One man. One league. Infinite insanity.
Bronze Part 2:
Hell is Other People
Bronze Part 2:
Hell is Other People
+ Show Spoiler [Previous Blogs (Read First!)] +
Part 1: http://www.teamliquid.net/blogs/viewblog.php?id=271453
Part 2: http://www.teamliquid.net/blogs/viewblog.php?id=271998
Part 3: http://www.teamliquid.net/blogs/viewblog.php?id=281817
Part 4: http://www.teamliquid.net/blogs/viewblog.php?id=283221
Part 5: http://www.teamliquid.net/blogs/viewblog.php?id=286351
Part 6: http://www.teamliquid.net/blogs/viewblog.php?id=304674
Part 1: http://www.teamliquid.net/blogs/viewblog.php?id=308882
It's harder than one might think to intentionally lose in the bronze league. Sure, a loss is just an F10 + N away, but getting them to actually kill you is like trying to coax a wild rabbit to let you pet him. They're cute, but skittish.
Come on, little guy, I just want to post pictures of you on the internet.
More than being difficult, it felt kind of wrong. To efficiently lose games, I had to do dumb things like worker rush not by killing their harvesters, but by trying to kill their hatchery in front of them. I mean, it almost worked a few times, and maybe I could eventually succeed with that, but I wasn't really trying to win. It felt dishonest. At least when I was worker rushing normally I was really trying to win, albeit with a very bad strategy. I finally decided to stop my descent after a few dozen games when my attempts to lose were beginning to be actively thwarted. The lower you go, the more leavers and bots you encounter, which is great if you're trying to farm wins, but not so great if you're trying to observe bronze leaguers (or actually play a game, in the case of the bronzies themselves). I was also doing this during the ladder lock, when a lot of higher level players venture down to bronze to troll and then level back up in the next season. It's like a bimonthly vacation for master leaguers.
The final game I completely intended to lose I ended up winning. I had taken to just harassing with a probe for as long as possible to gauge their reactions and then AFking to see what they would do. Against this player, I set up a dance chain around my nexus with my probes while one loser probe mined some minerals. With my one harassment probe, I managed to kill a drone and delay his hatchery for awhile. Using my tiny mineral income, I built a pylon to see how my opponent would react against a potential cannon rush. By that point, though, he had hatched 4 lings and chased my probe around the map with all of them. I rallied my worker around and when it died I got up to use the bathroom. I returned to see the following:
I told you it was difficult.
After he finally got around to scouting my base (9 minutes into the game), he left. I suppose a certain level of respect is due to someone who cares so little about their ladder points that they would leave the game instead of spending 30 seconds to kill a Nexus. It was a bit baffling, though; his premature departure was so unlike the obstinate command center lifting I had grown accustomed to. I decided then that I had traversed low enough. Was this bronze hell? I don't know. Maybe all of bronze is hell. That seems the most likely possibility.
I began, then, my quest to better understand the average bronze leaguer. I have been calling them stupid, but that's not entirely accurate. It is wrong, however convenient, to see someone doing something stupid and think they themselves are also stupid. I've done plenty of stupid things; everyone has. You couldn't call everyone stupid, though. Just most people. The fact is, the people in bronze league are only marginally less intelligent than the rest of society. That is where the fascination comes in. That is why I have felt the need to understand why this group of people, who in most respects are completely normal, are so horrible at Starcraft, especially when most of the Starcraft community is concerned with improving itself. They are outliers; they are interesting.
One thing they are not, however, is all children. To say that everyone in bronze is a child is not only a gross oversimplification, but an insult to children. Children do not call people faggots and demand that they kill themselves. And if they are doing that, they have ceded any right to really be considered children at that point. You have no innocence left to lose when you start issuing electronic death threats. When I was 10, I still barely knew what my penis was for and was more concerned that I might make some nebulous concept of God angry if I did bad things than I was about my skill in a video game. No, ego comes with pubescence, and there are certainly a lot of teenagers on the ladder. I consider them fair game, though; they're old enough to know better. My stance is that if Texas will execute them, I'll make fun of them. Admittedly, it's a wide berth.
Reflecting on the descent down and the worker rushes prior, I have begun to sculpt a preliminary profile of the average bronzie. Some of them are clearly new players, that's irrefutable and expected.
Sometimes a newbie is just a newbie.
Almost 2 years after release, though, the amount of new players has rapidly dwindled. I rarely encounter anyone with less than 100 games played. You must remember that for every bronze player who loses to a worker rush, there is another one who does not. How do we explain the fail and rage displayed by those who do lose, though? After much pondering, I have come to a conclusion. I think there is a great deal of cognitive dissonance going on down in the bronze league. Now stay with me here. I've read the Wikipedia article on it, so I consider myself a bit of an expert. I'll try to keep it dumbed down for the laymen reading, though. Basically, those of us who are aware of the broader Starcraft "scene," know how completely fucking awful we are compared to the real pro-gamers. Because we're bad, we generally attribute our losses to ourselves, not our opponents. I'm not going to pretend that everybody in silver and up is a paragon of introspective, rational thought, but at least diamond leaguer's who rage do so about things like 2 base all-ins instead of worker rushes. For most people, I imagine the sentiment is internal, not external. I think it is most often "I lost," not "he won." We're all here because at some level we like the strategy of the game, so it's natural to look a loss and hypothesize what went wrong. I think most people really do want to "be better gamers." Or, at the very least, they like to see a guy make funny faces into a webcam for an hour.
The majority of bronzies have the opposite attitude. Most bronzies, isolated from the rest of the Starcraft world, have no idea that they're bad. Many think, wrongly, that they are good. And so when something comes along to challenge that paradigm, especially something as extreme as a worker rush, it creates dissonance. Rather than assimilate new data into their Starcraft 2 mindset, they irrationally block out any conflicting information. To them it's not their fault they lost; it's because their opponent is a noob/cheeser/hacker/better race/etc. They are enraged and defensive because I have challenged their perceived level of skill in such an abrupt and decisive manner. This refusal to acknowledge failures and learn from them leads to the stagnation that has created the bronze we know today, the bronze that I presume will exist for as long as the game does. It is not so interesting that bronze players are bad, it is interesting that they are bad at learning.
Why are so many of them like this, though? To answer that, I feel we must consider their frame of reference. To us, bronze is the worst thing you can be. It's literally the lowest you can go. There is no lead league, no wood league. Bronze is insulting, shameful. But think about what bronze means in real life—it means third place. Third place is pretty good. There's no negative connotations associated with the word "bronze" in everyday life. Nobody watches the Olympic 100m dash and says to themselves about the 3rd place finisher, "hah, bronze! What a loser."
Maybe next time, fatty.
Now think about the horrible battle.net 2.0 UI. Where can you go to find out how good you are? You can't. Your losses aren't even displayed. There are rankings, but it's based on the arbitrary division system and doesn't actually give any meaningful information. Anyone can figure out that there are more than 100 people playing Starcraft. There are points, but they don't mean anything. Most of the people in every division have 0 to 12 points because they played a game or two and quit for the season. I've been top 8 bronze for a long time because I spend my bonus pool and win 50% of my games worker rushing. Come to think of it, nowhere in the game itself does it even tell these people that they are in the lowest league possible. When you are placed in bronze, you get the same message you do when you're placed in any league.
Way to go, you're terrible!
They literally congratulate you for what could possibly be intentionally losing all 5 of your initial placement matches. I don't want to get into the whole self-esteem generation shit, but you see where this is going. Blizzard has engineered a system that in no way acknowledges failure. So when someone smashes them (I suppose we have to consider losing to workers in 2 minutes a "smashing") they don't understand why. How could they lose? They're top 8 in their bronze division! They beat their brother all the time! That guy must be cheating. But even those who realize that they are in the worst league still refuse to accept that they're bad, instead believing they are better than they really are and blaming others for their loss, using their own skill level as an insult. They have a mental block that they can't overcome.
This never ceases to depress me.
Time to go from theory to practice, though. One trend revealed itself rather strongly on my journey downwards: bronze players do not scout. Now, that might seem like an obvious statement, but it goes beyond simply not scouting. The lengths to which bronze players will go to deny themselves information approaches levels that could only be described as phobic. They are deathly afraid of the fog of war, and, as Kermit the frog once said, “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” Maybe this is why they are so mad when I enter their base unexpectedly.
In one of my games where I wanted to lose, I worker rushed a guy, focusing on killing his pylons instead of his probes. I killed the first one, and instead of pushing me away with his workers, he built a second. As I began destroying that one, he eventually did attack move and shoo my workers away. With the one remaining worker I had left in his base, I started making pylons. His response was to go about his normal PvP gameplan: an above ramp forge into cannoning his ramp. He then built some pylons on the low ground and cannoned that up, too. After 15 minutes he tentatively poked out with an observer and finally figured out I wasn't actually doing anything at my base. I have seen countless bronze Protoss go forge first not to FFE, but as some poorly conceived early defense system. But that brings up the question: if nobody in bronze scouts, and they are also all terrified of moving out, what exactly are they defending against? I've heard bronzies rail against "cheese," but nobody ever actually cheeses. At least nothing beyond the odd 6 pool (where they are as likely to attack with the lings as they are to sit there with them). I just cannot see what they are so afraid of. The only "cheese" they seem to regularly encounter is worker rushes, which a forge first or a 6 pool isn't going to do shit against.
I don't understand how someone who has encountered this enough to have an opinion of it has not figured out how to beat it.
I cannot understand how this became such a widespread bronze strategy. You'd think the bronzies would start metagaming each other and making 6 nexuses before gateway or something. It's not like they are likely to be attacked. To that point, when I randomed a ZvT I built a hatchery at every single base before making a pool. I didn't want to build any queens, so I just made more hatcheries to spread creep.
This minimap should not be allowed to happen.
I had the intention of massing 200 drones, but my opponent cut that short as he had been clumsily teching toward 2 port Banshees. Some siege tanks and marines stood guard to defend against the attacks that never seem to come in bronze. By the 13 minute mark when he finally attacked, I had 13 hatcheries, 8000 minerals and 1500 gas. Blissfully unaware that I had 6 more bases, he left his banshees to idly bombard my main and natural. Luckily, I had built 2 lairs elsewhere. I made a hydra den, a clump of hydras, and a pair of overseers. I cleaned up his attack and rebuilt my hatcheries, and then sat there wondering what to do. I decided on a bunch of Infestors to burrow around and play with. Meanwhile, my opponent made more tanks, turrets, and sensor towers to turtle. As he had yet to scout anything but the dozen hydras I showed him, I'm not sure what he was defending against. We had a few skirmishes with my Infestors as I figured out how to shift toss a bunch of infested Terrans at once. At some point sticky keys bitched at me for holding shift, but I fixed that and got the hang of how to do it. I spent the next 20 minutes wandering around lobbing beach balls around the perimeter of his base. I should have just given him the win, but the novelty of having a map covered in creep and 40k/20k resources in a game where my opponent was actually there proved too much. Eventually, I wandered into his natural and killed him with the Infestor squad.
Toward the end, though, something salient happened. He harassed my main (the only base he had ever confirmed the existence of) again with banshees while trying one last ditch effort to expand. Having still not scouted the fact that the map was nearly completely infested by hatcheries, he tried to fly his orbital across the map and mine some more minerals. When it arrived at my base, it was automatically killed by a group of spore crawlers I had constructed when the banshees first arrived. He left the game as soon as he saw his orbital under fire, realizing his plan had failed.
The standard 40 minute orbital scout timing
This showed that even if my opponent was irrationally afraid of scouting, floating thousands of minerals, and generally lacking any idea about what he was doing, he still wanted to win. There is often a depressing moment in these games where my opponent has one last flame of an idea, and when it's snuffed out by the hopelessness of the situation they leave the game sadly, wordlessly. Importantly, though, it shows that even among the worst players there still exists a spirit of competition. These players may be "casual" (as loaded a word as that is), but they still desire victory. They aren't just piddling around making units because they look cool—they want to kill things! They want to win.
I concluded that using actual units was too abusive. Even though I didn't even know how the fuck to use Infestors properly, the fact that I made them and used them at all was just too much for a legitimately bronze player to handle. I needed to level the playing field, but I didn't want to frustrate myself by doing something like only using the mouse or restricting myself to a dozen workers. I figured it would be more aggravating than fun. Maybe another time. So I thought back to my earlier games where I turtled and got an idea.
I just want to say one word to you. Just one word. Planetaries.
Not PF rushing mind you. Just PFs. Just placed on the map. I queued up for a game as Terran and got matched against a Protoss on Metalopolis. My opponent went for the typical terrified style of play that pervades the bronze league.
Fear, in cannon form.
I went CC first and built an Engineering Bay. I floated my new CC to my natural and transformed it into a PF. Then, I thought, "what the hell?" and just started building CCs everywhere. It's not like I was in danger of being attacked. Around 10 minutes, I got the bright idea to just take a bunch of SCVs and build some CCs right in front of his base. By the time he finally decided to move out of his shell with some Stalkers, they were already built and were turning into Planetaries. His Stalker force sat there and died while in his base he reacted swiftly by constructing double Stargates. Like so many other things that never change in bronze, everybody still loves their Void Rays. After the two Stargates completed, he evidently decided that a third one would be more aesthetically pleasing. His base now adequately stylish, he began building Void Rays as fast as he could remember. Not as fast as he could, of course, because he didn't know how to Chrono Boost.
After a while, he moved out with his small Void Ray force, but a group of turrets with both the Gretorp upgrades and a cadre of veteran SCVs to auto-repair them proved too much. They died after killing a turret or two. At some point before my siege started, he had snuck a probe out and made an expansion. Over the course of 20 minutes I repeatedly attempted to construct a base in his base before finally succeeding. Confused, distraught, out of money, and with the red dots spreading like a pox across the map, my opponent ceded defeat.
Seriously, minimaps like this should not exist outside of monobattles.
Well, that seemed to work. I was expecting a Colossus to eventually put the kibosh on my little scheme. Maybe he didn't know about them. Was there a "PF Rush: Part 1" blog in my future? Perhaps. I queued again and was fortunate enough to receive another Protoss, this time on Shattered Temple. I decided to attempt to build a Command Center directly in his base, but my SCV was greeted less than warmly.
I know when I'm not welcome, Jeez.
Undeterred and curious, I decided on a two-pronged assault. I would construct one CC below his ramp while simultaneously flying one in from my base, as we were in close air spawns. This approach was more than successful; the slow-moving buildings proved too much for my enemy to keep up with, and both CCs landed in his base and transformed into PFs. He attempted to make some cannons, but with the efforts of a few repairing SCVs they were unable to save his base. He, too, left silently.
Was this actually working? Was this abusive? Should a bronze player be expected to have enough units to stop a PF in their base? I decided they likely would not. And I certainly didn't expect them to know how to put a probe under it to prevent it from landing. So I chose against planting the PF directly in their base for now. The next game, Battle.net granted me yet another Protoss opponent. Karma clearly does not exist outside of Reddit. This time I built a CC in his natural and began mining from it. From there, unmolested from any sort of harassment from my opponent, I again covered all of Metalopolis in PFs and Orbitals. This opponent, too, tried Void rays and proved similarly unsuccessful. I'm not sure if these Void Rays they were making were a response to the PFs, or if forge > cannons on ramp > 2 Stargate Void Rays is standard PvT play for these people. I scanned his base and saw a Robotics Bay. I thought for sure my plan would fail this time as he could kill my entire operation with a single range upgraded colossus. He never got the upgrade, though. He spent all of his resources on a hodgepodge of random Protoss units, moved down the ramp, and died.
My screenshot folder is fucking weird.
His last spark of an idea was to construct a Warp Prism, fill it with probes, and establish a base somewhere. As this player had not scouted a single part of the map, either, he flew the Prism into unscouted turrets and left the game. His flame, too, had been extinguished.
The question then became: Is it fair to expect bronze players to know what a Colossus is? I mean, they know what Void Rays are, but Void Rays have a theme song with 2 million YouTube hits. Maybe if Colossi get a rap song made for them I'll start seeing them in bronze player's repertoires. To see if bronzies knew what a Colossus was, I queued until I got a PvP. I massed as many Photon cannons as I could, necessitating that he get some kind of siege weapon. When I did this against Terran, they got tanks. Would a bronze player get Colossi?
His first attempt to kill me showed clear signs of intelligence. He loaded up a pair of Warp Prisms with zealots and attempted kill me from within. I had built cannons all around however, and the zealots died before they could get to my mineral line. Then, he gave mass Void Rays a try. Then, when those died, he made more Void Rays and eventually a Mothership and some Carriers. I'm not sure if he didn't know cannons detected, or if he just thought a Mothership would be cool. When his inefficient methods finally managed to eliminate all the pylons powering my cannons, I posed to him the question I had started this game to ask.
How the fuck can you not know why you did something?
I asked him if he knew that with the range upgrade Colossi outranged cannons, but was met with only silence. So with knowledge that bronze players are incapable of making Colossi, I decided on yet another approach. I found a TvT on Shattered temple. I killed a worker and lifted to the base protected by rocks. There, I figured I would erect as many Planetaries and turrets as would fit and then wait for the fail to come to me. Clearly building things near them gave me too great of an advantage. Surely a bronze Terran, who I had already confirmed on multiple occasions know what siege tanks are, would be able to easily defeat such a stupidly conceived fortress.
I must say I'm getting quite good at Starcraft art, if not the art of Starcraft.
After I ran out of resources, I tabbed out. Left alone to his own devices, my opponent did a series of strange things. He didn't scout for ages, of course. He took the gold base by putting an unupgraded CC next to the rocks instead of killing them with the marines and marauders he had already produced. After he finally scanned and found me, he flew a bunch of Banshees and a Raven into turrets. Then, he tried a bunch of Bio and tanks. Unfortunately…
This is like watching a cat run head first into a sliding glass door.
He had siege mode, he just didn't use it. The high ground vision mechanic seemed to be vexing him. Repeatedly he moved his forces into the wall and repeatedly his forces were incinerated. Finally, after a moment of reflection, he thought to kill the rocks. He managed to kill a single PF before his tanks, still woefully unsieged, died to the Planetary Fortress shots. Back at home, he began making Thors and, inexplicably, a bunch of Starports which would never get used and a bunch of CCs which, for some reason, he transformed into PFs inside his own base. Eventually, he tried nuking. He build 4 ghosts, cloaked despite the presence of turrets, and moved them in position to nuke only to have them shot down by the PFs before the missile could land. Confused, he asked "are you even there?" which, because I wasn't, I did not reply. After an hour of trial and error, he eventually settled on using a bunch of Thors to break down my PFs. Hearing the noise in the background, tabbed in to ask the obvious question:
I did what, now?
As the score screen came up I noticed something terrifying. He was silver. What in the fuck? How could this be? This was too stupid to be. This wasn't happening, right? Planetaries don't move! I checked back a few days later and fortunately for my sanity, he was eventually demoted to bronze.
Tired of long games and contemplating the difference between bronze and silver, I decided to just viciously PF rush a few times. I would hide an Engineering bay on the map somewhere and proxy a CC before floating it into their base loaded with SCVs and turning it into a PF. I ended up going something like 5-0 against Protoss with this strategy. I lost against the Terran who I tried it against (or rather, I left the game after he lifted off and moved his orbital) and of course against Zerg it doesn't mechanically work. So if anyone was wondering, yeah, PF rushing works.
Perhaps a little too well.
To defeat it, you have to scout, which they aren't going to do. Or, you have to prevent it from landing in the first place, which they don't know how to do. Or, barring that, you have to save up 400 minerals to build a Nexus elsewhere and counterattack my main, which they would never think to do. For all those reasons, it is far too complicated a strategy for a bronze player to defeat with any reliability.
I was tasked again with finding a strategy that bronzies could easily beat and was quick to execute. I couldn't think of anything but worker rushing, but I had already done that to death. Then, my mind wandered back to a forum poster who suggested I worker rush, but at the start of the game calmly explain how to defeat it. It was perfect! It was stupid, it should never work, and I could do it repeatedly to gauge their bronze reactions. And maybe someone would resist the urge to rage at me and actually learn something! What could be better?
I constructed the advisory as clearly as I could and set it to my clipboard so I could paste it at the start of each game. I then created a series of follow up questions. If they won, I would ask them if they knew how to attack move before that game. If they lost I would ask them why they did not follow my advice, asking specifically if they thought I was trying to trick them.
If I have to tell you how to select things, I give up.
My first opponent replied to my warning with "kk," and then proceeded to not attack move, focus fire individual workers, and lose. He did not answer my next questions, instead choosing to say "lol" and "gg." My second opponent 6 pooled and lost. My third opponent was a master leaguer enjoying his time off in the bronze league. He of course won without needing the instructions. Funnily, he had actually been planning to worker rush me and, mistaking my message for that of a bots, returned to mine and then crushed my assault. We shared a laugh, talked about how shit battle.net is, and discussed worker rushing. Regrettably, the battle.net servers went down for maintenance mid conversation, so shoutout to that guy if you're reading this. My fourth opponent berated me for "wasting a placement match," whatever that means, and then left the game after not attack moving.
At this point, I was a little bit distraught. So far, the only sane person I found met was in the master league. I searched for and won another game. 4-1. Four to one. How? The one game I lost barely even counted for the purposes of this experiment! This wasn't happening. You can't go 4-1 worker rushing people after explicitly telling each of them how to beat it. That's just more retarded than should be allowed. Sanity strained, I pressed on. I had set a goal for myself of 50 games with this method. My sixth, or fifth legitimately bronze opponent beat me, but not before trying to confuse me in other, more subtle ways.
How many years do you think it will be before the English language is reduced to a series of grunts?
On and on this went, until at last something hopeful happened. Something that in some small part would renew my faith in humanity. Maybe.
I'm still too jaded to be completely sure this is not sarcasm.
Even if it was fake niceness, it was still nice. I would take what I could get.
Out of 50 games, I won 28 of them. I won more than half of my games where not only was I doing the worst strategy possible, but after explaining in great detail how to beat that strategy. If this is not proof enough that something is terribly wrong in bronze, I don't know what is. Of the 22 games I lost, 3 players said they learned what attack move was from my message. 2 players were master leaguers and of course didn't need my message. The remaining players either said they already knew what attack move was or refused to respond. Of the 28 games I won, 4 people were either Spanish or Portuguese speaking and could not read the message. 3 more people admitted to believing I was trying to trick them with my message. Which leaves 21 people who are just bafflingly stupid or just outright ignored me.
The games themselves were average as far as worker rushes go. Some people tried to lift off, one guy tried to base trade, the others tried things that weren't attack moving and lost. I had hoped that maybe this was my ticket out of bronze. Maybe I could round up my last wins needed for the Dark Voice icon and educate enough bronzies along the way that this would stop working. I could burn this bridge so that neither I, nor anyone else seeking to follow in my footsteps could traverse it again. Sadly, though, most bronze players simply don't want to learn. It seems almost any strategy performed by a capable enough player is able to beat a bronze leaguer. We all knew that, though. The thing is, I would hardly call myself capable. That's where the mindfuck comes in: I'm not good at this game. So to uncover a group of people who appear to be willfully worse than even me is just madness.
I don’t want to write and I doubt you want to read any more worker rush battle reports, so here's a few choice encounters. As always, read the in-game chat log bubbles bottom to top.
+ Show Spoiler [Worker Rush Pictures] +
Some replays: http://drop.sc/packs/559
Part 3: http://www.teamliquid.net/blogs/viewblog.php?topic_id=319375