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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Unit Analyis: Sentry

Today I'll be analyzing the sentry. The sentry is of course a protoss unit and I would argue perhaps one of the most useful units in the protoss army. Any serious protoss player I'm sure would agree. It has many uses and can be utilized in many different ways to help bolster the impact of an army or protect it from others.

The sentry has 2 default spells: guardian shield and force field, as well as one that can be later researched: hallucination. On top of all of that, the sentry also has a beam attack that can hit ground or air. It doesn't do a whole lot of damage, but enough to make an impact for sure. As you can tell already, the sentry having these skills and even being able to attack bake it an extremely valuable unit. They are a bit expensive for early game units at 50 minerals and 100 gas, but this is because they are not meant to be massed in large quantities, but rather used as supporting units much like the infestor for zerg. It is however, much easier to get them out before an infestor.

First I'll explain the abilities it contains and how they affect gameplay, then I'll go into specific uses for them. The three abilities are:
Guardian Shield:

Guardian shield costs 75 energy and provides a shield of 4 range all around the sentry. It reduces incoming ranged attacks by 2 damage to friendly units. Note: this does NOT help against melee attacks, hence it will NOT help against zerglings. It creates basically a small shield around the sentry that affects all nearby friendly units that happen to fall within it.

Force Field:

Force Field also comes stock loaded with the sentry and costs 50 energy, lasting for 15 seconds. It is also a smartcast move meaning that only one sentry will fire if you have multiple sentries selected, so you must repeatedly tell them to create forcefields if you want more than one.

Hallucination (must be researched first):

Hallucination must first be researched at the cybernetics core before use for 100 minerals and 100 gas. It costs 100 energy to use with hallucinations that last 60 seconds or until dead. It allows the sentry to create 4 probes, 2 high templars/stalkers/zealots, or 1 archon/colossus/immortal/phoenix/void ray/warp prism.

All of these abilities are useful in one way or another and can easily be utilized strategically. It is first important to survey the field in which you wish to use your sentries and manage their energy wisely. Perhaps the most commonly used as well as effective tool is the Force Field. 

This move allows you to create force fields that block off enemy movement. It is used most effectively at choke points or to give your units stronger positioning. For example, if you are attacking an enemy base and his reinforcements are outside of the base, it would be very simple to create one or 2 force fields that block off his ramp so his units cannot proceed up and you can continue to wreak havoc in his base or pick off his army from a distance. Another example would be to place forcefields around your stalkers against an incoming zergling attack to prevent a surround. These are only a couple of example, but I'm sure you could use your imaginationa nd think of similar situations in which this would help.

The hallucination is much harder to use as it requires a lot of energy and key timing, and it must also first be researched. Hallucination is a good idea for creating heavy units to confuse your opponent such as colossi or archons so they focus down on them first, giving your real army time to whittle away at enemy forces. Another good usage is to create an early phoenix or warp prism hallucination to scout and harass the enemy base before air units are even seemingly possible. This could possible disorient, confuse, and event rick your opponent into thinking you're doing a different strategy than you really are.

Lastly is the guardian shield. It is an important asset to the protoss army, but is much easier to handle and requires far less micro than force fields. It should be used when the enemy army has a large amount of ranged attackers and definitely not when there is a large melee force attacking you. It only reduces ranged damage.

As you can see, the sentry has tons of options available and can aid any protoss army in innumerable ways, especially with some good micro and patience.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Unit Analyis: Infestor

Hey everyone, so in line with my recent updates, I have decided to switch things up a bit from my usual posting. I'm going to start a new series of updates analyzing specific units and their abilities as well as effectiveness in all aspects of the game.

I've decided to start off with possibly my favorite unit, the infestor!

The infestor is an extremely useful unit and is basically key in any micro intensive zerg army. Its uses are numerous and can be used in a variety of ways, whether it actually be on the front lines of the battlefield or running into a base for harassment.

What you'll need: 

An infestation pit
    -Also enables research of Pathogen glands and the Neural parasite upgrade.

Pathogen glands give the infestor an extra 25 starting energy which could be just what the doctor ordered. Neural parasite allows the infestor to use the neural parasite ability which allows it to control an enemy unit for 15 seconds. (Note: does not work on ultralisks)

I will now focus on its abilities and explain the usefulness of each.

Infested Terran: These units are extremely useful for harassment or general base destruction. With 3 or 4 burrowed infestors it becomes trivial to sneak into a base and unleash these infested terran to wreak havoc on the enemy mineral line or production buildings. Also they can be used in a pinch to bolster your army if needed in that last part of the struggle in battle. They move very very slowly and will eventually die off by themselves, so it is always recommended to place them near the point of attack.

Neural Parasite: This allows you to control an enemy unit for 15 seconds, including all upgrades it has current access to. This can be extremely useful for mind controlling tanks or other heavy units with a lot of splash damage. It works on every unit except ultralisks and I recommend using it on heavy units (e.g. thors, tanks, battlecruisers, carriers, etc) or using it to mindcontrol a specific unit that is greatly helping the enemy such as a colossus. Something you should definitely not forget is to kill the unit before the cooldown runs out otherwise it will ravage your own army or kill your infestor. Note that this can also be used on workers, but is really not worth it unless you somehow manage to snag a probe. The effect runs out much too quickly for it to be used effectively on an scv. Also, you sitll have to tech up and you are tied down by your original food source so it's really just not worth it.

Fungal Growth: I would argue that this ability is by far the best ability the infestor has available. Fungal growth works over a small area of effect and completely immobilizes the enemy while damaging it over time. It's kind of like the old defiler moves wrapped into one (except the dark swarm cloud). It doesn't last too long, but long enough to do heavy damage. This used in conjunction with long range splash devastates smaller armies like MMM ball or infantry in general. It can be used on any unit and is very easy to actually kill lesser units with it, such as marines or zerglings. Use this against tightly packed, dangerous in group units such as massed marines/marauders or basically any zerg unit. It is especially effective against large groups of mutas since classic strategy makes people bunch up their mutas as tightly as possible. This fungal growth really makes or breaks some zerg armies. I highly recommend its usage against MMM ball and zerg armies in general. Against protoss it's a bit more difficult, but can work well nonetheless especially with zealots.

I think that about does it for the infestor. Hope this helped some of you think of new plans!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Thinking Strategic: Choke Points and Wall-ins; Part 2

Hey everyone! First of all, I'd like to apologize for not posting for a while. I started playing this game called minecraft and it totally engulfed my weekend. @.@ By now though, I think I can handle myself well enough to be able to play during my leisure time and get other things done.

Now that that's taken care of, let's continue with the topic at hand.

Part 2!

So like I was saying before, building placement really is key, and is something often overlooked by newer or less experienced players. If you watch more experienced players, usually building placement is key, especially for zerg and protoss since they don't have that easy wall in. Many players may see it as sort of a cheese or lame tactic to use your buildings to block off your ramp or workers or something, but it is far from it. It is cheese to early mass marines and go slaughter someone, but it's not cheese to use strategy and think of where to build your key structures.

In this section, like I said, I'll go more in depth and tell you exactly what it means to place structures strategically.


Terran players have the easiest time with structure placement as they can very easily hit the "redo" key and lift and replace. This brings up some key points though. With terran, you can place your first barracks in a good location, then build a tech lab/reactor and later on as soon as your first factory/starport is done, move it over to that first addon and start building later tier units much faster. In case you couldn't figure it out, this is how many players are able to get that quick banshee rush or tank up. Also, it's important to note that you can build and lift your command center. Many players build the CC initially behind their wall in and pump extra scvs to bolster their economy. Then lift it into the natural expo with protection.


Protoss players have a bit tougher of a time with building placement, but have a lot of possibilities like terran players since they are only limited to the pylon power. For the initial choke point, what is very common (and works very well) is to build your pylon a bit behind your ramp then place the gateway in front. Now this can go one of two ways: first is to build a second geteway next to it leaving only a 1 square space. This is for general 2gating and helps to choke in your base as well. Another idea is to put up your cybernetics core next to it leaving again, one square. 

Both the gateway and core are very strong and are much too heavy of structures for early units to take on. But what do you do with that little hole? You fill it in with a single zealot on hold position. This makes an impassable wall until the buildings or your zealot is killed. A good follow up is to have some more zealots in reserve, or better yet, put a sentry near so you can easily use a forcefield and block the ramp entirely.

Another interesting thing about protoss is that you can build structures anywhere and easily walk away. This is especially useful for hiding buildings like a quick dark shrine or stargate. This is also useful for placing proxy pylons near your enemy. As scouting is very key, this can completely throw your enemy off guard if he thinks you're going for a land based army some phoenixes appear out of nowhere.


And finally that brings us to the zerg. The zerg have arguably the toughest time with building placement, yet they also have a lot of interesting options open to them that the average player would not initially think of. In the beginning game, I seem to notice that most novice players either put their pool in a completely random location, or hide it behind the hatchery. This may seem like a good idea at first as you need to protect it, but it can in fact be detrimental. If the pool is placed alongside the gas and hatchery, it blocks off easy access to your workers and a quick rush in that is preventable by guarding the other side. Granted, it's not too common to run into a very early rush, but it does help. Also, when placing the second building, whether it be a roach nest, baneling nest, or even an evo chamber, it is wise to place it on the other side of your workers to really protect the mineral line.

Next what you have to think about is the creep limitation. Obviously, the zerg can only build on creep (except the hatchery). This becomes key as it forces you to spread creep more evenly and quickly. This is all very possible with overlord creep drop as well as queens pooping out those creep tumors. What you might not expect, but is a good plan in a pinch, is to move your overlord to a place away from your main then placing a quick spire underneath its creep. Like the protoss move this keeps your opponents in the dark if they scanner sweep your base.

One more specific point I want to make about the zerg is their ability to move the spine/spore crawlers. This is a very important thing to realize in the early game. As you can build some spines to stop an early rush, you can then move them out into your natural expansion as some early defense. Don't forget about spine crawlers in your main if your natural is now your main line of defense! With overlord movement upgraded you can bring in overlords to drop creep and even advance with your spine crawlers and keep your opponent in his base.

So to wrap things up, you just have to keep in mind how important buildings are and building placement is. They are more than just the places you need to build better units. They can easily be utilized to help with base defenses or even trick/harass your opponents. It's worth it to experiment with different implementations of your buildings and placing them in different locations.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Thinking Strategic: Choke Points and Wall-ins

Hello! How are you today?

Today I'm going to be taking a bit of a different approach. No replays, no specific strategies or tips, but rather an overall mindset in starcraft. I find that many of the worse players I've come across really drop the ball when it comes to wall-ins or overall base protection and the better players have exceptional strategies for keeping enemies out of their base. This brings me to my point, if you want to get better at starcraft, you must have some semblance of how to build defensively. This is especially true with protoss and zerg, as it becomes much harder for these races to build defensively as compared to terran who can lower supply depots easily.

Today I'll talk about the overarching strategy, and for tomorrow I'll go into more detail on how to exactly go about building in this fashion. Most lower tier players see buildings as merely that, just buildings. Cybernetics core leads to stalkers and higher tech, engineering bay is good for upgrades, etc. This is much different from the more experienced player. The more experienced player will see buildings as opportunities. They take up a large portion of land space and have high amounts of health and/or shield. 

Generally, all maps have some very specific choke points at or near the base, and most have ramps up into the base that becomes the main danger to the player. This is where one should focus down on their defense.

Terran is obviously the easiest in securing the ramp with a barracks and a couple of supply depots. It is important to note, though, that the wall can easily be interchanged later on in the game due to the nature of the terran buildings and their ability to lift off. This is something important to keep in mind in securing the terran wall.

Protoss is a bit more difficult as there is no supply depot doorway, but the gateway and cybernetics core have a wealth of hp and armor that can defend well against early attacks, especially when used in conjunction with a couple of units to seal off the entrance.

For zerg of course, buildings becomes exponentially more important as they are the one thing keeping you between only building drones, or building end tier ultralisks. With zerg, the early buildings are much often better placed around the mineral line, blocking a quick entrance into the workers and the later tier buildings should be protected as much as possible, especially the spire. Zerg buildings are perhaps the most dangerous to play around with as they are the hardest to rebuild and leave the player the most vulnerable if they come down.

The main point of this post is to make you think more thoroughly about how to set up your buildings. It actually is important in where you place your buildings and it would do you well to play a few games and discover where it is most effective.

To be continued in pt. 2 tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

mouzMana vs. SharkGSjoW

Here's the replay I promised! It is a little bit old at I believe patch 1.0.3, but still a good game nonetheless. Lots of back and forth on both sides and it is interesting because no side is clearly dominating at any one point in the game. I will admit this isn't my best cast and I gotta lower the mic so the keyboard doesn't get picked up as easily, but I think I did a decent job. Ah well, enjoy!

Filler post while the videos upload

So today I did another cast and it's a pretty good one. I found out though that it's actually a little bit old, I believe patch 1.03. Anyways, while that's uploading I thought I might as well post something if just to update you guys.

I thought that this personality test is actually quite interesting and is quite in depth and accurate. It's pretty fun, not too long (though there are 60ish questions) and really simple to do (they're all two option questions). I think you guys should give it a try and let me know what your type is! I'm an INTJ btw.

 Personality Test

Here's the link in case you missed the big hyperlink:

Apparently INTJ's make good lawyers sometimes. It would be pretty fun to be a lawyer I think. Maybe deal with bankruptcy or something. I could be the bankruptcy lawyer the terrans needed to get out of zerg debt. xP The main job seems to be science related and I'm a computer engineering major. woot! :)

The video should be up in a couple hours and I'll prolly make the post tomorrow so just wait it out and take the test.

Here's a quick tip:

Although apm isn't everything, it is generally the mark of a good player to have a high apm. If yours is low, then you probably have not so good micro/macro control. Try to increase your apm by managing more things at once and not focusing so much time on one event!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

LiquidTLO vs. TorcH - MLG Dallas Winner's bracket round 3

Hey guys! I got a new cast for you today! This is a pretty exciting matchup and I think I have all the technical kinks worked out (I lowered the game sound). I wasn't tired at all after a long rest (sorry for the lack of posts btw) and a good weekend. Now it's time to get back into the swing of things and enjoy some more replays and strategies! This is a matchup between some pretty good players, my first time seeing torch and TLO is always fun to watch.

Every time I watch a zerg match I can't help but think of how much they are like crazy greedy people putting others (especially terran) out of business and driving them bankrupt! Which would result in the need for a bankruptcy attorney. Zerg love to expand early and often with total map control leaving the other players economically hurting, and essentially in bankrupt. They would need a real good attorney to fight off the zerg though. :p