Starcraft 2 is a real time strategy game for the PC. Users can play as 3 distinct races (Terran, Zerg, or Protoss) and compete in attempts to eliminate each other’s bases. What makes this game unique from other real time strategy games is how distinct each race is from one another. Blizzard has done a great job in diversifying the 3 races both visual and functionally, as well as constantly rebalancing them as the meta-game shifts over time. I will describe each race so you can better understand the differences among them.
The Terrans are basically humans in the future. They have infantry type units like marines as well as various mechanical units such as siege tanks. The strength of the Terran race lies in their versatility; I believe they have the most options in terms of units among the three races. Players can go for a more infantry heavy army or they can focus more around mechanical play. Of course, there are many combinations of unit compositions as well for the Terrans. This race relies on special tactics, harassment, and positional plays to achieve victory.
The Zerg are an insect like race who seek domination over the universe. They spread and multiply like a virus consuming everything in their path. Their units are typically lighter, faster, and more abundant. They rely on their speed and strength in numbers to crush their foes. The Zerg’s greatest advantage is their ability to repopulate their army almost instantaneously. They rely on map control so they can safely establish multiple bases in order to gather more resources quickly and efficiently.
The Protoss are an ancient alien race with advanced technology and weaponry. They are rooted in tradition, some almost to the point of being fanatic. The Protoss units typically have higher health as well as a “shield” of energy around them. Cost-efficiency is key for Protoss as their units are more expensive to produce. The trade-off is that they are capable of taking much more damage than their Terran or Zerg counter-parts. Protoss usually get comfortable once they’ve established three bases and have built up a sizeable army usually known as a “deathball” in the competitive scene. Since their units are so difficult to kill their strategies usually revolve around buying themselves time to get a decent sized force. The Protoss also have the ability to turn its infantry producing structure into a “warp-gate” which allows them to instantly warp in units within a pylon’s “power field”. A pylon is a Protoss structure which increases the armies supply limits and allows other structures to be warped in, these can be built anywhere on the map and it is common for players to build a few around the map to allow their army to be easily reinforced when on the attack.
But why does this make the game so great? Well there are many answers to that question. I barely scraped the surface in describing those three races, in fact each of those races can have their own books dedicated to them and there would still be missing information.
Starcraft 2 is arguably one of the most popular games in e-sports today, and I firmly believe it has a huge role in the growth e-sports has been experiencing in the past few years. The game requires many skillsets for players to hone in order to achieve victory. Professionals practice for 8 or more hours per day just to increase their skills marginally in hopes of developing some kind of edge over their opponents.
First of all multi-tasking is key. From the second the game starts you have to develop an economy and defend from your opponents attempts at crippling that economy, while possibly attempting to do the same to your opponent. Imagine that pressure: you are trying to establish a base, defend that base, and somehow harass your opponent all at once. Professionals do this without missing a single command. They have production cycles constantly in check to the point that they time everything perfectly down to a science.
Once they get past these early stages of the game the players typically start “teching up” usually they buy themselves time by positioning their armies in the middle of the map or outside their opponents base to establish “map control”. Remember while all this is going on they are still maintaining their economy, establishing new bases or “expanding”, upgrading their armies attack and/or defense. And each of these decisions of where to allocate their resources can have drastic impacts on the outcome of the match. For example, if a player invests to heavily in tech, then they will not have a sufficient army to hold against incoming attacks. If a player focusses entirely too much on an army then they will not be “upgraded” enough to combat the foes superior upgrades, or they may not have invested in working towards later game units and be forced to try and catch up to their opponents forces.
Aside from all that, is the ability to control your army which is known in real time strategy as “micro.” Basically it’s the player’s ability to micro-manage their units in battle so they are producing the most possible damage while possibly minimizing the damage they are taking. You have to remember, all this is occurring while these players are still maintaining their production, expansions, upgrades, economy, etc.
The point is this game requires a tremendous amount of skill, and is ridiculously difficult to master. There are many professionals competing in all sorts of Starcraft 2 tournaments and very few have been able to dominate the competitive scene for an extended period of time. The game is constantly changing, players are always developing new strategies and Blizzard is always doing their best to balance the game as much as possible.
All in all this game is one of the greatest games ever created. It requires a lot of skill, coupled with multi-tasking, reflexes, and micro-management. It is not a game that someone can simply pick up and start dominating. Its steep learning curve is what makes competitive play so exciting. But ultimately, what makes the game so great, is the amazing community who supports the pros, Blizzard, the casters, and the e-sports scene in general. Without this great network of people, Starcraft 2 would not be the great game it is today.