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"Just as the big smile hits my face I happen to glance back to my base. Hmmm. What the heck are ten mutas doing coming in over my probe line?"

How about a Four Way FFA?
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Date: 09/03/99 11:09
Game Type: Starcraft
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What could be more difficult than reporting a three way free for all? How about a four way free for all? I must be a sick individual to do this amount of work for free... well, I'm a bit twisted anyway, so I don't care.

Your role in all of this is to go grab a beer or soda, (or if you're Mark4 or Pitt a quart of Jack Daniels...) break open a bag of Doritos, slide on those Owl-Eyed, CokeBottle glasses, tuck your pale, flabby belly into your StarTrek T-Shirt and prepare to be entertained. Don't worry, I'll wait... while you're getting all that, I'll be loading pictures into your computer's cache (personally).

All set? Hopefully you took about two minutes and all the pictures are loaded, otherwise you might be tempted to complain about loading time... If you do feel the need to whine that it takes to long to load this report, I suggest that you put all your thoughts down in writing, come back, and voila! The report will be loaded. Yippee!

Top 10 Free For All concerns:
10 - Are you lucky enough to grab and hold a few expansions early without getting jacked?
9 - How reusable are your units?
8 - How well do you keep your units alive?
7 - You'll never run out of gas, got minerals?
6 - Who's winning?
5 - How well are you scouting?
4 - If someone attacks you, can you make them pay for it?
3 - Can you hit hard and run?
2 - Have you climbed to the top of your tech tree?
1 - Are you in the lead?

With that in mind, it is my pleasure to present to you a four-way Free For All between DoomDragon (Protoss), BB-Chargon (Terran), Barage (Zerg), and T_Mac (random to zerg). The contest took place on Snowbound, so resources were tight.

Early Game Buildup:
To understand where each player started, where they expanded, and what race and color they were, please refer to this map. The X's indicate hotly contested areas.

It might seem strange to see two zerg in a Free For All, but that was my doing. Before the game, I insisted that three contestants choose a race, while the fourth went random. Why am I such a jerk, other than the obvious? I do it for the entertainment of the readers of this report. Do you really want me to report on a four way, all Protoss free for all? I didn't think so.

Our action starts with Barage, the Brown Zerg, sending a bloated, poo-gas-filled sack of overlord southeast. T_Mac orders a green, similarly disgusting overlord southwest, towards Red Terran. BB-Chargon is working on a dual factory and early CC float. The Protoss Dragon is beginning to cannon in, not around his nexus, but to prevent future drops near the edge of his island. If anyone dropped from directly east, right on Dragon's nexus, the protoss commander had no way to defend his only source of income... DoomDragon continued to take this risk well past it's safe point in a 1-1, and perhaps he was counting on the fact that if someone DID drop, they wouldn't try the wide open front door. Unknown to Doom Dragon though, both zerg players were preparing hydra drops.

BB-Chargon floated his expansion command center due north. North? To one of the gas free, hard to defend, everyone goes through the middle, expansions? Not good... Chargon seemed to realize this too and changed direction on the Command Center, sending it floating east on a cold breeze towards the Expansion site shaded red on the above map.

Barage expanded to his natural, setting up a light defense of hydras and a colony or two there. DoomDragon expanded to his natural, south of his main, again putting cannons along the cliff to the south of the actual ramp to his expansion. One unit could have walked right down the ramp and killed everything... and maybe someone would figure this out.

T_Mac was the last to expand, but not by much. T_Mac concentrated on powering hydras out of two lairs and a hatchery. The macdaddy made six beastly zerglings at his 1:00 expansion and sent them south to BB-Chargon's 4:00 expansion. Chargon had floated there, and had yet to send defenses, so the Command Center was forced to retreat, leaving Chagon as the only expansionless player. T_Mac sent his zerglings on their continued expansion hunt.

DoomDragon was warping in Starports and a FleetBeacon at home when the green, T_Mac zerglings began to sniff around the Protoss 7:00 expansion. The ravenous lings killed a pylon at the top of the ramp before a single dragoon, the only non-static defense at the protoss expansion, came up the ramp to meet them. Before the green scouting force can discover that the expansion is indeed not covered by protective cannons, the zerglings follow the dragoon south along the top of the cliff, right into three waiting cannons.

DoomDragon's "cover the backdoor and leave the front open" defense worked well on two other occasions. A brown overlord and terran dropship were both lost to the coverage at the edge of the map by DoomDragon.

All the players continued to climb their tech trees for a variety of units.

Everyone has Their Natural, Now What?
Barage was the first player to grab a third expansion when he started morphing a hatchery at the northcentral mineral site. Again, a small group of hydras were sent to defend. The expansion attempt did not go unnoticed by DoomDragon's observer, and the protoss commander sent over a dragoon, dark templar, and zealot by shuttle. The shuttle crossed paths with one of Barage's queens, and was parasited... unfortunately for the brown zerg, his hydras killed the invading trio and the shuttle too, before the shuttle could make its revealing escape.

At about the same time, BB-Chargon was retaking his lost expansion and fortified it with upraded tanks and goliaths out of three factories. Chargon had only one starport at this point, which was cranking out dropships. Chargon's forces were tight enough that he could easily ferry them from place to place if attacked.

T_Mac was loading his formidable hydra army into about eight overlords as he watched Barage fight off the light drop by DoomDragon. Light drop? You want a light drop? How about thirty-two hydras? In only seconds, the ground at the north central expansion was red with the blood of Barage's wasted hatchery.

Encouraged by his success, T_Mac quickly attempted the same attack on Barage's 11:00 natural site. Barage though, had unloaded all of his hydras there, and the green overlords of T_Mac fell into the trap, suffering heavy losses before T_Mac was able to pull about half of them back.

DoomDragon was assembling a very powerful combination of corsairs, scouts, carriers, templar, dark archons, shield batteries, etc... Using cannons for defense early bought Doom some extra room in his supply, but not enough apparently.

I happened to catch Doom in the act of murdering his own probes for supply room. A horrible sight indeed... a battle-tempered high templar sped the loyal robots to their doom with a storm. All the protoss units sat around laughing at the last few probes, and I took a closer look... one of the probes was silently crying sparking tears. Enough of this genocide, let's turn our attention back to the action.

The Crimson Tide of Chargon:
T_Mac, Barage, and BB-Chargon were fighting for the north central expansion... the Red Terran had secured the south central expansion, and was mining it heavily. The terran defenses at the south central expansion were formidable, consisting of bunkers, towers, tanks and goliaths. Chargon had been upgrading his factory units, and they were, in fact, 3/3 at this point. Barage had taken the north central expansion several times, but each time, he faced the vengance of T_Mac or the power of Chargon.

Finally, after Barage had seemingly secured the expansion from the constant pressure from T_Mac, Chargon stepped up to bat.

It's amazing what 3/3 can do for a small group of mixed terran units on a narrow ridge. Barage did the best that anyone could hope to do without the aid of defilers, but it wasn't going to be enough to save his expansion.

Both zerg players had beaten each other down throughout the game, but now focused their attention on the mighty red terran machine. I set a rule in the beginning of the game that forbade allying, but a mutual foe attack by two enemies is quite legal.

Chargon killed muta after muta, zergling after zergling, hydra after hydra, and even a few guardians on his push towards T_Mac's natural expansion... the only natural not yet mined out due to green's earlier wars with Barage.

Upon seeing a Science Vessel, both mineral low zerg players throw a horde of scourge at it. The Science Vessel dies as fast as any unit has ever died in the history of BroodWar, but that left about 12 scourge from opposing commanders flying around in close proximity to each other, and over goliaths. In one of the funniest moments I've ever had the pleasure to witness, the scourge mass suicided on each other.

The green zerg's natural was quickly destroyed, and with no units of any value, and no money... T_Mac bowed out of the game.

The Enemy in Waiting:
DoomDragon's Blue Protoss fleet lay in waiting. Basically untouched and upgrading all game. As the crippled Barage struggled valiently to claw his way back into the game with a sneak expansion attempt again at the north central mineral site, the protoss commander crushed his hopes. DoomDragon also wiped out the mined out zerg natural, removing the nydus link to the mainland that Barage could have used for long distance mining.

DoomDragon returned to his base to recharge and launch an offensive at his powerful Terran nemisis.

BB-Chargon had recently begun the use of tactical nukes in his quest for victory, and upon dealing heavy strikes to the zerg, Chargon began producing a great number of ghosts. These weren't the first ghosts that Chargon had produced, but now they were becoming numerous. In addition, BB-Chargon had continued to crank out goliaths until he cursed, hitting his supply limit.

Micro vs Macro and Micro:
Through sneaky use of his arbiter and carriers, DoomDragon put an end to a newly budding Chargon expansion at the north central node... it became apparent however, that DoomDragon was being set up and slowly cut off from his home base. Without the arbiter safely at home to recall the fleet, it was rapidly destroyed by a huge volley of Charon Boosted Rockets from various angles. The carriers were locked down, and though they did some damage, only one managaged to escape, mostly through the inaction of Raymond the Goliath.

Unfortunatley, the battle happened over a large area, and too quickly for me to capture all the scenes.

The Final Assaults:
A protoss base with templar, dark archon, cannons, and a single carrier can be a tough nut to crack. BB-Chargon slowly whittled his way in with tanks from below, nuclear strikes, wraith hit and runs on individual cannons, and finally a doom drop. Chargon took his time and managed to finish off DoomDragon with only a dozen or two losses.

Because I care about you, the reader, I asked BB-Chargon to kill Barage in spectacular fashion for everyone to see. I captured what I could of a double nuke drop, and, well, just watch. There isn't anything left of the Hive but memories. Barage pleaded with Kerrigan to forgive him, and I hope she did, because both zerg really put up a good scrappy effort. Chargon's Red Terran emerged victorious from the battlefield, employing entirely different Terran tactics than Heartcutter did in World War Threeway FFA (round 1). The zerg don't seem to be faring too well in FFA, but in this game, they spent alot of time taking each other out of the game, and neither used defilers... The protoss had a good plan, but simply sat in his base past the window of opportunity, and BB-Chargon shut it on him.

Lessons Learned:
A - Scouting is invaluable in a FFA. I have a theory on how an opportunistic zerg might win a FFA with many queens for parasiting non-terran enemies, many defilers, and a hit and run style of play. It's different for a zerg, surely, but with enough parasites, you could monitor and harrass players that seem to be getting an edge, hopefully abusing plague.

B - From what I have seen, FFA seems to negate the Terran vs Protoss problems on most maps. If you think that Terran and Protoss are not balanced, don't dismiss Terran when you play in a FFA. FFA tactics usually don't involve cloaked rushing or rapid containment.

C - What in the hell was I thinking trying to report another FFA? These things are a pain to present... hope you felt it was worth it.

Minimap Battle... Enjoy:

Note: T-Mac's Main turns blue when he leaves, this was not taken over by DoomDragon.

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