Starcraft 2 is growing on me like a Zerg plague

| August 9, 2010 | 2 Replies

I said over and over again that I suck at RTS games. I did when Starcraft first came out, and I still do. However, after playing Starcraft 2 for the last few weeks and getting the hang of it, I can say definitively that I still suck at RTS games, but I’m getting better and appreciating why people love them so much, just don’t look for me in any tournaments soon.

Speed is one of my biggest issues. All the strat guides I read say “macros, macros, macros”, but don’t actually say what kind to make. I’m still researching that. I’ve been slowly going through the commands list and finding things like F1 to find an SCV that’s not currently active, or some key command for building an engineering facility. However, I find that I’m still not proficient in moving around the map. Oh, sure, you can just point your mouse to put your camera where you want it, but I’m talking more about the nuances in positioning SCVs where they need to go. For example, if there’s an inactive SCV, and a mineral deposit just past the edge of my camera view, I have to move my camera over a bit to tell the SCV where to go. I’m sure there’s some faster way of doing that. In fact, I’ll bet there’s a macro to find an inactive SCV and tell it to start mining again once it’s done building.

Troops seem to have unpredictable results. Firebats spew out major damage, but you pit them up against certain Zerg and they explode like a Pop Rock in water. I found that until I learn what the strengths and weaknesses are of each troop type, I’m going to have to create a bunch and send them all out like a wave of angry teabaggers (with guns).

In the mission “The Devil’s Playground”, I had to run the mission three times before winning because I found myself at stalemates every time. I’d mine and build as fast as the Zerg would take my stuff down, and had to stop the game and restart, going faster and faster each time. I’ve been getting better at it, but the micromanagement isn’t much fun. At all. Audio cues are there for when units are finished with their work, or have been completed, and I’m so engrossed in getting my SCV units to high ground that I forget that I’ve got a whole group of troops done with training. Or worse, I’ll send them all to higher ground, wait for the lava to drop, and then forget that a whole group of SCVs are sitting there waiting for me to tell them what to do.

One big problem I have is selecting a group of SCVs when they’re mixed in with a group of troops. This happened a lot in “The Devil’s Playground” because when I quickly moved the SCVs up to high ground, they’d be mixed in with ground troops, and sending them back down to mine took a while because I didn’t know how to split them up. I’m sure there’s a way to apply units to groups, and then select them, but I haven’t figured that out yet.

This brings me to me vs. the A.I. I suck even more at that. I took what I learned from playing the campaign and applied it to the vs. game I was playing. I’m happily moving along, creating, upgrading, training, and BAM! starships from the A.I. start pounding me. With tanks. And other cool things I’d never seen before. I adapted by branching out fast to mineral deposits in the field adjacent to mine, and then once again. That helped, but eventually I got my ass handed to me again, it just took longer. Games four and five both ended in stalemates where I was producing as fast as the Terran A.I. was ripping it all down. So I have yet to beat the normal A.I., but I’m still trying. There are so many little things to learn about this game. What to build first, how to manage your resources, how to patrol without getting your ass kicked, and how to protect your SCVs. Looking at the post-game graphs, I see that the A.I. builds just a bit faster than me. When that accumulates, it leads to me ending the game.

I’m not sure how long I’ll play the game. Once the campaign and story is over, it’s all multiplayer. Unlike WoW where you have a world to virtually live in, Starcraft doesn’t, so the only allure is to continue to kick Zerg ass in multiplayer. It also seems like one of those games where you have to play it continuously or you’ll lose your rhythm. I don’t think this is a game you can put down for a month, come back to it, and play as well as you did at the top of your game the month before.

I’m also trying to set up my Logitech G13 to work with Starcraft. I read that you can do it, and I read that you can’t. I haven’t tried it myself yet, but I want to assign certain tasks to the G13 so that I don’t have to hobble around the keyboard so much.

As far as the story goes, that’s really the only thing that compels me to continue on. The Raynor/Kerrigan story is pretty damn interesting and I really want to see how it all plays out. Also, the in-jokes are hilarious. I stopped counting them, but the ones I found so far are:

Iron Maiden: “Be Quick Or Be Dead”

WoW: Night Elf dance in the cantina

Army of Darkness: Achievement with the same name

Star Trek: Voyager: “Please state the nature of the medical emergency”

Zero Hour: Possible reference to the movie “Airplane!” was based on

Guns ‘N Roses: Appetite for Destruction, Welcome to the Jungle, It’s So Easy

Freedom Rock: “Is that Freedom Rock? Well, turn it up, man!”

Monty Python and the Holy Grail: “You Shall Not Pass”

Beavis and Butthead: “Fire, Fire, Fire!”

There are a lot more, but this isn’t a Wiki entry 🙂

So for now, I’m enjoying it. I have yet to play against an actual person because I’m sure I’ll die fast. Maybe one day, but in the meantime, I’m enjoying the game.

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Category: Blizzard, Gameplay

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  1. Russ Harlan says:

    First, I know your pain. The speed and multi-tasking combined with in the fly strategic calculation make this a very challenging game.

    Second: I think you are confused about what “macro” means in Starcraft parlance. It’s the economic/build order part of the game. Your micro game, in contrast, is how you control, manage, and play your units

  2. Spenser says:

    “It also seems like one of those games where you have to play it continuously or you’ll lose your rhythm.”

    I’m curious other people’s experience with this is. I remember playing WC3 fairly seriously and then putting it down for about a year. Coming back there was a lot of familiarity but with the metagame changes and everything it seems that you never are quite as quick or polished (until you get your practice up again). Regardless, it was extremely exhilarating to jump back to it.

    The thing that draws me most to SC2 and the like is balance. Although not perfect (perfect enough for our skill range atleast), two player start with nothing, and have to do the best with what they’ve got. You start at level 0. No rng, no crits, no procs, no gear; all skill.

    Also, feel free to add me Tavulol # 310


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