Friday, May 30, 2008

How to get the joy of playing back

I was chatting with AiurAdun on messenger randomly about some games he had played. I was kinda annoyed that he had not asked if I wanted to play too, but suddenly we both went online to play. One game was all we had time for, 'cause it was getting late.

I made a game on Othello. Othello is an iC Cup map, that I had never played before and neither had AiurAdun. So all was set up for disaster.

The game is different as a team game. Your opening moves are more limited, as gambling and going up the tech-tree fast is out of the question. Does both opponents attack you, then your tech-before-units gamble will make you loose. Scouting the map for hidden expansions is also less important, as the map feels smaller when there are four players in the game, rather than two.

While all those elements makes the game less complicated, the team work and the flow of the team work does the opposite.

So we played. Terran and protoss against a team of the same races. They quickly got more expansions than us, but we attacked most. I got in two got drops on our protoss opponent and was reasonably successful. The game was very intense for more than 30 minutes, but it felt very good since we seemed to be ahead most of the time.

Being successful and not sucking for a while is good.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Starcraft II Preorders

Daniel pointed my attention to Coolshop (that is a webshop, that is pretty well known in Denmark). They have started taking preorders for Starcraft II. It may be a sign of a release date somewhere later this year, but personally I think they are just greedy. In other words: they try to make you commit to placing an order by them and not someone else and in reality they don't know the date either.

I've never used Coolshop before so maybe I am biased. But I anticipate this game so much that I'd prefer to stand in line some night in front of a shop somewhere near where I live.

We did so for Warcraft III and I still remember playing all night of the release, reaching number 7 on the 2v2 ladder. Next morning we were hopelessly behind. My teams suckage became apparent when all the good players got the game the following day.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Drops and Raids

Here are two commonMutaRaid2 scenarios from my terran vs. zerg match-up. In the first one I successfully defend against a mutalisk-raid. This is actually not so common. I mean, that I defend against it. Usually it just runs me over. Pathetic!

The other screen shot shows some bastard, I don't remember who, finishing me off with a very early drop of lurkers. Look at the blood of my valiant defenders, killed by the lurkers' spines. What a way to die. LurkerDrop2

I really shouldn't have lost there. 8 years ago I would have seen it coming and put up a group of marines to intercept the overlords before the could unload their cargo of lurkers. Sigh. I have to learn that again it seems.

20 iC Cup games played

I have now played 20 games on iC Cup. It has been fun in the humiliating way. My stats so far are 5-15, meaning that I have lost exactly 75% of the games. Really depressing. My observations so far are:

  • I have a real problem in terran vs terran games. Especially if the opponent goes tanks very early. I prefer the vultures, but they don't really deal damage to tanks without their mines. I should reconsider vultures in TvT match-ups.
  • Terran vs protoss. What can I say? I've lost to the lone zealot charging me with a probe or two for support. That is ridiculous! I expect a protoss player to go straight for dragoons and I counter that with vultures and their spider mines. I suck at micro-manage my vultures and I think that the terran player has to do better with his micro management, than the protoss player. I've actually won one game where I did that, but only one.
  • Terran vs zerg. This is my favorite macth-up. I've won 38% of those games, so this is a success in Fafner's book of suckage.
    Those games have all been won against zerg players who teched to mutalisks to fast and where I succeded in taking their early expansion out. Zerg players don't like to defend. On the other hand, there are zerg players who prefer to go fast lurkers. This denies them a fast victory, but against players like me, they are much more likely to win.

I think I'll make it a recurring thing to post a status for every 20 games. I hope they get progressively less depressing. I wouldn't bet on it though. On iC Cup I am now rated a [D] with a rating of 1010. You start out with a [D] 1000, so I've more or less managed to keep my spot on the ladder. My ambitious goals for the next 20 games is to win around 30% and get a [D] 1200.

On the list of Danish players I'm ranked #73. A far cry from my #3 position (amongst Danes) after the first ladder season on Battle.Net, back in 1998. That is almost exactly 10 years ago!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

My Mouse Suck

So I don't suck at all, I realized, when Kristian asked what kind of mouse I used when playing Starcraft. My problem was, that I was simply not playing with the very best gaming gear. The gear that my unworthy opponents no doubt already had!Razer Diamondback 3G The solution was to upgrade my mouse to a Razer Diamondback 3G, that would drastically improve my play.

It arrived today and what a joy it is to use. I had bought a Logitech Cordless mouse a few months back and never really liked it. It was to heavy and not nearly responsive enough for ordinary desktop use. It was even worse for gaming.

The new Razer takes some getting used to though. It is very fast so I have to adjust to a new mouse again. But now that I got the right gear, I feel confident in my long loosing streak is over.

Friday, May 16, 2008

iC Cup

I've discovered iC Cup. Yeah I know, I should have done that years ago. IC Cup run their own server, which is probably an EULA violation and maybe even illegal. If you play on that, and use their special launcher, you are automatically ranked on their ladder and protected from most hacks. Their launcher verifies that no player is using hacks, they claim. I don't think it is a 100% guarantee, but it seems to work. The games at least, seems to have a different flow and people playing there are a lot nicer.

My first game on IC Cup was a zerg mirror match on Tau Cross. I don't know the map very well, but Zerg vs. Zerg is all about getting mutalisks first and dominate the sky. Hit and run, until you can out-produce the other and run him over. At least in theory it is simple.

I still suck, so he got his mutalisks first and attacked me. Luckily he sucked too, and his 5 mutalisks got destroyed by my anti-air spore colonies. Then my own mutalisks were done, and I counter attacked him without repeating his mistake.

So my first IC Cup game was a win, yahoo! I've only played three more games, which I all lost. So I still suck. No real change there... IC Cup has nice statistics on their website. There is nothing like seeing your defeats revealed to the entire world.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I have a Fan ;-)

A few days ago I was idling in the chat channel "Brood War DNK-1" and got engaged in a chat with another player. He suggested that we play and I accepted. I don't think I had imagined that he wanted us to play against computer controlled opponents, but that was what he wanted. I thought it wouldn't be polite to refuse and so I stayed.

He was pretty bad I must admit, but I have always thought that it was fun to teach others a trick or two about the game. The situation is very similar to the days back when the game was first released. I now have a very, very young fan of me and my l337 Starcraft skillz. If he only know how far I am from my glory days!

But it is kinda funny how age matters very little when playing a game online. Sometimes a guy around 13 years can behave much more mature in a game chat channel, than others who are 10 or even 15 years older. I realized it back when I played Starcraft a lot and it still holds true.

I met players like AiurAdun back around 1999, and we still play from time to time. Then main difference being that I owned him back then in every single game we played and now it is the other way around, thanks to my current extreme suckage.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Early Rush

Rushing is an integral part of Starcraft. Anyone claiming it isn't so is a n00b. Rushing is also very dependent on the map being played and right now it seems like Lost Temple, Python and Luna are the most popular maps for 1vs1 games. All maps with a start position on raised ground and with a narrow ramp that can be blocked leading down to the natural expansion.

Today I played a Terran on Lost Temple. A Terran's opening move here is so set that I almost didn't have to scout for it. Two supply depots and a barracks are build at the top of the ramp to block an incoming rush. The problem here is that not many Terrans seems to know that zerglings are so small that the can pass through the cracks in between the between the buildings.

I started my spawning pool right after the 9th drone had been hatched and did a fairly slow and conservative rush with 8 zerglings. At that point I had 11 or maybe 12 drones in total so the rush wasn't forced at all and had it failed I would still be on a course for a not-too-delayed mid and late game build. When I reached his ramp I ran the zerglings through the crack and went for his SCVs further inside his base. I lost no more than one zergling from the fire from his marines waiting behind the buildings.

The problem with his wall-in strategy is of course that if the wall-in isn't so tight that the opponent can't get past it, his central base is at the mercy of the rush with no support from his few defenses that are placed too far forward. I almost felt sorry for the guy when the game was over after only 3:56.

So what should a Terran do against a Zerg? It isn't that easy to say, but a conservative approach would have to build the supply depots and barracks right next to his command center and start a bunker for his marines right after the barracks is finished building. The downside is that this will delay the Terran mid game a lot, which of course was the entire purpose of the Zerg's rush.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Map hack

It seems like map hacks are still around. I hate complaints about people who uses hacks, because most of the time the complainer just suck at the game and doesn't want to admit it. But sometimes you do encounter someone using a hack and I did that yesterday.

I started as Zerg at the 12 o'clock position on Lost Temple and found my Terran opponent at the 6 o'clock position. I think Zerg has to fast expand in this setup, but it is dangerous here as it is really hard to defend the natural expansion site of the 12 o'clock start position. I tried anyway.

I got attacked pretty early on by a few marines. No one good would have attacked with that few marines. That meant my opponent was stupid or knew in advance that I had gambled with my build order and was virtually defenseless. I watched the replay afterwards and he never send a unit out scouting, nor did he use his comsat scanner. I might have thought that he was simply stupid if I hadn't made a super fast 2nd expansion at the 9 o'clock natural expansion too, and he attacked that with SCVs only without scouting or support with marines.

His stats of 49-6-4 was another giveaway.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Terran Dominance

Okay so I don't always loose, although I certainly deserve it. I recently ended up as Terran against another Terran on Lost Temple and lost all hope before the game even had begun. Sigh! Playing another Terran is guaranteed to make the game last at least 40 minutes and nothing is more frustrating that playing for so long, just to loose.

Terran versus Terran is by far my worst match-up. I know how to handle Zerg and I am comfortable going up against a Protoss player. But mirror games where you play an opponent of the same race is tricky. And no mirror match-up is more tricky than Terran versus Terran.

Once those games were decided by who got to wraiths first and who could use the fast wraiths to harass expansions the best. When Blizzard patched the game to extend the range of the Goliaths missiles that strategy went down the drain. I thought going Wraiths would be so old-school as to warrant a try anyway ;-).

Unfortunately it didn't work! My initial group of about 5 Wraiths got hammered as they entered my opponents base and I lost all but one of them. Under normal circumstances this would be the end of the game, but not with a Terran mirror match-up. I knew I could defend myself even if I had just thrown away all my offensive forces.

Then they game got weirder and weirder. I succeeded in putting tanks up outside his natural expansion so he couldn't get out. This is good I thought and expanded to all the other resource sites on the map intending to starve him out of the game. It worked, but not completely. My opponents would constantly load up 4 to 5 Dropships with Goliaths, Tanks and Vultures and drop their load on one of my expansions; I'd retake the expansion but at great looses.

For a really long time I thought I could easily loose the game, but after around 35 to 40 minutes of play I suddenly got the upper hand and won. It was a weird game. I had total map control for most of the game and controlled maybe 80% of the map at all times, yet we mined an equal amount of resources and I lost way more units than my opponent. In the end, however, he did run out of resources and I won. What a feeling :-)