Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Starcraft 2 Skills: Why did I lose, or analyzing replays

I plan to do several posts on this topic.  The more I think about it, the more complex it seems to be, at least to communicate the concepts clearly with words.

I will attempt to start at basic skill level and work up from there, in each individual post, but also sequentially from post to post, but there will be some overlap and non linear elements, since I can't think of a way to avoid that without adding confusion.

So enough with the QQ.

I will start with the very first paired elements every SC2 player needs to master.  Making workers (drones/Probes/SCV's) & supply (Overlords/Pylons/Depot).

Look at your replay, and see if worker production was stopped before saturation (short version 3 workers per mineral patch or Gas, so on typical base that means 24 workers on minerals & 6 total on Gas) of every base that had minerals left.  If you stopped making workers, note the game time & why (write in down either on paper or on computer), did you stop making workers so you could build a Tank, or did you just forget to make them for a while, or where you in a big fight.

Also check if you became supply blocked, if you do note the game time & what was going on.  Like were you in the middle of a big fight, or was there a Cloaked Banshee attacking your mineral line, or nothing at all. 

Ideally you should have several games to go over, because we want to find patterns.  If you look at only three games of replays, you could have had completely different core reasons for those mistakes in each game.

But if you watch 20 replays, you will probably start noticing some patterns.  Some common ones would be when you move out to attack or when your attack, especially by surprise.

The other thing to do is to look at your resources.  Those include Minerals, Gas, Food (or supply if your prefer), and perhaps most importantly Time!

I don't think anyone will have a problem figuring out while watching a replay, if they had a bank of Minerals or Gas or Food that they were not using.  If you have a thousand Minerals you should build something, because when they sit in the bank they do you no good.

Time though is a bit harder to measure when you are new to the idea of thinking of it as a resource.  But you already know how to do this, you just might not realize it.

Say your favorite player is playing in the finals of MLG on a Sunday, but you have a paper due for a class the first hour of school Monday, your going to calculate in your head how many minutes or hours you need to do that paper, vs how many hours you are going to spend watching MLG, vs how many hours you sleep (or don't sleep T_T).

So when you watch the replay, you want to watch it the first time through with the camera on your point of view, so you can see what you spent your time looking at.  Did you spend 2 minutes with your eyes on the Nexus, when you had a Probe in the enemy base scouting?

Oh yeah, you will need to look at the minimap for this part as well, this type of focus on the replay will also help you learn to use the minimap.

Or have you advanced to the stage where you use hotkey on Nexus so you can tap the hotkey for it and hit the hotkey to make a Probe, without looking at the Nexus?

It doesn't matter at this stage what your spending your time on in game, so much as it matters that you really know what you spent your time on in game, by watching the replay.  So you can figure out what things you need to change, and what direction to change them (more? or less?).

Time is a really important resource in SC2, but it is something that is so important, so essential a part, that often High Skill Players/Coaches forget to explain it to you.

They may not even think about it consciously.

In many martial arts, or Chess, time elements are often or even normally referred to as Tempo, which come from music.

Just like Music, you often learn the beat, or rhythm, or Tempo by just repeating (practicing) it so many times your body remembers it without thinking.

I am getting to that level with many elements in SC2, I make a Assimilator, and I jump back just as it finishes to send Probes to mine gas without having to think about it, and I know when the Cyber is done warping in so I can click on it to start Warpgate research.

Then once you have that data, you can decide what you want to change, maybe making Pylons sooner, or making 2-3 at a time.

Once you decide what things you want to change, rank them.  From most important to least important, if your not sure which is most important, and you don't have a skilled person to ask, flip a coin.  If it isn't obvious it probably doesn't matter much for your current skill level, and as you improve you will learn and understand more.

Then once you have that list, you have the information you need to start targeted practice, on the critical elements that are limiting your play!

I will stop there for now, just realize that while this may sound simple, or even simplistic, they are the critical foundation for everything else you can do in SC2.

I will close with a quote that is used in many fields:  Amateurs practice till they get it right, Professionals practice until they can't get it wrong.



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