Friday, 18 of August of 2017

Developing Your StarCraft 2 Mechanics – A Back to Basics Guide

In this StarCraft 2 guide SC2Cha0s goes back to basics on the game's mechanics to make you a better and more competitive player overall.

Starcraft II is a very challenging and invigorating game that can take years to master. This article will be the start of a companion guide to a video series that was started this week. Today, we will be venturing on a journey to master the art of control groups and location hotkey. Utilizing these tools in SCII will greatly increase your ability to multitask as well as become more efficient at managing your base.

Before we get started, I suggest you open up your settings within Starcraft II and follow along this simple guide of setting up location hotkeys. Once logged in, go to:

  • Settings -> Hotkeys ->Global -> Camera.

Once here you should see a screen similar to the picture below.

StarCraft 2 Control Groups

If you scroll down a bit, you will notice that Locations can be created using the key combination Ctrl+Shift+F1. Personally, I find this combination of key a little difficult to utilize. I have found that changing this bind to simply Shift+F1 makes these hotkeys a lot easier to utilize. Since I only use 4 location keys, I change locations 1 – 4 to this binding. Once that is complete, if you scroll down a bit more you will find the “Jump to Location #” hotkeys. I would recommend changing these to the simpler F1 – F4. This allows you to instantly jump to a location that has been set up by pressing the F1 – F4 (depending on which location you would like) key. Once these are set up, you are ready to give them a try. Start a custom game and gives these new bindings a try before utilizing them on the ladder.

The next topic I would like to discuss is Control groups. Control groups allow you to assign a group of units or buildings to a number key for easy access. For Example, at the beginning of every game (before the auto glhf), I tend to click the nexus build a probe and immediately hit Shift+4. This binds the nexus to the number “4” key and allows me to easily continue to build probes throughout the game.

Once a unit or building is bound to a number, centering your screen on that unit is rather easy. By double tapping a control group, the camera view will instantly center itself around the unit or group of units. This technique allows for players to switch between multiple units of interest extremely quickly. Pro players utilize this technique to have clear vision of everything within their units’ vision.

Below is the video series episode that discusses control groups and location hotkeys. This video will help you get started with setting up the location hotkeys as well as walk through a brief demonstration.

As a requirement to this Back to the Basics series, I would like you (yes, you the person reading this) to open up Starcraft 2 and create a custom game and give these mechanics a try. Once you have given it a try, come back to this article and let me know how it went. Also, feel free to leave any questions if you have any.

For more Starcraft 2 content and updates on tutorials and live streams feel free to follow me on Twitch and YouTube:

Have fun on the ladder!

Andre “Cha0s” Hitchcock


HotS: Naniwa 1 Gate Mothership Core Fast Expand – Protoss vs Zerg Builds

In this guest article from SC2Cha0s we take a look at the PvZ matchup in HotS and learn how to expand like Naniwa!

Protoss vs Zerg, in my opinion, is one of the most exciting match-ups in the current meta game of Heart of the Swarm.  But for most people getting to the mid and late game can be very challenging. 

The standard forge fast expand build has been around for a little over 2 years and has given the Protoss player the opportunity to keep up with the economic race.  The only problem with this build is that it significantly delays the tech of the Protoss player.  Today we are going to be looking at a build that Naniwa introduced in the spring Dreamhack open tournament.

Here is an outline for the build order for the early game:

  •  9 Supply – Pylon
  • 13 Supply – Gateway
  • 14 Supply – Assimilator
  • 15 Supply – Pylon
  • 16 Supply – Cybernetics Core
  • 3:00 – Zealot
  • 3:50 – Mothership Core
  • ASAP – Warpgate
  • ASAP – Expand

Looking at this build you might be wondering, “How does this early game build deal with early rushes like 6 or 8 pools?”.  By getting the mothership core out extremely early (i.e. before warpgate research), the effectiveness of early ling pressure is greatly diminished since they cannot attack the MSC.  Check out this video to see what I mean. 

Once the nexus is down it is crucial to wall up your natural because if a later speed ling or baneling attack comes it will be very difficult to hold.

Once you feel like you are in a comfortable position, scouting becomes very critical.  It is imperative to determine if your opponent is taking a quick third base or sitting on two bases.  If your opponent stays on two bases, your opponent is going to be looking at hitting a lair timing, while if he is expanding to a third he is looking to take the economic advantage and move into the late game.  As a Protoss player, it is your job to set the pace for the game if your opponent is expanding.  This can be achieved by applying a quick 4 gate timing to deny the third and force the Zerg player to build units instead of drones.  If the third can be sniped you will be put into a very good position going into the mid-game and give you the opportunity to tech up and expand.

If your opponent chooses not to expand, you MUST determine the tech path he is going.  If you do not, you will be blind-sided when you tech up to colossus and find out that he has gone for Mutalisks (or something to that nature).  This is when observers and hallucinated phoenix come into play.  By using these scouting tools, you can get a good idea of the composition your opponent is going for and set up to counter it.

If you have any questions about this guide feel free to tweet me @SC2_Cha0s.  Also, if you are a Protoss player and want to check out my Bronze to Master League series feel free to subscribe to my YouTube Channel.

Andrew “Cha0s” Hitchcock


HotS: How to Counter Early Marine Aggression in PvT

In this video and article combined guide I explain how to deal with early Marine pressure from Terran in a PvT 1 Gate Expand.

The Protoss vs Terran early game is one of my favorite things in Starcraft 2 (Heart of the Swarm or Wings of Liberty). As Protoss your goal is to take a safe but fast expansion to be able to deal with anything Terran can throw at you. Scouting is crucial and micro can play an important role in defending early aggression or in dealing some damage yourself. In this guide I explain one early game situation that can arise in a PvT 1 Gate Fast Expand – early marine pressure.

Check out the video above for a full guide to micro and strategy for dealing with early Marine attacks in PvT. It also goes over how to follow up with your own counterattack and how to bust a bunker with gateway units. In this article I’ll go over some other important points to know about this sort of situation.

Scouting with your first Zealot and Stalker is crucial. If you see a few marines and no Barracks add-on then you can assume the Terran is either looking to expand with some light Marine pressure or is looking to tech up to Starport or Factory on 1 base. Have your Stalker(s) hang out near the Terran expansion to find out which. If by 6:30 there is no expansion it’s time to head home to prepare for any drops or air attacks. 

If your opponent pressures with Marines like in the video above then the best way to deal with it is to send Stalker out to meet him as close to his base as possible. Stalkers out range and outrun Marines so the more space you have the longer you can kite them. It’s possible to kill off a large group of Marines with only two Stalkers.

If you kill off a few of his Marines and scout his expansion then you can potentially follow up with a Gateway unit attack of your own. Simple take your expansion and make 4 Gateways total. A light 2-base 4 gate pressure can be enough to break the front of an under-defended Terran, especially if you can use a ForceField to prevent the repair on the bunker or wall.

Don’t over commit, if you sense you can’t break the front just pick off whatever you can and start teching to either double Forge + Twilight Council or Robotic + Colossus.

Helpful Resources:


How StarCraft 2 Changed My Life – Monday Musings With ZiggyD

In this article I share a bit of a story about how Starcraft 2 shaped me as a person.

Every week on my YouTube channel ZiggyDStarcraft I make a video called ‘Monday Musings‘, where I talk about a topic that is relevant to gaming and real life success. This week I shared my Starcraft 2 journey and the profound impact the game had on me. 

Monday Musings for 18th March 2012 – How Starcraft 2 Changed My Life

TL;DR: StarCraft 2 taught me how to go about being passionate about something, it offered a depth and challenge that I hadn’t before seen in gaming. I learned that gaming can offer a lot more than just leisure time and that if I focus my passion and energy into something I can really achieve my goals. Thanks to Starcraft 2 I am now doing what I love for a living and I feel that passion for something every day.

Want to see more Monday Musings from ZiggyD? Check out the full playlist here!

 


Starcraft 2 Heart of the Swarm Giveaway!

Thanks to the guys over are DirectGameCodes.com I’m giving away two copies of Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm! The video below details how to enter:

Entires close March 12 so get in before then!

 

UPDATE: The giveaway has been drawn! You can see the results below!

Watch this space for upcoming Heart of the Swarm guides, news and discussion videos!


The Normalisation of Racism, Sexism and Homophobia in the Starcraft 2 esports Scene

In this article I take a break from discussing gameplay to give some attention to an issue within the Starcraft 2 eSports world.


When I was first approached by some of the members of Team Legion to write an article about my thoughts on sexism, racism and homophobia in Starcraft 2 eSports I was nervous. Such a heavy topic can not possibly be fully explored or ‘solved’ in one book, let alone in one article. Still, I knew that it was something that I really wanted to do as it is important to the members of Team Legion, many of the people I know, the community as a whole, and myself. 

After some thought on how I wanted to go about this I decided that I didn’t want to tell people what was wrong or right, rather, I wanted to present to readers exactly what the issue is so that they could think it through for themselves. This article is my exploration into exactly what the problem is when it comes to racism, sexism, homophobia and other forms of hate in the Starcraft 2 eSports scene. I hope it provokes some thought and discussion that leads towards improvement.

 

Alysa ‘AuRora’ Goose [LgN Gaming]

To begin with I’d like to introduce you to Alysa ‘AuRora’ Goose from Team Legion. I recently had the chance to chat with her about her experiences in the SC2 community. What she had to tell me, sadly, didn’t surprise me – her experiences are pretty typical from what I have seen for females in the Starcraft 2 scene and within gaming in general. 

“I can personally say I’ve had to deal with a lot of mean spirited people on the NA bnet server for sure … whether it just be the random player who acts BM or people who are just very hateful..  I try to tune it out ETC and just say gl hf or GG regardless of what people say to me.. but yeah its definitely an issue and hard to ignore.”

"Just a random example of what I get on BNET, from random people." - AuRora

I considered blacking out the name of the person in this instance but I decided against it. There is this assumption that what you do on the ladders is not in the public eye – this assumption is wrong. When you ladder actual people are there to see the way you act. It’s foolish to assume that the things you do in public will stay private. Before saying or doing anything on the ladder consider this: would you do the same thing at a LAN event?

“but we have a pretty good community overall in my opinion .. so I dont think its a rampant problem.. but hard to ignore”

I think Alysa has a great point, the Starcraft 2 community is friendly, kind and accepting overall – in comparison to the gaming community as a whole. But I think this highlights it’s own problem; a certain level of hate and harrassment is considered normal when it comes to gaming. This level is way beyond what would be considered normal in the outside world. This normality of hate makes people on the receiving end feel like it’s just a part of gaming and that it is up to them to defend themselves, ignore it or stop playing.

 

What About the ‘Bad Guys’ of eSports? The Entertainers? 

CombatEX, Destiny and Idra (and many others) are the different shades of the ‘bad guys’ in eSports. Their behaviour isn’t wrong on it’s own, eSports needs to have it’s bad guys just like WWE (entertainment wrestling) needs it’s bad guys. I actually watch all three of the afforementioned players streams and I even find them entertaining for the most part. But these players, like many others, have been known to cross the line from entertainment into hate. But they are only partly to blame for this behaviour. 

“I had the chance to play him once.. of course he BM’ed me at the end of the game.. but I think thats just part of his internet ‘persona’.”

 – Alysa ‘AuRora’ Goose on CombatEX

BM style entertainment is something the community wants but I don’t think people actually want to see racism, homophobia and sexism when they watch Starcraft 2 – they just tolerate it. This is the problem as it creates a culture of acceptance, it normalises the behaviour. No-one complains and the streamers doing it think it’s not a problem – they may even think that it’s a part of the attraction of their stream. Since it makes them money they keep on with it. In the end the viewers accept the behaviour because the most successful people within Starcraft are not just getting away with it, they are successful from it. 

Orb actually said himself on State of the Game that he didn’t really confront his behaviour until he was called out on it. He just felt like he could “get away with it”. For those of you who have not been following along, Orb was called out for racist language on his stream and on the ladders. The community responded quite quickly contacting Evil Geniuses’ sponsors and Orb was removed from the team.

On that note the Orb situation has wrapped up nicely, a punishment comparable to any other entertainment industry was levelled, the player has apologized and made a statement about his behaviour being wrong and the community has been made aware that in the future this sort of behaviour is not acceptable. The entire spectacle has resulted in progress within the community and many other figures are likely to take notice of how events played out and modify their own behaviour. Hopefully, this all has lasting implications for the improvement of the Starcraft 2 eSports community.

 

What Can You Do? 

In the public eye

Community Leaders: The Agents of Change 

Just like Orb the community leaders need to be held accountable for their actions. This requires a good deal of self-control in some cases. Starcraft 2 is a frustrating game and people won’t blame you for getting angry, but you do have to draw your own line as to what is acceptable behaviour whilst in the public eye. This may mean keeping a piece of paper next to your computer with a reminder that says: “I influence what people think” or “I am not anonymous”. 

The Viewers: The Force for Change

If the recent events with Orb have show anything it’s that the viewers and general community can be the strongest force for change. If you don’t like something let your voice be heard.

You can call people out for using racist/sexist/homophobic jokes or language on their streams. If they ignore you or ban you simply turn off the stream. One or two people doing this will go unnoticed but if a streamer loses a couple hundred viewers and the chat box is filled with complaints about the language every time they do this, then they will take notice.  

If you’re about to turn a stream off for something you don’t like take a second to leave a complaint before you do. Something like “I’m turning this stream off, BM is fine but calling someone ‘x’ is not. I recommend to anyone else who isn’t okay with this to do the same.” 

A comment in the Orb thread on Teamliquid.net

 

Changing Our Culture

Changing the culture as a whole is a big ask, especially when it’s so easy and profitable to to rely on the practices of the past. But the only way to grow beyond the stereotype of sexist, racist, hate-filled gamers is to rethink the practices of the past. Many different cultures have had to question whether what they considered normal was actually right. It’s time for us to do the same.

 

A Special Thanks to:

Stijn ‘Doji‘ Dejongh for approaching me with the idea for this article.

Alysa ‘AuRora‘ Goose for allowing me to interview her and for the image.

Amelia ‘Gilbertamie‘ Gilbert for putting up with me stressing about this article for days, for helping me with another perspective, and for being a great editor.

And, Team Legion.

 

If you have found this article to be thought-provoking please consider leaving a comment below! Sharing this article on Twitter and Reddit also helps a ton.

 


The Year in StarCraft 2 2011 – Robert ‘KingOctavious’ Ring

In this article I talk about KingOcatavious' historic book "The Year in StarCraft 2: 2011".

The people who record history are almost as important as the people that create it. EG writer and ex-SC2 n00b Robert  ‘KingOctavious‘ Ring has done something huge for StarCraft 2 esports, he has created SC2’s first hard record of our history.

The Year in StarCraft 2: 2011 looks just like something you would get a hardcore football fan for their birthday. It’s absolutely packed full of stats, player biographies, tournament results, and history for the year of 2011. Stat nerds especially should pick this book up, the stat-filled appendix contains every detail you could ask for.

The most exciting thing about the release of Robert’s book is that it is a sign of the future. This is a great step forward for StarCraft 2 esports, having a hard piece of history that we can look back on in 10 or 20 years time is awesome. Who knows? People may even use this book (and future copies) in the future to study the history of esports.

The glowing review by SirScoots and the positivity that was showcased on Live on Three absolutely floored me. The top people of StarCraft 2 basically said that every caster should have a copy as their homework. Hearing Robert talk about his own work was also really inspiring.

Read more »


Learn Like Water

In this article I will introduce a learning concept that can help make you a better player.

“To approach the game in a reverse engineering, or, theoretic way will not only benefit your knowledge as a player but it will also make you understand a lot more and also able to learn faster and better in different situations. So when the meta game does change, you can change with it.”
–  lastshadow

There is an idea from the chess world that I read in the book The Art of Learning a while back that all Starcraft players should be aware of. It is that players can spend a lifetime trying to learn all of the different openings and how they defeat each other. In the end that player is no better than the strategies they know and when their strategies no longer work they are left with very little understanding of the game. This is the fundamental flaw of the way that many people approach learning starcraft 2, and why on this website I don’t really write about builds.

The quote at the start of this article is from a video by the brilliantly-minded lastshadow who, at the time of writing, dedicates all of his time in Korea thinking about, and playing Starcraft 2 (despite not being supported by a team). In the video he talks about approaching Starcraft 2 like water (referencing Bruce Lee). He says it is important to try to understand the why and the implications of what people do in the game as opposed to knowing what the right thing to build or the right place to attack  is.

Think about the way water acts. Water always tries to find it’s way down into the deepest points of whatever it contacts. Try to be like the water when you learn.

I recommend watching the VoD I am talking about  – just skip forward to about 10 minutes if you are not interested in TvP. 

Let’s Break it Down

This concept can be a little bit difficult to understand in your early days of learning SC2 so in my quest to be as beginner friendly as possible (I know what it’s like) I will try to break it down a little more.

We know it’s a good idea to harass the Zerg player in the early game because it forces them to make Zerglings instead of Drones. This is pretty common knowledge for most players and it is actually a pretty developed idea already. But as my ancient history teacher always used to tell me “we need to take another step”. 

Let’s experiment in following the chain of effects harassing the Zerg player in the early game has. We know that it forces use Larvae that otherwise would have made Drones.

What else does it do? 

It uses supply quickly. Zerglings are a much less beneficial use of supply than Drones are. What does this mean? In order for the Zerglings to be beneficial to the Zerg once he has made them he must use them to be aggressive. From this we can take our first implication of harassing the Zerg – they will be more aggressive in the early game in order to make up for their lost economy.

What else does it do? 

It reduces their economy that they will have for a mid-game push. More Zerglings early means less of another unit later on. Now we are getting interesting! Harassing the Zerg early on weakens any mid-game pushes from the Zerg.

We can continue following this train of effects down further but we will stay here for this example.

You can apply this type of thought process into any situation – forcing Scans from a Terran, rushing for tech, taking an early expansion etc. 

What’s the benefit?

What this actually does for us as players is gives us a fundamental understanding of the game. This type of understanding is the basis for every opener, every tech switch and every meta game tactic.

Aiming for this type of understanding will give you the ability to play well regardless of what balance changes are made, what new build is the ‘best’ in any given matchup and which race is imba this season.

A fundamental understanding lasts forever, builds change all the time. 


Coach Review – VoidRay NA and EU Protoss

In this article I interview and review an NA and EU Protoss coach, VoidRay.

I was first introduced to Protoss StarCraft 2 coach VoidRay by Eniram of SC2CheatSheet.com as a part of a promotion over there. I had a look at VoidRay’s profile over at TangStarCraft.com and his stream (that he shares with Tang) and was very intrigued by his unique coaching style and service offerings.

protoss coach voidray

NA & EU Protoss Coach VoidRay

Interview

I think it is very important to know a bit about a coaches motivations and experience before you jump into a lesson and VoidRay fantastically agreed to do a short interview.

It takes a love of the game to get to Masters and want to teach other people, what makes you love Starcraft 2?

Well, it all started for my love of SC1. I wasn’t much of a competitive player, in fact I was awful but it never stopped me from playing. I always loved the feeling of a 1v1 knowing that the only way to win is to simply out play your opponent. In Starcraft 2, I found that my love for SC1 had transferred over quite well. I got placed into Gold league and worked my way up all the way to be a top masters player. Throughout this journey I was always teaching.

I am a proud member of clan Relentless Heroes and there I became the head Protoss Mentor being in charge of scheduling, mentoring, and even fun student vs student tournaments. I have always had a passion for teaching and I have been doing it almost my entire Starcraft 2 career. As for what makes me love this game, I love the endless possibilities and the competition. 

How would you describe your play-style?

I would call my play-style “sneaky turtle toss.” I am not usually the one to be the aggressor in almost every MU but what I do like to do is obtain map vision and do a lot of Warprism and Pylon harass. I use aggression and map vision to allow me to know exactly when to tech and exactly when I need to make units. A quick example of this is in PvT, I will literally “take the map with pylons,” In almost every PvT I play, I send 2 probes out in different directions and place pylons around the entire perimeter of the map allowing me to not only have places to warp in almost anywhere, but also for the map vision it gives against drop play and army move outs.

You have mentioned on the TangStarCraft website that you are a Communications major – how do you feel this helps you provide a unique coaching experience?

I am going to be a Communications Major at Ithaca college which I believe will give me one of the greatest advantages as a coach. My theory is that you don’t have to be the best player in SC2 (within reason) to be able to coach, but some “best” players, can not coach. What I mean by this is even if you are incredibly good at this game it doesn’t mean you can articulate the points needed to be able to help out someone at lets say a gold level.

Personally, I am not the words greatest SC2 player, but what I do have is a unique way of coaching that I believe sets me apart from the rest. I take a very hands on approach to coaching, finding my student a partner and then I watch and critique. Throughout the game,I frequently pause to ask them questions such as, “You saw “X” so what does that mean to you?” I try to ask questions a lot instead of simply telling or barking orders because I think the best way of coaching is interactive. Although I do bark orders sometimes, I always make sure to go back and make sure they understand what they were doing whether during or after the game.

I also have a unique way of sharing my knowledge. I call it my “templates.” For lower level players or even higher level players, before a game sometimes I will play a game against a computer as they obs and I preform the build they want to learn to perfection. After I am done, they can simply save the replay as “PvT 1 gas fast expand template” and always be able to look back to see what they are doing right or wrong. I live by the theory that no matter how good you are it still takes an amazing teacher to be able to articulate all the points needed to improve at this game, and I for one believe that I have those skills to help provide the knowledge to be able to improve!

LearningSC2.com is specifically tailored to beginners – how do you feel coaching can help a newer player? Where does it fit into the learning process? 

I think coaching is one of the best ways of becoming a better player in SC2. With that being said, there is actually one kind of player that I will not coach, and that is a bronze league player who has close to zero games played or a brand new player. Why? Well, its quite simple. Just like any sport you need to practice. I have no problem coaching a bronze who is having trouble getting out of bronze and ladders frequently, but what is the point of coaching if with 20 games of just playing on ladder you would have figured all of that stuff out anyway?

But excluding that, I believe coaching is an unbelievably effective way to raise your skill level. Having the opportunity for someone to watch you play and see you in a completely different way than maybe you see your play is simply an amazing opportunity. I would recommend coaching especially to lower level players who appear to be in a rut. We have all been there, unable to advance on ladder and not knowing why. This is the perfect opportunity to get coaching. Overall, I believe newer players and beginners can benefit from coaching but that practice is also an essential way of improving your skills!

 

Review

Before our coaching session VoidRay and I had a bit of a chat over Skype about what I would like to work on. Lately I have really been struggling with Protoss vs Protoss especially early and mid game scouting and decision making. We agreed that the best way to do the session would be to have me play a series of games against similar-level Protoss players where he would commentate on my gameplay. 

VoidRay

Credit: http://www.sc2-strategy.com/

The Coaching Session

When the session kicked off VoidRay already had a player lined up for me – Kommissar. So we jumped straight into the first game with no time wasted. 

Before each game VoidRay would run through a few things I should look out for in general and on the current map. During the early game he would comment on my scouting and note what I had seen. This was particularly good as it helped me actually take notice of some of these things.

At critical points during each game VoidRay would pause the game to discuss what I had scouted, the implications and give me a few choices on how I should proceed with the game. The best part about this pause method is that it really showed me when the critical parts in each game were.

For example, in one game VoidRay paused when I spotted my opponent had their expansion up well before me. We talked about the relationship between my tech advantage and my opponents economic advantage. This point in the game was one of those key decision making points in the game where I often struggle with this match-up. He explained that I had the option to either push with my tech advantage, expand and catch up in economy or do a combination of both. 

After each game we spent a few minutes reflecting on the points in that game that contributed to the loss or win. He ran through the key errors each player made and the advantage each of us had and how we utilized (or squandered) it. I find VoidRay’s focus on advantages to be very helpful – StarCraft 2 is a game that is all about gaining, maintaining and using whatever advantage we can to win.

At the end of the session VoidRay likes to do what he calls “templates” where he will give a demonstration game against the AI to provide a replay template of a build to use. I used this as an opportunity to see how I should steer a standard Robo-build if I scout a Phoenix opening and this was helpful. VoidRay’s “templates” is a neat little addition to his overall service and should be pretty helpful to players looking for more build replays to learn from.
 
Coaching Style

In our session VoidRay went for the ‘in-game commentary’ coaching style which was well suited to the problems I was having. Having real-time feedback was a great way to learn what to look for when scouting and how to react. The addition of the pause discussions helped when there was a more complex decision to be made.

As per his profile over at TangStarCraft.com VoidRay also offers ‘replay analysis’ and ‘commentary on his own matches’. That he recognizes that different players and problems will require different coaching styles is a huge plus in my mind. Too many coaches focus on only one style of coaches and if it’s not right for you then find a different coach.  

Overall Value

I could tell that PvP was also VoidRay’s weakest match-up but this never impacted his ability to coach me on it. He had more than enough knowledge and experience to help me with my issues.

Our session ended up going for an hour and five minutes and I got the feeling that he would have stuck around for longer if I had more questions. It never felt like he was rushing the session even though he was feeling somewhat ill, a pretty good effort in my books.

Additionally, VoidRay streams all of his coaching sessions through Tang’s Twitch.tv stream (unless you request otherwise), so you have the option to watch the whole session again if you missed anything. You can even check out the VOD for our session here.

I had really hit a wall in PvP before my session with VoidRay, and although I feel like I haven’t quite scaled that wall I think I now have the tools to do so. A coaching session with VoidRay is easily worth the (relatively low) hourly rate and if you are still unsure he even offers a half-hour trial session for only $5.

You can read more about VoidRay’s coaching over at TangStarCraft

To arrange a coaching session contact him at: voidraycoaching(at)gmail.com
(NA and EU regions)

 

If you’re a coach and are interested in being reviewed on LearningSC2.com please contact me!

 

More Coach Reviews LearningSC2.com >>>

 


Achievement Hunters: Custom Outmatched

In these episodes of Highlander's Achievement Hunters series he looks at the entire category of Custom Outmatched achievements.

100 Achievement Points Total

2 Insane AI

The first to be examined is the 2 Insane AI achievement. In this, you need to defeat two Insane AI at the same time. Luckily, you don’t need to defeat any more of these at once, but this is hard enough.

Naturally, we’re going to use our Photon Cannon rush strategy again, but like an episode if Idol, map selection can really make or break this. I find that people naturally tend to select a 2v2 map when trying to complete this, however there aren’t any in the map pool that are as effective as: Tempest.

Tempest, if you get a close spawn position that you scout first time, has an exceptionally close starting position for your two enemies. The AI also start divided from each other and both have a low ground position that has easy access to both opponents Nexus’. Ideal really!

The beautiful thing is, if you are having trouble with this achievement and find your enemy isn’t in a close spawn location, that’s fine. You can just start again. Once you do get it, you’ll find it is the easiest map by far.

Make sure you select both your opponents as being Protoss, of all three races they are the most vulnerable to a cannon rush, compared with Zerg who have creep and Terran who have such early game range units.

As per all Cannon rush strategies we will be pulling a probe off the line ASAP and sending him off to build a proxy Pylon outside the enemy base on the low ground to be followed by a Forge ASAP. Whenever you can, build and chronoboost Probes, as long as you don’t delay any structures. Once you have a Forge up, build two Cannons on the low ground with an approximate 10-15s gap between commencing the two. Try to keep your buildings designed so that it is difficult for melee units to attack you cannons, without compromising the range of your Pylon power or your Cannons reach.

Then, just before your first Cannon completes, build a third Cannon on the high ground. By the time the Probes arrive, the enemy will see the completed first Cannon and waste even more time running down the ramp after it only to find themselves out of their depth. Like dominoes, your 2nd cannon will have completed (this is why we waited 10-15s), leaving the enemy Probes having bitten off more than they could chew.

Meanwhile, keep pushing with your Cannons, leap frogging with the construction of Pylons and Cannons towards the enemy Nexus.

The important note to keep in mind, is not to spend any longer on your first opponent than is necessary. The moment the AI’s Nexus is within range of Photon Cannons (or is expecting to be once some more warp in), move onto the remaining enemy without delay.

We then use the same strategy, being a little more conservative with our Cannon usage, using 4 or more Cannons before pushing further forward with a Pylon.

If you feel you have done well, but cannot make the final push towards the enemy Nexus, not all is lost. Your last ditch effort can involve teching immediately to Void Rays and try to use Hit & Run tactics on the enemy Nexus whilst avoiding engagements with the main army. You will have some time up your sleeve while the enemy attempts to destroy your existing cannons, however they won’t last long.

 

4 Very Hard AI

This is a very difficult achievement to attain and luck plays a significant component, especially since the release of patch 1.4 and the Immortal range buff that came with it.

We will be playing on Megaton for this one, with all our opponents being Protoss once more.

Again, we are going for a Cannon Rush strategy but this one will be a bit more difficult.

Pull a probe off the line at about 7 supply, your objective is to get as much early game mining in as possible without getting substantially supply blocked. Then build a Pylon on the low ground of the opponent nearest the small back entrance. Get a Forge up ASAP and using the same strategy as before you will be getting two Cannons on the low ground and as they are completing get a cannon on the high ground. Whilst doing all of this and keep squeezing in Probes (using Chronoboost if available) wherever you can, you’ll find you have more scope to do so compared to the 2 Insane achievement, as the additional mining time at the start will mean you’ve had more probes mining.

Note: Earlier online tutorials recommend pushing heavily up through the middle, but this is too difficult since the AI handle aggressive structures better than they used to.

Your third Cannon (that one on the high ground) should have prevented all mining, so we can consider that opponent completely dead. The ideal mentality here is to consider the best path to take down all opponents ASAP. If we consider the nearest opponent (whose mineral line is quite exposed) our second opponent and his only living neighbour the third opponent, you should be moving towards the nearest possible point to your fourth opponent, whilst still being in range of your third. The idea being, this should make an efficient arc which has built up from your very initial cannons and will move right down the middle of the map. An easy mistake to make is to focus too hard on the next opponent and not on the most challenging end goal. In moving this way towards your third opponent, it will only take a cannon or two to completely disable your second opponent, without more than one additional pylon.

Always be sure to only build Cannons where it is intelligent to do so, it you feel you cannot place a cannon in a position where it will be very useful, simply spend the money on probes or if your mineral line is saturated then save for more cannons in the right places later.

Now, here is where the luck component comes in. Sometimes your third and fourth opponents will include Immortals in their unit mix, if that is the case the achievement is very difficult to attain. They are very effective against Cannons. By this stage, it’s up to you as to whether you continue with Cannons, or if you wish to attempt a transition at home into Void Rays with a plan to hit and run their main base. If you feel the enemy is too hard to overcome, you can always restart and hope for better luck next time.

The enemy does not do a good job of it’s expansion timing, so after the 20 min mark you should be keeping in mind that they will have or will be expanding, likely to their nearest expansion. A pylon and a couple of cannons will do the job here. By preventing this, they will be getting mined out and not have the wisdom to expand as you can.

An alternative strategy, put forward by Artreides of the Team Liquid forums is to play TvZZZZ on Lava Flow expand immediately to an island and build mass Thors to starve out the 4 enemies taking advantage of the ultra cost-effective exchange between Thors and Zerg air.

 

If you have a request for an achievement you would like to see covered or have any questions/comments about this one be sure to leave a comment below!