Advanced Guide

Player Psychology

There's been a recent phenomenon of pro StarCraft and StarCraft 2 players becoming very successful Poker players; more than a few who have shown up on the World Poker Tour and World Series of Poker. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand why the transition is fairly easy for these top players; they understand player and opponent psychology quite well.

If you just go through some raw mechanics of playing StarCraft 2 or playing poker you'll never be wildly successful at either. The reason being is that there is no cut and dry formula for either game. You've got to be able to adapt, change gears, mix it up, and perhaps most importantly analyze your opponent(s). Are they an aggressive player? Are they playing conservatively and close to home? How can you capitalize on either of those facts?

Unlike poker, in StarCraft all the cards are on the table. Everything your opponent is doing is sitting right there in front of you for you to read and analyze. Map visibility is extremely important in this matter but you can still tell quite a bit about the timing and size of their attacks. Beyond just simple unit counters get a feel for their overall style of play and adjust your strategy to better it.

This is one way of getting inside your opponent's head...

Read the board. If your opponent is coming in aggressively and frequently you can reasonably expect this style of play for most of the match. They're sacrificing their economy and some technology for an increase in their army. In this instance you should be responding with a strategy of superior technology and increased economy.

If their attacks are frequent and most battles end evenly or with you just slightly ahead you can also reason that they're moving in on you with 80% or more of their current forces. So time a drop or some backdoor harassment when they hit you next and level out some of their base.

If your opponent is rarely seen and keeping close to home then push out and dominate the map, gobble up resources and secure choke points. Your opponent is going for the superior technology and thusly you should have the superior army and economy.

See 3 siege tanks roll in on you during that first push? Assume theirs about to be 5 more and your opponent is going to try and lock down an area and box you in. Get mobile, sneak around and find out what they aren't protecting as well.

You should know fairly quickly if you're up against a strong adaptive player or a straight mechanical, does the same build every time, kind of player. For the latter player, don't do anything fancy, just outplay them. Assuming it's a Quickmatch they're ranked at or close to the same MMR as you and they've got a build and mechanics that work for them. Do anything tricky and they won't pay much attention to the play and they'll just march right on through. So keep to the basics and just plain out macro, out maneuver, and out play them.

For the aggressive, adaptive, tricky player you've got to mix it up yourself. He's changing his build on the fly and you got to find those holes when he's transitioning and exploit them. Change gears often from aggressive to defensive to keep the pace of the match varied. This player does the same thing and he will think about your tricky plays and they will make him guess, and hopefully second guess, himself.

If you can do all this, and StarCraft still isn't working out, then go make some money playing poker.

Time for the finale. Next>>>

Think this StarCraft 2 strategy guide could be improved? Something to add that isn't covered in one of the other strategy guides? Let us know.

StarCraft 2 Strategy Pro Guides