The Value of Replays
Sun 27th Jan 2013 - 8:15pm: Starcraft II
Today’s blog will be less about strategy and the thought process in-game and more about another way you can improve your Starcraft II skill. The focus in this blog will be about how you can use replays to hopefully get better.
I’m not going to pretend this is some novel concept or something I’ve developed all on my own, however, it’s something that I feel is important and can help people improve their game if they are actually familiar with the tool and how to use it appropriately. That is the biggest problem I’ve noticed when it comes to replays. Everyone constantly says that to get better you need to watch your replays but no one really gives specifics, or says what it is you should be looking for when watching your replays. It’s something I’ve struggled with and I’m sure many other players have as well.
Firstly, it’s really important to simply understand and appreciate the value that watching replays can have. This is actually something that took me a while to get through. After playing a game and going through a tough loss, I think about watching the replay to see if I can find out what went wrong, but then I think: why not just play another game instead? So obviously, I play another game instead on the hope that the experience will outweigh knowledge, and it does – to an extent – but eventually you will realize that to truly up your game you need to examine your current skill.
Watching replays should not be a passive act. Just sitting back and watching yourself get destroyed isn’t going to help anything. The replay viewer offers all kinds of tools for your disposal to make the watching experience more informative and helpful for you and it is important to take advantage of these things so you can improve your game. I don’t know how many people just look at their APM and take that as a measure of their level of skill. While I will certainly agree that having a high APM can be a good thing, if you don’t know how to effectively use it, it won’t do too much good.
When you’re watching one of your replays get into a mindset of “how could I have beat me”. This is a good way of looking at things because it forces you to begin critically analyzing your own play, which can be immensely difficult in the heat of a game. A way that I like to do this is by determining a point in the game where had your opponent attacked you would have been completely destroyed. Assuming you use a relatively standard build order depending on the matchup, this will allow you to identify timings where you will likely be weak and your opponent will be strong. Being conscious of and aware of vulnerable timings is crucial to the improvement of your game.
Another way I like to watch the replay is entirely through the perspective of my opponent. This provides a shockingly unique view of the game that you might not have been aware of otherwise. It can provide you with a little bit of insight into what your opponent might have been thinking based on the knowledge they had of your strategy. It is important to know if you were effective in delaying production, stretching them thin, testing both macro and micro, denying expansions. You can literally see the frustration that might occur with another player when you are out playing them and it is important to see the impact of what you are doing.
When it comes to using tools in the replay viewer you should absolutely never underestimate the value of the “Production” tab. With this open, you can see all things you and your opponent have in production at any given moment. This can be a good indicator of your macro capabilities. Are you keeping up with your opponent? When you’re harassing do you simply forget about everything else? When you’re attacking do you forget upgrades? All of these little yet incredibly important things can be seen with the Production tab.
Another area to keep track of is the “Units Lost” tab. While it can be misleading at times because it does not differentiate between mineral value and gas value this tab gives you an excellent idea of exactly how efficient you are being in your engagements. By that I mean: are you killing more for less cost than your opponent. This is an important stat to keep track of because over the course of a longer macro game, poor efficiency can certainly add up and cause you to lose a game if you’re simply not getting the utility out of your really expensive units that you should be.
Keep an eye on the top right corner! Are you getting supply blocked? Always try and keep that to a minimum! If you notice that your supply is constantly hitting your cap that’s something that needs to be corrected. It can become incredibly difficult to win a game when you are always behind on your Pylon/Depot/Overlord production. Look at your minerals and gas! Are you floating really high? This is another macro indicator and is something you might not necessarily notice during the game. If you’re sitting on two bases and floating 1000 minerals and 600 gas you need more production! If you are earning for more income than you can spend you need to find ways to spend it! Your minerals don’t gain value the longer you have them so make more Barracks, Gateways, Hatcheries! Spending money is crucial! If you notice that you’re floating a lot, make a mental note.
Obviously, these tips are not meant for advanced players. They are geared toward newer players who don’t have much experience with the game and want some tips on how they can improve. Watching replays can be overwhelming. You might not know where to look, what you should be paying attention to and you might not get anything out of it. Hopefully, this article has provided you with a rough idea of the things you should be paying attention to while watching your replays. I only touched on a few of the features, it’s important for you to explore more and find out more things to improve your game! This is a really valuable tool and should be used to its fullest!