StarCraft II Multiplayer – Learning to Play For Real

The biggest, most interesting part of ‘StarCraft’ is and has always been its multiplayer competition. It’s some of the most finely-tuned gaming you’ll find at any level of play, and pro matches are absolutely amazing to watch. If you want to get good – really good – you’ll have to bone up a bit.

I was a big fan of ‘StarCraft’ and the ‘Brood War’ expansion, but I never got too competitive with it. I played matches against friends and some larger games at my school’s computer club, but that’s about it. ‘Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty’ is different. It’s grabbed on to me and it’s not letting go. Since picking it up a few weeks ago, I’ve finished the campaign and gotten into multiplayer.

At the time of this writing, I’ve played 141 games with 75 wins and am waiting for a promotion out of the Bronze division. I started off dreadfully, and lost all of my placement matches by wide margins. I’ve improved a lot in the last few weeks, and I’ve been winning pretty consistently against players in higher divisions. I’m still not great, but I’m far better than I was at the start.

I thought it’d be worthwhile to share some of the sources I’ve been going to for information about the game, replays of great matches and even game analysis. ‘StarCraft II’ multiplayer is a blast, but it’s extremely intimidating if you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into.

To start with, you’ll want to pick a race and stick with it. Some of the best players go random, but that’s a lot to learn all at once. You’ll want to play a few matches against the computer, get used to your units, and generally have fun with all of the possibilities. It’s the last time you’re going to see those big end game units like the Battlecruiser, Mothership and Brood Lord for a while, so have fun with them while you can.

Once you’ve got some matches in against the AI and you’ve picked your race, it’s time to start learning how to play them. I strongly suggest picking up a basic opener and practicing it until you’ve got it basically down. You can find some great tutorials on YouTube courtesy of HuskyStarcraft. Whether you’re playing Terran, Zerg or Protoss, you’ll find a nice way to start your games.

When you’re low in the Bronze ranks, a decent opener can end up winning you the game, but eventually you’ll need to start picking up mid and late game strategies. I highly suggest taking a look at the TeamLiquid Starcraft II strategy forums. They’re a great source of information and debate over different strategies and counters. A lot of folks will post their replays to back up their ideas, which is always helpful.

Far and away the biggest help to me personally has come from a player called Sean Plott, better known as Day[9]. He’s a long time ‘StarCraft’ player and was one of the top ‘Brood War’ players. Day[9] runs an absolutely stellar show called Day[9] Daily, during which he takes a match or two and analyzes them for their strengths and their weaknesses. Unlike a lot of ‘StarCraft’ personalities, Day[9] won’t talk over your head, or get too mired down in the details.

Checking out tournaments is a great way to go too. You can find plenty of videos from MLG Raleigh on YouTube and Day[9] has the later rounds of the recent King of the Beta tournament on his site. You’ll get a feel for how games go at the high end and you’ll even begin to find players that you like, just like any other competition.

Of course, you can always watch replays on your own. Head on over to SC2Rep and check out some of the matches available for the viewing. You’ll find matches from some of the best, like IdrA, CheckPrime, Adelscott, and MorroW. If you have favorite players, chances are they have their own sites with plenty of replays available. Download, watch, study, think and learn. You’ll be well on your way.

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