There has been much criticizing about Starcraft 2, and the controversial debates go as far back as the game’s announcement. One of the main complaints about the new game is the upgraded User Interface (UI). Interface additions, such as the select-unused-SCV button, auto-mine, and Multiple Building Selection (MBS) cause the subsequent arguments of decreasing macro and micro.
These arguments stand on solid ground and every person has their own equally good arguments that express their opinions regarding the new UI. This article will discuss the major issues that have been brought up, especially MBS, a feature that allows a player to select a group of buildings. The article will also show the differences and similarities between the Micro and Macro within Starcraft and Starcraft 2. Hopefully, by the end of this article, the concept of Micro and Macro will have been thoroughly explored to provide a deeper insight on all strategy games.
Macro and Micro are two concepts that define Strategy gaming. Briefly put, Macro is the name of all the actions during a strategy game relating to the mindset of the player, the economy of the match, and the overall strategy that a player has. Micro, on the other hand, relates to the small details within a game, such as selecting units, deselecting units, giving a group of units actions to move and attack, using abilities etc. etc. Basically, Macro defines the overall strategy that a player has while Micro defines the itsy-bitsy details within that plan. Having both strong Macro and strong Micro is essential for a good game player.
Starcraft was released in 1998 for Windows and since then has been one of the most revered Strategy games in history. One could go to lengths studying the intricacies of the balance within the game, and there are many reasons that could explain why it is so popular. However, in this article, the Macro and Micro of Starcraft will be compared to that of Starcraft 2 to prove that both have their similarities and differences.
In Starcraft, Micro and Macro was carefully balanced to produce a sensational battling experience. The complicated maneuvers and mouse control required to pull off top Micro moves and the awesome focus needed to hold a strong Macro position was just enough to give anybody a thorough mental workout from just one match.
Macro in Starcraft consisted of managing economy, unit building, and controlling your overall strategy plan. It was very consistent throughout each race. The Protoss had to manage their probes and their building warping, being careful to watch their supply as well as constantly building and “teching” up. The Terrans and the Zerg did the same, with slight variations in the relationships between supply and building area. Also, Starcraft players had to constantly make decisions about their strategy and overall method of winning. Making correct decisions based on their opponent’s actions was very important. If, within a game, an opponent decides to create many ground troops, one must realize this from a Macro standpoint, changing his/her strategy to allow them to gain the upper hand.
Overall, Macro in Starcraft was quite simplistic in theory: Managing your economy, your buildings, and the effectiveness of your bases while deciding upon an overarching strategy that will ultimately allow you to reach your goal, defeating your opponent. Nevertheless, it was still difficult to do in reality. While one focuses on the every second events of a match (Micro), it is quite difficult to take a second to think about your strategy and watch your economy. As such, what once seemed like an easy task clearly becomes a difficult one when applied.
Micro is the twin brother of Macro. Rather than being similar to Macro, however, Micro is the complete opposite about the same things. In Micromanagement, the player would focus on the events occurring within a game every second. As such, in Starcraft, Micromanagement would consist of handling many control groups (of 12 units) very well, constantly building many units from barracks, gateways, hatcheries etc. etc., selecting and deselecting things, and “clicking very fast.” A person’s APM (Actions per Minute) Ratio can be said as a determinant of how good a Starcraft player’s Micro is. The faster APM you have, the more you’ve been clicking, and the more you have been “Micro-ing”.
Many of the top Starcraft players have a very high APM. Most of them have great Micro skills, so they can control their base very well. Micro is an essential thing within the game of Starcraft. Being able to quickly hotkey many units, switch between them, and concentrate at what your units are doing is not the easiest task. Being able to do it well results in great skill as a gamer and as a hard mental worker. It is a skill that takes several practice rounds and constant play. Nevertheless, once achieved, your Starcraft skill level skyrockets!
Macro and Micro in Starcraft 2 is very similar to Starcraft. The main difference is MBS, or Multiple Building Selection. The excuse used by Blizzard to add this UI option was “to allow Starcraft 2 to have the modern UI controls seen in most modern RTS Games.” MBS has brought many opinions to the Starcraft forum board, with everyone having their own opinions about the effectiveness of it.
First and foremost are the people who disagree with MBS completely. Nicknamed “Starcraft Lovers” or “Purists,” these people are against any enhancement of the Starcraft UI. In short, these people follow the motto: “If it’s already perfect, why change it?” Their opinions ring loud and clear throughout each forum board, and their leeching onto old Starcraft beliefs and styles might become quite annoying.
The next types of people are those who totally agree with MBS and the new UI system. They believe that Blizzard is doing the right thing by adding it to the game. They contrast the “purists” and the two sides constantly argue with one another.
I could go on and on about the many opinions about MBS, but the two main groups are above. Both sides have well-thought-out reasons about MBS, and here are the facts:
In my humble opinion, MBS is definitely a requirement for Starcraft 2. It modernizes the game while lowering the learning curve for newer players. However, I don’t believe that it decreases the game’s difficulty. With increased abilities and mechanics for every race, a player will still be well tested as he constantly tries to keep up.
Also, Starcraft pro-players aren’t “pro” for no reason. If MBS does simplify the game in a way that can’t be regained through extra abilities or mechanics, then the difficulty can be regained with an increase in tactics. The increase in units that allow players to maneuver the map with less difficulty than ever before and the increase in simplicity that allows players to build units efficiently will spawn tactics never possible in Starcraft: Brood War. With their minds off building many units efficiently, pro-players may have time to execute more tactics in more combinations.
In Starcraft, pro-players like Bisu, Nada, and Savior had strong Micro and a good sense of time management. They were great players because of their ability to constantly keep up their production of units (Macro) while focusing on the battle at hand (Micro). The strategies they used, however, were quite simple. While definitely thought out, theses strategies didn’t meet up to the standards of real war. Usually, a player won not because of his ability to outthink his opponent, but because of his ability to outmaneuver his opponent. If one was able to build more units in a timely fashion, he won (Macro). If one could use two units to destroy ten of his opponent’s (Micro), he won. If one could Reaver drop his opponent, he won. Never would you see someone execute a brilliant strategy that wins the game. It was “play what you get.”
In Starcraft 2, this is all but impossible. Players have more time to plan strategies and execute them. Pro-players would be able to flank an enemy from 3 sides, while sneaking a unit in the enemy’s back. At the same time, they would set up a nuke at another of the enemy’s expansion. They could plan all this out to occur at the same time to overwhelm the enemy with a three pronged attack. Such a brilliant strategy was impossible in the old Starcraft when one had to concentrate on mining and building units all the time.
The fact that you should take from this example is that: no matter how easy MBS, auto-mine… makes the game, pro-players will take advantage of it and push the game to a higher level.
Macro and Micro in Starcraft was an important factor of the game. It is still an important factor in Starcraft 2. I believe that new introductions such as MBS will definitely affect the game, but in a good way. It will move the entire difficulty spectrum up a level. The bad players will now do great things that look great in a replay-despite being a bad player. But the good players will now do amazing things that look beyond humane in a replay. The great graphics add to it, making Starcraft 2 a wonderful cinematic experience every battle.
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