Endgame Moves: Identifying the Endgame

  • Padraic "Cyan" Murphy

At the beginning of the year, we spent a week examining the early game of Blizzard esports with our Opening Moves series. We followed that up with Midgame Moves in July. Now, as 2018 comes to a close, we’re going take a magnifying glass to the late game in our Endgame Moves series.

One of the most lauded aspects of StarCraft II is its intricate late game. When it arrives, players find themselves commanding vast economies and some of the most powerful units available, fighting large-scale battles that could be fit for cinema.

We caught up with StarCraft II World Championship Series (WCS) caster, former pro gamer, and StarCraft tutor extraordinaire Jared “PiG” Krensel to get the answers on how to know when the late game has arrived, and how to transition into it from midgame tactics.

“When you have a large economy and see no route to winning the game soon—that is, you don't have any clear attack plans that you're confident in—you choose to improve your army to its ultimate state,” PiG explained. “To go to the late game, you usually want a lot of upgrades, a strong economy of at least four or five bases, and a minimum of 66 workers (AKA three bases fully mining).”

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PiG said transitioning to the late game usually means adding one or two key late-game units to your composition. “This is usually one meaty, powerful unit such as the Broodlord, Ultra, Carrier, Tempest, Thor, or Battlecruiser,” he said. “And also one supporting spellcaster, like Vipers, High Templars, or Ghosts.”

It’s important to make space for new units within your army supply. That said, PiG understands that trading out parts of your midgame army while you build for the late game is a difficult balancing act. It can be easy to throw away too many units, rendering yourself without a solid defense to deal with an attack. For this complex period, PiG offers some solutions:

“Maintain as much map vision as possible with good scouting—Observers and Revelations for Protoss, scans and spotter units for Terran, and Zergling scouts and good Creep spread as Zerg,” he said. “You should be aware of any army coming your way ,and your priorities can shift. But as long as you feel you can’t die right at that moment, you should start peeling off those units 10 or 20 supply at a time.”

PiG offers a more specific example of a Protoss midgame composition that’s extremely Zealot-heavy: “You might want to show up with your main army at the front just for a moment to pull their attention away, [then] hit [their expansions] with two or three squads of zealots from many angles whilst your [main] army slips away,” he said.

This also maximizes your chances of finding your way into worker lines to inflict big damage. “However, this is a huge commitment,” PiG cautioned, explaining that this tactic can only be done in games where you have good map control.

Knowing when and how to transition into the late game is the first step to learning about this facet of StarCraft II. Make sure you return for more Endgame Moves topics throughout the week, including tips on how to break a turtling opponent, what to do during a basetrade, and more! Thanks to PiG for his help with this storyfollow him on Twitter and Twitch.