Home > Starcraft II > Starcraft II – My first five lessons

Starcraft II – My first five lessons

So I jumped into Starcraft II Beta last week. I had seen some video’s and read a bit on the site, but I had no idea how much had changed since Starcraft I and I had not played that for years anyway and never online. It shall be no surprise that I am hanging around in Copper League now, though in the top 8. Since it’s beta I have been experimenting with all three races and their units. That’s not something that’s helping my record on the short time either.

Still, I am having great fun. I have lost games I should have won and won games I should have really lost. The match-making is pretty loose to get fast games with the limited beta population, so everyone is fighting everyone. Personally, I think that losing to a better opponent is much more rewarding in the long run than stomping noobs all day. Only the games that were interrupted through crashes have really frustrated me. One particular game ended in a bitter crash. My opponent and I had been fighting for well over half an hour, which is quite long for SCII 1v1 matches. He was controlling his units better than I, but my Macro was better than his Micro. So I had the whole map under control and my army was ready to push into his single base. Then the computer crashed on my end. Bitter, indeed.

After more than a hundred games,  I feel confident to share some of the lessons I learned

Know the units

I knew the basic units from Starcraft I, but I had no idea what everything was doing. During my first games I often saw new units and I had no idea how to counter them. The best way to get some idea is to start-up a custom game against the AI. Only the dumbest (very easy) setting is available, but that’s fine. Build all units, look at all upgrades and see where the synergies are.

Scouting is not something you do once

Knowledge is power. Units have some pretty hard counters and knowing what your opponent is building, will help you setup the perfect counter force. Of course, trying to prevent your opponent from scouting you is equally important. During the first few minutes of each game it is vital to know if your opponent is trying to rush an attack, tech up or expand early. Sending out your eight or ninth worker to find and map the opponent’s base may cost you some resources, but the knowledge gained is often invaluable. Especially if he is not building enough defense is the moment to try to put pressure on him. Many new players are simply not aggressive enough and let their opponents take control of the map. The Zerg use Overlords and Overseers as well as buried units to scout. Flyers and detectors take or keep them out. Protoss relies on observers, cloaked units built from the robotics bay. Terran has the powerful sensor sweep from the upgraded Command Center, but it costs energy. Building a few specific buildings away from your main facility can definitely put a Terran player on the wrong foot.

It’s all about resources

Everything is driven by resources. Get too few and your opponent can overwhelm you. However, only building workers during the first phase of the game will leave you with weak defenses. Every crystal clusters support up to three workers (a fourth will give only a minimal increase in income), but there should be at least two on each cluster, while geysers support three if the distance to the gathering building is minimal. I often built too few workers during my first games and that cost me in the long run. Now I basically never stop with building workers unless everything is really over saturated. In the worst case the extra workers can be moved over to an expansion.

Some units excel at quickly killing workers, but they can be easily countered with scouting. On the other hand, if you see the opportunity to kill a group of workers it is possible to set the opponent back a lot.

Timing expansions is crucial

Building an expansion is expensive for both Terran and Protoss but it will give a serious boost to income if you can pull it off. It is cheaper and necessary for Zerg to get enough larva to spawn from which to build units. The cost of an expansion can be great if it necessary to put many defenses up, but a defensive opponent can be outfought no matter how many defensive structures and units he puts up if you win the economic fight.

Learn the maps

All starting positions have ramps that can be blocked or defended (Terran should always block the ramp asap). An undefended ramp can allow a suicide force to get to your workers. However, air units can simply bypass it as well as the Protoss Colossus that is so large it can step and down ramps (note that it only attacks ground while being big enough to be attack by air-to-air attacks).

Some maps have islands that can only be reached by air. Terran can fly buildings there. Other maps have destructible rocks that can allow sneak attacks right into the back of your base. Some maps have high positions that are perfect to place siege tanks on or launch nukes from. Some allow for safe approaches from air, while a ground assault is more risky. Gold crystals yield more cash than the blue ones, but they are often found in a less defendable position. Scout towers give a wide view of the map. Et cetera, et cetera.

Every map has its own specifics and learning those is crucial for victory.

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