Saturday, October 29, 2011

Season 4

Start of season 4 had me win my placement match, and as expected put back into platinum. However, I won 2 games to start and was immediately repromoted to diamond. I think what probably happened was that I would have been knocked down to plat a while ago if the ladder hadn't been locked and I had almost crawled my way back out to diamond. So once the leagues unlocked I got the tail-end of another plat stint.

Been really trying to stick to my plan. Collosi vs Z. Archons vs T. Blink vs P. The protoss plan has been the best, and I've been quite surprised how often getting blink asap makes the difference and wins me the game. My usual PvP build was 3gate-stalker-defend into robo asap with chrono'd immortal. By just changing the robo to a twilight and the immortal to blink I feel like I improved by PvP a lot. Terran chargelot/archon works well until ghosts are on the field, and then I need to do a better job at avoiding EMP. PvZ is still the hardest matchup for me to figure out. I really only win in the early game with timing pushes off of a FFE into zealot rush or 6gate. Or standard 3gate pressure. Collosi seem to get too easily countered. But maybe that's just PvZ. The zerg strength is being able to suddenly mass huge counter-units even though there's a delay before they have any counter. So as Protoss, I feel like you're always tech switching and trying to exploit the window during which zerg hasn't yet countered with mass corruptor/infestor/brood lord/ultras. Of course, I also just lose a lot to ling-roach all-ins. I do better when I always, always play as though an all-in is coming and be vigilant with my defense. My vZ build is also still the most unrefined, since I have 2 different openings and FFE is really confusing to me still with all the follow-up variations. Cannon rush, zealot rush, 6gate, early 3rd. I haven't really made up my mind what path I want to take to collosus. Maybe I should just try rushing collosi.

I am going to just keep working on these builds though. I do find what's interesting is that improving your builds helps your micro, since it frees up your in-game decision-making bandwidth to be used for unit control, which is really my biggest weakness. Nothing feels as good as winning a game where I know I had good unit control that made the difference. Or at least didn't suck so hard that I lose a game with a superior army.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Game plans

After giving myself a pat on the back for a good run, I hit the dreaded wall I was afraid of. Hard core. I dropped 9 games in a row one long night of terrible laddering and knocked myself all the way back into bottom of diamond. If it weren't for the locking of the leagues, I expect I'd have been demoted again. I don't know why I go on such streaks. I know I played a few games that night where I was doing OK but lost to dumb mistakes. And then I played a terran that marine-SCV rushed me. I held it off and still lost to just non-stop marines. I was raging after that and my bad run ensued. I think part of my game is just managing the rage. When I hit that rage wall, I need to walk away. I didn't even intend to ladder so long but I just kept going and going and it got worse and worse, like a train wreck.

I feel like what I need to work on are clear winning strategies. My set of openings is pretty good and gradually expanding. But something Day[9] often says is you need 2 things: an opening and a mid-game plan, in other words, how you plan to win. I don't really have that. My "plan" is really just:

1) have a bigger army than him
2) defend myself
3) prove my army is bigger by attacking his front periodically and forcing an engage

Almost all my mid-game decisions are ad-libbed. I have a few mid-game compositions I favor, and I usually just pick one as I see my opponent's early comp. Last year I ad-libbed my openings and I've gotten a clearer set of opening and early goals now, but I lack an over-arching game plan. I feel like my play would be a lot cleaner if I had a set of goals I was working toward after the opening plays out. Here are some of the possible mid-game plans I can play:

1) 2-base Collosi timing: 2 or 3 collosi with range
2) Blink and +1 timing
3) Chargelot Archon with +1 armor
4) Warp prism harass: Poke in a WP at any vulnerable point I can find, while turtling and expanding
5) Gateway army with 2-2 upgrades off double forge
6) FFE 7-gate

I don't know. There's probably more. I don't really "play" these strats. They just kinda fall out of my mid-game ad-libbing. I need to pick a few to work on and just do them over and over. Collosi and blink are the 2 I do most often, but I mangle my priorities and timings because I'm not really "planning" to do them. Maybe I'll say PVP: blink, PvZ: collosi and PvT: archons and then work on discovering the timings and weaknesses of those hard-core. If my mid-game plan was better thought out in advance and refined, I wouldn't be spending so much time thinking about what to build and could spend more brain cycles on army positioning and defense.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A few Protoss axioms

I've been on a pretty good run lately, ever since that last post. I'm actually a little scared to ladder since having won so many in a row, my rating is getting into the high diamonds. And I will start to face serious opponents. I don't think much has changed in my playstyle, but I don't think in general that periods of winning are marked by change. They're marked by executional refinement. Change is always a losing streak and then once you start to master the change, you gradually start to win again.

Anyways, although I haven't changed much I think a couple things have been running through my head lately that are like Protoss mantras that guide my in-game decisions:

1. Build gateways to get safe. Get safe to tech.

2. Pylon placement is everything.

I think the first one might seem obvious but when I put it succinctly it helps guide my thinking. Like say you've opened 1GFE in PvT. Your 3 gates just opened and your income is kicking in. Now is when you need to answer the question: am I safe? Because you need to put down a building right now. Which building(s) you start depends on what the Terran is doing. Therefore you must already be on the way to do a scouting poke.

Pylon placement has won and lost me games, and I don't think it's something I give enough importance to. It's a high priority sure, but it should be even higher. Almost top priority in some cases. If you've placed 3 gates in PvP and you don't have a forward pylon anywhere on the map, you will outright lose to almost any robo play. I actually had this exact situation in a game just now. I open 3gate on Taldarim and clean out his forward pylon and feel fairly safe, and have already got 2 forward pylons of my own. When my gates open I push in a bit and see 2 sentries and 1 immortal amidst a smallish gateway force. Even though I don't have a huge advantage, the forward pylon means that any advantage, no matter how small, can be converted into damage. I pushed in as a 2nd immortal popped, but used zealots to chase them back and pushed into the base, with reinforcing stalkers joining. Since my opponent has to assume a 4gate, he pulls probes to defend. I back out slowly taking as many probes as I can, calmly putting a robo down during the push, and an expansion as I retreat. When he pushes I'm already way ahead with 1 colossus and 2nd nearly out. gg.

And it's more than just the one forward pylon. Where your backup pylons are is just as important once you need to retreat off the forward-most one. When you pylon the natural is important. When and where you put your early warning pylons around the map is critically important. Pylons overlooking cliffs are OH so important. So many times a pylon is placed as an 'oh shit, I'm about to be capped' reaction and you put it down as fast as possible. If you're slipping and your pylons go down at the last second you will never have time to think about where they go, which is more important.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Next morning

Got up. Played 6 games. Won 6. Mostly plat players. BNet was getting ready to dump me. Safe for now. I played OK. Was mostly zerg that rolled over to 3/6 gates. One terran with cloaked banshees that I completely shut down and felt pretty good. One P that tried to hidden pylon and I not only found his but planted my own and won straight up. Easy stuff though.

Terrible night

Just awful. I'm too depressed to even say much about it. I'm losing to dumb mistakes, and then going completely off the rails and trying weird random stuff after I make a mistake in the build I was attempting. Losing to a variety of cheeses I know I should be able to handle and pretty much losing to every zerg that knows how to make units. I'm actually sure I'd be demoted again if I kept playing.