When I first started playing Starcraft 2 (SC2) I began by playing through the campaign. See previous post. It comes in Easy, Normal, Hard and Brutal settings and I began by bashing through it on Normal. I have several thousand Starcraft games under my belt, though many were years ago, so it was no surprise that I smashed the Normal campaign with ease. I was able to adapt to the challenges that came up in each mission and eventually complete them all successfully with little problem.
Today I decided that I need to play through again on Brutal and see if they really mean it. It turns out that they do! The difference is substantial enough that the game changes from simply adapting to what the computer does and figuring out a reasonable response to playing the missions over and over to nail down the exact timing of events to perfect my actions. In some cases I was able to beat the Brutal missions on the first try because I had the knowledge of the easy version but some have something like 16 specific events that I need to know ahead of time to be able to defeat. In particular I am doing a train heist mission at the moment and it is kicking my sorry behind though it is clear that I will beat it once I memorize everything and perfect my technique.
For example, after I destroy the second train a group of enemies spawns right near my base and instantly attacks. I have to know this will happen ahead of time so I can have my army standing right where they appear to wreck them before they run in and smash my base. I have to know where all 3 of the hidden tanks are located so I can pick up 1 of them before the first train, one before the second train and the 3rd after the 3rd train. I have to capture and build my second base between the second and third trains. It takes a lot of losing to figure out all these (and many more) timing tricks to actually have a chance to win the scenario. I find it interesting how different this is from playing SC2 against a player and I wonder if the skills transfer over well.
Players don't let you get away with perfecting a specific set of movements and simply repeating them. The basic openings are fairly scripted but the game becomes really random and chaotic very quickly and you cannot hope to prevail if your strategy is simply to do the same thing every time. I also cannot generally find a human player who will play a specific strategy over and over against me to allow me to perfect a series of unchanging moves; that is really quite boring! I have found in the past that I am at my best when competing against people on a very tight clock where rapid decisions have to be made with limited information. I have never been the perfect game analyst and fall short of many of my friends when it comes to picking apart a specific situation but I excel at making choices very rapidly with limited information and coming out on top. This is all not to mention that I *enjoy* fast paced decisions made with limited knowledge - I love the feeling of being in a tight situation and getting out with experience, quick thinking and moxie instead of laborious calculation.
Perhaps I need to get out there and start playing against other players instead of against the machine. My post seems to lead to that conclusion, though I did not start out thinking that way when I began writing. These things seems to have a life of their own.