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

Friday, January 21, 2011

Protoss Openers for 1.3

2 Gate Rush
3 Gate Robo
1 Gate Fast Expand (FE)
4 Gate Push
2 Gate Zealot-Void Push
1 Stalker Harass
2 Stalker Harass
5 Zealot Harass
Phoenix Harass

I'll edit this post later to explain them all in detail.

Zerg Openers for 1.3

There are several popular opening build orders I've come across recently.  In no particular order, they are:

7 Roach Rush
5 Roach Rush
6 pool
7 pool with 2 spines (ZvZ)
14 hatch 15 pool
11 pool 18 hatch
14 pool 13 gas

I'll edit this later to explain them all.