Progress Report #1: The Art Of War

Earlier in the year, I posted my main New Year's Resolution: Get better at online competitive games. While I posted titles such ass League of Legends, Team Fortress 2, and Quake Live, my main priority, and the reason why I wanted to make my Resolution, was Starcraft 2. If you've stuck around the site for any amount of time, you know my past year has been full of Starcraft 2 giddyness, including videos, previews, impressions, and analysis. To keep good on my New Year's Resolution, though, it's time to put up or shut up: Welcome to 'Progress Report', a semi-regular editorial series that will happen throughout the year.



My primary goal is to become very good at Starcraft 2. Sure, that may seem like a cop-out answer, but there's a few reasons why this is the only honest answer I can hope to give. I could make my goal 'Get into Diamond League', or 'Get into Masters League', which would put me in the top 30% in the world. Sure, those are great goals to have, but since Starcraft 2 is such a young game, the scales are a bit skewed. Many players 'All-In', or 'Cheese' their way to the top rankings, and actually don't become good at the game. Blizzard's ladder is very good at bringing like-minded and like-minded skills together for a match (to keep users right around a 50% win/loss ratio), but overpowered early game tactics are messing with the schematics. To this point, I'm starting at the very bottom of the barrel, at the lowest possible rating I can get:



I am currently at a 16% win/loss ratio, and I'm ranked 94th out of 100 in my Bronze division. As you can see, I've only played 6 competitive matches since the game has launched, and I definitely favor Custom Games (which can either be matches versus the AI computer, or custom matches versus friends). The last League match I played was in November 2010, and my ranking has slowly dwindled since then. While currently, I cringe at my stats when I load the game up, this will actually benefit me in the long run: I'll learn the game in the proper way, and wont use exploits and early game shenanigans to boost my ranking.




I've done three main things that will boost my in-game confidence, and definitely help my overall in-game development:

  • I joined, the #1 North American Starcraft 2 site in the world. The strategy discussions, tutorials, pro gaming events, and talent from this site are unquestionable.

  • I have been keeping up with the Global Starcraft League, the Korean Pro Gaming scene for Starcraft 2. Seeing the best in the world play is definitely an inspiration.

  • I've started posting in the Starcraft threads at Penny Arcade, a site I've been a part of since 2003. The guys here are great, supportive, and overwhelmingly positive in influence.

But watching and learning the 'textbook' side of Starcraft 2 is one thing: The main thing I must do is play. I must build experience in the field, so I can transfer my "book smarts" to "street smarts", as it were. As pro Starcraft 2 gamer and fantastic commentary Day9 has said, 'It doesn't matter how in-depth your knowledge of running shoes is, at the end of the day, if you don't run, what's the point?'



The first thing I must improve is my Macro. Actually, the only thing I should even think about at this point, is my macro. I shouldn't concentrate on tricky unit control, splitting forces, flanking enemies, or surprise attacks with super detailed, precise movements. Instead, I should focus on building a giant force, having a perfect economy (always making worker units, never 'supply blocking' myself, and knowing proper times to expand to new bases), and managing many bases at one time. The units are secondary, as it were: If I don't make enough money to make a large force, how will I defeat my enemy? I won't. I will go into every single match saying 'Am I making workers? Am I making supply depots/pylons/overseers? Am I still making workers? Am I still....' ad nauseum.



Once I get my macro management down to a science, I can start focusing on unit composition, micromanagement, and unit control. I'm hoping the mentality I'm choosing will reward me in the long run, and I'm hoping that you all will find the journey of improvement, learning, and growing as a competitive gamer an interesting one. Like I said, I'd love to become Diamond League and Masters League material, but if you were to ask me what one goal, what one accomplishment I would like at the end of this editorial series, it's this: I just want to be great at Starcraft. Let's see if this is actually possible. Game On!




In the next installment of Progress Report, I will be discussing my current ladder rank, patterns I'm seeing in low-level Starcraft play, improvements (and faults) I can see in my own play,  and overall lessons I'm learning throughout. I will also post up some replays of my matches for other Starcraft players to watch and critique. See you soon!