View From the Road

View From the Road: Cheaters Sometimes Win

John Funk | 5 Apr 2010 21:00
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I wonder if I might be a cheater in StarCraft II.

Now, don't get me wrong: Cheat codes don't work in multiplayer, I don't use third-party programs to hack (if there are any that work in the beta), and as far as the game is concerned, I never do anything that my Zerglings and Hydralisks aren't designed to do. As far as traditional definitions of "cheating" go, then, I'm all in the clear.

I may not be cheating in the actual game, no. Cheating outside of the game, though? That's another story.

It started a few weeks ago, when - as all great stories begin - I had been drinking, and decided the best thing to do was hop on for a few rounds of SC2, because nothing works together better than beer and RTS games. I quickly found a game via the matchmaker, it loaded, and my opponent and I greeted each other. "Haha," I then said, in a statement likely riddled with typos, "Sorry I might suck right now, I'm pretty drunk."

Of course, I wasn't that drunk. I was precisely inebriated enough to think I was more intoxicated than I actually was, but not drunk enough to forget my fundamental principles of playing the Zerg. Not ten minutes later, the match was over with my Roaches roaring through the enemy base - my opponent had been too busy going for the high-tech units to build more than a token defense, and hadn't harassed me once.

Wow, I thought to myself, I guess my opponent was just a lot worse than I was. So I queued up for another game, gave my new opponent the same "Sorry, I might suck right now" message - and it was another overwhelming win. And then I won yet another, and another still. Surely, this couldn't be just a coincidence, I reasoned (now sober enough to reason). Were my opponents simply taken off-guard because they thought they were facing a foe whose edge had been blunted by the drink?

Was it really possible that what I'd been saying to them had helped decide the match before our forces ever once saw each other on the field of battle?

I resolved to test this theory. In further matchups, I said things to try and put the enemy at ease. When one of my foes gave the standard pre-match salute, "gl hf" (good luck, have fun), I asked "What's that mean?" - a newbie question if there ever was one. Another opponent sent one of his workers into my base to scout at the beginning of a match (a very standard tactic), I cried "hey, wtf, why'd you do that!" Having a single beer became cause to say "Sorry, been drinking, might not be up to snuff right now," because it was technically true, after all.

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