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 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 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 account

If you already have a (bnet) account for StarCraft, Diablo, WoW, or other Blizzard products, you can sign in using that. Otherwise,, go to 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, and the second page will explain the gameplay

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…

WCS Season 1 Finals brought to you by: Hellbats

Unless you’re in Europe (or similar time zones), I hope you caught the WCS season finals last night. Well, at least I hope you caught the semifinals because both of those series were very entertaining. The finals were mostly forgettable as INnoVation rolled SoS, which is really too bad.

I think it would be fair to summarize all Terran play this weekend as Hellbats. Terran strategy has shifted to drop-focused play, and they’re really preferring Hellbats over Widow Mines. I noticed that even when Hellbat drops appeared to be ineffective, Terran still didn’t fall behind. My guess is that the combination of

  1. cheap Hellbats (it’s cheaper to fill a Medivac with 2 Hellbats than even 8 Marines)
  2. money spend on required static defense
  3. lost mining time

make it a tricky proposition to deal with right now. The INnoVation versus aLive quarterfinal game was just painful to watch. TvT seems the most affected by Hellbats at the moment because mech has become the standard style (as opposed to bio or bio-tank), but we’ll see if that mobility swings things around again.

Anyways, I got 1 interesting strategy out of this. On Neo Planet S, SoS pulled out a Tempest-High Templar strategy on INnoVation that looked awesome (VoD here). Standard TvP is bio with Vikings for Colossi and Ghosts for High Templar. SoS’s plan was to use Tempests to shoot down everything, and when the Vikings and Marines came, he would back off onto 1 of the many high ground areas around the map and storm the Vikings/Marines. The strategy is very gas-intensive, so a lot of minerals get dumped into Photon Cannons (Tempests are slow to defend against a mobile bio army) and Zealots to take damage and harass.

By this game, SoS wasn’t playing very well, which has been attributed to nerves. There was a time when INnoVation wasn’t mining, so I like to think that the strategy might have worked. I think it is pretty specific to Neo Planet S and its rings of high ground, but you should try it on other maps and see how it goes.

Let me know if you want me to write up any rough timings or build order from the game.