The casual Starcraft player's experience guide

By on March 25, 2014 1:02:14 AM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Frogboy

Join Date 03/2001
+1478

Every so many months I’ll load up Starcraft to play a few games. It is still an amazingly designed game. It is my go-to game when it comes to seeing a well designed-RTS.

That said, Starcraft is not designed for casual multiplayer enjoyment.  If you’re not “really” into it you will likely find your mood soured after a few experiences online.  This is regrettable because it is intentionally designed to be this way.

Years ago, I worked on the Starcraft expansion “Starcraft: Retribution”. As a result, I became fairly proficient at the game.

Proficient at Starcraft really boils down to two things:

(1) Your build order

(2) Understanding your timings versus your opponent’s timings (that is, at what minute/second you will have X versus what they will have at the same time provided you’ve scoutted adequately.

Proficient won’t get you into the game’s higher leagues but it does mean you know the basics of what matters and what doesn’t. (Counters, APM, micro, macro, etc. are skills that have to be mastered to get beyond “proficient”).

That said, if you’re a casual player getting back to Starcraft after awhile, it can be pretty frustrating.

For you Starcraft players out there, let me share some experiences that might give you a chuckle. 

For these games, I’m playing as a Terran…

Game 1: 6:31pm, Mood = Very good

Me: Hi there! GF and HF!

Opponent: glhf

Opponent is playing as Zerg.  Just over 2 minutes into the game, just after my barracks finishes, a small group of zerglings enters my base, kills my peons.

Me: Ah! You got me. Well done. GG!

 

Game 2: 6:40pm, Mood = good

Opponent: Protoss

It’s about 7 minutes in.  I’ve got 3 barracks and my engineering bay is just about done.

Suddenly, 2 Oracles show up and kill half my peons (SCVs) in a flash. 

Me: Oh! I almost had that engineering pay done! I can’t believe I missed that stargate. Where did you put it?

Opponent: Proxy, noob.

Me: Ah, well GG.

 

Game 3: 6:52pm, Mood = average

Opponent: Protoss

It’s about 3 minutes in and my SCV spots a Protoss Pilon with cannons going up.  I immediately build a bunker to contain it.

Opponent Quits.

 

Game 4: 6:56pm, Mood = average

Opponent: Terran (Map Frost – I think)

It’s about 5 minutes in when suddenly streams of Reapers enter my base while my main army was near my natural that I had just finished.

Me: Ack! I scoutted your base and looked around near mine, you only had 1 barracks

Opponent: AHAHAAH! Look behind the ice debris

(sure enough, on that map it’s easy to build 2 proxy barracks that are very hard to scout)

Me: Clever. GG

Opponent: No. Not GG. l2P [learn to play]

 

Game 5: 7:10, Mood = sour

Opponent: Terran

Very early Reaper harass in my base (~2 minutes). My early scout only saw 1 gas so I assume standard build. 

At 6:40 I do a scan of his base, 2 gas! Oh crap! Banshee! My engineering bay isn’t up yet.

7:00 cloaked banshee enters base, devastates me

Me: grr. GG

 

Game 6: 7:20, Mood = Poor

Opponent: Protoss

Ok. This time I get an engineering bay up and a turret in my mineral line early just in case. I scan his base and I see nothing unusual. Reaper scout noted 2 gas so I’m a bit nervous. I have a bunker up front of my natural.

At around 6:55 I send over a poke (a small attack) to try to do a stim marine/marauder at his natural. Unfortunately, his photon overcharge stops me in my tracks combined with a few zealots but I feel good as I did knock him down a bit.

However, at 8:00 2 invisible units run past my bunker and devestate my army. No scans available as I had just scanned his base so his invisible guys (DTs) wipe out my army. My peons are safe because I have the turrets there but with my army gone (and now my bunker gone he quickly moves in with some zealots and wipes me out.

Invisible, fucking units with unlimited cloak. Jesus.

Me: GG

 

Game 7:  7:33p,, Mood = Pissed

Opponent: Protoss

Protoss snuck in and built 2 proxy gateways. I discover it with my scout SCV at 2:48 but it’s too late. 2 zealots pop out before I can finish my bunker and I’m dead.

ARGH.

 

Game 8: 7:40pm, Mood = Really pissed

Opponent: Protoss

Ok, I scout the fucking base for Pilons (so my timing is now a bit slower). I send an SCV out to scout for proxy shit (which slows me down more). I send a reaper into his base and see 2 gas. So what is it? My SCV finds a proxy templar archives.

Hah you bastard! Your damn invisible guys won’t get me this time.

So I build the goddamn engineering bay early enough so I can build turrets in my mineral line. All this scoutting means I can’t expand as early as I’d like but this time it’ll be worth it.  I build a turret behind my bunker too. I’ve got 3 barracks and plan to get my factory going at around 8:00.

My scoutting revealed he has stalkers so I’m prioritizing Stim but I’m a bit behind my timing because of all the freaking SCV scouting I felt I needed to do.

At just after 7 minutes I see the other guy’s mothership ship core (a strange flying unit that has special abilities and shoots air and ground units that this race gets early for some reason) show up but I’m not worried. I have turrets in my mineral line and he’s way on the edge of the base. 

Suddenly about a dozen stalkers blink into my base bypassing all my defenses and just wipe me out.

Me: What? What the hell? How did you get into my base?

Opponent:  Blink. FTW!

Me: Doesn’t blink require vision?

Opponent: MSC. FTW!

Me: Son of a $@#@ gg.

 

Game 9: 7:49pm, Mood = Enraged

Opponent: SAME GUY!

Me: Well, rematch time! That trick won’t work twice!

Opponent: GLHF!

Since I can’t count on him doing the same build I still have to scout. But this time I go for an early factory and get a couple mines out. I do build a bunker near my command center as a last resort and I kind of cripple my economy to do this but it’ll be worth it.

I send a small poke (small marauder/marine attack) at around 6:40 and see the mothership core which, combined with a zealot and stalkers keeps me from doing much damage beyond destroying a pylon.

Once again, around 7 minute here comes the mothership core. This is going to be awesome. 

Units blink in, MFC moves back before my mines can get it! Damn but they do damage the stalker. My marauder heavy group, armed with Stim (I rushed it) prepares to wipe this bastard out!

Suddenly, his army simply vanishes!

Me: WTF?

Opponent: Recall! FTW!

(Silence)

[His units simply teleported home apparently]

8:00 has passed and I’ve totally gimped my timings in preparation.  A couple minutes later he overwhelms me front the front with immortals (their artillery) because while I had been turtling up, he had expanded and was up to 7 gates while I had only managed 3 barracks, a factory as I had put so much of my economy on hold to build bunkers, turrets, mines and other things at weird timings that I just lack the skill or something to compete.

Me: Well, clearly I’m outmatched! I’m done. gg

 

Aftermath

Mind you, I’m playing unranked. I’m not a very good player. I’m just a casual player.  I have no idea whether there’s a balance issue or whether there’s anything wrong other than the fact I must absolutely suck.   Back in the old days, I used to play a lot so I have a decent understanding of the importance of scouting, timing attacks, unit groups.

I also know the basic counters for different units and my typing speed (I don’t have great “APM” overall but I’m purely a keyboard guy at this game) allows me to have intricate control groups that let me treat my marines differently from the marauders and such.

What I do know is that it’s not fun for me.  I’m sure that a good player would read this and laugh at my suck.  And I have no doubt I suck. But I do know the game pretty well (the mothership core thing was something I hadn’t seen before though and was probably the one thing that struck me as being an odd design choice).

 

What can Blizzard do?

Not much.  Like I said, it’s a well designed game. But it’s an e-Sport now.  If you want to play casually, you need to play with friends. Starcraft was designed before the age of YouTube replays and mass forums.  They’d have to totally redesign it if they wanted the game to be less frustrating to casual players.

The problem is, in the age of YouTube,  anyone can just go on and see a “build” that lets them win against people who haven’t seen the counter to that build. 

Locked Post 22 Replies +1
Search this post
Subscription Options


Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
March 25, 2014 6:02:45 AM from Galactic Civilizations III Forums Galactic Civilizations III Forums

I don't know why none of your games are getting past the openings...

this is nothing like my SC2 experience when I played casually. some games would end when one player got too greedy with expanding, but that was uncommon and certainly not frustrating (you know it's a risk, so it's fine to lose because of it...)

 

I don't know the current state of SC2 matchmaking, but I think ranked mode is best for casual play. it's counter-intuitive but that's the mode where you are basically guaranteed 50% win rate over time. also people play a bit safer because their ranking is at stake

 

if games actually get to situations you haven't seen before, then people do have a lot of fun actually thinking about plans and executing tactics and not losing because of just 1 tiny error. that's especially at the casual level because the players aren't going to be making the same rigid moves with minimal variation. it's actually fun when there's room to recover from mistakes because your opponent will be making them too

 

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
March 25, 2014 8:47:37 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I have never played starcraft.  But the experiences you shared in your opening post sound a lot like playing an expanded version of rock-paper-scissors-steroids.  Agree, play with friends. 

 

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
March 25, 2014 8:50:00 AM from Galactic Civilizations III Forums Galactic Civilizations III Forums

My brain just doesn't work fast enough to keep track of what needs to be built when, or accurate micromanaging units with accurate control orders at 300+ APM ... that's a fifth of a second per click

 

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
March 25, 2014 9:04:43 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


What you can do? Stick with Starcraft I.

I've feel like Blizzard went the complete wrong direction with the sequel. Good storyline though.

 

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
March 25, 2014 9:12:40 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Quoting ,



Proficient at Starcraft really boils down to two things:

(1) Your build order

(2) Understanding your timings versus your opponent’s timings (that is, at what minute/second you will have X versus what they will have at the same time provided you’ve scoutted adequately.


 

Sounds like fun. 

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
March 25, 2014 9:20:29 AM from Galactic Civilizations III Forums Galactic Civilizations III Forums

Well, when userbases expand, the level of play usually increases.  I think this is pretty much what Brad is seeing/suffering from.  It's hard to keep a competitive edge up if you have other IRL obligartion, and as you get older naturally (execution/micro can cover some sins)

 

I see this myself with my own personal e-sport (Fighting games)   I think a lot of the old-heads considered SF4 at first a "scrub game" because they didn't understand this, and thought the game was lowering their skill, when in reality, the skill level of the average dedicated player increased.

 

I sometimes wonder if this is the true reason I love poverty games- the userbases are low enough that it's not as cutthroat.

 

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
March 25, 2014 12:49:09 PM from Galactic Civilizations III Forums Galactic Civilizations III Forums

I'm watching my bf going through the HotS campaign right now, and I'm delighted to see him cringe like he should. Seems that there's no need to appreciate SCI to see that SCII is garbage.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
March 25, 2014 1:14:07 PM from Galactic Civilizations III Forums Galactic Civilizations III Forums

Brad, ironically the way to enjoy Starcraft II Casually, beside playing Tower defense custom maps of course, is to play the ranked ladders. This might sound counter intuitive but it is true. The custom matches are full of Diamond+ players who want to warm up.  

In the ladders, the system will automatically pit you against opponents of the same level as you. It wants you to win about 50% of game. If you win more you will move up the rank and face better players. If you win less than 50% you will go down the ladder. 

This is great because you will always find a good challenge.  I played ladders for almost a year, started in bronze and ended up in diamond at the end, this was my demise as at some point I could not take the pressure anymore, it was getting too crazy and I was obsesed with the game and it had a negative impact on my life so I stopped. 

But I have a friend who played casually in the Bronze league for 3 years. He did not take the game as seriously as me end ended up having more fun probably.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
March 25, 2014 6:01:10 PM from Little Tiny Frogs Forums Little Tiny Frogs Forums

Quoting EvilMaxWar,

Brad, ironically the way to enjoy Starcraft II Casually, beside playing Tower defense custom maps of course, ...

 

See, Brad, that's what I keep trying to tell you.  Desert Strike and Nexus Wars are WAY more fun than regular SC.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
March 25, 2014 6:03:38 PM from Little Tiny Frogs Forums Little Tiny Frogs Forums

My post is 50% satire.

The big problem from a casual perspective is that the matchmaking doesn't take into account "getting rusty" (they do have degrading MMR which causes its own problems) but the reality is that if I've been gone a few months and I come back I'm probalby going to lose a lot of games in a row because I'm out of practice and new techniques have been added.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
March 25, 2014 6:28:51 PM from Galactic Civilizations III Forums Galactic Civilizations III Forums

Yep... don't have time like I use to for SC... Damn kids and damn Koreans. I got into silver league after launch... and then the ass wopings started. I can't do my 150-200+ clicks a min like I use too. (POE doesn't count)   I tried 2v2 for awhile with some of my friends but even then we hit a brick wall. Also lots of my friends that I played Starcraft back in the day we haven't kept up or life gets in the way. 

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
March 25, 2014 6:47:21 PM from Galactic Civilizations III Forums Galactic Civilizations III Forums

Quoting PaulTozour,


Quoting EvilMaxWar, reply 8
Brad, ironically the way to enjoy Starcraft II Casually, beside playing Tower defense custom maps of course, ...

 

See, Brad, that's what I keep trying to tell you.  Desert Strike and Nexus Wars are WAY more fun than regular SC.

I used to play Roundabout war back then, was tons of fun

Quoting Frogboy,

My post is 50% satire.

I enjoyed reading it, it almost put me in a SC II mood ( Almost, but I must not, bad for my health )

Quoting Frogboy,

The big problem from a casual perspective is that the matchmaking doesn't take into account "getting rusty" (they do have degrading MMR which causes its own problems) but the reality is that if I've been gone a few months and I come back I'm probalby going to lose a lot of games in a row because I'm out of practice and new techniques have been added.

True, that can hardly be avoided. If I was to jump back in the ladder right now It would be a horrible and humiliating disaster, have not played in 2 years. On the other hand, been so long I might not even be in the ladder anymore.  But its still a safer bet than to go in custom games, imho.

You can also play against bots to get warmed up, not the same thing as playing with humans but that can at least get you a game where you wont get 6-zergling rushed so you have at least time to remember your short keys and get your build order set.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
March 25, 2014 7:26:10 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

I enjoy starcraft 2's custom games more than I do its actual multiplayer.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
March 25, 2014 7:29:18 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

I enjoyed uninstalling it.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
March 25, 2014 9:30:52 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

My son says I have an APM of 4 when I play.  And 2 of those are heartbeats. 

 

 

backs out of the room slowly... 

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
March 26, 2014 8:20:28 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Timmaigh,

I enjoyed uninstalling it.

 

So did I!

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
March 26, 2014 7:01:19 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,



My post is 50% satire.

The big problem from a casual perspective is that the matchmaking doesn't take into account "getting rusty" (they do have degrading MMR which causes its own problems) but the reality is that if I've been gone a few months and I come back I'm probalby going to lose a lot of games in a row because I'm out of practice and new techniques have been added.

Actually, given that you don't know what a mothership core is, it stands to reason you haven't played for a... VERY long time. During this time, your MMR should have actually reset. If you don't play for a an entire season, as far as everyone can tell your MMR resets completely. You're given five new placement matches, matched up with a decently wide range of player skills for them, including other people in placement matches. That being said, I'm not entirely sure how unranked deals with having no MMR information. I would assume it matches you against the default assumption MMR. It may mean you're consistently being matched up against people you can't possibly win against in a fair fight because your MMR isn't moving because you're playing unranked and the default setting is too high.

What I DO know is that ranked and unranked do queue up together, so there's pretty much no reason to play unranked other than to protect your precious ladder points... which you don't have. Why unranked even exists when it simply causes headaches like this, I can't be sure of other than to assume Blizzard has been completely unable to comprehend the basics of good online play in recent years.

And hey, even if you're consistently losing at least you'll eventually settle into your MMR, unlike someone who has an 70-80% winrate in two matchups and a 10-20% winrate in the other matchup who's basically never going to stabilize into an enjoyable experience.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
March 26, 2014 10:04:07 PM from Galactic Civilizations III Forums Galactic Civilizations III Forums

Quoting AgaresOaks,

So there's pretty much no reason to play unranked other than to protect your precious ladder points... which you don't have. Why unranked even exists when it simply causes headaches like this, I can't be sure of other than to assume Blizzard has been completely unable to comprehend the basics of good online play in recent years.

Unranked is here for many reasons. When you have buddies you want to play friendly matches with, or when you want to practice new techniques and do not want to lose your points while doing experiments. Also, On high level it can be good sometimes to warmup on a unranked before playing ranked matches.

Also, when you want to do a rematch with someone you had a particularly good game with, you need to do it in unranked as ranked does not let you chose your opponents ( For obvious reasons )

Back when I was playing SC II the unranked matches were populated by over 75% by Diamond players. A reason for this can be that on high level the pressure is very high and sometimes you want to play without ranking on. I played Diamond in ranked and In the end I made a starcraft burnout.

Do not mean to be rude but I am kinda annoyed by you when you say things like: "I can't be sure of other than to assume Blizzard has been completely unable to comprehend the basics of good online play in recent years."  Yet fail to see many of the basic uses of unranked play in SC2.

I consider SC2 one of the best made game ever and part of it is the excellent online play mechanics. 

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
March 27, 2014 5:05:54 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting EvilMaxWar,


Quoting AgaresOaks, reply 17
So there's pretty much no reason to play unranked other than to protect your precious ladder points... which you don't have. Why unranked even exists when it simply causes headaches like this, I can't be sure of other than to assume Blizzard has been completely unable to comprehend the basics of good online play in recent years.



Unranked is here for many reasons. When you have buddies you want to play friendly matches with, or when you want to practice new techniques and do not want to lose your points while doing experiments. Also, On high level it can be good sometimes to warmup on a unranked before playing ranked matches.

Also, when you want to do a rematch with someone you had a particularly good game with, you need to do it in unranked as ranked does not let you chose your opponents ( For obvious reasons )

Back when I was playing SC II the unranked matches were populated by over 75% by Diamond players. A reason for this can be that on high level the pressure is very high and sometimes you want to play without ranking on. I played Diamond in ranked and In the end I made a starcraft burnout.

Do not mean to be rude but I am kinda annoyed by you when you say things like: "I can't be sure of other than to assume Blizzard has been completely unable to comprehend the basics of good online play in recent years."  Yet fail to see many of the basic uses of unranked play in SC2.

I consider SC2 one of the best made game ever and part of it is the excellent online play mechanics. 

Half of the things you listed aren't unranked play as it's commonly referred to. They're custom matches (which obviously have a place). Unranked play is: you press unranked (as opposed to ranked) when you queue up for a game with the matchmaker. Battle.net then randomly pairs you up with any other player close to your MMR regardless of whether or not they queued for ranked or unranked. You play out your game. If your opponent won and chose ranked at the beginning he get points. If your opponent chose ranked and lost he loses points. (MMR is also presumably affected, but it's not clear what, if any affect matching up against an unranked player has on their MMR change at the end) You, as a player who chose to play unranked never lose MMR or points as the result of losing a game, as far as everyone can tell.

Basically, the only real good utility you get out of unranked play is to protect your ladder points. To which I say... suck it up, imaginary points? Never mind that doing things this way creates MMR/ladder point inflation as the only real way to deflate is to have someone too good for their MMR to be weaker than their actual level of play (how did they get there?) constantly winning games. (MMR inflation/deflation isn't necessarily a bad thing in of itself, though, if mathematically unexpected)

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
March 27, 2014 10:48:32 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I love the starcraft, but the 1v1 one is not my thing.  Their Campaigns are always excellent and the co-op I've always enjoined as well, 2-3-4 vs the a.i.  

 

For multi-player 2v2 is the only mode I enjoy, cuts down on the cheese you've experienced immensely in my experience.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
March 27, 2014 11:43:49 PM from Galactic Civilizations III Forums Galactic Civilizations III Forums

Quoting AgaresOaks,


Quoting EvilMaxWar, reply 18

Quoting AgaresOaks, reply 17
So there's pretty much no reason to play unranked other than to protect your precious ladder points... which you don't have. Why unranked even exists when it simply causes headaches like this, I can't be sure of other than to assume Blizzard has been completely unable to comprehend the basics of good online play in recent years.



Unranked is here for many reasons. When you have buddies you want to play friendly matches with, or when you want to practice new techniques and do not want to lose your points while doing experiments. Also, On high level it can be good sometimes to warmup on a unranked before playing ranked matches.

Also, when you want to do a rematch with someone you had a particularly good game with, you need to do it in unranked as ranked does not let you chose your opponents ( For obvious reasons )

Back when I was playing SC II the unranked matches were populated by over 75% by Diamond players. A reason for this can be that on high level the pressure is very high and sometimes you want to play without ranking on. I played Diamond in ranked and In the end I made a starcraft burnout.

Do not mean to be rude but I am kinda annoyed by you when you say things like: "I can't be sure of other than to assume Blizzard has been completely unable to comprehend the basics of good online play in recent years."  Yet fail to see many of the basic uses of unranked play in SC2.

I consider SC2 one of the best made game ever and part of it is the excellent online play mechanics. 

Half of the things you listed aren't unranked play as it's commonly referred to. They're custom matches (which obviously have a place). Unranked play is: you press unranked (as opposed to ranked) when you queue up for a game with the matchmaker. Battle.net then randomly pairs you up with any other player close to your MMR regardless of whether or not they queued for ranked or unranked. You play out your game. If your opponent won and chose ranked at the beginning he get points. If your opponent chose ranked and lost he loses points. (MMR is also presumably affected, but it's not clear what, if any affect matching up against an unranked player has on their MMR change at the end) You, as a player who chose to play unranked never lose MMR or points as the result of losing a game, as far as everyone can tell.

Basically, the only real good utility you get out of unranked play is to protect your ladder points. To which I say... suck it up, imaginary points? Never mind that doing things this way creates MMR/ladder point inflation as the only real way to deflate is to have someone too good for their MMR to be weaker than their actual level of play (how did they get there?) constantly winning games. (MMR inflation/deflation isn't necessarily a bad thing in of itself, though, if mathematically unexpected)

Hmm either that feature was not there during the first season or my memory is foggy from not having played in 2 years, but I do not remember the unranked matches that you describe. Sorry about the confusion with custom games.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
June 20, 2014 7:08:15 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

The problem is, in the age of YouTube,  anyone can just go on and see a “build” that lets them win against people who haven’t seen the counter to that build. 

I hope your solution to that isn't to design a game in which the only winning strategy for the 1st hour of play [if the opponent is skilled] is to spam the same basic unit... See http://forums.sinsofasolarempire.com/451781/page/1/

 

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
Stardock Forums v1.0.0.0    #101114  walnut1   Server Load Time: 00:00:00.0001218   Page Render Time: