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".