An Opinion Piece #11
Gather 'round children while uncle Chef rambles to himself
Gather 'round children while uncle Chef rambles to himself
When I first started playing 1vs1 in Brood War, an old school player was someone who dropped tanks on your cliff on Lost Temple. I was not one of those players, but I played in a time when Lost Temple was the only thing anyone ever played. I played in a time when I fought hard for people to play new maps, to enjoy user maps, to embrace diversity. I was a simple mapper with ideals, and I grew into a player trying to make those a reality.
Boxer, Nada, Mondragon, Nal_rA, FishEye, Grrrr... Does it sound like namedropping? I knew none of these players, but I watched their replays. In a time when VODs were not accessible, learning the trends and the styles as a new player could be done by downloading the replays of famous players on WGTour. It sounds like I'm name dropping again. "WGTour." I played less than ten games on that ladder, I could never figure it out. But I downloaded the replays from their site and learned a great deal.
Even with replays and guides, I'd come up with ridiculous strategies. There was a map called Jacob's Ladder. I'd make a wall in the middle of it and rush to a dropship and seigetank because you could tank the opponent's main from highground on it. If you don't count the games I played with my brother and cousin on LAN in 1998-2000, probably half of my first 50 1vs1s were on Jacob's Ladder in gamerooms titled 'noobs only.'
Once I wrote a strategy guide I was totally underqualified to write. I concocted this idea that off of two bases (with an IMPENATRABLE 4 sunken natural defence) one could, when spawning 6 vs 9 on Lost Temple, rush to drop tech and elevator lings and lurkers to the opponent's main all the while teching to defliers and consume [PS there was something about burrowlings in there too, thx tsunami]. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't theory craft. I really tried it when the opportunity arose one faithful PGT game. I was amazed how he saw my slow overlords edging toward his cliff before they could drop, and how well his firebats did under my darkswarm when he went for the killer move. Keep in mind this was in the days when Terran's could predictably be expected to try a sunken break. My meta game was solid, but he'd SOMEHOW known I would slow drop. Noob friends claimed maphack, but I've never been so quick to judge.
What is Brood War to me? It is a thousand battles. Some against strangers, but most against three and a half rivals. Yenku, MushuPork, Rel, and finally a new challenger has arrived.
Sometimes when someone on TL PMs me to ask for some games, I tell my friend 'it's been a long time. Time to see if my claws are still sharp.' There's a killer instinct I had when I played every day. If I saw someone do something I would think 'Ha, you think you'll get away with that?' Now I question myself. My senses are dull. I used to be able to smell a proxy. Now I question my senses. But they're still strong. I haven't lost everything.
Brood War is a game of honour, I don't care what anyone says. When I think of the letters gg beside a username, I don't think of a loser. I think of respect. I think when I lose, I too will respect my opponent and type 'gg.' You can contrieve it anyway you want, but gg doesn't just mean good game. It means you beat me and you deserve this win. If you can say that you are honourable. Since I played friends, I played mostly honourable people.
With my new challenger I have played 16 games. I hope to play at least 100, and yet more. Sometimes I wonder "Am I too old for this?" "Are there better things I should be doing, is it okay to play this game?" It's troublesome to want to hang onto this game, to not just become a spectator. But I think it's valuable.
My challenger has strict ideas about how he wants to play the game. He struggles vs my old-styles (styles which are old now, but are not as old as tank drops on LT), but I struggle when I try to play the new style. I am an old man after all. I know that I'm in danger when he solves my old styles, which is why I want to play the new style, or at least some form of it. It's not where my instincts lie. I play variably. I don't play a single build. I try not to repeat myself and I think about the meta-game. Yet I know by posting this, since he reads TL, he gains an advantage. It's okay, though. It's been two weeks since we played and the meta game is weakening into mere memory. The next time we play it will be like the first time.
Team 8 is important to me. Not just for how fond I've become of Ee Jaedong, but because they are so critical to the heart of Brood War. Many legends of our time assemble on this team. Jaedong, Sea, Baby. Each have earned the respect of the entire scene, and soon Baxter may also join their prestige. I don't want their efforts to be in vain. I don't want to see the end of true StarCraft.
Let me tell you something stupid: I've been watching a show about Samurai lately. You can draw a lot of parallels between Samurai and Brood War players. Every part of yourself is tested. Not just your skills, muscle memory, strength, but your intelligence, stratagem, and cunning. Your reflexes, your speed. If you practice Brood War and are bad at it, maybe you are just bad at life. It offers success on so many different paths. In the end the test is to pit you vs another human being. They can play however they like. They can bypass your skills completely. One is the winner, and one is the loser, and if the loser is honourable he or she types 'gg.'
But seriously. Think of the legends. Think of the countless players whose dreams they ended when they defeated those players in a series at the OSL or MSL. To survive, to feel the real pressure of being the best and being the top, you have to pass those initial tests of fortitude. One stands, and one falls. That's Brood War.
I've had countless battles on countless battlefields, and as time went by the maps have indeed changed. Yet the test is the same. It's you, everything you are as a human being, vs your opponent, and everything he is. No other game tests you quite this profoundly. Some say an IQ test is insufficient because it only tests certain kinds of intelligence. Let us say that if Brood War is not a perfect test, it is at least more perfect than an IQ test. That's why some players find it so insulting to lose. That's why some people can't handle Brood War.
You will never lose your life playing Brood War, but you will lose your ego if you truly put yourself into it. If you stop making excuses and see once and for all how you stack vs another mind. I have played this game for 10 years. Some of those years I did not play 1vs1, but 6-7 of them I did. No mere 'game' could keep my interest this long. It's not the nostalgic childhood memories that sometimes bring me back to Super Mario World, it's the feeling of being tested to my outermost capacity. There is an intimacy shared among Brood War players who have given each other the respect to try their hardest. There is a respect for the harshness of defeat. Another day, another game. You test yourself against your opponents not because of glory, but because you understand the burning desire they gain to overcome you after defeat. You come to expect it too, when you are defeated. It's not a game for childish people who quit after one success or one failure.
It's a game for people who know that Brood War is endless discovery of oneself and one's ability as a human being. To have true respect for those who have gone the distance and devoted their lives to this discovery. To know that this game does not reward those who are afraid to test themselves.
+ Show Spoiler +
In true rambling fashion I've written this not entirely sober... so take it for what it is. The days of legends are not bygone. I'm not being nostalgic. I'm saying when you see Flash or Jaedong play, know exactly how they've given themselves to this ideal of self-discovery and challenge. I know not the future of Brood War, but I know what it is today, and it is grand.