StarCraft 2: Beating The Rush

I’ve figured out why I’m playing StarCraft 2 online. It’s for the rush.

Not the Abrupt-Wave-Of-Units kind of rush. What I mean is that a match of StarCraft 2 will have my heart performing drum solos, and it’ll pluck my taut nerves like violin strings. The game’s been designed for this. What’s forgotten in the talk of how StarCraft pros perform 300 actions per minute is that lesser players simply have to move as fast as they can, and think as fast as they can, in an environment where so much can go wrong at any moment. I’m playing StarCraft 2 because it’s been years since a game has managed to get me quite this excited, and so consistently.

It’s not just that I like giving my heart a rough time, although that is part of it (what’s my heart ever done for me, eh?). Really, the appeal here is that in making a multiplayer game that’s this frenetic and this dependant on timing, Blizzard add an emotional dimension to the competitive experience. You have to play the game, but you also have to deal with your own panic. And that’s a beautiful bit of game design that I don’t feel is getting enough discussion.

I tweeted about the most obvious symptom of this panic the other day. Total tactical inflexibility. For most beginner players, you have your build queue in your head. You build that build queue. There is no thought as to whether it’ll work, and, more worryingly, there often still isn’t any thought even when you launch your attack and it doesn’t work. It’s bizarre. Let’s say you’re building Mutalisks, and your first wave of them is shot down when it turns out your opponent was building some unit with anti air. Because of the panic, it’s difficult to then stop building Mutalisks and build something else. Stop? There can be no stopping! Your Mutalisks will block out the sun! Your strategy becomes a pair of iron rails, and your game is a runaway train.

No matter how much you might need it, there’s never time for chin stroking in StarCraft 2. Physically your hands are on the mouse and keyboard, and mentally the panic has you fogged up. Instead, you have to yank on cerebral levers that’ll divert your game-train from one set of rails to another, usually with a screeching sound and a few sparks. It’s immensely satisfying when you manage it.

Another pitfall of running on adrenaline as opposed to common sense is simply doing stupid stuff. It’s partially the smaller-scale equivalent of the inflexibility mentioned above (dashing rushes against enemy defences simply because you took those troops across the map to attack), but also overreacting to stimulus. Pulling all your workers off the resources because you get spooked by a single harassing aircraft, or meeting an attacking force in the middle of the map because you can, when in reality you didn’t know if they were heading straight for your base.

Then there’s the big kahuna, the one that only surfaces in really long matches. Total loss of faith. All of your zest, speed and fight falling out of your shoes and onto the floor. I must have surrendered in at least 3 or 4 matches for no other reason than I was tired, I wasn’t quite winning and didn’t like my chances, when what I really needed was to spit on the metaphorical floor and redouble myself. Though even if you’re winning and aren’t in danger of giving up, you still stand a chance of getting incredibly sloppy for the same reason. You realise you’re in a good place, and then before you know it you’ve got 1,000 unspent minerals in the bank and no infrastructure for dumping them.

I suppose it’s interesting because adrenaline is traditionally found in action games, where it serves a purpose. Or does it? Does adrenaline actually heighten reaction times? Anyway, in strategy game it’s only ever a tripwire for you to fall over. Dealing with your own panic; being able to view yourself and the game from a distance and decide on new tactics, and to do this quickly and easily, is a skill that must be learned, and I’m really enjoying getting better at it.

But then, I would. What first hooked me about Red Orchestra was the pure panic of differentiating Russian troops from German before taking your shot. I adore last-man-standing gametypes and games which give you very little ammunition. I love tense, desperate fights that leave me shaking. What weirded me out most about realising I was playing StarCraft 2 for the rush was the subsequent realisation that I wasn’t getting that rush from shooters anymore. I suspect it’s because it’s just been so long since I played an RTS competitively.

What are your favourite experiences with panic in multiplayer games, readers? Or do you hate the panic?


  1. Jim Rossignol says:

    Falling into a trap in Eve Online – particularly in an expensive ship – and getting away with it. Or simply the panic of full engagement of fleets. Nothing beats that, particularly when you are the one calling targets.

    • John Walker of RockPaperShotgun says:

      Nearly giving up on finding the last clue in a hidden object game — particularly a Big Fish Game — and then finding the right pixel. Nothing beats that, particularly when you are the one clicking the mouse.

    • ezuz says:

      I agree with Jim. Getting trapped by x number of cloaked ships, locked down and hammered only to be saved by friends coming in for the rescue at the last possible moment.

      And JohnWalkerofRockPaperShotgun…. nice 1 ^_^

    • ezuz says:

      Speaking of falling into traps in EVE; link to

  2. Snall says:

    Try playing an MMO with full loot…

    • jake says:

      darkfall kekekekeke

    • Howl says:

      Everquest: Bumping into an enemy race in Lower Guk would have me shaking like a shitting dog. Even after they removed full looting, the fear of having your equipment stuck down there was enough to make the PvP absolutely stellar.

  3. Xercies says:

    Unfortunatly my brain is not the type that likes panic. basically it does this weird thing where instead of actually dealing with all the information it just shuts down and actually just lets all that wash over it. So mainy i lose. This is why i genrally don’t do well in online games.

    • Sarlix Wester says:

      You did alright in Neptunes Pride :-()

    • Xercies says:

      That was because it was slow paced and you could spend a bit of time thinking about your next move and the different wings of your operation. yeah thats what i like slower paced games where you can actually think about it lol.

    • Sarlix Wester says:

      Heh, me too. Even in Neptunes Pride I sometimes felt as if I was being rushed into a decision. When Spats increased the game speed in the second game I near on shit myself lol

  4. GGX_Justice says:

    2D Fighting game, BlazBlue Continuum Shift.

    Oh vermillion mouthed Elder-Gods, do I hate the panic.

  5. arqueturus says:

    What Jim said. Nothing and I mean nothing comes close to Eve for inducing the shakes. Pretty much what you’re describing Quinns although I’m not sure why you get such a trigger from SC2 where you stand to lose nothing?

    • Snall says:

      Pre-trammel UO. …sigh…nothing like a first love..

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Actually, by the end I was always completely calm and focused in Eve. Maybe one of the reasons why I’d had enough was that I could remain cold even when we were jumping capital ships into fleetfight situations.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Maybe it’s because they secretly removed your Amygdala while you were sleeping, Jim.

    • DarkNoghri says:

      Wouldn’t that mean he would get emotional about everything?

      “He feels everything. He can’t not.”

      Waitasec, maybe that’s what happened to John…

    • jarvoll says:

      The amygdala activates during processing of just about any information with emotional content, but it doesn’t appear to be necessary for any of it, at least qualitatively. The worst he might expect is not to be able to encode a novel fearful response (for example, if there were a zombie apocalypse tomorrow in which all the zombies were sheep, we’d all become terrified of the zombie-sheep, whereas your amygdala-less person would not).

    • nil says:

      …Jim’s a Thargoid?!

  6. SpinalJack says:

    I don’t have the competitive edge in online games. Sure I like to win but I don’t like the aggressive atmosphere of one-on-one where it seems almost personal. I do however enjoy a bit of coop with a friend because then it’s less about you. I still play to win but there’s less perceived pressure.

    One of the most intense games I remember playing was one-on-one counter strike back when I played it. It was a test match for a clan so doubly high stakes made my adrenaline pump.

  7. Mr Chug says:

    Competitive RTS has always been impenetrable to me- I don’t really have the sheer recall required to learn one build queue, let alone another to adjust it to if I get hard countered. AI War’s at-your-own-pace cooperative strategy is much more my kind of thing, since by the time it starts ramping up you know your production intuitively.

    Left 4 Dead and its successor have given me adrenaline shakes so bad that I can’t play before, as does the occasional golden run as spy on TF2. For consistent panic though, I can’t think of a game that induces paranoia and fleeing terror like The Ship.

  8. Jeremy says:

    Some of my favorite moments were back in college playing Counter-Strike in league play. We would try to set up a solid round by round strat but for whatever reason, we would just have that one round where everyone died but me. So I would have to go assassin mode, creeping about, then freaking out when I would turn a corner and see 3 of them looking the other way. It was a terrible panic, and when I made it through the round miraculously taking winning in a 5 v 1 situation, the adrenaline would make the next 2 rounds for me nearly unplayable because I would get the shakes. Sounds ridiculous saying it now, but hey, what can ya do?

    • Vodkarn says:

      I used to have the nickname ‘pseudo-clutch’ on my CS team because I’d manage to be in a 1v5 situation and kill 4 of them, then die to the last one, at LEAST twice per match.

      It sucked, haha, but it sure did get the adrenaline going!

  9. Alexander Norris says:

    I’m not too fond of panic, simply because I like to play games to relax, and even though the adrenaline rush makes things fun for a bit I usually have to take a break afterwards.

    That said, nothing beats the excitement of flying a fully-loaded transport chopper over enemy territory, getting shot down but managing to bail in time, then evading enemy armour while hoofing it to the objective only to capture it, survive a counter-attack and get rescued by your teammates. This is why I love games like Battlefield and ArmA. :D

  10. DeptRedunDept says:

    Crush your enemies. See them driven before you. And hear the lamentation of their women.

  11. HexagonalBolts says:

    I’ve been trying to pin this feeling down for ages!

    It’s unbelievable how much my heart pounds when I play. And I do -the- stupidest things. I can’t understand why I don’t adapt the obvious flaws in my strategies…

  12. Monkeybreadman says:

    Playing a RTS online can be one of the most intense and exhausting gaming you can do. Company of Heroes was a very similar experience to the one you’ve described. There is so much going on, so much to consider…. at least with an FPS you can hide in the corner and scratch your nose.

    • Wilson says:

      @Monkeybreadman – Yep, it’s only ever been COH for me. I don’t get it much in FPS games online, mainly I think because it’s very rarely 1v1. In COH when playing 1v1, I’ve had exactly what Quintin describes. I can’t usually handle very many games because it feels too intense for me. I haven’t played SC2, but I gather it and COH are both quite fast paced (SC2 more so).

  13. Max says:

    I love the game for the exact same reason, but it has the odd effect of me having to psyche myself up before I can even START playing the game. The adrenaline is so intense that I honestly find myself thinking, as my mouse hovers precariously over the icon, “do I really have the energy to do this?” Half the time I’ll wuss out and do something utterly devoid of effort (Futurama marathon? That’s the ticket!) instead.

    When I do manage to ascend that peak of self doubt, it’s all but guaranteed that I’ll have a good time, but it makes me curious about how many others out there just find RTS games too stressful to even consider playing online to begin with. They’re fun! Not everyone’s a 300 APM smug ass! And once you’be played your placement matches the matchmaker really is quite good about finding equal matches. Come play!

    • jaheira says:

      Max- it’s not me that’s the problem, it’s the other guy. If I’m playing a game with someone and I’m shit at it (and man am I shit at SC2) I become responsible for him having a crappy game. I can’t deal with the guilt!
      It’s not so bad in competitive games as it is in co-op, I spose. Stuff like Team Fortess 2 or most MMOs are unplayable for me.

  14. nine says:

    I have a love/hate relationship with starcraft2 online, for exactly the reasons you describe. Sometimes I want to come away from a video game stimulated and slightly sweaty. Other times I’d rather just dig a giant fucking hole in Minecraft.

  15. fallingmagpie says:

    Probably only popped into my head because of the Telltale article earlier, but poker does this for me. Even when you know you’re ahead in a hand, you still have to get over the human-nature aversion to the risk of putting all your money in the middle and potentially losing, and just get it in – knowing there’s a whatever-percent chance someone will draw out on you and hit one of the, say, two cards that’ll give them a better hand than you. Heart in mouth, at times.

    No idea how it compares to realising your build queue’s cocked, though, as I’m not an RTS guy :)

  16. gollum says:

    I had forgotten what that feeling was like since I hadn’t played an RTS semi-competitively in almost a decade. Starcraft II definitely brought that rush back full force and now I’m addicted. I was starting to become completely apathetic with any recent FPS release, so SC2 came out at the right time and I don’t see myself putting time into any other multiplayer game for a while.

  17. pkt-zer0 says:

    I don’t panic that much, but my hands are shaking enough to make me miss hotkeys more often than ideal, which does get rather annoying. SC2 is the only game where this has happened to me, though. I rage at the horrible netcode in SF4, and get slightly miffed when losing, but that hasn’t come anywhere near making it physically difficult to play.

    • Jimmy says:

      My hands are shaking, my hands are shaking… and I’m still going, and I’m still going, and I’m still getting headshots, it’s like, BOOM HEADSHOT

      something like that?

  18. Pijama says:

    That is the problem of having Blizzard as one of the top dogs of game development.

    Starcraft II is ridiculously fun, but doesn’t do nothing it’s predecessor wasn’t able to – the 300 APM and teeth-crushing action was there.

    I was wondering if we should re-brand these games… Action-strategy? You might be cunning, you might be brilliant in strategy, but if you are playing against an APM god who knows a few builds by memory, you are toast.

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      Or we could just call them RTS, since the genre has been doing this for the past decade at least.

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      “You might be cunning, you might be brilliant in strategy, but if you are playing against an APM god who knows a few builds by memory, you are toast.”

      Not really, no. It’s not as if higher APM makes your buildings construct faster or your units more damaging.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      For someone who just plays the custom games (afraid of the real thing here!) what is APM?

    • bleeters says:

      Actions per minute, I believe.

    • subedii says:

      APM = Actions Per Minute, something that silly SC2 fans obsess over. Basically it’s a measure of how fast you can do things.

      pkt-zer0 is right. Except at exceptionally high levels of play (I’m not even talking just diamond league, I’m talking the highest tiers of diamond league) a high APM doesn’t outdo solid strategy for the most part. At least as long as you can keep on top of the basics, like continually churning out workers. Often you’ll see people click-spamming randomly just to bring their average APM up, at that point it doesn’t really mean anything.

      Anyway regarding the post, I pretty much got into online RTS’s because of this. It’s only been a recent phenomenon with me, but tight games of DoW2 brought it on something fierce. It’s so awesome to be playing against someone of your skill level and having to be on your top game, knowing that each decision matters. Some of my most fun games have gone right down to the wire.

      The random chaos of the average online FPS doesn’t really come close. You’re acting as part of a large whole. It’s a different kind of “fun”, there it’s teamwork that has to pull everything through, and there’s a buzz to be had when you coordinate everything well with your team mates and make a solid push to victory. In most RTS’s, it’s much smaller scale player counts, and you’re making more longer term decisions.

    • Starky says:

      Actually sub, the reason many top players spam randomly to keep their APM up is so that when they need fast reactions they don’t have to ramp up their action speed they are already there.

      It’s considered a good practice to spam commands away, because it keeps you fast – keeps your keyboard rhythm.
      It’s basically the exact same thing I do as a bassist as a finger plucker rather than a picker, when playing a really fast song, instead of stopping my fingers, I keep them moving keep the rhythm, but simply mute the notes and skim the strings. Otherwise getting back top pace is impossible.

      You’re correct though in the rest of what you say, I’m a mid gold player and my APM sucks – though I never played any starcraft ever before SC2 and I was not in the beta – hell never played any RTS online at all before SC2, just single player.

      I’m using GRID layout and while that helped as a newbie I’m starting to wonder if it is holding me back, as sometimes I do miss-click, and hitting T to attack move is much more of a stretch than A.

    • Howl says:

      I’m with DJ Phantoom on this one. I have 2400 Achievement points but haven’t touched the multiplayer yet and I’m not sure I will. Shooters or MMOs I will get very competitive at. Dark Age of Camelot I would get very obsessed about being the number one killer on the server every night, checking killshot figures constantly.

      RTS games… I just can’t face online. I think it’s the head to head that puts me off. I don’t know that I can invest so much time into playing a game vs just one person.

    • Wilson says:

      @Howl – That’s interesting. What’s your issue with spending time playing a game with just one person? Do you mean it’s more intense, or does it feel like wasted time for you? I can’t see what the difference between playing against one person or many would be for game quality, if the game is designed for 1v1.

  19. Mavvvy says:

    That’s exactly the reason i’m still playing this. Only get the same feeling in a handful of game’s Bennys Warfare in arma 2 is one of em.

  20. Jake says:

    Tanking the last 10% of a boss like Brutallus in WoW. I remember one boss where I held my breath in desperate concentration for so long I had to lie down before looting. Although the good thing about WoW is if you lose you can just blame your healers while in SCII you have no-one to blame but your own worthless self and your embarrassing attempts at micro.

  21. Deston says:

    I’m one of them filthy evil smokers wot you see loitering outside pubs passively killing children, and I often measure my game absorption by whether I can easily sneak in a crafty cigarette or not.

    With Starcraft 2, quite often I’ll light up and then get panicked by something explodey on screen heading towards my base(s). By the time I’ve dealt with it and crafted a suitably apocalyptic retaliation, I remember I had a smoke on the go only to notice it has been completely neglected, burning down to a long unusable slither of ash in my ashtray. Bollocks.

    It’s almost always a really intense fast-paced RTS that grabs hold of your brain and makes you pay complete attention, and there is indeed very little time for any chin stroking or smoking… or anything else for that matter. Fortunately, there is plenty of time for pew pew aliens and huge stompy mechs wreaking all kinds of delicious carnage, which is clearly the important thing.

    I guess in a roundabout fashion, Starcraft 2 is also actually beneficial for my health, which is one of many reasons that I’m going to have to go and play some more now.

    • gerafin says:

      You just need to master the hands-free smoke. For a while, it will go into your eyes and gag you at the same time, but after a while your mouth gets used to dragging and puffing all on its own. Look ma, no hands!

    • Howl says:

      It’s too demanding of your complete attention, even in the campaign and custom modes. My partner has been discouraging me from playing it, which is something that’s never happened before in years of seeing me play games. It’s worryingly all-consuming, even if you only play for short periods.

  22. TCM says:

    I love and hate Starcraft 2 multi.

    I love the thrill, the sudden realization of what my opponent’s doing and how to counter it, the frantic clicking as I pray everything’s ready by the time they decide to attack. I love watching competitive matches and gaping at some of the absolutely amazing things pulled off on that level.

    I hate the unforgiving nature, the poor sportsmanship (on lower levels, at least), the absolute need to use keyboard shortcuts, and the fact that I am really quite bad at the game.

    So yeah.

  23. deejayem says:

    I used to get incredible shakes playing Team Fortress Classic – doing flag runs on 2Fort as a scout, pelting across the courtyard, shoulders twitching for the sniper’s bullet … Incredible tension that doesn’t break till you die or score.

    Only similar feeling I ever got from an RTS was putting nukes down in Starcraft 1 – those horrible seconds while the enemy frantically drops comsats around your ghost.

  24. Limes says:

    I’m hugely apprehensive about even pressing that “find game” button on SCII, just finished my 1vs1 placements and got placed Platinum, now I’m AGAIN scared to press that button; I expected to place bronze or maybe silver, and I still feel I’m behind the curve of plat., I just got lucky with 3 unplaced placements!
    I suffered the same problem with Warcraft III, once I get into a game, I tend to fair ok, love the buzz of adrenaline, but afterwards I’m often left exhausted, it doesn’t play into the casual “Just one more game” philosophy I’m used to with TF2 or similar (I realise now FPS has also lost a lot of that “buzz” for me, it’s only more horror based ones that shock me, and I hate horror.)

  25. chokoladenudlen says:

    The rush is the only reason I ever considered honing my SCII skills (well that and the social value of being able to play with my friends, many of who are huge Starcraft fans)
    But seeing as how it takes an extreme amount of practice to become competitive and I by heart am turtle player in RTS games – which simply won’t fly in multiplayer I simply gave up on the idea.

    Quake 3, on the other hand, is pure endorphin and adrenaline rush. Awesome!

  26. IslamicShock says:

    It might come as a surprise, since whenever somebody brings up “pro” SC2 players they mention APM, but the fact is that APM means nothing until you get waaaay up in the leagues and start playing people who do it for money. It doesn’t help your little squad if you click 30 times in a second to get them to move to a point, and it doesn’t help them if you click 15 times to get them to focus fire on a target.

    What matters is staying calm – don’t forget those siege tanks you have and bind them to a separate control group, and when moving together make sure to give an extra click so they don’t end up in front of your infantry. Remember those casters in the other control group and periodically switch over to have them do something. Remember all the kinds of cheesy tactics you lost to, and learn to feel happy when someone tries it – because they just went all-in and you figured out how to stop them.

  27. Tei says:

    Do you like turtles?

    • Fred Wester, CEO of Paradox says:

      Yes. They’re delicious in rum cream.

    • Sarlix Wester says:

      Is this what CEO’s eat, turtles in rum cream? Shameful.

      What will be next, pigeons ears in ginger sauce? Badger eyebrows with an orange and mint dip? Where will it end I ask you, where will it end.

  28. Snooglebum says:

    Turtles are great.

  29. BooleanBob says:

    Funnily enough, I was thinking about exactly this about a year ago, when I made this image in an attempt to explain to a friend why I didn’t think I would be able to pick up Company of Heroes, which he was raving about, to play a few ‘casual’ games with (and, importantly, against) him. It’s a little sloppy, certainly, but I think I was pretty close to the money, as they say(?).

    In the end I caved during a Steam sale, and Company of Heroes competitive multiplayer is probably my favourite gaming experience of the last five years, for many of the reasons Quinns goes into in this (once again excellent) article. I think I even have more hours logged on it than TF2!

    • Sarlix Wester says:

      HaHa, nice diagram.

      Oh btw, theres a spider on your shoulder.

  30. QHF says:

    Eve Online, as mentioned above. I also remember trying to infiltrate busy bases as a cloaker in Planetside being particularly good for ‘the rush’.

    I think fencing, rather than any (computer) game, has given me the most intense examples of this, including the panic-induced tactical inflexibility you mention, but squeezed into tiny, tiny parcels of time.

    • FunkyBadger says:

      I’ve never thought of the rythem of fencing as full-on terror all the time, though. You’ve got maybe 3-4 seconds between each point to compose yourself and plan, then there’s no time for *really* thinking during the point, then a minute or so it you get to the end of the round.

      Gauntlet mode on Gears2 gets pretty intense, mind.

  31. moltobenny says:

    This is totally right. One additional effect of the adrenaline is that you start hitting the wrong keys.

    • Vandelay says:

      This, a million times this! I love the grid shortcut key layout meaning I don’t actually have to learn what the shortcuts are, but the number of times I’ve lifted my command centre off instead of using the scan is getting ridiculous now.

    • Starky says:

      Same… and worse when you do it to ALL your command centers as they share a command group.

  32. Web Cole says:

    I play Project Reality* and this is pretty much the reason why. Trying to make order out of the chaos, split second decisions that could mean life or death for you and your squad. Moving into a small village flanked on either side by other infantry squads, backed up by tanks and APCs pounding the crap out of everything in sight. Your squad mates dying around you, only just finding the Weapons Cache and destroying it, being the only man that makes it back out, smoke and explosions and chaos and bullets whizzing back and forth, enemies prowling in the hazy wreckage but somehow you make it out. Into the back of the APC, back to base, to regroup, re-arm, to plan and do it all again. PR at its best.

    *A Battlefield 2 modification

  33. Serenegoose says:

    Because RTS games have that period of adrenaline with no cooldown time (for me, anyway) I can’t play them. I end up shaking after a game. FPS games have nothing on that, because they happen so quickly – I mean, if you spend half an hour on an RTS game, then you don’t want to lose, you know? My longest ever life in TF2 by comparison is 11 minutes, and I was an engineer. It doesn’t matter if you lose in an FPS game. You spend a few seconds waiting to respawn, and then you’re back – losing an encounter in an RTS game does not mean you can cool off though, it means TIME FOR MORE PRESSURE as you put yourself back on an even footing. I just can’t handle it. Even if you’re winning, the pressure doesn’t slacken off. Fucking up gives your opponent every opportunity to reassert yourself. No. Too much for me.

    • Devenger says:

      I’m completely the same. I even particularly like TF2 because it allows me to change the pace of play at a whim (through changing class). CoH made me cry. SCII would make me scream.

  34. Jon says:

    This is a major reason why I like SCII as well. The adrenaline from trying to make sure I cover all my bases- keep making workers, don’t get supply blocked, spend those resources, give some guidance to your army. It’s a great feeling when it all comes together. Especially when you scout your opponent out, figure out his strategy and make changes to your own on the fly that work out to give you the win. There’s nothing like performing under pressure to give an endorphin rush.

    I get the same feeling from Company of Heroes as several others have mentioned. These strategy games are different in how they are played, but both have that addictive multiplayer that I have to work myself up to play sometimes. (I’m always glad that I did though)

  35. cjlr says:

    It’s kind of like a grappling match, only you can still stand afterwards.

    Basically then it’s the same ol’ endorphin rush that people are always looking for. Fast paced knife-edge goodness.

  36. hahaha says:

    I used to be play WC3 quite competitively and completly subscribe to the view of the rush. It’s longer lasting and shivers after (and in the very moments before deciding moments) are one of the reasons I played it.

    I do disagree with many of you on FPS. Actually, I only disagree with computer FPSs. But that’s quite a long time that I played these. To me, 4 player sitting on one couch playing Call of Duty on Xbox life on a big projector still give me that feeling. As soon as we’re all roughly 5 kills away from the end of each map, I get into a tunnel anxious to get the next kill. It’s a quite similiar feeling to RTS. Then, thinking usually stops, positioning gets bad…

    • subedii says:

      Small scale and tactical FPS’s? Yeah. But once you get into something big and a bit more random like TF2, it’s fun, but you also lose that impression. Largely because you don’t have the sense of urgency, that every action you take and decision made is something that can shift the game. You’re part of a much larger whole that you can’t really perceive and influence as well as in a small scale game.

  37. Kurt Lennon says:

    Any fun I had in SC2 multiplayer has been ruined by the imbalances and the fact that if you don’t join in on the mass exploitation of them, you lose.

    Hopefully Blizzard will fix it in their patch in a couple of weeks, but it’s more likely that they’ll take years on end to balance the game.

    • Thants says:

      It may not be perfectly balanced just yet, but it’s not even remotely as bad as you’re suggesting.

    • Kurt Lennon says:

      Maybe it’s not that bad in Bronze, but I wouldn’t know.

    • Thants says:

      Well, I wouldn’t know either, I’m in diamond. Anyway, I wouldn’t worry about it so much.
      I’d recommend reading this: link to

  38. Alaric says:

    Speaking of this game, we at the Adrenaline Vault are having a StarCraft II gaming night tonight, and we’d love to see our RPS colleagues join us! My remnants of shame prevent me from posting a direct link, but I’m sure you can easily find the announcement. Do come, it’ll be fun!

    (Naturally everyone is invited, not just RPS staff.) =)

  39. Theotherdude says:

    Starcraft 2, Tekken 6, Demon’s Souls and Monster Hunter are the ones that have this effect on me.

  40. Galleon says:

    Starcraft 2 is the only game I play where I am actually nervious before each game…

    I tentativly click the find games button…

    and stare….

    until that countdown starts and I get even more nervous…

    When I win it’s rush a rush, when I lose I feel crushed… but either way it mattered to me. I can’t recall the last time felt that in CoD or even playing with a old friend and rival… it’s just awesome.

  41. MedO says:

    Not a multiplayer game, but one game that caused me heart-thumping panic before is Uplink. Which is strange in a way, because it’s so very abstract. But watching my connection get backtraced hop for hop while I frantically tried to delete my logs gave me tension like no other game before, at least none that I can remember.

  42. Evernight says:

    I used to get the shakes before Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory games. The ticking clock, the sounds you hear, knowing full well that death could be lurking in the shadows/coming around the corner. Nothing beats the hail of bullets, running, smoke, grenades being shot all over intensity of that game.

    SC2 beta got me a bit shaky after 2-3 games and I had to take a break, but now I am used to it.

    • radomaj says:

      Pandora Tomorrow/Chaos Theory had me too. In the shadows, my heart pounding, a merc going past me only a meter away, the clock on the objectives slowly ticking down. INTENSE.

  43. Ziemas says:

    APM is a box, and skill is what you put in that box. If you box is too small, all of your skill won’t fit in it. Likewise, you can show off a huge ass box, just for everyone to find out it’s empty.

  44. Sassenach says:

    I just had a fun game of this in the qualifying rounds after psyching myself up for the ordeal. While looking back at it I didn’t actually suffer a real setback other then losing a natural expansion hive early on while it was still building. it was exhilirating trying to keep everything ticking over smoothly and anticipate what my opponent would do.

    The tension found a bit of release in making me giggle like a loon when I dumped a few ultralisks (having noticed I had a few thousand resources to spare) and a horde of zerglings plus some hydralisks through a nydus worm into the undefended enemy base. Haha! For the expansion hive that never was!

    While it was tremendous fun I have no doubt I will struggle to hit that find game button again. There is something about multiplayer RTS that threatens to reward failure with a crushing sense of inferiority.

  45. Mo says:

    “Nothing compared to Starcraft 2” is a surprisingly prolific tag … this makes me happy. :)

  46. Ben says:

    I get this exact same sentiment from League of Legends in most games. Except, instead of losing faith in myself, I usually have my faith crushed by the four non-sensible juveniles that I get stuck with in a random pairing :p

  47. EBass says:

    The online RTS rush is substatially different to the FPS rush, its cleaner and more focused.

    Still I don’t like Starcraft 2, the mechanics feel over a decade old because they are, not ALWAYS a bad thing but compared to CoH or hell, even Generals it feels urrrgggh not shallow, more like retarded, in the literal non colloquial sense.

    • Deuteronomy says:

      Yes. Beethoven also feels several decades old. dated. if you will.

    • Gary Oldman says:

      You don’t like Beethoven! You don’t know what you’re missing. Overtures like that get my – -juices flowing. So powerful! But after his openings, to be honest, he does tend to get a little fucking boring.

  48. Karocann says:

    Just a bit for you folk who haven’t enjoyed competitive RTS:
    I hear what you are saying! But, the enjoyment comes after you have honed the skill. This can be agonizing if you just hop onto the ladder matches and continuously get your ass kicked.

    Expedite the process by watching replays and reading strat guides/tips. Most new players suffer the most because they do not know the fundamentals (e.g., they aren’t entirely sure which strategies are effective against which strategies). You can discover some of this by trial and error, but if you’re anything like me and are not interested in playing the game twelve hours a day, I would suggest you mooch the necessary knowledge off of those who do play twelve hours a day and also upload replays and write guides.

    Teamliquid, Gamereplays, and Gosugamers are good places to start.

  49. gerafin says:

    For me, I find the biggest rush to occur when I’m winning, if that makes any sense. When I start sending those final few units that I know can circumvent/crush their defenses/forces, when I KNOW that they don’t have a counter ready yet, when I know they’re off-balance and open… that’s when my heart rate goes nuts and I start shaking. I’m soooo close to victory, yet in this final assault, I can easily lose everything if there’s just one variable I underestimated. And then, my stress is vindicated by a sweeping victory and I pause, hands in the air, yelping like a madman.

    I’ve also found that if you’re playing after a pint or so, you’re more confident, less stressed out, less apprehensive about attacks and such, and generally do a lot better. Plus, I then have no fears about hitting that daunting “find game” button. I’m not saying that you should take up drinking before playing as a hobby, I’m just saying that when you get back home after a night out is a great time to play some Starcraft.

  50. frsrblch says:

    Eve is the only game I’ve played that has left me shaking from the adrenaline rush.