Slowing down on content

You might have noticed that I recently have been posting less frequently. I have a few reasons for this.

First, my personal motivation to ladder has dried up. I have fizzled on laddering in many past seasons, and the release of HotS only slightly prolonged my interest. Without actually laddering, I can’t claim to be any sort of authority here.

Second, the HotS meta-game has somewhat stabilized. When I restarted this blog, I was really trying to make some accessible guides in a chaotic landscape and help new players get into multiplayer. Since then, we have seen a few meta-game shifts, and while that will continue, it at least means that there’s a coherent meta-game.

Third, I figured that my StarCraft time is better spent working on Spawning Tool. Truth be told, I don’t know if I was ever authoritative enough to be worth listening to, but Spawning Tool is much more up my alley, and I hope it becomes just as useful.

Of course, this blog isn’t completely abandoned. If I see something really cool, I’ll write it up. I’ll also be putting Spawning Tool updates here. To get your fill, you should check out http://imbabuilds.com/. NoseKnowsAll is a great guy and has been putting together a lot of valuable content.

And quick Spawning Tool update with 2 big features that I haven’t shared yet. First, the research tool. With it, you can put together more advanced queries for replays based on actual timings from build orders. For example, you might be curious to know how effective DT rushes are in PvP (answer: enough), or what the dangerous timings are in TvZ (answer: Roach all-ins from 12-15 minutes, but oddly enough, not Hellion-Marauder play). So play around with that and see what you learn. And please let me know if you have other criteria you would like to see there. I welcome any enhancements to make this tool very powerful.

Of course, that is all limited by the amount of data available, so the other big improvement is that you can now upload replay packs, and it’ll unzip and upload all of the contents. Spawning Tool is also hosted on its own server now instead of piggybacking on my personal server, so it should be better able to handle the load. Keep that coming, and if you hit any server errors, come back to try again later. I receive emails every time there’s a server error, and I do my best to fix them immediately.

So that’s it for now. As always, feel free to reach out to me with questions, suggestions, and feedback. I’m always down to listen. In the meantime, keep laddering in my place.

StarCraft Spawning Tutorial

Presumably in an effort to compete with other free-to-play games, Blizzard revived Spawning, a feature where players who haven’t purchased StarCraft to get (almost) full multiplayer access if they play with a friend who has purchased StarCraft. It’s awesome

Just last night, I pulled 4 friends (who had never played StarCraft 2 before) onto StarCraft with Spawning, and we ended up playing around 5 games together. Surprisingly, the initial learning curve isn’t as tough as you might think, and if you mix in arcade games (we played 1 round of Star Strikers), I think you might win over your friends.

To get my friends started, I wrote a quick guide for getting setup and learning about StarCraft. Hopefully you can use it to show more friends how awesome StarCraft is!

Install StarCraft

To install it on your computer, go to https://us.battle.net/account/download/?show=sc2&starter=sc2. Download and run the installer. When it asks you if you have activated the game or not, say that you have and wait for the 15GB to download. Meanwhile…

Get a Battle.net account

If you already have a Battle.net (bnet) account for StarCraft, Diablo, WoW, or other Blizzard products, you can sign in using that. Otherwise,, go to https://us.battle.net/account/creation/tos.html?theme=sc2&style=sc2-trial and signup

Learn about StarCraft

If you’re unfamiliar with what StarCraft is or how real-time strategy (RTS) games work, check out the game guide. The first page is an overview http://us.battle.net/sc2/en/game/guide/whats-sc2, and the second page will explain the gameplay http://us.battle.net/sc2/en/game/guide/gameplay-overview

In-Game Setup

Once the installer is finished,

  1. Start StarCraft 2 on your computer
  2. Hit “Options on the bottom left”. The best settings are probably to set your resolution to your native resolution and then set texture and graphics quality to low
  3. Sign in using your email and password

Add your Spawning Host as a friend:

  1. Click on the person on the bottom right of your screen
  2. Click “Add Friend” in the popup
  3. Enter your Spawning Host’s email and hit “Send Request”

Trying out the game

If your host is ready, you can jump in a game there. Otherwise, there are a few ways you can get started on your own.

FIrst, you can play the in-game tutorial

  1. Start the game and sign-in
  2. Click on “Campaign”
  3. Click on “Launch Tutorial”
  4. Go through the various options
  5. After that, you can try out the Campaign by
  6. Start StarCraft and sign-in
  7. Click on “Campaign”
  8. Click on “New Campaign”

Alternatively, you can start the “Wings of Liberty” campaign, which also walks through the gameplay.

If you’re familiar with the basics, you can learn about basic build orders and what units are available from the multiplayer training:

  1. Start StarCraft and sign-in
  2. Click on “Matchmaking”
  3. Select “Training”
  4. Pick a race and hit “Play”
  5. Work from Stage 1 up to Stage 3

A few suggestions to Spawning Hosts

I’m sure many of you have much more experience with new players, but here are my thoughts:

  1. Don’t overwhelm them. Start easy, and let them play around with the interface
  2. They will probably ask you “What should I do?” or “What should I build?” or “What’s the best unit?” Strike a middle ground in your feedback. Give them something concrete to do but keep things open-ended (“You can build a Barracks to get infantry units”). Again, don’t overwhelm them
  3. Take it easy yourself. Play with only your mouse hand, keep your in-game sound dialed down, and focus on the social part of the game rather than playing well. You will crush them anyways
  4. If they ask how they can improve or broadly are looking for advice, I think there are 2 important stepping stones. First, you can point out the keyboard shortcuts for them to slowly learn. Second, give them the Day[9] mantra of Probes and Pylons. The 3 parts of that are 1) Keep building workers, 2) Don’t get supply blocked, and 3) Spend all of your money
  5. Really pay attention to how they feel about the game. 1v1 is scary, even for experienced players. On the otherhand, 2v2v2 is always hilarious, and arcade games may be good, too. If you’re reading my blog, you’re probably decently intense about StarCraft. Maybe your friends will be there one day, but in the meantime, don’t lose them

I hope you guys manage to spawn a few friends in, too!

P.S. When did Spore Crawlers no longer require the Evolution Chamber? Okay, I now know the answer to that, but I completely missed that change. I don’t think it has ever affected me, but I either completely forgot or was unaware of the change before it was mentioned on Meta. Anyways…

Terran Strategy guide completed (and some Spawning Tool news)

I feel like I took far longer to get the Terran strategy guide up than either of the other guides. And this is despite actually playing Terran nowadays. In any case, I finally got the last of my edits in, so it is out of construction and worthy enough of your attention.

Like the other guides, I’m committed to maintaining it for the foreseeable future, so let me know if you see any mistakes or have any recommendations. Already I’m seeing that the Protoss and Zerg guides have gotten out of date. The Zerg guide is actually painfully underspecified, and Protoss play has changed dramatically. Some of that is Naniwa’s PvZ 1 Gate Expand, and some of that is better defense. So you may see some updates there, and I will of course post here about the big edits I’m considering.

In unrelated news, ChanmanV shared some exciting developments about Spawning Tool on Pro Corner earlier today. Tune in at http://youtu.be/vstWWo0Gmao?t=29m30s for about a 10 minute discussion of his thoughts (pretty well aligned with mine) on what the rough vision of the site is.

Development is going to be continuous, so look out for more updates there. In the meantime, please upload any replays you have handy. To do good analysis, we need both good tools and lots of data, so please send your replays our way.

Play Fantasy Proleague!

The 5th round of Proleague is starting tomorrow night, and in the 36 hours before that, sick nerd ballers everywhere are filling out their Fantasy Proleague teams. I highly recommend that you all play.

If you’re unfamiliar with Fantasy sports, the idea is that you put together a team of players, and based on their performance in real games, you get points based on their statistics. For Fantasy Proleague, each player has a value. At the beginning of the round, you put together a team with a value up to 30 for your main team, and at least 13 points on your anti-team. When players on your main team wins, you get points. When players on your anti-team win, you lose points. Each week, you can make a few trades, and player values fluctuate based on their performance. That’s it.

Is this nerdy? Tremendously. But if you watch Proleague, it will definitely enhance your knowledge of the games, and if you don’t watch Proleague, you should. In the Americas, it’s conveniently on in the evenings over the weekend. You will pay a lot more attention to individual players and follow their performance much more closely, which hopefully enriches your StarCraft knowledge. And fantasy in itself is fun.

To get started, you just need to sign up at http://www.teamliquid.net/fantasy/proleague/Entry.php. If you want to do additional research, here are a few more resources:

I hope you play this round and enjoy!

P.S. Here’s my team right now. I might change my mind multiple times in the near future:

Main Team

  • 8 – Innovation – might be the best SC2 player. Also can win a lot of games against EG-TL this week
  • 6 – SoS – people seem to think he’s undervalued, and I would agree. He’s good, and he’s on Woongjin Stars
  • 6 – CJ herO – he didn’t do so well last round, but he’s still the CJ ace and should bounce back
  • 3 – Brown – he starts in week 1, is on SKT1, and did well in his first Proleague round in round 4
  • 2 – Mekia – he starts in week 1 and is on Woongjin Stars. Good enough for me
  • 1 – Bear – I didn’t see any 2 point players I wanted, and he’s on STX Soul, so that’s worth something
  • 4 – SKT1 – They have Rain, Fantasy, and Parting. And then they have the rest of their lineup

Anti-Team

  • 5 – Crazy – I wanted to go 5-4-4, and had a really hard time picking a 5 point player. I went with Zero, but WJS are just too deep, so Crazy and KT seem safer
  • 4 – Hitman – KT hasn’t looked good recently, and Hitman is pretty deep on their lineup (5th best player, behind Hydra who I already don’t like)
  • 4 – Mini – again, he’s deep on their lineup (maybe 5th best player, 3rd best Protoss)

Get your ladder on while you still can!

Blizzard says that the ladder lock is coming at midnight on Wednesday, so you all have about 22 hours from now to try to get into the division you want to be in. Or if you think you’re at risk of dropping off, maybe you shouldn’t play for the next 22 hours.

Myself? I’m set. I started the season in Gold when I went 4-1 in my placement matches. It didn’t take much to get into Platinum from there. Since then, I have been slowly moving up and playing better and better opponents. That culminated in tonight, when I played 3 matches, all against Masters league players. Yikes.

I first got slaughtered in a TvT when he delayed my natural with Reapers and Hellions while taking 3 bases and getting a crazy Mech army. Then I got slaughtered in a ZvZ where I didn’t defend up against an early Baneling attack, putting me behind for the Muta switch. Then I played a TvZ, where he went for an all-in against my complete wall off with Siege Tanks behind it. That got crushed, and I denied his 3rd and eventually beat him after failing to macro while I was winning. That win pushed me up to Diamond. Hooray!

Okay, maybe you don’t feel so good about getting advice from a Diamond league player. And I’m not going to lie: I think that’s probably about how good I am. I don’t actually ladder nearly as much as I should: watching and writing takes a lot of time, and when I do play, I often play 2v2 with my friends because it is actually more fun to hang out with friends and play instead of dealing with ladder anxiety. I haven’t played more than 3 ladder games in a row in awhile since I’m usually shaking too much and need to relax. And that’s why I have only played 27 games this season (though I’m actually really proud of that).

Anyways, the ladder lock is a good opportunity for me to fill you in on what’s coming up in StarCraft for me.

First, I’ll be shooting to write here twice a week. With the HotS release, I was writing almost daily, and that was way too much. I think twice a week is sustainable.

Second, I’ll keep laddering for the sake of this blog. Since I’m much closer to my aptitude, however, I need to pick a race, or else my play will stagnate. At the moment, I’ll leaning towards playing Terran, which means there will be more Terran content in the future. I’m accepting all opinions/petitions/recommendations for other races in the comments

Speaking of Terran, I’ll be posting the recap on Apollo’s Terran tutorials soon. Unfortunately, I think Terran has aged the least gracefully, but his builds are still a good framework. After that, I’ll be watching the pros and get the Terran Strategy article together.

Third, I’m open to recommendations on content moving forward. The Terran Strategy article was as far forward as I had thought, and I’m open to suggestions for content after that. I discussed computational modeling of StarCraft before, so I might think more on that. I could just keep doing build orders, though I recently have thought I should instead put more specifics on liquipedia instead. Since I mentioned I play more 2v2s, I could write more about that as well.

Let me know what you would like to see. You can find me on twitter (@warstrekkid), or you can comment on this post, or find me wherever else on the internet. In any case, get those ladder games in while you still can move leagues! And ignore the complete double-standard when I tell you that the best thing you can do to improve is to play more!

Updates on my guides

If you haven’t been paying attention to changes on the periphery of this blog, I don’t blame you: it’s really not that interesting.

But what might interest you is the race-specific guides I have been putting together. Most of the interest on this blog has been in getting some basic, generic builds for each race and getting a feel for each matchup. It’s hard to know exactly where I can best help, but I am trying. As such, I have written up guides for Protoss and Zerg that may interest you.

Just a bit of pretext

Protoss Strategy

Zerg Strategy

I previously said I would maintain a few race-specific posts I wrote before, but I think that’s bad publishing practices, so I’ll maintain these pages instead. I’ll post again when I get the Terran one put together, and I’ll also let you know when there are major updates to those pages. In the meantime, feel free to critique and I’ll be maintaining those pages. They’re definitely not complete, but I want to balance completeness with brevity. If you want depth, you’re much better off finding a good tutorial video on YouTube, but I think this is a handy, shorter reference with written build orders.

I hope the guides are useful to you!

Where to Watch StarCraft

I watch a lot of StarCraft. Not only does watching teach me things and give me something to aspire to, watching eSports is just fun and makes me part of the community (long version of that idea here). Since I watch so much, I am pretty familiar with the landscape and can usually narrow in on the better content. I can see how scary it might be trying to jump in and sort through all of the content, so here’s my guide on watching StarCraft.

Discovery

Step 1: where do I find StarCraft? Well, just about everywhere. There are great archives of past tournaments and tutorial videos, but most of the action is around streams, and there are a few easy places to find that.

  1. Team Liquid. Team Liquid is kind of a mess, but the important stuff is all in the right sidebar. At the top is the calendar of major tournaments and events. When those events are live, you should see links to those event. More frequently (and continuously), there are live streams of players practicing in the area just below that. All of the players in this unexpanded area is notable professional players and worth watching.
  2. Teevox. I don’t use it myself, but this is a front-end for browsing and switching between streams rapidly. It’s pretty self-explanatory.
  3. Twitch. Most streamers use Twitch, and this is the big directory of those streams. I don’t like it as much since it sorts strictly by # of viewers instead of quality of play, but it’s a good heuristic and will help you discover new players to watch

Tournaments

Step 2: what’s worth watching? With a continuous stream of streams and so many tournaments, you should know what the biggest, best produced, most talented tournaments are. The full list of events is in Liquipedia, but here’s my rundown of events worth watching when they appear on the Team Liquid calendar.

  1. GSL. The GOMTV Star League features the best (Korean) players in the world in month long tournaments. It’s absolutely worth watching… if you’re awake. The month long Code S tournaments run for a month and are on past midnight pacific time, so it’s a stretch for North America to watch live
  2. MLG. Major League Gaming has a weekend tournament every month or 2 and flies in players from around the world. These tournaments are in the United States, so it’s more friendly for these time zones.
  3. IEM. Intel Extreme Masters is run by the Electronic Sports League, and they hold major tournaments all around the world, so good luck with the timing. They usually cover a weekend and a few days.
  4. DreamHack. DreamHack is a European circuit, and they just do things right. It’s a lot of European talent, but also a lot of other players, and they always manage to hold epic tournaments with memorable games. The timing is usually North America friendly as the weekend tournaments start in the morning and wrap up in the afternoon.
  5. Proleague. Technically, this is a team league, but these guys are Brood War veterans, and crazy stuff happens in team leagues. For pacific time, they’re on in the later evenings (maybe 8PM-1AM) from Friday to Tuesday, which is actually perfect for my schedule.
  6. WCS. The World Championship Series is Blizzard’s own. They just unveiled the plans, and it looks pretty exciting

And just for completeness, let me rattle off a few more tournaments and content to watch: NASL, Homestory Cup, Iron Squid, OSL, ASUS ROG, GSTL, and EGMC.

Community

What really ties watching StarCraft together is the community, and I hope you join these as well.

  1. Team Liquid. This really is the home for the foreigner scene. The forums are a mess, but content is good.
  2. /r/starcraft. There’s a lot of drama and fluff, but that’s kind of what a community is about, right? I check this multiples times a day.
  3. BarCrafts. Why sit at home alone watching StarCraft on your computer when you can meet up with other StarCraft fans in public and watch together in a sports bar environment? Follow the reference links from the wikipedia page to find more.

Conclusion

If you’re deep in the scene and think I missed something important, let me know. Otherwise, I hope you look into watching StarCraft and the rest of the scene. There’s such an overwhelming amount of content that /r/starcraft often jokes that most members just watch and don’t even play StarCraft anymore. Although I hope that’s not the case for you, there’s so much out there, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

How quantitative analysis could change StarCraft

The community likes to think that eSports is on the cutting edge of competitive play, but we still have much to learn from conventional sports. I don’t know much about the production and marketing side of sports, but I do know some statistics, and StarCraft, at least, is lagging behind conventional sports tremendously in quantitative analysis.

The only significant statistics I see from StarCraft are 1) win percentages in various circumstances and matchups and 2) Actions Per Minute (APM).* Win percentages are very broad metrics and not particularly instructive. APM is generally regarded as misleading at best and irrelevant at worst. Granted, StarCraft is a complicated game: the sides are often asymmetric, and game length varies. Sc2gears tracks many more statistics, but these haven’t become standard for broadcasting and analysis, whereas conventional sports broadcasts almost always feature statistics. Even Fantasy StarCraft discussions are pretty fuzzy, whereas fantasy football and baseball really are sports fans geeking out over numbers. Generally, StarCraft analysis is qualitative.

One of the coolest advances in conventional sports is computational, normative analysis. Today, games are tracked with better equipment, and by combining that data with advanced statistics, we can make predictions about what players should do in various circumstances. Because baseball is basically turn-based, it already has advanced sabermetric analysis (link to a reddit discussion about this). Basketball, however, has also been making strides in this area, according to this recent story from Grantland.

Hopefully you’re familiar with basketball, but if you’re not, it’s a 5 on 5 sport played on a (usually) indoor court. On opposite ends of the court, there are hoops, and each team’s goal is to shoot the basketball into their target hoop. On offense, teams design specific plays, and execution is key. On defense, however, teams have general schemes and react to what the other team is doing. Given that, it’s always been assumed that defensive skill is all about experience, “smarts”, and other intangibles.

Well, new analysis is starting to give us more concrete ways to understand defense. A new camera-tracking system in the NBA called SportVU can track where players are, and that data is turned into X-Y coordinates for clean video footage. And it gets even better. With significant computational analysis, the Toronto Raptors have come up with the “ideal” defense that minimizes the expected point value of a play**. You can watch the videos in the Grantland article where there are 2 sets of defenses super-imposed on the play: the actual defenders on the play, and the “ghost” defenders of where the players should be.

Hopefully you’re beginning to see how this analysis can impact StarCraft. Fortunately, we already all of the relevant data for unit positions in replays. If we can figure out how to parse expected outcomes from a large number of these replays, then we can begin to see general trends. Watching professional play, big deathball fights often come down to positioning. Is it safe to fight in this open area? Can you safely attack this base without getting trapped? How should you position your army to get the best engagement? Which units should be in front? These are similar questions to what the Raptors are answering in basketball.

It’ll be a lot of work to make this work. Specifically, it’s very difficult to parse meaningful actions out of a stream of data. The Raptors managed to recognize a pick and roll (one offensive player stands beside another defender, allowing the ball carrier to run around them. The first offensive player then goes in the opposite direction, hopefully resulting in confusion between the 2 defenders and leaving 2 open players). It may sound simple, but that’s darn hard, and I find that amazing.

Anyways, I think there’s a huge opportunity here for growth in eSports and a way for us to remain at the cutting edge of sports analysis, and even Artificial Intelligence at that. And there’s a tremendous amount of really interesting stuff that I would have to investigate and share, if you guys are interested. So before you head off, let me know in the poll below if you would be interested in me writing any of the following.

Which of the following topics should I elaborate on?

  • Just stick with the build orders, buddy (50%, 4 Votes)
  • Machine learning for event parsing and predictions (38%, 3 Votes)
  • Speculation on useful statistics for StarCraft (25%, 2 Votes)
  • Training AI to play StarCraft (this is tangentially related to this post) (13%, 1 Votes)
  • Advanced statistics and sabermetrics from baseball (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 8

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* If you know of more, please let me know. I’m interested.

** I’m not 100% sure how they do this in basketball, but I can explain how this is done in baseball in another post if you want

 

Quick report from the front, and a request

First, thanks everyone who has been reading over the past 3 days. Google Analytics says that site visits have spiked orders of magnitude basically since Heart of the Swarm (HotS) came out. In particular, /r/allthingszerg, /r/allthingsterran, and /r/allthingsprotoss have all been tremendous in referrals and comments to refine the posts as well.

Second, I received my copy of HotS in the mail today! After dinner, I played the first campaign mission, which was very cool. To keep myself honest to practicing, I think I need to restrict myself to one campaign mission a day. After that, I have been playing unranked matches, with tremendous variance in my opponents’ ability. It’s been a mixed bag. I’m 3-2, but the losses were bad. Still, this is the most excited I have been to play StarCraft in awhile.

Third, I’m on a high right now from my readership, so I’m planning on updating this blog regularly with content again. If you would take a moment to fill in the survey below, it would be much appreciated. Sorry for you RSS readers out there (and double-sorry for Google Reader users; I feel your pain): you’ll have to make the jump onto my site.

What sort of content would you like to see?

  • Build Orders (lower level, general builds) (76%, 26 Votes)
  • Build Orders (advanced, refined builds) (59%, 20 Votes)
  • Practice Tips (29%, 10 Votes)
  • Me Rambling about StarCraft (21%, 7 Votes)
  • Pro Gamer Stream/Tournament Analysis (18%, 6 Votes)
  • zerglingdance.com, in the spirit of hamsterdance (9%, 3 Votes)
  • Other (comment) (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 34

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Finally, if you have any other thoughts or feedback for me (stuff you would like to see, pointing out mistakes I made, scolding me for overstepping my 3 days of internet exposure), I would love to hear it. You can comment on this post, or contact me via the half-dozen methods in the sidebar of my homepage, or you can email me on gmail (username kkleung89), or you can friend me on bnet (StoicLoofah#1461) if you want to see how bad I am.

Good luck in HotS! Remember, the best way to improve is to click “Matchmaking” and then “Play”!

HotS beta: the perfect reason to practice

Thanks to a bad joke in a reddit HotS (Heart of the Swarm) beta key giveaway, I spent 2 or 3 hours this evening practicing StarCraft again. Yes, amidst all of the excitement of the new game, I didn’t play any games from matchmaking. I can explain, though, and this is really a good thing.

Julie and I were going to play HotS tonight since we’re both in the beta, but I didn’t know when she would be available. Not wanting to leave in the middle of a match, I instead just played some 1v1s against the computer, which is only available on very easy. This basically meant that I was practicing builds. Particularly, I have moved back into playing Terran recently, and with everything new in mech, I went mech.

After 5 games on different maps, I realized how much I needed to work on. Since playing with my friends a few weeks ago, I have been playing quite a bit of StarCraft: it’s all 2s and 4s, but still, I’m back to playing. It was rocky, and I had a sneaking suspicion that was macro was sloppy. Well, playing against a computer that doesn’t attack with more than 2 Marines was opportunity to focus on that alone, and it was bad. I

  • was not building workers constantly
  • was getting supply blocked a lot
  • was allowing my money to get really high
  • didn’t have nearly enough production buildings
  • forgot key structures

A few games in, I smoothed out a lot of this and was playing much smoother than before.

Repeating basically the same mech build 5 times was also a good way to learn to refine the build. As it turns out, a lot of my macro problems were related to minor hiccups in my play. Money can get high if I’m low on gas because I don’t know when to build geysers. Supply blocks happen because I tied up all of my money at the wrong moment. In the course of working on my build, I made some small tweaks and discoveries that really helped:

  • figured out when I needed to pay attention and not in the first few minutes so I could scout without forgetting a building
  • learned when I would hit gas shortage later and built refineries earlier for that
  • sequenced add-on building more optimally for the units I wanted
  • played around with the timings (absolute and relative) for Starport/Raven, vehicle upgrades, and another Factory for production

It’s been quite awhile since I have hammered out games against the computer, and I don’t think I ever quite did it for mech. The ironic part of this is that the focus on macro meant that I didn’t really figure out how to use the battle hellions or widow mines. That hopefully will happen soon.

Hopefully, I’ll also do some matchmaking as well. There are a lot of good things going for HotS right now that aren’t true for WoL (Wings of Liberty):

  • unranked matchmaking is less stressful
  • the metagame and balance are shifting rapidly, so expectations should be low
  • the novelty is just that much more exciting

I’ll report back on how that’s going if there’s anything interesting. In the meantime, let me know if you’re on the HotS beta and want to play. Preorders are now giving out beta keys for a lot of vendors, so they should be easy to come by.

Also, there’s a ton of good pro StarCraft happening until the end of the year. Specifically, the Battle.net World Championship starts tomorrow night, and I’ll definitely be tuned in. It really looks like WoL has matured, and I’ll report on anything interesting I see in the games.