Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tournaments and Mass Gates

Keeping Up with the Scene
I am sitting here with my morning coffee (yes, there is a reason I am named "Coffeebreak") and I start to worry about keeping up with the scene. I'll be honest, as much as I revere people like Tastosis, Husky, and especially Day[9], I am intimidated by them. This especially is true in the area of tournaments. I am an extremely avid MLG watcher, but for some reason, when it comes to the NASL, IPL, GSL... I may have watched two hours of it in the past year. I know that I am not the most up-to-date on the scene, and it shows when I try to cast an IPL bo3 series that turns out to not only be a bo5, but the Grand Finals. I suppose I am a little unsure of how to keep up with the scene, and it really freaks me out as someone who is trying to claw my way up the ladder...

Protoss vs Terran: The Midgame
I was watching a Day[9] Daily yesterday about the PvT midgame, and how it is so difficult for Protoss to survive Terran's multi-pronged attacks and massive stim bio-ball up the middle. Since I know you all don't watch the Daily (and even I don't as rigorously as I used / want to), I wanted to discuss a little bit Day[9]'s concept of limiting the attacks of your opponent. We say this a lot in SKMC vs EGPuma (a series that I actually casted). MC opened up the games many times with this 3-Gate timing attack off of 2-base that featured a lot of Sentries. For brevity's sake, I will cut to the point and say that the point of this attack was not necessarily to win, but to do some damage and weaken the opponents army.
In the mid-game, Terrans have a tendency to drop the main and the third at the same time, or drop the third, force the army to be pulled, then push their main bio-ball down the throat of the 'Toss. Even with Blink (an essential upgrade for holding against drops) it can be difficult to be in 2-3 places at once. So good Protoss players started to look not only at holding against those drops, but what they could do before that to prevent it.
First of all, the 3-Gate timing is pure brilliance. In the early game, Terran players like to build up a nice little bio-ball to defend against Protoss aggression, which they later use to pummel the Protoss with aggression of their own. With this timing attack by the Protoss, the Terran is forced to trade armies or lose extra buildings / SCV's. Without this army in the mid-game, they can not afford to do 3-pronged aggression, because they simply do not have the numbers. They can drop or they can push the front. Doing both would result in no damage as their army would just be too small.
The second piece of importance is Warp Gate count / use. We see MC and Naniwa with many Warp Gates, 8+, and then not do anything with them. This, of course, is on purpose, as these high level players aren't just "forgetting" Warp Gate cycles. 1) By not using these Warp Gates, they can tech and upgrade like mad because they have a lot of extra resources. 2) By not using these Warp Gates constantly, when a drop occurs, they suddenly have 4 - 8 units instantly to defend while they can get a portion of their army in position to defend against the drop.
And with that, welcome to and abrupt ending.

Day[9] Daily #432: http://blip.tv/day9tv/day-9-daily-432-p1-skmc-s-pvt-living-through-the-midgame-6039893#disqus_thread
C0ffeeCast: SKMC vs EGPuma: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uk1ksuoAVo4&feature=plcp&context=C40bdf8dVDvjVQa1PpcFPLtvnI2Y1SxFz-bnvEDqB-JP-mlYPh7E0%3D

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Scheduling Timings

Schedules (The "I'm venting" section)
Probably the biggest problem I have been having in my attempts to climb in views is having a set schedule. I am an out-of-state college student studying Information Technology (using computer systems to improve business, mainly), and well as a vocal performer, exercise enthusiast, and would-be outdoorsman. My schedule is constantly changing based on deadlines for classes, weekends spent at home, and things as simple as a nice day to go rock climbing. For those of you who have stuck around since the beginning in November of 2011, you know my schedule has changed a lot. There was even a couple weeks where I was streaming 6 days straight! Unfortunately, time just does not permit such anymore, and even with cutting back to two, my days are always on the verge of chaos. Without a set schedule, it is difficult to pull consistent viewers, aka ones who keep coming back. Just a thought to keep in mind.


The following concept of Dynamic Timings, rather than Static (based on supply) is mainly based for the younger players out there. You more experienced players, prepare to bring on the "duh" factor, but calm your jets, I'm trying to look out for everyone!

What are Dynamic Timings?
When going through build orders, you will normally find your timings based on supply. At 9/10 supply build your Pylon. 13/18, your Gateway, etc... But what do you do when that build is thrown off. Let's say you're a Terran player do a 1 Rax Factory expansion and when you lift your Barracks and Factory off to get the Reactor for the Hellions, 8 Zerglings stream into your base. Not the biggest deal in the world, but you had to make a couple extra Marines and Hellions to clean up the mess. Look up at your supply and you are 10 supply ahead of where you are supposed to be. You're probably thinking, crap! I am so far behind right now! I can't imagine where my opponent must be!
Well quit your worrying! Your supply is thrown off, but it doesn't mean your timings have to be. Day[9] has been moving away from expressing timings solely in supply (which I consider a "static" timing), and alternatively has been looking at comparisons ("dynamic" timings). Let's take another example, this time from WhiteRa's Carrier rush I analyzed a few weeks ago (1).

Extended Example of Dynamic Timings
This build is anything but standard and safe. It requires a minimalistic ground army and virtually no defense until 11:00 when your Carriers are finished. If we look at the static timing for the opening, the Gateway should come around 17/18, and your first two Assimilaters around 22. Let's say you are Forge Fast Expanding and your Zerg opponent 10 Pool's you. In response, you throw down a couple of extra Cannons and keep pumping out Probes. Pretty quickly that 10 Pool is defeated and you get ready to go back to your strategy when you notice, crap! I'm already at 20 supply and everything is shot to hell! Time to go Dark Tem- STOP! Seriously, f*** Dark Templar... just no. No. Go back and look at the way I summarized the build order;

- 2 gas after Gateway
- 3rd gas @ ~50% Cybernetics Core completion.

These are based on Dynamic Timings. Those Zerglings got into your base? No problem! Just build the 2 gases after the Gateway. They hit with a second attack and delay your Cybernetics Core? Don't worry! When the Cyber Core is halfway finished, lay your next gas.

Alternate Examples
Other examples of Dynamic Timings could be, When I have 2 Siege Tanks, I'm going to push or, Once I have 10 Mutalisks, I'll start harassing. These are better than saying, I will attack at 8 minutes, regardless, because if you only have one Tank and no Siege Mode, you could find yourself in a world of hurt.

As stated above, this may seem obvious to you higher level players. The reason why this is an important point for lower level players is the mental aspect to the game. Lower level players are going to be less refined in their play, and thus be flustered more easily. They are not going to understand as well what to do when their build is thrown off. That is the reason I wanted to write about this- I was there at one point, and I understand.

  1. WhiteRa's Carrier Rush Analysis     http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JeEYQYidnzo&feature=plcp&context=C45cf4f0VDvjVQa1PpcFPLtvnI2Y1SxE-MYAxVv06WQSENO7u_LbI=