SC Diaries: A Vacation in Bronze and the Quest for Gold

This season the gods of Starcraft (otherwise known as the MMR) saw fit to place me in Bronze league whereupon I cursed the gods, there was wailing and gnashing of teeth and I’m fairly certain I deafened some of my friends on Skype.  Sorry guys.  What happened was this; my placement match was against a Bronze person who tried to cannon rush and then go for the void rays (always with that sequence of events!) and I eventually won.  And was placed rank 70-something in Bronze.  Fury descended upon my soul as a host of swarming harpies, screeching their discontent to the sky.

Better stop with the florid hyperbole before I hurt myself.

It actually turned out to be a good thing for me to spend some more time in Bronze league.  Up until recently I have had what I refer to as “The Other Shoe Syndrome”.  I would have no anxiety at all starting up a game, but the minute I started winning my hands would shake and I would be convinced that I was about to get destroyed.  That doesn't happen much anymore, and it’s partly because being in Bronze was actually kind of relaxing.  The games weren't as frantically paced and it gave me some time to get in the habit of researching upgrades more and keeping my production up.  I can tell my game is better than it was a few weeks ago, and there is even a chance I might break into Gold soon.

In fact, I have to break into Gold league because I promised hysterics on Twitter and the game logged in to express its anticipation.  What?  You say there’s just another human on the other end who’s job it is to monitor the Twitters and respond to fans?  Nonsense!  LIES.  Tassadar himself sent me that Tweet and nothing less than awesome carryings-on will suffice.  In other words, it is my solemn duty to humiliate myself on the Internet to appease the Starcraft gods with a video of me trying to do an aerial while screaming my bloody head off.  Claude the baneling will probably be involved.

Alright, before I roll completely off the precipice of crazy, here are some things that have really been helping my game lately.  Excellent, an excuse for a list.  I adore lists.  When I was a child I would make lists of things to do when I was bored but would never get around to actually doing those things because I was having too much fun with the list.

1.  Team Games.  I swear by team games as a way to get over ladder anxiety, but not randomly entering a 2v2 game and hoping you don’t get paired with a shouty-caps alpha nerd who will take your gas if he decides he wants to go mass battlecruiser.  There are plenty of places to find normal folks willing to play with you - one being the Adopt a Newb group on Battle.net.  I got lucky and found a boyfriend of a friend who loves Starcraft as much as I do, and we are doing pretty well.  He is way better at micro than I am, so he usually harasses with Reapers while I hang back and macro my butt off and on glorious days pull out the Cloaked Golden Armada.  I’m getting a funny feeling in my pants just thinking about it.  OK THEN.  Playing these team games has seriously improved my 1v1, though - I’m thinking about upgrades more and my decision making has gotten a lot better.

2.  Playing every day.  In the last month, I think there has been maybe one day where I didn't play at least one match, and not out of some sense of obligation.  Now that I’m working a full time normal person job I have less free time than I did when I was waiting tables, but I don’t feel like pieces of my soul are slowly decaying and falling off.  But less free time means I have to prioritize what I do with it, and currently what I want to do with it most of the time is Starcraft.  Playing every day has worked wonders with my reactions.  Its one thing to read on a forum how one should respond to a certain tactic, but quite another to suddenly get DT rushed and have your brain screaming at you “What now captain!?  The warp drive is about to overload!”  The other day I shut down a proxy (and by proxy I mean Holy Shit There’s A Base In My Base) widow mine cheese that probably would have killed me a few weeks ago, leading to one of the most hilarious exchanges I've ever had on the ladder.

The scene:  An army of stalker/immortal/colossus has already killed the Terran third and is neatly wiping up the natural, ready to move in for the final kill.

Proxy McNibnard (not his real name):  UNEXPECTED.  YOU DOUCHE
Me: proxy much?
Duke Nibnard of Cheesetopia (also not his real name):  yah.  in your mothers uterus
Game:  Baron Sore Loser of the Island Souraboutlife (still not his real name) has left the game!  You are victorious!

There is a special warm feeling that comes over you when someone calls you names and rage quits after you shut down their cheese and win.  That feeling is called sweet retribution.  Maniacal cackling is often an accompaniment.

3.  No music/high ambient sounds.  I turned off the background music pretty quickly after I started playing, otherwise I’d be mumbling it in my sleep by now.  Some people like to listen to other music while they’re playing, but doing that usually distracts me.  Starcraft is serious business, people.  But I have found that if the only thing you have going on in your ears is the game sounds, you can actually hear things that are happening in areas you don’t have vision on.  No joke, I’ve won games because I heard an SCV building something or a pylon warping in that I know I didn’t put there.

4.  Apollo’s Bronze to Master’s videos.  I cannot say enough how useful these videos have been for me.  First of all, it taught me the importance of sentries and the Hallucinate ability.  Because my micro (and thus force field placement) sucks horribly I don’t make sentries all that much, but now that Hallucination is free they are incredibly useful for scouting.  Also, watching Apollo’s VODs helped me firm up my general opening build by balancing the structures I want with enough units to keep me alive in the early game.  Finally, location hotkeys.  They are the tits.

5.  Those buttons on the side of the mouse.  Once I assigned one of those buttons to be my “Select all Army Units” secondary hotkey my life has gotten so much easier.  Sure, every once in awhile I make a mistake and recall a fake phoenix I sent out to scout, but not having to remember to add my units to a control group all the time is awesome.  This may come back to bite me later.

So.  Things are good on the Starcraft front, except for my PvZ which is abysmal.  I’m just guessing here, but I’m pretty sure my winrate in PvT is 75% and probably about 40%-50% for PvP.  PvZ?  I’d say 11%, but I think that is too generous.  It is THAT BAD.  But I just found a VOD devoted to PvZ harassment/transitioning so I’m going to go watch that.  Stay tuned, I expect to be in Gold in a couple weeks.  Hopefully my foot will be healed by then and my crazed dance to the SC2 gods will be forever etched upon the memory of Youtube.

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