Thursday, October 30, 2008

Something I did right

Amidst all my suckiness and the fact that I don't get to play nearly as much as I'd like, I have to find hope in the small things I get right. Like this little detail from a 2v2 I played the other day.

I started out at 3 o'clock on Lost Temple and scouted a Zerg opponent at 12 going pool before overlord. When he also saved up his larva I knew he was going to rush with his first 6-8 zerglings. Probably supported by his Protoss ally. My first gateway was started slightly later than his pool and it was really my intention to go just one gateway. The possibility of an early rush made me change my mind and I quickly started my second gateway.

It didn't change the fact that he still would have 6 to 8 zerglings at my base just as my first zealot warped in. Not good. I looked at my ally and saw that if they rushed him he would be out. A Terran with no wall-in, and his lonely barracks so late that he was dead meat should they attack him. Our only hope was that I was the target!


Fortunately I was and I had to block my ramp using only probes. Even though probes are reasonably good fighters in the early game, zerglings could have torn through the block if they really wanted to. I think my Zerg opponent just attack moved my base and his zerglings wandered of unable to find a clear path to it. Shortly after the above screenshot my first zealot arrived and soon after that another two. After that my defense was solid.

In the end the game was still an epic loss as my ally just played SimCity by himself and when he, after much yelling, came to my rescue he moved his units to my base loosing most of them without inflicting any loses in return.

After the game I just sat there. Disappointed by another loss, yet happy that my scouting and reaction was as close to perfect as I can hope. I small pleasure I admit, but a pleasure anyway.

Here is the replay if anyone is interested.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

My God - it's full of hacks

Just to paraphrase 2001, one of my favorite movies. Sometimes I log on to to play a casual game or two. Often a random pick-up 2v2 on Lost Temple or 3v3 on The Hunters. It is casual gaming and not the competitive environment found on iC Cup. Today I played 3 such games. My goal was to practice build orders and some technique to improve my APM.

The first one I lost. A 2v2 on Lost Temple where my ally managed to get beaten up a lot by a reaver drop he did not anticipate while I first intercepted a drop on my own main and then proceeded to drop my closest opponent. Unfortunately my opponent was semi-competent and lost only 5-8 SCVs by my drop as compared to the 20+ probes my ally lost. After that it was pretty much GG. At the replay I could then see that I had the lowest APM around 75 and my ally the highest around 220! So much for a high APM!

The second game was a 3v3 on The Hunters. Basically my team low-tech rushed them slightly before they rushed us and we had some intense encounters in the middle of the map as 5 armies clashed. Unfortunately one of the opponent was teching, so eventually we got the advantage on the ground and wiped out one of his allies before he got a sizable high-tech army. After that it was just a question of keeping the pressure on the two remaining players until we won. A classic Hunters game. I still managed to have the lowest APM. In this game I defiantly spent too much time in the attack and managed my base less than optimal. It is hard to balance those two things.

The last game was yet another 2v2 on Lost Temple. My ally scouted the 6 o'clock Zerg with his overlord and instantly saw the opponent using the "cancel drone" hack. That was lame so he quit and I had to do the same. After the game I had to watch the replay to confirm for myself that the opponent was hacking. He was. Hacks are rampant on

Friday, October 17, 2008

Starcraft 2 at BlizzCon 2008

The reason for staying up all night watching the RTS stream from BlizzCon was of course the announced showmatch of Starcraft 2. It turned out to be Korean Yellow against Canadian Sonkie. Yellow had dropped out of the regular Starcraft tournament early, so I suppose he was available. The first game was on Lost Temple, which again has changed a bit since both Starcraft and Warcraft III. It is in two parts (part I and part II), and is fairly boring as it was over fast.

The second is slightly more interesting. Not because the game is closer, but just because it demonstrates more of what is new about the game (part I and part II).

These two games together with's 2nd podcast are currently the best source of knowledge about the game. My impression right now is extremely mixed. On one hand it is beautiful and I look so much forward to a for Starcraft with automatic matchmaking and a modern UI. The Observer Mode demonstrated in the above videos is very cool too. I hope they also include statistics about APM and so forth. That would be very cool.

On the other hand there are some game mechanics that I don't like. Most notably the fact that how you mine vespene gas is almost as annoying as upkeep in Warcraft III. That has to go. Other minor annoyances is Warcraft III'ish elements as the neutral observation towers that can be captured. Hopefully they will not be on many maps.

The game seems faster which I don't mind, but I am concerned about the unit animations and behaviors as well as the sheer number of units in the game. In Brood War the first confrontations is often with just one zealot against 3-4 zerglings. You seem to get units so fast in Starcraft II that, that phase of the game is non-existent. I can understand from the Teamliquid podcast, that unit animation is relatively slow so that turning a unit takes enough time so it prevents effective micro management. Especially when combined with the better path finding, that makes surrounding units so much easier. I would find it hard to swallow to accept that a game made in 2008-9 is not fluidly animated and full of visual effects, but game mechanics are more important. They have to strike a balance between making it look good and not distracting a pro-gamer from the details that decide the outcome of the game.

And while Starcraft ought to have huge battles with plenty of units, they need to keep the early game harassment in there too. Judging by the games above, this probably means that units should be more expensive. At least this is only a balance issue that can be fixed by adjusting the cost of the different units.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

BlizzCon 2008 Controversy

It was a bit underwhelming this year. Very little was streamed on the net and as I expected, most announcements centered around the single player campaign for Stacraft. I don't know who is in charge of communication at Blizzard, but they did a very poor job this year. Instead of just announcing that Starcraft 2 will only feature an extended Terran campaign, they announced that it would be three different games! Obviously everyone took that as a way to maximize the amount of money that Blizzard can make. Now, no one knows the retail prices for the 3 Starcraft II games or when they will be released, but I guess it simply means that Starcraft II will have (at least) two expansion packs.

As I plan on showing my extreme suckage in multi-player more than playing the campaign, then it makes little difference to me. In a way having two expansion packs may extend the online life of the game and thus give me more people to play against!

Another ill-informed rumor was that would cost money. The source was Shacknews' article on Diablo 3, which said that they did not want to have a subscription fee for, but that if they had to do new feature they would need a business case for it. I.e. a way to make money of it. I guess that means banner ads, fees for downloadable content and so forth.  I expect that Starcraft will not be included as they want it to become an eSport and for that they need a lot of players and a level playing field. Despite the rumor I sleep soundly at night.

In the tournaments IdrA impressed me by actually winning a game! The final between Savior and Nada was kind of boring, with Savior winning easily. Nada vs. Jangbi in the semifinals was actually more exciting to watch. Finally, very late at night, we got to see Yellow play two games against Canadian Sonkie in Starcraft 2. More on that later!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

BlizzCon 2008

Tomorrow BlizzCon 2008 opens. I try not to get to exited about it, but it is hard to keep down my excitement as the opening hours gets closer. So what am I looking forward to? Mostly any announcements regarding Starcraft II of course. Back in June at the Blizzard 2008 Worldwide Invitational in Paris, there was a lot of information, but not a lot of new information. I hope it is better this time around. The only thing I am sure of though, is that they are going to talk more about the single player campaign of Starcraft II. Not a high priority for me.

But then we probably get a few fansites' reports on how the game play is. Last time around the reports were, that Protoss were close-to-done and fun to play, Terrans felt complete, but somewhat lacking and that Zerg had quite a long way to go yet. I'm hoping that both the Terran and Zerg faction is improved to the next level by now.

There is also a classic Starcraft: Brood War tournament at the exhibit. 6 Koreans vs an American and an Italian. The American IdrA is currently playing in Korea, but don't think neither of them have a chance of surviving first round. In the consolation bracket they are not going to face each other, which means they will get only two macthes and then be out. fOrGG is currently the highest ranked player (5) in the tournament, but I am not sure that necessarily means that he will win. For some reason I like Nada (15) and Jangbi (12) better. Unfortunately they have to face each other in round one. I don't know if it is significant that there are 4 Terrans, 2 Protoss and 2 Zerg players. Quite heavily biased, I'd say.

And the rest of the event? Sure, they will talk about World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King and Diablo III. Nothing I am overly exited about.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

When we ruled the ladder

Okay so this is a bit of a repost as I already had a similar posting on my personal blog a few years back. But as this is my dedicated RTS game blog, I think it deserves a repost.


I took the above screenshot the day that Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos was released. I and a few friends had gone to Betafon at midnight in Copenhagen to pick up the game and we went straight back home to play.

Gibborama and I played a ton of 2v2 games that night and made it to number 7 on the 2v2 ladder on Northrend. It was a really fun night especially as we could see how a single defeat would set us back compared to the other teams which were clearly doing the same as us.

Of course the competition was hardly fair, as we had been playing the "beta" for months and most people we met was playing for the very first time

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Post Correction

It seems like the Warcraft III ladders are not quite dead. At least here is a link to our 3v3 team at our position as number 856 on the 3v3 ladder. I guess they have changed some urls and the easy way to find the ladder is to go through the menu at the right hand side of the EU site.

Level 18 with no skills

My Warcraft III team made it to level 18 while raking up defeats. Even at this level loosing means very little so basically every win takes you one step further towards the top of the ladder. That is if the Blizzard ladder was working, which it is not. I have no idea why it isn't maintained anymore.

We started out at level 14 at 7-2 and ended up at level 18 at 11-8. So basically we lost more than we won. Especially the first many games tonight. At some point we realized that we encountered a few teams that doubled raxed us, and then we started doing the same. That was a complete success. We are playing Undead, Human and Orc, and two of us (the Human and Orc) are doing a double rax whereas our Undead player is teching towards statues.

It seems to work and the competition seems to be totally random. Some teams are very good and most are extremely sucky. Our advantage is that we play well together and that we have voice communication. It seems like a cheat, but it works. I foresee that we reach level 20 very soon.