Sunday, April 3, 2011

Supply Blocked Update

Don't get supply blocked!

Getting supply blocked. It happens to all of us. From pro's, to your grandma. Recently, I was asked if it is that big of a deal to get supply blocked. My immediate thought was yes of course, and it is, but there are certain situations in a game where it is very bad, and other times where it is only an annoyance. While it is important to never get supply blocked, I will attempt to explain ways in which you can prevent yourself from getting supply blocked, and if you do, what you can do to help lessen the blow.

I recommend you check out my last post on the subject: Getting Supply Blocked.

Worse Case Scenario
The worse time to get supply blocked I would say is within the first seven minutes of game play while still on one base. Every unit, every warp in, every upgrade in that time needs to be right on cue.  Imagine this, you are supply blocked at the 26 food count because you forgot that 3rd Pylon. You have two Zealots out and ready to make more. It takes 25 seconds to warp in a Pylon, not including the time to select a Probe and make more Pylons. A Zealot can take 33-38 seconds to make, add 4 more seconds for Stalkers. 25 seconds is nearly 2/3 the time it takes for another unit to be made/warped in at the Gateway. The game can be over before the first push even happens.

Think of the opening/early game as you would a race between two cars. Both cars can achieve the same top speed, but one has higher acceleration than the other. Who do you think will win? Obviously the car that can get to its top speed before the other will take the win. Same concept here, the early you pick that momentum up, the easier it will be too gain the lead and hold it. Getting Supply blocked, forgetting to build Probes, or letting your minerals get too high from lack of effective macro are all speed bumps you want to avoid. They can cause you to temporarily lose some speed.

How I fixed the Blockage...
After practicing on the Normal Difficulty of the Multitasking Trainer, I discovered that if I forgot the Pylon at 26 or 34, I was doomed to lose. No matter how hard I macro'd, Chrono boosted, or positioned my troops, having 4 less units during that timing attack was too much. So I began to look for key moments early on so I could time that Pylon just right so just as I needed it, a unit would be taking advantage of it. This time was somewhere between 4 and 5 food left till cap early on. However, around 50 food and up, it became necessary to build a Pylon after every warp in, and sometimes more as I expanded.

I mentally connected building a Pylon with warping in units. Another Pylon to me was just a second step in Warping in. You cant build one when you need it, you NEED to plan ahead.

For anyone in the lower leagues who are having this problem, it might help to just go ahead and place that 3rd and 4th Pylon down much earlier, like while you are warping in your Gateways, Assimiliator and Core.

What to do when you've been Supply Blocked...
First things first, build a Pylon. Your ability to macro has stopped. If you caught it right as you got capped thats good. Get that Pylon out, and probably a second to keep yourself in the race.

What happens when you catch it later, when your ready to warp in more? This one can hurt you. The first thing you should consider is this. Do you feel like you are safe enough to expand? If so, still place that next Pylon down, but do so near your expansion. A lot of pro's put a Pylon at the end of there ramp when they are about to expand. Warp in a few units, preferably some that take less minerals, like some Sentries or Zealots, and place another Pylon down AFTER the warp in. your mineral count should be approaching the amount needed for a Nexus. This can be one effective way to move into the mid game by taking advantage of a temporary setback. But only do so when you feel safe enough to expand. The end result can put you back on track.

Another way, and this works very well, is to place a Robotics Facility down if your money is building up and no way to effectively use it, yet. You get an Observer out as its cheap and can use up some of that gas you have been stockpiling. This can protect you from Banshee play or Dark Templars.

Placing a Forge also works. The first upgrades are only 100 minerals and gas. A very fast and cheap way to help you gain a slight advantage while your money is building up.

Getting supply blocked directly affects your macro. Finding ways to keep your money low, without building units is the key to staying in the race. It may seem like a good idea, but DON'T and I repeat DON'T place 5 Pylons down instantly out of frustration. The idea is prevent yourself from getting supply blocked, not temporary solutions. Placing a lot of Pylons down at once, in my opinion, is just like queuing up units. Your using up minerals that can be used elsewhere.

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