Starcraft 2 - New Replay Features and Uses

Posted Tue, Mar 30, 2010 by Stow

A new scene has developed over the last 10 years in the RTS community.  It's a scene that focuses around pointing out the mistakes, errors in judgement, and high points of matches and players.  The replay scene can help you improve your game almost as much as actually playing the game.  In Starcraft II, this is even more apparent as the replay system is even more detailed than ever before.  You'll be amazed at what you can do now!

Speeds and Jumping

A replay can be viewed at about 40% speed, 80% speed, normal, triple, and six times the speed of the game.  It can be paused at any time to check out any part of the map to see how each player is building as well as fighting.  It's important to point out that as of Beta Patch 6, the in-game references and tool tips to game time are inaccurate.  The game tips are shown as of the Fast speed, and the standard multiplayer game is played at Faster.  So if a Marine takes 25 seconds to build, it actually comes out in about 20.  You can also move around to any point in the replay at any
time, forward OR backward.  Going backward will briefly give you a black screen while it resynchronizes to that point of the game.  If you're trying to record a cool video and you miss the timing of it, you can now step back a couple seconds rather than starting from 0:00 once more.

You'll want to watch devastating nukes over and over again, trust me!

The Resources and Income Tabs

These are important for showing how fast the players are receiving and spending income.  Mineral and Gas amounts on hand are clearly visible, and in addition the Harvesters column gives you an idea of how many SCVs, Probes, or Drones are in the field for each player.  You can also view the average rate of income for each player to see who is actually harvesting faster, whether it be due to expansions, Terran MULEs, or simply more workers.  Since this game is often won and lost with the successful expansion of workers, or successful raiding of enemy workers, keeping track of these will help you see who is winning the hidden war of income at any given time.  It can also track how well each player is spending their money.  If you watch a video of yourself and see you ever breaking 1,000 minerals without a darn good reason (3 Starports ready to produce Battlecruisers and your Fusion Core just finished, for instance) you'll need to work on your ability to macromanage.  This can mean you're either not constantly producing units or spending money on viable upgrades, or even that you simply don't have enough production facilities.  If for instance, a Zerg player falls behind on Injecting Larvae into their hatcheries, they can suddenly find that their income is well beyond what they can create simply because they don't have enough larvae spawned to create it!  Each player's current supply, control, or psi count is readily available to show just how massive their army is from a logistics perspective. 

The Spending Tab

If you're confused how someone got ahead of you in the tech tree so fast, or how they have far more Zealots than you did, this is a good place to go.  At any given time you can see the total sum spent on three things; Economy, Technology, and Army.  Economy refers to primarily workers for each side, but it can also mean expansions.  Technology is anything put down to access new units from a structure or to upgrade various units or structures.  Lastly, Army is well.... anything that shoots, claws, slashes, or otherwise kills the enemy.  The Army statistic can be a little shaky due to involving units such as Queens as combat units when typically they never leave the radius of the Hatchery.  If you lost due to being out-teched or rushed, you can find where you and your opponent's weakness was by watching this tab closely.  You'll find that you were vulnerable when you went for upgrades when he produced units with those minerals and gas, or that you could've broken through his Terran wall of Supply Depots and Barracks before he got to air units because he only had a handful of Marines the whole time!

The Units and Units Lost Tabs

This is where you can balance the current game out and generally say who can kill who.  It shows the unit counts of each side for every type of unit they have in the field, including workers.  Keep in mind though that if you compare army strength this way, that assumes all of these units are engaging at the same time, which usually isn't the case
. What you can do though, is check to see who has the best counters, or any counters to certain units.  For instance, you could see if Banshees would be a viable option in that game if the Zerg enemy had no Overseers to detect them in the field.  The Units Lost tab is a rather depressing tab that shows you the total casualty counts and the amount of resources spent on the slain.  This can show you that even with an economical advantage, if you're squandering it with piecemeal attacks that can't destroy any strategic buildings, workers, or otherwise gain an advantage, they're just dead units added to the statistics.

The Army Tab

Here's where you can really crunch some numbers and determine who is doing the most, with the least.  It shows the cost and supply totals of each person's combat army in the field.  Reading this carefully can help you determine when that player's strategy was most vulnerable to attack, or when you thought you had an advantage that you truly did not!  The costs shown here are different from the Spending Tab because the  Spending Tab is culminative over the course of the game where as the Army Tab is the current military force you can throw around.  It does refer to some strange units as Army however, such as Planetary Fortresses for Terran when they can't even move.  Keep this in mind.

The Production Tab

This is where you can analyze, in conjunction with the Resources Tab, how well you react to your opponent and spend money.  Anything that is in the process of building or upgrading is shown in the top left for each player, and can help you realize points where you were too focused on your army in the field and forgot to keep your factories at home pumping out additional units.  Cases like that are why people are traditionally so vulnerable to counterattacks as they over-focus on the combat in the field and when they've lost the engagement, have nothing at base to keep you from being overrun immediately!  Paying attention here can help you improve your Macromanagement game and make you a better player.

The APM Tab

APM, or Actions-Per-Minute, is a term that basically describes how fast or often you click or press buttons over the course of the game.  Every time you press a hotkey, set a rally point, or click the mouse, you're generating APM.  It's a general measurement of how much you're managing your army and base, and is a statistic that is both overvalued and yet cannot be taken lightly since you have to keep producing units, expanding your economy, and killing your opponent all at the same time. 

 You can track your APM for the entire game up until that point, and your 'burst' APM of the moment as a hectic battle breaks out and you control your army with Micromanagement or you quickly queue up additional units, structures, and produce from your Macromanagement.  Ideally you want to be able to do both of those things at the same time, without losing focus or control of your units and using them to the best of your ability even when they're not designed to counter them.  For instance, one of the typical Terran openings consists of going for 2 or 3 fast Reapers, the raiding jetpack infantry, and going for your opponent's economy while doubling as scouts.  Tracking your APM here can help you note how much you're controlling these fragile units, but it can also help you realize points where you're focusing too much on the Reapers and letting resources pile up at your base, and production comes to a halt. 

 Being able to win on the battlefield and produce at home is all a part of the APM statistic.  Don't worry about it too much, but if you see a point where your APM dips low, think of what you could have done then to give you an advantage.  Could you have researched some upgrades?  Produced some counter-units?  Teched to something that your opponent wasn't expecting?  These are all key factors in improving your game as well as your APM.

So why am I watching these?

Watching replays is a key part of making yourself a better player in Starcraft II.  If you don't know how your opponent got those Dark Templar in your base and you don't watch that replay, you'll never see that he had them waiting outside your base and was waiting for you to lower your supply depots and let your army out, and the Dark Templar in  More importantly, you may fall for the same tactics over and over again if you don't understand how you lost.  Understanding why you lost is far more important than understanding why you won.  Losing repeatedly to a strategy can be highly demoralizing and make you want to uninstall the game at times.  Watching replays of those better than you and the professionals can help you out with key strategies and tactics to use yourself when you play next time.  So next time your mouse hand is tired and your hands ache, kick back and watch a replay of yourself.  You'll be amazed what you can find and improve on!

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