StarCraft used to be a game for lone wolves. Singular control over the success or failrure of your army defined Blizzard's sci-fi RTS for the last decade. But the amount of macro and micro skill required presented a seemingly unconquerable barrier to entry.
Fortunately, since the inception of Legacy of the Void's Archon Mode, which seats two players in control of one base, that's a thing of the past! Well, sort of. While they say two heads are better than one, getting those pesky heads to stop bumping each other in a StarCraft match does take time. Sure, basking in the glory of sweet victory with a friend makes for some priceless moments, but syncing up with a second brain feels impossible when the units are trying to move in the direction you don't want them to.
Don't fret. I’m here to tell you how to approach this fun, mostly-relaxing game mode made for two.
It’s about that trust fall
Playing traditional StarCraft and having a friend (or partner, or just another human being in-general) to blame—playfully of course—is the sole reason for Archon Mode's existence. I'm almost certain every SC player has a buddy that's either new and inexperienced or so incredible they're deemed the designated carry of choice. Either way, we know you're going to shackle them to your Archon team. Regardless of who you rope in as your duo, there can be a large discrepancy in skill. But no matter what level you sit at, trust your mate. Seriously, trust your mate. Did I mention trust your mate?
After watching a handful of Archon tournaments, asking the pros what they think, and experiencing Archon first hand, no 'pro tip' will be said more than "trust your mate." (You already got four here). Otherwise, you'll hear "oh, we're dead" and end up on the short end of the GG more times than you'd like.
And it's true. Because there are two brains controlling one base, it can be finicky if roles aren't properly delegated. Archon is merely 1v1 StarCraft, but with more hands than you're used to helping out with the load. If those hands decide to hit some extra keys due to mistrust, you'll see Marines walk face first into Banelings. And don't get me started on "Oh, I also made two Overlords."
If you're going to dive into Archon, figure out what each player would like to do, whether that's managing the army or supply, then just let go. Trust that your partner will do their designated job to the best of their ability, even if you're the better player. At least if you lose, you'll go down with trust and communication. Though, I'll admit watching a mass Stalker army split themselves with their own Blink is quite a sight.
Once you begin trusting your teammate to do certain things, you can start enjoying Archon the way it was meant to be enjoyed.
While pro players often do their own thing after the first few minutes of an Archon battle, most other duos are fairly content with playing Macro/Micro. One person manages the bases on the map, the supply, and the expansion, while the other player controls the core army.
Honestly, Macro/Micro is one of the best ways to learn the basics of StarCraft and probably the most solid tactic till your Archon duo starts seamlessly transitioning between roles mid-game. Managing both micro and macro, even for some seasoned players, is a daunting task as a single person. You have to learn both at the same time, and while you can argue it's important; perhaps even go as far as saying that's the only way to play, it really does scare potential fans away.
Splitting the roles, on the other hand, makes for a stress-free experience, and is the entire reason why some players started playing StarCraft again. It's fun to play traditional StarCraft with a friend side-by-side and it breaks down the game’s learning curve. Focusing entirely on moving Marines and not just replenishing stock really takes a load off. Of course, for more experienced individual Archons, there are more creative ideas.
While one or both players can be placed on macro duty, one fun tactic i've seen used past 50-supply is to have one player micro army movements (preferably the more experienced player if available), and another to play gunner and micro individual unit abilities.
As crazy and as far-fetched as this sounds, it made kiting enemies far easier than ever before. And because I played with someone who's much quicker with their joints than I am, I found incredibly cool situations to use storms, burrows, and even Corrosive Bile from the new Ravager units. StarCraft played this way became a painless learning experience. It's also fun to be in constant communication about where to move and what abilities should be used.
Micro/Micro is only recommended with at least one player who's already accustomed to doing both micro and macro, as the micro-player can focus on individual units while the macro-player handles positioning.
Alright, I'll admit: Macro/Macro sounds ludicrous, but hear me out. First, this only works with Zerg (but if you find success on another race, do tell). Second, you need to be great at hitting that attack-command button (commonly the 'A' key). Third, be prepared for several (hundred) orders of fresh Zerglings. Lastly, understand how early your opposition can get an army going, then prepare to destroy them under the weight of a seemingly endless wave of creatures. You get bonus points if both players are seasoned veterans.
Never before have I felt more satisfied to win a match by spawning units early and then applying constant pressure to my opposition than I did when using this method. Two players rotating between droning, injections, creep, and mass spawning zerglings is incredibly overwhelming for most opposing Archons until they get their army off the ground. Sometimes, they really never do as you can keep them confined to one or two bases by constantly applying ling' pressure to any new, unprotected expansions.
Also, don't forget to consider multi-directional attacks. You can use the hotkey alt + (number), instead of the standard ctrl +(number) to set the selected units to your control group, while removing them from your ally's control group. Remember to communicate with your teammate though, as I've partaken in the "I didn't know you took my Sentry" conversation more times than I would have liked.
‘Stress-free’, at least once you iron out the kinks, defines Archon Mode. It's truly a unique take on the StarCraft we know and love. I for one welcome our new two-player overlord, and while traditional 1v1 will likely reign supreme, Archon lowers the barrier of entry by giving greater incentive for players to come back and play with their friends.
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