Ever since the Starcraft II team allowed us to ‘’take command’’ from any given point in a replay, I’ve been practicing build orders using this tool so I can practice not the entire build every time, but chunks of it, just the way musicians tend to practice parts of a piece, not always the whole thing. This is yet another example of deliberate practice within Starcraft: by allowing yourself to focus on fixing weaknesses in your play, you are giving yourself the best possible tool to improve. I’ve developed three variants I use with this tool.
The '‘quit and rewind ‘till perfect’’ method
This method is my favourite: it involes executing any build you’re trying to learn vs AI. Start the game, and do the build normally. The second you notice your first mistake in the build, hit ‘’quit and rewind’’ to go back 30 seconds prior to the mistake, and do the ‘’passage’’ again until you get it right. Once you do, play it again 2 or 3 times, and then proceed with the rest of the build, until another mistake is made. Rince and repeat. Simple and extremely effective! Once you’ve gotten good enough at any build, you’ll notice you will be able to go longer with your execution without making any mistake. My goal usually: no mistake until max out or even a bit after to practice worker transfers. Once you can do that, you know you’re ready to go out on the ladder with your build and test your newly acquired solidity!
Now one of the downsides of this method that a recruit once made me notice is that when you go back 30 seconds in time, you end up not knowing where you were in the build at that point. To adjust for this, make sure you look at production tab before hitting the ‘’take command’’ button and refresh your memory as to what was the next step after that point. ‘’Third overlord has just been started. Ok. What’s the next step before I go on?’’. If you can’t remember right away, you can also just go look it up on a written version of your build. This way, you don’t get thrown off as much from restarting at a random point in the replay.
Also, here the word ‘‘perfect’’ can be interpreted according to your level. So what’s a mistake in a build exactly? If you are a gold player, then perhaps being 10-15 seconds late on any step is still acceptable. If you’re diamond, maybe that benchmark should be lowered to 5 seconds, at least until the 4-5th minute mark. Forgetting to make workers or units for x amount of time is also an important parameter to consider for any given build (remember: efficiency of the execution of the build matters more than the choice of the build itself). So you can see, this is a flexible approach!
The ‘‘fix what went wrong’’ method
For those of you who don’t like playing vs AI and would rather just fix just the thing that cost you any given ladder game (or one of the major things).
After hitting the ‘‘quit and rewind’’’ button at the end of the game, just go back 30 seconds to the thing you forgot in the build that in your mind cost you the game. Play it again from there, then do the same process two or three more times, to give your brain a good grab of what it should perform next time!
The ‘‘practice this situation’’ method
This one involves grabbing a friend! I love finishing off a practice session with a recruit doing this, after we’ve covered everything in a replay he showed me. Let’s say you’re struggling with micro in certain fights. For example: executing a surround with zerg, splitting marines at a certain choke, rapidly executing a sequence of abilities with protoss (say: force fields, storm, guardian shield or w/e). Find a friend and a replay where that particular situation occured and you thought you weren’t up to the task. Make your praticing objective with him clear, and go to right before the critical battle happened, and play it from there, your friend taking command of the opponent’s army. Just make sure to give him enough time to re-hotkey the army to his liking, and engage. Recreate similar armies on both sides, and play the scenario again. There, you can vary the scenario a little, say, engage at a different point on the map, make him attack you rather than the opposite, both add the next logical step in your army comps and keep practicing the micro involved in the fights etc.
When I practice this with one of these three approaches, I am certain I have gotten something out of the time I’ve put into SC2 that day, no matter how long I practiced (could be as little as 10 minutes!).
Hope you find this useful! Pls give me your insights about how you use the ‘‘take command’’ feature. There is also another approach described around the end of the episode #3 of the A-move series. Make sure to check it out if you’re interested in this!