Saturday, November 29, 2008

Guide to Getting a High APM

Yeah I know it sounds ridiculous that I should write such a guide. Especially considering that I have an APM of less that 70, but I'll give it a try regardless. I have the hope that someone will read my guide and point out the obvious thing I am missing and thus enable me to improve both my guide and my APM.

I know there is a huge demand for this kind of tutorial, since 50% of all new visits to this site are people searching on Google for "How to improve APM in Starcraft" or something similar. They find my APM is Everything posting and probably find it less that satisfying.

So how do you improve your APM? The first step is to find our what your APM is and to do that you need a couple of important programs. The first is BWChart (direct link) and the second is Chaoslauncher.

While BWChart allows you to analyze the replay after the game is over, Chaoslauncher allows you to see your APM in the game as you play. Since I suck and have it as my ambition to have an APM above 70 I have set Chaoslauncher to warn me when I drop below that limit.

There are some UMS maps out there that will help you improve your APM. The one I know about is the same one Mike pointed out in a recent comment on this blog. In this map you play as Terran, have to rescue a ghost by dropship, while keeping a rabid zealot from killing your scv and invade a Zerg base. I succeeded in 4th attempt and realized that I had an APM well above 100 in the first 3, but only around 90 for the attempt where I did succeed. This is interesting as it reveals that APM and precision are each others opposites and you need to improve both in order to be a better player.


If you are a sucky player like me, I guess you too are spending way too much time looking at your base and not nearly enough time managing your units in the field. One simple way to figure that out is by looking at the above chart. If you are good the number in the micro column is higher than the number in the macro column. In other words: Are they close to each other you probably need to spend more time controlling your units in the field.

When you only rarely look at your base there are a few things to be aware of: 1) you need to be able to train new units without going to your base and you need to be able to get them to the front. This requires hotkeying all production buildings and setting waypoints from the buildings to somewhere meaningful. 2) you need to be able to handle drops in your base without having your attention in your base when the drop happens.

The second requirement can be met by carefully prepositioning a couple of dragoons or similar units where the drop most likely will happen.

Now everything boils down to effective micro management and use of hotkeys. This is the topic of another posting.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A voice to break the silence

Yeah, it has been almost two weeks. Rather than raking in more loses in Starcraft, I went to Barcelona to attend Microsoft Tech-Ed EMEA 2008. I would rather have been at BlizzCon, but expecting my employer to pay for that, was probably unrealistic!

At the conference I didn't get much time to follow the Starcraft scene, but I did manage to pick up Teamliqiud's huge review of Starcraft II as per BlizzCon. If you read just one thing about BlizzCon I think you should read that.

So did I return to rainy Denmark to find a vibrant Starcraft community? It does not seem so. Most people and most Blizzard websites seems to be fairly silent these days. Probably locked down in the recent release of World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King. I'm not going to join that for now, but instead spend some time practicing the skills I obviously don't have ;-).

Friday, November 7, 2008

A landslide victory

And no, I am not talking about the recent American election, although I did stay up until 6 in the morning to watch TV and almost missed an entire day at work.

I asked in a poll on this website, whether you readers (all two of you!) wanted me to write about Starcraft, Starcraft and Warcraft III or any RTS game. The outcome was overwhelmingly in favor of just Starcraft with 15 votes or 75%.

I do suspect that Mike voted more than once, but even accounting for that the message is pretty clear. I will take it into account, but you probably still have to suffer a few Warcraft III postings now and then. At least until Starcraft II is released.