The thing about being an RTS noob is that there’s a conflation of factors that lead to a loss which makes things hard to analyze post game. Did you lose because the unit composition your picked is bad, or just because you didn’t micro them properly? Was your build order trash or did you just execute it poorly? For instance, I used to think that a heavy scout opening for Space Marines in Dawn of War 2 was not viable until I saw a replay of Pega pulling it off with god-like micro and dominating people. There’s no way I would be able to do it however.
SC2 is much more demanding than DoW2, so the problem of working out whether a loss was due to mechanical problems, i.e. failure to control stuff properly, vs. strategic problems is compounded because there’s so much more that could go wrong. You could place buildings incorrectly, forget to summon a MULE as Terran, rally units to the wrong place, miss building workers, build too many workers when you should have built something else, fail to scout correctly, and many other macro mistakes before you even get into any micro mistakes. I’m making all of these mistakes and sucking as a result. From my experience with DoW2 it means I just need to play a lot more games and become comfortable with the game before I can really judge how good or bad a given strategy is. I am, however, developing a sense of what army compositions beat one another and when attacks are likely to happen timing-wise. Watching streams of people in the platinum league is helping with this too.
I lost a good two thirds of the games I played over the weekend, mostly due to macro errors and my house’s flakey internet connection wigging out mid-game, causing me to be demoted to the copper league. It’s interesting how much macro errors can make a huge difference. Yesterday I spectated a platinum league ZvT game in which the Zerg completely contained the Terran, then went on to float over 4k minerals whilst the Terran built up a massive marine, marauder, and medivac army supported by battle cruisers, then proceeded to break out and destroy the Zerg who had squandered his advantage, and this was despite several clever plays involving attacking via Nydus worms.
From my wins I can draw a few lessons: roaches smash a food-equivalent army of zealots or zerglings, the thermal lance upgrade on colossi makes them viable against siege tanks, broodlords are just amazing vs a mass terran ground army, you can get immortals about the same time that a roach rusher tries to attack in PvZ and they dominate roaches, mutas are an excellent answer to roaches due to roach inability to attack air, and marine blobs are great against banshees assuming you have detection.
I find that losses tell you more than wins though, and I sure had a lot to learn from the beatings I took. My first painful lesson was to always scout your opponents main army and know when they are attacking. In a PvP match I was rushing for a void ray cheese and had the clever idea to position my army near a proxy pylon i’d built near the center of the map. My opponent had gone for a large ground army, which totally bypassed my forces and entered my base just as my void rays were making their way to his base. Without my army at home to defend I lost when I could have held out and perhaps won. Moral: defend your base when you’re teching and know when your opponent is attacking! Also, abusing choke points and static defenses is a must when teching or rushes will crush you, as I learned in at least 2 games, where I tried to hold off big armies with small ones in open ground and predictably died. I lost another 2 games at least in part due to forgetting to build detectors. You need to have them before cloaked units arrive or the damage will already have been done. My most eye-opening loss was due to a 9-pool zergling rush in ZvZ, when my opponent scouted me early with his overlord. I hadn’t even realized that you could mass so many zerglings that fast.
The number one thing that’s still killing me though is poor macro and unit control, which only comes with more play. I’ve decide that it’s finally time to pick a race, and I’m going Zerg, because I seem to do best at macroing with them due to everything being made out of the same building, which makes things a whole lot simpler. In general though, I think I just need to get a hundred or so games under my belt.