OMG Hi 2 Jew!
I would hope by now that most of you know me, therefore I'm not going to waste my time on a longwinded introduction. This is a friendly game against a teammate and friend I've known quite a while. At the time we were both rusty, so I attribute all fuckups on both sides to that. Now, on with the show.
My opponent for this match is my teammate and a player whom I have helped "train", if you will. prOxi.boBo, a Zerg player who is a big Mondragon and Midian fan. His ZvP is his strength, and if I do say so myself it can be pretty strong. As you would imagine, since I have helped train him he's pretty well accustomed to my play style, and as such is usually a tough opponent.
And, of course, the other player is myself. In this match I'm playing under my clan name: prOxi.maar. I am a pure protoss player, and look up to Reach and Pusan. I would say that PvZ is probably my worst matchup, but PvZ is always easier when you know your opponents tendencies, and after hundreds of games vs boBo I think I have a good bead on him.
Ride of the Valkyries was the map decided on for use in this battle. For those of you unfamiliar with this map, it is a professional map that is fairly widely used, and pretty balanced from all I've seen. There are two starting positions, at 5 and 7. Each base has a natural below its ramp, and a mineral only seperated from the natural by two patches of 16 minerals each. The min only and natural both empty out into the middle which leads to the high ground middle, controlling this is pretty important especially in PvT and ZvT games. The mineral only also leads up to two more expansions on each side (both containing gas and minerals), the expansions at 10 and 2 have the high ground over the minerals and as such are cliffable. They also lead back around into the middle, so they are vulnerable if you don't have possession of the high ground. The expansions at 1 and 11 lead into the top passageway, which leads to an expansion at 12. This expansion is also open to harassment from the high ground. And, lastly, there is one last expansion at 6, this one an island expansion. As you can imagine, in a tight game the expansions at 12 and 6 tend to be fiercely fought over.
Even though I've tried to describe it, you are probably still somewhat confused if you haven't seen this map before so I'll include this image:
Early Game Shenanigans
boBo spawned at the right starting position, leaving me to warp in at the left. Each of us having a good knowledge of the other, I expected my opponent to expand early. He no doubt expected me to proxy gate or fast expand, not that I like to be gay on this map or anything. But this time I had another trick up my sleeve. Something sexier, in other words, something stupid.
Towards this end, I open up with a 10/12 two gate opening. I scout after my pylon on 8, meaning I got there in time to try some drone harassment at his expansion but didn't because I wanted him to think I wasn't being aggressive. Unfortunately, my aggressive plan took a hit when I misplaced my second gateway and had to cancel and rebuild it. This happened because my pylon placement was idiotic, something I'm all too apt to do on this map. Shut up, just cause I can't do something simple like place a pylon doesn't mean I suck, ok. After finishing the gateway problem I send a second probe to my opponents natural.
I let my scouting probe sit outside his natural for a few seconds. I know that against me boBo usually positions his second overlord at his natural to spot cannon rushes and the like, but I hope he sends this one too far to see what I'm doing and lo and behold he does. As the overlord lumbers past, I dart my probe in and make a pylon. I then place both my probes on his ramp to get in hits on any drones attempting to move down his ramp (basically giving him something to micro). I rally both of my gates to his nat and get zeal production going.
Maybe because his intense "gaydar" had detected something or, more likely, because he just doesn't trust me, boBo had sent in a group of six drones to stop any shenanigans that might have been coming in at his natural. Well, as his drones reach the ramp his hatch finishes and my plan is laid bare. A warping shield battery comes into light and becomes the target for the drones. I attempt to harass these drones with my two probes and manage to get one before boBo turns the drones on my probes. I lose one but manage to dance the other in an attempt to keep my battery alive long enough for my zeal to arrive. Sadly, when the zealot arrives he sees six lings quickly finish off the battery. The zealot and his probe companion attempt to assassinate the drones which are attempted to get mining started at boBo's nat, but instead the zealot simply goes up in a puff of smoke doing basically no damage while the probe manages to dart up the ramp into boBo's main.
Having seen this going wrong, I have built a forge at my main. I let 2 zealots procede on to boBo's natural, hoping to at least make him pump more lings, and keep 2 more at home to defend my ramp. My plan now being in complete shambles I attempt to hammer out a new one.
boBo seems to want to end this quick, as he runs his ten or so lings right past my two invading zealots, who quickly turn their attention onto the drones mining at his natural. This manuever forces boBo to pull back his lings to help in removing my invaders. The zeals kill a drone and a zergling before seeing the odds turn against them and heading up into boBo's main. Scouting and killing are on the menu today, and they plan on having both. Unfortunately, the kitchen has just run fresh out of killing and the zealots die with only one drone death to their name. They manage to see a third hatch and a morphing extractor, though, as well as costing boBo a decent amount of mining time. And the original scouting probe makes the drones chase him around for a few seconds, furthering the mining time lost.
Preparing for Mid-game
Meanwhile, on the home front, I have added in an assimilator and a cybernetics core. I've also begun a cannon at my ramp and secured said ramp with four zealots. It also comes to my attention that I'm in need of a pylon when my pylon in boBo's natural becomes a ling's scratching post.
I've seen three hatches and a lot of lings. I've seen one extractor morphing and don't think he has enough drones to support running two at this point, anyway. So, I'm expecting him to get ling speed asap, then to move to lair and get lurkers. I'm doubting he's going to go the muta route as I already have a forge and am currently warping in a citadel, both of which he can see (ovie hax). Hydras aren't worrying me too much at this point as 1. I know boBo doesn't usually use them and 2. We're fairly even right now, and hydras aren't going to finish me off unless I do something stupid. Though, they probably should scare me more as so far this game I've been pretty fecking stupid.
I begin zeal speed and add in a dragoon to chase out any overlords as well as add a little range to my unit mix. A probe is sent out on scouting patrol, jukes past the huge amount of lings outside my natural (noticing they don't have speed, I figure he went lair before speed), and manages to make it to the enemy's natural without incident. He sees an extractorless geyser and a pair of colonies morphing, one of them a sunken. This further solidifies my idea that he's going lurker, as he'd most likely make more if he were going muta giving my two gate with speed look. And if he were going hydra he'd most likely only make one sunken, if that. I decide on taking my expansion, because I think I have time to do it and don't think with how late I took my gas I'll be able to break out in time if he contains me in my main.
My goon pops the pesky scouting overlord and I begin a templar archives. I definitely want to have this before I expand, because I'll most likely be needing an archon with the lings around. I go ahead and move my troops down my ramp, just to see what's going on. They march forward, followed by a probe, and find the zerglings camping outside my choke. I convince the lings to run away as two groups of lings aren't going to cut it vs seven zeals and a goon in a choke and begin expansion preparations. I also notice that boBo still doesn't have ling speed, making me think he may have already started +1 armor, which can be good and can be bad. It would be good if he doesn't have speed lings to run past my troops to take down cannons/break into my base but it could be very bad if he stays ahead of me in upgrades as my zeals will always take 3 hits to kill his lings.
After beginning a nexus and a pair of cannons I send my expansion probe on new duty. Scouting probe, do your thing. At this point, he's on fairly light expansion scouting duty, to be upgraded to troop scouting duty in the near future. A pair of templar are queued up with plans on becoming an archon to assist in anti-lurker and anti-ling duty. However, these plans change as I see zerg forces enter my territory. As they pour into my choke, my troops charge out to meet them like the manly warriors they are. They show just how manly they are after they see that the fairly large contingent of lings have been bolstered by four or so hydras by turning tail and running into range of the cannons. The zerg see this prickly cactus of a defense and wisely pull back to wait on reinforcements. Obviously, the sight of speed upgraded hydralisks is a bit of a shock to me, but nothing that can't be compensated for.
In the way of compensation, I morph my first two templar into an archon. Yeah, archons suck vs hydras but he does still have a good amount of lings. And I haven't begun storm yet so those templar would just be getting picked off soon, anyway. So, I'm better off morphing them so they can at least do some damage. I also queue up a dt and another ht as well as upgrading storm. The dt will be held for base defense until I'm sure he's not needed, at which point he'll be sent on anti-expansion duty.
Speaking of which, remember that scouting probe I sent out earlier? Well, he has seen that there have been no further expansion attempts by the Zerg (as one would expect if he's pumping money in hydras) and so has devised a devious plan. He begins a pylon below the 2 o'clock expansion, in hopes of adding in gateways there. It's not in the cards, though, as overlord hack shows it's ugly head again and a group of lings show up to cancel the party.
Looking for retribution, I send my forces out on the warpath. They don't have to wait long, as the Zerg army stands poised not far outside my choke. The lings attempt to flank my army, but boBo had attacked far too early for such a plan to work well and the lings run into combined archon/cannon fire, dying before they can do any good. The hydras manage to take down my archon, but my dt is inflicting heavy damage to their ranks and they can't return the favor. With the loss of the lings, the hydras turn tail and run. I give chase momentarily but quickly pull back. Given what I've seen I have every reason to think he's still on a hydra path right now, and I don't want to waste any units getting into a fight with a splintered army.
Mid Game Arrives
A short lull now takes over the map as we both build up and decide on our future plans. I add in two gateways (bringing my total to four), begin +1 weapons research, and look into range for my goons. I'm not currently using many goons because I'm trying to get my templar forces up, but I'm planning on making a good amount of them in the near future as they are quite effective vs hydras and very good vs lurkers, which I'm expecting to face at some point in the future. And by the amount of hydras he had when he attacked before and the fact that he hasn't attacked again I feel like he's either expanding or upgrading lurkers at this point. Because of this, of course, I add in a robotics as soon as gas allows.
Well, boBo has still not pressed an offensive on me, so it's time to put pressure on him. If he were pumping hydras he'd have put them to some use by now, so he's either expanding or teching and I want to make him work for either. Towards that end, I send out my army to the middle of the map where I intend on checking out possible expansion sites. However, I don't reach that point as not far outside boBo's natural I discover the bulk of the Zerg army. I charge into battle, and cast a fairly bad storm from my single templar.
Well, let's just say things didn't exactly go my way when the reinforcing lings show up and make mincemeat out of most of my zeals. I manage to get a small portion of the forces away, including my dt. Also, in the heat of battle I notice a few hydra tucking into their shells for the winter...I'll be having the priviledge of facing lurkers in the very near future.
As soon as I get back to my natural I regroup, adding in another pair of zeals and another templar and move right back out. I'm not ready for lurkers quite yet, so my plan is to make him slowly push me back so, hopefully, by the time he sets up his contain I'll be at least close to ready. Basically, I'm using the same tactic you would use against a terran push, except these guys burrow instead of siege.
I find boBo's forces in the middle of the map, and see four unburrowed lurkers with another 4 currently morphing. I also notice an overlord in the group, which makes me keep a closer eye on my dt. They're such valuable multitaskers losing one stupidly like this would not be good. My zeals and dt engage the lings, and the lurkers burrow. I pull back my forces and unleash storms from both templar on the lurkers. Unfortunatley my usually good storms are sleeping somewhere and I waste one of the storms...I guess I was trying to stack it, I dunno. So great, I kept my dt and most of my zeals alive but didn't kill any lurkers and now my temps are essentially useless. Um, yeah, this is going great.
I morph the templar into an archon, another stupid move. Lurkers and lings combine fire on the morphing archon, and the splash manages to take out my dt. A comedy of errors, and all of them one-sided. I do manage a minor victory as a reinforcing templar manages to take down a lurker. Beaten and battered, my three remaining zealots head back for my natural where they meet up with my remaining troops. During the battle I notice boBo's units already have +1 armor, and my +1 weapons upgrade isn't even complete yet. I've got an uphill fight on my hands, here.
As my observatory warps in I focus on goon production and mine out the minerals seperating my natural from my mineral only. I'm hoping that I can sneak that expansion in, without the aid of my army. Of course, after the pylon finishes warping in the entire Zerg army fills my mineral only and removes the expansion from my plans.
My noble opponent takes this time to make a somewhat bold statement:
A nice thing for both of them...I guess.
By this time, though, my five gates have put forth a somewhat sizeable army. And with the support of a newly acquired observer, I feel like taking on some Zerg vermin. I march into my mineral only, where I see the lurkers all unburrowed, and begin to lay the smack down. Well, as much smack as you can lay down on a retreating army. Using his head, boBo retreats his troops up to the high ground above the mineral only, seeking the height advantage in the battle. However, he was overzealous in his movements and positioned his troops rather poorly in a location where my forces could also ascend the ramp. He does manage, however, to trap my zealots quite nicely. With their speed they end up in the midst of the lurkers fighting the lings with the goons far behind. A definite death trap for both unit types, as without the zealots the goons will have very little chance against the nearly 3 groups of lings present.
But, gentle reader, I have fallen for this trap many a time. And from that I have gained wisdom. I manage to pull my zealots back and reverse the trap. The lings are now running into the psi blades of my warriors unprotected. boBo quickly sees his mistake and attempts to correct it, but the damage is already done. Despite that nice piece of manuevering, I still manage to fuck up and end up losing all my zealots to his lurkers, anyway. But, as with everything in this matchup, timing is key and with this timing I still come out on top.
On the domestic front, I have added in a second forge to begin armor upgrades as well as beginning the second tier weapons upgrade (boBo already has second tier armor). I'm also expanding to my mineral only, this time I plan on having it survive, though. I march my troops, now numbering two groups, into the middle once again. Unfortunately, my mostly goon army doesn't fair well against boBo's largely zergling forces and I'm forced to pull back.
With my forces stymied in the middle, I add in a robotics support bay at home. Reavers are strong units vs zerg, especially vs a zerg who hasn't made a lot of scourge. And based on what I've seen so far I don't think boBo has many of them. My main purpose for the reavers is to harass my opponent's economy, but they will serve double duty as heavy support troops vs ultras. I can't stress enough how effective reavers are against ultras, especially if the Zerg brings defilers with dark swarm into the mix as reavers do full regular and splash damage under swarm.
After a little bit of buildup I again test boBo's forces in the middle and find them somewhat weak, forcing them to retreat but not inflicting much casualities. I press my offensive onward hoping to do some damage to lightly defended expansions. My troops head into boBo's mineral only only to find it empty. When they turn around to beat a retreat they find that boBo has again attempted to use his lurker/ling force from a strategically superior position, this time quite effectively. My army becomes just so much goon soup, despite my best efforts. I managed to exact a heavy toll before losing them, though.
Back on the home front, I have finished the first tier armor and second tier weapons upgrades, and am pursuing the next tier on each. I'm also expanding to the 10 o'clock expansion, adding in a second robotics facility for faster reaver production, and bringing my gate total up to eight. The relatively small size of boBo's army in the past few fights, and the fact that I have seen that he has both the 1 o'clock and the 2 o'clock expansions lead me to believe that I will soon be facing ultralisks. And cracklings. And that ain't good. In an attempt to counter said threat, I begin focusing on archons more as they are very effective against both of these threats.
My army, which is poorly positioned, sees a couple groups of zerglings rush past it, but being in such a bad placement, can only give chase. These zerglings procede on to my 10 o'clock expansion where cannons are still warping and lay waste to the nexus there. Leading my opponent to remind me of the following:
Thanks, man. I had forgot for about 10 seconds. -_-;;
Of course, following this raid I pick up the pieces and restart the nexus, hoping the now finished cannons will buy me enough time to get some sturdier defense there if need be. I'm also producing a pair of reavers, whom I plan to put through their paces as soon as possible. To help with this, I'm also upgrading shuttle speed, because slow shuttles at this point in the game are just asking for scourge to ruin your 600/200 investment.
Hoping I can catch boBo's troops in a momentary point of weakness with the loss of his lings I charge back into the middle of the map. And, of course, am confronted by said troops. However, unlike what I had imagined they don't stand and fight with a huge contingent of ultralisk support. No. Instead they run, and I give chase. When I catch up with boBo's minions, I find out that he didn't tech to ultras as I had imagined, he had instead gone for defilers. No doubt expecting me to continue with a goon heavy army, in which he was wrong. Dark swarm notwithstanding, the entire Zerg army bites the dust. But I'm not satisfied, in fact I still have doubts about my position in this game. That army was miniscule, by this point in the game he could have an army many times that size.
Figuring I'm probably still going to have to fight this one out for awhile, I expand to the 11 o'clock expansion. And my first shuttle, with its payload of 2 reavers, arrives in boBo's main. There he sees a decent amount of drones and a pair of ultras with some ling support. He also sees 3 hatcheries, with larvae building. Yeah, I'm pretty sure at this point I managed to hit him just before his ultralisk army came into service. My reavers pop out and manage a few ling kills, but I'm forced to load them back up and run off with them when 3 newly hatched ultras joined the defenders.
My reavers, along with my army, make yet another journey to the Zerg mineral only. This time, however, they hit pay dirt. The Zerg army isn't willing to let the newly completed hatchery go down without a fight, though, and sends in 6 ultras with defiler support to stop the attack. But, as I said earlier, reavers are great under swarm. Had I been sans reavers I would have lost my army and been in a pretty bad position, but with the reavers I win a close contest and take out the hatchery on top of it. I lose the majority of my army, and one of the reavers, but he loses a mining base and the bulk of his army. Pretty cost effective for me.
I send my shuttle with its one reaver payload to boBo's 2 o'clock expansion, which handily enough is naked, and employ operation "stop mining".
Once reinforments arrive for my main army I send them up to 1 o'clock in an attempt to strike the death blow. My second shuttle with another payload of two reavers shows up to assist in the battle, but arrives too late and finds that the enemy has taken the battle. The reavers manage to take down an ultra and a pair of lings before inching back into the shuttle and being whisked off.
My reavers again exact heavy losses on the Zerg forces when my army and boBo's face off at his 2 o'clock expansion. With the help of his ultras, boBo is able to hold on to the expansion and take down one of my three reavers but by this time it's too little, too late. The next attack signals the end of the hostilities, as boBo is forced to call "gg" and bow out.
In my opinion, going for hydras was not a good decision. Based on my opening, he could be fairly certain I was either going to go for two gate speed zeals to pressure him or try to expand. Either way, lurks were going to give me fits. I consigned myself to being lurker contained because I knew I had to expand or else I'd be destroyed by his two gasses. Hydras sort of squandered his advantage.
Though, he still could have faired well doing the strat he did. He just needed to have expanded much earlier. He could have easily held an expansion while he was teching lurker or right after he backed off from seeing my expansion.
Also, it took boBo quite a while to start mining gas from his expansions, which really killed him. He could have won if he had had that excess gas for more lurkers and/or faster tech.
Proper micro can really turn a game in your favor. I emphasized the importance of that fight outside my mineral only because it very easily could have been my defeat if I had lost that army. As it was my victory there allowed me to expand and put pressure on my opponent, all from a few mouse clicks.
Reavers rock, and are really, really effective vs ultras, sunkens, and lurkers.
Plug for Site Friend is an Admin of:
The image of Ride of Valkyries is from broodwarmaps.net, a nice site which caters to mapmakers for BW and has many unusual maps as well as a large collection of classic maps. If you want to show off some mapmaking skill of your own or just want to get a new and unusual map to game on it's a great site to go to.
For those of you interested in watching the replay, it may be found here. As always, it's saved with PenguinPlug so in-game chat and first person point of view are available.
Thanks for reading, please don't forget to leave a comment. People might actually make more of these if you do. Also remember that you, too, not only can make a report, but should. After all, what's the point in having 2 semi-new raters if we have nothing to rate? ;)