Monday, August 16, 2010

Starcraft: Protect the Probes

Since I've been thoroughly enjoying Starcraft II, I thought I'd write about it a bit while we exist in this pre-expansion lull.  I'm going to talk about pretty basic, newb-ish stuff and encourage other players to comment with anything I missed.  I don't plan to do this on any given day, just randomly as the mood strikes me for as long as WoW content is lacking.

Today's "pro tip" is brought to you by my late night, drunken attempt at a 1v1 match.  For the most part, I've just been playing custom games when I do multi-player, having yet to complete the single player.  I guess I feel that I should finish the campaign before throwing myself into laddered matches and such, mostly because it makes sure you're familiar with any new stuff.  Still, it's not like they re-invented the wheel here.  There are enough old things to make a classic player feel comfortable.

So, yeah, I've been playing Vexal Tower Defense until my eyes bleed in between campaign missions.  Then, I started drinking on Saturday night and at about 2 in the morning I said: "I should skip the 50 newb matches and just try a 1v1".  I didn't completely skip them.  I tried one.  And the guy was chatting to "all" during the game.  So I'd see stuff like: "Hold on, I gotta kill this guy real quick" where "this guy" was me.  I was Protoss and he was Terran.  Fortunately for him, he didn't share any strategy hints like "zerging now".  Even so, it didn't help his cause as I sent a dozen Dark Templar in and they are pretty unstoppable if you get to them early enough.  Cloaking ftw.

In any case, with one "pwn" under my belt, I decided I was ready for the big leagues.  Well with one match and about 6 beers.  Always a good choice.

I went in as 'toss again, figuring to go with my DT strat.  Problem was, I got matched with another 'toss player.  The protoss have detector photon cannons as their main defensive implement.  With terran, it's easier to forget to build your turrets because you shouldn't need air defense right away.  With protoss, this is a moot point since they defend both air and ground.  So I adapted and decided to try and speed up the tech tree for air superiority.  Got my stargate early, and thought I was sitting pretty.  I had cannons blocking my entrance pretty solidly.  It was going well.

Then my probes started dying.  Yep, cloaked DT's were back there probing my probes.  And since this is an alien race, the probing wasn't good cop/bad cop, no, it was anal.  It's just how aliens roll.

Without workers, you're pretty well boned.  You can't do a whole lot without minerals (or crystalz as one tower defender referred to them).  I tied warping in some cannons near my nexus, but by then it was too late.  As I watched my little outpost being overrun, I had to chat with this strategic genius.  I had to know: "how did you get those guys in there?"  After all, I had thought my entrance completely sealed, equipped with detectors and everything. 

The response was as simple as it was drunkenfacepalming: "Shuttle."  You mean someone else thought of taking to the skies?  No, freaking way!  Needless to say, I immediately wished I had played at least 2 newb matches before making this guffaw.  It's not that big of a deal, but, still, I hate being "pwned", which is certainly what I was.  It wasn't a close match, it was me being dumb and him/her exploiting it.  I mean, I had just used the same tactic (albeit sans shuttle).  Dur.

We said a few more words, then "gg" and parted ways.  I was actually pleasantly surprised with the fellow.  I guess I expected to be trash talked or something, and that was not the case at all.  It was all friendly and fun.  I suppose I'll need to be careful in raising my expectation for the "new"  After all, there is still plenty of ignorant e-trashing in TD matches.  Heaven forbid someone new try to play one of those.  At the same time, there were an equal number of people trying to be helpful.  Maybe my memories of the original are colored, but I think we're trending in the right direction.

Short version of the tip: Protect your workers.  Put the token detector back near your base, especially when playing Protoss.  Do this, and ye shall not feel as newbish as I.


  1. Observers!

    They're one of the most useful units in the Protoss arsenal. Dirt-cheap, and it almost feels like cheating. Once I get this set of videos I'm working on up (yes, you read that right) you'll see just how important they are, as I mis-managed them and almost lost the game based on that alone.

    Secondly, Protoss Warp Prisms are possibly the most under-used unit in the game. Not only are they troop transports, but they can transform into Pylons for Warp Gate incursions. I have some fun Warp Prism strategies cooked up that I can't wait to try.

    But you hit the number one tip: PROTECT THE WORKERS. Okay, maybe number two. Number one would be: SCOUT. I'll forgive you because of yout (alleged) drunkeness, but if you had souted (Observers!!!) your enemy's base and seen the Dark Shrine and Stargate, you could have been better prepared for his offensive.

    Look at me acting like I know what I'm talking about.

  2. Ooh, can't wait.

    I haven't really played around enough to know of the warp prisms yet, so I'll plead ignorance there. The Observers are a no-brainer (and old school). You get them with a cybernetics core right? I obviously didn't think about that either.

    My old time strat used to be carrier swarms, but I've found that a lot less effective in this iteration. They just seem so much more expensive/less effective or something. Point is, I'm used to just boxing myself in with cannons. Shoulda covered the probes...

    Fwiw, I already knew where he was and was keeping an eye on him... I just thought I was safe behind my wall. They key I was missing was the whole shuttle thing.