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The Enemy Wants You Afraid

Some life lessons from Starcraft

Izo Lopez

Sort of an Editorial.

You're a smart Starcraft 2 player. You've read all the guides. You've memorized an early 3rd base build order, and you're ready to ladder. You hop into a game, glance at your notes, and let the practice take over. And then suddenly there are marine drops in your main, and more at your natural!

You panic. You overbuild zerglings and spore crawlers. You delay your third base. You throw your whole careful build out the window as you scramble to replenish lost workers and build defenses.

In short, you've done exactly what your opponent wanted you to do: be afraid.

There are many times in life when we are faced with similar pressures that make us throw our plans out the window. Maybe you have a crush you want to woo before you confess, but then the school year is almost over and you're forced to admit your feelings before she's even gotten to start to fall for you. Maybe you're waiting for your dream job to give you a call back but the need for instant money pressures you into signing a contract elsewhere.

Quite often you'll find that by giving in to these pressures you end up not where you wanted to be. Whether it's to be with your crush, get your dream job, or be on 3 bases as zerg, by giving in to the fear and throwing your plans out the window you've already put yourself in a position you never intended to be in.

Here's a more serious example: say you're an aspiring policeman or even government official like mayor. You tell yourself you're not going to be corrupt. You will change the politics game and say no to dirty money. You're filled with hope and resolve.

And then you get the position and suddenly all your contemporaries are pressuring you to secret X-deals. You're not giving in for the money – you weren't in this for the money! You're giving in because of the fear.

Fear is a very powerful force that can change a person's attitude in a second. It can make you act in a way you don't want to act. But – and here's the important bit – it doesn't have any power over you unless you give in to it.

Here's where the Starcraft comes in. When your enemy wants to harass you by dropping marines into your mineral line he has one goal: disrupt your economy and your build. He wants you to not be able to build that third base. Yes, he wants to kill your workers so that you can't afford the third base.

But he also wants you to panic and defend against it. If you scramble to protect against the drop, and go way out of your way to do so, you're going to not build that third base anyway because that money is going towards base defenses. You may think you've solved the problem but all you've done is give your opponent what he wants anyway. More than wanting your workers dead, your enemy simply wanted you to be afraid.

When you are afraid you throw good plans out the window and you change. You stop being that smart player, and you start being a panicked player.

Remember: you had a plan before entering the game. That plan was devised with research, testing, and a clear mind. When you allow it to be disrupted by your enemy and you start to make a new plan on the spot, that's a plan devised out of fear. Don't let your enemy trick you into trading your good plan for a rushed one.

Going back to the examples, that means not letting the end of the school year pressure you -- you can still chat and date during the summer break and then confess your feelings to your crush once she's already starting to like you and your chances are better.

Don't give in to job hunting pressure. There's a reason you wanted your dream job!

Don't give in to corruption. Most politicians start out honest. Don't throw away years of hard work and precious optimism.

Finally, don't overbuild spores. Just micro that queen and keep making drones. Get that third hatch! Transition into mutalisks and eat dropships for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Fear should not be the end of a good plan. Instead, plan to have courage. Don't just be a smart player – be a brave one.