Part 2: http://www.teamliquid.net/blogs/viewblog.php?id=271998
There is a concept in World of Warcraft called a "retard check." Opposed to a "gear check," which is a boss that requires minimal strategy and can simply be beaten by standing in a circle and pelting it with fireballs, a retard check requires players to execute a simple task—like running away from a monster or avoiding a pool of lava—or their characters will die. If enough of your raid members manage to stop licking their monitor and focus for 6 minutes, the boss is defeated and you collect phat lewt.
OK. NOBODY FUCKING MOVE.
A worker rush is the Starcraft equivalent of a retard check. You're playing on the ladder, you find a game, and then, suddenly, 6 workers appear in your base. What do you do? If you thought "attack move with my own workers and collect phat lew— err, ladder points," then, congratulations: You passed the retard check. If you did any of the things I will explain though, we're going to have to kick your retarded ass out of the guil— err, educate you, because Starcraft is a good game filled with nice people who just want to be better gamers.
I'll start by answering the obvious question: "Just what the hell are you doing to these kids, anyway? Is it voodoo?" No, it's simple. I begin each game by boxing my initial 6 workers and directing them to the nearest spawn location. I immediately queue up a 7th and, if I'm facing a Zerg or a Protoss, I send him to join his buddies, or, if I'm against a terran or a random, I leave it at home to begin mining. Generally, opponents who lose to a worker rush do so in such a spectacular fashion that a seventh worker is not needed to win. So, because bronze Terrans have a tendency to lift off (if not out of some hopeless desire to win, just out of spite), it ends up saving me more time in the long run to have a slightly better economy to build an air unit with later at the expense of a 1-2% greater loss rate. Generally, bronze opponents are so bad that you could do a CatZ-style 4 drone harass on any map against any race and still win by macroing at home with your remaining drones, but that sort of goes against the spirit of worker rushing.
If I don't scout the enemy base first, I still check out the other spawns and carry out the worker rush because of the craziness I will explain later. Upon reaching the enemy's base, I attempt to isolate and kill a few workers.
TRIPLE KILL! HUMILIATION.
This usually leaves me on the wrong end of a potential concave, but if my opponent was going to attack move, I was going to lose, anyway. At this point the rush is over against anyone who simply boxes their own workers and A-clicks on the ground. No amount of micro will turn a fight of 6 workers against 9 workers into a victory. In fact, microing is often the worse solution because it sometimes lowers your effective DPS enough that you will lose anyway. Even if you were to flawlessly pull each probe back when it hit 0 shields, you would still lose because they don't regenerate quickly enough to compensate for the fact that your opponent has 40[x-6] (45[x-6] for Terrans) more overall unit hit points than you do.
Speaking of hit points, Terran are the best race to worker rush with, and the worst to worker rush. Even though they can't regenerate their HP, their 5 extra health makes them better in a stand up fight, which most worker rushes end on. Terran also have a higher starting supply cap, meaning that they might have one more worker to defend with than the other races, assuming typical terrible bronze macro. Zerg is the middling race; Zerg regeneration will provide drones an extra 1 HP every ~3.7 game seconds. In an even fight against SCVs, drones can retreat, regenerate, and reengage, though this is usually unneeded. Drone attacks were also bugged until 1.4, making them worse than the other two races if the fight involved any movement. Protoss is by far the worst race to worker rush with and the easiest to worker rush. Shields take 10 in game seconds to start regenerating, and only if they aren't being attacked. This is far too long to be practical for the fast pace of a worker rush. All worker attacks are instant, so I believe it is impossible to have 2 workers kill each other simultaneously because the computer has to pick which command to process first. If it is possible, I have yet to encounter it and have a game end in a draw. Unless something particularly interesting happens, I do not save replays of my losses, but for the replays I have where I win, 34% are Zerg, 33% are Terran, and 31% are Protoss (that doesn't add up to 100% because SC2Gears rounds). Rarely is there a game decided by a few hit points, though, so this is more theorycraft than anything.
One might think that it's impossible to worker rush in the current map pool. Yes, worker rushes were more popular and more effective in the Steppes of War era (not to mention the players were worse then), and that's when the first few intrepid souls blazed their way to the Dark Voice icon. But, as I have demonstrated, they still work, even against what would seem to be the most impossible odds. In the current map pool, I have Tal'darim Altar, Nerazim Crypts, and Antiga Shipyard thumbed down. Tal'darim and Antiga have long rush distances even in close positions, and then it was a tossup between Nerazim and Abyssal, and I seemed to have more success on Abyssal (though I never checked a map analyzer to see which one actually has shorter distances). Of the games I have won, 25% were on Shakuras, 18% on Xel'naga, 13% on Backwater, 10% on Shattered, 9% on Searing, 8% on Typhon, 8% on Abyssal, and the remaining were on the maps I now thumb down. The average game length was 5:21, after removing a couple of outliers.
So how am I winning these games?
Because somehow I sure as hell am.
It's not a build order loss like a 6 pool versus a Nexus first, or an intense micro war like a 4 gate versus a 4 gate. It's an insane all-in that doesn't take advantage of any timing, skill, or luck. It's literally a strategy doomed to fail against anyone even tabbed into the game—it's an anti-strategy. Therefore, I would argue that I don't win these games so much as my opponents lose them. Horribly. And since many are curious, I'm going to explain just how they manage to do that.
The first mistake that befalls many of my opponents is shitting their pants. Often, they will overestimate what is an entirely manageable threat and turn it into an unwinnable situation by running around in circles and not even attempting to retaliate against my workers.
Just where exactly do you plan on going?
Sometimes they just take all their workers and run around in large circles, which isn't an absolutely terrible idea if you have another worker under construction. They could then take some deep breaths, tell themselves that it's just a pair of pants, they can buy new ones later, but first they just need to attack move me. Down one pair of pants, up 12 ladder points. Some, though, opt to run back and forth in crazed patterns, and they end up just losing all their workers as mine catch up and punish them for their illogical Parksinsonian movements. Others seem to rationalize that if they leave a few workers mining they can distract me with their worker exodus long enough to get sufficient minerals to produce even more workers, thus solidifying their advantage, which was already rock solid. Their attempt always fails, though, because I can just as easily go back and kill the ones mining, which are now conveniently alone and easily surrounded. Other bronze players just have such poor mechanics (or they're all playing with touch pads) that they fail to box all of their workers at once and leave some of them behind to be killed while the rest make their mad dash to.. wherever they think they're going.
The ultimate dump is when a Terran player loads his SCVs into his Command Center, leaving his other SCV friends outnumbered and eventually killed. They then attempt to lift off, perhaps not considering the ramifications of such a move. If they land on an island, I can just go back home and out-macro them. If there are no islands, then they can never land in the first place. So the game ends up being a silly game of hide and seek while my bronze opponent waits for me to make units and finish the ordeal. I guess they must expect that I will forget they were in the game, or something, and then they could surprise me with their awesome 18 minute non cloaked banshee timing that they will eventually manage to crawl up the tech tree toward. Of the hundreds of games where Terrans have lifted off, not once has it done anything but delay their defeat.
The second most common mistake that players make is somewhat less intuitive: they play SCV Ring Around the Rosie. Focus firing is great when it’s a ranged unit. Not so great when it’s a bunch of melee units, with the exact same speed and the ability to travel ethereally though other units. So rather than do what is generally considered to be an easier maneuver, attack moving, they focus on a single worker, which, if I can catch sight of it in time, I can easily micro it away. At best, they readjust their focus and quickly attack move. At worst, they tunnel vision the unit at the expense of all of theirs. Sometimes they attack a single worker and then evidently forget that they're playing a game of Starcraft, and let their SCVs just stand there and die after the worker they targeted dies.
Ashes, ashes, our MMR falls down.
Another folly of focus firing is that I can just mineral walk behind my line of drones, leaving their SCVs to smash their faces futilely into drones as the AI attempts to chase the now body-blocked worker. Speaking of mineral walking, not a single bronze leaguer in the 800 or so games I've experienced has successfully used it. Instead of attack moving, as I have been parroting, another way to beat a worker rush (as if there needed to be more than one way), is to spam click all the workers on a mineral patch, move to another mineral patch, but then attack move before the workers begin mining again. This creates a probe explosion and takes the greatest possible advantage of the defender's higher worker count without having to mess with concaves. A few people have done this tactic to me, but when I checked their profiles they were all former platinum to master's level players masquerading as bronze to troll in one way or another. The tactic is advanced enough that I consider it out of the realm of a bronze leaguer's capability, not to mention the fact that you have to be taught how to do it. A few legitimately bronze players have attempted to execute it, or at least that's what it looked like what they were trying. Maybe they saw Destiny do it on his stream (I've seen him explain to students how to use it against a 6 pool) but they end up bungling it horribly and they lose so much DPS uptime that my workers just slaughter theirs while they're pinned uselessly against a wall.
Another common response, if you could call it that, is to act like a deer in headlights. Confronted by a challenger who could be bested by three mouse clicks, this type of player instead, perhaps also shitting his pants, sits there and does nothing. Maybe he's tabbed out to Facebook, maybe he's scratching his balls, maybe Larry the Cable Guy just came on television and he just couldn't look away from the hilarious comedy. I don't know. Whatever the reason, there are numerous players who do nothing, and instead just lay back and take it like a downtrodden prison bitch.
You shouldn't mouth off to your celly unless you're prepared to, well, mouth off.
A rarer, yet somehow karmically justified way they die to worker rushes is attempting to cheese. It takes a certain kind of player to pick random, roll Zerg, and 6 pool. It takes another kind of player to play like that and still be in the bronze league. As others have shown, you can easily cheese your way into masters. So when normally I might feel just the ever so slight twinge of regret when worker rushing some newbie, I just feel happy when I crush some guy who was planning to do some stupid cheese. Especially because if there ever was a build that would "counter" a worker rush, it would be a 6 pool. You circumvent the whole worker micro aspect entirely. All you have to do is run around in circles like a dumbass long enough for a few lings to pop out and there's no way I could possibly win with 6 measly probes. And if I don't scout them first, there's absolutely no way to win.
Unless, of course they pull a deer in the headlights first and don’t mine enough for more than one pair of lings.
Another brand of cheeser I have no remorse for is the cannon kids. The kind of player who joins games just to cannon rush people, and yet is somehow so bad at it that he is still in bronze. Isn't Combat-Ex giving out free lessons? Worse than the fact that they have no idea what the fuck they are doing, is the fact that they are trying to do it against a random player, who has just a 33% probability of being Protoss, the only race that has a reasonable chance of actually losing to something so badly executed. These are the kinds of kids you see featured on "When Cheese Fails," being lampooned by two future morning zoo crew radio show hosts primarily by way of poorly thought-out dick jokes. And they deserve no better, really. I mean, if they wanted quick wins, why didn't they just worker rush? Seems to work for me.
This guy cut some probes to do a cannon rush. I cut the rest.
The rarest, and possibly most amusing way to lose to a worker rush is to attempt to trade bases. The level of thought that goes into this tactic demonstrates a clear level of lucidity, yet at the same time it is incredibly stupid. Now, hypothetically, there is a situation where one could take a superior number of workers and successfully execute a base trade. But the amount of variables involved creates such a complex mental calculation that I don't even know when it would be a good idea, and I've worker rushed countless times. The fact that a bronze leaguer would even come up with such an idea is fascinating. Basically, they have to immediately decide to abandon their base, making no attempt whatsoever to defend it. Then, they have to hope that they can use their slightly superior worker count to both find and kill my base before I can finish killing theirs with my significant head start. Then you have to consider that this doesn't work against Terran at all, that Nexuses have to be periodically attacked or they recharge their shields, and that hatcheries regenerate health constantly. Then, they have to hope that I don't come back and harass their workers, leaving one behind to whittle down their health of their base with impunity. Building another building is one solution to buy more time, but even when the situation has arisen where they have the money and mental wherewithal to do so, they manage to fuck it up anyway. It's like Joe Bronze got a solitary spark of genius, but then quickly forgot about it and went back to back to his usual simian-level cognitive abilities.
“The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits.”
There are probably other ways to fail, but I think this gives a pretty good coverage of what's going on down in the bronze league. Some of the things that I've seen people do are so unfathomably stupid that I just want to ask them, what were they thinking, but they'd probably just say they were thinking that I was a faggot.
So instead I'm left to sit in my basement and ponder what drives them to make the decisions they do. I suppose I have to be content with explaining what they do, and maybe the why will make itself clear. Only a few thousand games left to go.
Part 3: http://www.teamliquid.net/blogs/viewblog.php?id=281817