Stephano late game transition ZvP

Whenever we’re talking about interesting, innovative Zerg play, it always ends up being about Stephano. A lot of that has to do with his success and the desire to emulate his playstyle, but it does often seem like he’s just ahead of the curve. Particularly, he was asked by Nony on the last State of the Game about what problems he had in ZvP, and his answer: none. In fact, he said that Protoss needed a buff. Who else has ever claimed that their own race was imbalanced?

Anyways, there’s a lot of fascination with his play. I just discovered a new blog, Zergology, which has a really good primer on Stephano’s Roach midgame push ZvP. And Day[9] recently had a Daily about Stephano’s late game transition. I’ll reiterate the main points of that, then throw together the build order from it. But really, you should get it straight from the horse’s mouth first and watch the Daily.

In essence, the plan appears to be to get to late game as soon as possible, which is Brood Lord-Infestor-Spine Crawler. To do that, Stephano just drones for the first 8 minutes (while Protoss is hiding behind a FFE), goes relatively Roach-light in the midgame while getting Spines up early, stays with Infestors, then gets Hive just before the Protoss deathball would hit around 17-19 minutes.

Here are the rough build orders from the 3 games that Day[9] showed:

Stephano ZvP Game 1

  • 16/2:00 Spawning Pool
  • 16/3:00 Hatchery
  • 24/4:30 3rd Hatchery
  • 45/6:00 2 Gas
  • 60/7:00 Lair, Evolution Chamber, Roach Warren (in time for 8:00 Warp Gate)
  • 7:30 Zergling Speed
  • 8:15 starts building an army (16 Zerglings, 5 Roaches)
  • 8:30 3rd & 4th Gas, Roach Speed
  • 9:15 4th Hatchery
  • 9:30 Melee attack upgrade
  • 9:45 Spine Crawlers
  • 10:30: Infestation Pit
  • 11:50: Infestors started, last Roaches built
  • 13:00 Spine Crawlers (in time for 17-19 minute deathball)
  • 15:00 Hive, double Spire

Stephano ZvP Game 2

  • 15/2:00 Spawning Pool
  • 16/3:00 Hatchery
  • 24/4:15 3rd Hatchery
  • 54/6:30 triple Gas
  • 7:00 Roach Warren, Evolution Chamber
  • 8:00 Zergling Speed
  • 8:15 4th Hatchery, +1 Melee Attack
  • 9:00 Roach speed, Spore Crawlers, army started
  • 9:15 Infestation Pit
  • 10:00 10+ Spine Crawlers
  • 13:30 Hive, double Spire
  • 15:00 Corruptors

Stephano ZvP Game 3

  • 15/2:00 Spawning Pool
  • 16/2:50 Hatchery
  • 23/4:20 3rd Hatchery
  • 46/6:00 double Gas
  • 63/7:00 Lair, Roach Warren, Evolution Chamber
  • 70/7:30 3rd Gas, Zergling Speed
  • 70/8:00 army started
  • 100/9:00 +1 Melee attack, 2nd Evolution Chamber, 4th Hatchery
  • 9:30 Roach Speed
  • 10:00 Infestation Pit
  • 10:30 4 Spine Crawlers, no more Roaches
  • 12:00 more Spine Crawlers
  • 14:00 Hive

I think smart players would tell you not to worry too much about the exact build orders, but when you don’t have the time to invent and learn these build orders, it can be hard to understand what other players are doing without something concrete, so hopefully it helps you to learn this style.

One caution, though: Stephano did lose 2-1 ZvP to Inori to get knocked out of the MLG Winter Championship earlier today, and Idra promptly beat Inori 2-0 right after that. I didn’t watch the games, but maybe Stephano doesn’t have the matchup perfectly figured out as he thought.

A new mouse incoming

I’m on a bit of hiatus right now as I’m headed into my last finals week ever, but a week and a half from now, I’ll be free from classes and hopefully will play a bit more.

As a bonus for that, I just ordered a Logitech G400 to replace my Logitech MX700. You can read more about that process on my main blog, but in any case, I’m looking forward to it. To jump on the bandwagon, I also switched up my mouse settings in Windows according to the consensus best practices. I tried it the other day, and it really screwed with me, but I can see how FPS players care for the extremely precise control. Thankfully, I do regular computing in Mac OS and gaming in Windows, so it isn’t affecting my regular work.

Now anyone can be a StarCraft Master

If you haven’t heard, Blizzard has released StarCraft Master, a custom map with 30 challenges involving intense micro and knowledge of a few tricks. I beat it yesterday over the course of maybe 2 hours, most of which was spent on scoot-and-shoot and tank-pickup.

My review? It’s a lot of fun and helpful if you’re unaware of a few tricks. I clearly obsessed enough about beating it that I played it over the course of 3 sessions in one day for one of my heavier StarCraft days, though overall, I feel like I didn’t gain much from it. Having watched enough StarCraft, I mostly knew the tricks, and although cool, most of the micro is too intense to be worth the attention except in the most dire of circumstances.

But I definitely recommend it if you have the time. It’s not too stressful, and as important as macro is, I think the coolest and most fun part of StarCraft is the little micro stuff anyways (Brood War pimpest plays¬†anyone?).

If you’re really looking for micro training, though, check out Darglein’s Micro Trainer. It’s generally well-done and a lot of fun to ramp up the difficulty on.

A reminder on why I actually play StarCraft

I mostly write about learning from watching StarCraft, learning from laddering, and learning from practice, but StarCraft isn’t school: it’s a hobby. And this last Friday, I got a good reminder for why I play.

I gathered 6 of my friends to hop on Battle.net together for a few games, and it was everything I remembered from my Brood War days: way too many technical problems, lots of shenanigans, some generally awful play, but most importantly, a lot of fun. Most of them hadn’t played in awhile (on the scale of weeks since, if not months), but no one I asked turned down the opportunity, so there we were. We played a few 3v3s, a 3-way 2s game, a 3v3 mono-battle (mothership-ghost-marine v. mothership-archon-muta? My team lost hard), and a FFA for about 3 hours of total game time.

We had 4 of us here at my place and 3 playing remotely. When we do it again, I’ll definitely have us all in a Skype call as well so we can taunt each other and joke around without having to deal with Battle.net’s flakiness. In the end, we’re just hanging out anyways.