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A Year of Starcraft II

Monthly Archives: September 2011

Thoughts On The Last Week

First off, I find it pretty damn incredible that Screddit is still interested and cheering me on. I mean, perhaps it’s only right since you are the reason I am sitting where I am today, but still, pretty freaking cool.  I also found it hilarious that little old LeTemps’ promotion post was one of the top posts of that day on WordPress with 40k+ hits.  Someone somewhere was scratching their head at that.

The other night, after a few practice matches with some friends that I have played with since the beginning of my year, we were talking about something or other and got on the subject of the game Go.  If you are unaware, it is a great board game invented in Japan (I believe), that is usually compared to Chess in its depth and intelligence (not sure if that’s the word I’m looking for).  I brought up an old manga I used to read that got me interested in the game- Hikaru No Go.  The other two had not only heard of it but read it, and played Go.  I mention this because it is a very peculiar thing for me, both to find someone who plays Go and who also read the manga.  I had this feeling, after that, that perhaps Starcraft II is my home, as it were, in a community sense.  Similar interests, great people, and I feel like I belong.  After a few months, I know that after a year I will continue to play and keep myself in the family of Starcraft.

Game wise, an interesting thing has happened in the last week, along with the promotion, I have become more confident in all of the match-ups.  The promotion actually came on the heels of 4 wins Vs. platinum Terrans, what I considered my worst match-up.  I don’t actually know what’s changed, and to be honest that is one of the most confounding aspects of this game.  I believe it to be because I’ve picked a progression and tech path for the match-up, like I did vs. Toss and Zerg, and that has let me actually play as well as possible without having to think of what to do next.  But I’m not sure that this is the case.  I’m not suddenly winning every game vs. Terran, but a larger percentage of them.  Early hellions is annoying still, as I don’t like roaches vs. Terran, but with a few just to hold them off if I scout it early enough, it’s not that bad of a tech offshoot.  Just as a note to anyone wondering, my build for T is 15 hatch, 14 pool, 14 gas, ling speed, bane nest, lair (generally).  I will go mutas mid game, then switch into Ultras with the ling/banes.

Vs Zerg I’m still trying to end the games early with a mass ling and banelings.  If I face too much of a defense, I can generally move into a macro game, so I think it’s a good build for now.  I try not to go mutas every game that stretches into the macro, but it really seems to be a good mid-game unit, a kind of buffer until I get to Ultras.  Yes, I do Ultras here too. I don’t really mind that it is considered a crap unit, I like it and it’s working for me at the moment.  Build here: 13 pool, 15 gas, 15 overlord, 15 queen, ling speed, bane nest, 21-25 hatch.

Vs Toss I do a similar early hatch build as I do with Terran, but instead of ling/bane, I go roaches.  I get a few lings for scouting, then mass roaches and try to get the upgrades as quickly as possible.  After the lair and roach speed, I will throw down a spire to get Corruptors if I see or suspect Collosi.  Then it’s on to Broodlords.

The depth of this game amazes me, after looking over those builds that I put up.  I mean, even with a set progression, each game is completely different.  A few seconds late on a drone or building and I am put in a completely different situation than I was facing in the last game that I either hit the timing or did it early.  It’s pretty crazy and kind of scary.  I guess that’s what makes it so addictive.  There’s perfection there, somewhere.  I just have to find it.

My first day of platinum was kind of kick in the face.  Game after game of just being creamed.  I remember a similar feeling after being promoted to gold, so I wasn’t too worried, but it did kind of feel like I didn’t belong.  Today, however, I was doing well in the couple games I played after watching Day9’s latest Newbie Tuesday about timing attacks.  I thought it was interesting how he said the viewers that sent in replays were surprised with how well the timing attacks actually did, because it coincided with a kind of realization I had myself.  The other day I realized I was doing well when I attacked and not so well when I sat back for a longer time. It was surprising because of how I was told to, and generally do, play:  macro, macro, hold off attack, macro, attack.  At least something similar to that.  I think I’ve actually passed that point where that is the best strategy as Zerg, and now it is time to do my own attacks as I macro.  It’s going to be hard to make myself change the way I play so completely, but it should at least be fun.

Goodnight and GLHR.

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I don’t always post updates to my blog…

Something…. something…. PLATINUM!

 

I forgot to screenshot the promotion, but this’ll do.  Feels good. I’m working my way up steadily.  A little over a month in gold, 200+ games played, and I’m still improving.  And of course I’ve been grinning ever since I got the promotion.

A more in-depth update will be posted tomorrow, as it’s my day off from playing, but I wanted to share the promotion.

GLHR!

 

It’s been a while…

I keep trying to make myself sit down and write one of these each night, but, alas, the internet and other games always call to me.  I have not missed my nightly Starcraft II, however.  And, as I near four months, I’m actually kind of proud of myself.  I can’t name something I’ve spent this much time on in the last five or so years.  So, instead of jumping from interest to interest, I’m sitting here close to Platinum in Starcraft II.  It feels so good to keep working at something and see the results.  I don’t win every game.  Hell, there are days when I only win a couple.  But it’s always fun and I almost always learn something.

At times it seems Battle.net knows what I need.  The past few days have seen me playing a steady stream of Terrans, the match-up practice I sorely needed.  I’ve gotten better.  Not a lot, but, still, better.  And while I cursed the three 2-rax bunker rushes in a row, knowing what to look for and when to pull my drones is a good feeling. And having a late-game plan now vs Terran gives me something to shoot for, even if it doesn’t always work.  I have actually started doing a pretty heavy ling/bane/ultra mixture (The ling/banes from one of the pro games I saw on gomtv a while ago.  The ultras just because I like them.).  In the mid-game, I will get 8-10 mutas to harass and take care of any dropships or expos if I can.  It feels very fleshed out now, when before I would just kinda throw down something to see if it works.  Even if this doesn’t work, or isn’t the best mix, I feel confident in putting it together, if that makes any sense.

I took a day off this week from my normal macro play and just went mass ling, with some banelings thrown in to bust down walls if needed, in all the match-ups.  The goal was just to kick some ass.  It worked surprisingly well.  This wasn’t even a six-pool or anything, but a 13 or 14 pool, depending on the match-up.  And I have to say it was pretty fun busting into bases and winning early.  I may throw a cheese build for a day into my rotation, simply to have fun.  I also think this makes me work on my battle micro.  When 20 lings are running around cannons and trying to get into a main, I have to focus or they get caught up in the maze and die.  This, to me, seems like good micro practice.

Day9 continues to entertain and educate me on alternating days of play.  Funday Monday, Newbie Tuesday, and the pro game reviews have all taught me something.  And watching him dance to that song he loves on, I believe it was, last Monday’s live pre-show was hilarious.  Having everyone start up the youtube video at the same time was inspired and hilarious.  I look forward to my days off of work so that I can catch the live show, which is a lot of fun.  Watching him play the demo of Diablo III was fun too.  (The game looks great, I wish I would have signed up for the beta.)

My goal for last week kind of got sidetracked.  I don’t know if I lost focus or just forgot, but I am still working on keeping track of my opponent’s expansions.  Knowing when to grab my third or fourth, or when I’m behind, is important and will lead to better play, so I see the point of it.  I’m still working on when to check, or when to send lings to hang out.  Early game is pointless, I’ve found, so moving it to mid-game, where I can also scout with air if I have it, will be my focus for now.  Perhaps check every two minutes after five?  I’m not sure, but that sounds about right.

That’s it for tonight.  GLHR.

Having Fun

Even when working on my mechanics, macro or scouting, it is still a lot of fun just to play this game.  Massing a roach army with corruptors and watching a protoss deathball disintegrate is a great feeling.  Successfully holding off an early pool, even to lose a while later when I got greedy, makes me grin like a fool.  And I don’t even have to mention, but I will, watching Day9 joke around and teach a lot too.  I don’t know where I was going with this, but after playing tonight I was in a great mood and wanted to share.  I had actually started the night kind of off, after a long day of work, but throw in a Newbie Tuesday and some good games and I am feeling good.

I have also recently discovered the Mafia custom game in SC2.  It is a hilarious way to kill an hour or two.  It’s not actually still an RTS, but more like one of those dinner party murder mystery games with a bunch of online trolls.  Hilarity. I’m not using the time I play this variant as part of my focusing on SC2, it’s just a fun little one off.

There’s not much else going at the moment, and it feels kind of boring to continue with the “work on something, watch videos, play, work on something, play, watch videos” updates.  I wish I knew more of what to write here.  I’ve already proved I’m not good with the daily updates.  Anyways, I’m just going to write where I’m at right now.

In the match-ups, my ZvP feels like my strongest.  I can usually build up quick enough to counteract a deathball.  I haven’t seen many four gates recently, so I’m not sure how I’d handle that at the moment, but I feel like I play my best vs. Toss.  Next would be my ZvZ.  It feels kind of funny saying that, considering how much trouble I used to have.  But I do have to admit that I’m kind of playing a cheese currently, going mass ling to try and end the game quickly.  It’s still fun, which is why I’m still playing it this way, but I should probably start looking for another build to use.  Finally, there’s my ZvT.  God, do I hate this match up right now.  If it’s not a bunker rush, it’s quick hellions into cloaked banshees.  If I can get to the late game, I can usually find a way to win.  But there’s that problem of making it there.

I started out this week trying to focus on continuing to check for my opponent’s expansions.  It honestly is harder than I thought to keep myself coming back to this.  I’ve done the lings at expos, and some overlords, but mid-game, in a place where I forgot or my opponent went through and killed out the scouts, I lose track.  I’m thinking more mutas to do a constant harass and check of the expansions.  This will add more micro to my game, which I know I need to work on, but I think that since this is my focus, it will be good to at least try.  And it doesn’t matter if I lose, as long as I keep scouting

Goodnight and GLHR.

On Progression

I feel like I’m back where I was when I was sitting in the top 10 of Silver, like I’m stagnating again.  And, really thinking about it, I don’t know that I actually am, or even was, stagnating.  It’s more of reaching a cusp, and then just playing through it.  There’s no real big mystery that will instantly catapult me into a higher league.  I’m not going to find a build or way of doing something that will make me into a better player.  I just have to keep playing, keep spending my $, keep my supply up, make units at the right time, and make small adjustments to my game and I will get better.

As it is, I’m thinking more about the game.  And not in a vague way, either, but specifically, situation wise.   It’s helped me somewhat, realizing that I should be getting higher tech more often and expanding more often.  Thinking about specifics and what my opponents have done vs. what I have done is letting me react when those situations come up again.  I guess this is what everyone meant when they told me just to play a lot of games to get better.  I’m still surprised sometimes (twice tonight, in fact- a lot of marines and marauders in one and then a lot of Immortals pretty quickly in another), but usually I can respond to what I scout.  And scouting has become a bigger part of my game.  I still don’t understand it all, but I can generally find out what I need to know.  And it feels good to be getting to that point.  I’m not annoyed with the cusp I seem to have reached, but just looking to see what I can improve.

I think a lot of improving is going to be learning the timings of the races.  I read somewhere that the main difference between Gold and Platinum is knowing those timings.  I don’t really have a head for numbers, and have been kind of dreading this part of learning.  I’m going to have to sit down and figure out what I need to know about these, and how to apply the knowledge in a game.  That’s my next vague goal.

Supply is nearing it’s end at the top of my focus, though it won’t drop down too far.  I have gotten in the habit of checking it and my minerals a lot more frequently, after these two weeks of kicking myself every time I forget.  My next specific goal is continuing to check for my opponent’s expansions.  Day9 made a big deal of this in one of his videos I watched, stating that is was near the top of his mental checklist, so I figure it should be at the top of mine too.  Right now, it’s sort of a vague, “Oh, I should check that” when I have a few seconds and a free unit or two.  I try to keep overlords on the expansions, but don’t always.  A few lings burrowed at the closest expos to my opponent was a suggestion given to me and I will try it out.  I also have been wanting to give the Nydus worms a try. I don’t think I’ve used one yet in a game, and I’m going to try to find an excuse.  Maybe a day of Nydus worms next week.  Should be at least fun to try.

Goodnight and GLHF.

Learning Still

My week of supply watching has gone well.  Not great, but okay.  I’m getting blocked less and less.  One thing that set me back a bit, but I think will help a lot more in the long run, was turning off the sound error messages.  I can’t hear the “Need More Overlords” anymore.  It took some time to get used to, which shows how much I was using it as a trigger to make overlords.  But since turning it off, I’m down to one or two blocks when I’m not paying attention in a game.  Some games I can go without getting blocked.  I’m going to just keep focusing on it.  Really watch it this week.  I did get distracted with some game issues like build orders and the like, but I really want to get this ingrained to the point where I instinctively look at it all the time.

Watching a Day9 daily routinely has been fun and instructive.  I learn something new from each one.  His video of coaching djWheat was very helpful in showing me how I should be playing.  In particular the not looking at what I’m doing.  Hands and eyes should work independently of each other.  I started trying to do this, and play slower.  “Oh, he’s attacking?  Wait, I have to put these drones into the gas.”  It’s little lessons like these that I think will help me a great deal over the long run.  If nothing else, it’s increasing my game sense, which can only help.  I’m going to keep the schedule of watching one every other day.

Coming up on three months now, of my Starcraft II year, and  I can already see some of the benefits of this in other aspects of my life.  I watch a lot less television now.  I still catch the good stuff with my DVR (Breaking Bad, Daily Show, True Blood- not as many goofy Fairies this season as I thought, and I mean that literally not as a slur), but it’s no longer on constantly in the background from the time I get home until I go to sleep.  I have tried, in the past, to do this on my own, but never got it to stick.  I don’t know exactly when television started to take up so much of my time and thoughts, but it is stupid to watch so much (cue Ooompa-Loompas).

I used to read a lot more, and with the addition of Starcraft and subtraction of a lot of television, I’ve gotten back into it gradually .  In the past three months I’ve probably read five books (Ready Player One is my favorite so far- geeky, funny, a quick read), which is probably two or three more than I would have read awhile ago, but still four or so less than way back when.  If that makes any sense.  All in all, a positive to me.

Video game wise, other than Starcraft II, I hadn’t played anything for the first two months.  A complete black out of all other games.  And then, Deus Ex: HR came out and I wanted to see what my new computer could do (I really did overbuild for Starcraft II.  I could’ve done with half the computer I have now, but I’m still really happy with it).  Whilst on Steam playing that game, I saw that The Witcher 2 came out in August.  I got it and played some of that game, which reminded me of having so much fun with the first few hours of the first Witcher.  I never actually played much of that game because my then computer was a little too slow for it.  It was the first computer I built myself (I still have it.  Is that strange?), and was reaching the end of it’s usefulness when The Witcher came out.  I was given a Mac after that, and never had much luck gaming on it.  Anyways, I decided to start over completely with the first Witcher and am having a blast.  The point of all this, and I’m sorry to have blabbed so much, is that I’m still playing despite how annoyed I get with it at times.  Usually, playing something that challenges me would end up in me quitting and moving on to something else.  I mean, opening a door, four guys jump on me and I’m dead in five seconds is one example of frustrating.  Having no other saves but one from 30 minutes prior to that, is another (and completely my own damn fault).   And while this isn’t that big of a deal, it is a nice reminder that I am bit by bit being changed by my year of Starcraft.

I also want to add that the other things I am doing are not replacing Starcraft in my life.  In addition to the two hours a day, I have not missed a day of turning almost all of the links purple on Screddit (I’m in the middle on text only Screddit.  The discussions about things like hydras and ZvZ games are awesome and I have seen very few of those on there before, at least as in depth as they are going now.  But it seems kind of false to force that on a whole community.  Like I said, in the middle so I’m not worried about it either way.) and have been watching a lot more streams lately.  I sat for a couple hours the other day watching Destiny, CombatEX and some other dude play the Insane AI.  It wasn’t about the game they were playing so much, but about being part of the community of people.  They were talking about the teams, other players, and the general ephemera around Starcraft II.  And then I got to watch Idra play and commentate.  I really enjoyed that and hope to see more. He’s still the guy I root for in the tournaments, so hearing what he thinks as he plays is great.

So it’s not like Starcraft II is fading from view, but more finding a natural place in the order of my life.  Wake up, check Screddit.  Go to work, check Screddit at lunch.  Come home, watch a show (if anything good) or a stream until I’m ready to start playing.  Afterwards, play some games and/or read.  I may be pushing the blog to the side a bit, but, hey, that’s nothing new, right?  Hopefully this giant tome will sate the readers for a couple of days.  Perhaps I should only do a blog post on my day of watching a daily for an hour and playing for one hour.  I’ll try.  Again, I’ll try.

And now that I’ve spent over an hour on my day off writing this, I think I’ll go play some more Witcher.

Goodnight and GLHR.

 

Becoming A Better Gamer

I’ve been working on supply the last two days, and I have to say it is going well.  It is kind of funny how much easier the games go when I’m focusing on not getting supply blocked.  Keeping it at the top of my Pay Attention To list is really stepping up my game.  No more getting caught without units when my opponent starts to move out because I need two more overlords.  Nope, I can drone and then grab those units when necessary.  Also as a side benefit, I’m checking minerals more, because, hey, it’s right there next to supply.  Bonus!  So, yeah, actually having fun with my little rule for the week.  I have still missed some overlords, yes, but I am getting better.  Hopefully after a week it will be ingrained.

I started a new kind of schedule, playing and streaming for two hours one day, the next day watching a video for one hour (a Day9 Daily) and then playing for an hour without streaming.  We’ll see how this works out during the current week and I may keep it up.  Takes some of the pressure off, I think.  And it gives me more of the learning and studying aspect I’ve been looking for.

Today’s video was Daily #194 about Zerg droning.  It really gave me some things to think about and I tried to put it into practice in today’s games as I was focusing on supply.  I may drone a little longer now, perhaps too long to go by some of my losses, but I will keep this in mind as I play from now on.  I will try to go through and find all the Zerg dailies and watch them.  The next one I think I will watch is one suggested on reddit where Day9 coaches DJwheat.  Probably all of the Newbie Tuesdays will be beneficial to me.  I haven’t watched one yet that hasn’t taught me something (triple negative?).

Goodnight and GLHF.