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.