Goddamnit.

I was supposed to start my 1000-game self-challenge but League of Legends took all my gaming time. As I was going to come back to SC2, my computer’s harddrive decided to give way.

I have like… 3 months of inactivity in StarCraft II, I’ll stream most of my action from my smurf and you’ll be able to watch me fail play… However, that won’t happen just yet. You may want to be patient because it will be, at best, Β a week from now until I get my beastie back 😦

So, yeah, I QQ. I wait for my computer to come back too.

How would I treat people who “suck” at the game (me not included)?

A topic came up yesterday on sc2practice.com and I voiced my opinion there, even though it was offtopic. Because I knew what the stuff was about, I knew what was up despite giving a generic answer. I will expand on that opinion furthermore.

A Silver-level Terran player (aka Lufas) was a bit puzzled that we weren’t telling her when she played poorly. In general, I don’t tell people that they suck because I believe in Karma: If I tell people they “suck”, I will be told that I “suck” in return. That, and it’s a judgement of value on someone’s unrefined, barely birthing play. It’s like telling a very small budding tree (when it’s all frail and shit) that it ain’t a tree (then accessorily proceed to crush it before it even feeds off of the soil and becomes a sturdy tree over time).

If someone really sucks at the game, it means they don’t even have a clue of what they’re doing. They don’t even know that you must never take a gas at 6 or something (I’ve seen it done – I’m still trying to get my buddy out of it :D). As in, they need directions of what this does, what you can’t get away with and stuff. Luckily, back when I literally sucked I was treated nicely by the guys on the Teamliquid channel. I told them that I totally sucked and didn’t know shit about the game, yet still showed “promise” upon my 2nd game at ‘faster’ speed. Then Bronze Practice came into place and observing games allowed me to know what I just couldn’t get away with. Basically, Patch 1.2 was the end of my terribad-sucking “Forever Bronze” days (and I’m not talking about Bronze players who actually watch streams and are just not at ease with the whole stuff, I’ll come back to those later).

Now, the better one gets, the more understanding they get and the higher the standards go. While I’m terribly bad at handling it for myself, I can motivate others to reaching other heights (and this is life-tested, life-proven) even though my ways are unorthodox.

Illustration time!

There’s this guy (myself) who sucked at Basketball (still sucks, being good at basketball means I’m in the NBA/Euroleague). Then again, there also was this dude who didn’t know much about basketball. So, back then I was the better player at the team (and I was also fit, oh the good days) but there also was this guy who was on the bench, not getting much playing time. In my free time, I would take the ball and go to the hoops and just go for it, go for it, go for it. That bench guy wanted to get better so he joined me in one of these sessions and asked me how he could manage to get better. I willfully accepted to get him to improve at the game.

What I would do is setting objectives, giving some directives on how to do things, at times doing quite the nutty stuff (obstacle courses, extreme drills, you name it). I’d do them effortlessly (or with some struggle) and would really push him to do them. Whether he would complete them or not was not the deal, it was all about getting him to do those things since they would be useful in a game. We also watched tape (as in, footage of supergood basketball players doing their work – i.e. NBA players). The more we did that, the more we took some chill time outside of basketball (be it studying or just going to a Counter-Strike LAN).

Well, guess what, he’s one of my best friends now.

Because I didn’t go all “You’re a bench-warmer, you don’t have a future”, “You suck”, “You don’t have a future”, “gtfo scrub” (and anything bashful you’d see in the Internet) and actually helped him into getting better, not only did I win me a superfriend but he also got better. He ended the year in the starting five and we actually kept on playing for whichever team we’d be in until studies called me and I went overseas.

Did you notice that I said “helped him get better” and not “got him to be better”? It’s because he did the work himself. I just ignited a spark, leveled up expectations the more he was doing and that’s it. He was getting better, I knew it. I just set up higher objectives every time. Despite the fact that he failed, I let him fail. I’d even put him in situations where he would more than probably fail at some point but would congratulate him on failing because the point was that he just had to test things out himself.

So, yeah. Back to the point.

In StarCraft II, you won’t see anything like that and I’m in a position where I’m the bench warmer. So far, I haven’t found anything like that. Despite all the training that I underwent, I still can’t get over my own hump. The community perceives anything under high Masters league as “bad players whose input doesn’t count”. Excuse me guys, but this sort of stance is a loser’s attitude. We all are entitled input, let us fail. Let us notice that failure is an option and that it’d most likely give us losses. We’ll learn, don’t worry.

So far, I’m being massively discouraged to play the game not because of the community’s disdain of people who are not quick enough, reactive enough and focused enough. I’m massively discouraged by that voice in my head that tells me “You suck.”, “You have no future here”. I don’t feel encouraged. Because of my own internal issues, this is just amplified to a degree where I am unable to think anywhere near positively of myself (even though I definitely have the bases down – don’t think elitist, think self-satisfactory). Of course I have this ambition to be one of the best at the game (read: KT.Flash material or… better?) but that’s perfectionism for you.

I don’t want anyone to feel this way. That, and because I know some basics, I can make people focus on basics when asked. I can help people get better… not myself.

As long as you know how to do a 3rax, 14pool 14hatch or 4gate (yes, even 4gate) then you don’t suck. You know something. Go forward, seek people who can have a positive attitude to failure and be a gosu. If you aren’t at the stage where you don’t know what to do with your probes, then you don’t suck. You just need directions.

Dealing with Player vs Player anxiety – With help from Fyn & Green Tea AIs

Ohai people!

Every time I am on StarCraft II, there are two things I really dread. I don’t dread it as much on League of Legends (I just tell them that I’d be detrimental to the team if we go PvP – because I’m a n00b at that game) but that’s a completely different story.

One of these things is being challenged to play a game. The other fella is this infamous little fellow that people would love or hate or love to hate. Allow me to introduce an already well-established buddy of yours as my boogeyman:

Ladder Find match button
I hope you didn’t try to click on it – you’re not on StarCraft II, you’re on a blog of someone who’s still terrified of that button (or anything that’d let him play against someone else).

Still, I will try not to give too many details (withholding some important ones in the process) but here go the reasons as to why I have a problem with these two things:

  • I am extremely competitive. If I know I’m in a position of strength, I’ll just show how far ahead I am by stomping my opponent. I also hate being on the bad side due to sheer unwillingness to fold (and consider that the opponent has an edge over me).
  • Folding means that I couldn’t do anything, that I acknowledge that the opponent was just stronger than me, that I failed. My massive fear of failure gets in the mix of things as well as me auto-berating myself.
  • Even moreso, regardless of what I do, I lose. I can’t focus enough. I am not fast enough due to my natural slow speed.

All of this, combined with something else, makes me shiver like hell before a game vs person. The least intense it gets is my brain freezes at times, repetitively. Worst is I shake and can’t even play – and hate my time in the game – and loathe myself afterwards after the obvious loss comes around.

I’ve chosen to deal with this by playing vs some more elaborate AIs (those that don’t just push at the 7mn mark all the time – i.e. not Blizzard’s).
At first, I plan to take on the Fyn AI (basically like that imba Green Tea AI, minus the maphacks – thank God) and at least beat it consistently on Medium/Hard settings (as you can see, I don’t even think I can do that – regardless of if I can do that or not). This AI acts human-ish (it has shenanigans inside). By then I know I can beat anything up to Gold league consistently and regardless of what happens.

If I can do that, I could turn to the Green Tea AI and do the same (this time raising my skill). If I survive this hell, then I think I’ll be cut to thinking: “Oh this dude acts just like an AI” and procede to dismantle that person.

So yeah, I am taking this road to boost my own self-confidence. If I can beat the Fyn AI and not Green Tea, then meh – I still can ladder. I still must beat the Fyn AI consistently.

[H] Dealing with the fact that I’m a no-skill player

Hello reader.

Well, the latest coaching evolution was to force myself to play without sound. Ever since, things went haywire. I basically can’t win. Lost the ability.

I’m on a losing streak (even lost to a silver player on NA’s Bronze Practice channel) because not only do I try to focus on my macro but when I forget a set of pylons, my macro spirals down quickly and I completely forget how to play the game and what to do.

The problem is not about playing others; the problem is me: I can’t focus, be reactive and be quick at once because I don’t have that skill.

  • I never really needed to focus in my endeavors except when I’m doing a research (and making data webs in my mind).
  • Reaction? Unless I force a reaction, I don’t really react either way.
  • I wish the interface could be changed as one wishes. I’d so put the resource and supply part on the bottom left over the minimap. I don’t have that speed yet.
  • My only skill (and yet it deteriorates when I have to focus on something else) is macroing unpressured. Today’s DT batch from Markus only proved that (I dealt with them but my macro spiraled, right now I can’t detach my brain from “Impending danger: get those DTs outta here now!”).

Just how the hell am I supposed to improve from this stage onwards? And why was I reacting better with sound? Why is the game completely different, seriously? Even 10000 games won’t get me out of this funk when I don’t know how to partition my brain into three, I need pointers. I’m not sure that playing button-mash cycle is that fun, if you were to ask me.

Yeah, I’m QQing and am stressed out on this.

[BO – Unrefined] The 3-gate Sentry Expand

This is my standard opening in PvZ matchups. While I have used it extensively, I didn’t use it nearly enough to call it refined.

The mindstate here is to be able to ward off any zerglings away from being able to put any pressure. It is very safe and *very* defensive. You get two zealots and around 6 sentries. As soon as warpgate research is complete, you warp in a round of units and expand. For scouting, you will use hallucinations (you can research hallucination tech as soon as you expand and if you have enough for it).

To survive, you will have some cannons at your expansion. Remember: The ramp is a no-zerg zone. In theory, they’d have to go all aroundΒ  the nexus in order to go through the ramp, as you would have sim-citied the ramp with cannons, a forge and a gateway.

The 3rd base should be taken about 11/12mn into the game, unless massive shenanigans occur (roach-ling all-in anyone?).

I’ve been practicing it as of late. This is in no way a first-time occurence.

Early-game notes (*: taken under consideration starting Practice Session #7):

  • You need your sentries at the ready when you get out of your base. Also, make sure you put either your 2nd geyser or your Zealot down at the 18-food mark, depending on what you scout. (FE = gas, Pool = zealot)
  • Make your two other gateways so that they finish at the same time as Warpgate-tech.
  • Start researching Hallucination after Warpgate-tech is done.
  • You’ll find yourself with 1 zealot and 8 sentries at some point. From that point on, make stalkers. *
  • As the expansion is down, you need a pylon at your ramp so that you can sim-city a wall. (read above) *
  • You will rely heavily on forcefields and cannons to survive in the early game.
  • Scouting is done through hallucinations. Since you have a decent pack of sentries, you won’t be lacking forcefields any time soon.

Midgame notes (more will be added):

  1. You need to put an expansion down at the 11-12mn mark, unless you scout an all-in (on that case, get ready to defend it).
  2. Until then, you will be on two geysers (you make stalkers, remember). Once the third is down, you will put your 3rd geyser at the farthest spot in your expansion.
  3. Robotics facility should be down by then, whether you intend to push out or not, since you will need detection against burrowed units. If you choose, you could always use it to make the most hated glass cannon in the game: The Colossus.

My progress so far (ranked by order of practice session) – Snapshot @ 10mn mark:

  1. 88/92 – 44 probes, 7 zealots, 9 sentries, 2 stalkers.
  2. 79/92 – 41 probes, 5 zealots, 8 sentries, 4 stalkers, 1 observer almost done.
  3. 87/92 – 44 probes, 8 zealots, 8 sentries, 4 stalkers, 1 observer, +1 attack upgrade at 3/4 done, 1 cannon.
  4. 83/92 – 44 probes, 8 zealots, 8 sentries, 3 stalkers, 1 observer, Robotics bay barely started.
  5. 83/92 – 44 probes, 7 zealots, 9 sentries, 3 stalkers, 1 observer.
  6. 97/100 – 47 probes, 11 zealots, 9 sentries, 3 stalkers
  7. 79/92 – 44 probes, 1 zealot, 9 sentries, 7 stalkers, 2 cannons, +1 attack half-done
  8. 82/92 – 44 probes, 1 zealot, 10 sentries, 7 stalkers, 2 cannons, +1 attack half-done
  9. 82/84 – 40 probes, 1 zealot, 9 sentries, 9 stalkers, 2 cannons still morphing. (I forgot something as dumb as Maynarding my probes)

[BO – Unrefined] The 2-Gate Fast Observer Expand

Yesterday, Shannn (the one guy who keeps spamming me ingame to GO LADDER πŸ˜€ – and my coach) told me to go 2gate-robo. The thing is, I never really played against Terran and never really practiced that opener so I ended up doing whatever. Then, I was a bit frustrated. We still started refining the BO while exposing what purposes it had.

Basically, you want an observer to be able to scout your opponent and react accordingly. You will be able to see all-ins before they even reach your base or decide to cancel your expansion if you see an incoming push and are in need of minerals to warp in more units. That, and marauders sure like Immortals…

After practicing alone, I noticed that not going for the nexus after observer was stupid. I don’t care if I have to cancel it but floating on minerals that early is a no-no. Still, if you can afford it, make more probes and one more gateway to stay on the safe side of it all.

So far, I’ll put notes down on stuff to solve. If this list is empty, I’ll go on the midgame transition refinement. With this build, the midgame transition is made as soon as you scout.

Early-game Notes:

  • A probe has to scout the sector appropriately depending on what map it is.
  • Pylon at 22 is far better than pylon at 23-24. You can afford it that soon. By the time you reach 26, the pylon will be warped in.
  • Right after the observer is made, expand regardless.
  • Look at what your observer sees. Scout for tech and expansion. If you see shady tactics in the making, cancel the expansion and get ready to warp in more units. Pay attention to supply.
  • At first, you will put 2 probes on gas. Until your cybernetics core is somewhere near 1/3 completion (then you put the 3rd).
  • As the core finishes, you make a Stalker and warpgate research (barely enough gas for both). Add the 2nd geyser ASAP.
  • Spend your excess minerals in the form of a 2nd gateway, until you have enough gas to get a robo. If you have enough for both the robo and the gateway, it means that you should’ve put the gateway earlier.
  • Keep on warping in units and pay attention to supply. Normally, you should put down a pylon AND the nexus at very close timings.
  • Sentries needed. You’ll need every ounce of gas you can afford, especially if there’s an incoming all-in. If all-in, cancel the nexus (unless it’s a terribly bad all-in) and warp in a third gateway.
  • Upon expanding, pay attention to your supply. It’s not because you didn’t make pylons for a while that you’ll never make them again. Pay attention especially around the 62 and 75 marks.

Mid-game Notes:

  • You are the reactionary. Everything is built on that. Big Brother watches over Terran.
  • If you see banshees, you can opt for phoenixes. Make a 2nd observer on that case.
  • If you see bio, tech up to templars or colossi. Make sure to scout him as he could always make ghosts!
  • If you see loads of marauders, do note that they can’t shoot air. Use it to your advantage while it’s possible.

My progress so far (ranked by order of practice session) – Snapshot @ 10mn mark:

  1. 71/76 – 37 probes, 2 observers, 7 zealots, 6 stalkers, 2 sentries
  2. 78/84 – 42 probes, 2 observers, 5 zealots, 5 stalkers, 4 sentries, 1 immortal being produced
  3. 75/76 – 43 probes, 2 observers, 6 zealots, 6 stalkers, 2 sentries, 1 immortal, 1 colossus that would be produced once a pylon is made…
  4. 75/76 – 39 probes, 2 observers, 7 zealots, 3 stalkers, 1 sentry, 1 immortal, 1 colossus at 3/4 done
  5. 84/84 – 46 probes, 2 observers, 7 zealots, 6 stalkers, 2 sentries, 1 colossus at 1/2 done.
  6. 80/84 – 46 probes, 1 observer, 5 zealots, 5 stalkers, 5 sentries, 1 immortal nearly done. Deceased: 1 observer and 1 probe.
  7. 84/84 – 42 probes, 5 zealots, 8 stalkers, 3 sentries, 1 immortal, 1 colossus barely started. Deceased: 1 observer and 1 probe.
  8. 87/92 – 41 probes, 8 zealots, 4 stalkers, 6 sentries, 1 colossus very close to be done. Deceased: 1 observer and 1 probe. In the making: About 4 chronoed out probes and more pylons.

Soooo…

Hello, reader. First post for me, first everything.
It’s May 10th, 2011. 12:32 AM.

I’m tired and blurting stuff out of random, but since I gotta start posting something, I’ll post something πŸ˜€
Today was a bit eventful, between the fact that I got Vusi to implement a redirection functionality for external blogs (while I wanted a blog engine like the old sc2practice.com website had) and between the fact that I’m feeling like crap when I look at how long the road to good skill is.

I always refuse to play games simply because I know I’m bad. Playing a game and losing it would only prove that and if I were to win it, it just means that the opponent had an off day (or was really, really, really, really, really bad – since I’m supposed to be the worst). It’s not like I don’t understand the game. I don’t know everything, but when I see a build order being executed by someone else (not me) I can see what you can do out of it. It’s the way I learn, by watching others execute and think “You can do this as well”.

Between “I think I wanna do this” and doing it, there’s this huuuuuge gap called mechanics. There’s my struggle, I can’t multitask for shit πŸ˜€ But oh well, how much do I wish to have them better. My brain is screaming defeatism at that but I’ve made quite the investment, makes me unable to just quit due to lack of drive. So, I hang around, and learn.

The one channel I hang around the most is “Bronze Practice” on the European servers. I’ll talk about it in a more extensive manner, just give it time πŸ™‚ If, at first, I went there because I was conscious of my lack of skill (and was seriously Bronze material), it ain’t the case right now. I panic at the idea of playing against someone (or the Very Hard AI for the matter, shows you how bad I am). I don’t know why I’m Platinum, to be honest (I only played my placement matches and got thrown there out of random).

I could look at myself with objectivity and say that I might be looking down way too much at myself because I’m a perfectionist. However, I know for a fact that I shouldn’t be Platinum. My play is rigged full of “Bronzeries”, my unit positioning being the worst aspect of it all.

To allow me to build some self-confidence as far as my play was concerned, I went ahead and got me a smurf account for half the price (I bought a CD-Key from the Internet). Having never faced odd cheese, I lost my first placement game. I immediately became more wary of cheese, though, and any attempt at cheesing me after that game proved to be fruitless. But then it was time to play as Zerg and funny stuff happened πŸ˜€ – got placed Silver because of that. Had I played Protoss in that failed Muta-ling-bane game attempt, I’d have been Gold or something.

Anyway, I can’t even organize this in a coherent manner. For now, I’m terrified of playing (except when it comes to a coaching session or a build-refinement session w/ Shannn). I know that, in order to get over it, I have to play; that’s like feeding a snake its own tail… Maybe the snake would be stupid enough to kill itself, but it’s gonna take one heck of an effort.

So tired… Gotta go to sleep now ._.