A Year of Starcraft II

Finally feeling it. Then I lost it…

I started tonight’s session of Starcraft II with the Taldereen mission and the one where the Zerg are taking over a planet with infestations.   I did okay on the Taldereen, beating it with two gases still open.  It was a close thing, though.  All of my units that were guarding the SCV who had JUST gotten the last gas were killed and I click, click, clicked the SCV away from the Protoss air units.  Keeping him about an inch from death all the way back to the Command Center was nerve wracking.  But it was over, finally.

The Zerg infestation mission was a different beast altogether.  I had fun.  I was producing units left and right, hotkeying everything and tapping back and forth between them to keep them busy producing.  It was as if it had all come together for me.  I had two groups of units go out in opposite directions during the day to kill off the buildings, and then brought them back at night.  I was only caught off guard when the Zerg broke through the back of my base, but I had enough units at the base to hold them off as I made more.  I was really feeling the tapping the hotkeys that I got from Day9.  I’d cycle through the buildings to make sure they were producing while keeping an eye on the units I had out cleaning up.  And I started keeping my eye on the mini-map more, so I could move around quicker.

While I was playing the Zerg mission, one of the people who had offered help asked if I’d like to play a match vs. AI while he spectated and offered tips.  I thought it would be fun and helpful, so he set it up. He picked a map that would help illustrate macro, something called Macro or Die, I think it was.  If you did not keep your production up and your cash low, a nuke would be dropped on your supply line.  Almost immediately, I was at a loss for what to do. And as soon as I had that, “Oh my god, I need to build something now,” feeling, I froze and didn’t know what to build.  I had maybe one marine when a nuke went off and some zerglings showed up to attack.  After embarrassing myself with that game, he set up another and showed how he would do the macro.  I guess I would say that I knew almost all of the specifics, but don’t know how to do it all together correctly.  Build order, at this point, escapes me when playing a match.  I should probably have a plan, and this is something I will study as I get closer to completing the campaign.

We also played a micro centric map that went about equally as well.  It was like a smaller version of the single player challenges, a group of units vs. another AI group.  He illustrated a few of the basics, and I did okay on some of the match ups.  It mostly showed me how much I still have to learn. Every time I start to understand something, there’s something else that I need to work on.

I will continue to focus on the macro aspect and keeping my production up, I know this is the key for a lot of the game.  It helped a great deal in that Zerg mission.  And, when I can, I will try to at least do more micro and less attack-move.  I will control a few units specifically, trying to keep them alive and use them efficiently.

Tomorrow will be more missions, hopefully four or five,  as I am off of work.  So, first a lot of sleep, then a lot of Starcraft II.



36 responses to “Finally feeling it. Then I lost it…

  1. Eduardo June 13, 2011 at 6:44 am

    Hey, it’s great to see you’re adapting quickly to the hotkeys and such. I wouldn’t worry too much about micro until you’re in the higher leagues. Having good macro is what will give you an enormous advantage over the players in the lower leagues, so keep up that constant worker and unit production. If you see you have too much minerals, build more facilities to keep more units going.

  2. Claus June 13, 2011 at 6:50 am

    Just out of curiosity, you´re not forgetting to get the laboratory upgrades and the Money-based upgrades in the single player mission, are you? I remember that sometimes I would do 2 or 3 missions and then go ¨OMG, I forgot to upgrade!¨ 😛

  3. Alex June 13, 2011 at 6:53 am

    FYI it’s Tal’darim.

  4. Henk de Slager June 13, 2011 at 6:55 am

    I love reading these updates, keep it up.

  5. gokens June 13, 2011 at 7:26 am

    Don’t worry much about micro in the campaign, just build lots of units. Especially the new unit you just got. Also beginner’s can get too focused on microing individual units; that’d matter a lot if it were warcraft 3, but this is starcraft. If you micro at all, it should be entire squads of units (like 12 at a time, minimum) (with a few exceptions… killing the ultralisk on the lava mission comes to mind, I did it by luring him into the lava with a few reapers). If it’s not worth it to move all 12 units, then don’t worry. In the campaign (and beginner multiplayer) avoiding losing units is no where as important as making lots of them.

    • westnob June 13, 2011 at 10:14 am

      I play zerg on ladder and never finished the campaign. Then i got bored and went back and started it and played like terrans on ladder and they have all been super easy. Marine/medic(vac) stim GG. It is a good exercise to practice the various units, but you really don’t need them to win the games.

  6. newsoundwave June 13, 2011 at 7:40 am

    You were wondering about spelling, it’s Tal’Darim.

  7. slacker June 13, 2011 at 8:15 am

    AS for your comment about build orders being a mystery: I understand completely. When I first started the game, I kept reading about these specific build orders, but I was so focused on trying to remember how to build a supply depot or barracks that those build orders were just way over my head.

    The first bo (build order) that really helped me move to the next level was one that did this:

    Few variety of units (1-2 max)
    Few variety of production structures
    Attack early

    Reasoning behind this:

    Macro only required me to build the one unit + workers
    Same build every time lets you focus on not getting supply blocked instead of trying to remember the build
    Lets you win some games and get some confidence

    Example “builds” to try this with:

    Terran: 3 barracks marine push into 6 barracks

    Build SCVs, build a supply depot at 10/11 supply.
    Build 2 more SCVs (to 12-13 supply)
    With the next 300 minerals, build 2 barracks.
    Keep building SCVs, and start marines out of the two rax when they are done.
    Supply depot around 15-17
    Third barracks as soon as you build the supply depot

    NEVER queue up marines; each barracks should only have 1 marine building with none waiting behind it. Same for SCVs.

    Grab whatever marines you have, generally about 4-6, and just send them to attack the enemy. Literally select them, hit “a”, and click into the back of the enemy base. Then forget about them and keep building stuff. You can go up to 6 barracks eventually on 1 base, but just keep building supply depots, marines, and scvs. dont even worry about gas. Dont even build a gas geyser.

    When you have another 5 marines, send them again. One SCV building with none queued, 1 marines building at each base with none queued, and constant supply. If you see your first set of marines not dying right away, just start sending each marine that pops out to the enemy. If you see your money getting over 150 minerals, throw down another barracks right away. You can build 6 total on 1 base

    This is a really easy build called the 6rax, because, well, you build 6 barracks and just pump out constant marines. Pro-level players have used this build to win games, but as you can see, it’s really simply.

    To start out, don’t even worry about microing your marines. Just a-move (select marines, hit “a” for attack, and left-click to enemy base) and forget about them. Your marines might not be as efficient as possible due to lack of macro, but with you focusing 100% of macro, you will have twice as many units, easy.

    This build can literally get you to silver or gold without any micro. marines are amazing.

  8. Michael June 13, 2011 at 8:35 am

    I think you should stream your playing. Then, people can watch you play and give you advice on your play.

  9. Red June 13, 2011 at 9:48 am

    Wow, it’s so cool to read your progress updates! You’ve only just started to play this game, and it sounds like you’re already picking up some habits which I still have trouble with(the tapping of the production buildings)! Keep up the good work. I can’t wait to see how you progress over the year.

  10. Sung-Won Kim June 13, 2011 at 9:50 am

    Don’t worry too much about micro. Macro is more important in lower leagues than anything else.

  11. Skyride June 13, 2011 at 9:57 am

    I wouldn’t worry about “Macro or Die” for now. Those maps are actually moderately difficult, and you’re better using them practice once you know what you’re doing (silver/gold league) rather than actually learning.

  12. westnob June 13, 2011 at 10:18 am

    I don’t know if anyone has pointed this out, but a fundamental aspect of RTS attacking is to focus fire units down with ranged. If you kill one unit at a time, that is one less unit that can be attacking you back. A unit in the red/yellow does as much as a unit in the green; thus, distributing what your units are attacking evenly means you take more damage.

    • redditpickedmyhobby June 13, 2011 at 4:17 pm

      I’ve begun doing this as much as I can, when I remember. It helped a lot on the Zerg virus level. And then I forgot about it on the challenges, when it probably would have helped even more.

  13. nugget June 13, 2011 at 11:21 am

    I really don’t like how the guy put you on the macro or die map. That’s a lot of stress for someone who’s just starting. I would suggest playing through the normal versus AI games. Go against a medium or easy computer.

    While campaign is good for control and basics. Its hugely different from normal melee games, especially with upgrades and what units you can actually produce and such.

    I’m nugget.754 if you want some good solid advice on your play without the huge amount of stress of your stuff getting nuked. Keep up the good work!

    • redditpickedmyhobby June 13, 2011 at 4:18 pm

      Yeah, I realized the stress of that particular version of the game screwed with me. But I appreciated his willingness to help nonetheless. I think perhaps it was also a little bit of a test on his part.

  14. RukKus June 13, 2011 at 11:56 am

    Hello, sir! You’re quite inspiring me with your stories and writings.

    One thing I’d like to add to all of this is not to become so overwhelmed with many, many, many different mechanics (macro/micro/build orders/etc.). There are many fine individuals assisting you, which is amazing. However, many of us forget what it was like when we were in Bronze league, how hard it was to manage a seemingly endless list of tasks.

    I’d like to encourage you to keep it simple at first, and focus on one thing at a time. You may even break these into days. Here’s an example (a list of items I focused on one day at a time). Forget about trying to force everything else, and instead focus just one thing at a time until it becomes natural, then you’ll be able to focus on other things.

    Day 1: Never become supply blocked.
    Day 2: Don’t allow your money to go below 1000. Keep training/building!
    Day 3: Expand before 8:00 every game.
    Day 4: Do one build order every game.
    Day 5: Don’t allow your money to go below 600.
    Day 6: Expand before 7:00 every game.
    Day 7: Macro to 200/200 against Very Easy AI. Aim for under 19:00.
    Day 8: Macro to 200/200 against Very Easy AI. Aim for under 18:00
    Day 9: Focus on Day9! Episode #252… (these mechanics are HARD for newer players! and meant for players familiar with most of the basic concepts. I’m in Master League and I still struggle with these concepts, so don’t fret).
    Day 10: Do another build order every game.
    Day 11: Build one unit you’ve never built before, every game, become familiar with it (even if you won’t use it every game in the future).

    It goes on, and on. You’ll notice that as you focus on one thing and ingrain it into your SUBCONSCIOUS, you won’t have to think about it as much. For me, building Supply Depots before you’re supply blocked is natural and happens without me thinking. It’s like a subconscious alarm clock dings in my brain, and I check my supply and build one. That way, by learning “Never become supply blocked” first, it won’t inhibit you in the future as you learn more complicated strategies.

    For the “Macro to 200/200 under X minutes” ones, this is to help you A) Keep your money low! B) Know how much you can build off one, two, and even three bases!

    The Day9 #252 is very challenging, and I would encourage you not to become too stressed if they are too difficult. The most important concept you need to ingrain right now is to always use hotkeys. This alone will take you a week or two to get used to. But once you learn the hotkey for every unit/building/upgrade/spell for your race, your speed will increase naturally.

    Don’t use this sample guide as a guide itself, but take away important concepts.

    TL;DR: Keep it simple. Learn one thing at a time until it’s natural. Move to the next. Don’t encumber yourself by trying to learn everything at once; it will burn you out! Your goal is not to win, but to establish a sturdy foundation.

    • redditpickedmyhobby June 13, 2011 at 4:24 pm

      Thanks! I will start focusing more in some individual games vs. the AI, with these ideas in mind. I did find that after focusing on the hotkeys for a while, it became a lot easier to do other things while still doing that. Hopefully I can do that for most of this advice.

  15. asadasds June 13, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    That was me that helped you out!

  16. pete275 June 13, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    I kinda hate to learn specific build orders (it’s like doing homework to me), so instead I just have a gist of how much production you can support with one base. For example, 3 barracks per base, 3 gateways, 2gate 1robo, 2 factories, etc (depends on the composition you want). Then you just make the buildings as soon as you have the money (after making sure everything else is producing).
    Zerg is another matter (easier, in my opinion)

  17. Edu June 13, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    The name is Tal’darim btw.

  18. garganroo June 13, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    I recently came across a series of videos on YouTube of Destiny attempting to get to platinum league by ONLY building mass queens. No lings, no mutalisks, just pure queens. I’m up to the 11th video and so far he has only lost one game.

    The reason he did so is to demonstrate to players that it doesnt matter as much when you are at a lower league standard of playing, about build orders and timings. the single most important thing is to work on your game mechanics. Making sure you are keeping up production, making sure you are not supply blocked, spending your minerals and using your hot keys. When building units, just put together a bunch of reasonable offensive units together and don’t worry too much about your results.

    I figure this is good advice for, at the very least when you start attempting multiplayer ladder matches.

    All in all, just take it easy, play as well as you can and the speed and technical nous will come naturally. If you play to have fun rather than to win, you’ll probably get better anyway :).

  19. Tom June 13, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    GL with your goals. I would maybe recommend trying out a co-operative game where you can play with other humans against the AI. It is a lot less stressful having another noob with you, and the games are longer, which allows you to get more basic exposure to macro.

    Whoever made you play that Macro or Die map is a real ass, it is a great map that you should keep in mind MONTHS down the line when you know what every hot-key corresponds to with and have a firm build order.

    • Tom June 13, 2011 at 3:13 pm

      PS – You might also want to stick with one race which you like for at least a block of games(if not for a few weeks) that way you do not get hot-keys confused and can start to feel out the proper build orders.

  20. crono5788 June 13, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    Macro or Die is complete overkill. I’m upper Platinum and am bad at those maps so it’s not like you’ll never be able to get out of Bronze without it… Same with the micro maps, 99% of the time you’ll never be in a situation where you need to micro that precisely. Of course if you get to Masters level you might want to start paying attention to corner cases like that. But that’s waaaaay down the road. Just playing computer players or laddering in and of itself will be good practice. Learning the basics should be easy, fun, and pretty stress-free. Learning at every level should be, really. There will be a point where you yourself will know that you need specific practice and then you can try out maps like Macro or Die and the micro challenge maps.

  21. Joakim June 13, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    When you feel like there is to much to handle, and that there is no way you could keep track of all the different aspects of the game at once. Remember that if you do train on something for long enough. For example driving a car. You know when you first started driving, you had to focus on shifting gears, have just the right amount of gas, keep track of the traffic etc, but when you did it repeatedly, it became easier and easier. To the point that when you drive now (assuming you have a drivers license) its seconded nature. You dont think about shifting gears you think about something else. You just drive.

    Its the same way with starcraft, you grind the mechanics to the point where you just do them without thinking, you don’t think about putting when to put down a supply depot, you just do it. You know when you are suppose to expand and do it.

    As a final tip, have fun playing, its the most important thing of all, if you feel like the game isn’t stimulating, your mind will close down and you wont be able to learn anything at all. But if you play when you are feeling inspired and the game is inspiring to you, then you will learn a lot quicker.

    Cheers from Sweden!

  22. UselessTies June 13, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    Honestly, at your level you shouldn’t even worry about build orders yet. When it comes to something like build orders for Terran, everything must be done to the second. Buildings must lift off to switch tech labs and reactors in order to get the correct upgrades and the most units. Zerg is more reactionary, which is difficult, because if you scout your opponent and read what your opponent is doing incorrectly and do the wrong build, you lose. This sort of thing is out of your level right now. Build orders are made specifically for high level play. If they are not done correctly, the whole game falls apart.

    Instead there are a few things you should practice that have already been stated. Practice building units and not getting supply capped. And get a feel for all of the units and how they move around. Before you think about what units you should make, you first need to learn how to move your units efficiently.

  23. Name Required June 13, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    These updates are interesting to read. I bought SC2 a few months ago and never really got around to playing it much, so this is really making me want to get back into it. I can’t really give you any advice or coaching, but I might be able to help you practice since we’re both inexperienced. My character code is Medren.941 if you’re interested.

  24. KarmaOrion.423 June 13, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    You’re doing great man, just wanted to show my support.

    Glad you’re having fun!

  25. Dustin J June 13, 2011 at 11:53 pm

    I love reading this, its awesome to see how your approach and view of the game is evolving with every day of learning! Keep up the good work, and maybe we’ll meet on the ladder some day ;-).

  26. ArturosII June 14, 2011 at 1:28 am

    You really don’t need to worry too much about micro at this level of play. Macro is the most important thing. If you have perfect micro it won’t help if it’s only a few units against a lot of stuff. Win by just having more stuff than the enemy. In the campaign that’s usually more of whatever unit you’ve just unlocked with that mission. Another thing that I’m not sure if you do or not is to not queue things up if possible. I’ve a friend who got 20x better when he found this out because he had more money to build more buildings and to have more units churning out.
    As for build orders really the only thing you should need straight away (when you jump onto the ladder) is an opening so you don’t die to really early all ins all the time. And by opening I mean simply when you build your first couple of buildings. From there just mass shit until you’re really good at massing shit. That’s where I am at the moment and if I want to advance I’m going to have to learn larva management better (that and to use something other than ling, baneling and muta =P).

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