Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Oran Fatitigao

When you think of epic late game moves, there’s probably a handful of units and moves that you think of.
For Zerg it is often masses of Ultralisks carving up the enemy. Slicing down, like a crew of seasoned bushcutters, their foe’s army like tender and delicate blades of bleeding grass. Earlier tonight I saw EGidra create 17 Ultralisks in order to finish off OGSensare. An armada of Brood Lords is always something to see as well.
For Terran, it might be Battlecruisers or Thors, but a truly epic late game move would be to create a coven of Ravens and wreck the enemy with Seeker Missiles.
For Protoss, Carriers come to mind, an army of Archons as well, although the coolest, but most desperate late game moves I’ve ever seen are the warping in of Mother Ships. They are so rare to see on the battlefield, since nowadays most games are cheese-laden and are meant to end very very early. But to see a Mother Ship warp out of a Nexus onto the Battlefield in the heat of a battle is the SC2 visual definition of dues ex machina. It is like watching the hand of God appear to plop a huge, unwieldy vessel on the field.
The inverse of this is that there are plenty of moves which you would never expect to see in the late game, moves which happen early, units which are important early, but become cheap chaff later.
The other day while playing a 2 v 2 with Davis against Very Hard AI, I found myself, in the very late game, i tiempon fatitigao, resorting to a strategy which almost had me rolling on the floor laughing.
We were playing on Twilight Fortress, PP v PZ. Twilight Fortress was, in my early days one of my favorite and least favorite maps, gof ya-hu, lao gof ti ya-hu lokkue’. The reason being, that your naturals are easily defendable and your ramp, while wide can still be easily defend as well. But at the same time, turtling and holding off the enemy gives them free range over the rest of the bases. There would be some games where we would literally kill off 700 or 800 enemies units, but still get overrun because although we could hold them off at our ramp, we would always lose plenty in the process and never be able to send out a decent army to meet them on the battlefield.
Eventually, we began to facilitate rushes or drops with zealots or if Leevin was playing Marines and Marauders in order to harass their mains’ but also keep their expansions in check. Nowadays we win on the map pretty consistently. In this game we were set on a course to winning once again. Davis had set up pylons on the left side of the enemy base and was warping in zealots and stalkers to harass. I went heavy robo in order to both defend the ramp and also, after defeating their main army, move out with a massive death ball. By about minute 20, everything was great, their expansions had been limited and I had a 30 unit death ball (with five sentries) that I was ready to head out with.
Unfortunately, as the game gets more intense I have a big tendency to press the wrong hot keys. I had my death ball on 1, the stalkers in my death ball on 2 and an observer that I was using to help Davis blink in stalkers to their main on 3. Right before I was about to move out, I moved my observer into position so that he could harass to keep them busy while I moved into position. It took me a few moments to realize however that I had pressed 1 instead of 3 and was “moving” and not “A attacking” my death ball right into the path of the enemy main force. I lost half of my units, including all of my colossai, but kept pushing with my stalkers, sentries and immortals. I took out most of their units but eventually lost them at the ramp of their main.
I retreated and rebuilt and within a few minutes the next big wave came which I did hold off. My death ball at this point was about 27 units, and so I decided to move out again, thinking that they wouldn’t have much. This was not to be the case, since the computer makes units at the rate at which people on Guam make excuses about how they remain a colony of the United States, and by this I mean constantly. I soon encountered their new MAX force.
I took out two of their expansions on my way to their ramp. As I travelled a protoss army of mainly zealots, but a few well-placed immortals ransacked my main. They killed most of my gateways and left me supply blocked. I entered the computers’ main and started taking out buildings. By now, zerg wasn’t much of a threat and their twenty units were easily taken care of. But right behind them was the Protoss force, which had just let my main. When I watched the replay, they had four pages worth of units in that force. No colossus to my four, and I thought I could hold them off, but the the Protoss AI had gone heavy immortals and they ended up doing as Artosis says “sick” damage when it was just a couple colossus versus a couple immortals at the end of the fight.  
I was mined out and not sure how much the computer had left. Davis at this point cautiously expanded, and was warping in charged zealots non-stop to fend off the computer and snipe buildings in their mains’. My minerals were minded out at this point and I had over a thousand. Not sure what to do, I sent out my probes to start exploring and found that the computer had expanding to the right side of the map where I had killed them in an earlier raid.  
I rebuilt a pylon at the ramp and warped in a forge to put up some canons for defense before I built my gateways, but as my forge finished I cancelled my gateways and decided instead to go with another strategy which I never ever imagined I would use in the late-game. With my scouting probe I built a pylon on the edge of the Protoss expansion and then built two canons next to it instead. Hunggan, magåhet este, achokka’ esta manmåtto ham gi i finakpo’ i mimu, mandiside yu’ na maolek este na momento para bai hu tugong este ni’ kañon!
I realized that making units would take too long, waiting for the units to build and the gateways to finish, since I already had my forge, why not canon rush instead? It worked. The computer, was, we later learned, much weaker than we had initially thought. They were mined out in their mains and naturals and we had taken out all their expansions except for the Protoss one which I was canon rushing. After a couple charge zealot onslaughts their roving band of immortals were taken down.
For my late game canon-rush, the probes which usually become aggressive when you build too close to their base didn’t respond at all and had to flee once the canons started firing at them. I don’t know if this was an issue of them REALLY needing the salåpe’ or if their aggressive tendencies meant to ward off canon or gateway rushes in their main don’t apply to their expansions as well?
As we looked back, my canon rush was unnecessary. The computer was on the run, even if we didn’t know it, and Davis still had a good economy of pumping out charge zealots and blink stalkers. In fact, as he was warping in units he brought some zealots over to the Protoss expansion to kill it, but I typed something to the effect that “I got this Guam,” go and look for other expansions, because I didn’t want him running my epically noob late-game moment!

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