Julien's Starcraft Blog

Some moves are slightly good. Some moves are slightly bad. I tell you about them.
Friday, September 18, 2015
Dear Proleague:
Clocks are not bombs.
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
You shouldn't do the same thing every time. You should sometimes do widow mine drops. If you're Maru, you should always do widow mine drops. If you don't do widow mine drops, I recommend the following:

CC First! I'm on record as hating reapers. You should sometimes build reapers. But this is a CC First build. After your CC First you're gonna go 3 Rax. This is the Bomber build that Flash now likes.

It's up to you how you wanna deal with stalkers. I recommend scouting, and turtling on suspicion, but you could also ignore or build bunkers straight up. If you're not turtling, build a 3rd CC.

Your 3rd CC is gonna be a planetary, so take 4 gas and get an EBay, then tech up.

What is going on? Let me explain. Terran's inherent edge against Protoss is the ability to outmacro, by expanding faster and using MULEs.

In the beginning, Protoss has the macro edge, due to Chronoboost. So it's valuable to reach a state of macro advantage, and one way to do that is to build 3 CCs.

The Planetary is because all you care about is maintaining that 3rd CC. That Planetary, plus whatever Marines and Marauders you got, will hold off just about anything. In fact, I recommend building a second Ebay and researching HiSec, because it makes Planetaries twice as good! You don't need to build an Orbital because 2 MULEs is enough. You can build more Orbitals later for the Scan energy.

Then you deny their 3rd until they're dead. If you need to build a 4th base, it should also be a Planetary. Just wear them down until they're dead. Play them like Zerg plays you. And you will win.
Wednesday, September 02, 2015
The lowest-cost Protoss unit is 100 minerals. That's twice the cost of a Marine, and four times the cost of a Zergling, though Zerglings also cost Larvae, a resource other races don't use.

This is a fundamental flaw, which affects Protoss's entire game. It's part of the reason the Mothership Core is necessary. The Mothership Core is an unfortunate byproduct of a bad design.

The base Protoss Unit should cost no more than 75 minerals. And I think it should be a flying saucer! It would get crushed by Marines and be positionally useful in warding off Zerglings. Also it could scout.

I think the Zealot should be a late-game unit. I think they should come with Charge. I think they should be enabled by the Twilight Council or enabled by researching Charge. They should be more expensive, faster, and more damaging.

I think all Protoss buildings should be balls of energy, and thus have all of their hit points in shields. I think Photon Overcharge should be a feature of all Nexus, should cost minerals as well as energy, and should increase shield recharge rate. I think Pylons should heal (friendly) Protoss units, and I don't think Pylons should allow unit warp-ins.


I think Time Warp should be a power of High Templars, or maybe Tempests. I think recall should be a power of Carriers, and there should be no Mothership. A Protoss Mothership would cover the entire board! That's the only way Protoss makes sense.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015
TvZ, part 2
We've established that Reapers suck and Hellions suck. What's next?

Let's talk about Zerg.

Zerg is at maximum power when it gets to 3 bases. This is because bases, for Zerg, are collection facilities and production facilities. You can mine from 3 bases before supply gets you. Thus, 3 bases. Also, the more units you build, the more return you're getting on your tech building, which is a 1-time investment.

MULEs do not make up for this. When Zerg maintains 3 mining bases, Zerg can out-macro Terran, and eventually win the game through superior numbers. Terran must do damage to win.

You can nitpick what I'm saying, but don't: Zerg is better at macro than Terran, and unless Terran does something about it, Terran is ceding an advantage.

What can you do about it? There's the Proxy 2-Rax attack, which is good and should be used, but it's beaten by pool first openings, which Zerg really should use more. Up to them.

There's CC-First, which is also good, allowing a strong attack, but Zerg can scout and go 3-Hatch, and oops they have 3 bases. Also, Pool First can kill the SCV, delaying the CC.

So there's gotta be something else. That something else is generally the Reaper Expand, which avoids the problems of the other 2 builds, and relies on Hellions and Reapers to balance the tempo.

Right, Hellions and Reapers suck! It still should be used sometimes, as should the simple Barracks expand, but the fact remains that Terran has no good, "go-to" build against Zerg, just a bunch of stuff that's worth mixing in.

Here is your go-to build. I'm gonna preface this by saying that I realize no one does this, and the fact that no one does this probably means there's a problem with it. If so, hopefully posting this will tell me what the problem is. But I also have legitimate reasons for why it's not used, which we can get into. But first, the build.

What is the build? It's a 1-1-1, with drops, followed by expand. You can also allin sometimes, and should. The drops bring Marines and Hellions, and target Queens when possible, or occasionally Hatcheries, and whatever else you can get. Then you have done real damage, and can continue the game.

I thought you said Hellions suck? Well, you gotta build something out of your Factories, and the drops prevent one of the main problems with Hellions, which is Zergling surrounds. You just pick em up, then drop again for more area-of-effect.

I really think this build is the ticket, and should be used about 50% of the time. Zerg is bad against drops early, and killing Queens reduces both anti-air defense and production. And the other stuff Queens do. Also, if you kill a Hatchery, you pretty much win.

If Zerg attacks you first, you have units. If you're in transit, things can get hairy, but you have options. Other builds should be used to keep Zerg honest, but this is the main one.

Why doesn't it get used? One reason, I think, is people think Terran must macro. Terran out-macros Protoss, which gives the impression that macro builds are good. But Terran does not out-macro Zerg, so strategy vs. Zerg must be completely different from strategy vs. Protoss, unlike other races, which take the same general approach regardless of opponent.

Yes, I know, mirror matches. Pipe down.

The other thing, I think, is the idea that harassment is something different and special. Reapers, it is argued, can harass, giving extra value somehow. Hellion run-bys are tried, but Hellion run-bys aren't good against top opponents.

Harassment is attacking, people. Attacks that do little damage have little effect. Attacks that do a lot of damage have a lot of effect. Attacks that do no damage are failures. A big attack is more likely to do damage than a little attack. So I'm going with the big attack.

If anyone has experience, I'd love to see replays.
Thursday, July 30, 2015
Tulowitzki for Reyes
This is the right time to trade Tulo. He's got a lot of money left on a massive contract, including all of the expensive years, and he's exactly at the age where decline gets sharp. He's already showing decline in patience, contact, and power this season, and those are Colorado numbers.

In exchange the Rockies got a contract reduction named Jose Reyes. Reyes is old too, but he's not that much of a dropoff from Tulowitzki. The money saved alone is worth it.

But that's not all they got. They also got 3 prospects. Jeff Hoffman is a first-round pick who's already pitching in double-A in his first professional season. Miguel Castro is 20 years old and has already pitched in the majors, and Jesus Tinoco, also 20, is in single-A and may or may not make it.

Toronto also got LaTroy Hawkins, who has been doing the same thing for 3,000 years (pitching very well), and somehow is only making 2.25 million this season. It doesn't make up for the prospect hemorrhage.

The Blue Jays are stupid.
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
We're gonna talk about strategy. Like baseball, Starcraft is most interesting at the highest level, so we're gonna talk about that. Also, series are more interesting than single games, so we're talking about series. Starcraft series strategy between high-level opponents. In this case, TvZ.

The first thing I have to say is hellions suck. Actually, I was gonna say Zerg is better at macro, but listen: hellions suck. They're good against Terran, and they have uses against Protoss, but against Zerg, there is a massive value misunderstanding.

A lot of it relates to our first paragraph. Hellions are popular because they wreck less-talented players. They get in there, in the mineral line, and roast Drones for days. But we're not talking about less-talented players. We're talking about top players. And against top players, Hellions are not good. Let's examine this.

They're good against light units, and they get into mineral lines, so their strengths, it would seem, are against Zerglings and Drones. But Zerglings are so cheap that killing them essentially doesn't matter. And Zerglings with speed are faster than Hellions, so they can surround and overwhelm, reversing the Hellions' advantage. As for Drones, Zerg, due to their Special Awesome Zerg Powers, can make as many as they want at a time, assuming resources and Larvae, so killing them doesn't make much difference either. You have to kill a ton for it to matter. And we're playing top players, so you're unlikely to do that. Effectively, you're rolling the dice, with very bad odds.

What else is bad? Reapers. That's right: I said it. The most common opening, in Terran vs. Zerg, is bad. Reapers are bad across the board, and I'm gonna tell you why.

What are Reapers good for? They're good for scouting. I was excited about this when they came out. The idea of a unit that scouts is a good one, as scouting is key to the game. But Reapers are too expensive to be scouts. If you're spending that much gas, your unit better kill shit. And Reapers don't kill shit.

Sure, technically they do nonzero damage, and they wreck weak players. But we're not talking about weak players: we're talking about top players. And top players do not lose units to Reapers. So that leaves Reapers as scouts. And the problem, when you scout with a Reaper, is you also scout yourself for your opponent. They know what you did: you built a Reaper. It's too expensive for you to have done anything else.

So that's why I think Reapers are bad in all matchups. And when I see Reapers and Hellions fight Queens, I throw up a little in my mouth.
TASTELESS: I'm gonna say something that's controversial, but true.

WOLF: Lay it on me Tasteless.

TASTELESS: Starcraft is bad for you.
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
Number 1 Artosis Joke
Jim builds a Stargate at IEM Shenzhen.

ARTOSIS: I say Phoenix. What do you say?

APOLLO: I'm gonna flip this fan. Pink will be Oracle and Blue will be Phoenix.

APOLLO: Blue! I say Phoenix.

Jim builds a Phoenix.

APOLLO: We were right!

ARTOSIS: I guess that's your number 1 fan.
Sunday, July 19, 2015
Reverse Alphabetical Analysis
I don't know Starcraft as well as I know baseball, but I do have theories. I'm a Protoss but I think mostly about Terran because it's the most interesting and best-designed. I think about Zerg too.

1. Zerg

In many ways, Zerg is the most pure design. The smoothest, most straightforward design. The most powerful macro, the best unit flexibility, and units for every purpose. The best unit is the Queen, and the best building is the Hatchery.

The Hatchery is the best building in the game.

What is Zerg's weakness? The units themselves, especially in the air. And defense, though the economy powers a lot of units to defend with.

2. Terran

Terran has the most interesting design, the most interesting strategic choices. That's what I mean by "best". So my description before was redundant.

It has the right amount of unit flexibility to make unit composition choices interesting. And it has many viable unit compositions, so matching a unit strategy to an opponent is a satisfying challenge.

It has the most interesting units, and the most interesting buildings. Because the buildings make the unit choices interesting, with the add-ons.

If I were to redesign Starcraft, I'd change Terran the least, Zerg a little more, and I would redesign Protoss from the ground up.

3. Protoss

Protoss has the best units. Those best units are all power units though so it has trouble with support, for which it ends up using Stalkers, which have low damage and low health for the cost, but have the best ability in the game when upgraded with Blink. The power units have weaknesses, but are complimented by other power units, so the general result is a ball of power units, with stalkers.

Protoss has shitty macro and shitty buildings. The macro is better than Terran at the very beginning, because of chronoboost, but this is balanced by the shittiness of the early units before they are upgraded.

Except for Force Fields, which are the most broken thing in the game.

Force Fields are no fun because they stop you from doing things. Games are fun when you can do things. Protoss is all about being no fun. But Force Fields are necessary in so many situations, to stop the enemy masses and protect fragile Protoss units.

Storm is also pretty broken.

So you've got a lot of power units with a lot of micro requirements and they're all used at the same time.

That's Protoss.

On the subject of High Templars, Feedback is pretty sweet too. It's like Terran EMP, but it also does damage. But it doesn't do area of effect. But EMP's area of effect is pretty small.

Dark Templars are pretty crappy. Terran has flying Dark Templars, and Dark Templars with range that cast spells. But Dark Templars must be used, because they're the only Protoss cloaked attack (without Mothership), and because all threats must be real.

They're pretty effective against Terran, because they force out Scans, and Scans mean fewer MULEs, and Ravens are easy for Protoss to kill. In certain situations you can maintain a steady rate of Dark Templar production, prohibiting MULEs to maintain an economic as well as material advantage, while a finishing attack is structured.
Friday, November 14, 2014
Better Choices for AL MVP than Mike Trout
1. José Altuve
2. Víctor Martínez
3. Michael Brantley
4. Adrián Beltré
5. Robinson Canó
6. Miguel Cabrera
7. José Bautista
Saturday, May 10, 2014
The solution, in my opinion, is to eliminate the "error" statistic. Call them hits.
Saturday, March 30, 2013
Bud Selig, Commissioner of Death
Major League Baseball is a horrible, disgusting monster that eats pitchers.

The irony is it's possible to throw without injury, with a delivery more effective than the one currently forced on young people.

It makes sense. Why would the best delivery be one that tears ligaments? It would probably be the one that builds strength.

The problem is Bud Selig.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Talented and Intelligent Player
Nick Johnson retires.
Thursday, January 10, 2013
Writers Snub Biggio to Aggrandize Themselves
If you don't wanna vote for Bonds, fine. Don't vote for Bonds. But get over yourselves.

Let's take this opportunity to celebrate Craig Biggio.

Craig Biggio came in as a catcher, and displayed an intelligent approach at the plate, an intelligent approach on the bases, and an ability to make contact. A few years later he switched to second base, and continued to improve his offensive production. He developed power, increased his volume and percentages on the basepaths, and did everything he could to get on base, as reflected in his fantastic HBP totals. He provided value in every way possible.

There are very few players who have added more wins to their team in their career than Craig Biggio. At the plate, he was patient, he got on base, and he hit for power. He was a challenge for any pitcher, and he rarely even grounded into double plays. In the field, he played catcher, middle infield, and center field. Those are the most important places to play. On the bases, he was a constant threat, and a very rare out. That is the theme that keeps coming up. He didn't make outs. Not making outs is how you win.

Second base is one of the 4 important defensive positions. If I were to choose a second baseman, I might choose Craig Biggio, and I might choose Joe Morgan. Writers have historically overlooked second-basemen, and in this case they snubbed one of the greatest.

In other news, Jacob Ruppert, Deacon White, and Hank O'Day made the hall. Who the fuck are they? I don't know.
Monday, November 05, 2012
Ortiz gets 26 Million for Two Years
This is incorrect.
Sunday, October 21, 2012
Chris Young, Heath Bell, Money
A's get production in center field for a year, Diamondbacks get a closer and a backup infielder, and the Miami Marlins get salary relief.

The prospect doesn't matter.

You may think Chris Young is done, but he's had bad batting average luck. Similarly, Heath Bell has had bad ERA luck, but he's not the killer he once was. Good luck the year before masked decline and got him paid.

Yordy Cabrera
Cliff Pennington
Friday, September 14, 2012
Derek Jeter ties Willie Mays
Derek Jeter has the same number of hits as Willie Mays.

Jeter said I care about winning, but this is an honor yada yada yada.

What he should have said: Willie Mays overcame cultural obstacles to make the majors, and he missed two seasons to war. If he had played those seasons, we wouldn't be having this discussion. It wouldn't be close, and Hank Aaron would have been second place when he passed Babe Ruth.
Monday, September 10, 2012
MLB won't let Nationals pay for Metro service
Solution: don't attend MLB games.
Saturday, September 08, 2012
Stephen Strasburg
Congratulations to the Nationals for valuing the health of their pitcher!

There are certain irresponsible columnists who have questioned Washington's decision. In so doing, they demonstrate their support for pitcher injuries.
Wednesday, September 05, 2012
I have rated prospects in the past, and most of my mistakes have come from believing that players will learn patience. The key example is Alex Rios. He's got talent, but he's not the world-crusher he could have been.

Jeff Francoeur is even more extreme. Baseball is a game. Games require strategy. Strategy requires intelligence. Creativity. Trickiness. It doesn't seem like something that can be developed.
Sunday, September 02, 2012
Jurickson Profar
This kid is special.

He's got every skill: patience, contact, power, fielding, and baserunning. He's gonna go far.

He's quite possibly the best 19-year-old in the majors.
Hey Mets fans
Stop complaining!

The Mets are going to be good. Soon. They have the smartest team in baseball, except Billy Beane, maybe.
Saturday, August 11, 2012
Manny Machado. Is he good?
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Cole Hamels gets rich!
The Phillies have effed themselves.

The Mets are the future of the NL East.

I love that contracts site!
Dodgers get Hanley Ramirez
I wouldn't.

It cost them 40 million dollars, a good young starter, and a reliever with control issues.

They also got Randy Choate.
Astros gain value for Wandy Rodriguez
Early in his career, Wandy Rodriguez was considered a borderline talent. His curveball would often sit in the zone and get hammered, or he would miss and have to throw strikes, and his fastball would get hammered.

But the Astros didn't give up! They kept running him out there, and got cheap production over many years, and he developed into a quality starter.

With a quality contract! Now the Astros have moved that contract, and in addition to not having to pay it, they have received good prospects!

Robbie Grossman is an intelligent player with plus-defense who is a little light in the contact and power departments. Intelligent players improve more than others, so he has a good chance to make it.

Colton Cain has shown some good strikeout rates, but needs to improve control.

And Rudy Owens is a major-league-ready left-hander who succeeds with command rather than velocity, much like Wandy Rodriguez.
Monday, July 23, 2012
Congratulations Ron Santo!
Hall of Fame induction way overdue. Barry Larkin is also a correct choice.
Thursday, July 19, 2012
Power is strong.
David Wright is having a good year! His walk rate is up, his contact is up, and his power is up!

Baseball Reference
Saturday, July 14, 2012
Don't retire, Chipper!
You still make contact. You still have power. Your intelligence is such that you could succeed with much less talent, but you have the talent. Other people retire at 40, but you don't have to.

You can get 3,000 hits. You can get 500 home runs. People will no longer say you're the best switch-hitter since Mickey Mantle, because you are better than Mickey Mantle. It's not even close.

Other people did it with steroids. You did it with talent.
Monday, July 09, 2012
Billy Hamilton
Can't hit.

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