There was a time when I was working for another tech company. During the last day of work employees who played Starcraft stayed after hours to play Starcraft. They stopped working at 1am. My shift ends at 6pm. I spend the remaining hours planning my week and catching up with friends who were nearby or on the phone.
Despite being scared to play and being defeated, I accepted an invite from the CEO to play Starcraft 2 a game I’ve never played before. I’ve played Starcraft one with Karlo and my other friends from high school. We always won. Except against Edward Paradero the guy who played like the best Korean players almost 10 years before we realized that Koreans played Starcraft. He setup what we call the Paradero Style defense where you build a defense behind buildings that will block and bottleneck the enemy movement. I almost beat him once. I got to wreck his base but he was able to build stronger units and beat me with hit and run tactics. The games always end the same. If we’re playing as Zerg, we fill the map with massive amounts of Hydralisks. If playing Protoss we use a large fleet of Cariers and anti-air units.
Each game was legendary. We were so proud of it. I also played Starcraft with my older half-brother. I only beat him once. After probably hundreds of losses. He adapted fast. I attempted more. Battles were often closely fought but in the end I’d lose. I never felt bitter because it was a great game. I only felt bitter when he left with $600 that I owned. His life went to a downward spiral after. Since then I realized that I need to be careful with who I lend money. God does repay in the end.
I think of Karlo and how undefeated we were. We were like Hashirama Senju and Uchiha Madara. I think of how fast I am at building a base, an army and striking the right places at the right time. Reality has a nice way of reminding you that it takes time and practice to learn a skill as I watched my army get decimated by units that I don’t recognize and fire, blood and destruction flooded my base. I left my computer to observe what was happening.
Several weeks later I had a long talk with my boss. He reminded me of my older half brother. He’s cool better than me in a lot of ways, has a similar background, and one I’d like to someday emulate then surpass.
He told me that my Starcraft strategy and race preference (Zerg) reflects how I work and my personal strengths. I’m not too detail oriented. I miss things at times. Like the Zerg my strengths lie in massive numbers and endurance. I spread out in many directions when I strike, find a weak spot and focus my swarm (effort, attempts) in one area. He said he didn’t hire me to be a copy of his two other officers. He hired me for my strengths. My ability to make several multiple attempts and to be emotionally detached by rejection. I’m free to learn the other skills later on but for the mean time, my talents are needed. We needed lots of prospects in the sales pipeline and only I can fill it.
That day got me reflecting on what else I can learn. Principles and skills are transferable so I do my best to learn as much as I can from the game I remember the most. Here are a few things that made sense for me.
- Things don't always go according to plan. In life shit happens a lot. Always be prepared for it. 80% of our activities are time wasters. We can't expect perfection all the time. 80% of our wins are caused by 20% of our efforts so it seems like we can't complain there. We just need to keep playing to find out what's next.
- It's not what you get but how you handle what you get. I played random the first time. I got Terran (humans) the first time. Nearly lost but my team mates defended me. We lost but I learned the rules in that first game and I got better at the succeeding games.
- The small things can make all the difference.When units clash, a small error, like the formation of units, when you strike, who you strike first can spell the difference between winning and losing. As I lost, I learned what's effective and what's not effective. When to fight and when to flee and to always look and take advantage of the opportune moment.
- Be yourself and risk defeat. I selected the Zerg because they are pretty fast at building up a large army. They can take advantage of large numbers and overrun the enemy force. I didn't recognize a lot of units so I went for the basic that I did. The zerglings, a small and cheap unit to build who attacks in large numbers. I used all my resources to build the largest force I can that only has zerglings. My team won at the end.
- Forgive yourself with what you can't do. Before my first win, I built up an air force as fast as I could. I defended my team mate from the air by attacking, nearby enemy resource gatherers and coming to my teammate's aid when he was under attack. My large and expensive air force was wiped out when I accidentally clashed with an airforce that's effective against my airforce. It's a rock paper and scissors thing. Knowing that I have no resources left to build another one, we changed strategies.
- Learn to trust and not do everything yourself. Teamwork is when you leave yourself completely open and you trust your partner to cover you where you are weak. My base was attacked. I had no army to defend myself. I migrated every unit I could to my team mate's base. I was able to build a few buildings. There were no places to gather resources and I was effectively dead. My team mate defended both our bases and conducted raids on enemy resource gatherers, and chipped off units from their army bit by bit.
- Victory went to the team that ran out of resources last. My team mate advised that I conserve as much resource as I can and stay inside the base until he gave me the signal to attack. The enemy armies grew thinner and thinner but so did my team mate's. I realized that late into a game it's difficult to rebuild your army to a large force three to four times because the resources were limited.
- Resources are limited and it can be a good thing.Because of my defeat we ended up making the best of my resources I built an army but hid it because we only got one shot. My team mate had to take as many units out with as few units as he can because being careless will lead to defeat. We won because the enemy had run out of resources. When I unleashed my Zergling army there was no resistance. My swarm chewed away at the buildings and what little units they had left.
- Instead of aiming for everything focus on a few small things. There are limited resources in the game. You can build various unit combinations for your army. As in life there are many directions that you can take. If you try to build up a life that has everything in it then you will most certainly have difficulty because you spread yourself too thin. The ideal situation is to have a few awesome things than many mediocre things.
- Execute well and forget about the tiny details of your plan. The game when broken down into small activities is rather simple. Decide the army you're building. Gather resources. Build a base. Build an army. Attack at the right place at the right time. Do it as fast as you can at each stage of the progression. As in life there are seasons. If you are generally doing it right then keep going. Don't be impatient or get discouraged when little things don't go your way.
- Be in the present. Not in the outcome. I'll be honest. I lost my air force when I looked at my phone. That led me to moving my air force in a direction that had anti air units and by the time I realized what was happening it was too late half were killed and a quarter was killed as I attempted to escape. Sometimes we are too set into what we want we miss out on what's going on. If you have goals it should lead you in the direction that you want to go. Sometimes goals become distractions that lead you to inaction. Be in the present not in the outcome.
- Credit for winning is overrated. I lost six games before my first win. After the win none of the embarrassing situations mattered. What was required to win and how I lost my air force and my base did not matter. How I hid under my team mate's base until everyone ran out of resources. None of that mattered. When you succeed nobody will care. What's important is that you do eventually.
I want to play Starcraft again. Maybe we’ll get to in the future. I can’t wait.