Archive for August, 2010
(This is part of the Dwarf Fortress succession game that members of Gaming.SE are playing. This is the second turn. The first player has yet to write a post to publish here, but his summary is linked to)
So, I have recently been appointed, and by appointed I mean exiled, to this new fort called Earthdance. Which means that after finally making a name for myself and achieving a level of comfort at my last fort, Regoddom, I now have to go through the whole bloody process again. Luckily, the last leader kept a good record of his decisions, even if they weren’t great. I was told to keep quiet and observe at first, so I disguised myself as a Medical Dwarf. Now that I’ve got a good idea of the state of this fortress, I’m taking over.
Right now, the Magic Box is one of the most interesting things happening in Starcraft 2 game play (5 rax reapers is less interesting based on its straight forward usage). At its core is the idea that “Hard Counters” don’t really exist in Starcraft 2 and that, rather, how you use your units is more important than what they are. Those people familiar with using Speedlings against Hellions or Tanks against Marauders have already encountered this strange Phenomenon.
To help you understand this, it’s probably best if I start by explaining what a “Hard Counter” is. The concept of a counter unit is very much based in the children’s game Rock-Paper-Scissors. For those unaware of the game, children simultaneously choose one of the three titular elements, each of which wins against another element while losing against the other differing element (same elements are considered draws). A first glance at Starcraft seems to indicate a similar trend: Hellions do extra damage to light units (which Zerglings are) and can be upgraded even further in this capacity; by comparison Zerglings do not do extra damage to Hellions and, further more, clump up causing them to take additional damage from the Hellions’ AoE . This would imply to the layperson that an army of Zerglings will lose to an army of Hellions. Strangely enough, you’ll see many Zerg players actually employ Speedlings (speed upgraded Zerglings) in defense against Hellions. While this may seem counter intuitive, if the Speedlings can surround the Hellion (thus preventing escape) they are very effective at killing it.
As Day9 might say, “[Hard Counters] deeply bother me.”
By Urist McBlogger
It’s not easy being a dwarf you know. Constantly getting ordered around “dig this, dig that”, “build a floodgate here, release the lava there”. Those nobles, they think it’s easy. They just have to map out an area, by pressing d, then selecting a few tiles. We have to dig it. Have any of them picked up a pickaxe like a real dwarf and dug their way through the rock? No. And the way they treat us… it’s like we’re expendable. Just because we don’t know which side of a floodgate is which!
Now, I know some of these nobles like to claim that managing a dwarf fortress is the hardest task they could ever have been given. But they have an illustrated guide, guiding them the whole way through running a fort. I mean, as long as you remember not to dig too far down through the adamantium, to brew enough drinks for us working dwarves by building your stills, and giving a few dwarves jobs as brewers by pressing q and telling them to brew a drink, life is fine.
In Real Time Strategy games, and to some extent turn based ones too, there are these two concepts of Macro and Micro. Macro here refers to the economic theory of resource distribution, and Micro to micromanagement of units. Despite what many people will tell you (and the above image suggests) these are not two sides to the same coin; they are radically different concepts that make up the heart and soul of an RTS game.
While these concepts really apply to any RTS game, most of this discussion is going to be in reference to Starcraft 2 as that is where I have the most familiarity.
If you’ve never heard of Sacrifice, the title should be a bit of a dead give away. If, by some miracle, you did hear about it, or even play it once or twice, it’s probably only a vague memory. To those few of us who played and loved this game, it holds a special place in our hearts. If you are one of those lucky few, you may skip this article and go with the sound knowledge that you did right. On the other hand, if you never heard of Sacrifice, or did, but never played it, I have a short exercise for you. I want you to raise your right hand (or left for those of you lacking a right hand) and in a strong slapping motion, I want you to slap yourself in the face. If, for medical reasons, you are incapable of slapping yourself, find a near friend and have them slap you.
How does that feel? Does it sting? Well it should, because you missed out on God’s gift to gaming.