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LUCK OR SKILL?Q: How much of FFA is luck versus skill?
"Skill will always prevail over luck, even if you are trapped in the corner of oasis, with skill you can win, and I dont mean skill just by micro but by decision making and timing. Decision-making is one thing that most players lack in FFA, even great solo players have very poor decision-making in FFA".
I will go into depth about the strategy that Rice uses to great effect, but often it is what you can't see that shapes the outcome of a game. While watching a top rated replay I sometimes fool myself into thinking I could pull the same outrageous stunts and micro off, but we all know the saying about Monday quarterbacks. Even the pros make mistakes. The difference is that they make fewer – they anticipate, scout ahead, and read their opponents like a book. In FFA, you have to read two or three at once.
MARK YOUR TERRITORYQ: How do you stay aggressive, creep, and keep your base safe from unseen possibilities?
"Always try to see what is going on and always try to think ahead and think of the worst possible scenario so nothing can be a 'shock'".
The first and most valuable move Rice makes is to scout his immediate surrounding positions; usually this is done with Spirit Wolves to keep with his usual Far Seer/Tauren Chieftan/Shadow Hunter entourage. Being in the middle of your other opponents can be a bitch, but knowing your situation at this point determines how you creep, expand, and attack.
By mid-game, depending on the map, Rice controls up to four expansions and has a fairly good idea what his opponents are making. Dotting the extremes of each of these spots is an invisible border of Sentry Wards that is maintained constantly. This allows him to strike opponents with impunity until he sees a threat coming. They will come, too – the first instinct of a player in trouble is to shout out base and expansion spots to save their own ass.
AN ARMY OF ONEQ: Orc is your favorite race. What makes them so effective?
"Fighting Orc with a pure ground army is very difficult. Their greatest weakness, even since the beginning of Reign Of Chaos, is of course, mass air".
So what's the secret to becoming invincible? The main strategy employed by Rice is fairly predictable but effective. In the early game he focuses on creeping without confronting his opponents – a Far Seer's Wolves and up to six Grunts build the bridge to mid-game.
The Tauren Chieftain's War Stomp and well placed Stasis Traps give Rice a major edge against his helpless enemies. In addition to Healing Wards, the Shadow Hunter keeps up the rear with Healing Wave and Spirit Walkers add on Spirit Link to foil focus fire to double the efficiency of healing. By late game, the 100/100 food count rarely drops with the aid of tauren reincarnation.
This incredible mix of units stands up against even Chimaera and Wyrm massers, but I'll admit to holding my breath more than once.
KNOW YOUR RICE
With patch 1.15 came the name-hiding feature that was intended to prevent gamers from teaming against the highest ranked player – but, its not foolproof. This section will enlighten you on the pressures of being an alpha Orc.
Q: Whats it like to be the top player?
"Even with the anonymous names right now, people figure out who I am right away. If not 5-10 minutes into the game (by playing style), then by keeping tabs on me with /whereis and /friendlist."
Q: Whats the balance you keep between angering enemies and keeping a low profile?
"I am well known for my aggressive style. The only time I am passive is in the beginning when I am creeping, and I try to avoid conflicts - because creeps drop items, money, and they are easy to fight."
Without a map hack, it's impossible to know exactly what you should build for, and if fate places you next to an air crackhead, then your strategy will have to change. Even with a hack to show you everything, there is no perfect army that will win all battles, so playing off your nearest opponent, crippling them, and setting up multiple mines to keep your army mix mobile will be key.
DOING WHATEVER IT TAKES?
If you've ever logged onto the Battle.net forums for a moment of insight or useful advice, you have seen a thread decrying teaming in FFA; and true to its name, players will fight tooth and armpit to stay alive and win.
That is why manipulation, psychologically controlling your opponents, can make all the difference. Is it ethical to plot against one person, or to suicide cripple the guy who took you out? As long as it's possible, some will choose to take that road, while others choose the high road to success – or failure.
Q: Is there any rule that you follow that might keep you from gaining an advantage?
"If all you are going to try to do is to win, then of course using every advantage is good. Manipulating others, teaming from the get go, etc., but I'd rather lose than rely on lame tactics. It probably makes me a worse FFA player, but that is just how I am.
Q: So you'd prefer no teaming?
"No teaming would be boring though, it would just be like a solo match and it spices things up. When I am teamed against and win at the end, it is much more satisfying. The most teaming I ever do is probably just hitting someone after they have been hit."
And team they will.
BEATING RICEQ: What do you fear? What kind of unit combination can end your game?
"There are two that are absolutely fearsome, but keep in mind both of these require good micro."
Night Elf Recipe for Disaster
-1 or 2 Dryads
-1 or 2 Faerie Dragons
-Anti-Magic Shell + Starfall & Meta + Item-stacked DH
- (Optional)Drunken Haze + Breath of Fire
Undead's Death Squad
-The UD Nuke Trio: DK/LICH/DL, CL or Pit Lord
"High level UD heroes alone can wipe out armies, and if they are all over level six, it is next to impossible to win unless you have a huge resource advantage. Basically, with Frost Wyrms, Destroyers, and Necro/Meatwagon you have seconds to live."
Just don't let them get to that point. Sometimes, as you've seen illustrated already, you must go into one versus one mentality against anyone who poses a significant late-game threat. That goes double if you're on a map without a Goblin Merchant, because "Orc has lots of trouble without healing scrolls and health boosting items".
IN CONCLUSIONKeep in mind that Warcraft is a game of both skill and mentality. They are interrelated concepts because skill can increase confidence just as a stubborn mindset can limit your options. Try to keep your limit break unreachable by staying rational and not rash. Play aggressively, but do so with a back-up plan always in tow. Don't simply run blind into a base and then cry foul when another player hits your base because you lose half your army to conquer your neighbour. Above all, stick with it, take responsibility for your actions, and don't lose hope. Free-for-all players don't begin or even end with impressive win percentages, so expect a long and hard road ahead.
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