[offtopic]still feeling disappointed at not having partaken in cosplay; apparently there was a meetup at valley faire too; eff…well even if i had known about it that wouldn’t have changed anything anyways because i would have been at work. whatever. blahblahblah. I’ll make up for it, promise.
There are various reasons keeping me from purchasing a copy of SC2. One of them is that I don’t really find myself buying games nowadays. I rarely pick up new games period, and if I do it’s usually some weird cult game like IWBTFG or TGM or Touhou that doesn’t require me to pay.
One of the reasons is that comparing my experience (though somewhat limited) with the beta to my experience with BW, I can most definitely say BW was more fun. Even now when I think of BW, I get this certain sort of -excitement-. When I =first= started playing SC2 Beta I also had that kind of excitement. But now that nothing’s new anymore, it’s all gone. Well, I guess it’s to be expected–BW has had a long time to mature well, after all.
But probably the primary reason why I’m reluctant to get SC2 is that my race is broken.
Yes, I’m a Zerg player through and through. Even in my naive SC days back when the game first came out (my god, how long ago was THAT?), I liked the Zerg. Nothing pleased me more than being able to mass my lings and hydras and send them on glorious unstoppable rampages. Yes…the Zerg were lovely. The Hydras were my favorite unit (though they would later be replaced by the Zergling), and no other race really had any unit that was nearly as cool. Protoss? Well Zealots were cool, but dragoons were ugly and clumsy, high templar were spellcasters (ew), archons were too expensive, reavers too slow, and let’s not even mention those scouts *snicker*. Terrans had their M&M(&F) which was neat, but somehow Hydras were just more fun. And siege tanks had serious mobility issues; goliaths were only good against air, and vultures were just weak. But Hydras–you could use them against ANYTHING, and that satisfying green spurt as they shot their (invisible) grooved spines was just ever-so-satisfying when combined with that “pwek!” sound.
And then around the college-day “resurgence” of SC, I turned to Zerg again and found much more joy in the race. I quickly learned, for example, that zerglings were THE BEST UNIT EVER. And I learned that mutalisks were 10 times cooler when micro’d properly. And when I pulled off my first few scourge cloning maneuvers, taking down 3 science vessels at once, the “dewdewdew!” explosion sounds were pure joy. And then of course the late-game power of ultra-ling. My fingers and mind quickly became accustomed to the race–I rifled off 5sz6sz7sz7sz8su9su0sd like some kind of practiced piano exercise, and damn; zerg macro felt GOOD.
Enter Starcraft 2, where, unfortunately, Zerg is just not fun anymore. It’s a complaint shared by many of us Zerg players, and the discussion has been dealt with many times before, but I’m still going to make my own stand about it–despite being a lowly player who doesn’t even own the game. 9_9
The first thing I want to point out is that I didn’t say Zerg suck as a race. That’s because I don’t think the problem is in the imbalance itself. I think that they’re definitely correlated problems, and I think that you can’t make Zerg fun without getting rid of some of the odds that are stacked so heavily against them. But the issue is much more than just not being able to win as much. After all, those times I played my friend ZvT in SC:BW, I lost most of the time because he was clearly a superior player, but even then it wasn’t always bad. The losses were still decent fun, and the times where I managed to make it into mid or late-game were really fun. But in SC2, the Zerg just has no -heart-, and so it’s very hard to feel passionately about it. Even when we win games, it still feels like a hollow victory of sorts. And when we lose games, it doesn’t feel like an “exciting” loss–just an annoying one.
But before I go into the bad, I have to mention the good. After all, I don’t think SC2 Zerg should be the same as BW Zerg. That’s silly–if I wanted BW Zerg I’d just play BW! (and I would, if I had to choose) Despite many people protesting the removal of the Lurker, I actually applauded it. Even though the Lurkers are such a pivotal unit in BW ZvT and ZvP, I always thought they were…well, a bit weird. They fit the Zerg image in character, but they feel a bit off to me in terms of their mechanic. To have to micromanage a unit in that way seems rather unfitting to me when I’m used to my ling/hydra swarms. Which isn’t to say that I don’t like lurkers in BW–on the contrary, I learned to really like them–but when I was first starting out I never really liked using them because they took too much effort. And then after I learned to like them, I -still- think it’s kind of silly that if you move your lurkers in, all the Terran player has to do is stim and move his marines out of range, and you’ve effectively done zero damage. Again, I’m not saying I don’t like how the ZvT mechanics work out–I’m just saying I think it’s a bit silly how the Zerg gets outmaneuvered in this situation (though it makes sense because zerge needs -some- way to hold a choke and take some ground).
Some other good things–I thought the spawn larvae mechanic was a nice try. I think it threw off the traditional zerg macro style perhaps, and I think it’s silly how each race has one “macro mechanic” because that just seems like something that’s very, very gimmicky. But the thing I liked about spawn larvae is how it gave you lots of larvae. LOTS of larvae. Even when I’ve only got 2 hatches–one at my main and one at my natural, I could have something crazy like 12 larvae. That’s 24 zerglings. The fact that 4 larvae pop out instantly at one time is just -excellent- and meshes with the zerg philosophy so well. Zerg is all about producing a shitton of units, so it feels immensely satisfying to be able to make that many units at once.
But now we get into the bad. And unfortunately my friends, there is quite a bit of bad.
First, the roaches. Those damn roaches. They don’t belong in the swarm at ALL. They’re a tier 1 tanky unit. Think about it. It doesn’t mesh with the Zerg philosophy at -all-. The Zerg philosophy doesn’t believe in tanks. The Zerg philosophy dictates: all we have are weak, cheap units. And because they die so quickly, we just make a fuckton of them. So what is this TIER 1 TANK doing in our lineup? It makes no sense. NO sense.
Second, the hydras. Besides the wonderful green spurt being replaced by an unsatisfying “flit” which isn’t audible, and is barely visible, and the animation looks awkward, etc etc etc. They made hydras into super-soldiers. No! Wrong! I don’t want better hydras, and I certain don’t want -bigger- hydras. I want MORE hydras. Again–breaking the zerg philosophy. Hydras in SC2 are bigger and stronger and tankier. And I don’t like any of those three things. Think about the zerg BW lineup. They only had ONE unit that was tanky–the ultralisk, and you don’t get those until Tier 3 when you’re all the way into late-game! All of the other zerg units are weak. Zerglings? cannon fodder. Hydras? Get taken out by siege tanks like nothing. Mutas? They get raped by marines, corsairs, wraiths, hydras, you name it. Stronger units do not -belong- in the Zerg hierarchy. Again, we don’t want stronger units. We want different -types- of units, sure (think about the difference between lings and mutas), but we just want them in greater quantities.
Then, there’s the scouting problem. Zerg are severely outplayed in the scouting war. Terran can build one reaper, and that reaper can do everything. It can harass you, picking off some drones. It can scout for you for the entire early game. And it keeps the Zerg player in his base. In contrast, the Zerg can send one drone scout, very early on the game otherwise he won’t be able to make it into the terran base (because of walling in), and that scout will die after the first marine is produced. Which means Terran can even do a fake build until after that first marine is produced. And there’s no way that Zerg will EVER know about it unless we sacrifice an overlord. And even IF we sac an ovy, sometimes it gets shot down before we get to see something anyways. Basically imagine every comstat scan causing a supply depot to blow up, and comstat scans will fail 20% of the time (and you still lose a supply depot). That’s what it’s like to play Zerg.
Okay, so that basically means that you have to read a minimal set of data (which, remember, could be fake), and then be prepared for anything that can come from that. That’s not fun. That’s called stressful. And it’s even MORE stressful because in SC2 the maps are horridly, horridly small. Scouting takes noticeably shorter than in SC1, and moving units to attack your opponent’s base takes noticeably shorter. Which means that whereas in SC1 you could start morphing your sunken colonies as soon as you see your opponent move out and have them ready in time to defend, in SC2 you just already have to have everything ready for defense, otherwise it’s too late. So it’s even more stressful. And when you’re playing as Terran or Protoss? Well, you don’t have this problem because all you have to do is wall-off your base and then one marine or one zealot can hold off infinity zerglings.
Then there’s the fact that Zerg can’t harass anymore. They just can’t. It used to be that you can try an early speedling runby against a protoss FE and sometimes it would pay off and you can go in there and seriously screw their economy up. And mutalisks are used in 95% of ZvT games (and a good number of ZvP games) for harassment. Compare this to SC2, where mutalisks suck (not to mention turrets, thors, vikings, banshees, marines, and anything else rip them to shreds) and have no mobility, so the only thing you’re left with is speedlings, and…oh wait, that’s right, there’s a wall at the front of their base, so that one marine or one zealot can kill infinity speedlings. The Terran, on the other hand, have all SORTS of harassment. Reaper harass. Hellion harass. Banshee harass. Viking harass. And we have to deal with all of these kinds of annoying hi-stress things because they’re all very common. And we can’t do anything in turn. It’s not fun. It doesn’t even matter whether this makes the matchup imbalanced or not. The fact is just that preparing for all of these different scenarios (which you have to be prepared for–remember, you can’t scout worth beans because of that wall), and having to deal with them when they do happen, is really hellish for a Zerg player. It’s a lot worse than in BW, even, which is terrible because even in BW it was hard to deal with vulture harass sometimes. In BW things are better because the harassment abilities scale over the course of the game. High Templar / Reaver / MnM drops are really annoying, for instance, but you can’t do those until relatively late, when A) you’ve already got your macro game set up so it shouldn’t matter quite as much B) you’ve already gotten a “good” feeling up until this point C) you have more tools to deal with given harass. Same for DT/corsair stuff–that doesn’t happen until midgame when you have hydras/scourge coming to deal with them. In contrast, reaper harass can come as the very FIRST thing that happens in the game.
And then there’s the fact that battles just aren’t as satisfying. Even when I see ZvT matches where Hydra/Infestor beats Marine/Medivac/Marauder, the battles are really boring. It isn’t the fast and frenzied bloodfest that BW battles are, with intense APM and clicking everywhere because everything just dies so -quickly-. Instead it’s just two huge blobs of stuff (SC2 units are also just harder to tell apart) and they shoot at each other mindlessly until the size of each of them is noticeably reduced.
And then even winning isn’t as satisfying. Brood lords are hella good, and possibly the one unit that Zerg can actually feel proud about in SC2. But I don’t even like those, because winning with brood lords doesn’t fit the zerg philosophy. They’re essentially big floating bombers, and that’s not what Zerg does. Zerg does MASSES OF SHIT, not big slow powerful units. It’s all wrong.
The last thing that I’ll mention is the creep. Zerg units moving faster on creep is an interesting idea, but it’s stupid. Yes, it’s true that it’s not that hard to get creep spewed on a lot of places on the map, but why even have the ability at all? It makes Zerg feel more defensive, which is already wrong (Zerg is all about tons of units that move fast and frenzied; there’s no need to be defensive!), and then it makes it so that your speed sucks whenever you’re not on your own territory. Which is sad. No more swarming your opponent, unless they happen to be attacking on your ground. It’s just silly.
There’s tons more to be said–zerglings not being as good anymore, corruptors being really boring, infestors having not a very coherent moveset, overlords morphing to overseers, the loss of the scourge, but I think I’ve said enough to get the point across. Zerg has lost its heart, and it’s not because of the fact that we have no more scourge, or no more lurkers, or because zerglings aren’t as good, or because mutas aren’t as good. It’s because Zerg lost what it’s all about. Zerg is about the SWARM.
Just watch at 16:30. It’s glorious.
It’s also just a problem about SC2 in general that things take longer to die, so battles are slower-paced and less frenzied and intense. Which is bad. I don’t want any semblance of WC-style micro–if I wanted that I’d play WC3. Instead I want “large-scale micro”. But I remember playing a bit on my brother’s computer and I was awed at the fact that 12 zerglings attacking an immortal took so god damn long to kill it. Seriously, 12 zerglings attacking a reaver would definitely not have taken that long at all. Urgh!