A gentleman's guide to losing at StarCraft II

Let’s not beat around the bush. There’s always been one thing that we’ve been great at in StarCraft: losing. When it comes to fumbling build orders, leaving ourselves open to an early rush, and mismanaging our economy, we’re pretty much the best. But that hasn’t stopped us from playing StarCraft II’s multiplayer beta non-stop since we gained access. It’s just that good.

No matter how many times we lose, we’re still searching for new matches, still struggling with the same tactics that have failed us repeatedly, and still having fun. There are already lots of resources for serious StarCraft fans who want to improve their game. Right now, micromanagement experts can study replays from pro players in the beta, and pore over unit stats on wikias.

That’s why we put together this special guide for StarCraft II’s multiplayer beta. It’s full of useful tips and strategies that are guaranteed to make you one of the most successful StarCraft losers in the world. This guide was written for the everyday player who expects to have a mediocre win/loss ratio and has no real ambitions for climbing their league’s ladder. You know, the type of player who cares about what will be most important when StarCraft II finally releases: having a good time.

Above: If you can't be a winner, let us teach you how to master the fine art of losing with honor

Before you can start playing ranked matches in StarCraft II’s multiplayer beta, you’ll need to complete ten placement matches. These matches are held on smaller maps, which often have large barriers in place that block major lanes leading to your opponent’s base. This prevents more seasoned players from rolling over you with an early rush. Also, since there are a limited amount of places where your opponent’s main base can be on these smaller maps, you almost always know exactly where they are without having to scout around.

Above: ‘Novice’ versions of 1v1 maps have extra barriers in place to slow down the pace of the game. They’ll need to be destroyed before you can move ground units past them

Skilled players will take advantage of these features during their placement matches. Thanks to the lane-blocking barriers, they will use their extra safe time to get their economy rolling, build their up their defenses, expand with a new base sooner, climb the tech tree faster, and produce more units.

Do not be tempted by these sound strategies. If you do so, you just might win too many placement matches. Depending on your win/loss ratio and score from your placement rounds, Battle.net will assign you to one of five leagues: Copper, Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. You definitely want to be placed in the Copper league because it’s the best way for casual crafters to maximize their multiplayer enjoyment.

Above: Maximize your multiplayer enjoyment by aiming for placement in the Copper league

Win too many placement matches, and you may wind up in the Silver, Gold, or god forbid, Platinum leagues. Enter one of these higher-tier leagues and you’ll have to constantly worry about skilled opponents who actually know what they’re doing. Will they rush with Zerglings or Zealots and wipe out your harvesters in a few minutes? Should you be preparing a counter for lots of air units? Is it too soon to build a second base? Is it too late? These sorts of burning questions will create unnecessary stress, reducing your enjoyment of multiplayer matches. Better to hop on board StarCraft II’s short bus and enjoy your time with equally unskilled players in the more casual Copper league.

Every second in the early game counts. Managing your resources and spending them efficiently will let you expand your base and amass units faster than the other guy. That’s why when a match begins, most players immediately order their harvesters to collect resources and start producing more harvesters to build up their economy before they do anything else. It makes sense. But it’s also wrong.

Above: Most players begin by collecting resources and building more harvester units. This is wrong

Real gentlemen always begin by broadcasting an opening greeting before beginning play. Type ‘gl hf,’ which means ‘Good luck and have fun!’ This is the StarCraft equivalent of a pre-game handshake. This brief text message is all it takes to engage in excellent sportsmanship while emphasizing the philosophical importance of ‘having fun’ over ‘winning.’

Above: Before you build anything, type ‘gl hf.’ If your opponent doesn’t reply, he’s probably too focused on winning

Above: StarCraft II is stressful. Do the gentlemanly thing by breaking the ice with a joke. Puns are always a safe bet