easier to macro (can queue units instead of having to perfectly time your warp-ins or spawn larvae)
    • Abilities to counter multiple special units (EMP)
    • Early upgrades very powerful (stim, concussive)
    • Ranged attack + small unit size = easy to bring units to bear (don't need concave as with bigger units)
    • Ranged units are fast enough to kite, even without upgrades, with proper micro.

    Terran's one weakness is the lack of mobility of their higher-tech units (Siege tanks, Thors, Battlecruisers), which explains why many Terran players stay with T1 units (marines, marauders) with upgrades, throughout the game.
    Though other races have some very powerful units (Colossi, Carriers, Ultralisks, Broodlords), each of those have glaring weaknesses.  Even their lower-tier units (roaches, stalkers, etc), have glaring weaknesses.  Either they cannot hit air, or are crippled by their large size / surface area or are hard-countered by a "standard" T1 unit type the other side has.  For example, MM beats Stalkers, Roaches.  In Tier 2, Hydras die to Siege tanks, Roaches die to Immortals.  Ultras and Broodlords get chewed up by mere Marauders and Marines, and Colossi die to anything air, and Carriers are nearly impossible to get out in quantity and are slow.

    So... Terran are the most flexible, powerful race... if you can use them properly. ;-)

    Scouting Lessons - How to Beat Any Build

    The difference between a Gold player who gets capped there and a Gold player heading for Platinum is the ability to counter another build.  This counter means potentially abandoning the idea you went into the game with (fast expand, for example), and changing your approach on the fly into a counter to the opponent's build.

    At first, having a solid build order, or even an all-in, seems like a good idea - you beat 80% of the people you play, because they aren't prepared for an all-in, and may not even know what to do against one if they scout what you're doing and know what it means.  You're soaring towards Gold, reach it, and hit a brick wall.  Why is this?

    Simply put - you can't adapt, and have bad habits.  Your next step after scouting an initial build will be reacting to his reaction to YOUR altered build.  However, this requires MORE scouting, and you'll have to gradually work it into your play, because it won't come naturally.  It's much like keeping yourself from getting supply blocked - it's one more thing you have to keep remembering to do, constantly.

    Some key scouting points:
    • At 9 or 10 - initial build.  Look for gas.  Gas = tech.  No gas = fast expand (FE) or rush
    • At 30 - incoming push or tech direction
    • At 50, scout the entire map for hidden expansions, especially if there's a lack of pressure.  This is a good time for remote bases to be going up.  If he's pouring money into an expansion, you can either crush it or gear up for a push against his main, but don't wait until he's recouping the cost of the expansion - hit him soon.
    • Every 20 supply, up or down.  If you gain 20, scout.  If you lose 20, scout.  You need to either capitalize on a gain or adjust to win the next encounter.
    • After major battles.  Win or lose, it might be time for a tech switch, either to surprise your opponent or react to his new tech.

    Custom Games: Key Strategies for Starcraft 2 Macro

    I'm playing a TvT game against a friend the other day, and I have him beat.  I've out-expanded him, harassed his mineral line, and have equal tech, if not better upgrades.  And I lose.  What the heck happened?

    Two things - first, I lost the big battle.  I threw units away by pushing his better position while trying to get in position myself.  I should have waited, taken my losses, and let him come to me.  When he'd unsieged, hit him.  Second, I had 6k minerals and 2k gas in the bank. My main was covered with buildings, but I still didn't have enough units coming out.  We were both at around 132 supply, and I should have been higher.

    This is why Terran bases look like SimCity - you just need a whole lot of production buildings eventually, and in the smaller main-bases, there really isn't a lot of starting area.

    Some Terran tips:
    • First, plan for the midgame.  You're going to want to end up with about 4-5 barracks, 2 factories, and 1-2 Starports.  You are going to want an Engineering Bay around 30 supply for emergency turrets, and an Armory around 60-80 supply for those Tier 3 units like the Thor, or even just for upgrades.
    • Upgrade attack first.  You are ranged, so you get the first shots in.  You want things to die before they reach you.  With Stim, you can kite, so it doesn't matter how much damage you can take - only how much you can dish out and how fast.
    • Micro your Marauders in front of your marines.  Marines are squishy.  Marauders aren't.  Banelings & Zealots, units you'll see often, will chew up marines easily.
    Good luck!

    Terran Openers for 1.3

    Thor-Marine Push
    MMM Push
    3 Rax Pressure
    2 Rax Rush
    Marine Tank
    Stim timing push (vs Zerg)
    Concussive Rush (vs Protoss)
    Hellion-Thor Mech Build