August 25, 2011

Public Test Realm notes for Patch 1.4

Blizzard recently released  the Public Test Realm patch 1.4 notes. As with all public test realm patches, these changes are only proposed updates and may not make it into the general servers.

Along with balance changes, Blizzard is also making several cool general changes to the game options, user interface, display, and even sounds. 

Some notable general changes:
  • Game performance has been improved
  • Privacy settings have been implemented to reduce unwelcome chat messages
  • Building cancellations display a text indicating returned minerals for the owner and a text for the enemy
  • New option to fade existing alert sounds if a new one is played
Of course, the real interest in the patch lies in the balance changes and Patch 1.4 does not disappoint in causing a stir. 

Discussion, balance changes, and link after the jump.

April 8, 2011

The Protoss 4 Gate Strategy and How to Stop it

I've been wanting to share my version of the 4 Gate rush for a while now. I think it's hard to find a quality guide on the web. This version has worked well in the low Master league as well. Hope you find it helpful. If you have any questions comment below the post, in the forums, or shoot me an email!

The 4 Gate is one of the most talked about Protoss early game strategies and yet few people know how to execute it properly. When I first started playing, I implemented Day 9's advice about just making lots of "stuff" and not to worry too much about a executing a particular build order correctly. I think this advice served me well up until I reached the Platinum league where it often seemed like my army wasn't quite as big as it should be in the early game. Afterwards, I made an effort to study the 4 Gate execution of Master league and Pro players and I found what I believe to be one of the strongest versions of the 4 Gate.

Build order and replay downloads after the jump

April 4, 2011

The Weekly Drop

  • Over the weekend, what is sure to be one of the most epic moments in Starcraft 2 MLG history was recorded during a match between LiquidHuk and EgIdra. I had a hard time finding a quality video demonstrating the moment but the hilarity comes through in this low quality, buggy video anyway. EgIdra went on to win the series.

  • Raven Point Defense Drones can shoot down Broodlord Broodlings. What? Yea, I was kind of shocked when I read about this in a TL forum post too. I don't play Terran often but this sounds like a very cost-efficient way to deal with Broodlords. In other news, EgIdra just popped a vein. Source

  • The "SCV Wandering" bug was recently debated on a forums thread. It works by Shift-Clicking the attack command on an SCV that is constructing a building. This effectively negates the ability to become un-targettable when the Barracks, for example, is nearing completion and allows extra SCV harassment in the early game as a result. Bug or exploit? Forum Post

  • Blizzard released a "Situation Report" earlier today in order to justify some of the balance changes in Patch 1.3. Part of the Patch was released to deal with the "Viking Flower" -- a unit formation technique that allows a Terran player to mask the amount of Vikings present in a location. Apparently, the patch was ineffective.

April 1, 2011

Patch 1.4.11 Notes

Ultimate Grandmaster League

A new league has been added! Ultimate Grandmaster represents the top one player in each region. Do you have what it takes?


  • Players who do not type "GG" before quitting a game will receive an automatic loss for bad manners.
  • Players who are winning a match and type “GG” on behalf of their opponent will automatically surrender.
  • Players with accounts registered with the first and last name David Kim will now receive an automatic 20% reduction to all stats.
  • The Dance Studio has been added to the game! Teach your units new dances by purchasing them with your bonus pool. Show off to opponents, impress your friends!

  • Leagues & Ladders
    • In addition to losses, wins are now also no longer shown. Instead, players will see Jim Raynor giving them a thumbs-up after every match regardless if they win or lose.
    • To balance the issue of Zerg under-representation and Terran over-representation in the upper ladder brackets, the names of these two races have been switched. This should result in higher "Zerg" representation and lower “Terran” representation.
    • To keep queue times low, you can now face off against AI players when playing ladder games!
      • Bronze: Very Easy
      • Silver: Easy
      • Gold: Normal
      • Platinum: Hard
      • Diamond: Very Hard
      • Master/Grandmaster: Insane
      • Ultimate Grandmaster: You

March 17, 2011

The 5 Golden Rules of Macro: How to Macro Effectively

Often I see people complain on forums that they keep losing games and they don't understand why. Sometimes I download one of their replays and notice that they were sitting on a 2k mineral trust fund -- for half the game.

Most players in the Platinum leagues and below have a tough time managing their resources. It can sometimes be difficult for some players to get a solid grasp of the Starcraft 2 macro game. Sure, everyone understands that you have to spend your minerals, but the Macro game is made up of several components that go beyond resource spending. It is an absolutely essential part of the game that you must master if you want to compete at a higher level.

The General Macro Theory

There are 5 general rules of Macro that any player at the Platinum league or below should master if they want to improve. Here are my tips.

1. Resource collection saturation
2. Sufficient production structures
3. Constant unit production
4. Sufficient supply
5. Keep your next expansion in mind.

In depth discussion and exceptions after the jump.

March 6, 2011

Custom Maps That Help You Improve: YABOT Build Order Tester

I recently ran into the Yet Another Build Order Tester (YABOT) custom map series while browsing through the custom maps online. As the name suggests, this particular custom map series is geared towards players that want to train by testing build orders. However, aside from testing build orders, YABOT also proves to be an effective way for players to simply train their build order knowledge without the prerequisite of inputting your own build orders. I have found the series useful for this particular reason.


When you first fire up the map you come across a menu that gives you four options: Basic, Standard, Advanced, and Demo. The first two options are essentially simple build order testers. The first option lets you test out your order without an opponent and the second gives you an opponent as well as a "steps list" for a particular build order you wish to follow. The fourth option allows you to select a build order for an AI to execute while you watch.

The real draw of the YABOT series is the third, "Advanced", option. The general idea of this option is that YABOT will display a "steps list" on the left side of the screen that essentially acts like a real time check list for the build order you selected. This allows the user to focus on executing the build order and glance over at the list when you need to know the next step. You can also choose a build order for your AI opponent and the length or end trigger for the match. For example, you can set the match to end anywhere from 1 to 30 minutes or have it finish upon executing the final step of your build order.

Advanced option overview and download links after the jump.

February 26, 2011

The 3 Gate Robo Colossus Build with Replay

I just got rocked by Steliokontos, a Master League Protoss player, on Backwater Gulch. This map was added as part of the Patch 1.3 map pack. It is actually quite nice. The rush distance is not too large and the natural expansions are flanked by destructible rocks. This forces early pushes to come from one ramp while opening up expansions to later attacks via the destructible rock ramps.

This match I tried to execute a terribly timed 4 Gate without really thinking that this map spawns players in a location with only one small entrance. As a result of the small entrance and my poor execution, the 4 Gate failed to do any damage and allowed Steliokontos to tech due to early Force Fields. Upon reviewing the replay, I noticed that the build order that Steliokontos implemented was actually really well timed. It gives you a sentry early to make up for the lack of units and shoots out a colossus within a reasonable time (9 minutes). I jotted down the build order to try to implement it in my own matches.

Build order after the jump.

February 24, 2011

How to Get the "Insane Blitz" Achievement

Took me a few tries to get the exact timing and placement of this build down so I thought I would share. Here is the download replay link.

This achievement essentially involves cannon rushing either a Terran or Protoss AI. The cannon rush will only work in a map like Agria Valley where you can build cannons outside of the AI base so as to be outside of the range where the AI automatically attacks buildings. If you try to build anything inside of this range (which is roughly the size of its base floor) it will immediately spot you and attack.

Screenshot and instructions after the jump.

February 23, 2011

4 Tips for Surviving in 2v2 Team Ranked Play

Ranked 2v2 play continues to be an under-appreciated aspect of Starcraft 2 play. Part of the reason for this is due to the fact that Starcraft 2 is not really balanced for a longer 2v2 strategy game. In fact, I would argue that it is almost impossible to balance both 1v1 and 2v2 matches in order to encourage longer macro games.

Lets do the math for a second. The total number of races is 3, each one of those races can be played as a team, ZZ - TT - PP (3 combinations), and each team can play against itself or others (ZZ v. ZZ, ZZ v. TT, ZZ v. PP, etc.). This makes a total of 6 team combinations to balance without consideration for mixed teams. To make matters worse, you also have to apply all of your balance tweaks to 1v1 matches. When you start to crunch the numbers, the total number of combinations that you have to account for when balancing is dizzying.

This general imbalance can result in some serious domination by teams savvy in the ways of 2v2 cheese. Nevertheless, despite the imbalances, 2v2 play can also be the source of a lot of fun. A budding 2v2 match team need only be aware of a few strategy principles in order to survive the fray. Here is what I have learned after clawing my way to the Diamond league with 2 separate teammates.

Tips after the jump.

February 22, 2011

Killer 2v2 Protoss Zerg Strategy

This 2v2 strategy is one of the most effective ways of reaching the Plat/Diamond tiers with the minimal amount of time. A buddy of mine and I went about 30 wins to 2 losses using this strategy about a month ago. It has now become extremely popular so its effectiveness has been reduced but it is still really powerful in Plat leagues and below.

Beware that implementing this strategy means that when you finally do start losing games you will not have the requisite skill level to take on your opponents since you cheesed your way into the higher leagues =(

The concept:

The killing blow comes from the Protoss player who will warp in zealots directly into the enemy base. This is achieved by having the Zerg player provide vision with the overlord and protection/harass with the 24 speedlings produced at around the 5 minute mark.

Build order and replays after the jump.

February 21, 2011

Progress! Making the Platinum League

Made the Platinum league! I would have saved the promotion screenshot except for the fact that I got too excited and clicked it away.

Here is the proof:

I have my sights set on Diamond now...

February 20, 2011

Protoss Micro Tips

Just found this great forum article on general Micro strategy for Protoss players. There is a lot of obvious stuff they point so I wanted to quickly point out what I found most useful. Here is the article:

This is what I found most useful for Protoss micro strategy:

1. Put Zealots in front of stalkers at all times.

When you attack you clearly want to do this since zealots are useless unless they are at zero range but equally important is when you are not attacking. Often times I find myself leaving my army, macroing up, and having my army get surprise attacked. When this happens and your zealots are not up front they will struggle to move up as they are getting hammered by ranged units.

2. Put your units in a concave position.

This applies to all races. The logic behind this is simple - ranged units behind ranged units will generally not be able to reach the enemy because the front line starts shooting at max range. This leaves the secondary line hustling to get into position to shoot at the enemy. Those few seconds where they run around the primary line are vital. This is probably the difference between a Platinum and a Diamond league player. The ever present concave.

3.Put health bars on so you can see what units are at low health.

This is also a great tip I started implementing a few months ago. It is annoying at first but once you get used it you will be amazed at how much more information you have on the screen. Aside from immediately knowing which units are low on health (giving you the opportunity to micro them out of the front lines), you also know the energy levels of units. Great tip.

4. Psionic storm does not stack!!

Probably the most noob mistake I ever made in matches. I remember a kind soul in a 3v3 match giving me this tip after watching me pound out 5 storms on his mutas -- "hey dude those storms don't stack." Now you know.

5. Blink low-health stalkers to the back of the line.

A somewhat tedious task but with health bars enabled this is not as bad as it sounds. It also preserves stalkers at a much more effective rate when you consistently blink them out of danger.

6. Attack rocks and/or your own units to maintain or build a charge with void-rays

Few units can stand up to a fully charged void-ray. Maintain that charge by attacking your own units as you move across the enemy base. The amount of damage you do to your own unit is well worth it in exchange for the amount of extra damage your void-ray will now do to the enemy. Also, charging up on rocks is a great way to surprise the enemy with fully charged void-rays that they don't expect.

February 19, 2011

Floating Minerals

Don't do it. Just don't. Floating minerals is the bane of my existence. In order to get past the gold league, I have to stop floating. What is it that is so hard about spending your resources? Here is a replay that shows just how bad I do it on occasion. I don't even want to look. Sure we won in the end but seriously, what is up with not building units?

February 18, 2011

5 Effective Ways to Improve Your Starcraft 2 Skill Level

The question I often ask myself is...

How can I actually train myself to become a better player? 

The answer is simple -- every time you open up Sc2 you must be focused on improving your gameplay. Not forgetting that you are playing to improve your skill level is the life blood of a successful training regime.

Okay, that may be a bit vague.

So here are 5 specific strategies you can begin to implement today and start training to become a better player.

Links and strategy after the jump.

February 17, 2011

The beginning: Current status

I have been playing Sc2 for about 4 months now. I took about a 1 month break recently and I have again started playing often but have really not been focusing on the 1v1 aspect of the game. As you can see, I am a Gold League player in 1v1's as of now. In other words, i r the suck.

The focus for now is going to be simple. Play a few games to see where I stand (whether I get placed vs. gold/plat/diamond) and see what happens. Afterwards, I'll have a better idea of what I need to do and also have some replays to analyze.

As a side note, I used to play Starcraft 1 but was always terrible at it. My current skill level in Sc2 is directly  a result of me jumping into a high APM requirement RTS game and playing it for 4 months.