Starcraft Diary #11: The Slump Continues

After losing 12 of the last 14 games, I’ve decided to call it a night. Nothing is going right; I get crushed in macro games and my all-ins are held off. And this losing streak is not coming off a long winning streak that had boosted my MMR. I’m just getting outplayed all of a sudden.

As I mentioned in my last post, perhaps part of it has to do with everyone being in one server in the beta, meaning that all of the world’s Grandmaster, Master, Diamond, Platinum, etc.. are on one server, which pushes the level of play up, and my place on the ladder down. And I’m guessing as we are nearing the release of Heart of the Swarm, more and more people are are switching over from Wings of Liberty, further heightening the level of play.

Nonetheless, it’s still incredibly disheartening to lose game after game, most of which aren’t even close. Call me dramatic, but to some degree, I did some Starcraft soul-searching in the shower and figured that, ultimately, I need to get back to the basics. So I’m going to write out what I think has been going on in my games, in all three match ups, and flesh out what I need to do to improve on a faster rate.

In general, most of my losses usually stem from tech-ing too fast, and not having enough army to defend as a result. The reason for this is perhaps I’ve been wanting to add Stargate units to my army, which actually takes a toll on my army as the building of the stargate(s) and the slow making of the units costs me both resources and time. I’ve heard almost everywhere that Skytoss is unbeatable, and I still believe that, if I can get to it. I guess I have to sacrifice another tech path if I wanted to go Stargate, that’s the solution that makes the most sense.

Analysis of how I’ve been matching up against all three races in the next post!

Starcraft Diary #9 – Up the Ladder / Understanding Gold & Platinum Game Sense

Hello readers! I know that I haven’t posted in this blog for quite a while. And it’s not that I haven’t been playing SC2, I’ve been doing a lot of that, it’s just that sometimes I find it difficult to place into writing what I think of the game, strategies, meta game, etc, that I was a bit scared that I won’t be churning out anything worth reading. But now that enough time has passed, and I’ve made quite a bit of progress in the game, I’m back!

I noticed that when I first had the intentions of writing my StarCraft experiences here, that I was a bronze 1v1 player. Well, after some 3 months of playing (I didn’t have a gaming computer for over a month), I currently sit at #2 of my Gold league. While I would be happy if I could reach Platinum in the near future, I am quite aware of the fact that I am slowly but surely improving.

My mechanics and reaction time have improved. But most importantly, my game sense has gotten better.

A recent experience that echos this sentiment has to do with not giving up after losing a big engagement. As I currently am playing mostly Gold and Platinum players, their game senses, while certainly better than those from Bronze and Silver, are surely not at the pro level.

There have been many cases where I lost in a big fight against my opponent, or my all-in strategy didn’t work, and had my opponent pushed out right then he would’ve won, but didn’t, allowing me to macro back up and tech switch to take back the game.

It is quite discouraging to lose almost your entire army after an engagement, and sometimes players are tempted to leave the game right then. But the fact is, your opponent will not always have the intuition to keep pushing and win the game. Sometimes they would fall back to their base, giving you an opportunity to macro up and / or harass.

So, remember, when you lose your army, don’t give up right away! See what your opponent does first. If he massed roaches and falls back after beating your army and keeps on massing roaches, what’s to stop you from massing voidrays and kill him? All you need is that window of few minutes, and in the Gold league, those windows are often wide open.

Starcraft Diary #5 – The 7 1/2 Minute DT Rush in Bronze / Silver

I know, I know. I know that Day9 says that the fastest possible Dark Templar, if one were to rush straight to it, should be around 7 minutes. But for those of us in Bronze and Silver leagues who do not possess a 100+ effective APM, remember this: you opponents’ skills aren’t that much better than yours, therefore a DT that arrives at 7:30 might do just as much damage as a 7 minute DT at a Diamond league or above.

I know because I just won three games with it.

Again, I won’t go into the technicalities of making DTs. The important thing, though, is figuring out which building(s) you should go for first when your DTs run into your opponent’s base.

As I use this strategy primarily against Zerg (because: 1. Terran often walls in their ramp and can scan to take out the DTs while they are hacking away at the supply depots, and; 2. Lower league Protoss players very often likes to make photon cannons, which often keeps them from losing and they don’t even know it.), if you see that a Lair’s already finished, there’s no point in taking it out because an overseer is coming even if you kill it. I actually made the error of going for the lair first and almost lost that game.

Instead, I would suggest going for either the roach warren or the spawning pool, here’s why: If your zerg opponent is being DT rushed, even if they get an overseer, they might elect to just go for a base trade. Regardless of whether or not you are able to defend the army headed to your base, you can make the most of your DTs by taking out the structure that allows your opponent to reinforce his army, in this case the roach warren and the spawning pool.

Finally, even if the DT rush fails, because this is lower league play, your opponent is more often than not intimidated by your aggression and will be less aggressive. One thing to note, though, is of course: if you see cheese, you might want to cheese back. Don’t be surprised if your zerg opponent tries a nydus network, or rush to mutas, after your DT rush.

In the mean time, glhf!

Starcraft Diary #2 – Protoss-ing in the Bronze League

I am a pure Protoss player. For someone who has to play with (for the time being) a computer that lags during game play, Protoss requires the least micro to achieve decent performances. With that in mind, I have two very basic observations that has helped me plow through the bronze league with relative ease.

1. [If opponent has little air force] The death-ball: This is perhaps the most common way to play Protoss – amass a maxed-food, max-upgraded army full consisting of Colossus, Immortals, Stalker, Zealot, Sentry, and maybe some high/dark Templar, Void Rays, and Archons. It is the easiest way to achieve the moment where you march your army head-on against your opponent’s army and completely demolishes it. Basically with this death ball you can crush any Zerg player going just Roach-Hydra (plus Zergling), or any Terran player going Marine-Marauder-Medivac (again, in Bronze and Silver) because the Colossi and Immortals basically go unscathed as they use their powerful attacks to crush their enemies. Even with the stimp-pack, the marines and marauders are still no match against Colossi-Immortal.

2. [If opponent has strong air] The Mass-Storm Play: Despite the fact that Bronze is the lowest league in the ladder, some players are still aware of the fact that they need a strong anti-air presence against Protoss in order to defeat the death-ball. As such, Zerg players will mass up Corruptors while Terran players will get Vikings to counter the all-powerful Colossus. Once the the Colossi in a death-ball falls, its power diminishes significantly. I have lost many games were my Colossi are killed right in the beginning of an engagement and the rest of my army is quickly wiped out after that.

There is a very simple solution to this problem. Replace the majority of the Colossus with High Templars. This works for several reasons:

– Most Bronze / Silver Terran and Zerg players almost always expect their Protoss opponents to mass Colossi, which is most common and usually made most sense for the Protoss players. As they would counter accordingly with the Corruptors (and Mutalisks) and Vikings, making High Templars would dramatically lower the usefulness of these units, therefore indirectly wasting their food that could otherwise be used to produce other units.

– The Psy Storm is powerful in all levels of play, but it is especially potent when playing against lower level players because of their lower micro skills and therefore less likely to dodge storms. As a result, what you very often get is Zerg and Terran players running head on into battle with Corruptors and Vikings only to discover there are no Colossi for them to kill, and to eat repeated storms in the face.

– Where as this strategy is decent against Zerg (as it is harder to storm fast-moving Zerglings), it is especially powerful against Terran armies. Basically, instead of making 3 or more Colossi, stick with two or less, get as much High Templars as 5 or more (basically as many as you can afford). Make sure to wait a while until their energy is high. Then, when you engage a mass Terran MMM-Bio-Ball, when you see their troops stop and start shooting, select the Templars and go ‘t-click-t-click-t-click-t-click…’ – CARPET-STORM that bio-ball until all of your Templars are out of energy, then morph them into Archons to keep fighting. Often times though, the Archons are not needed as the opponent’s entire army is dead from taking so many storms.

– Finally, the carpet-storm strategy also works, particularly in the lower leagues, because lower league Zerg players seldom use infestors, while, more directly, lower league Terran players seldom use Ghosts. Ghosts serve as the arch-nemesis of High Templars; they counter each other. In the pro-level games, sometimes the game comes down to whether the Ghosts can snipe the Templars or the Templars can Feedback the Ghosts first. But in the lower-level games, Terran players rarely use Ghosts, allowing your Templars to freely be in your army-ball and storming the heck out of the opponents’ bio-ball.

So, try it out! It is especially gratifying when, after both sides have massed a maxed army and they clash, your opponent leaves the game without saying ‘gg’ because his army has been stormed into oblivion.