You want to get good at SC2 correct? You want to get uber good and kick some A. But this is a new game! You dont have Liquipedia or masses of people to help you out!!!! How do you know what to do!?!?!
Well you read this and you can learn to do it on your own.
Okay now since SC2 is basically SC we are going to apply all the same concepts we can to it. So first i want you guys to think that SC2 is a SEQUEL to BW. It has the same kind of concepts as BW. There are different units and there are different strategies. But the same kind concepts are going to stay true. Now what does that mean? Well heres a few examples.
Attack while expanding. Huge huge idea in SC that is going to remain true in SC2. You apply pressure so you can be safe yourself.
A goes to B to attack C Instead of going straight from A to C. What this does is that it defends D, While still putting on pressure.
Those are just a few examples but lets get right down to my main point.
This is a whole new game and its really important how you formulate and make good strategies. Now forgetting whether you have the mechanics to pull them off, we want to make good, solid strategies, and break nerds in half.
Now first lets discuss the plauge of the Forum. The BuildOrder
Now what people think is that the buildorder is your strategy. Its what you do, when you do it, how you do it, and its the only thing that matters besides your execution. No, wrong, false, bad. A build order is an optimization that you make to a strategy to be cost effective fast and fluent. So when you start formulating strategies dont be like "What buildorder should i do" No, no. Think about what your Midgame plan is.
The MidGame plan.
Now your midgame plan is what the first and foremost thing you should think about in SC2. The midgame like BW, is where things are going to flow into. In BW in a TvT players can go 2port wraith or an all vulture build (No cheese unless its stable cheese). But around 12, 13, 14 minutes things will look "normal". Players will have tanks around 4 factories. Their nat taken, possibly more, and an armory researching upgrades. Now thats what the midgame looks like TvT and no matter what opening you do, the earlygame is going to flow into that. Although there can be several midgame looks but generally there are few. So when we start formulating strategies we want to think of what our midgame is going to look like. And how you do that is to think of what you want to do, in some detail and then go for it. Such as "I want to have quick 3 expansions. 6 queens 2evolution chambers upgrading, and hive tech on the way" And thats a great plan, but really thats as deep as you want to go.
Now i just want to throw in rushes in here. Because rushes although some people are like "Fuck you, cheesy bastard" They are usually very technical and require a lot of skill. Ill mention them later below. But a simple Rush plan would be "I want to rush my opponent with quick stalkers and blink off of 3gateways"
Now awesome you have a midgame plan/strategy. But now you want to know how to win right? Well now where you make the smaller decisions. The things you have to consider now to actually win a game.
This is something really basic but i think i should cover it anyway. In BW you wouldnt just build DTs and reavers would you? No youd build zealots dragoons with some high templar. You can mix in some DTs and reavers, but you need to have a good unit combo to actually survive in a game. Now since this is a new game you can experiment with good unit combos. And then find a unit combo that suits your strategical needs.
Some things you should remember when making combos are the way the economy works out, what kind of damage they do, and what kind of units they are.
Really in making units, you want some units that are high on minerals, and some that are high on gas. For example, if a zealot is 100 minerals, and a colossus is 200 gas, you can mix them really effectively because your economy can support that. I know your thinking the both cost alot of minerals, but really minerals are a lot more accessible and abundant.
For what kind of damage they do, generally you want units that are good vs light, and some good vs armored. For the light i mean they can be good vs all units and that will work out fine to, but usually you need units especially that are good vs armored, and of course some be able to attack air if they are out.
Really, you want your main bulk of units, units that have the same upgrades. Like Marines and Marauders, you would get those because they both share the infantry upgrades. Of course you can get medivacs or some other kind of unit to support, something like a Thor or some tanks for some big muscle, but really make sure the bulk of your army are of the same type. Or if your planning on transitioning to something (like ultras) that dont have the same kind of attack as your midgame units, you can do that, just dont devote to much money to range upgrades.
Now probably the biggest consideration in making sure a strategy is viable and alot of the time coming up with a strategy is the map. Example. Now on Python, you usually dont get a quick third because its just a huge distance to defend. So alot of quick third strategies arent viable because that third is so hard to defend. But say a map like MoonGlaive a quick third strategy is awesome. Its relatively close to your main. It has a small choke and you need to defend little area to get it. Awesome. Now im going to give an Sc2 map example just to show you how its applied.
The Map example.
Im going to brush over Kulas Ravine features. Im not going to mention specific race strategies but give you an idea of how to break down a map. Day9 in the link i gave you gives a fantastic ****ysis of FS. Now we see Kulas Ravine. We have a small middle. Tiny tiny middle. How can we abuse that. We can cut the map in half really easy, map control becomes really important, And Flanking becomes hard. That natural has two entrances. That kind of makes defending that rather difficult and itd be hard to get that expansion early. We have a semi island expo really close to us. How can we abuse that, what could we use those resources for? We kind of have an easy defence between the natural and the and the high yield. Its a small running space in between the two. How can we abuse that. How can we secure those high yield minerals.
Just a brief overview nothing deep, nothing hardcore just a little example.
Okay now you've considered everything you need to
Now we need to know how to actually win the game right? But a thing I should brush over is learning to make your decisions to do certain things at arbitrary times completely off the top of your head that sound, not stupid. So what are the things we think about while doing this? Well, "I want 3 quick expansions as Zerg" When should i do that? Well im going to Get 20 roaches and grab my third. "I want two evos upgrading" When should i do that? Well im going to get both my evos right when my third expansion finishes. "I want 6queens" When should i do that? Well i need some queens early so ill get my first queen right when my spawning pool is up. Ill get my 2nd queen when my natural is up. Ill get my 3rd and 4th queens when i start teching. And ill get my 5th and 6th queen right after i put up my evos. "I want hive tech going" When should i do that? Well im going to start getting hive after i make my 5th and 6th queens.
And for those little cheesy rushing bastards. For the Stalker rush. "I want quick Stalkers" When should i get those? Well im going to get my Stalkers immediately when my core finishes. "I want them with blink" When should i get it? Im going to get blink right after my first 2 stalkers. "I want 3gateways" Well im going to get my first gateway at the optimum time. Then my 2nd and 3rd right after i finish my 1st Stalker.
Nowww since we got everything out of the way we can think of our buildorder/opening. First think to note is constant SCVs. If your planning on making a stable non rushing strategy (Note. A rushing strategy is something like in BW where you 10 15 gate vs T where you cut probes at 15 to get everything fast and out on time) you want constant SCVs. Now this is mostly evident early game where in BW a player would build their pylon on 8 to have constant probe production before and after that point. So since is this all theory crafting at this point, I am not going to talk about what optimum time you get your supply or racks, but just keep in mind constant SCVs (Note. When i say constant SCVs in no way i mean "queuing" two SCVs at a time. A probe a second or two (up to like 5) after the one that just finished is perfectly okay in BW and is totally okay in SC2.) We can think about what opening suits us best. If a 9pool with speed that gives us map control is what you think will suit your Strategy best go for it. If fast expanding you think will suit your needs best go for it.
For you non stable bastards. Really since not mentioning the optimum times, Im going to throw a few rush principals here because rushes are pretty much openings/build orders, but are also considered strategies. When do i cut probes? When do i get my unit producing structures. Am i planning on not going all in? How do i get everything fast enough? With what amount of units do i attack? When do i start making probes again? How many gases should i be getting?
Testing it out!
Well we've thought all we need to think about pregame now we actually start playing! Okay you start playing games doing Exactly what you planned early game. You play it out it ends up being a 18minute game and you lose by getting run over by to many units. Now you watch your replay and look for the what killed you/mistake (Note. Mistake can be anything. You messed up your macro, you got harassed, you got killed by a timing push, You didnt have enough units, stuff like that) that ended up costing you the game. Now you look through your replay and decide that you losing your third was the reason you lost. You think of why you lost that third. You had bad troop movement, you didnt have enough units etc. You decide it was that you didnt have enough units. Repeat that process minimally 10 times (Note. At least 5 you lazy punk or if its obvious 3) And each time you lose you just dont have enough units. Now we make efforts to fix that. And this is how you get A+.
Rushers just read above same thing applies to you. But really you dont have to play that many more games since your mistakes will be alot sooner and alot more plain . Your mistakes might be. That your opponent had to much and you couldnt break him. Blink didnt finish fast enough. My rush did some damage but didnt kill him (Note. Which is really the point of the rush is to get an advantage) but my economy was to low i couldnt capitalize. But we decide the reason it didnt work is that blink wasnt fast enough
(Note. When losing to things make sure when changing your strat make sure its to survive 1 thing. And not several at once. Good ways to keep playing vs the same thing is getting a friend and ask him to do this timing push and play that alot with him adjusting along the way.)
But i do want to note be4 i go into this that im strictly coming from a strategical sense. Your problem will most likely be say bad macro or a bad decision here or miss micro here. And alot of the time they will be. But what im saying is that once you can start getting that stuff down and you really shouldnt trust the changes you make if your macro is off or you make a bad decision what im saying is that once you get things down like that you can then properly use the method i talk about below. And sometimes fixing your macro can be a change in build order like adding gateways sooner or later. So just be aware of that stuff.
We want to fix the fact you lost by a timing push killing your third because basically you didnt have enough units. Now what adjustment can we make to your strategy and timings to get you more units at that time? "Well im only going to get 1 evo chamber at that time now". You play another 4 or 5 games with 1evo and you do better but you still lose your 3rd. So now you decide "Im not going to get my evo chambers till my hive finishes". So you play with that again without getting evos and you stave off the timing attack. But you get to lategame and your upgrades just arent high enough and you die later. Now we need to adjust more. "Now im going to keep my original 2evo timing but get my 5th and 6th queens when my hive is halfway done". Now you play games with that and you start being able to win them. But then you play against this other timing push that comes be4 you even get your third and you die to it every time. Well now you need to make more changes just like the above. Maybe its planting spine crawlers to defend or instead of expanding with 20 roaches you expand with 30 or 40. And you keep making adjustments like that.
Suck my dick 2gaters.Your rush got creamed. Now you want to make adjustments to fix that. We want to make blink come faster. Now your adjustment to that could be im going to get blink right when your core is up. You play throught it a few times but you lose again and again. You decide the mistake this time is that you dont have enough Stalkers. So now you need to adjust that, and your adjustment is to cut probes sooner. Or in fact get more probes. I dont rush alot but those are the things you should think about.
You can do adjust for anything really. Like "I feel like im always behind on upgrades and i like being ahead" So you can adjust the time you get your evos. "Im high on minerals about 600 right when i expand" Well check if your macroing with all your larva and if you are you can adjust more. Get another queen. Tech up faster, get more upgrades, get another hatch.
Okay now you have your beautiful strategy. You can survive this push you do well against other things your sitting pretty. See but now you face this really weird double upgrade push that you just get stomped by every every game. This is the point as a SC2 player you will begin to evolve You do the same concept as above to this double upgrade strategy and come to a point where you can beat it. But now your new strategy cant beat the push your old one could. So now as a player you need to make a deviation. This is were scouting becomes uber important. So now when you see X the certain timing push you had trouble with in the beginning you do your old strategy. And now when you see Y (the double upgrade push) you use your new deviation. This is why you see pro players always trying to scout their opponent. They need to see something to make this wild decision thats like really out there, that is a practiced deviation.
Deviations are small changes just so you know. The wildest you should get with your deviations should really be your expansion timing and your tech (which is actually pretty crazy when you think about it). The deviation is still part of that plan you always had, its just your doing one or two things differently.
See look how awesome you are. So now you can survive two things and be a badass and again rape nerds. And really this just builds up up and up.
So your saying what happens when you dont X or dont scout Y. Alot of the time really you kind have to make a NEW deviation in your build order where it can survive both maybe not as optimally as you want it to but still can do it. Or maybe sometimes your old strategy wont be as bad as it was to that double up push but you said "I could do better against that" and come up with a new deviation. Just alot of experimenting and testing and pregame thoughts.
Rushers really same thing still applies to you
Transitioning, is a somewhat hard concept. Let me explain it, if you go air, eventually you want to do something other than air, so you transition into ground. A transition basically is going from one type of unit or tech into another. A simple transition would be to go banshees then into marauders. Easy, easy transition. You are going to be constantly making these kind of moves all game, and your job as a player is to make these transitions go smoothly.
To make a transition go smoothly, it requires alot of practice. You need to know what deviations you need to make, you need to know your being cost efficient, you need to have set times where you build things, cut units, cut probes when you need to. The things you want to keep in mind when you transition, are 1. How can this go faster, 2. How can i do this better, 3. How can i get more stuff, 4. How does this help out my late game.
Bending it back
I dont think I emphasized this key, key concept enough so let me go over it. Whenever you deviate from your main plan, you have to make sure to go back to your main plan. Like the example, if your main plan was get 3 bases and get 20 roaches (forgetting if its good or not) if you have to deviate because of something your opponent did, you do not go 2 base muta ling. You want to bend your deviation or say getting a spire (forgetting whether its good or not) to defend the whatever back to that 3 base 20 roach.
Its really essential to be good, to stick to what your main plan is. You can take other paths to that main plan, its just you have to make sure you get to it. I mean of course in some instances, you just cant do it, but I would recommend for you to just try and force it.
A message to the stupid
A thing to remember is that SC is not a game about counters. Its a game about adjustments. You never go X because your opponent goes Y. Or go A because your opponent goes B. You figure out ways X and always survive Y and A always survives B. For a more tangible example. You never go 2base arbiters because you see your T opponent fast expand. You never expand 5times if you see your opponent get his 3rd really quick. That is how you lose games.