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A Year of Starcraft II

Monthly Archives: June 2011

Boost of Confidence

Tonight’s games, found here, were a lot of fun.  I got a couple good wins in and generally felt a lot better about what I was doing.

The quicker games, mostly ZvZ, I am still having trouble with.  Mainly, I think, because of being a lot slower than most players.  Also, the early pool ZvZ is killer.  I don’t know if I should just throw an early pool up in all ZvZ or what, but I will keep working on it. Even in those games, however, I felt better about what I was doing.  In one game, I was harassed pretty quickly by some lings, but dealt with it for a lot longer than I would have before.  I pulled some drones, trying to keep them safe before my lings popped and kept going.

In a couple of  games, I was handling, I guess you could say, what my opponent was throwing at me.  As in, “Oh, you’ve got Banshees cloaked?  I’ll throw up some spore crawlers.”  I should have made hydras too, I was told, but it felt good to respond to an attack instead of just watching everything die and have to GG.  And I was having fun using different units.  I actually got a few infestors out.  I didn’t use them well (I should have used the fungal growth to hold the enemy’s units in place), but I enjoyed popping out the infested Terrans to use against Void Rays. And it wasn’t something I was told. I had to think for a second, “What do I have available that will help against these?”  I’m starting to understand more of the game and what I can do.  I guess as it continues, it will be more of what I should do.

On my list of three things to work on, I have gotten the first two (getting control groups and rally points on hatches and queens up quickly, and using the hotkeys exclusively) pretty well down.  I am still having issues keeping my army control grouped, both in doing the egg add and boxing and adding.  I know how useful this is, and it helps a great deal when I actually do it.  But it’s something I forget often and will have to continue to keep working on.

After the ladder games tonight, a few of us played some 4v4 (I had no idea how this worked and thought they were talking about customs where two of us would play the other two).  I had a blast just building and building while the others took control of my units.  It also really helped to focus on what I was doing and not having to worry about attacking.

Tomorrow is another day of laddering.  Friday I will be off of work so around 8pm Central US I’ll be in the chat room “Temps” in game, hoping to do some of the free-for-all type matches I played last week where everyone observes, bets and plays.  It was a lot of fun to just watch games, chat and play without too much pressure.  I’ll be streaming it too.

Goodnight and GLHR.

 

 

 

Another Week Down

I honestly can’t tell if this is all going by quickly or slowly.  I’m having fun at least, and had to stop myself from playing Starcraft tonight.  I think a day off should be a day off.  A break is good.  But there wasn’t much else to do when I got home from work tonight, so I watched the latest Day9 daily and some of Destiny’s stream.  I think the whole Judge Judy thing is hilarious.  I can’t stand the show, and the fact that she has more viewers than Oprah is either a great thing or a sad reflection on daytime television.  At least Judge Judy doesn’t have a book club.

Last night’s games went okay.  I’m trying not to worry about winning.  I know the losses are going to keep coming and that wins will be few and far between for a while.  Right now I am focusing on mechanics and getting a few basics down to the point that I don’t have to think about them, I just do them.  My coach gave me three things to focus on in the game yesterday.

First up is the opening setup, which is getting everything from starting the first drone to sending out the overlord and setting rally points done before the first drone pops.  This also included setting up the expansions in control groups and setting those rally points, something I forget more often than not.  I did a lot better at this yesterday, forgetting maybe once or twice, but rectifying it before I had units just sitting there not doing anthing.

Secondly, I was working on learning the new hotkey setup and only using the keys instead of clicking.  There were a number of comments about this, here and on the stream.  I have to say, it is a very intuitive setup.  I had very little trouble switching over and not having to hit the 7 and 8 keys in the late game works better for me.  The highlight of this setup, though, is having better finger groupings.  Putting army units on A, S and D, for instance, instead of 1, 2 or 3, and attack on F instead of A, allows me to hit A-F in quick succession, with two fingers, instead of 1-A with the same finger.  This is one of the main ones that I find quicker and easier to hit.  I know it’s not going to make a huge deal now, but I like the setup and figured I’d go a bit more in depth since people were wondering.  I’m doing very well with this.  The only thing I have trouble with is not clicking the upgrades.  I guess I’m already used to clicking them and did it once without realizing, and had to stop myself another time.  Another day at focusing on this and I figure I’ll have it down.

Lastly is control grouping and keeping all of my army units in control groups.  Not one big blob, but separate groups for separate units.  A big part of this was also adding the units to the control groups as eggs.  I had a lot of trouble with this.  I just did not remember to do it in any of the games.  After the games, my coach set up a game for us to work on it, and he explained the two ways to do this.  He had previously told me about CTRL-clicking the eggs to get down to just that unit, but I had thought he meant the actual eggs next to the hatch.  Whoops.  Turns out, it’s down in the bottom part of the screen.  This is a lot easier.  After a little practicing I was doing much better.  I should be able to keep this up in game with a little focus.  He also showed me that this works with selected units.  So, if I select a bunch of roaches, lings and banes, I can CTRL-click the units and put them into control groups.  This is a lot easier than double clicking them, where I always seem to misclick.  For right now, he has me focusing on adding units to the groups as eggs, so that I can get the mechanic down to where it is instinctual.  He explained when to do this and not in a game, but that I should try to add all units as eggs right now so that I learn the technique well.

It helps immensely to have specific things to focus on as I’m playing.  I know now that even if I’m losing games, if I do what I”m supposed to, it’s a good game because I’m slowly learning the techniques that will take me farther.  Better to learn them now than screw around for three months and have to unlearn bad habits.

I will be back streaming tomorrow night and I’m looking forward to it.

Goodnight and GLHF.

 

All Day Long

I played a number of ladder matches today (points not working, so I’m still in Gold), a few customs to practice, and changed up my hotkey setup.  All together probably 7 hours or so.  Like I’ve already said, I’m having fun with it and it’s not something I have to force myself to do.  I don’t know that I would be devoting this much time if I was learning the piano.  But I am kind of fried after the long day of gaming, so this is going to be a quick update.

I’m building a lot more, so that goal is coming along.  I wasn’t expanding fast enough, though, not getting a third until very late in the game if I got there at all.  I was given a little general guideline for this today, which is to have a third before ten minutes.  I tried it in a couple of games. One game vs. a Terran I did this but didn’t have the banelings to hold off his attack.  The next game vs. Terran, I had the banelings.  I expanded and I kept building.  I was then attacked with a drop, which took out my main base.  I went after his base with lings and banelings, which worked and I was in.  But after losing my main base’s drones, I thought I had lost.  So, I GGed out.  I was told after that he didn’t have anything else, and with the expansions I could have probably won making just lings and finishing him off.  The thing of it was, I had felt good throughout that game.  I thought I was winning.  Oh, well.  I learned not to do this again. I will take a while and evaluate what I have vs. what he has before just leaving.

The hotkey setup was given to me by my sensei (as I like to call him).  It is a setup that keeps all the keys close, even putting the 6-0 control groups on a, s, d, h, and g respectively.  I was surprised how quickly I got used to it.  I was having trouble hitting the number keys to the far right when I had a number of queens to inject with, so he offered his setup.  This works very well with that.  I’m putting hatches and queens on the number keys, and the army units on the letter control groups.  I will keep using it instead of the standard or grid.  With a little more practice it should be instinctive.

Aaaaaaaand I’m spent.  Here are the links to today’s videos: 1 & 2.  Goodnight and GLHF.

First Day of Ladder Play

I had a few issues with the stream tonight.  For some reason, the updated version of Xsplit doesn’t start into the last settings that I had it on.  So when I had to restart it, it didn’t do anything at all.  The next time I restarted it, it started without video and the stream watchers were treated to just a black screen and audio.  Sorry about that.  As luck would have it, the game that wasn’t recorded at all was a fifty-four minute game vs. a Terran that I won.  I was proud of the game and was disappointed it wasn’t recorded.  I do have the replay, so here that one is- replay.  I deleted the black screen video, the other two that actually worked can be found here.

I started tonight with less of a build and more of general plan.  Build, build, build, and keep my minerals low.  I didn’t stick to the plan all the time (I know my minerals hit 1k a few times), but I was trying.  And I was having fun with it, trying different supply points to build different structures.  It didn’t work very well, but I was at least learning what not to do. In the first few games, I kept attacking early and losing my initial units.  I was then in a bad place when my opponent counter attacked.

After yesterday’s matches, a big piece of advice I was given was to wait for the initial push of my opponent.  This gives me time to build, get a good base of units and get supply up.  If I defeat the push, I should then attack.  If I survive only barely, I should keep building and switch up what units I have depending on what I’ve scouted and what they hit me with.  Tonight, I for some reason kept attacking.  Even if I didn’t have enough units, I still wanted to attack.  If I was attacked, I would send the units I was making one by one to their death.  Big mistake.  I guess I get impatient, but I will work on this more.  This does make scouting even more important, I’ve been told it is a big part of Zerg play anyway, but it seems like a good plan.  I will try to keep this in mind tomorrow, and not attack all the time.

Looking back over the replay of the long game vs. Terran, I think that I did the wait and build without even thinking about it.  If I had attacked with the force I had after I repealed the second push (I had a number of roaches left), I think I could have won the game right there.  What took so long on that game was that he had Planetary Fortresses.  My roaches would die quickly to those, and so it took a lot longer to clean up the game.  And I know he thought it was funny to make me keep chasing him.  I would have thought so too, if I hadn’t kept thinking he was playing some masterful game and almost ready to come and kill me.

All in all a good day of ladder play.  I had fun, won one (I’m not counting the guy who had lag and didn’t stay past about 5 minutes), lost four and learned a lot.  I’m really liking being able to just play games.  It is really addictive too.  I’m off tomorrow and already wondering how many games I can play.

Goodnight and GLHF.

Gold!

I was placed in the Gold League!  Here’s the video from justin.tv.

Stream-wise everything went smoothly, although at first I had the webpage running in the background, and someone had to tell me to turn it off.  I was trying to keep it open so I could read the chat later, but no worries.  I was surprised there was very little lag (I remember one stutter), and my processor stayed below 60C so all in all a good first try at streaming.  I was told that there were a lot of viewers, over 200 at one point.  It did not help that I was told this in game, as it made my hands shake even more than they already were.  The support and interest boggles my freaking mind.

Game-wise, I know I  didn’t do great.  I also don’t know if I will last long in gold.  It was just very cool to get placed there.  As soon as the screen came up and I read it, I was stunned.  If you watch the video, my mouse even stops moving all together for a bit.  Then I let out a “Hell Yeah” and circled it with my mouse. Like Day9 said to, I celebrated my victory and I like to think some of you celebrated with me.  But I will keep what I did wrong in mind.

I won’t go into detail on the matches, there is a video of it, but I will point out what I thought were my biggest mistakes.  The most annoying for me: I KEPT forgetting to set my worker rally to the minerals.  I don’t know if it was the nerves or what, but that has never happened to me before.  Certainly not in three games in a row.  I raged a bit every time I noticed it.  Also, my macro is still very far off.  I was missing injects (although not as many as I used to) and, if the first push didn’t succeed, was generally behind on everything because my focus had gone to the attack instead of keeping up with the macro.  I had been working on the stutter step with the roaches the past two nights and had gotten it down pretty good.  I think I like doing it too much, if that’s possible. But while doing it, I completely forget about tapping to check injects or building.

This brings me to the build.  I started with this roach rush build two days ago.  It fit well with what I was looking for: something easy to remember, an attack point to shoot for, and it seemed to work well.  I won’t be sticking with it, though.  My main “tutor” has another, more zen guideline for Zerg that focuses on learning how to adapt and play a better Zerg game.  I guess I was initially overwhelmed with having to do everything he suggested and so jumped at the first strict build I was given.  I know the roach build works, but it is a bit cheesy, and it doesn’t give me much room to grow or learn.  By that I mean, if that first push works, the game is over and I didn’t learn anything.  If it fails, I’m kinda screwed and have to pull something else out of my ass.  The last match vs. the Terran really highlights this point.

I won’t completely abandon it, but it won’t be the build I do over and over again.  I will instead focus on keeping my macro going which includes expanding and building what units I discover I need with scouting.  This will probably come with a lot of losses, but I think I will be better for it over the long run.  I could probably go pretty far with the roach build, but at the end I’ll just be stuck doing one thing well and not be very good at much else.  The point of this year is not just to win, but to learn something and have fun doing it.

It was pretty goddamn fun to win though.

After the placement, there were a number of people online talking to me and we started an impromptu pick up game on the betting Metalopolis map.  A fun time was had by all.  There was even talk of having a King of the Hill match like this every Friday.  I for one would love that.   It was great to see how others play and have some fun while doing it.  There was cheese, some interesting builds (the Queen Swarm, ahhh!), and a bunch of “Holy Crap” moments.  I think it would also be pretty cool if I stream a match like this.  So, those of you there tonight, and anyone else who wants to play, let’s do it.  Let me know what you think time wise and how to work it, I’ve never done anything like this before.

Goodnight and GLHF.

Awwww Yeaaah

The stream is working! Bam!  Just like that!  Thanks derpaling for the suggestion, Xsplit was easy as hell!  (Okay, done with the exclamation points.)

I’m le_temps on justin.tv.  I will start streaming the placement matches Friday June 24th at 9pm Central US time. Bronze League here I come! (I kid, but, yeah, probably.)

I am hoping to go through all the placement matches tomorrow night, but there will be breaks every once and while (my dog has the world’s smallest bladder). For these games I won’t be talking.  I  had said I would try talking to those who left comments asking for it, but right now I think I would do even worse than I will just focusing on the game.  When I’m more comfortable, I will start talking about what I’m doing and thinking.

I almost didn’t even get on the computer tonight.  Just one of those days.  After a backbreaking day at work, I could barely keep my eyes open when I got home.  But I still wanted to play.  It just took a bit longer to get myself worked up for it.  It is crazy how much I like playing this game.  And now I can finally start on the ladder.

Tonight, I played about 5 games vs the AI, not really worrying about anything but getting my timings down.  I was doing well, hitting almost everything and keeping myself good for supply and my minerals right where they should be.  If the game went long, I had a plan and kept building.  I don’t think my minerals went up over five or six hundred for any of the games.  Now I’ll just have to see how I hold up in the placement matches.

I’m going to be playing as Zerg.  And unless I end up with like 50 straight losses, I’ll stick with it.  I’ve got two builds I’ve been practicing with, and will probably alternate between the two.  Scouting and keeping my minerals low are my priorities at this point. I’m sure all of it will go out the window once I start playing though.  I have a tendency to lose focus when I get into the thick of a battle.  But at least after tomorrow night I can just practice, practice and practice on the ladder.

Goodnight and GLHF.

Closer and Closer

After taking two days off from this blog, it’s hard to get going again (and think of a title).  Where to start?

Monday I was itching to play a few games.  I decided to try the practice league.  Big mistake.  Everyone had told me to stay away from it, but I didn’t understand the hate for it until I tried.  Jesus Christ, is that a slow game.  And the rocks blocking the ramp!  It drove me crazy almost immediately.  My opponent was also playing Zerg, and was I guess used to the practice league because he was sufficiently turtled with a bunch of spine crawlers and happily making mutalisks.  Before anything else. I GGed and left.  I can understand the point of the practice league, but it seems a lot slower than even the campaign.  I won’t be going back.  The rest of that night I played a couple games with a few higher level players, just to have some fun.  I lost but still did pretty good and got a few nice attacks in.  I then watched the finals of Dreamhuk, I mean Dreamhack.  I am really enjoying watching the Starcraft II games.  If nothing else, after this year is up I will have a new sport to watch.

Tuesday was my day off.  I received the video card (Finally!) and my new computer is up and running and Starcraft II looks great at Ultra settings.  However, I do think I may need an aftermarket heat-sink and coolant as the processor seems to run a bit hot.  Not horribly hot, but more than my Google-fu leads me to believe is normal (around 50-55C in a game, 40-48C idling).  I tried re-seating the heat-sink, which seemed a little loose, but it didn’t change much, maybe a few degrees cooler.  I think I should be fine for now, but I have added that to my to purchase list.  I also spent about 4 hours last night playing around with Rainmeter trying for a nice Starcraft desktop, but couldn’t make anything look like I wanted it to.

Tonight I started trying to set up everything so I could stream my placement matches.  It is exciting to be getting closer and closer to finally playing some ladder matches.  The guide I was using worked up to a point, but the audio part of FMLE would not work.  It wouldn’t recognize that there was an audio “device” on my computer and I could not figure out how to fix it.  As it was getting late, I wanted to start playing some so that I could be sure finish my two hours.  I will keep trying to figure out the programs, so I can hopefully stream Friday night.

Tonight I played a few games with a higher level player who was helping me get some build timings down.  Specifically a 5 minute roach attack build.  I think I like this more than the heavy ling builds.  It doesn’t work well against early attacks, but I should be scouting for those and change my build accordingly.  This build allows for that and I like having a specific time to do that first attack, something to work towards.  I can then branch out to whatever build I think is necessary for the matchup.

Like I said, I will try to stream the placement matches on Friday night.  I’m going to work on the streaming programs now, and tomorrow if necessary.  Hopefully the streaming will be interesting enough for those of you losing interest in my rambling posts.  Goodnight and GLHF.

Drinking From The Firehose

The title is meant in jest, but at one point tonight there were three or four people giving me advice on play all at the same time.  It was a crazy night.  A lot of fun too.

I started with a pick up game vs. a high rank player, just to play something.  I knew it would be over quickly and it was.  After this, a bronze level player offered to play, and a player who had been helping me observed.  It was over quickly.  He did a Dark Templar rush and I had no response for it.  We played a few more games, and I lost often and early.  It was fun to play the games, don’t get me wrong, but I still feel very far behind.

After a little break to watch the Game of Thrones finale (one of the best shows ever) I was back to playing.  This time, there were about six guys online who offered to help.  With a big map, a 1v1 Xelnaga where you can have a bunch of people watching and betting on the outcome, we set up matches where one of them would try cheese and I would try to defend against it.  Even knowing it was coming, there was little I could do to stop it.  This was the first time I actually got upset and raged a little.  After trying to defend a proxy gate 5 times, I still couldn’t do anything against it.  If I saw it, I didn’t have lings in time.  If I didn’t see it, I was caught off guard with too few lings.  I guess I should have just made a shit load of lings.  But it’s impossible if they get to my base early.  I was told to put 4 drones per pylon.  It seemed to work, but I couldn’t do that, focus on making lings to kill the probe and deal with the zealot that popped.  It drove me crazy.

After the cheese “fun”, the bronze level player I had been playing earlier came on again.  We played a couple games together, with an audience of diamonds and platinums.  I didn’t do as horrible.  The last game I even had a little momentum with some roaches in the middle game.  But I still lost repeatedly.  I think it’s a problem of focus.  If I’m trying to focus on injecting (INJECTx2!! will be popping up in my head for many, many games) I lose sight of upgrades and the like.  If I focus on the damage units, my worker count drops into the low 30s.  And I know as Zerg I need to take more expansions and make macro hatches if my money gets too high, but it is hard to remember in the middle of the game.

All in all a lot to work on before I do the placement matches this week.  And it looks like the card won’t be here until Tuesday, so I’m thinking to stream placement matches on Thursday.  I will put up a definitive date and time once I make sure the card is working and everything is set up.

A big thank you to everyone who played and helped today.  Hope to play with you again soon!

 

Zerg Bootcamp

I received a lot of responses and offers of games after yesterday’s request and I want to say thanks.  The first response I got was from a guy who had given me a lot of info on Zerg a couple nights ago, offering to go more in depth on macro and micro of Zerg.  I thought this would be a big help and accepted.  In hindsight, I should have posted here that I was set for tonight, but I didn’t think about it.  So sorry to those of you who I didn’t get to play.  I know one of you was at least annoyed, and I am sorry.  I am still going to log on tomorrow around 4 or 5pm, and I will play probably all night.

The Zerg bootcamp was great.  Another reader wanted to observe and he helped out a lot too, giving counterpoints from a Protoss player’s point of view and playing opposite me as I was taught.  I think he had a little too much fun destroying me with his Thors and marines, though.

We started with some warmup games, and a bit of instruction on keeping my macro up.  There’s a lot going on with Zerg that I’m still not quick enough with yet.  Injects, expands, and not getting supply blocked are the three BIG ones I will need to work on.  The tapping to different structures is not as intuitive for Zerg as it is for Terran for some reason, expanding so quickly is strange, and Zerg’s way of mixed supply and units throws me off.  I was also struggling to keep my bases fully saturated with workers.   I will be working on it, though.  If I can get one of these things right in a game, I will be happy.

The rest of the night we went over a lot different things.  I’ve got around five pages of notes.  Some of what we went over included: choosing expansion placement, surrounding with melee, choke points, concaves, going after the “tank” classes, and then generalities for the different match ups.

Learning micro was interesting.  Apparently, the last time I had played him, I did a perfect “magic box” with my mutalisks on his Thor without realizing it.  I can now at least do that on purpose.  And use the mutas bunched to take out the missile turrets.  That took a bit to get, but I finally got it right.

There was a lot more that we went over, and I know I won’t remember everything in every game, but at least I will know some of it when I need to.  I’m looking forward to trying out some of it tomorrow.

One More Down. Plus, A Request.

Yesterday, when I went back to play another mission of the campaign, I finished the medivac mission where you have to beat the queen of blades to the towers.  It was actually annoying, having to drop everything and even eventually move my entire base when the minerals ran out.  I got the point of it, but it feels like the campaign is going to just introduce arbitrary obstacles to make things harder from now on.  This was extra obvious when I tried the next mission, where you have to constantly move because of the fire.  Maybe it’s just me being tired of the campaign, but I got annoyed and quit out of it.  That makes it 17 missions down, 8 more (I guess) to go.

Tonight I couldn’t go back to that mission.  I watched another Day9, #312, about improving and working on little bits of the game.  Incremental adjustments, etc.  It was perhaps jumping the gun a bit, but I once again came away knowing a lot more than when I went in.  After that, I went back to the first Zerg challenge (still no silver or gold), and then played a few games vs. the AI.  I know, I said I wasn’t going to do that anymore (as a few of you have told me not to), but I needed to finish out my two hours for today.  So, as Zerg, I beat Terran.  As Protoss, I lost against Zerg.  I have fun as Zerg now, after the help I received.  I make shitloads of lings, maybe morph a group into the banelings, and then attack.  If it doesn’t work, however, I would have no idea where to go from there.

I should mention that last night, after I had already played for about five hours, I went over to warpprism.com and was watching Destiny’s stream.  It was very interesting to listen to him and his friends discuss the build and what was going on as he played.  Also pretty funny since the guy sounds like Steve Buscemi, and I then pictured him sitting there playing Starcraft II in a spacesuit ala Armageddon.

The request I have is for a few people to play some 1v1 Saturday after 1130pm (Central US) and late afternoon on Sunday.  I want to get a little experience before I do the placement matches sometime in the coming week.  Also, I want to have some fun and take a little break from the campaign.  Either get with me in game (LeTemps 975), here or on reddit (le_temps).  I am up for pretty much anything.