HappyZerg's Blog: Beginners guide to the
Hi everyone, I've finally finished my blog, and can't wait to share it with you! First part of this blog is a pack of advices for beginners, where I will describe my vision of a game and share my experience with StarCraft 2 newcomers. At the second part I made my personal report about July, where you can read about my results, feelings and other interesting things. Enjoy!
Part 1: Beginners guide to the Zerg
There is a questions I get asked very often:
WHAT TO START WITH?
It's asked by guys who just downloaded SC2 or just guys who are stuck in lower leagues. First of all, you need some theoryWhen I do my coaching sessions, first one is very theoretical. I think it's useless to discuss specific timing, build orders and stuff if student doesnt know the basics, because it's good foundation. I am saying this not to advertise my coaching but to express my opinion about the beginning of Starcraft journey. First theory, then practice. Where to get all that info - you can simply go HERE and read everything there. What is macro, what is micro, how much does one worker mine. It annoys when people say that over 16 drones per base is harmful to your economy when it's actually not. I think that people should get basic knowledge before actually getting into the game. I am used to considering everything very serious, even if I am playing some first person shooter campaign or something, I am learning all the hotkeys, studying all the stuff, so first missions are long and boring but then I get much better perfomance because my skill gets really high. Same here. Actually, maybe I'll sound like a dick, but I wish all casters were aware of all the things in game. I mean top casters are very good at sc2, they know all the necessary information, they can read players' strategies, there is no misinformation. But some up and coming casters may say something that really damages viewers' brain. When my students do something weird, I ask them: why do u do that? And he answers: "He (one of the casters) said so". Then I tell him not to listen to casters unless they are top tier or former progamer or it's first person stream with comments. That's why I advice everyone to read basic liquipedia guides - it is really helpful.
WHERE DO I FIND THE BUILDS?
This is a very difficult question. I am going to tell you why. There is such a thing as metagaming
Metagaming is a broad term usually used to define any strategy, action or method used in a game which transcends a prescribed ruleset, uses external factors to affect the game, or goes beyond the supposed limits or environment set by the game. Another definition refers to the game universe outside of the game itself.
In simple terms, it is the use of out-of-game information or resources to affect one's in-game decisions.
There are always some trends, e.g. every terran makes hellbat drops, then every terran makes cloak banshee, or each toss makes immortal sentry all-in, then everybody goes mass voidrays etc. There are always some strategies used the most and people are adapting their builds to these strategies. That's why basic build orders are changing all the time - according to the trends. There are only a few build order guides, and, unfortunately, by not the best players. Of course, Life won write his builds and post it on teamliquid, INnoVation wont explain all his actions on strategy forum, and sOs won give advices to improve someone's micro. Top players are first to find out not only the basic things but also the small details that distinguish them, makes them the best. This is their advantage - they know more than others, they can better than others. Everybody else want to find out top players' secrets and copy that, then the gap between them is shorter, and skill requirements become higher and higher with each game. But it's not a reason for bronze league player to give up, to become depressed after searching for builds for so long and not finding any.
Here is my advice: download reppacks - the top reppacks atm are Dreamhack Stockholm, Summer, Valencia, MLG. Choose your favourite zerg - it can be anybody, you should chose the style you like: I want to be agressive like Life/I want to be well rounded like Hyun/I want to play swarmhosts like Stephano etc. Then just copy their build. Earlier I used to watch replays and write down the top players build to understand these small details - why is he droning, why is he attacking, if you are lower league player, you shouldn't bother doing that, just start copying that and eventually you'll understand everyhing. I advice you very nice website for that - Spawningtool. There you can upload the replay and get the build or you can search for the build you want to play and find the timings of everything. So you get the build, then make a custom game vs AI trying to do everyhing just as your zerg does. You'll find out that it's very difficult, getting all the small things in your head - overlord, larva inject, building, upgrade, droning. Firstly, no scouting, just making your build, then u may add something to your build when you feel that it's working. If it's hard doing vs AI imaging doing that vs real opponent - that's extremely hard! In the beginning it will be very hard, but then you'll feel that it pays off, because even if you execute your build poorly, it will be much better than your opponent's, because most likely he's just improvising and his build doesnt provide rationality.
Next step: when you know the build you're doing, practiced it with AI and even tried it at least a few times vs real players, rewatch the replay of your favourite zerg player, you should watch it first person with production tab, try to comment each his action talking to yourself. Imagine that you're playing that game, pay attention to everything, try to undestand what exactly is he doing now and why. I strongly belive that it will improve your understanding of the game and you'll feel progress, this can be more useful than just playing 10-20 games improvising.
So you start learning 1 build per matchup, you practice it, start to understand better, then you can pick up 2nd build, and then step by step adding more and more builds to your collection. Eventually you'll understand all the differences between the builds, all the advantages and disadvantages of build orders, army mixes, you get to know the timing windows.
WHAT IS THE BEST ARMY COMPOSITION?
I think that every unit composition can work. As I told you before, there are certain trends, which are often called "abusing strategies", when some players simply dont know how to deal with something, but after all they learn how to counter different strategies. For example, hellbat drops was a huge problem, but then players learned to defend it with 0 losses, mines were nightmare in the beginning, but then top tier players showed us some epic micro techniques etc. Some strategies may work now, but later they seem not to work at all, but then everyone comes back to the original strategies etc. There is a circulation of builds and each build, each army composition can work pretty good, you just need to execute it well.
More specifically, what can you play in ZvT?:
- Muta ling banelings
- Roach hydras
- Roach ling banelings
- Lings infestors
These are the basic compositions with later transition into T3 into anything (broodlords, ultras, vipers). Each of these unit composition works, just do it! The main difference is style and adjustment to the maps. Agressive players with good multitask tend to chose muta lings banelings, because it's very mobile and if you feel that you're faster than the others you pick this composition, but you dont really get big engagements; if you're a fan of getting one big army and a-clicking when you have a good concave then you chose roach hydras, but dont forget that you can get raped by multitask (drops); if you want to get into T3 as fast as possible, you chose infestors, because it's the best stopping and slowing down unit, you just get a few infestors, heavy upgrades, a lot of lings and making T3 transition as fast as you can.
About map adjustments, for example, on huge maps the more mobile you are, the better it is for you, on maps like whirlwind, star station you can run by, make counter attacks buying so much time before he actually engages. At the same time it's very hard to counter drops, so if you have a strong immobile army it's very likely that you'll lose some far hatcheries. On some small maps one big army is much stronger comparing to mobile forces, that's why people tend to change their unit composition.
Buy you dont need to biased about all these strategic stuff. Earlier I used to think too much about builds, blind counters and stuff that I forgot about execution. When I saw someone losing with build order advantage I didnt pay attention to the details but just said something like "it shouldnt have happened". It is similiar to IdrA's mindset. "He has an advantage, he wont make a single mistake, he's not gonna lose". But in fact it's wrong. In an ideal world comebacks wouldn't happen, we wouldn't be witnesses of sick back and forth action, because Starcraft2 is not only about the strategy, idea, build order, army composition, it's also about perfomance, methodical execution of everything. Starcraft 2 is a perfect mixture of theory and practice, one cant go without the other, so even if you are behind, that doesnt mean your opponent wont fuck up, I mean you should rely on that, you need to do your best, just think, what is your only chance? And use it. There are some certain points when you say to yourself: I STILL CAN WIN! NO MISTAKES NOW! And you try to play as perfect as possible and make the sickest comeback!
I'm gonna post other matchups army mixes as well.
- roach hydra -> vipers/corruptors
- mass swarm hosts
- ultralings + queens (+banelings)
- mass mutas (+ling banes)/(+corruptors)
- lings infestors -> T3
It's not a strategical guide, so I stated only the basic army mixes and dont really explain it, but if you want to see that, please post a comments saying that!
- Roaches -> roach hydras/roach hydra infestors/roach hydra swarmhosts
- Mutas -> roaches/ultras
- Mass lings -> ultras (+infestors)
Part 2: Review of my performance in July
Now let's make a fast summary and talk about my recent favourite theme - mindset and psychological stuff.
SUMMARY: If you're beginner you just take a build of you favourite zerg(or other race) player and try to copy that. Practice it with AI, then vs real opponents, eventually you'll understand the game much better and will be good enough to make adjustments to the build and army mixes, changing the build to your style. Watch the replays of gosu players first person with production tab trying to understand what they're doing and why.
MINDSET AND PSYCHOLOGY: In Starcraft2 there is a technical part(perfomance in game itself) and psychological (your attitude to the game, to the progress, to everything you do). One cant go without the other. I dont say that I am 100% right, it's just my opinion, maybe it works for me and I think it should work for everyone, but in face for all people it's absolutely different, but anyway. You need to have a good mindset in practice and in tournaments. Usually these 2 states of mind are different. At least you need to get a good practice mindset first. A lot of people get upset or mad after their ladder losses, they tilt.
Tilt is a poker term for a state of mental or emotional confusion or frustration in which a player adopts a less than optimal strategy, usually resulting in the player becoming over-aggressive. This term is closely associated with steam and some consider the terms equivalent, but 'steam' typically carries more anger and intensity.
You get the feeling that it's you, but it's not you :D You start doing stupid random shit aiming at freewins but in fact losing miserably to everyone and getting more mad afterall. It needs to be changed! You should make a psychological setting before you start laddering, something like "I am here to improve", you can read more about it in my previous articles.
Strong man is not the man who feels good, but it's the man who feels good no matter what.
Imaging fighting vs the strongest superhero. How would you feel? What whould you think? You feel miserable, you try to attack but you see that it doesnt work, it bothers you, you start being nervous. You know you're dead, you're mad or upset, nothing works. Now imaging being that superhero. Same questions. You know that you're better, stronger even before the fight. Your opponent attacks you, but you dont care. You just get what you want, you feel good no matter what. Try to use this superhero mindset while laddering, you'll see the difference. Be confident in yourself. Same for tournaments and everything else. Even in life when you a true experienced professional, you feel his confidende, he knows exactly what he is doing, small errors dont bother him!
Now it's time to talk about my perfomance this month. I am really happy with my progress because I managed to win 2 cups! Even 2 ESET masters cup in a row! Starting from the beginning, I played WCS qualifications, I failed to qualify but actually got some confidence after I finished playing it.
I won some very good players:
2-0 vs Ourk
2-1 vs mouzhOpe
2-0 vs VERDI
2-1 vs Risk
2-1 vs Evaner
2-0 vs Hanfy
2-0 vs HeroMarine
2-1 vs Stareagle
2-1 vs Adonminus
Fun fact: I played worse and not as confident vs less known players. I mean I know all of them and met them on ladder, but I played confident 2-0 vs strong opponents and often 2-1 vs players I should be very confident. In fact playing WCS I am more afraid to lose to average player than to someone good, that's why vs someone good I play my best and try very hard, at the same time vs someone less known I am afraid and play too safe. I need to fix that and have no difference between playing Innovation and bronze guy, my attitude should be absolutely the same - I NEED TO WIN! Then I just need to think, how to win, which way is better.
0-2 vs NightEnd
0-2 vs Alastor
1-2 vs hOpe
0-2 vs Revenge
Well, really unexpected losses and a very good lesson for me. Very funny, but I won vs Nightend on the ladder and 2-0'd him last WCS qualis, almost never lose vs Alastor, I won vs hope last games (2-1 at WCS and 2-0 ESET), and I won ESET finals vs Revenge with 3-2 score. It means that I didnt do my best, I was too relaxed, let my guard off, knew I was going to win and started thinking about next games. As I said before, you need to play 100% no matter what, no matter who you play, where, how etc. For example, in Korean scene games can be very one sided, first match 2-0 for one player, next time it's 2-0 for the other, you never now what's going to happen. The biggest mistake is "I won vs him before, shouldn't be a problem for me". In fact, with such mindset if u make mistake and lose to him, you get mad and it ruins everything!
Second part of the month was extremely good for me. Let's start with SC2CL - team league. I managed to win vs Taeja and Kane.
The game vs Taeja is here (00:29)
I felt very happy about this win, of course, it's bo1 blah blah blah, still win is win. WCS OSL is bo1 in Ro32, so you need to concentrate on each game, I did my best and won, that's why I am happy, I know exactly that I can beat the best. I was casted by Incontrol and Artosis. Artosis remembers me, in fact I've been to Korea for 1 month and played code A qualis once where I lost to PartinG And Artosis even knows about this blog, I cant describe the feeling when I heard it, it's very motivating, you feel that you are going in right direction!
The game vs Kane is here
Kane is a very good zerg player, he won the Shoutcraft and showed other good results lately, I've never played him before, so it was very interesting to play vs someone from NA scene, and I won! Interesting muta vs muta game, We won vs RooT 4:3
Then I played ESET masters cups, I was way more confident than usually, and I managed to win both cups! My run at the first cup:
1-0 vs Siphonn
1-0 vs Gerrino
1-0 vs Veriol
1-0 vs GunGFuBanDa
1-0 vs Miniraser
2-0 vs mouzhOpe
2-0 vs GLEiki
3-2 vs Revenge
Hope and Revenge have become my kinda rivals because I get to play vs them very often and the games are usually very close and interesting, winrate is about 50%, but this time I won!
Second cup I player in a very calm manner, I knew that I can win because I already won previous cup, no small errors bothered me, I pointed myself into win!
1-0 vs Choosy
1-0 vs Ateas
1-0 vs AiLillekanin
1-0 vs nexDelphiZerg
1-0 vs MǂDieStar
2-0 vs bouli
2-1 vs FXOLucky
3-2 vs AiKrr
I had very strong opponents, especially it hard vs FXOLucky because he has good achivements and he knocked out many good zerg players, in the finals I played vs Krr - he's good at cheesing and making timing attacks, once again it was very close, but last game I had a very good read on the game and managed to grab the win.
It's a very good feeling when hard work pays off, but I'm not gonna stop now. I am stonger than ever before and I want to keep this momentum going. Maybe I'll take part in upcoming DreamHack Bucharest, so I need to polish my gameplay before that. Thank you for reading, please, post your comments, even if you post a single word, it would be very nice, so please do that! Also if you would like to read about anything specific, you can wright it in comments! HF ~