Bumblebees' Guide to Playing with Low APM
Revision 2 - Corrected factual errors and included important directive in introduction.
- The Races
- Tips and Tricks
Hello there! My name is bumblebees and I've spent the last few months making a very focused effort on improving my gameplay. You may or may not have already seen my thread where I asked for some advice from the community. I have battled my way up through the ladder ranks, and through the advice of the community along with my own study and determination I've made diamond with a ~1300 rating currently.
I am a player who is faced with the physical inability to increase my APM though 'normal' means, if at all. I also experience times of complete inability during games. I have a disorder, autonomic failure, which among other things causes hand tremors. This is made significantly worse as the disorder causes an overwhelming sensitivity to adrenaline and catecholamines. Things that would make a normal player get exited and move faster and think quicker make my symptoms worse. I also have a rare form of narcolepsy called nrem narcolepsy (if you don't start laughing right now, there's something wrong with you. I find this ironic twist of fate hilarious in my life). I suffer from cataplexy which means that if I don't outright faint, I frequently lose muscle control during intense situations. Look up the disorders and I'm sure you can fit together the pieces. Narcolepsy w/cataplexy, pure autonomic failure and the related vasovagal response.
I know there's a lot of people on the internet who have read about something and they self-diagnose themselves. I can assure you I've spent FAR too much of my life in hospitals and specialists offices being tested. I ran into frequent questioning with the first thread I wrote along the lines of "Have you seen a doctor?", "Are you sure that's what's wrong?". Yes I have, and yes I am. I've been tested by multiple independent specialists and facilities. Unless you're a medical professional or have direct experience with these conditions, please don't offer me medical advice. I appreciate the sentiment, but instead just offer me suggestions, criticism or praise on the guide instead
Regardless of these things I'm still relatively happy. For everything that really matters there are many people in the world much worse off than me. As it relates to starcraft, I'm probably near the bottom of the barrel. It's from both my standing in life and my standing in starcraft that I feel I'm in a unique position to better myself within the confines of my circumstance and relate a method of improvement to those who may face similar circumstances, or to inspire those with no or few limitations that have hit a dead end in their progress.
I know that many of the methods I suggest here are not going to yield optimal play. If that's what you're here for then please read the last 3 paragraphs or mozy on over another thread.
This is very important. If you are a player who has few or no limitations on your APM, many of these suggestions will harm your play more than help. You should always try to increase and utilize all forms of micro and not limit your macro. Aspects of awareness and strategy are applicable to all players, and should be studied when not playing the game. Players who CAN increase their APM SHOULD, but the actions are only as effective as the premise that drives them. Do not use this guide as an excuse to limit yourself. Please only use it to expand your skill to, and perhaps beyond your limitations.
I know that I don't use the correct terms for many things, but I hope I am understandable regardless. I had to take frequent breaks during the writing of this guide, so I know sometimes change narrative-mode and tense. I'm OK with that. Feel free to correct any glaring errors and I will make the corrections.
APM is a measure if the player's input into the game. Input is the player's method of exercising control over the game, or "playing" the game. One thing we can take from this that if the current APM of the player is 0, he is not exercising control of the game. What we can not concede from this however, is that a player with more APM is exercising more control over the game. This is due to the fact that the APM measurement is indifferent to effectiveness of the input. Not only is APM indifferent to effectiveness of the action, but it is indifferent to the premise behind the action.
The absolute distinction of 0 APM indicating zero control, and >0 APM not indicating anything relative to control is a very powerful concept. This means that for APM >2, the efficiency of an action is directly proportional to the APM used. If actions are thought about in a manner which labels them with a rating of efficiency or strength, this can be multiplied by the APM to gain a very accurate assessment of the player's skill. This of course only a theoretical concept since it is nearly impossible to accurately rate an action's efficiency or strength. The concept is still very applicable as a general rule. A player who makes 10 very strategically or mechanically strong inputs into the game will easily overcome a player who makes 100 inputs into the game that consist of faulty strategy, mechanics and a plethora of mistakes.
Mistakes are another consideration of APM measurement. APM does not account for actions that were unintentional. Each mistake, whether it be inaccuracy or faulty play, reduces the player's effective APM by 2x+ the actions required to make that mistake. A player with 5 APM who moves a marine to the incorrect place will need to use at least one more action to move the marine to the correct place. This means that he spent at least 2 actions, which makes his effective APM 4, not 5. Not only does the mistake 'cost' the player actions, but it may severely reduce the strength of further actions via unit damage, loss of positioning, loss of intel etc..
A player who makes few mistakes, and makes relatively effective actions can increase their skill directly by increasing their APM. There are very, very few players who are at this point in SC II. This guide should be helpful to the average player as it offers many ideas on how to increase the efficiency of actions used, and how to reduce mistakes of various sorts.
This guide is not written for the average player though. This guide is specifically intended for people who have some external limiting factor on their gameplay. This maybe a physical disability, bad equipment, emotional instability, or environmental influence. These players will always be limited in their actions in some manner. These limitations come in two specific forms: a ceiling and spurious pauses.
A player may be simply unable to perform actions in quick succession, which will lower their average as they can not go above a certain point. This can be caused by lack of type 2b muscle fibers in the hand, nervous system damage or deficiency, improper posture, faulty equipment, game factors, or inaccuracy. Most of these causes are fairly obvious how they affect the player's APM ceiling, except accuracy. A player who is unable to accurately input actions into the game will frequently spend extra time in order to perform the action accurately. Nearly every reason for an abnormal APM ceiling is exacerbated by inaccuracy. If inaccuracy is reduced then even the most limited player can increase their APM. Inaccuracy can also be present on its own, but in that instance I feel that it can be easily corrected by an intelligent player without need of a guide.
A player may experience spurious pauses inputting into the game. These can range from medically related, to simple as something taking your attention from the game for a time. This form of APM reduction requires the player to improve their awareness. Optimally, if possible, the player should spend as many resources available to reduce this limiting factor. This is something that can be improved when not playing the game, and is likely most effectively improved when not playing.
This guide will deal directly with both causes of low APM without distinction. Throughout this guide the player's deficiency will be referred to as "low apm" regardless of the cause.