After returning to the ladder of SC2 after a 6-month absence, I decided to do it by picking Random every match. Previously, I was of the nondescript mass known as mid masters Protoss. Why not re-approach the game checking out all the races and having fun? I already had an alt account for use practicing tournament builds (when my desire to game competitively was MUCH MUCH higher and my paycheck much much lower). So on I went.
Macro takes you very far. But playing random still exposes you to unknown matchup cheese (TvT, TvZ, ZvT, ZvZ) that I had not seen before as a Protoss. My placement was gold, less than 20 matches later I'm platinum. I macro some more, try out new builds that play into a fun macro game, and I'm diamond. And here's where things get really tough. By tough, I mean the 68% winrate down to the 55% winrate.
Good BFH harass notwithstanding, my army is about to be walloped.
Still undecided on the route in TvZ to take. The screenshot above was my second attempt to do something I had seen at IPL4 (a Terran vs. Stephano) and a GSL Code S match with MKP. Basically, a 1rax expand into 2fact (reactor and techlab) blue flame hellion harass. With eco damage, a thor push with 1/1 or 2/2 upgrades was designed to kill a third or kill his entire army and tons of drones. This game, bfh harass did great, but he did not fall behind in roach upgrades and traded very well against my siege-tankless army. I'm still looking into if I want to go back to my old build, which was reactor hellion expand into a 5/2/1 marine/tank/drops midgame. I was able to get very quick bio upgrades and every drop seemed to put me further and further ahead, but I was very uncertain about the proper time to push with marines, tanks, and medivacs during the drops.
ZvZ on the other hand has perfect translation of masters-developed macro skills. Following a replay I watched from DRG, I attempted to open 15 hatch/ 15 pool / 15 gas, a slight inversion of what he did in that particular game of hatch, gas, and pool. Later speed upgrade, earlier lings. If he's doing normal lings, I drone while getting baneling tech and a couple of banelings for defense. Then at a good saturation, evo chamber +1 ranged, roach warren, and lair. Play the midgame trying to take my third, and defend or push with roaches depending on if he threw away units needlessly, or took a very quick third himself.
An early drone advantage under the protection of overlord spotters and banelings leads to a roach advantage soon afterwards as he catches up in drones.
I followed blade55555's [G] ZvZ for muta responses (hydra) and scouting followups to great success. The man writes good guides.
In ZvP, I do what I hate facing when I played Protoss for over 1,200 1v1 games. Roach ling to deny any timely third, and muta/ling if my opponent gets behind in army value with a bad attack, or lets me do damage with a ling harass.
Crush push? Check! Counter? Check! Walloff hella Snipable? Mmmmmm
ZvT, the good old fashioned muta off 2base with a potent ling/bling/muta on 3. It really seems that if you spend your gas well, you get huge dividends into setting up your lategame against Terran. If I miss response to eco greed or totally misscout what he's doing, I lose in a pathetic manner. More to come on this matchup, still working on watching more replays to understand why Korean Zergs do what they do. Same applies to TvT and TvP, though 1rax expo Thorzain-style in both are what I'm learning currently.
For relaxation after a long ladder session, I find some people needing help just starting out in bronze. I define what macro really looks like for them, coach them through very basic build orders (I'm talking ... get gateway, core, 2 more gates and a robo simple), and follow up after a few ladder games with answered questions and more themes (Forge upgrades what? I'm dying to xyz help!).
I tried to find a good coach-helper UMS and I couldn't! What do I want in a UMS? Let me define it in terms of what's out there right now. turtle's Save And Load Tool lets me, within the same custom game, restart the game if my student messes up or after the build order is completed (30 supply-ish). This is great. I don't have to make a new lobby and load up the same ladder map 20 times when we're just working on getting pylons, remembering to put guys in gas, and using hotkeys to produce out of their nexus and gateway. What it can't do is let me step in and do the first 6 steps, and then step out and observe what he is doing. So frustrating! I can do 6 run-throughs with learning, and then when I'm ready to give him a first-hand of the next topic, we have to quit, make a new one, quit that, and go back to SALT!
Peep mode is very VERY close to what I need - play a match and end it, then observe another, then play another. But I can't have him versus (nobody) or him versus (very easy AI). I gotta find a guy to sit in and idle while I communicate (and communication is reduced in peep mode). So what I'm really looking for is a hack of either or a completely new undiscovered tool that lets me move from observer (Hotkeys I need to see, what he's staring at I need to see) to player (Him watching me) to opponent (later on, practicing top-of-ramp micro). If somebody is a programmer out there with a kind soul or can discuss what this would entail, I'd appreciate it . Until then, 4 custom maps per hour coaching!
Can't wait for the next major LAN down in SoCal area! I was SO bummed that IPL 4 was Easter weekend, or I would've been there seated right behind PRIME team cheering them on (and maybe booing the ref's regame decision in PartinG-MKP). Vegas will have to wait; I haven't been there in 5 years. I couldn't make it to MLG Winter Championship 2012 for a boring work meeting that, to be honest, got nothing accomplished but managers feeling good about talking to everybody. To cheer alongside my adopted team, Infinity Seven, for CrazyMoviNG as he defeated SaSe and almost took down SK.MC! I also wanted to watch and meet Insur and Pyre in their matches. I guess that'll have to wait until some other time. I luckily have the money budgeted to fly to a LAN event, but lately not the weekend to go. I can only await the next local Blizzcon, or an MLG at Anaheim, and maybe some small local events. Until then!