Computer program finds devastating Starcraft 2 build orders

Tom Senior at

zerg2

A StarCraft 2 fan called Lomilar has written a program called Evolution Chamber that uses genetic algorithms to find the most efficient and devastating builds for StarCraft 2. So far the program has focused on finding the best build orders for the Zerg, and has already come up with some impressive results.

The program develops build orders by testing multiple build possibilities against one another. The most successful ones continue to the next round in a manner designed to mimic biological evolution. The weakest build orders die out and the best ones come to the surface. The Zerg are the hardest race to write this sort of program for as, unlike the Protoss and the Terrans, it has to factor in the most efficient way to use larvae. Your game-plan is absolutely vital in StarCraft – aimless construction leaves you off-balance and unable to react, and the best professionals have ultra-efficient setups that minimise wastage on their way to getting the units they want. They get these through frantic theorising and meticulous practice; Evolution Chamber works them out in the background while you eat a sandwich.

Say you want to memorise an opening gambit against a Terran opponent investing heavily in biological units. A neat Zerg answer:

  • Early Baneling pressure
  • Supported by Zerglings
  • With simultaneous Mutalisk harass

Let's throw in a

  • Second Hatchery

as well, to pile on the economic pressure on the Terran.

I plugged these details into Evolution Chamber, and after ten minutes, got a best time of 8 minutes and 44 seconds to completion, getting the Baneling's Centrifugal Hooks along the way, twenty-three harvesting drones, and a second base from which to build should my attack be rebuffed. Having played against Zergs that used a similar army against me at a later time in the game and still emerged victorious, I'm all too aware of this new build's potency.

EvolutionChamber has already discovered an incredibly effective build dubbed the 7 Roach rush: a build that gets 7 Roaches on the field after just 4 minutes and 45 seconds of play, which is enough to overrun most defences and has proved especially effective against Protoss players. Here's the build order.

  • 10 extractor-trick to 11
  • 11 overlord
  • 11 spawning pool
  • 15 extractor
  • 16 queen (stop drones here)
  • 18 overlord
  • 18 roach warren
  • 17 overlord (yes, two)
  • spawn-larva on queen when she pops
  • roach x7

The Starcraft 2 community has already declared it a "cheese" build, a term normally reserved for strategies that are cheeky and not in the spirit of the game, but if it works as well as it has done so far, it's a tactic that's likely to persist. Who knows what other build orders Evolution Chamber will come up with in the future when it's turned towards Terran and Protoss build orders. Find out more about the Evolution Chamber program from Lomilar's post on the TeamLiquid forums. Here's a video of the 7 Roach rush in action.

Lomilar's creation is a pure simulator and as such, unable to predict some of StarCraft's intricacies – travel time between building points, gas steals, other bastardish moves. But as a back-line, it's amazing: putting together a tool that takes the legwork out of planning and relies instead of execution is a supreme example of thinking outside the game. But is it a good thing? Is taking the human element out of the equation making high-level StarCraft more robotic than it already is?

[vis Reddit]