Done before even starting

I’m about 4 weeks out of school right now, and like every time before, I overestimated how much time I would have after a major shift in my life. I had many things I wanted to do, and a few weeks in, I have needed to cut various plans. Unfortunately for this blog, practicing StarCraft is one of them.

There are a few different reasons why. First, there are other things I would rather do. If you read my regular blog, you might be aware that I’m currently trying to write a book, and even just the research for that is pretty menacing (though a lot of fun). I also have had a chance to get back into playing RPGs, which were a staple of my childhood. I currently own 5 and have another 4 that I have yet to get through and hope to do so soon. Right now, I’m loving my 2 hours of Mass Effect a week, and I think that’s a healthy point to be at.

Second, I have actually drifted out of the game while having more free time. Particularly, I’m watching much less than I was during school because I don’t need to procrastinate anymore. Before, I knew I needed to be back to schoolwork soon, and it was easy to flip on a stream to relax for a few minutes. Now, if I want to do something possibly in-depth, I can.

Finally, practicing just wasn’t fun for me. Like anyone else, I have ladder anxiety. That in itself is nasty enough to deal with, but when I realized that I didn’t really want what was on the other side of practicing (in the form of laddering), it didn’t seem worth it to try to get past it.

After practicing for a few months, what would I have? Well, I would probably still only be winning 50% of my games because of the design of the ladder, so day to day, I wouldn’t feel any better. I’m sure I would be much better, but that talent isn’t particularly transferrable, and it would actually make it even harder to play with my friends, most of whom play only casually.

So this is largely the end of the spirit of this blog, which never really got started. I was waiting for the time to practice, but now I have the time, I don’t really want to practice anymore. Despite that, I’m fairly proud of my skill level and understanding of the game now. I’ll still be watching tournaments, browsing /r/starcraft, playing casual games with my friends, and maybe even updating this blog as I do those things.

But don’t let this demoralize you if you’re still practicing and working at StarCraft. This game has had a tremendous effect on me, and as I mentioned, I’m not completely dropping out. Feel free to comment on what I’ve written so far, send me messages to try to change my mind (I’m easy to find: @warstrekkid on Twitter is one of many online presences I have), and keep building probes and pylons.

Trying to play like Stephano

Replay Here

Like usual, I have managed to over-promise on the amount of free time I have after a major change. So far, I’m 2 weeks out of school and into working full-time, and I think I’ve only managed maybe 2 non-trivial StarCraft play sessions so far. I’m enjoying life quite a bit right now and have managed to do many different things, though I’ll try to stay dedicated to this game as best I can.

This morning, I played the linked game first. It’s a ZvP on Metalopolis, and it went pretty well. I tried out the Stephano style (described in my post here), which involves a quick gasless 3 base opening into spine crawlers in the midgame to get to Brood Lord/Infestor as soon as possible. My opponent opened Gateway first on the high ground, so I didn’t take my third immediately, but I did soon after. Overall, the game went as well as I could’ve hoped: I got to the late game quickly, had my initial, poorly balanced army smashed, fell back to the spine crawlers, and used my huge trust fund to put together the perfectly composed army. In short, it worked.

The game, however, was altogether quite passive. My opponent didn’t really ever put much pressure on me, and I should done a few more run-bys. I think that sort of play is more in my mechanics than the build itself: I just don’t have the multi-tasking and decision-making to execute run-bys along the path of my strategy.

Still, a win is a win, and afterwards, I managed to go 4-1 playing random on random 2v2 ladder. Even better, I won with all 3 races. Playing random and playing multiplayer are both much less stressful than laddering 1v1 Zerg, and I recently have considered playing random again to deal the my ladder anxiety that has largely kept me out of the game for the past 2 weeks. The most important thing, I think, is that I just play more, so we’ll see if I can muster up the will without changing the conditions.

Prioritizing mechanics on the mental checklist

In Day[9] Daily #345, Day[9] suggests a process for improving mechanics: prioritize it at the top of the mental checklist at the expense of other things, see what it earns you, and slowly assimilate it into regular play. For Zerg, here are a few things I can think of that might work:

  • Creep spread
  • Overlord spread
  • Larva inject (as discussed in the Daily)
  • Expanding every 5 minutes
  • Never supply blocked
  • Army always split into 2 control groups
  • Constantly scouting
  • Keeping minerals below 400 at all times
  • Paying attention to alerts