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I know I've made a couple of threads over the past days, but I decided it was best if I just made one thread where I ask the questions.
I just played a game where I got completely owned and I'm looking to get some tips and advice.
I've only been playing SC2 since Wednesday so yeah I'm a big noob...
Here's the replay:
"Probes and pylons" is just a recognition that SC2 is at is basest level a race to see how can make more stuff faster. The mechanics of always building workers and never getting supply blocked are the simplest distillation of what you absolutely have to do to not fall behind in that race. People know this, but even average players fail to follow the concept reliably.
If you are always bulding workers, expanding when you're over-saturated and successfully holding your expansions, then spending any "extra" money consistently in a semi-sane fashion on units, tech, and production will make you an above-average player.
He means that until you are in diamond league, the only thing you should focus your attention on is constantly building probes, and building pylons frequently enough that you do not get supply blocked.
StarCraft, at its core, is a game of economy. If you can gather more resources than your opponent and spend them all, then you usually have a bigger army, and the bigger army usually wins (at least in the lower leagues).
In standard play, you should literally be constantly making workers (this means having 1-2 queued up at any given moment, as having any more ties up too many of your minerals which could be spent elsewhere). The only time when you "cut probes" (which means to stop making probes) is when you are attacking or warping in units to defend.
aSpire's advice is that if you focus solely on having constant probe production and not getting supply blocked, you will get so much money that if you try to spend it all, you will amass a much larger army than your opponent much more quickly, and that will give you the win.
It is important to note that you should be constantly spending as well. Idle buildings are considered bad. "Banking" resources (having a lot stored up) is considered bad. Any time you have over 1000 minerals or 600 gas, you should spend like a lottery winner at a shopping mall. IMO you should aim to never go over 400 minerals/200 gas at any given moment, and if you hit that goal, you can easily hit dia - pro level. (The issue is that at that point, you have to start thinking about unit composition, and you are distracted by microing battles, which causes your "macro" or following this constant-worker-400-200-rule to inevitably slip; for mortal humans like us, the attention is better spent on places that are not blind macro).
If you follow the rule of thumb of constantly building workers, constantly chronoboosting (energy is a resource just like minerals or gas), putting down pylons frequently, and taking a base whenever you're getting close to 16/24 workers, you will probably make your way easily to Gold. But you have to make sure the worker building is LITERALLY CONSTANT. Check your replays for when you cut probes and try to remind yourself not to do that at those moments.
Edited by Caelum on 5/10/2013 7:36 AM PDT
Goin' through the replay now for funsies. Will edit this post with updates.
You should use hotkeys and control groups. Use shift+# to add to a control group, or ctrl+# to set a control group (overwrite). Press # to recall your selection. Adding your nexus to a control group should be one of your first game actions (along with actually building your first probe).
To learn/remind for hotkeys, go to Options -> Gameplay -> check Display Hotkeys on Command Card.
While you're there, change a few other things that are helpful to protoss and generally helpful to all races to a lesser extent.
+Display Build Grid
+Show Unit Life Bars: Always or Damaged, but Always is preferable in my opinion
+Show Flyer Helper: Always
+Enable Enemy Unit Selection FOR SURE
For example, with your nexus selected, you can press E to build a probe. With control groups plus hotkeys, all it takes is press 5e (for example) to build a probe from anywhere on the map at any given moment. Also, note that 99.9% of players like to spam the build key (E for probe) to make sure they get the build order queued as soon as possible (ignoring or calmly listening to the "not enough minerals" error)
Opening: You use a bit of a weird opening. Protoss gateway openers are universally 9 pylon -> 13 gateway, and 90% of the time followed by 15 gas and 17 pylon (assuming no worker micro and 3 chronoboosts). It's pretty much never cost-effective to go gas before gateway, let alone gas then pylon before gateway. You did also randomly cut probes in the opening. I think probably this is because someone told you queuing is bad; I would instead say you want 1-2 queuing at any given time in the game, and 5 if your attention is heavily demanded in multiple other locations (you can cancel if things settle down). With 2 probes queued at any given time in your opening, you know you'll never cut probes, and that's more important than literally putting down a "gateway on 13 supply." It's okay to go to 14 supply as long as probes are CONSTANTLY building.
2:23 cut probes for no reason.
3:03 your nexus is chrono'd with no probes building. You should aim never to waste chronoboost time. (it happens from time to time, but it should be rare or never) Not to mention - you're cutting probes.
4:02 more wasted chrono/cut probes. Also, you generally want some form of tech before getting a forge, like twilight council, robotics facility, or stargate (1 of the 3). Forge can work for fast upgrades, but it's unorthodox. You'll have better success on ladder teching before forge.
Also, you took 2 gas geysers pretty early (as I mentioned before about your opener). If you have 3 probes on each gas before you have 12 mineral workers, this generally means you're rushing some form of tech, because tech is gas-limited.
Reminds me - you should always get cybernetics core as soon as gateway finishes (not forge, unless you're doing some kind of strange cheese, or you're focusing harder on constant probe production and don't care about falling behind in other areas haha). Warpgate is really really good and in WoL pretty much every build adds some chronoboost on WG research.
5:44 - so I guess this technically doesn't matter, because it's bronze/silver level game, and you can win without this type of knowledge - but - you're floating 500 gas. 500 gas is a LOT of gas to float at 5:44. At that point I would be throwing down tech and/or producing sentries like crazy just to make use of some of it. Probably tech, because protoss tier 3 is op at lower levels.
5:55 - lol, past you hears me talking and throws down a robo. Pretty good.
6:10 wasted chrono/probe cut.
7:00 Nice, nice, you get next upgrade started ASAP.
~8:00 cutting probes for the longest time. Your opponent has expanded to his natural; you're still on one base.
Also, you warp in 2 more gateways... here's a bit of advice. Each base you have can sustain approximately 4 production facilities. It gets a bit wonky in the late game, but it works quite well for 1 or 2 base plays. This is why you see terms like "4gate" or "3gate robo" - if you make any more than that, you aren't able to afford constant production out of them (assuming proper macro, which is spending as much as possible, making workers, etc.) 4gate 1 robo is a bit of an economic stretch on 1 base.
I do like that you research Charge; chargelots are quite nice vs Terran bio
10:50 I smell a supply block coming. You just warped in a round of units; it's a nice habit to build to warp in pylons with each production cycle. Alternatively if you want to shoot for the stars, if you constantly have 1 pylon building per base, that should work out perfectly - although if you perform any less than masters-level macro that will probably be overproducing. NEVERMIND I just ate my words; misread your supply counter.
~11:00 definitely have both nexi rallied to your natural. If you use hotkeys to have both nexi on one hotkey, it's pretty easy.
Edited by Caelum on 5/10/2013 8:11 AM PDT
The only time when you "cut probes" (which means to stop making probes) is when you are attacking or warping in units to defend.
>_> I only give a definition once
EDIT: Here's a bit of rationale for why "cut probes" appeared as terminology. A bit of a thought experiment.
Suppose you build 15 probes, and stop there. Your opponent continues to build workers up to 20.
That means he's spent 250 more minerals at the moment, which means you can afford a bigger army at that point.
HOWEVER in ~3 minutes (I don't know the actual numbers) those workers start paying some real dividends. At that point he will have way more than a 250 mineral advantage, which means he can afford a bigger army.
This is why cutting probes = you need to attack, strategically speaking, if your opponent is of equal skill; otherwise, you keep up CONSTANT worker production.
You want around 66 probes by the time the end game rolls around.
Edited by Caelum on 5/10/2013 8:04 AM PDT
Continuing my play by play in this post because of the character limit:
Workers 17/24 through 24/24 mine at 40% efficiency because of the workers switching mineral patches rather than going in a straight line. So it's more efficient to have both nexi rallied to the natural when your main is 20/24 and your natural's just getting started (ideally you would also transfer 4 probes from main to natural but it's not THAT big of a deal)
NEVERMIND apparently you already knew this and I just wasn't patient enough? Whoops haha
~11:24 HERE'S where the supply block comes. Yeah, pylons.
~12:30 IMPORTANT point. You spend way too much time staring at your zealots (maybe trying to micro them?) You cannot micro chargelots against a bio ball unless it's a really weird situation (like you have 50 chargelots or something; then you'd move past the ball to get a surround, then attack-move). This is attention that could have been better spent macroing - your production is cut, your probes are cut here. Many lower level players watch their army when it makes no difference whether to do so, and all the difference in the world if they take their eyes off the battle and macro. You should have your eyes on the battle when micro can make a difference, like when you have storms and forcefields going down. Not when sending chargelots to their death.
13:24 if I had to hazard a guess, I'd say this is where you lost the game. You throw down 3 stargates. Terran has the strongest anti-air in the game. Terran marines SHRED protoss air with insane cost-efficiency - the only use for Stargate in PvT is oracle openers and maybe some phoenix play if you want to get fancy. Carriers? Keep them in team games - marines shred them WAY too fast. Void rays? Only vs. Terran mech, and most people will tell you not to anyways. Tempests? Actually pretty useful if you've got a solid ground army on the ground.
Against Terran bio mid-late game, you NEED splash damage. This means teching to high templar for psi storm, or colossus (in the late game you will need both). Immortals are not very strong against Terran bio and it is not recommended to make them unless Terran has tanks.
20:34 - the only time you should be 32/24 on your natural with only 2 bases total at 20:34 in a game is if you've had constant constant non-stop back-and-forth-aggression and probably some base trades too. Expansion could have gone down way sooner.
22:43 - as the game goes on, the more you need to pay attention to your army. THIS is when you could have microd your armies. With same game experience, you would have looked at your army, looked at his army, and realized it was impossible to win, threw down some force fields, and retreated. Then you might have been able to pull some trump card. You'd still have been behind, but trump cards!!!!
Edited by Caelum on 5/10/2013 8:30 AM PDT
Alright, time for summary post.
You cut probes and production randomly all the time; that's fine, all beginners do that as they learn and adjust. Even pros cut probes/production when they are being harassed too hard. Your cuts were pretty severe, but you can't blame yourself for it because you just got the game Wednesday.
Your opener was weird and inefficient; recommended to go pylon-gateway-gas-pylon-cybercore.
I liked that you did back-to-back upgrades, got some nice chronoboosts in, and avoided supply block pretty well for bronze/silver league.
The big big thing that cost you a loss is not knowing how to deal with Terran bio ball. You SEVERELY NEED AoE(area of effect)/splash damage vs. Terran bio. If it's 20 minutes, your opponent is Terran bio, and you have nothing but single target damage units (which you did), it's pretty much gg.
The way PvT late game works is - you have your deathball on one hotkey, HTs on another, set to follow main army. You send an attack command - your zealots distract while you storm their army (and your colossi automatically splash them to death).
At next level of play, your stalkers will also target fire vikings, and you may morph archons. May forcefield to split army in half/prevent retreats/allow retreats.
At next level of play, you will also split HTs to dodge ghosts, feedback ghosts, use forcefields, and morph archons.
The HTs and colossi are absolutely CRITICAL in dealing with Terran bio.
Notice air has no place here. Never go air vs. a bio Terran unless you're opening oracle and/or cheesing them.
I'd say your priorities for improving are:
-not cutting probes - ever! (well technically you could follow my rule of, if you cut workers, you have to attack. but that's sometimes awkward for newer players. if you do go down the "attack if you cut workers" route, then reinforcements [ie warping in at proxy pylon] is critically important.)
-expanding when you get around 16 workers on minerals for each base, or when you feel "safe"
-spending that money
-getting splash and NO air against Terran bio
Hope I wasn't too harsh, and that what I wrote was helpful!
Edited by Caelum on 5/10/2013 8:51 AM PDT
Oh my god! You helped me so much!
Thank you so much, I was told SC2 had good community, but wow I didn't expect someone to actually help me this much!
Again, thanks a lot. I actually played another game V.S bio terran while you were writing at around 12 min mark and I won thanks to your tips!
Wow... Feels so awesome finally dealing with something I struggled with ^^, though I might have won because he wasn't attacking me for a while, I'm not too sure :/
If anyone's got the time/is very bored there's that replay...
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