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SC2 Beta Impressions (or How I Learned to Love the Zerg)

It’s 2:50AM, on a school night (no, I’m not a student), and I’m just getting out of a 3-hour whirlwind session of Starcraft 2. For some people, this may not be a big deal but for me, let me be clear, this is a really really big deal – the deal to end all deals and bring all deal making to the end of a deal making lifetime! Okay, maybe I’m being a little melodramatic but the fact remains, this is pretty much unprecedented.

You see, I don’t really like RTSes. I’ve tried a bunch of them over the years (oddly enough, not SC) and I’ve never found them particularly interesting. They’re slow, methodical, and once you’ve seen one battle, you’ve pretty much seen them all. Or at least that’s how it seemed.

But tonight I had an absolute blast. It was one of those gaming experiences where minutes slide away into hours and, when you come up for air, you find yourself amazed at how much time has gone by. That hasn’t happened for me in a long time – at least not on the multi-hour level – and if you’d told me ahead of time that I’d get that kind of experience in a real-time strategy, I would have said ‘yeah, right.’

Don’t let me confuse you though, I got killed every time I completed a match. I never said I was good at it, just that it was a lot of fun.

What I think made this experience so different for me was that I didn’t have the option to wuss-out and play single player. It’s a multiplayer beta at this point, so I jumped right into the practice bracket. I’m not the most competitive of players, especially when I know I’ll probably get beat, but knowing that I was preparing for a grand face off added a lot of excitement to the mix; it wasn’t shoddy AI coming for me, it was FurryMonkey. And Furry he was not, I might add.

Once I figured out the units (or thought I did), it became a game of mass spawning units and placing strategic turret guns to defend my base. There’s a lot to take in when you first see all of the unit’s abilities, almost too much without a tutorial, but you begin in a pretty defensible position. I made a routine of enclosing my bases with the guns from all access points – discovering too late that putting your back to canyons was a sure fire way to get air attacked.

But, even against other newbies, I still managed to get my butt handed to me. Even by my fifth match when I thought I had a good grip on my faction (I settled on Terran) and built up a good, well rounded army, my crew still seemed to lay down at the slightest stern glare from the enemy. They died quick, even my Thors (giant mechs that talk like Arnold Schwarzenegger) fell apart when facing other Thors. This leads me to believe that my main issue has to due with utilizing the armor upgrades from the building units.

Then again, the main strategy people seemed to be using was create as many of the biggest possible battleship as you can and unleash hell. So maybe I was thinking too outside the box by deviating from that path.

Note: Terran battlecruisers = boom.

But, despite my utter noobery, it was so much fun preparing for that face off that even seeing myself lose was exciting.

I also learned an important lesson from playing tonight: each loss is a lesson in how to win. Maybe tomorrow I’ll even get one. If you have any strategies to share, I’d love to hear them.

If you missed the post and would like a beta spot (good until the end of July), be sure to enter The Multiverse: Starcraft II Beta-Key Giveaway. We’re accepting entries until next Friday, May 14th. Even if you’re not an RTS fan, I recommend checking this game out. It might just change your mind.


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  1. scrusi

    Glad to see that you like the game, especially with the harsh newbie experience that is multiplayer.

    One tip I can give you is that games in general do not come down to battlecruisers, carriers, and ultralisks. When you start meeting players with a bit more experience you will see that sitting back an teching can quickly cost you the game against more aggressive players. Even if you defend well, the enemy will be able too control the rest of the map, build a large amount of bases and just kill you with his economic advantage.

    The practice maps you are likely playing on now have additional destructible rocks placed at the entrance to your base. Those training wheels will be gone when you start real games, making early aggression even more effective.

    Over time you will learn to identity points in the game in which you can spend time on increasing your level of technology without dying. Going straight for the highend units is usually a mistake. Unless, of course, you are fighting someone with the same plan. In that case it pays off to be the aggressor yourself though.

    In general it is very good to keep close tabs on what your opponent is doing and attack whenever you see them in a week spot.

    Hope this helps a bit, enjoy the game 🙂

  2. Maxivik

    Most of our games have three stages..

    Early Rush: Get out units as fast as possible to either attack, or defend an attack. If you are defending, make sure you build some static defense close to your mineral line.

    Transition to Medium Units: Generally this is where the game is won. Whoever can transition effectively to middle game units, for Terran be it banshees, marine/maurader/medivacs or what have you and push their advantage generally walks away with the win. It is important though at this stage in the game to expand and keep your economy pumping.

    Late Game: This is where it can go many different ways.. In free for alls, this is generally where that quiet kid in the corner will show up with a victory fleet, in other words carriers and a mothership, battlecruisers, or brood lords and just wipe everything out. In team games, this phase is all about resource control. If you can starve your opponents from that last bit of minerals on the map, the game is yours.

    My biggest tip for you though is to get eyes on the map. By that I mean get observers, scan everywhere, build watch towers etc. If you can figure out what your opponent is doing, what they are building then you can counter it. Its a lot harder to win when you don’t know what you are fighting.

  3. Maxivik

    On a side note, I am glad you are enjoying it. SC has always been one of my favorites, if not my favorite game of all time. We will have to get you into our games to teach you some tricks.

  4. Chris "Syeric" Coke

    Hey Guys,

    Thanks a lot for the advice. Apparently, I was going about it the wrong way. Like I said though, a lot of the fun I find is in that pay off, so it was enjoyable either way. I’m looking forward to trying out your suggestions though. I can’t believe I didn’t give SC1 a fair shot back in its hey-day.

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