I rebooted Starcraft 2 this past weekend for the first time in quite a while thanks to the in laws coming over and invading the house for Kira's first birthday party. Of course someone brought stomach flu to the party which has wrecked the remainder of the week since then, but I think they last person to get the flu (me) is finally getting close to healthy again.
I quickly recalled why I gave it a break, as I was stuck on this mission "Welcome to the Jungle" where you have to go grab 7 fragments from wells guarded by protoss forces before they knock 7 of the 13 available offline. I had tried this mission something like 8 times on Hard difficulty and just was not making any progress. I knew that I had to quickly assemble an immediate strike force to grab a couple of the fragments farthest away from my home base before the protoss built up enough to blow me away on that side of the board. Yet it always seemed like I would get stuck on 4 or 5 fragments.
So then two things changed. I listened to the first episode of "n00b Tuesday" on Day9 video podcasts and bumped the difficulty on the campaign down to Normal. While I understand the point my friend and Starcraft mentor Tom is making when he says the best way to learn the game properly is on a high difficulty level, I also want to enjoy my experience in the campaign rather than get frustrated. I'm still incredibly intimidated by all the different units available in multiplayer or matches versus the A.I., so the campaign will have to train me on new units and tricks one mission at a time. And following the advice of a game reviewer I respect (Mister Binky from the Gameshark and No High Scores crew), I decided to hell with it I will play this on normal.
It turns out the the first Day9 podcast for beginners focused on one primary point, always be building an SCV or a comparable unit. That way you always know you are pushing the limits of your economy and not wasting too much money on other unnecessary developments. You take care of your macro, everything else works out usually. The other thing I learned was to stop being lazy and queueing up a lot of units, which makes perfect sense the second someone says it to you.
Using these two factors (lessened difficulty and a better focus on my macro), Welcome to the Jungle dropped on the first try. It did not come easily, though, as I stalled with six fragments and a decimated army (and partially decimated base). But I recovered and had strategized properly, leaving the closest fragment for last and eventually put together the force to complete the mission.
Built up with confidence, I then jumped into the next two missions and blew them both out of the water. One was a mission called The Dig, in which you obtain another artifact by using a laser drill to blow through defending protoss forces and a temple. I had no idea siege tanks could bunker down and lock down a base, but this mission taught me how good that unit can actually be. This mission was probably easy enough for me to complete on a higher difficulty, but I enjoyed it with the low stress and actually being able to go grab protoss research points.
The next mission I tackled was The Great Train Robbery, which used the Diamondback to assault trains and guard forces while avoiding a massive kill squad of Marauders. Again, I only had a little difficulty knocking down one train, but I had enough Diamondbacks to finish the job. This was a nifty mission for multitasking and paying close attention to your surroundings. I don't know if the Diamondback has any use in multiplayer (or why it would), but the mission was still well designed.
And now that I'm ten missions into the campaign, I can see why the reviews of the campaign were so sparkling. The campaign does a brilliant job of varying mission objectives while introducing a new trick or twist and a new unit each time to keep things fresh. So now I've got a ton of options including protoss missions available, and I'm happy to be enjoying the campaign on normal. Once I get to training challenges and more Day9 podcasts, I'll worry about becoming a better multiplayer player. If I can put up a respectable effort against someone like Tom, that would be cool. It's like someone at their first pro tour knocking off Kai Budde or Jon Finkel at the top of their game.
Speaking of, another Legacy Open in my town next weekend, and I've got three old friends from my magic playing days joining me. Love that format and have thoroughly enjoyed my 2+ years playing it a couple times a year.