While with my awesome nerd friends (the same who gave me this shiny newer computer) we watched a bit of "when cheese fails", a show dedicated to replays of people trying cheap (cheese) strategies, and failing at it. For example, this might be a protoss player using very fast cannons as a "cannon rush" or "cannon contain" in which mass photon cannons are used to bottle in or attack the enemy. The overall concept of cheese is interesting to me, seeing whether people consider it valid or not, what they think is or is not cheese. And why the fuck do they call it cheese?
The particular replay was of a protoss-terran battle, in which the terran attempted to use a few early marines, along with most of his SCVs, to attack the enemy earlier than would be expected, even building a bunker to really hold the line. But he managed to be insufficiently aggressive and generally tactically failful and was defeated, leaving him with a weak economy which was soon overrun.
Then we played a 2v2 match, as terran-zerg matched with random-random who turned out to be terran-protoss. I did something unusual: I scouted. Yea, I'm that guy who doesn't scout and then gets terribly surprised when a horde of enemies arrives to which I have no counters. So there I was, scouting, with my SCV, when I thought "Hey, there's a bad idea; I should try that!"
So I built a barracks. It wasn't planned. Just an impulse. I normally build a barracks about now and this is the SCV I have selected, so why not build it here?
Here's the area I was working in.
1 is where a normal person might build this so-called "proxy barracks". From there it can quickly bring units to the front lines and blocks the enemy from expanding. Also it's not likely to be noticed very quickly. Players would have to either run all the way around, fly over (and flying takes a while unless it's a terran building or an overlord), or blast through the pile of metal there. It's a good location.
3 is the protoss base. Sadly, that wasn't much of an option. Though now that I think of it, I might have to try that some time.
I went with 2. This area isn't in sight of the main base. Players will by habit build something there, for the sole purpose of visibility. Supply depots and pylons are popular choices. Zerg may float over an overlord. But not this protoss. And he paid for it.
Watching the replay, my SCV was for a few moments mere inches away from being seen. A wayward twitch, one extra jolt on his hover controls, and it would have been spotted. But no. That little tiny bit of grey-black fog kept him safe.
By the time I left my hiding spot I had a half-dozen marines, two barracks with reactors, and a filled bunker. One does not expect that on their doorstep. Or in this case, their back porch, since their doorstep was fairly well secured.
And so began the harassment. They'd run out and shoot something, running back at the sight of enemies, to the cover of the bunker. All the while four were being produced at a time. Eventually the protoss nexus was destroyed, many probes gone, and the pylons powering his unit-producing structures knocked down. But the day was saved with the arrival of a few siege tanks and more marines from his ally.
Except my barracks fled to live again and his base was still entirely offline. I'd been a highly successful distraction. Turns out the real threat wasn't two and a half barracks (third one got its SCV killed halfway in), but the zerg ally who was expanding and quickly saturating bases with drones, a luxury granted by my cheesy irritation.
Then he made a ton of roaches and blew up the protoss expansion, a nexus that he'd managed to build in time to avoid being revealed. Hilarity ensued as I sent a few reapers for some more obnoxiousness (that's word! AWESOME!), reapers who blew up an attempted terran expansion, and the protoss attempt to reactivate his base, a single probe with a single pylon warping in, both of which died from a single volley each. Then the roaches arrived at the main ramp. Soon later our enemies surrendered.
The game lasted about 18 minutes, which I consider somewhat quick, but obviously not super-fast. In my experience games last either 5 minutes (rush->gg), 25 (major attack->gg) or fifteen hours (anyone have any spare minerals?), so 18 would make it a quick non-rush. It might sound like the other team was bad. Maybe. Maybe not. Of course they made some significant mistakes, as did we, but ultimately I think it was one single tiny mistake which tipped everything.
He did not watch his other ramp. That's all. This isn't some massively stupid thing. Just a little tiny thing that can go terribly, terribly wrong. It's not spamming marines to fight colossi. It's forgetting a stim, once. But that small error, if exploited, can compound into a gigantic problem. Or at least a gigantic irritation.
That's something that fascinates me, whether in games or real life, how a single error can have multiplying effects, causing problems far beyond the actual mistake. I remember an arena match, a close one, but where I'm pretty sure we were on the verge of victory. One enemy was nearly dead and one ally was nearly dead. I cast blessing of protection to save the ally. Alas... I cast it on the wrong player, and rather than saving my ally, who died, it instead stopped my warrior teammate from delivering the killing blow to the nearly-dead enemy, who did not die. It came down to one single mis-click, and yet it cost the entire match.
Going back to my Starcraft strategies, which mostly revolve around being annoying while someone else did all the killing, it makes me wonder why I played a paladin for so long. Wouldn't a CC-heavy class have been better? A rogue perhaps? I actually did have a lot of fun when I played a rogue, relishing the sheer irritation that they can cause. But somehow I never switched to one. I liked tanking. Or maybe I liked short queues. Which makes me wonder if anyone would play Starcraft if it required completing the campaign first and if we needed to complete missions on hard or higher to unlock units, much like a gear grind. Wouldn't that be a pretty stupid system for competitive PvP?