My experience with the 1v1 aspect of the first StarCraft didn't last long. I was happily mining minerals in my base and contemplating how lovely it would be to cultivate my ultimate fleet of 10+ Carriers to demolish the enemy, when half a dozen Zerglings ran into my base. I had not yet even created my first military unit and was promptly crushed, despite a valiant effort from my army of workers. The game lasted about 3 minutes.
How could I be crushed so mercilessly? I, Melf, Slayer of Noobs? Possibly this mysterious gentleman was some kind of Korean with "crazy micro" living in a net cafe. I knew that I could never pull off such a feat of human dexterity. The entire reason that I had selected the Protoss race was for their smaller (but higher value) number of units, to reduce the amount of clicking that my feeble non-Korean brain could accomplish.
Enter StarCraft II. A little older and wiser now, I knew that I would face the same "dirty" tactics again. There was only one way to prepare myself, to truly know my enemy. I would have to play Zerg and get this rush thing down pat so that I could defend against it.
Of course there was no way I would just jump into 1v1 battles to try this. Instead I practiced against the AI. StarCraft II is a huge step above its predecessor in terms of skirmishing vs AI. There are 6 difficulty levels, and the AI does not "cheat". It does not receive extra units or resources. It is simply smarter in terms of the order it builds units in, makes smarter decisions in battle (e.g. sometimes the enemy will run when they see that your army is larger, before the first drop of blood is shed), and of course micro-manages like a Korean on speed. After floundering around on Medium difficulty for a while, I moved up the ranks, trying different combinations of build orders until I was able to beat the AI on Insane difficulty. This shocked me - I had never managed to beat Insane difficulty with my beloved Protoss, and in fact I did it here in under 5 minutes.
There was something exciting I realized from all of this. I realized that this did not require "cracy micro uber hax" after all. In fact, it requires a lot less clicking and multi-attention-splitting craziness. Why let my games proceed to be longer than I need to? The longer the game proceeds the more units, more upgrades, more expansions, and more backdoor tactics there are to deal with. I get worse at the game by the minute!
Now I was ready to unearth my strategy on the unsuspecting n00bs of BattleNet. First, let's see what we're dealing with here:
This is the post-match "build order" of both players in one of the games I played. You can see that I make just one worker unit (Drone) in the beginning, before saving all my pennies for a Spawning Pool. This will allow me to make my little precious Zerglings. While I'm waiting for the Pool to finish building I make another Drone, and an Overlord to nourish my army. When the Pool finishes building I have exactly enough minerals to convert my 3 larvae into 6 Zerglings. With a waypoint set into the enemy's base, in no time at all these hatch and scurry off. With my base hot-keyed it's a simple matter of hitting 0 (select base), S (select larvae), Z (make zerglings) every time I see that I have another 50 minerals gathered. This brings a steady stream of reinforcements in and lets me focus on micro-managing the fragile Zerglings to make sure they don't do silly things like get slaughtered by an army of workers.
The fellow on the right was playing smartly. He starts off with a few probes to boost his economy, lays down a supply source (pylon) to keep them coming, and saves up enough for a couple of Gateways. This allows him to start creating Zealots, a strong melee unit that is the only early defense the Protoss has time to muster against my Zerg rush.
What you can't see from this is that he is also placing these buildings to try and prevent early rush tactics. Each base has a narrow choke point leading to it - he has actually placed both gateways and a pylon such that my poor little pets can not make it up the ramp without first chomping through his buildings. This theoretically buys him enough time to make enough units to stop me, and then trump me with his superior economy. However, using a pylon to make this wall was a bad idea because it powers his buildings. Chomp, chomp, chomp (eventually). There is a Zealot waiting for me on the other side but my 'Lings stream on past so that they can surround him, and once he is down go and begin munching his other pylon. This fellow does not make it easy for me - he sends his entire army of workers to come and harrass me. Fortunately my steady stream of reinforcements allows me to ignore them and get that pylon down. Once this happens his Gateways have no power and can not create units; there are no more Zealots to deal with and I slaughter the rest of the worker army at my leisure. A bare 3 minutes after the game started:
Now, I do feel a little bad. But this is all in the name of research, you understand. We must learn to fight the Zerg menace from the inside if we are to have any chance of prevailing in this war against the cheap, dirty tactics employed by the BattleNet hordes.