Playin' Through StarCraft Again (and Brood War Eventually)

My laptop is about 4 years old and definitely can't run StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty no matter how badly I want to play it. It's tough to justify the purchase of a new computer to play one game (especially when I can play it on my friend's computer) so I did the next best thing I could manage and started playing through the original StarCraft and the expansion Brood War again. I've never been very good with computers, or had a computer that could run PC games faster than a slide show, but StarCraft has always run perfect on just about every computer I've ever had access to. Bonus points for being a game I love playing.
 

StarCraft (Serious Instruction Manual Detected)

The first time I had ever heard about this game was when my friend got it for my birthday. I wasn't really sure my PC back then could run it, so it sat on my dresser for a year before I eventually gave it a try. It was my first real-time strategy game. I remember that the missions took forever and it was god damn hard. But that was a long time ago. The last time I spent serious time playing StarCraft was in early high school so I've had plenty of time to reflect and I'm a lot better at grasping the concepts based around the three races. Back then I mined minerals with eight workers and never built more than one production facility for each unit type. It's no surprise that I could never beat the computer in Custom Games.
 
But that was back then. Playing through it again, it's not nearly as hard as I remember.

Terran Campaign

I love playing Terran (because they have the best toys) so I had a lot of fun with this campaign. Since it's built up as the first taste of the game for most players the computer takes eons before launching an attack and when it finally does, it's four or five guys. It gives you a lot of room to play around with the unit types without making a major mistake and getting overrun. A whole group of Science Vessels with Irradiate is hilarious when you drop in on the computer's mineral spot. You can also build a whole bunch of Siege Tanks and shell the crap out of everything in most cases. The only time things get tricky is the very last mission where you can get nuked without proper preparations. Oh yeah, and the shit load of Ghosts that use Lockdown if you so much as think about mechanical units. I need ComSat! STAT!

Favorite Terran Mission: The Big Push
 
Nuclear Silos: A Great Way to Start a Mission
The Terran campaign doesn't get much better than the Big Push. Sure, it kinda sucks because it forces you to destroy every enemy building on the map (even those Missile Turrets hidden on the very edges) but it doesn't matter because this mission introduces you to Ghosts and Nuclear Bombs. The landing zone has two free nuclear silos for your two Command Centers. Pretty much the first thing I did was build a bunch of Supply Depots, produce a nuke, and launch it on the cluster of bunkers right outside my base. Then I launched two more. At the same time.
 
I don't really care how unwieldly nukes are in the greater scheme of this game or how easy they are to counter. They're just fun. Ghosts are so badass Special Ops. the way they sneak in and out with a bang.
 
There's also Duke in a Battlecruiser... but I was having too much fun with nukes to pay attention to him even though he's nearly equipped to beat the entire map with a little backup.

Zerg Campaign

Any time a game lets you play from the villain's perspective is a big plus in my book. The only hitch is that I can't quite get a handle on playing the Zerg, mostly because they operate on the buddy system to the Nth degree. Zerglings with Hydralisks. Or Mutalisks with Ultralisks. Or Guardians with Hydralisks. It also has something to do with how they have strength in numbers... and at a certain point I can't keep control of a huge army. They require a ton of management so your Zerglings aren't getting caught up on something as they rush forward, or your army is attacking all at once instead of a convenient kill line for your enemies. Still, hanging with the Overmind and fellow brain slug Cerebrates was a big switch from the Terrans. The thing I hated most about the Zerg Campaign (both way back then and now) is that you spend most of the time fighting Protoss- and they're so damn durable compared to your squishy forces. Broodling to the rescue!

Favorite Zerg Mission: The Culling
 
Zerg on Zerg Violence: The Horror!
I'd like to think Blizzard spent a decent amount of time trying to figure out how a Zerg vs. Zerg mission would make sense in the context of the story. But no matter how they explain it, it's pretty awesome. Like any true new guy (Cerebrate), you get the shit job of wiping out a bunch of renegade Zerg after Cerebrate Zasz kicks the bucket. Sending Zerglings to fight Zerglings is a cool thing to watch as the little bastards tear each other up. This mission shows up after spending a bunch of annoying missions fighting Protoss, so the switch in enemies is greatly appreciated.
 
This is also the first mission where you can use Defilers. Even though I'm not great at using Defilers, I love them because they're so annoying. Flinging plague on buildings or a group of enemies is especially satisfying. They also make a lot of awesome noises and look like the meanest cockroach ever.

Protoss Campaign

As the last campaign, this is really the only time the game starts to get a little difficult. I don't like it very much, because a lot of the later missions are spent fighting Protoss and the enemy AI is programmed to annoy the hell out of you with Arbiter Stasis Lock. I felt like I spent half this campaign waiting for my units to pop out of stupid frozen crystals. It also might have something to do with the way the Reaver (the Protoss Siege Weapon) is the slowest unit in the entire game. Getting Reavers from point-to-point without transport shuttles is an exercise in futility. Launching an attack with Reaver support takes forever and once your primary forces are on the move, they're quickly left behind. At least Archons are awesome. And Carriers. Lots of Carriers. Carrier has arrived. It's also pretty nice that you have a Terran army in the very last mission. 

Favorite Protoss Mission: The Eye of the Storm
I Got Your Zerg Right Here! Heh heh heh!
So there's like a billion minerals and vespine geysers on this map. The Protoss have a really, really crappy base and the Terrans are sitting high and dry on superior ground with Jimmy Raynor riding shotgun. What are you gonna do? I built Battlecruisers. Tons of Battlecruisers. I built enough to put the UED and the Terran Dominion to shame. The Protoss spent their time collecting gas for my awesome fleet even though it was their campaign. It also helps that this mission isn't very hard. Like, not at all. Trial of Tassadar was leagues tougher and the Zerg can't hit you with Stasis Lock.
 
Safe to say there's a lot of different ways you can play this mission. A lot of those ways probably involve awesome Battlecruiser and Carrier fleets... but you could also crank out Archons and Siege Tanks for terrible, terrible damage. I suppose a secondary objective involves finding a base for the Protoss that doesn't totally suck.
 
After playing through StarCraft and beating it, it's not a very hard game if you have the important concepts down. Granted, it took me a few years to squeeze the most out of my playstyle, but it's still fun. Multiplayer is okay, although I never spent much time on it except with friends. I'm not into high level StarCraft action. When I play this game, all I want to do is make a bunch of tanks, battlecruisers, and nukes. I'm not interested in actions per minute or builds or whatever. Not to say that there isn't enough room in the world for serious StarCraft action... just don't talk to me about it, because I can't really add anything. I can tell you that Arbiter Stasis lock is really, really annoying.
 

Next Time... Brood War

I'm also playing through Brood War, but I haven't beaten it yet. So far, I've gotten to the Zerg Campaign, and for the most part, the expansion steps up its game considerably. Some of these missions get damn hard compared to StarCraft. but that's for another time.
20 Comments
21 Comments
Posted by Sarumarine

My laptop is about 4 years old and definitely can't run StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty no matter how badly I want to play it. It's tough to justify the purchase of a new computer to play one game (especially when I can play it on my friend's computer) so I did the next best thing I could manage and started playing through the original StarCraft and the expansion Brood War again. I've never been very good with computers, or had a computer that could run PC games faster than a slide show, but StarCraft has always run perfect on just about every computer I've ever had access to. Bonus points for being a game I love playing.
 

StarCraft (Serious Instruction Manual Detected)

The first time I had ever heard about this game was when my friend got it for my birthday. I wasn't really sure my PC back then could run it, so it sat on my dresser for a year before I eventually gave it a try. It was my first real-time strategy game. I remember that the missions took forever and it was god damn hard. But that was a long time ago. The last time I spent serious time playing StarCraft was in early high school so I've had plenty of time to reflect and I'm a lot better at grasping the concepts based around the three races. Back then I mined minerals with eight workers and never built more than one production facility for each unit type. It's no surprise that I could never beat the computer in Custom Games.
 
But that was back then. Playing through it again, it's not nearly as hard as I remember.

Terran Campaign

I love playing Terran (because they have the best toys) so I had a lot of fun with this campaign. Since it's built up as the first taste of the game for most players the computer takes eons before launching an attack and when it finally does, it's four or five guys. It gives you a lot of room to play around with the unit types without making a major mistake and getting overrun. A whole group of Science Vessels with Irradiate is hilarious when you drop in on the computer's mineral spot. You can also build a whole bunch of Siege Tanks and shell the crap out of everything in most cases. The only time things get tricky is the very last mission where you can get nuked without proper preparations. Oh yeah, and the shit load of Ghosts that use Lockdown if you so much as think about mechanical units. I need ComSat! STAT!

Favorite Terran Mission: The Big Push
 
Nuclear Silos: A Great Way to Start a Mission
The Terran campaign doesn't get much better than the Big Push. Sure, it kinda sucks because it forces you to destroy every enemy building on the map (even those Missile Turrets hidden on the very edges) but it doesn't matter because this mission introduces you to Ghosts and Nuclear Bombs. The landing zone has two free nuclear silos for your two Command Centers. Pretty much the first thing I did was build a bunch of Supply Depots, produce a nuke, and launch it on the cluster of bunkers right outside my base. Then I launched two more. At the same time.
 
I don't really care how unwieldly nukes are in the greater scheme of this game or how easy they are to counter. They're just fun. Ghosts are so badass Special Ops. the way they sneak in and out with a bang.
 
There's also Duke in a Battlecruiser... but I was having too much fun with nukes to pay attention to him even though he's nearly equipped to beat the entire map with a little backup.

Zerg Campaign

Any time a game lets you play from the villain's perspective is a big plus in my book. The only hitch is that I can't quite get a handle on playing the Zerg, mostly because they operate on the buddy system to the Nth degree. Zerglings with Hydralisks. Or Mutalisks with Ultralisks. Or Guardians with Hydralisks. It also has something to do with how they have strength in numbers... and at a certain point I can't keep control of a huge army. They require a ton of management so your Zerglings aren't getting caught up on something as they rush forward, or your army is attacking all at once instead of a convenient kill line for your enemies. Still, hanging with the Overmind and fellow brain slug Cerebrates was a big switch from the Terrans. The thing I hated most about the Zerg Campaign (both way back then and now) is that you spend most of the time fighting Protoss- and they're so damn durable compared to your squishy forces. Broodling to the rescue!

Favorite Zerg Mission: The Culling
 
Zerg on Zerg Violence: The Horror!
I'd like to think Blizzard spent a decent amount of time trying to figure out how a Zerg vs. Zerg mission would make sense in the context of the story. But no matter how they explain it, it's pretty awesome. Like any true new guy (Cerebrate), you get the shit job of wiping out a bunch of renegade Zerg after Cerebrate Zasz kicks the bucket. Sending Zerglings to fight Zerglings is a cool thing to watch as the little bastards tear each other up. This mission shows up after spending a bunch of annoying missions fighting Protoss, so the switch in enemies is greatly appreciated.
 
This is also the first mission where you can use Defilers. Even though I'm not great at using Defilers, I love them because they're so annoying. Flinging plague on buildings or a group of enemies is especially satisfying. They also make a lot of awesome noises and look like the meanest cockroach ever.

Protoss Campaign

As the last campaign, this is really the only time the game starts to get a little difficult. I don't like it very much, because a lot of the later missions are spent fighting Protoss and the enemy AI is programmed to annoy the hell out of you with Arbiter Stasis Lock. I felt like I spent half this campaign waiting for my units to pop out of stupid frozen crystals. It also might have something to do with the way the Reaver (the Protoss Siege Weapon) is the slowest unit in the entire game. Getting Reavers from point-to-point without transport shuttles is an exercise in futility. Launching an attack with Reaver support takes forever and once your primary forces are on the move, they're quickly left behind. At least Archons are awesome. And Carriers. Lots of Carriers. Carrier has arrived. It's also pretty nice that you have a Terran army in the very last mission. 

Favorite Protoss Mission: The Eye of the Storm
I Got Your Zerg Right Here! Heh heh heh!
So there's like a billion minerals and vespine geysers on this map. The Protoss have a really, really crappy base and the Terrans are sitting high and dry on superior ground with Jimmy Raynor riding shotgun. What are you gonna do? I built Battlecruisers. Tons of Battlecruisers. I built enough to put the UED and the Terran Dominion to shame. The Protoss spent their time collecting gas for my awesome fleet even though it was their campaign. It also helps that this mission isn't very hard. Like, not at all. Trial of Tassadar was leagues tougher and the Zerg can't hit you with Stasis Lock.
 
Safe to say there's a lot of different ways you can play this mission. A lot of those ways probably involve awesome Battlecruiser and Carrier fleets... but you could also crank out Archons and Siege Tanks for terrible, terrible damage. I suppose a secondary objective involves finding a base for the Protoss that doesn't totally suck.
 
After playing through StarCraft and beating it, it's not a very hard game if you have the important concepts down. Granted, it took me a few years to squeeze the most out of my playstyle, but it's still fun. Multiplayer is okay, although I never spent much time on it except with friends. I'm not into high level StarCraft action. When I play this game, all I want to do is make a bunch of tanks, battlecruisers, and nukes. I'm not interested in actions per minute or builds or whatever. Not to say that there isn't enough room in the world for serious StarCraft action... just don't talk to me about it, because I can't really add anything. I can tell you that Arbiter Stasis lock is really, really annoying.
 

Next Time... Brood War

I'm also playing through Brood War, but I haven't beaten it yet. So far, I've gotten to the Zerg Campaign, and for the most part, the expansion steps up its game considerably. Some of these missions get damn hard compared to StarCraft. but that's for another time.
Posted by Johnnyredwine

With all the Starcraft II chit-chat and hype i'm honestly tempted to buy the first Starcraft off Blizzard and give it a go as I've never played it, seeing as i'm not really willing to throw Starcraft 2 at my MBP.  
 
Would you recommend Starcraft today for someone who has never played it or skip it and go straight for the 2nd? Your blog has kinda made me more tempted to buy the first.
Posted by Sarumarine
@Johnnyredwine: 
If you've never played StarCraft, I would recommend at the very least taking a look at it. I imagine you can get it pretty cheap these days since the game is 10+ years old and will run easily on modern computers. I know there's always a danger of looking too fondly on older games due to nostalgia or because it was "the first" of something, but considering there are people still playing it today... there must be something in its formula that still works.
 
The three races each have something to offer. While I like the Terrans because they have some pretty sweet technology, the Zerg and Protoss have a few tricks of their own. The campaign mode does a pretty good job easing you into everything. Plus, it's always kind of fun to go back through after you've gotten really good to see how well you can steamroll each mission.
Edited by paradox121

Nice summary.
 
 I'm playing through too at the mo, my first time through, and really enjoying it. Totally agree about the Terran missions. They have a certain...satisfaction to them as you can erradicate every last bit of the enemy's base. Weirdly I found the Zerg a lot easier to handle. Personal tastes I guess but it just felt a lot easier to pump out troops at a decent rate since they all come from the same place. And yeah Protoss is damn hard. Thus in summary I agree with you:) And your owl > my owl :(

Posted by Jazz

I'm totally playing through it again as well...when im not playing SC2. 
I dream in vespane and creep...it's beginning to worry me.

Posted by Sarumarine
@paradox121: 
Sometimes I think my problem with the Zerg has to do with the way I play Terrans. I like to preserve units and take as little casualties as possible. The Zerg seem to be all about expendable (considering their numbers), and pounding the enemy until they have no units left. I guess I get a little jumpy and try to maneuver too much and end up killing half my forces without actually attacking anything.
 
As for the owl complement, thanks. I suppose it's a little unfair considering my owl is wearing a top hat and monocle. Heh.
Posted by paradox121
@Sarumarine:  Owls are cool no matter what accessories they have. And that is a nice summary of Terrans v Zerg. It's definitely not the end of the world if someone takes down a couple of your zerglings or ultralisks but if you lose a Terran tank it feels more...prominent. I love how intricate this game is. Gotta admire the guys at Blizzard for making this way back when.
Posted by Jasta

After hearing them bang on about how good Starcraft II is for the last 2-3 bombcasts I had to give in and play the closest thing I could. Its been a while old friend.

Good Review mate :)

Posted by FluxWaveZ

I've also been playing through StarCraft (for the first time ever, though), as I'm unable to play StarCraft II.  One of the things I hate the most in the game is the rather poor pathfinding of the units.  It makes me need to look over them way more than I would want to and it gets annoying when they have no idea where the hell I told them to go to and they start running around all over the place. 
 
I'm at the Protoss campaign right now and I can safely say that, out of the 3 campaigns, it's the one I dislike the most.  I'm at mission 8 of their campaign, but they're just a boring race and I freaking hate Arbiter ships. 
 
My favorite campaign was the Zerg one because I just love everything about that race.  I was kind of disappointed when I realized that my favorite race was to be the "bad guys" in this whole story and that the Terrans and Protoss would potentially join forces to eradicate this enemy.  Everything about them appeals to me and it felt rough going from owning everyone with the Zerg and then jumping in with the Protoss to reluctantly destroy the hostile aliens.

Posted by Sarumarine
@FluxWaveZ: 
Yeah, path finding is a real headache sometimes. It was worse than I remembered... but that's probably because I was working with smaller armies back then. This time around, parading around a couple groups of Hydralisks and Ultralisks up a ramp was a nightmare. As soon as they get jammed up they turn around as if they know there's some secret back entrance I can't see on the map. It's also frustrating when an enemy skirts the edge of their cone of vision and they take off like they're some one man army and get killed. The majority of my armies ended up being air units because they were easier to control.
 
Also, yeah, the Zerg Campaign is pretty cool going by the way the story is set up. You spend the entire Terran Campaign with Mengsk yelling at you that Zerg are some biological weapon. Then you get to hear the Overmind and learn what's really going on. You could make an argument that the Zerg are just another race trying to "make it" in outer space... but way they rampage around and mutate things into nightmares often puts them squarely in the "these things gotta die" column.
Posted by FluxWaveZ
@Sarumarine said:
" You could make an argument that the Zerg are just another race trying to "make it" in outer space... but way they rampage around and mutate things into nightmares often puts them squarely in the "these things gotta die" column. "
But whyy...? :(  Yeah, it's totally understandable that—since their ultimate goal is the assimilation of all species to become the ultimate race—they're a big danger to all of the other races around them so they would be depicted as the enemy.  I suppose that's one of the reasons I like them so much.  It just sucks to practically know that at the end of the story, if the plot were to follow basic conventions and have some sort of "happily ever after" ending, the Zerg will be destroyed and the Protoss and Terrans will be alive and well.
Posted by Johnnyredwine

So, I grabbed Starcraft + Expansion off Blizzard the other day and I have to say: for a game that's 12 years old, i'm really enjoying it. The only issue i'm struggling with is managing mass amounts of units as the amount you can select is quite limited (which is a pain when they're all huddled together).

Posted by RecSpec

I'm also in the group playing StarCraft for the first time.
It's more fun than I expected.

Posted by Sarumarine
@Johnnyredwine: 
Yeah, wrangling units gets kinda tricky. I found Goliaths to be the worst, Terran-wise. It's just easier to go all air sometimes when you get the chance.
Posted by Tordah

Great blog! I recently played through the original Starcraft myself and now I'm working my way through Brood War. It's been taking me forever. 
 
Compared to the original it feels at least 3 times longer. In SC1, I played through the Terran and Zerg campaigns in one sitting each, and then the Protoss campaign in two sittings. In BW, however, it takes like 45-70 mins just to beat ONE mission.
 
Oh, and a useful tip for the annoying pathfinding is to use the Hold command (H on the keyboard) when you're defending so that your units don't wander off alone when they see an enemy. The mutalisks are especially annoying in this aspect the way they will try to chase an enemy dropship or overlord all the way back to their base.

Posted by paradox121
@Tordah said:
"In BW, however, it takes like 45-70 mins just to beat ONE mission. "
Wow, Im lucky if it takes me that long on any mission in the original game let alone the expansion. Im just very meticulous. And picky. And slow. But I always win!
Posted by Tordah
@paradox121 said:
" @Tordah said:
"In BW, however, it takes like 45-70 mins just to beat ONE mission. "
Wow, Im lucky if it takes me that long on any mission in the original game let alone the expansion. Im just very meticulous. And picky. And slow. But I always win! "
Nothing wrong with being meticulous! Though I don't see how any one mission could take you more than 80-90 mins max. By that time you've probably already mined out all the minerals and gas for 2 or 3 expansions, upgraded everything possible and weakened the enemies' bases so much that they only have scraps left.
Posted by SBYM

I played through Starcraft and Brood War about a week & a half/two weeks ago. I now no longer really want to play Starcraft 2; I think I got my fix.

Posted by Nasos100

there's a battleground in WoW called eye of the storm and a mission in WC3 called the culling of stratholme

Posted by paradox121
@Tordah said:
" @paradox121 said:
" @Tordah said:
"In BW, however, it takes like 45-70 mins just to beat ONE mission. "
Wow, Im lucky if it takes me that long on any mission in the original game let alone the expansion. Im just very meticulous. And picky. And slow. But I always win! "
Nothing wrong with being meticulous! Though I don't see how any one mission could take you more than 80-90 mins max. By that time you've probably already mined out all the minerals and gas for 2 or 3 expansions, upgraded everything possible and weakened the enemies' bases so much that they only have scraps left. "
No doubt Im just playing it stupidly. Although I do have my game speed turned down as well. I guess Im still learning when I have enough troops to go lay waste to the enemy too. Mainly because I find having an excessive number wipe out the enemy massively satisfying, even if it is pointless :D .
Posted by Sarumarine
@Tordah said:
"In BW, however, it takes like 45-70 mins just to beat ONE mission. "
Yeah, Brood War is much tougher than StarCraft. They pull no punches and they really make you work to win. The AI has been reworked to pull all sorts of spells and mass attacks. Also, their base defense is like cracking a tortoise shell with a toothpick. Even if you run in with an impressive force, guys just keep coming. Anyways, I'm almost done with Brood War. But things are getting really tough.