This is written primarily to silver league players and below.
For many of you, you have managed to climb about as high as you are going to be able to without mastering a few key elements of the game. You need to understand economy, and you need to understand unit composition.
A lot of Protoss players like to rely on void rays entirely. They push for that one big fight against enemy armoured units, hit "e," win, and then press into the enemy base. That's how they win. That's it. Short, simple, settled inside fifteen minutes. They time that push for when they have a certain number of void rays.
But what they've generally done to build that many void rays that quickly is stopped producing probes and additional nexuses, and have built no other combat units except void rays, and no other tech tree except stargates and possibly things that enable them to keep upgrading air armour and weapons/shields (but don't use those other structures for any other purpose- if they had their way, they'd change the game to not need to build the twilight council to research level 2-3 Shields).
Now, that's the wrong way to think about economy builds. My advice is to stop thinking of it as "efficient" and "best at putting out damage."
You also need to consider things like "how fast can the unit move-" which is to say "can it engage, and disengage." If I can start a fight with you in the middle of the map with stalkers (armoured), trick you into hitting "e" right there, and then blink away while losing only maybe 2-3 stalkers to your one lost void ray, I can then wait for that "e" effect (extra damage vs. stalkers) to wear off. Either you spend that time chasing me back to my base/shield batteries and the e wears off after only a second or two of fighting, or you don't chase, and I engage you the moment it wears off and is on cooldown. (Either way, you just lost that battle.) You didn't have "pursuit" forces.
But if you'd spent a few resources to research "Charge" and gotten some zealots, my stalkers would take more severe losses from harassing your void rays.
"But I can't afford those-" This is where economics comes in. Most of the time that players are choosing to attack, they're doing so on 1-2 bases, maybe a third base gets built, but they're entirely focused on individually clicking on each Stargate, and clicking on the void ray icon. This takes time. I learned touch-typing because it was so important to Starcraft. Thankfully different units were generally placed apart from each other so a slight mis-press just meant that I wasn't producing that unit, not too disastrous, but it taught me where each letter of the keyboard was.
The most useful command in the game is "Control+F1," which highlights all idle workers. I can't tell you how many games I've had drag on to 17-18 minutes and the guy's main base is utterly out of minerals/gas, and the guy's just got 20+ probes sitting in main doing nothing, not even remote-mining. That's 20 supply, about 3 pylons (300 minerals) worth of "doing nothing useful," for as long as it takes them to figure out, and individually locate and assign them to a task.
At that point, even a sub-optimal, not-efficient task of remote mining from a base that doesn't have a nexus yet, is better than "20 supply, doing nothing." Building that nexus and remote mining might even eventually pay off, too.
It grants additional resources, with which you can then do things like building zealots or researching charge, building a robotic facility so you have observers and aren't utterly screwed.
What happens all too often is they can manufacture one wave. Then they push with it. If that wave dies, they panic. They make another wave of units- albeit slowly, but they build back up over time, in too great a panic, thinking my army's gonna come crush them the moment they aren't pressing "v" for "void ray." It's my suggestion that instead they spare a moment to look at their workers. Most of the time, having 20+ workers sitting idle isn't going to help you rebuild your now-dead army.
Worse, if I just slaughtered that army to the point they're worried about a counterattack, then rebuilding that same army is a really bad idea if I'm already hard-countering it. A tech tree swap is far smarter. Which, as you may have guessed, is expensive. See: 20+ idle probes being a major problem. It isn't always that they're idle, either. Sometimes, it's just mineral fields have also started to wear down and you've got 16 probes on 4 mineral fields. The income declines, but they haven't expanded because they dumped everything into producing a first/replacement army, as quickly as they could.
What I also see is that once someone warps in battlecruisers into my base, if I manage to kill those battlecruisers, I know they're going to do it a second time. At this point I should be on 4-5 base and have a reasonable amount of supplies. If they warped back to their base with battlecruisers, I've got enough time to drop mules, pull SCVs off the mineral line, and start producing a TON of turrets in my main, along with reserving a few widow mines. I don't know why they do this, but once a bronze/silver/gold player jumps into your main once, they'll do it a second time, in the exact same spot to pick up right where they left off, figuring that your economy must be as poor as theirs.
It isn't. Widow mines cost a fraction of a battlecruiser per the damage they inflict. I didn't need to build a supply depot for every single widow mine, either. I also upgrade range and armour, because if I've got the economy for it, "Why? Don't you mean 'why not'?" is the refrain. At that point, the enemy player jumps in- and it's an absolute bloodbath.
The enemy player types "GG" and I often haven't had to kill a single structure of theirs. They know it's over, they just don't know why it's over.
Neglecting macro in this game will kill you as surely as anything else.
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© Post "A quick essay written by a total jerk, on the subject of rigidity in gameplay" for game StarCraft.
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