Beginner To SDK -- How to Improve at Any Game

Original Post Here :

So I have recently been playing other games besides Go. The games I have been playing are Real Time Strategy games like Starcraft 2 and Teamfight Tactics. In these games I really enjoy learning what it takes to improve and what step by step approaches I can make. (Like I did with the Clossi Approach.) I wanted to share with you some things that I’ve learned and how it can help beginners and even maybe help you improve at a more efficient pace.

So I have been playing Starcraft for a while now, and I just recently picked up TFT. I will focus on how I learned TFT and got to Gold level within a week. (Gold is about SDK level more or less.) Now improving at RTS games is not quite as difficult as improving at Go. But at the same time it’s not like it is an easy task. But the first thing I did was learn the rules and play a few games. This way when I started learning I would understand more about what the videos were talking about.

With SC2 and TFT I found that tutorials were great and we really need more of those in Go. If you have a tutorial, I recommend playing it. I also really liked the tutorial in Hearthstone. It let’s you play an AI and teaches you things in a step by step manner. For this instance, I think learning by playing an AI is actually a great way to understand the rules of the game before getting overwhelmed with human opponent’s.

After I learned the rules, I tried to star by just learning one aspect at a time. With TFT, I started with learning items. With Go, I think it would be best to start by learning how to capture and count liberties. Once I found myself used to this, not perfect by any means, I moved on to the heroes. With the heroes I picked some people and tried to read their abilities and remember them for the next game. Then I tried to see who was good where. For example, I tried to see who was good at ranged attacking and who had close range. It’s a very simple approach but it helped me learn if I should place my heroes in the front or in the back.

From there I went on to guides and started memorizing openings. I actually found this to be a bit of a struggle, but I still followed the openings blindly. However, I couldn’t pull them off exactly sometimes and it really messed me up and I lost. But when I pulled them off I actually performed really well. The idea though was to learn an opening and have some direction.

While learning the opening I started to pinpoint at which stage of the game I was getting defeated at or losing fights at. From there I tried to fine tune my unit picks and even found replacement units to help me get to the end game and then I would change them out for my goal composition.

By doing this over and over I ended up really understanding my opening and full game process to get to the end game and created a step by step for myself for a specific build. Granted I wasn’t as good or as flexible as top players of course, but I was doing better than the other beginners. Once I understood one opening, I then moved on to another to learn it and learn more units. Doing these I also learned how important items where and timings to level up my character.

If you don’t quite follow all the above it is okay! I just wanted to share the story so I can lead in to my main points below.

Firstly, when I approached the new game I started by learning the rules of the game so I understood the basics of what was happening. With Go I think the best way to do this is to play through a tutorial and then practice a few games with a beginner AI on a small board like 5x5 or 9x9. (Avoid the bots that just play random. Nothing to learn there.)

From there I worked on learning different parts of the game and focused on learning an opening. With Go, I would start learning and opening pattern (still on the 9x9) and focus on not getting captured and then learn how to capture things I am surrounding.

Once you get comfortable with that, I would start learning some shapes and patterns. Go problems is where you would do this. Learn the basics of Life & Death and what two eyes are. Once you can solve a simple life and death shape in a game, I would move on to 13x13.

I recommend staying at 13x13 for a small bit of time to learn a new opening pattern and how it works on a bigger board and then learning how to finish areas of points and how to handle the simple invasion points.

After getting used to finishing a game on 13x13 I would move up to 19x19. Of course I wouldn’t expect myself to know how to handle 19x19 right of the bat. Instead I would start watching tutorials on how to play an opening and then review how to handle the followups from the opening to get my safely to the end game.

I wouldn’t stress so much on losing at this stage. Instead I would be focusing on losing later and later in the game. For example, if I lose a game losing group in the first 40 moves, I would try to make it to 50 or 60 moves in the next few games. At each stage I would be trying to make a solid position and work on handling different scenarios.

With this I would slowly start making my way to the end game and eventually start winning some games. After that it would be a matter of reviewing my games and fine tuning them to just be a little bit better bit by bit.

All in all, for improving and getting to SDK it is my belief that you should learn Go one step at a time and one section at a time. From there it is simply reviewing and fine tuning. Learn from others using lectures, videos, comments, and problems. Then apply it to your own game.

For how this applies to any game, my break down is this.

  • Go through a tutorial and learn the rules.

  • Practice against the AI just a little bit to understand the rules.

  • Break the game into smaller sections and work on the opening first.

  • Work on each section following the opening until you can last just a little bit longer each game.

  • Once you start collecting some wins, work on reviewing and fine tuning just a little bit at a time.

  • Have fun and enjoy the learning process. (Don’t stress about losses)

  • Play a lot! :smiley:

I hope many find this tale inspiring and helpful so that they may be able to improve as well.

For some numbers,

I played about 91 matches in a week while learning the game.

Each match took about 30 minutes.

That’s about 45.5 hours of dedicated practice.

I also watched videos in addition to that time.

So about 60 hours give or take of practicing and learning.

There are no hard numbers for Go to get to SDK. But for 1 Dan it is said about 1,000 dedicated practice hours. I would theorize that the fastest you could reach 1D with dedicated practice and study is about 6 months. Realistically the fastest is usually 1 year with the slowest being many years of dedicated practice and study.

Note: Not everyone reaches these milestones and that is OKAY! The whole point is to have fun and enjoy the process of learning. I think if you cannot do that, then you will not improve no matter how much you put in.

All in all I think practice, learn in a systematic way, play a LOT, and have fun !

Thanks for reading and I would love to hear your thoughts and comments below!

How long did it take you to reach the level you are now?