Sunday, 24 of September of 2017

Achievement Hunters: Insane AI 3v3 Co-op Streak

This is the first article in a new series by guest poster Highlander: Achievement Hunters!

With great excitement I present to you the beginnings of a new series from guest poster Highlander: Achievement Hunters!

Highlander is a self-confessed achievement junkie hailing from the SEA servers. He is creating this series of videos to help others like himself sate their hunger for achievement points. I look forward to posting up his videos and hope you all enjoy.

– ZiggyD

In this video we look at how to get the 3v3 Co-op Streak: Insane AI 15 achievement.

This achievement is difficult and annoying to obtain but it has a big pay off. By completing the 15 win streak you will get 10 points per difficulty (beating insane counts as beating all levels below that) 3 times over (for 5, 10, and, 15 wins). After getting this achievement it is easy to do the same for 2v2 netting you a huge total of 240 points!

Here is a quick rundown of the steps shown in the video:

  1. Have all 3 team members select Protoss and start the game. It has to be a formal “Cop-op vs AI” to work, a custom game will not do.
  2. At the start of the match each team member starts training a probe and sends another to the low ground area as close as possible to each of the enemy’s mineral lines. Build a pylon at each of these locations.
  3. Halt probe production and build a Forge ASAP. As this warps in Chrono-boost a few more Probes for a better economy. Take this opportunity to scout out your opponents base.
  4. Once your Forge is complete build two Cannons on the low ground. As they complete build cannons on the high ground and leap-frog cannons and pylons towards your opponents minerals to prevent mining.
  5. Once mining is prevented it is just a matter of finishing the opponents and helping your allies do the same. 
  6. If things go badly for any of your allies tech to Void Rays to deliver a finishing blow.

If you lose a game and fail the streak achievement don’t be too concerned as all wins still count towards your total co-op Insane AI wins (of which you need 250).

An alternative strategy that helps to overcome some difficult maps is for one player to select Terran and use mass-reapers. The basic strategy here is to try and kill their Command Centre/Nexus/Hatchery whilst never directly engaging the main army and continuing to accumulate more reapers over time. This player can target the opponent most challenging for cannons.

Are you a fan of this new series? Do you have a request for an achievement you would like to see covered? Let us know in the comments below! 


Birthday Games with ZiggyD

The 15th of July is a special day!

"We require more frosting" Protoss cake courtesy of Hot Blooded Gaming - http://tinyurl.com/3ze35y5

Friday the 15th of July (AEST, 14th of July in the US) is a very special day, it’s my birthday! For some time I have been thinking of what I wanted to do for my birthday and I have finally decided.

Let’s play a heap of Starcraft 2 for my birthday!

What better way to spend the day then by playing a bunch of custom games with my friends/readers/twitter followers?

This works nicely for a few reasons: Firstly, I get back from holidays a few days before the 15th and will be quite rusty from lack of games so it will be great to get back into shape with a full day of practice games. Secondly, season 3 starts on the 19th of July and this will be an excellent way to renew my drive for laddering. Thirdly, I love this game and I love all of you, I can think of no better way to spend a day. And, best of all, my girlfriend approves of the idea!

So I will be free and playing Starcraft 2 all day on the 15th (AEST). I’m going to schedule time for both NA and SEA (sorry to the other servers but I don’t have access to you – yet).

I will be on NA for the Australian morning (AEST) as this ends up being afternoon or evening for most NA players. I will switch over to SEA in the afternoon.

If you would like to have a few games with me for my birthday leave a comment below. Alternatively, contact me via email or add me on Skype (ziggyd[at]learningsc2.com for both) and we will arrange a time to play. Also, If you haven’t already you can add me in game, I am ZiggyD.279 on both SEA and NA.

I hope to see you all online on the 15th for a great day of Starcraft 2!

 


Practice Partners

In this article I look at the secret to every great Starcraft players success: practice partners!

No one ever became a great Starcraft player on their own. Behind every great player is a large community of people who practice together. Playing with practice partners allow you to refine strategies and openings and to practice specific situations many times over. In this article i’ll talk about where to find practice partners and who to practice with.

 

Finding Practice Partners

It’s pretty common for Starcraft 2 players to not have many friends in real life that play SC2, if this is you don’t feel alone. If you do have a large network of friends who play then you are one of the lucky few! Even if you do it is still important to play with many different styles and levels of players.

 

Practice Groups

Sometimes a few outstanding people will take the time to create a place where like-minded people can link up and play games of SC2. This is a great method of finding practice partners not because of the amount of people you will find (these groups are often small) but because their mindset. People in these groups have come together with the same goal, to improve at Starcraft 2 and this makes them very helpful and very keen.

Unfortunately, finding these groups can be quite hard. You can sometimes find their posts in forums or you may hear about their website or chat channel from a friend. The following are two groups that I have came across:

 

PRACBUD (SEA)

Located on the SEA server PRACBUD was founded by a few Bronze and Silver League friends who wanted to have practice games with other low level players on the server. Since then it has evolved to include players up to Platinum. You can find out more info about PRACBUD by visiting their website PracbudSC2.com or by joining the chat channel “PRACBUD” in game.

Bronze Practice (EU)

 

Located on the EU server, this group caters to low level players by running custom games, tournaments and coaching. You can find out more about them by visiting their website www.sc2practice.com

If you know of any practice groups like these please share them in the comments below!

 

The Forums

Head to your local Battle.Net forum or to the Team Liquid Forums to find threads written by people looking for practice partners. Or you could start a thread yourself. What is great about this method is that you will know exactly what type of practice the person is looking for. If you are a Gold level player looking for ZvP practice and you come across a thread asking for Gold level Zerg players to practice with then you know it’s a perfect match!

 

Clans

Clans are something that I have not personally explored yet but I have heard from many people who are members of clans that it is the single best way to get a lot of practice partners. Clans are more formalised communities of gamers who join together to practice, to compete or just to socialise. There are a lot of clans available to SC2 players so I recommend doing a bit of research before you commit to one.

 

The Ladder

This may seem counter-intuitive as the ladder is where you got to compete not to practice. However, something that I often do is ask people I have played on the ladder if they would like to have some practice games. Not everyone wants to of course, some may want to continue to ladder, but many people were more then happy to play a few games and I have even made a few friends this way. This gives you a chance to practice with people who defeated you on the ladder and to explore why you lost. Just make sure that you use good manner in game if you want a chance to play practice games with your opponents afterwards!

 

Who to Practice With

Some people prefer to only practice with people their own level and below, while others swear by only practicing with high level players. It’s important to understand that both groups of practice partners have their own distinct benefits and drawbacks.

 

Evenly Matched or Below

Benefits

Practicing with these players give you a chance to play a lot of games while you are still familiarising yourself with the game. Games will be more forgiving and will often last longer allowing you to get more overall learning time. These games will also give you a chance to learn how to take advantage of your opponents errors when they make them, this becomes much harder to do when facing off against higher levelled players so it’s a good idea to learn this skill here.

Drawbacks

When playing lower level or evenly matched players you will find that you can use ‘tricks’ more successfully and that you can get away with many more mistakes. Playing games at this level for too long can cause you to develop bad habits. For example, against lower level players getting supply blocked is not game ending, where a more experienced player would take advantage of this slip. Without the threat of losing you will be less motivated to prevent this from happening.

 

Higher Level Players

Benefits

Playing against experts of the game will teach you what you cannot do. Make a mistake against one of these players and you will be punished for it. Thus, playing against high level players trims your play of tricks and gimmicks and helps you identify flaws in your play.

Perhaps the most important benefit of playing higher level players is that you must actively try to beat them. These players will rarely make a mistake and you will never win with passivity, you must try to take the win from them because they will not give it to you.

Drawbacks

When facing these players your every move must be well refined as you will be punished for the smallest inefficiencies. As such, there is little room for experimentation when playing high level players. Also note that unless you are fairly competent in the mechanics of the game, you will not get much benefit from playing someone who is able to crush you 100 times in a row.

 

Make sure that you practice with the players that are best suited to your current learning goals. If you are still struggling with the mechanics of the game, getting beaten repeatedly wont help you too much. In this case practice with people that are at or below your skill level. Once you are confident with the basics and you want to learn what your doing wrong you should seek out high level practice partners.

 

Do you have a good network of practice partners? Do you prefer to play with people at your own level or do you prefer to punish yourself against high level players? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!


Bad Habits in Starcraft 2

In this article we look at some bad habits in Starcraft 2 and I give some advice on how to kick them.

We all have a few (or many) bad habits when it comes to playing Starcraft 2, however, many either don’t realise what they are or don’t feel that they are significantly affecting their play. The following are bad habits that I have dealt with, am dealing with or have seen a lot of. Breaking our bad habits is one thing that we can do to really improve ourselves as players.

 

Entering ‘Spectator’ Mode

This is one that we have all been guilty of at some point. When it comes time for a big battle we stop playing and watch it happen, who will be the winner? Battles in SC2 look fantastic but save the spectating for replays. Whenever you find yourself just watching the game play itself remember that you should still be working! Macro-ing while battles play out is extremely important, often the winner is the one who was preparing for the next battle not just watching the current one.

 

Quite an epic battle but watch it in the replay not the game!

Not Using All of the Hotkeys

Often times we know and use the main hotkeys for our race but there is usually one or two hotkeys that we would only use once a game that we never take the time to learn. Whats the hotkey for the Warp Prism speed upgrade? I can’t think of it off the top of my head so I know this is one bad habit that I am personally guilty of.

Why is this an issue if we only use it once a game? It’s not so much the extra time it takes to go down and click the upgrade button but the extra thought it takes. Learn the hotkey and make it as second nature as building workers and you will free your mind up to think of more important strategic decisions.

 

Not Watching the Minimap

Keeping one eye on the minimap lets me see that there is a counter-attack force trying to flank my army.

On the main screen there are units, battles and all sorts of flashy stuff. The minimap by contrast is relatively dull, but it’s an extremely important tool and you should alway be keeping one of your eyes on it. Falling into the habit of not watching your minimap will result in you missing enemy army movements, drops and expansions.

 

Breaking this habit is hard work –  to do so you will need to incorporate minimap checks at least every few seconds into your mental to do list.

Your mental to do list should look something like this:

  • Build workers.
  • Check Minimap.
  • Build Units.
  • Check Minimap.
  • High Minerals? Build Production.
  • Check Minimap.

All of this happens in a few seconds, eventually it will seem like you are always looking at the minimap because you wont miss anything. The next bad habit ties in with this one.

 

Excessive Screen Scrolling

Screen scrolling is when you move your mouse to the edge of the screen (or worse yet using the arrow keys) to move around the map. Screen scrolling should only really be used for slight adjustments or for controlling units during battle. Every other screen movement should either be the result of hotkey use or minimap clicking.

There are two very good reasons why this is the case:

  1. Using hotkeys to control your screen movements suggests that you are building units and checking the status of upgrades etc.
  2. Controlling your screen position via the minimap ensures that you are looking there more often. Without using it to click around players often fall into the habit I mentioned earlier.

 

Neglecting Upgrades

Getting to max or have a lot of spare resources? Dual chrono-boosted Forges!

This bad habit has been costing me games lately. I will often get to 1/1 upgrades and forget as the game goes on. Neglecting upgrades becomes more and more of a problem as you start playing longer, more drawn out macro games where the difference in army strength makes a huge difference.

 

A simple solution to this problem is to make upgrades a part of your ‘getting to max army size’ routine. As you get close to the point where your army is getting maxed out build an extra Forge, Evo Chamber or Engineering Bay and start upgrading two upgrades at once. As your game refinement increases you will find out where you can more effectively squeeze upgrades in but following this ‘max army’ routine is a very good starting point.

 

Overreacting to Harassment

There are three things that can make harassment effective, direct damage (ie. killed workers etc), taking up attention (forcing you to deal with harassment when you should be macroing) and overreaction. This bad habit tends to develop early on in our Starcraft 2 career when we panic over how to deal with it.

The following are ways that you might overreact to harassment:

  • Building a lot of static defences – Cannons, Turrets and Spore Crawlers all take up a lot of minerals that cannot be recovered.
  • Sending your entire army to deal with a small harassment – Often this will result in your enemies main army being able to freely attack.
  • Pulling all of you workers off of minerals when you only need to pull a few – You will lose mining time that you didn’t really need to.
  • Sending everything for a panicked counter attack – Your enemy will likely be prepared and unless you are very far behind a panicked attack is never a good idea.

Each of those things has the potential to do more damage than the harrasment itself. It is, however, possible to avoid all of this damage simply by remaining calm. If you spot a red dot heading somewhere suspicious (you should be watching your minimap, remember?) grab some of your units and immediately send them to intercept via the minimap. Then go see what it is, if it turns out to be nothing then no problem send your troops back. If it is small enough for the units you sent to deal with, great! If it turns out to be much worse, send more of your army to deal with it. Above all else simply remaining calm is your best defence against harassment.

 

Queuing

This last bad habit is one that a lot of people struggle with even knowing they do it. Queuing up units in your production buildings is all round bad practice. Each unit that is queued up and not currently building is essentially wasted money that could be spent on expanding, upgrading or making more production facilities.

Ideally you want to be starting a new unit just as the one that is currently building finishes, however this can be quite hard to achieve. It requires constantly checking the production status of your buildings which takes time to learn. While you strive for ideal macro queuing up one unit when the first is almost done is a good start. I am still working on this habit myself, at the moment my main queuing problem is with workers – I tend to build them two at a time.

 

Do you suffer from any of the above bad habits in SC2? What other bad habits are you working on at the moment? I know that lately one of mine has been playing Starcraft when I should be studying for exams.


ZiggyD’s Guest Spot on HulkGameCritic’s Podcast

I was recently invited to do a segment on Hulk Game Critic’s Podcast to talk about gaming in Australia, Starcraft 2 eSports and to discuss the latest gaming news.

 

Hulk smashes the failures of the gaming industry!

 

I was pretty nervous starting the show since this was my first podcast but it ended up being a lot of fun. Talking about the gaming industry is something I could do all day!

 

Head to Hulk’s blog to listen to the podcast (Part: 2)

 

Thank you Hulk for having me on your show!



Seven Settings To Improve Your Play

In this article we look at some of the settings in Starcraft 2 that can help improve your play.

Game settings are something people will often neglect, but optimising them is simple and it can benefit your play immediately. In this article we will go through some of the settings that you can change in-game and what they will do for you.

 

Display the Command Hotkeys

In a previous article I discussed the importance of learning to use hotkeys in SC2. This setting shows the hotkey for each command on the command button itself rather than the tooltip (popup box when you mouse over the command).

Benefits

Having the hotkeys for each command easily visible can make learning them just a little bit easier. Once you have learned them all you will simply forget about even looking in that corner of the screen but for now this setting is one you should definitely enable.

How to Change This Setting

To display the command hotkeys:

  1. Go to the ‘Options’ menu,
  2. Open the Gameplay tab, and,
  3. Check the ‘Command Hotkey Text’ box.

 

The Game Timer

This handy addition to the game simply puts a timer above the mini-map in the user interface. This timer shows the current time of the match in Starcraft 2 time (1.38x Normal time on the ladder).

Benefits

The game timer may seem unimportant but it serves as an easy point of reference whilst in game. This allows you to note timings and have an idea of what you could see from your opponent at certain points in the match. You can also set times for yourself to aim for with certain things. For example, in Protoss vs Zerg I try to expand by 6:00, referring to the game timer lets me know if I have been delayed and by how much.

How to Change This Setting

To enable the Game Timer:

  1. Go to the ‘Options’ Menu,
  2. Open the ‘Gameplay’ Tab, and,
  3. Check the ‘Show Game Timer’ Box.

 

Enable Friend or Foe Colours

Rather than their random colours, the enemy is shown as red and you as green.

This setting is one of my personal favourites. Changing this setting changes the team colours from their defaults to green (yourself), red (enemies) and yellow (allies).

 

Benefits

Friend or foe colours make identifying enemy units via the mini-map and main screen much easier in 1v1 games. I am still undecided about it’s usefulness in team games, however, as it makes communicating with your allies a little difficult as all enemies are red. Being able to quickly identify the enemy will make it much easier to spot drops or enemy troop movements in your peripheral vision.

How to Change This Setting

To enable/disable friend or foe colours press ‘Alt+F’ whilst in a game. Alternatively, you can click the bottom button besides the mini-map. Your friend or foe colours setting will carry over into future games so you do not have to enable it every game.

 

Disable Operating System Shortcuts

This setting is worth changing if you have a problem with accidentally hitting a button that minimises the game or interferes somehow. If you don’t have a problem with this don’t worry about this setting.

How to Change This Setting

To disable the operating system shortcuts:

  1. Go to the ‘Options’ Menus,
  2. Open the ‘Controls’ Tab, and,
  3. Check the ‘OS Keyboard Shortcuts’ box.

 

Show Unit Status Bars

It may look messy as a viewer but as a player the status bars provide a lot of vital information.

Enabling the display of unit status bars will show  the health, shields, energy and production status of all units and buildings on the main game screen.

 

Benefits

  • Makes it easy to see the condition of your units so that you can make a decision to micro or retreat.
  • You can see the condition of enemy units allowing you to focus fire them easily.
  • Allows you to easily make out enemy spell-casters to focus fire, EMP or Feedback.
  • Allows you to easily see the current production or research status of any of your buildings, assisting with macro.

How to Change This Setting

I highly recommend setting the display of unit status bars to ‘always’, however, if you find this too messy you can set it to ‘selected’. You can change this setting by:

  1. Going to the ‘Options’ menu,
  2. Opening the ‘Gameplay’ tab, and,
  3. Selecting ‘Always’ or ‘Selected’ from the drop down ‘Show Unit Status Bars’ menu.

 

Un-clickable or Hidden Control Groups

If, like me, you find yourself accidentally clicking the control group icons at the bottom of the main game screen or you just want to get the most amount of screen space possible this is a good setting to change. There are two options available to you instead of the default visible and clickable setting: Visible but un-clickable or hidden.

How to Change This Setting

To set the control groups to unclickable or hidden:

  1. Go to the ‘Options’ menu,
  2. Open the ‘Gameplay’ tab, and,
  3. Select either ‘Hidden’ or ‘Unclickable’ from the ‘Control Groups’ drop-down box.


Display Build Grid

The build grid shows unbuildable terrain as yellow allowing for easier wall offs.

Enabling this setting will show a grid whenever you attempt to place a building. The grid shows unbuildable terrain and gives you an idea of how much space there is betweeen your buildings.

 

Benefits

The build grid makes walling off and base planning much easier. For example, as Protoss you need to leave a one square gap in your wall for units to pass through. Enabling this setting will help you set up your base just a little better so give it a try.

How to Change This Setting

To enable the display of the build grid:

  1. Go to the ‘Options’ Menu,
  2. Open the ‘Gamelpay’ tab, and,
  3. Check the ‘Display Build Grid’ box.

 

How do you set up your game? Are there any useful settings that I haven’t mentioned here? If so let me know in the comments below!

 

This article was a collaborative piece between ZiggyD and Ramzdale, a big thank you to Ramzdale for his help! If you are an aspiring writer and would like to write for LearningSC2 let me know!



Using Force Fields Effectively

In this article we look at possibly the most valuable tool in the Protoss' arsenal: the Force Field!

The Sentry’s Force Field ability is probably one of the most important tools Protoss has. It can be used to defend when an early attack could not otherwise be defended or to assault your opponent while forcing their army into a bad position.

Games can hinge on good Force Fields, it’s not uncommon that an incorrectly placed Force Field will cost a Protoss player the game. It is crucial for your progression as a Protoss player to at least have a decent grasp on Force Field use.

In preparation for this article I looked at a lot of games from three professional players well known for their near-perfect Force Field use: White-Ra, iNcontrol and oGsMC. I have also been doing a lot of work on my own Force Field use, with great results.

 

How To Cast Force Field

Assuming ‘F’ is the hotkey for Force Field (F is the Default) the to best ways to cast it are:

  • ‘F’ > Click each Force Field individually, or,
  • Hold ‘F’ down and click for each Force Field you want to cast.

This is purely personal preference, I use the first option because I feel it makes me place each Force Field a little better than if I use the second option. Try both and decide which is more comfortable for you. Do not ‘Shift+F’ Force Fields as it causes the Sentries to cast after they kill the current unit that they are attacking.

 

How Many Sentries are Needed?

The following is based on my experience and my observations on professional Protoss players. I give a range of recommended Sentry counts so that you can adjust depending on how good your Force Field placement is. If you are not confident that you can be very efficient with your Force Fields use the higher Sentry count suggested.

  • When defending one base with a ramp 3-4 Sentries is enough to block the ramp for as long as you want.
  • When moving out to take an expansion a minimum of eight Sentries is recommended against Zerg. Eight will allow you to have enough Force Fields to easily defend any Zergling attacks and small Roach pushes for a good amount of time.
  • When moving out to attack or secure further expansions 8-10 Sentries is recommended to effectively apply the techniques discussed in this article. This is true in any matchup, especially when you are using Colossus in your army. Effective Force Fields will greatly amplify the effectiveness of Colossus.

 

Force Field Techniques

The Force Field ability is very versatile and its uses are only limited by your creativity. The following are common techniques that you can use to great effect.

 

Ramp Block

This is the most simple of the techniques and only requires a bit of timing to do well. Force Fields are used to block enemy forces from coming up (or going down) a ramp. You can place the Force Field to completely block enemy troops or you can attempt cut the army in half as it comes up the ramp netting you a few easy kills.

In this game WhiteRa used a Force Field to prevent enemy Zerglings from reinforcing an expansion.

In the same game WhiteRa uses a Force Field to trap a few Zerglings on a ramp. Easy kills.

 

Open Field Block

Used to prevent enemy forces from engaging with your army or to prevent flanks. This technique should be used when you want to completely avoid an engagement or if your troops outrange those of the enemies, a common thing for Protoss. You can improve the effectiveness of this technique by utilising chokes, walls or buildings to help block the enemy’s movement.

Zerglings can easily be blocked by using Force Fields in the choke created by the gateway

oGsMC blocks off the Roaches allowing his Stalkers and Colossus to attack freely.

 

Cut and Trap

Using Force Fields you can cut an enemy’s army in half and trap some of the units to be easily killed by your Zealots. Using this method you can safely chip away at the enemy’s forces whilst taking minimal damage yourself. You can also trap any units caught off guard by creating a concave of Force Fields behind the enemy’s units. I group these two techniques together because cutting an enemy’s army is the same as trapping a portion of it. Using these methods you will never have to engage the enemy at his full strength.

oGsMC uses Force Fields to trap a few roaches that are separated from the Zerg's main army.

In this game I manage to cut a few units off from my enemy's army giving me easy kills.

 

Bottleneck

A bottle neck is essentially a small choke, it restricts movement to your enemy’s army and causes them to bunch up into a gap. This technique works with splash damage from Colossus or Psi Storms and it also tempts all but the most experienced of players into engaging when they should be pulling back.

The bottleneck created here forces the Terran opponent to either pull back or fight a bad engagement.

Here multiple bottlenecks have disrupt the enemy's arc and maximise the effectiveness of the Colossus.

 

A Few Tips

Following this advice can help you use your Sentry’s energy more efficiently and help you to have better engagements.

  • Troop Movement is extremely important: engaging at chokes or near walls will make your Force Fields much more effective.
  • As the enemy approaches throw down one or two Force Fields pre-emptively, then if he continues past those complete the cut. This makes cutting his army easier as it makes a temporary choke-point.
  • Try to not overlap your Force Fields, doing so wastes valuable energy that could be used on more Force Fields or Guardian Shield.
  • If you have High Templar in a control group casting Force Field becomes difficult, set your Sentries to a different control group to make using Force Field quicker and easier.
  • Calm Force Fields are well placed ones. Easier said then done. Try breathing out before you spam them everywhere.

 

When Force Fields DONT Work (Or, How To Deny the Protoss Force Field Use)

In the following situations Force Fields will hinder you or flat-out not work, avoid over producing Sentries if you encounter one of these.

Against Massive Units

Colossus, Thors, Ultralisks and Archons (as of patch 1.3.3) are all ‘Massive’ class units and will break Force Fields upon contact with them. If your opponent is leading their attack with these units do not Force Field, instead use your energy on Guardian Shield and Hallucinations.

Against Siege Tanks

Siege Tanks are generally stationary and have a long range, using Force Fields when facing a large number of tanks will help your opponent more than you. However, if you can, use Force Fields to prevent Terran’s units from pulling back into range of their tanks using the Cut or Trap techniques.

Against Air

Yep. Doesn’t work against air units.

When Your Opponent is Highly Mobile

This one is a little different. If your enemy is playing a highly mobile game (using fast units and drops or other harrasment) Force Fields become limited in their usefulness overall. You can still use a few Sentries to prevent some attacks but most mobile players will simply attack elsewhere. In this situation limit your Sentry production and instead focus on your own mobile units to counter or build up for an attack.

 

Has Force Field use been something you have struggled with or are you the oGsMC of your division? I am still having trouble with making sure that I don’t overlap them too much. Let me know about your Force Field skills in the comments below!

A special thank you to Ramzdale for helping me get a few of these awesome pics!


Progress!

Thought I might share with you a little bit of news and talk about what I have been doing up to this point.

Over the past week I have had what I felt to be a few leaps and bounds in the improvement of my play. As if to acknowledge this last night I was promoted to Gold. Please excuse me for a moment:

WOOOOOOOOOooooooooooHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooo!!!

Now that thats out of my system I thought I might discuss what I have been doing up to this point and what I felt got me into Gold.

 

My Time In Bronze – Playing Random

A lot of my time spent in Bronze was spent simply trying things out and practicing. Although this meant no real ladder progress for a long while (I was in Bronze for many months) I think it went a long way towards shaping my view of the game now and helped me to create my current style.

In Bronze I played as Random, learning all three races really helped me to understand the strengths and limitations of each. It also had another effect: I never blame my losses on race, imbalance etc but rather my own mistakes. Internalising success and failure in this way has really driven me to improve.

If you are currently in Bronze this is my advice: don’t rush. Spend a decent amount of time trying different races, styles, strategies and just practicing the basics of the game.

 

My Time in Silver – Discovering My Style

Right before I was promoted to Silver I settled on a specific race to play (Protoss), my choice was based on the feeling that Protoss’ mechanics and army control/positioning best suited the style I wanted to play. Most of my time spent in Silver was spent discovering my style. A big part of this process was watching Pro players like iNcontrol and HuK play and trying out things that they did.

It was also around this time that I discovered the chat channel/group PRACBUD. Having such a large group of people willing to play practice games with me really sped up my progress in Silver.

 

Getting Promoted to Gold – Learning a Match-Up

As I mentioned earlier, about a week ago I had a leap in my gameplay and this was the result of focusing on learning one match-up. Recently, I played in the finals of PRACBUD’s ‘Baneling Cup’ where I lost to an excellent, macro style Zerg player. It was one of the first times where I actually thought “there is no way I can beat this player today”. This really motivated me to learn all about Protoss vs Zerg.

So I just forgot about the other two match-ups and focused entirely on PvZ. I researched, watched games and eventually I discovered a way that I wanted to play the match-up (iNcontrol’s PvZ Style). After practicing this style and learning the ins and outs of the match-up I started winning a lot against Zerg on the ladders (I was regularly beating Gold and Platinum Zergs as a Silver-level player). In game I actually felt extremely confident and the Zerg players seemed really predictable. Of course I was still getting hammered in my other two match-ups.

After about a week of beating nearly every Zerg I played and going about 50/50 with the other races I was promoted to Gold. I take this promotion as a sign that I am on the right track. So my next step is to learn the other two match-ups one at a time and continue my learning of PvZ.

 

Hopefully this provides some insight into my progress so far and helps to motivate you to continue improving your game as well. I hope to have another one of these articles to write very soon!


KingOctavious vs ZiggyD BO5 n00b Showdown VODs

Check out the games between KingOcatvious and myself and find out who is crowned the king of Starcraft 2 n00b-dom!

If you haven’t been following me on Twitter or the forums then you may have missed that KingOctavious of Starcraft2n00b.com and I played a BO5 a few months back. The BO5 was to decide who was the king of Starcraft 2 n00b-dom and suffice to say what ensued was some epic n00b-ishness.

KingOctavious recorded and uploaded video commentaries of each of the games to his site, I wanted to wait until all of the games were uploaded before doing this write up. It’s great to look back at how much better we have gotten in only a few months (we were both in Bronze at the time of playing these matches).

To maintain the excitement I have hidden each of the games in spoilers.


Game 1




Game 2




Game 3

Game 4




Game 5






Congratulations to:

The Winner
KingOctavious! You have claimed the title of King of Starcraft 2 n00b-dom!

I look forward to future matches between myself and King as we both progress up through the ranks! I’ll be sure to post them here as well.


Guest Post: ZiggyD Character Profile

A guest article written about yours truly.

Recently Simon ‘Mak’ Murrell interviewed me for a character profile, we talked about Starcraft 2, eSports and the future of the two. I wanted to post his write up to give you the chance to have bit more insight into my involvement and motivations in the world of SC2 and eSports. Please read on for Simon’s piece.


 

MORE THAN JUST CHILDS PLAY

In 2000 the Electronic Sports world or E-Sports as its known, held the first World Cyber Games in Soul, Korea.

The Asia-Pacific region has seen massive growth in this industry, with prize pools in the tens of thousands of dollars, however the rest of world has developed a lot slower.

One man striving to change this is Daniel ‘ZiggyD’ Coutts-Smith, his involvement in the E-Sports world has exploded over the last year.

Daniel has designed, developed and funded his own website dedicated to teaching people the basics of competition gaming and to promote the sport, “I’m hoping to become a bit of an E-Sports entrepreneur” he said.

He is out to get more people playing E-Sport games, spread the word that gaming is not a childish pursuit and promote E-Sports as a spectator form of entertainment.

“I’m excited for the future of E-Sports in the west, I think it’s going to be huge and I’m excited to be a part of it”

In the future he hopes to sponsor tournaments and even learn Korean to help break through the eastern and western language barrier.

Though he confessed he’s no match for the professionals, he is still an avid gamer, playing at least two practice matches each day and competing on a regular basis.

Daniel played a variety of games growing up, though having no internet access limited his exposure to the E-Sports world.

He always preferred more challenging games, and strategy games such as StarCraft have become his main interest. With the release of StarCraft 2 (July last year) he focused his involvement in the sport.

When I asked him what made StarCraft such a popular game, he said “balance”, the game forces people’s skill to be the deciding factor and not a particular aspect of the game that gives one player an advantage”.

Like a giant chess game? “Indeed”.

He does stress that E-Sports aren’t just about entertainment, “gaming can provide a lot of developmental benefits” he said.

“Professional gaming requires a great deal of skill and the ability to be strategically decisive.”

He referred to Sun Tzu and The Five Rings as avenues of study for skill development.

Daniel emphasised the spectator aspect of gaming as well. “It isn’t just a participant sport either, it is a great spectator sport as well. This is one aspect that I want to promote.”

There is no doubt that Daniel is dedicated to the E-Sports world and his involvement is certainly going to make a difference to the development of the sport.

 

By Simon ‘Mak’ Murrell

 

If you are interested in writing a guest post for LSC2 contact me and let me know!