How to practice

#1 Posted by Christoffer (1786 posts) -

I've been getting deeper and deeper into SC2 lately but I realize I need plenty of practice before I feel comfortable enough with my play style. Most matches start off with me thinking "Not to shabby, I getting the hang of this". But sometime during midgame it's "God no, I'm doing everything wrong. There's chaos everywhere". And the more things that happens, the more my brain shuts down. I forget my strategy, I forget expanding and building units, and I even forget hotkeys.

This is of course a typical reaction for a newbie like me. And hopefully I'll get pass this.

Do you have any tips for someone like me? I know the game inside out, in theory. But the execution is poor. Should I turn down the game speed or would that be counteractive. Should I practice against AI, or is that a waste of time? Any other tips of getting serious practice in mid and lategame action?

Or is it just playing it over and over that matters?

#2 Posted by TheSouthernDandy (3850 posts) -

If you wanna work purely on mechanics is suggest matches against hard or very hard AI. I wouldn't mess with the game speed cause you'll have to deal with it eventually. Aside from that grinding out games online is the only way to get better or find a good practice partner.

#3 Posted by imsh_pl (3295 posts) -

1.Always play on faster
2.If you want to practice an opening or mechanics play with ai, if strategy - play ladder matches
3.Have a game plan for every match. Do not decide things on the fly.
4.Analyze the replays of your lost matches and try to see where the mistake was made

#4 Posted by TheSouthernDandy (3850 posts) -

Also I forgot use AI games to hammer out build orders. When you're first starting there's nothing wrong with sticking to a build without scouting. Once you have a few under your belt work on your scouting so you know what's coming. But yeah AI is great for working on that stuff.

#5 Posted by Christoffer (1786 posts) -

Nice, thanks for the tips. Good to hear I should stay away from slower game speeds. It becomes so incredibly dull and almost feels like a different game.

I think I will cut back on the scouting until I've nailed the build orders and the strategies. I always seem to lose focus on that stuff whenever I have to worry about a scout. Hard AI is no problem, with my usual build order that is, so guess I need to turn it up a notch.

#6 Edited by Thule (692 posts) -

Don't change the game speed, it's probably the worst thing you could do. So much of the game depends on you getting a feel for different timings that playing on a slower speed would be like playing another game.

I recommend reading this thread on Teamliquid if you want to know how to improve:

http://www.teamliquid.net/forum/viewmessage.php?topic_id=208343

#7 Posted by Christoffer (1786 posts) -

@Thule: Sweet. Thanks for the link. I will read that thoroughly.

#8 Posted by AiurFlux (902 posts) -
  • Always have a goal in mind. If you want to go for Thor's, know that early on and build your strategy and build around it. Naturally there will be little bumps in the road when you get attacked, but eventually you will have to adapt to that and just roll with it. But always focus on what you want to do.
  • If you need to practice builds use something to do just that. There's one that I use called YABOT, right in the custom matchmaking section. It will measure fairly accurately how well you're building structure, units, and how well you're spending your money in relation to the build that you want to practice. And furthermore if you're having problems with people doing things like a 10 pool you can adjust the game to send an attack wave at a certain time to fight it off and shake off the nervousness that you get from being attacked.
  • Practice your mechanics. Having the absolute best strategy means nothing when you can't execute it. This just comes with time and practice and can't be rushed.
  • Watch replays all the time. Watch them from better players, worse players, players that you beat, players that you lost to, everything. And go in depth. Try to find out when a 4 gate push will come. Try to find out a good way to hold a 4 gate push. Try to find a way to exploit someone that does a 4 gate push.
  • Play people better than you. They might absolutely destroy you time and time again, but you'll be able to focus on the stuff that you need to learn. If they beat you time and time again you have a reason to get better and to beat them time and time again in the future.

It'll come eventually. The thing about Starcraft is there will always be someone better than you. Unless you're Flash.

#9 Posted by Ben_H (3336 posts) -

If spending your resources and lategame macro is an issue, I would look up the UMS Macro or Die. I use it to practice new openings on specific maps but it also is insanely helpful for practicing general macro. You can play against people or the computer (the AI is a custom made one that is actually pretty good. The zerg AI isn't as good but the Terran and Protoss ones seem accurate enough). It tells you what level you are macroing at and reminds you to spend your resources if they get too high by launching a nuke at your mineral line on a 30 second timer that will cancel if you bring your resources to acceptable levels. I find that setting the AI to medium or hard is great because it generally plays a high pressure style (constantly sending units at you) so you learn to macro under pressure better. It definitely has helped me a ton.

#10 Posted by Christoffer (1786 posts) -

@AiurFlux: Thanks very much!

Maybe I've should've clarified this earlier but I actually play Zerg and 10 pool is the only strategy I've practiced extesively (and it works ok most of the times), often going into mass roach if that doesn't work (and corrupters and Brood Lords maybe perhaps). I find, on avarage it's after 15 minutes, or so, when I drop in effeciency. When early game have failed and I have to deal with decisions, counter attacks, expansions and adapting my strategy.

#11 Posted by TheSouthernDandy (3850 posts) -

Zerg is a tough race mid to late game if your mechanics aren't up to speed. If you start falling behind on vomiting larvae with your queens you might as well just gg. I found the same thing I was really slipping up on that once things got busy. Instead of sticking it out I switched to protoss :p immediate improvement. That last part isn't very helpful feel free to ignore it.

#12 Posted by Christoffer (1786 posts) -

@TheSouthernDandy: Switching to Protoss may be a very possible option, I'm not biased in any way. But I really like the immediacy of the Zerg and how thay can wear down the enemy by just always being everywhere in seconds, and in noticable numbers. In theory, they're my kind of race. And I'm kind of scared of spell heavy units (witch I believe is protoss strenght, am I right?).

#13 Posted by shadystx (182 posts) -

The same thing happens to me in RTS games, I have recently been playing Company Of heroes and dawn Of War 2 and I was having so much fun in what is a new genre for me that I went and picked up the grand daddy, Starcraft 2.

I have only played a tiny bit of SC2 as gears 3 just came the other day but I am worried the same thing is going to happen to me as it does in COH, When I play skirmish mode against the AI(I am trying to get the hang of the games before going online) I start off well, confident and collect my resource points, Build defences around key areas, station troops in those areas ready for the oncoming battle then mid game I panic, I start losing a few squads and just stop thinking and just throwing anything and everything in the direction of the battle, On easy It's pretty much a cake walk but when I bump it up to normal I get hammered, I start saying he AI is cheating as I am noticing I have most of the resource points on the map and have held them for some time but am getting bombarded by all types of heavy weaponry that it seems like the AI have more units than me which should not be possible, But it's probably more likely that my units keep getting killed and every time I have nearly defeated one of the enemies squads they retreat where as I fight to the death.

Thinking that COH is a more streamlined RTS and is more accessible than SC2 has me worried I will be overwhelmed, I have decided the best course of action will be to complete the campaigns before doing any more MP as I am sure that will introduce me to the fine points of the game.

Loving the RTS genre at the moment.

#14 Posted by TheSouthernDandy (3850 posts) -
@Christoffer
I love Zerg they're my favorite race by far, I just knew I wasn't going to be playing enough to get as good a I wanted to be with them. Not that protoss are easy but not having to deal with larvae is nice. Slipping on chrono isn't great but as detrimental. You can avoid casters entirely, the stalker collossus death ball is totally viable. Just watch out for infestors. For me I just found protoss was a blast to play. Guardians with force field are so good.
#15 Posted by Christoffer (1786 posts) -

@shadystx: I haven't played COH but I think I can relate. The reason I like SC2 is the extensive competition scene. I wont be as good as the best but I'll be good enough with some practice. I know as soon I'm not handicaped by the "panic response" I will start to have some serious fun and enjoy the tactics in completely different ways. That's what I hope anyway :)

#16 Posted by Christoffer (1786 posts) -

@TheSouthernDandy: I will try protoss tomorrow. I actually have no problem with the larvae. Having the right units while using the larvae and keeping my cool... now that's the problem.

#17 Posted by Hennet_sim (339 posts) -

We need to form some kinda of practice group on giantbomb so those that are have trouble or that are new can practice without going on the ladder and perhaps some of the good people can come in and help us out :D

#18 Edited by DystopiaX (5297 posts) -

Focus on doing 1 or 2 things better every match- never getting supply blocked, using all chronoboost/mules/injects as soon as you can, etc., and make sure you do them consistently for like 10=15 game straight. It doesn't even matter if you lose, just make sure you do things right. Eventually you'll be able to do all of those things better, and you'll learn strategy. Fundamentals are harder to pick up than strats so that's why you focus on those faster.

Find someone around your skill level and arrange practice games. Play games vs each other, then after watch the replays together, talk about what you were thinking, how you thought you could be beaten, how the other guy could have done better, etc. In that manner you'll get a lot better than just playing ladder games and hoping whatever strat you do wins.

edit- also, all-ins/1 basing may work at your skill level to win, but if you really want to get better work on playing macro games, once you get into a high enough league you won't be able to win that way and you'll be screwed fundamentals-wise, whereas the players who are good at fundamentals can also cheese pretty well or macro, and will therefore straight up be better than you even though you are in the same league as them.

#19 Posted by Christoffer (1786 posts) -

@Hennet_sim: The trouble, for me, is I'm in northern Europe and you're (probably) in America. The lag alone will kill me. But if this group is big enough to cover every territory... go for it.

#20 Posted by AiurFlux (902 posts) -

@Christoffer said:

@AiurFlux: Thanks very much!

Maybe I've should've clarified this earlier but I actually play Zerg and 10 pool is the only strategy I've practiced extesively (and it works ok most of the times), often going into mass roach if that doesn't work (and corrupters and Brood Lords maybe perhaps). I find, on avarage it's after 15 minutes, or so, when I drop in effeciency. When early game have failed and I have to deal with decisions, counter attacks, expansions and adapting my strategy.

I main Zerg myself, so it might be that you're trying to get a little bit crazy early on. Zerg is a race that you want to take slowly, which seems counter intuitive since they have some of the fastest units in the game. A 10 pool is a really risky strategy, but it can work so long as you have a long term goal. If your goal is to win in 10 minutes then you're fucked at 11 minutes. Always focus on the long term. But a Zerg should always be about expanding, poking at the front of your opponents base to scout, sacking an overlord to scout, flanking around. It's kind of funny really, a Zerg has this whole "Hold... hold... hold... *whew*" type of mindset.

That said, you did pick what is easily the most difficult race to play as. I mean a Zerg late game with good larva management and constantly remaxing a swarm is incredibly hard to stop, but getting to the point where you can do that is almost impossible. Stick with it though. :)

#21 Posted by jorbear (2517 posts) -

The way I improved and got better was by hanging out with guys that are much better than you. Ask to obs their custom games, and study them. Ask them for advice and continue to do so throughout your entire time playing Starcraft. The more I spoke to my friends about it, the more their skill rubbed off on me.

#22 Posted by IndieFinch (242 posts) -

The best way to practice, in my experience at least, is to play a ton of games. Then after each game, watch the replay. Rather then focusing on the whole game, pick out 1 mistake. Look for stuff like supply blocked, idle barracks / gateways / larva, missing injects, bad rally points, bad micro in attacks, missed scouting...etc. Just pick one thing that stands out, then in your next game...play like you did before, but try extra hard to compensate that one mistake. Over time you will slowly iron out your play and cover up the holes in your play.

The game is way to complex to try and make a list of 30 things you do wrong and try to fix them all at once. I am in masters and even still I watch my games and get overwhelmed with "O my...that was really bad! Why would I do that!" It is easier to pick a little area you know you can improve and fix it one step at a time. Also feel free to bounce questions off me or if you want me to obs some games. Id is: Finch.418.

#23 Posted by Aus_azn (2224 posts) -

@TheSouthernDandy said:

Also I forgot use AI games to hammer out build orders. When you're first starting there's nothing wrong with sticking to a build without scouting. Once you have a few under your belt work on your scouting so you know what's coming. But yeah AI is great for working on that stuff.

Don't forget that Hard AI does not unit-counter you. Very Hard does, so expect to lose a lot once you switch. Hard teaches you to hammer out a solid opening, VH will teach you a midgame and endgame.

@Christoffer said:

@AiurFlux:

Maybe I've should've clarified this earlier but I actually play Zerg and 10 pool is the only strategy I've practiced extesively (and it works ok most of the times), often going into mass roach if that doesn't work (and corrupters and Brood Lords maybe perhaps). I find, on avarage it's after 15 minutes, or so, when I drop in effeciency. When early game have failed and I have to deal with decisions, counter attacks, expansions and adapting my strategy.

Learn to do something other than cheese. At least 10 pool is an okay cheese since you can transition with a bit of difficulty, unlike the 6pool all in.

I'd recommend taking up the 13pool 14hatch IdrA opening, or the 14pool 14gas opening.

#24 Edited by tunaburn (1890 posts) -

@Christoffer: 10 pooling will not get you to a high level. you need to practice different builds depending on what race youre against. against another zerg you need to see if they get a spawning pool or expand first. that should help determine what you do. if you just blindly go 10 pool every game you will lose a lot. especially if you get to gold league or higher. you can add me on there im gold league in 1 vs 1 and diamond in 2 vs 2. ill practice with you. Tunaburn 265 is my character code on the us server

#25 Posted by Hennet_sim (339 posts) -

@Christoffer: I know there is alot of EU players here but yea I am on US.

#26 Posted by FluxWaveZ (19321 posts) -

Stupid question: on 4 Player Maps, how do I determine the other player's spawn position quickly in a 1v1 match by just sending one scout early on? On 2 player maps, it's obviously straightforward but on 4 Player maps, are the spawn positions randomized or can I accurately determine the other player's position by knowing the location of my base and 1 other?

#27 Edited by tunaburn (1890 posts) -

@FluxWaveZ: after you build your pylon, supply depot, overlord, whatever race you play, then you select your worker, hold shift and right click once into each base on the map. your guy will run to all the places you right clicked. its random spawn so youll have to just wait until your worker finds them.

tip: hot key your worker so that if by the time he finds them they have a marine or something out you can just select him quick and run him back to your base. if you tell your worker to mine minerals they will run through units back to your base.

#28 Posted by FluxWaveZ (19321 posts) -
@tunaburn: Thanks. I've only done 3 placement matches, and I got beat pretty bad in 2 of them because I didn't understand how spawn positions worked. This should help me a bit.
#29 Posted by tunaburn (1890 posts) -

@FluxWaveZ: if you wanna add me ill help you out. i usually am on starcraft often but dont really want to ladder all the time.

tunaburn and character code 265

#30 Posted by MentalDisruption (1621 posts) -

@Hennet_sim said:

We need to form some kinda of practice group on giantbomb so those that are have trouble or that are new can practice without going on the ladder and perhaps some of the good people can come in and help us out :D

This sounds like a great idea

#31 Posted by coolalias (6 posts) -

Play macro or die. Its a custom game that nukes ur mineral line if u don't macro well. The AI is really Hard and i haven't won against it yet but i won 12 games in a row after playing this a lot. They were bronze and sliver games but i got really good ,for a beginner , fast.

#32 Posted by Christoffer (1786 posts) -

@AiurFlux said:

@Christoffer said:

@AiurFlux: Thanks very much!

Maybe I've should've clarified this earlier but I actually play Zerg and 10 pool is the only strategy I've practiced extesively (and it works ok most of the times), often going into mass roach if that doesn't work (and corrupters and Brood Lords maybe perhaps). I find, on avarage it's after 15 minutes, or so, when I drop in effeciency. When early game have failed and I have to deal with decisions, counter attacks, expansions and adapting my strategy.

I main Zerg myself, so it might be that you're trying to get a little bit crazy early on. Zerg is a race that you want to take slowly, which seems counter intuitive since they have some of the fastest units in the game. A 10 pool is a really risky strategy, but it can work so long as you have a long term goal. If your goal is to win in 10 minutes then you're fucked at 11 minutes. Always focus on the long term. But a Zerg should always be about expanding, poking at the front of your opponents base to scout, sacking an overlord to scout, flanking around. It's kind of funny really, a Zerg has this whole "Hold... hold... hold... *whew*" type of mindset.

That said, you did pick what is easily the most difficult race to play as. I mean a Zerg late game with good larva management and constantly remaxing a swarm is incredibly hard to stop, but getting to the point where you can do that is almost impossible. Stick with it though. :)

I will certainly stick with Zerg. If don't suddenly fall in love with protoss for some reason. I didn't know Zerg was considered a more difficult race. I've played terran and I find there's more decisions to keep track off early on. But maybe it's becuse they have quite a few more openings than other races. I mainly grew tired of walloffs and turtleing, that why I switched :)

#33 Edited by Christoffer (1786 posts) -

@Aus_azn said:

@TheSouthernDandy said:

Also I forgot use AI games to hammer out build orders. When you're first starting there's nothing wrong with sticking to a build without scouting. Once you have a few under your belt work on your scouting so you know what's coming. But yeah AI is great for working on that stuff.

Don't forget that Hard AI does not unit-counter you. Very Hard does, so expect to lose a lot once you switch. Hard teaches you to hammer out a solid opening, VH will teach you a midgame and endgame.

@Christoffer said:

@AiurFlux:

Maybe I've should've clarified this earlier but I actually play Zerg and 10 pool is the only strategy I've practiced extesively (and it works ok most of the times), often going into mass roach if that doesn't work (and corrupters and Brood Lords maybe perhaps). I find, on avarage it's after 15 minutes, or so, when I drop in effeciency. When early game have failed and I have to deal with decisions, counter attacks, expansions and adapting my strategy.

Learn to do something other than cheese. At least 10 pool is an okay cheese since you can transition with a bit of difficulty, unlike the 6pool all in.

I'd recommend taking up the 13pool 14hatch IdrA opening, or the 14pool 14gas opening.

Thanks, I will look this up.

Edit: What does unit-counter mean BTW :) I'm way to fresh for that kind of lingo.

#34 Edited by Thule (692 posts) -

@Christoffer said:

Thanks, I will look this up.

Edit: What does unit-counter mean BTW :) I'm way to fresh for that kind of lingo.

It's not really lingo. He means that every unit tends to have a specific unit that counters it. Hellions are considered a counter to zerglings, because they do bonus damage to light units(zerglings), for example. The Computer will not go out of it's way to produce alot of Hellions if it sees you have a ton of zerglings on any difficulty below very hard, although it might still have some random Hellions.

#35 Posted by Aus_azn (2224 posts) -

@Thule said:

@Christoffer said:

Thanks, I will look this up.

Edit: What does unit-counter mean BTW :) I'm way to fresh for that kind of lingo.

It's not really lingo. He means that every unit tends to have a specific unit that counters it. Hellions are considered a counter to zerglings, because they do bonus damage to light units(zerglings), for example. The Computer will not go out of it's way to produce alot of Hellions if it sees you have a ton of zerglings on any difficulty below very hard, although it might still have some random Hellions.

In simple lingo, as Zerg versus hard AI, you can mass roaches until you can get hydras, then mass those. If you want to make it even easier, get the +1-2-3 ranged attacks and +1-2-3 armor with 2 evo chambers and expand all over the map.

FYI, I'd guess that I'm a low-silver Zerg. I mainly play 2v2 ladder with friends.

#36 Posted by Christoffer (1786 posts) -

@Thule said:

@Christoffer said:

Thanks, I will look this up.

Edit: What does unit-counter mean BTW :) I'm way to fresh for that kind of lingo.

It's not really lingo. He means that every unit tends to have a specific unit that counters it. Hellions are considered a counter to zerglings, because they do bonus damage to light units(zerglings), for example. The Computer will not go out of it's way to produce alot of Hellions if it sees you have a ton of zerglings on any difficulty below very hard, although it might still have some random Hellions.

Oh. I know of the rock-paper-scissor tactics, it's kind of a big part of the game (one of those things I have to practice a lot I guess). Never heard it be called unit-counter though. Good to know.

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