The Shokz Guide, Starcraft 2 Guide

Map Control and Awareness Guide

This notion is closely tied with map awareness and although they are quite different, go hand in hand. Controlling the map is your ultimate goal, and something you need to achieve if you want to maximize your chances to win the game. Map awareness is its prerequisite and it is a mix of map analysis, basic strategy and constant scouting that are essential in top leagues and lower divisions alike.

It all begins with controlling Xel Naga towers, brand new additions to StarCraft 2, which allow you to see far into the distance, intercept sneak attacks, prevent decisive pushes and deny late game expansions. In order to control these key points however, you need a mobile army and much flexibility, otherwise the unit in charge will be swiftly dealt with and the enemy will set an outpost instead.

As a terran you must accept the fact that sometimes it’s impossible to control the watch towers in early game, especially when you are walling in. If you plan on a drop for instance, the best thing to do is simply assume the enemy has a unit controlling the tower and set your Medivacs on an alternate route, out of their sight. Make sure you are aware or these structure’s range (which is fairly generous) and keep the element of surprise if you want to maximize the result.

In the alternate scenario you go for a Marine+Marauder fast push and you succeed in containing the enemy in his base or natural expansion, try to establish a firm position near one of these towers. It will help you assess better the threat of a counter attack, making it easier to decide if it is time to retreat or strike a decisive blow. Don’t rely on the vision provided by these towers alone, and occasionally use Scan Sweeps to see what your opponent is planning deep inside his base. Do not spam it though, because mules are essential for the economy and scans should only be deployed in areas inaccessible to ground units.

Players trying to make a living in the lower divisions might overreact to your push and shift into turtle mode, which greatly increases your odds. Never interrupt your enemy while he is making a mistake, so don’t try to assault his main base, because a failed attempt might revive him. Instead, take advantage of the lack of pressure, expand and try not to let any expansion site unsecured, because nothing spells failure better then a fully working base exposed too late.

When you have the initiative and feel comfortable in adding a second or third base, take your chances, but don’t forget to train units as well. One of the most common mistakes players in silver/gold divisions commit is over expanding when they think they are in charge and forget to strengthen the initial task force that made the push possible. When you are already ahead in economy, make sure you don’t divert all your attention to the economic side and neglect your army, because ultimately this is what will win the game for you.

Your enemy is cornered and stressed, probably aware of your expansion prowess, but definitely updated about the strength of your expeditionary force. Either by scan sweeps, observers or suicidal single units, he will try to test the force of your army while focusing all his resources in raising a large army capable of breaking the blockade. By making low scale attacks and expansions impossible for him, you’ll make an all-in, do or die assault inevitable so prepare for it accordingly.

By attaining map control you secure choke points with siege tanks, split your army in specialized groups capable of fending off a large scale attack and prevent surrounding maneuvers. Scanning his base is essential in this circumstance, and saving energy is no longer an issue as by now you should have an Orbital Station on every Command Center, with Planetary Fortress being virtually useless. Assigning an unit to each expansion where you don’t have a working base, along with following all the tips written above should guarantee you a victory against a turtling enemy.

This is the best case scenario and one increasingly difficult to deliver in the top tier divisions where neither player succeeds in confining the opponent in his base, instead there is a perpetual battle for controlling the map. As a terran you must decide between mass producing infantry for increased mobility or tech units and siege tanks to use in conjunction with Medivacs in order to control the cliffs and deny expansions.

Exploiting ridges of any sort with Siege Tanks and a handful of marines to kill observers is a nightmare for many Zerg/Protoss users who constantly whine about this aspect. While top players find ways to deal with this to some extent, in lower leagues this can be a very easy way to win a match. On some maps, such as Lost Temple, the difference between map awareness and map control truly shines and the first emerges as the most important.

Walling in will have a deterring effect for any opponent tempted to try a frontal attack, while the natural expansion is easy to defend for the terran. Furthermore you have two isles you can easily expand to with Medivacs, so controlling the mainland is not paramount. Being aware about your enemy’s functional bases is crucial, and with just two drop ships you can cripple him. The power of accurate observation is frequently called cynicism by those who don’t have it, so make sure you scout often and use the cliffs as often as possible.

In case of a mirror match, map awareness and control is even more important because when a terran sets a defensive position near your base things can turn ugly. You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you, but it rarely pays off to respond with the same strategy. If you scout often, deny expansions and intercept moving troops once in a while it should be fairly easy to wear him down.

Another important and overlooked aspect of map awareness is to double check if your enemy didn’t reinforce a distant expansion, before attacking it with your main army. Chances are when you scan or scout a working base, he’ll also notice and unless you happen to have your forces nearby, it’s going to be heavily defended before you arrive. Prepare every time you attack an expansion as if you were assaulting a defended base, because someday you will and wasting your units in this fashion is silly to say the least. In the worst case you’ve wasted 50 energy to scan an unguarded base twice, but after all the advantage of the pessimist is that he always has his share of pleasant surprises. The bottom line is this: Better safe than sorry.

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