Starcraft isnt chess

Heres a great article about the comparison between starcraft 2 and chess. I hope you check it out and head on over to wellplayed for the full article
There’s one comparison in particular that everyone uses when trying to explain StarCraft II to their friends and family. “It’s like Chess,” or, “StarCraft II is the Chess of the computer generation.” It’s an easy way to help non-gamers understand why we enjoy playing StarCraft II and the kind of high-level thinking that is required to excel at the game. It’s not a bad comparison – it gets the job done in most situations – but how accurate is it? Other than the basic concept of controlling pieces in order to outmaneuver and defeat other pieces, is there anything else we can take from Chess and apply to StarCraft? While Chess may be the most accessible analogy, is there perhaps a better board game analogy to be found?

A Game of Destruction
Chess is one of "The Three Games" that ancient philosophers believe represent of the basic forces of existence. These three games are Chess, Go, and Backgammon, representing Destruction, Creation, and Fate, respectively. Of the three, Chess is the only one that begins with all of the pieces on the board. These pieces are moved according to their unique roles by the players, who are trying to capture opposing pieces and ultimately trap their opponent’s King piece in Checkmate. By the end of a long and hard-fought game, the board is a wasteland with only a few pieces remaining,
The strongest tie between Chess and StarCraft is the theme of war. Two opposing forces commanded by an unseen hand clash on the battlefield, with victory being claimed upon the destruction of the enemy forces. The idea of using your forces to outwit and overwhelm your opponent is one of the cornerstones of StarCraft’s gameplay and appeal, but that’s not all StarCraft is. To master the game, one must balance army management and economic development. If a player cannot create and sustain a strong economy and constant unit production across multiple bases, they won’t be able to win games without relying on all-ins or cheese builds. The growth and sustenance of an economy is arguably of greater importance to StarCraft than the management of units; in many cases players with the ability to consistently out-produce his/her opponent can win with sheer numbers, disregarding the aspect of unit micromanagement. While these broader elements of the StarCraft experience aren't part of the experience of playing Chess, there is another game where parallels can be drawn.
A Game of Creation
Go (also known as Baduk or Weqi) is one of the oldest surviving board games still played today, with the first indications of its existence dating as far back as 2000 B.C. The way the game is played today is largely unchanged from its ancient origins; two players, black and white stones, and a board covered with a 19x19 grid. The players choose their colors and take turns placing stones on open intersections. The goal is to use the stones to surround and defend as much territory as possible, and the game ends when both players agree that no more beneficial moves can be made on either side. When a group of stones is completely surrounded by an opponent’s stones, they are captured and removed from the field. The balance of protecting territory and capturing stones is where the essence of the game lies; every open intersection that is secured as a player’s territory counts as a point, as does every captured stone.
A game of Go will typically have three phases: the early game, mid-game, and late game (sound familiar?). In the early game, players place their stones around the board to create rough claims on areas that they will then attempt to turn into territory. This sketches out divisions of the board, but a player can choose to place a stone near his/her opponent’s in order to make an early attack on that area. As territories expand and collide, the match moves into the mid-game, which is where strategic stone placement and foresight in the early game come into play. If the conflict in the mid-game results in a clear lead for one player, the match could end in a surrender. If there is no surrender, then the late game follows and players finish playing out their conflicts, at which point the game will likely be decided by a slim margin of points.
The Comparison
Although this is a very brief description of the game, hopefully the similarities between Go and StarCraft are evident. The idea of laying groundwork in the opening moves in order to set the stage for more specific conflicts in the mid-game is one of the strongest links between the two games; in Go the placement of a single stone can radically shift the course of future conflicts, and we've all seen StarCraft matches where the precise timing of a build order lets a player walk the razor's edge to an early victory. The highest echelon of professional Go players in the East are able to foresee the patterns and shapes that the Go stones will take throughout the course of the game after only a few opening moves. This level of refined play and foresight is present in Chess as well, but the larger space of a Go board mean that there are nearly endless permutations that come with every stone placed on the board. Professional StarCraft player possess a similar ability; they are able to absorb every detail of their opponent’s strategy after only moments of scouting and use this information to inform their own strategy.
The ebb and flow of conflict in a game of Go is one of the most essential concepts for a player to grasp. The balance between defending your territory and continuing to attack your opponent’s stones means that gaining momentum and keeping your opponent on the defensive is an essential element of effective play. This is known as sente, meaning initiative. This delicate dance should sound familiar to any StarCraft player who has ever been embroiled in a drawn-out macro game. Truly masterful play requires a player to stage attacks while simultaneously producing units and expanding their economy, just as Go players must know which areas to sacrifice and which to fight tooth-and-nail for.
The Superior Analogy?
Elements of both Chess and Go are reflected in the gameplay of StarCraft. While I believe that the expansive playing field and the balance between development and offense make StarCraft more similar to Go, no one can deny that Chess’s uniquely purposed pieces and tight-quartered combat parallel the myriad units and brutal combat of our favorite RTS.
The truth is that Chess is probably the way to go when trying to explain StarCraft to people; the average person probably knows the basics of Chess, but not many people know anything about Go. However, if you’re trying to demonstrate how a computer game can have the same richness and depth as the board games of yore, then mention Go. Although it never became very popular in the West, it’s a game well worth the time of anyone who cares to learn it.


gman said...

although you didnt write the artcile yourself i am very grateful you posted this. its relevant to my interests.

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