The environment may have changed with the revival, but there was one factor that remained mostly unchanged for the last 17 years. That was balance, and foremost, a question: Does Racepicking Exist? Throughout the history of BW, the topic of balance came up many times whenever a certain races were picked. Seeing as BW's balance rests on a needle tip, this was quite understandable. Even more so, most players are biased towards the races they play, and will join the chorus when they lose in a matchup that they deem imbalanced. As it stands, one topic that has always dominated balance talks and spawned many vocal critics over the years is that of Racepicking. The idea that picking a race is imbalanced. These discussions were always had whenever a Racepicking player was encountered, be it during the early days during the iCCup ladder or later during the Matchmaking era when Racepickers were Alt-F4ing a third of their matches.
Is there some truth to these claims? Does Racepicking Exist? If not, is it possible that these claims only surfaced due to the new Matchmaking? This article, which is part editorial and part factual, aims to explore the topic of Racepicking and its prevalence in the post-Remastered era.
Is Random Racepicking?
Coming off the heels of Warcraft II which was lambasted by critics for its mostly symmetric design, Starcraft was designed to be a totally asymmetric RTS experience featuring three distinct races that shared only key concepts in common. The expansion, Brood War, ended up adding several units for each race as well as making important modifications to the game. The development team relased 1.08, the last balance patch, back in 2001, and each of the three races had several important changes made to some of their core units.
Suffice to say, such a design by definition throws the topic of Random out the window. If there are only three races, how can Matchmaking match players up against anything other than the existent races? As far as we know, there are only three races in Brood War: Terran, Protoss and Zerg.
As a thought experiment, let us imagine that Random really does exist. In this world, where it is possible to play against this "fourth race", would Random be a form of Racepicking? Many players do not want to play against a Random race, much like they do not want to play against a Race-picked race. Players have only recently been unable to avoid playing against Random, so it may be too early to say, but Random may in fact be another form of Racepicking.
Is Matchmaking Racepicking?
When discussing the results earlier, I made several references to Matchmaking. I'm going to coin the term, the Matchmaking Effect here and the name gives you the gist of it. When Matchmaking returned to the scene in 2017, it's advent was a huge boon for all of the races. It helped move the meta along, bringing back a number of players that were lost during the dark ages of Brood War.
But Matchmaking was not universally well received. Players were unhappy when they lost, and often attributed losing to factors such as latency, Koreans, and Random. Matchmaking, like Racepicking, was a source of frustration for players when they lost. Thus, it is very possible that Matchmaking is just another form of Racepicking.
Is Picking A Race Racepicking?
When players join a private lobby, or even when they queue for Matchmaking, they are forced to "Pick" a "Race", or Racepick. Could picking a race be yet another form of Racepicking?
If you look closely, you will find that some players prefer not to play against members of their own race. If possible, they would prefer to avoid playing these players altogether, much like they might try to avoid playing against Racepickers.
The smoking gun: Players feel bad when they lose a race that has been picked. This is particularly evident when a player is playing the "unfavored" race in a non-mirror matchup, but this feeling of discontent can also be brought about when losing to picked races in a mirror or even "favored" matchup.
Does Racepicking Exist?
The possible existance of Racepicking leads to a number of far-reaching questions. Is Racepicking against the rules? What separates a Racepicker from the common thief? Would you let your children play in same lobby as a Racepicker? Should we build a separate (but equal) ladder for racepickers?
But before we address questions such as these, we must deal with the crux of the issue: how can we know that Racepicking really, truly exists? Perhaps there are subtle tells in the way a Racepicker plays, or perhaps you can tell by the way that they act. If there are no clear distinctions, then there may Racepickers hiding in our midst, deviously joining lobbies and picking their favorite race.
Or could it be possible that Racepicking does not really exist? Perhaps Racepickers were finally wiped out by the Alt-F4 bugfix, and that subtle, sinking feeling triggered by a loss serves only as a gentle reminder of a bygone era.