Phreak's STF Strategy Guide

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Phreak's STF Strategy Guide

Postby Hercanic » Wed Apr 22, 2009 3:31 pm

Many years ago, a fan of STF by the name of Phreak contributed a strategy guide for STF known as his "Tactic of the Week". Although not wholly applicable to the latest installment of STF, it remains an illuminating read nonetheless. Since that time, Phreak has gone on to become a top-ranked Warcraft III player, competing in Blizzard's WWI, worked as a game commentator, and is now an associate producer for Riot Games.

The following was written for STF 2.0.6b while Phreak was still a punk kid, so enjoy! =o)

TotW 4: Assault
Let the assault begin.

So here you are, commander. You have your shiny new Assault addon under construction, you have your 14-16 Engineers mining, some on gas, some on minerals. You know your units are heavy on the mineral side of things. Because of this, you must be careful. You know you will have plenty of gas for upgrades (your only gas unit is Soldier) but your minerals will be taxed. This means you must take careful balance. It will also skew your mid-game slightly. As soon as your Addon finishes, you should choose one of the Range upgrades and then start creation of a military unit, and then start Engineer production again. You will most likely have to go over the 2-per-patch+rounding. Go add an extra 5 in there, it’ll be worth it in the long run. You must macro with this addon, since slow speed, fire rate, and windup kinda kill micro abilities. Not to say you can’t micro. Focusfiring Solders are a must. Microing injured units out of the way is a must. You have the most range of anything except Snipers. Take advantage of that. Even with slow speed, attempt to hit and run. Try to flank. Have Soldiers on one side and HWGuys on the other, so that as they run away from soldiers, they run into a wall of automatic ownage. Both units must be used effectively, and you will need a few Scouts for EMP and detection. Unfortunately Scouts also cost a ton of minerals, 250/0, and will probably kill your military unit production for a short time. But Blinding Spies, EMPing Pyros and Spies, and whatever else is very useful, especially since you will have enough gas to research these consistently.

Assault vs Assault: The battle of attrition.
So you’ve scouted your opponent and realize you’re going AvA. That’s fine, all you need is your macro skills in check, and enough micro to not get your arse handed to you. But be careful, pro microers can seriously negate everything you have. In fact, you might need more micro than macro. Also, this is probably the most balanced match-up: If your macro is significantly worse, you will get overrun. If your opponent’s micro is significantly better, HWGuy taunting and Rocket Dodging will brutally rape you. Solders are the main unit for this cause. Rockets can be dodged, but with slow speeds, your opponents will not go unharmed. It is possible to win 1v1 Soldier vs Soldier consistently, using rocket dodge, fire, dodge, repeat. If both players are evenly matched in macro and tactics, the best microer will win. Assault does need micro, it’s just not readily apparent. You should generally just go Soldiers and then micro better. Playing against the HWGuy windup lets you hit and run. This nullifies HWGuys if you can micro. Scouts are absolutely not necessary. You may want to sacrifice some unit production to allow yourself an earlier expansion. This will be immensely helpful. Take your closest expansion, travel time will kill you if you take on that is far away, even if the purpose is just to hide it. Silence generally means expansion, and people generally scout all possible places to expand. Again it turns into a battle of attrition. Kill what you can, but don’t take unnecessary losses. Your units cost a ton of minerals, so don’t mess up. Ambushing can help, because it will kill micro and splash, while your opponent’s units will be bunched up. If you can divert half of their 10-man squad out using only 2, you now have an 8 vs 5 battle. Spread out to lower splash, and raze them. Just keep the other 2 dancing around. Once you get your second addon, choose Espionage or Support (later to be siege, and even after that, Support can be a viable 2nd addon). If you choose Siege (currently Support) you should now get HWGuys. Load op 3 of them and a few soldiers into an Osprey and wreak havoc everywhere. Play the slow movement time. Don’t even try to fight battles, just hit and run. There are no real upgrading breakpoints, since micro induces various levels of damage against Solders. But remember every armor point takes 5% of the HWGuys damage out against your last 100 hp. 1 shield armor saves a total of 16 damage when all’s said and done. It’s really only one extra shot, but with that extra gas from your mineral-intensive Soldiers/HWGuys, it might be worth it to save a tenth of a second by spending 300 gas.

Assault vs Espionage: Rush for Ospreys.
I kid you not, you will generally not be able to attack nor expand without Support (soon to be Siege). Go for HWGuys or Soldiers, your choice. I’d rather go for Soldiers because they kill Snipers just as fast (2 hit kill takes about as much time as windup + .5 second kill), die just as fast (3 hits), move slightly faster while not suffering from windup, and cost 50 less minerals, giving you a faster 2nd Hub. But beware, your opponent might try a Spy rush on a decent sized map, so prepare for that. Get a scout or two and pump Soldiers. If the mains are not elevated, you will have a hard time. You will not know whether to prepare for a big attack, or tech to match your opponent. The best way to solve this is to have Engineers run in and scout attack routes and forces at the main. If you don’t see many Snipers taking aim at you, you’re probably free to tech to Ospreys ASAP. Once you get Support, your opponent’s only way out is Assault. Ospreys take forever to kill with Espionage, and once Solders and HWGuys are dropped on top of enemy Snipers, he’s screwed. There’s not much detail to go into. Get Ospreys, load up, and wreak havoc. Just beware that you will likely not know what your opponent is doing.

Assault vs Pyrotechnics: Good luck.
Remember that: Soldiers > Demoman, Demoman > HWGuy, Pyro = Soldier, [amendment] Pyro 9847293468 HWGuys, because you can hit, run, hit, kill. But with latency, and smart opponents, you need just as many numbers as your opponent, and with more tactics. Just because your units are that sexy.

The way to beat Assault lies in mobility and micro. I remember one game where AZNMASTA_69 almost beat me due to a few Snipers behind a wall, with a dancing Scout giving LoS* vs my Soldiers. Eventually I somehow owned it, so it was all good. (Don't worry I'll keep your secret, "MASTA") What you need to do is keep Snipers in back, owning everything. If your Spy/Scout micro goes well, these Snipers need not be micro'd. HWGuys' windup can be played, Soldier rockets can be dodged. If you micro is very very good, you should own these guys pretty well, especially once you own the Scouts to keep your Spies cloaked. Spies are mainly LoS-givers, until Scouts die. Addon could be either Assault or Siege(Support) or Support. I don't reccoment Pyrotechnics because it will be extremely hard to micro Spies/Scouts/Pyros/Demomen all at the same time, hitting, running, everything. Unless you're 3x more gosu than me (like most ppl)

Pyrotechnics: The Micro Strikes Back
So you ended up fighting the bang-kaboom Pyrotechnics addon. No matter, you win if micro'd properly. Using correct tactics, you will win with low amounts of casualties. I remember a 2v2 as Espionage. My team won, and I had 0, yes 0 casualties the whole game. I should have taken a screenshot of the "Units" score, but oh well. So you know that Pyros will be a big part of it, with Demomen forming the anti-Spy barrier. You need to beat your opponent's unit groups. Flamethrowers nullify Cloaking, and everything goes down in 2 Sniper shots. This relatively low amount of hp can win the game. Can. You need to do your best to keep your Spies away from the Pyros, and if possible Scouts as well. Snipers pick off units, Spies distract. Demomen's homing grenades can be a problem, and EMP renders Spies out of cloaking 5k!11z. You just need to use the correct unit mix, about 75/25 Sniper/Spy and attacking fast enough to not get ownasized by Siege(Support). Once your opponent gets a second addon before you, you're most likely gone, so watch for that.

Espionage: Return of the Addon Rush (What, you thought it'd be "Micro?")
Well now I'm getting lazy, and am going to just spit this off quickly. Get Spies to counter Spies, and Snipers to counter Snipers and Watchtowers to counter LoS hoes. Get your Siege(Support) addon and get Ospreys and APCs ASAP. Getting a total of 11 armor, adding Armor to Sheild gives Snipers 2 hits to die to opposing Snipers. Get your Osprey in good spots and go own. Alternatively get FFs and go rape that way, with the Concussive dmg being your friend. At the very least you can take out Engineers and distract while attacking from the front.

Floating Fortresses are an alternative. Consider getting just enough Snipers/Spies to hold you over, and get 2 FFs when possible. Consider playing like normal until you have a gas buildup, and you have lost forces. You shouldn't make this your goal, but if it's possible, by all means, own ppl with FFs. If luck, you can make your opponent pull back and let you advance with your remaining troops while the FFs occupy your opponent.

TotW 6: Pyrotechnics

Pyrotechnics is, despite all images you get from thinking of the word Pyrotechnics, nearly the weakest addon. Despite Pyro whoring, despite teh fact that Demomen laugh at HWGuys, Pyrotechnics is very very hard to play. Must be why it's my favorite, yea?

Pyrotechnics needs a careful balance of units. Despite my love towards Pyro Whoring, you will love vs Assault this way. For real. With the immense range/damage of HWGuys and the huge damage of Solder rockets which are also long range, you need to micro like God. Or, well, you opponent could suck and you don't need to, but let's say you're playing against me ^_^ (tip, just leave the game... j/k).

So lets get on with the matchups:

Pyrotechnics vs Assault
This battle will be hard as phuq in the midgame. By the way, earlygame = 1hub, not maxed yet, still making engies, generally. Midgame = 1-2 hubs, maxed out on, either ready to or already expanded. No second addon. Lategame=2nd addon done, massing wars. Seriously, STF does promote massing, mwa ha ha, at least in more than 1v1 play games, because countering owns you, and also the sheer ownageness of high ground. Either that or I suck at attacking ^_^ (which I do)

Anyway, so in Pyrotechnics vs Assault, you should start out with my Napalm Rush build order. It's the general build order anyway. So you research napalm, and pump Pyros and Demomen. Generally start out with mass Pyro until Engie production is done. Once you get your third Pyro, Napalm should be nearly done. Generally, I like to attack with the firts units off the line, because if you micro well, you can nail some Engineers (it's best to get in there and light it all on fire, later Pyros can rape engies that way). But remember, pyros cost 3x the mins that Engies do, and cost another 100 gas. You will need to micro very well. Hit and runs work because Assault units are very slow. You want to hit economy a lot, and always keep your macro up. Hotkey the Addon to (1) and the Hub to (2). HWGuys RAPE Pyros because their range is extremely short, even the Napalm Grenade. This is why you need demomen. If you rush fast, you will know if your opponent is going Solder or HWGuys opener. if HWGuys, pump Demos, and get teh occasional Pyro for Napalm. Always try to napalm the mineral line, since Assault units are horrendously mineral intensive. Dance Demomen vs Solders and HWGuys and Storm everything you can. That's really all there is. Macro up, and micro well.

Pyrotechnics vs Espionage
Espionage is another fairly hard Pyrotechnics matchup. Spies rape splash, and Snipers pick off your units in 2 hits. Strength in low numbers. Hit fast, and you NEVER want to lose exrta units. Your units cost a lot more gas then theirs, so go ahead and rape mineral lines. This also leaves room for more Scout production because of decreased mineral-reliance. Unit mix is VERY important. Despite the fact that Spies are then anti-Demoman, you should actually use these vs Spies. I'm not crazy, just listen. Spies move frickin fast. They're the second fastest int he game (behind Scouts). This means that Pyros are really not effective. They will dodge your rockets with ease and then get in close so you can burn yourselves. Bad idea. Demomen grenades track. And while they splash your own units plenty, you should be spread out enough to save yourself from total rape. Make sure you dance your Demomen and you'll kill the Spies without too much trouble. Keep a few Pyros ready to Storm enemy Snipers to get them to either die or run screaming (so they won't shoot) By the way, napalm does 150 damage, Snipers have a full 140. If any one 1/2second of Nape misses, they won't die, so watch out for that. Spies survive 1 full napalm. It's still good to nape the advancing Spies to make it easier for your Demomen, but don't expect more than 50 damage (just under 1 demo grenade) from it. Research normal grenades almong with Napes for Spy management. They bunch up real nice. Just pop 3 grenades in there and the splash will nail em (I said 3 cuz you will most likely not be dead on, hence not getting full 100 dmg. Spies have 180 total hp) Whatever you do, don't lose your Scouts. If you are going to lose em, get EMP as well so you can at least remove some cloaking from these guys. Optical flare also helps nail sniper spotters. Expo FAST. You need cash to combat the unit efficency. It's kinda like a PvT matchup. You need to out-expand to combat unit efficiency. That's kinda hard when an expansion costs 4 scouts.

Pyrotechnics vs Pyrotechnics
Well, bet ya saw this one coming yeah? My opinion, is this is fast clicking wars. Essentially, it's Napalm war with a twist. Whoever can click faster and has better hotkey skill. Seariously, if you hotkey every pyro, you will win this no sweat. You need your opponents to be alwas COVERED with nape. You need to be abe to dodge storm, and if you feel really sexy, EMP enemy Pyros (Before they storm). Some tactics include running sole pyros in, naping, and running out, mass demomen for splash ownage while dodging napes, mass pyro, naturally, and pyro/scout. Expand first and take Espionage (the only time i suggest not going siege/support) or maybe Siege for APCs. You don't need armor ups here, just think fast and click faster.

TotW 7: How to Attack

Guess how you win games in starcraft. C'mon guess... You Attack. Attacking is absolutely necessary in STF and SC and whetever else that needs, you know, winning. Unit mixes, hotkeys, knowledge, and scouting are all necessary. I'm not sure why Scouts are names Scouts, they're expensive as phuq and dont even scout all that well...sorry. Engineers are better scouts, or in lategame, Ospreys. After knowing what addon your opponent has, you decide what unit mix you need, and what unit mix your opponent is going to use. If you think you're ready to attack, you should probably send an Engineer first, or just head of your force. Generally gather up at his or her front door, sned in a sacrificial Engineer, and go if it seems you can win. Remember that high ground RAPES snipers and can sometimes be very difficult to send storms out if it's covered over in fog of war (they try to get up to high ground first T_T) Anyway, if you think you can manage that roce, go attack, Spread out vs splashers, hotkey key units (like your lone scout, your spies, each one of your pyros if you feel sexy) and let em have it. Know all the hotkeys, like N, A, S, H, rightlick, shift, D, G, T, etc (napalm, attack, stop, hold, disguise, grenade, stim). See, I know what I'm doing ^_^ Anyway, try to focusfire with units that focus easily, like Soldiers and Pyros. Always try to get one unit that splashes well (demoman, pyro, hwguy, someone with grenades, even a medic for conc) to run into the mineral line and screw stuff up. I've won games by attacking with most of my army, running it around drawing fire away, while 1-2 pyros naped the crap out of the Engineers, and then I could pummel them until they couldn't produce enough kids to fight me. But remember to run if you're going to lose, adn let off all your spells fast. Everything for Hallucination grenades on snipers, to napalming engineers, use all your spells because they rape everything up fast, and battles are oftenm short. Remember that damage is very high compared to hp, your units are going to fall fast, I remember wanting to storm like the whole army, but when i clicked, my pyros were gone T_T. Think fast, click faster.

Tactics 1-3 availablue at:
Last edited by Hercanic on Thu Apr 30, 2009 10:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Phreak's STF Strategy Guide

Postby coko » Sat Apr 25, 2009 7:03 am

I remember this guide! It was very useful for the time, and I remember trying to think of ways of adding to it. Great to hear the progress he has made. Hope to have time to help write a new guide!

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