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Tip of the Week #35 - Map Awareness

By MEXICANBROTHER - 24th December 2007 - 03:45 AM

What is Map Awareness?

Put simply, map awareness is knowing the map layout; its choke points, attack angles, and specific intricacies, and keeping these in mind as you play.

However, it tends to encompass more than just that, and is more like multitasking; keeping on top of the standard tasks of building construction, etc, while keeping an eye on your enemy's actions as well.

More often than not, it relies heavily on adequate scouting; necessary because of the need to know what is going on most important areas of the map, and tends to mean knowing what your opponent is generally going to be doing at most points in the game and being prepared to counter them, and any potential threats you will face.

Why is it important?

Simple. While invaluable, you can't always rely on the spacebar and EVA announcements to tide you through every single assault you're going to face in a match, though; if you're already being attacked and an Engineer is sent into your Construction Yard, you won't know until it's too late.

If a scouting mission reveals an early game Predator spam, then you can prepare Fanatics or Disintegrators and make his attack unsuccessful and costly. Overall, the benefit is that it will make your army more efficient and increase the likelihood of your units getting promoted, and as everyone knows, promoted units are so much more useful than regular ones.

Another good reason is that it really helps with improving your micro; a quick sweep of your base can reveal damaged buildings & units that could require repair or additional defense, or show idle Harvesters or other such issues that could be sorted out, and maybe show you those Flame Tanks that otherwise would have surprised you.

Map awareness is also hugely effective in helping you know where to position your forces, and this can be useful as you will know where to place defenses and extra units to counter any incoming assaults.

It should follow that good map awareness also has a knock-on effect on macro for the simple reason that you will be more able to plan better attacks, because you will be more able to attack his weak spots and capitalise on his mistakes; at times, this can mean the difference between a win and a loss.

Distractions will also be less likely to succeed with heightened map awareness; if you are playing against Nod, for example, you can be on the lookout for stealthed assaults and keep on guard with plenty of stealth detection, and save yourself a lot of hassle in the process.

How do I get it?

  • Hit spacebar whenever you hear an announcement
  • Constantly right-click scroll
  • Hotkey your main attack group (at the very least)
It takes time, but starts with a few simple steps and will become more like second nature the more you practice. One of the first things to do would be to check your minimap constantly, and pay attention to your EVA announcements. Also hit spacebar whenever you see the minimap icon flash or hear the EVA announcement; it will save you lots of time in finding out which enemy unit is where.

Constantly move around your base + the enemy base, just to check what is going on; this will greatly improve your general awareness and make it that much more difficult for your opponent to surprise you.
It is a good idea to use bookmarks; set them up as soon as possible at key locations and use them as much as possible. With this, the use of hotkeys is essential; it will save you huge amounts of time if you are able to do this consistently, and also help you get buildings up faster; both will be considerable advantages if you're facing an opponent who isn't using them.

Watch the replays of some of the top players several times through their points of view. Watch how they scout, and watch what counters they make at which points in the match, and try to adapt and implement that into your play. In addition, watching your own replays and looking at where to improve would also be a great idea.

Finally, practice. Practice, practice, practice, and don't give up. This can't be emphasized enough. You can only get better by playing, especially against higher-ranked players, and learn from both your wins and your losses.