Monday, 30 April 2012

Life in the Middle 30/04/2012

So this week I decided to take a break from Terran and play a little Zerg on my old account; it had been a while, so I felt a bit rusty, but I soon got back into it. Zerg is the most different race to play and it comes down to more than just how they make units. I think to play Zerg well you have to spend a lot of time on macro and much less on micro than the other races, to me engagements seem a lot easier to handle as a Zerg, but then again I am only just getting back into it. As a Terran I always felt that I had to pick away at the other races, whereas as Zerg you want to get the perfect composition and to attack as a whole. I'm not saying that Zergling run-bys and Mutalisk harass aren't important, they just have different purposes. As a Zerg I want to make my opponent too afraid to move out and take the whole map for myself, smothering them with my economy.
I used to do this a lot; thought I was so smart.
With Terran and Protoss you know to constantly build workers and get as many units as you can on top of that, adding on production when your resources start to build up; with Zerg it is nowhere near as obvious. When playing Zerg I constantly have the fear that I have over droned, as I always try to play macro games, and  have not got enough actual units to defend myself with. I think that when you get used to knowing when to build units and when to drone Zerg becomes a lot easier to play, as long as you remember to larva inject, spread creep out and scout a lot with Zerglings and Overlords. Knowledge is power in SC2 and it's easy for Zerg to have eyes on most of the map.
Trying to scoot and shoot with Roaches doesn't work out too well.
Strangely I had most success with ZvZ, I know it is considered to be like rock, paper, scissors in that the counters are extreme, but because it is so easy to have vision of the entire map I find it easy to anticipate and react to an opponent's moves. I think my proudest moment whilst playing against a Zerg was when I stopped an expansion from building with a small Muta force whilst taking out two more bases, one with burrowed Infestors and the other with a mass of Roaches. As the other races I would always worry about how much production I have, but as a Zerg it's a joy to be able to just build one structure and then mass produce that unit straight away; I hope all Zergs realise how lucky they are to be able to do that.
I'm still scared of Banelings, but less so when I have Roaches too.
As far as builds go I have been going 15 hatch in ZvT and ZvP and 14 gas 14 pool in ZvZ. I go for the safer build in ZvZ as you can still get a good economy with a slightly later expo and hold off any early pressure that is levelled at you. Also, if you see that you opponent goes hatch first you can get out early Lings to pressure it with. I only lost my expansion once to bunker pressure whilst going against the other races. I'm not very good with timings so I have to rely on good scouting to know when and what is coming and decide what I need to build to deal with it. Unfortunately you can't always know what is coming and can be taken off guard by it; I lost to mass Voidrays, mass Banshees and mass Thors, strategies that I thought the middle leagues were above.
So... what works against mass Thor? They've already ripped through the rest of my army by this point.
I'll probably go quiet for the next couple of weeks as I have my final university exams, but after that I should be back to weekly posts. I'm not sure if I'll be playing Terran or Zerg as I am really enjoying Zerg at the moment, but I started this blog with Terran in mind so I might continue with them. Thank you very much for reading, you can follow this blog from the pane to the right and find me on Twitter here.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Review: The Walking Dead Episode 1

The Walking Dead is a game all about story, characters and choice; the gameplay mechanics function well, but make no mistake that is not what will draw you into the game. The developers have made very clear that your decisions will impact, not only the current episode you are playing, but the series as a whole. From what I have seen of the game so far this doesn't seem like an idle promise either, and I am very excited to see how the whole series knits together. The first episode allows for three saves, so you can play through multiple times and see the results of different decisions. As an interesting addition, at the end of each episode, you can see the statistics of  how other players handled the major decisions.
The general presentation of The Walking Dead is very impressive, even if there are quite a few technical flaws, the visuals, audio and general execution are done brilliantly. The graphics convey the games graphic novel roots, many shots look like they could have come from a comic book page. The frame rate is a very noticeable issue throughout the game, especially at the start when you meet your first herd of zombies. The music score that accompanies the game is stunning; it manages to wrack up the tension when when danger is present, but also helps make some of the person to person moments heart wrenching. Some very hard truths have to be told. Throughout the game the camera is a problem as it is frequently awkward and can obstruct your view, though this wasn't a problem during the action sequences.
Throughout the game you meet a sizeable cast of characters who will all make an impression on you and who are all voiced by some incredible talent. The story revolves around two characters and their involvement in a larger group. You play as a middle aged man trying to survive as the world goes to hell who forms a partnership a little girl. The relationship between your character, Lee, and the girl, Clementine, is great as she looks up to him and he protects over her; he possibly sees her as a source of  atonement for mistakes he made in the past. There are some moments of dark humour amid the craziness that show that, even if the world is over, people are still human. My only issue with the character models was that sometimes they tried to make the faces too expressive and eyebrows would just go everywhere.

There are some truly touching moments in The Walking Dead, which hopefully will be continued in the future episodes. To reiterate this is very much a story and character driven game, you have a group of ordinary people in extreme circumstances and you are witnessing the results. Much like the rest of the franchise the walkers are not the only antagonists, you are dealing with some of the worst aspects of human nature as well; in many ways the walkers aren't even the main adversaries, they are just a nuisance in the background of a very human drama. There are four more episodes yet to come, in monthly instalments, and I for one cannot wait to see how the story unfolds.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Life in the Middle 23/04/2012

Another week gone and I can't seem to decide on what strategies to use, so I have been trying a lot of new stuff out, especially versus Zerg and Terran. I think Zerg will take me a long time to finally figure out as it is the race I struggle with most on a fundamental level; I just can't deal with Banelings or attacking on creep and often end up throwing games I am way ahead in. I have my last big exams coming up so I have been struggling to play as much as I used to; though post University unemployment should be a great excuse to practice loads and hopefully finally get into Diamond. 
Bio is great but it is nice to have Siege Tanks to back  them up when your opponent goes for pure bio.
In TvZ I have been trying a new build where I go Hellions into two Starport Banshee, and it either works, or everything goes to hell. I normally try to hit with four Banshees with cloak, but just a couple of spore crawlers can completely shut it down as Queens are so good versus Banshees. I think that Hellions may give away that Banshees are a possibility, but they seem necessary to stop creep spread, which slows down any ground follow ups. I think I may get out a Raven in the future to use with the Banshees to kill creep, and then get out Siege Tanks for the follow up; I'm still experimenting a lot with what works bests.
Unexpected Banshees are so good; I try to hide my buildings as best I can to keep the element of surprise.
My new TvZ strategy came from trying it out in multiplayer one day when I couldn't be bothered to play normally and decided to go sky Terran instead. The biggest problem I'm finding with sky Terran is that both Mutas and Infestors counter it quite well in the mid game. Is it worth getting out mass Vikings to deal with Mutas? One on one Vikings win, but then they do cost more too, and Mutas have glaives. Ravens are good to cut back the creep but their abilities don't seem that great versus Zerg as most of their units outrun Seeker Missile and PDD doesn't affect Zerglings, Banelings or Raoches; which are often the meat of the Zerg army.
Apparently I played EGHuK and RatZDeezer this week, I have my doubts though.
Until recently I was going bio against Terran but I kept getting destroyed by one base Seige Tank pressure, so I have been going one Rax fast expand into Seige Tanks instead. I don't like Siege Tanks as much as when I first started playing as they are slow and cumbersome and don't really fit with the more active play style I have been going for. I feel like if you go bio you have to play a lot better, be a lot more proactive with your units, and repeatedly win engagements to stay on top; against Diamonds I don't feel like I can do this.
Just a couple of Siege Tanks is great to fall back on, but by this point I was way ahead anyway.
My TvP hasn't changed much but I have been enjoying it a lot more recently; I used to dread going up against Protoss to the point where I didn't want to play. I used to always be afraid to engage a Protoss army and always made them come to me, but recently I have become a lot more aggressive; attacking early expansions and denying thirds. I played an awesome game the other day where I got out Ghosts and nuked a lot, killing 32 probes over all, and even though I lost in the end it made me a lot more comfortable using Ghosts. However, I still lose a lot to early unscouted High Templars and struggle to use Ghosts effectively without cloak.
I've never really managed to use nukes effectively before, I would have won this game but I took an engagement really badly and lost two mining bases.
One thing I'm struggling to understand at the moment is why Siege Tanks do friendly fire damage. Ling, Baneling, Muta is effective enough without you killing your own troops at the same time, and it makes Broodlords so much harder to deal with. Maybe I am missing something and it really is necessary? Thank you very much for reading, you can follow this blog from the pane to the right and find me on Twitter here

Preview: Diablo 3

With the Diablo 3 open beta weekend I finally got the chance to get stuck in and try out all that the beta has to offer, and overall I was very impressed. I had briefly played on a friend's account before, but never got into it by myself as it wasn't running very well; these issues were resolved by this weekend and being able to play through with a friend was great. So far I have played the Wizard, Demon Hunter and Monk, so I will talk about them after going over my initial impressions of the general game play, graphics and presentation.

I like the way Blizzard has taken away ability trees and slowly gives you new abilities and runes instead; it means that you can't spend ages chasing down the wrong branch only to realise that you have made a massive mistake and are way less powerful than other characters of the same level as you. In RPGs I often go for the coolest sounding spells only to discover that in practice they aren't as cool as they sounded and regret it for the rest of the game; Blizzards new approach gets rid of that and makes how you play important.
Getting new abilities every level also makes levelling up exciting every time; no longer will you have to save up a couple of levels to get the points to purchase an awesome ability, you know when they are coming. What is now important is the loot that you pick up as this is what will truly set you apart from other players, and there seems to be plenty of ways to get items; from drops, friends, by forging or purchasing in the auction house. From what I have seen there is a nice range of character types from melee, to ranged, to crowd control and everyone who plays should be able to find a class that suits their style.

I was a bit disappointed by the graphics at first as they are quite bland and drab, but I think they do a good job of creating a bleak atmosphere which is supported by the music. I think that the spell and ability effects are great as they are bright and flashy and this juxtaposes beautifully with the environments to reinforce that you and your team are the only people who can stop the dark Lords. There are large portions of the game to still be revealed so I'm hopeful that later hubs may be brighter, like the Desert city in Diablo 2.
I liked the relaxed way the story is told; it's there for people who want it, but for people in groups or who have heard it before it's easy to skip quickly through. The story is told through characters and audio lore logs with solid, if slightly melodramatic, voice acting throughout the game. Generally I found the sound to be phenomenal in the beta and very reminiscent of Diablo 2, which can only be a good thing. It would have been nice of the NPCs to react more to which class you are, but this is only a small complaint.

The first class I played was the Wizard, which I loved and was my favourite character overall, though I do normally learn towards spell casters in RPGs. The Wizard surprised me with it's ability to get stuck in and take quite a lot of damage, I found myself running into groups of enemies to use AoE attacks without fear of dying; it's refreshing to get to be a mage without being excessively easy to kill. By the end of the beta I felt like quite the badass as the Wizard and having played some of the other characters have decided that is what I will play in the final game. I didn't like all of her abilities but each slot had something that I would use often; I cannot say that for the other two races that I tried.
The need to scoot and shoot with the Demon Hunter really appealed to my Terran sensibilities (StarCraft) but some of it's abilities really annoyed me. I did not like the Vault ability, that causes you to dodge away, as there is a short delay before it happens and so it felt slightly unresponsive, though this may have been because I had high latency. I found that I only really used the primary and secondary attacks and had to remind myself to use the Demon Hunters other abilities, which at their lower levels didn't really help. I liked the Demon Hunter but found it bland compared to the Wizard. The Demon Hunter controls groups of enemies by slowing them down and that just isn't how I like to play; no colourful explosions, no thank you.
I really enjoyed playing as the Monk but I can imagine it getting pretty repetitive quickly as their primary attacks get into a rhythmic three attack combo. Out of the classes I played the Monk was the most different as it is so close ranged and agile; I loved the Tempest Run ability, which causes you to charge through enemies, knocking them back and allowing you to reposition. For a long time I thought the Monk was supposed to be unarmed so I didn't equip a weapon, but I still felt deadly efficient. Overall I think the Monk has the potential to be one of the most interesting classes in the game; it just relies on it's later abilities not being too similar. From what I have played and seen the Monk will be my second choice.
Diablo 3 was always a day one collectors edition purchase for me and the beta has only further increased by excitement. Unfortunately for me May 15th falls in the middle of my final year University exams, so May 21st cannot come fast enough. Thank you very much for reading, you can follow this blog from the pane to the right and find me on Twitter here. I will have plenty more Diablo 3 content after the game is released.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

The Importance of Team Games

StarCraft is a very social game, but much if what you hear about is the competitive 1v1 side of it. It's hard enough to balance the game for 1v1s so it's doubtful that it will ever be balanced enough for team-games to be played truly competitively but they are really useful for for the average player to improve their play. Practicing new openers, trying out units you aren't experienced with and going up against unfair odd can be really useful. Team games are played differently but many of the mechanics transfer over.
I only rarely built Ravens before experimenting with them in team games.
I find playing StarCraft 2 very mentally exhausting to play and sometimes I just want to play team games to relax a bit, and maybe try out some new and interesting strategies. Recently I have been experimenting with sky Terran builds in 2v2s that I have started to incorporate into my TvZ games. Going sky Terran was so different from my normal TvZ style that I probably wouldn't have risked it unpracticed against a Zerg, because of the risk of tanking my MMR, but so far it's been a success and really helped up my win-rate.

Playing with friends can be really fun, but playing the same person over and over again isn't; especially when you have a limited number of builds to throw at them. Also, your friends aren't necessarily at the same level as you and may not appreciate being beaten over... and over... and over... again. In team games you can help your friends get better, I find that shouting at them about how useless they are is the best way to get my friends to improve; subtler approaches could also hypothetically be applied.
I've been going Hellion opening into fast expand with a Banshee follow up on ladder with quite a lot of success.
Part of what makes team games less stressful is that you have someone to rely on if you massively screw up. Whilst it can be annoying if your team mates are incompetent, at least you can use them as a distraction or as a meat shield. It's good to practice engaging multiple armies at once and learning when you should run; this can all be transferred to improve your 1v1 play. When you can't engage head on you can practice harassing instead, and learn how to do a lot of damage without losing too many units.  

Whilst team games can be a lot of fun there are also a lot of annoying things about them. Seemingly Blizzard doesn't want you to expand in team games and certainly don't want you to keep them too easily. The map pool is a bit stagnant as it hasn't been updated in a while and could do with a bit of attention. Unfortunately, cheese is more prevailent in team games and can be excessively effective when you and your allies don't share a base. Depending on what your team mates are you might struggle with certain match-ups; most of my friends play Terran so we lack diversity and struggle with Protoss/ Zerg combinations.
Early cheese can be tough to deal with, especially when you are busted and then another full strength army follows it up.
Overall team games are a great way to improve your game but shouldn't be relied on; at the end of the day the best way to practice for 1v1s is to play 1v1s but team games are still a useful tool. I found that team games were a great way to overcome my ladder anxiety as my friends encouraged me to play more and I threatened them into it in return. I'm not at all saying that you need friends that play StarCraft to get into StarCraft but for me it was one of the reasons I kept playing it, and why I still love to play it, over a year on.

You can follow this blog from the pane to the right and find me on Twitter here. Thank you very much for reading.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Life in the Middle: Terran Update

I have been playing Terran for a while now and so I thought I would update my overall thought of Terran as a race and how I think it compares to the other races. When I first started playing Terran I thought it was going to be the easiest race to play and that I would be able to do anything I wanted as them and still win; this turned out to be far from true. In my opinion Terran is the hardest race to play effectively with a higher skill cap than the other races. It can be very gratifying to play as Terran as skill is rewarded with increased efficiency and this allows some Terran units to be extremely cost effective. I will be talking about what I do and don't like about Terran as well as discuss their units and what I would miss if I switched from Terran. I hope I don't come off as too negative in this piece, I do love playing Terran I just want to be thorough in discussing what I consider their merits and drawbacks to be.

The main thing I like about Terran is how mobile the units are and how a small group of units can change the course of a game. A Terran army has the potential to split an opponent's attention like no other, as most builds include a Starport, and stimmed units can be very effectively used to get in, do damage, and get out. Whilst a Terran army caught unawares is easily dissolved, a well controlled one can be very cost efficient, and an entrenched one can be almost impossible to remove. The Marine is probably the most dependable unit in the game, with their ability to shoot ground and air targets and to do bursts of high DPS with stim; it is also cheap and quick to produce, especially with reactors, so is easy to use for the bulk of the army. Being able to build expansions elsewhere and fly them over, or recycle your main, is great for peace of mind; and being able to lock down expansions with Planetary Fortresses and bunkers also helps in that regard.
Bunkers are great at stopping attacks but I think Terran can be a bit over reliant on them, especially in early TvP.
There are also a couple things I dislike about playing as Terran though, such as their over reliance on harassing units, their lack of game changing late-game units and their extreme susceptibility to area of effect units. In my opinion many of the counters in SC2 are too strong and the Terran army can be too quickly and too easily dissolved by an enemy. I also dislike how the opponent doesn't have to constantly micro just to trade even, and can think about using spell casters after the engagement has started; instead of moving in units to counter aspects of the Terran army. I think that AoE attacks should either be for area denial or do higher, but more concentrated, damage. At the moment the other races do too much damage over too large an area, meaning they don't really have to place their spells precisely. One bad engagement can easily cost a Terran the game and it can be over so quickly that tactical thought doesn't matter.

Like I said above one of my main problems with Terran is their lack of game changing units; Broodlords, Ultralisks, Colossus and High Templar require you to drastically change your army composition, whereas Terran can bring out no units that can do this. Thors and Battlecruisers are Terrans only real tier 3 units (not that StarCraft really has tiers) but they are weak against cheap units and require a lot of teching to reach. I think that the main problem with high tier Terran units comes from how Terran and Protoss fundamentally work; large Terran units have to be armoured as they are machines driven by humans and Protoss has a lot of anti-armour units. Protoss can also feedback both of Terran's late game options, instantly taking away up to 200 of their health extremely easily. The problem with Zerg is that they can mass produce a counter to anything quickly, so any element of surprise is short-lived; also, Corruptors effectively counter Battlecruisers and can then be usefully turned into Broodlords, unlike Vikings they don't become useless.
I've been doing well against Protoss lately, but I'm frustrated with the standard MMMVG.

If I switched races there are a lot of things about Terran I would miss. I would sorely miss stimmed Marine, for their versatility, as a small squad can be game changing and a large force can take out almost anything. Marines takes a lot of skill to use effectively as, despite all the jokes,  they are very weak in a lot of situations and requires a well balanced amount of backup to prevent them from being easily killed. Often information is just as vital as resources or units and the ability to instantly scan anywhere on the map is definitely something I would miss; I do not envy the other races for having to send a unit to scout and having to wait for a response. Building queues are extremely useful, and whilst I try not to rely on them too much, they are especially helpful at restarting production at all facilities after a supply block. Obviously M.U.L.E.s are great in the mid to late-game for an extra boost of resources when you need them most.

In my opinion Terran has too few AoE units that are don't become a liability in the mid or late game; this is especially true versus Zerg. Against Zerg the Ghost does no AoE damage and against Protoss EMP is limited by the amount of shield the opponent has and it's small radius. In a straight up fight the Hellions are only effective against the light units at the start of the game and workers. In TvZ as soon as Broodlords start to appear Siege Tanks become just as deadly to you as the Broodlords are as their friendly fire means that you lose your own ground supply in exchange for supply-less Broodlings. In TvP Siege Tank use is limited because Protoss has so many good counters to them. The only other ground AoE unit is the Raven, which it is hard to get many of because you want a Reactor on your first Starport and because they are so gas intensive. Seeker Missiles costs a massive 125 energy and has to be researched first, on top of that Ravens only start with 50 energy, unless you upgrade that too, so you have to wait a long time to use it. Storm and Fungal both only cost 75 energy and Infestors can even be upgraded to have Fungal straight away.
In my opinion fungals and Banelings are too easy to use in conjuncture with each other and so devastating.
Overall I think that one of Terran's greatest strengths is that they have a lot of units that complement each other well, and can be terrifyingly effective if you know how to use them. In around six weeks I will finish all of my university work and will be dedicating a lot more time to practicing than I have over the last academic year, which I think has severely limited my progress through the leagues. As I look for a job in video game journalism I will be dedicating a lot more time to this blog and I hope you will follow and support me in this endeavour; you can follow this blog from the pane to the right and find me on Twitter hereThank you very much for reading.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Review: Catherine

Catherine has a lot going for it; a beautiful visual style, a deep yet accessible puzzle system and an absorbing story all come together to make Catherine a truly unique experience, and one that won't soon be forgot. Catherine mixes together puzzle levels, where you have to climb a tower before the time runs out, with story focused sections. In the story sections the main protagonist, Vincent, can talk to other characters, drink to reflect on what's happened over the course of the last day and play a mini-game that is just as deep as the rest of the game. Every night Vincent has a nightmare which is where he climbs a tower and over the course of the game he is trying to work out why this is happening to him and other people; some of who he knows.

The puzzles centre around climbing a tower of blocks which you can push, pull and climb up one at a time; you have to create a path upwards using different techniques that you learn throughout the game or devise for yourself. The game is split up into eight chapters and each chapter has two to four levels. New block types are introduced throughout the game and serve to increase the complexity of puzzles and force you to re-evaluate how you approach a problem. As you climb up you encounter other people, who appear to you as sheep, who are in the same situation as you and over the course of the game become more and more aggressive. Not all of the other sheep are bad though and in the landings between levels you can buy items, discuss strategies and talk to them about their general state of mind. The puzzling in this game is great with enough variation in block types and techniques required to keep it interesting over the course of the game.
Pushing, pulling and climbing may sound simple but the puzzles get really complex and require a lot of thought to overcome.
At the end of each chapter there is a boss that really puts to test what you have learnt over the course of the last chapter as it chases you up the tower. The boss sections are particularly well done throughout the game and really convey a sense of urgency as you have to quickly climb a tower while dodging their special attacks. The bosses are quite heavy handed metaphors as they take on the form of issues that Vincent has been dealing with over the course of the last day, but are still terrifying none the less. You have the ability to undo your last move as you are climbing which does allow you to cheat the bosses a bit as undoing resets their attack patterns and removes any of the items that they through at you; it's a shame the bosses are so easily cheated as it does take away from the sense of urgency slightly, though they are still difficult.

The story revolves around Vincent's relationships with his long term girlfriend Katherine and the mysterious Catherine who he seems to keep sleeping with. One of my main problems with the game was that I didn't like Katherine or Catherine and didn't understand why Vincent would want to be with either of them. The story focused sections take place in Vincent's favourite bar, the Stray Sheep, where Vincent receives and replies to text messages from his love interests. At the bar you can also talk to your friends and the other patrons, who seems to be experiencing the same nightmares as you. You can also play an arcade machine at the bar which has similar mechanics to the main game, but your number of moves is limited instead of your time; overall there are 128 levels to try and they mostly require more thought than the main game.
The landings in-between levels give you a chance to talk to the other 'sheep', learn techniques and buy items.
Not only do your choices affect what Vincent says throughout the game, but also the ending in quite a profound way. There are 8 endings in total and the range of outcomes affect more than what colour t-shirt Vincent wears in the end. I didn't like the grand reveal towards the end of the game as the reasoning for why what was happening was happening seemed pretty weak, but I don't think that this affects your enjoyment of the end of the game as this is before the final chapter and after that everything is great. On each landing between chapters is a confessional booth that asks the player a questions which affects a law/chaos meter and in the long run affects which ending you receive; how you treat the girls also has implications in this.  

Catherine's visual style is beautiful throughout, with a Japanese manga feel that percolates through every aspect of the game, from the gameplay to the cut-scenes. Vincent's facial expressions are priceless and very much in keeping with the theme of the game and really help to convey what he is feeling in a classic Japanese manga way. There is a lot of voice work in the game and it is all done to a really high standard; the only point where the audio annoyed me was during boss fights as what they say gets quite repetitive. As a character I found Vincent to be very relatable as someone afraid of commitment but having to deal with growing up and all that comes with it such as marriage and having kids, even though I'm not at that point in my life.
Vincent's voice acting and facial expressions are spot on in conveying what he is thinking at any time.
Overall Catherine is a really entertaining game; you may be attracted to the story but the puzzle elements are also really engaging, which is important as you will spend a long time with them. I felt that the game was overly long, but to some extent you can control how long the game is by what difficulty you choose. Harder difficulties require you to think further ahead as the paths forwards are less obvious and may require more block moves to advance. Be aware that easy should be considered normal and normal considered hard and hard should only be attempted by the mentally insane. Catherine offers a great and unique experience and deserves a lot of respect for trying something new. 

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Life in the Middle 01/04/2012

Last week I never got around to writing a piece as it was the last week of term as I had a lot of work to get done and came down with a serious case of man-flu. Having overcome this most debilitating of illnesses and with no uni I should have a lot more time to play this week. Also, as most of the students have gone home my internet will be usable in the evenings when i am most likely to play. However, I do have my last ever exams at university coming up, so I should probably start preparing for them too. I have fallen a bit in my league as I haven't been able to play as much but I am still playing with high Platinum/ Diamond opponents.
This guy scared me saying how easy Zerg was, you just go double Starport Banshee obviously; he didn't like losing.
Now that I fast expand in every match-up is it still fast expanding? In TvT I've been going pure bio until quite late in the game, and whilst I have quite a high win-rate, I am finding it really tough. Splitting to prepare for Siege Tanks and during engagements is a lot of effort, which your opponent is not expending, so I think I will start to get out siege tanks in the mid-game. I am finding Reaper openings to be really useful for scouting and for killing a few SCVs; I used to think Reapers were useless but now I see that they have their place.
Three kills, a view of the base and then expansion checking; worth it.
At the moment I am really enjoying going up against Protoss. I go for a 1 Rax fast expand into a 3 Rax, with a quick reactored Starport for Medivacs and Vikings. I like this build as it allows me to get past forcefields if I see that my opponent is quickly teching and I want to apply pressure. This build also allows you to get out fast Vikings if you suspect Colossus are coming. With this build you can easily start up pressure before the opponent gets both High Templar and Colossus, at which point I find Protoss pretty unassailable. I've also gotten pretty good and splitting and pre-splitting, to avoid the worst of storms or Colossus.
If you rush to Colossus you should prepare better for Vikings.
Zerg is the only opponent I am struggling against at the moment; it seems that no matter how much economic damage I do they can always tech faster than I can keep up with. At the moment my fear of going up against a Zerg is stopping me from playing as much as I would like. In team games I have started to incorporate Ghosts more, which is something that I need to include more in my play as I nearly always lose when my opponent goes for Infestors. A good Zerg can spread creep so quickly and I find it really hard to deal with and it always puts me off attacking head on. I think I need to start using Siege Tanks more for area denial.
Fungals are so devestating, even when I try to prepare for them.
I am playing in a tournament with some friends, where I have so far managed to get to the grand final through the winners bracket. I had to beat a Silver Terran, a Platinum Zerg and a Diamond Zerg to get there; winning three out of the four Zerg games I played was a great confidence booster. Thank you for reading, you can follow this blog from the pane to the right and find me on Twitter (@RobinTerran) if you so desire.