Ultimate Texas Chili, By Pinback

It is time to talk about chili. Specifically, it is time to talk about True Texas Chili, and the greatest recipe you will ever find on this site.

This has been verified by one Laurence "Radio" Trask, who recreated this in his own home and immediately proclaimed it the greatest chili that not only is, but ever could be.

Please delete all of my other chili recipes off of this site. They are disowned.

Continue reading Ultimate Texas Chili, By Pinback

Ben’s Famous New Mexican Pork Red Chile

Sure, when you hear "New Mexican cuisine", you think of green chile. But did you know that New Mexico is also famous for a chile of a different color? Namely "red"? Well they are! In fact, at any NM restaurant, you’re likely to be asked the timeless question, "red or green?" after ordering your entree! You can have either one, but you’re damn sure gonna pick one, or they’ll throw your fat black ass outta there!

I live in Washington state now, which apparently has STRICT GOVERNMENTAL ORDERS to not sell any NM green chiles anywhere within state borders, which as far as I’m concerned, makes Washington state the lowest, most worthless of all the… what are there, like sixty at this point? Whatever, however many states there are, this is the worst, for this very reason.

I also had a fuckball of a time finding red chile, too, but lucked into the one grocery store in the entire Pacific Northwest that actually carried little bags of New Mexican ground red chile. And on the back of the bags was a recipe! A recipe which I followed almost exactly, except with a couple of very small modifications, resulting in:

Ben’s Famous New Mexican Pork Red Chile, Or "Red Chile With Chunks Of Pork Simmered Therein"

Are you ready? Let’s begin!

INGREDIENTS

—————-

– 1/2 cup ground NM red chile. Please do not fuck around here. Make sure it’s not "chili powder" or some other nondescript "ground chile" you’re talking about here. Make sure it’s directly from NM, because NM red chiles have an extremely distinct, smoky, earthy flavor which cannot be replicated or substituted for by other ground chile products. Seriously. Do not fuck around. Or I will cut you.

– 1 lb pork shoulder, or other pork… product, cut into 1/2-inch or perhaps slightly larger, cubes.

– 2 cloves garlic, minced

– 1 tablespoon flour

– 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

– 2+ cups water

– Some salt

INSTRUCTIONS

—————-

Heat up oil in a big saucepan!

Put pork chunks and flour in the oil, and brown it!

Put garlic, red chile, and salt to taste in there, and stir well for a minute!

Add 2 cups water, or a little more, to cover all the porks!

Simmer, uncovered, for an hour and a half to two hours or so until the sauce has thickened to a delightful consistency, and the whole dish takes on this deep, silky, vibrant red color that you didn’t know was even possible!

Now it is done! Now you can do stuff with it. What I did with it was: Heated up a flour tortilla, put some of the pork red chile in there, topped with some grated cheese, and then ATE THAT SHIT, and let me tell you, that’s some otherworldly fantastic shit there. NM food is the greatest.

Anyway, there you go. I’MA CUT YO

Pandora: First Contact, Initial Impressions

Pandora: First Contact is out, by the way. Yes, it still has the worst name possible. But after three hours of gameplay, let’s take a look at my impressions!



(Thanks, AddictingGameReviews.com)

It is very much Civilization in space (or Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri), but feels simpler and more straightforward. Which I like! As tremendous an accomplishment as I think Civ 5 is, golly there’s a lot of crap going on.

P:FC does away with most of the extra stuff, and presents you with some pretty base-line 4X action. The factions (races) are all pre-set. There is no race customization. There are five different planet sizes and three different types of planets, and that’s it. Setting up a game is fast because there’s just not that much to choose from.

Once you’re in-game, you’re comfortable right away assuming you’ve played any of these games in the last 20 years. Which I hope you have, because get this: There is NO DOCUMENTATION, other than in-game tooltips, hover boxes and popups! So that’s it, I guess. We’ve gone from 150 page printed manuals, to 50-page PDF files, to nothing.

Impressively (and because it IS so straightforward) this isn’t really a problem. You build stuff, you research stuff, you sign deals with the other guys, and you blow stuff up. That’s it. Just like always.

The graphics range from overly cartoonish to quite beautiful (some of the undersea aliens are especially striking to behold). Not on par with Civ 5, but golly, good enough. That’s probably a good way to sum up most of the game.

Extra bonus points for a clean, sleek UI that makes sense, pretty good writing, and a remarkable lack of typos and misspellings, which is becoming ever so rare.

Right now I would have to say that this is my favorite 4X game for the moment, because it’s fun, it’s fast, it doesn’t tire you or tie you down with minutiae, and it sticks to what made 4X great in the first place.

I give Pandora: First Contact an 8 out of 10! I guess? I dunno what the two points are knocked off for, as I really didn’t have any complaints. Other than the name.

Pinback And The Star Lords Alpha

You want to LORD over the stars! You always have! But you’ve grown up now, had a few kids, cleaned up more than your share of dog diarrhea off the couch, and you’re not sure you have it in you anymore. Maybe you’re not the "type" to lord over stars anymore. Maybe that’s for the youngsters anymore. The young bucks.

Well, what if the stars looked like THIS:

Yeah! YEAH! You’re ready to fucking LORD OVER SOME STARS NOW ain’t ya?

Of course you are, which is why I am happy to let you all know about the upcoming SPACE 4X GAME: STAR LORDS!!! I will be "championing" this game here, because I believe it will be the one space 4x game we’ve always wanted.

It is in early alpha now, but already it is showing signs of being the "chosen one". I mean, Christ! You wanna lord over some stars??

During your 4X-ing, you will of course come across other alien cultures, the exact same way you have since the genre was invented! Look, I am not saying this is going to break any ground here! I am just saying it’s going to take you back to when 4X was fun, and look great while doing it! Look! These alien cultures are about to go to war, because, you know, that’s what they do!

And unlike many recent space 4X offerings, when they go to war, you don’t just get a pretty "combat resolution" screen. You go to FUCKING BATTLE!!! In a TACTICAL BATTLE MAP!!! One… one simple word comes to mind here:

Isn’t this what you’ve always wanted? Since MOO, I mean? Of course it is. And that is why you should PRE-ORDER THE GAME for $20! Like I said, it’s in early alpha, some of the features are currently a little sketchy, and the user interface, while functional, how can I say it politely, "kinda blows wombat ass":

But that doesn’t matter. That’ll get fixed in time.

And now it’s YOUR time, to feel young, as when the world was new!

It is YOUR time…

…to be a STAR LORD.

Ben’s Famous Fast ‘N’ Easy(tm) Chicken Tikka Masala

When it comes to "foods people could eat every day", did you know that Chicken Tikka Masala is the only dish that appears on EVERY HUMAN BEING’S LIST OF THOSE FOODS? That’s right! Even the die-hardest seventh-level Vegan cannot resist shovelling this shit into their mouths on a daily basis!

FUN FAX: Did you know "chicken tikka masala" was actually invented in England? Because those banger-eating square-headed warm-beer-drinking a-holes couldn’t be bothered to learn appreciation for actual Indian food? It’s true, I think!

Now, everyone knows that the best version of Chicken Tikka Masala available anywhere in the world is actually in your local supermarket’s freezer section:

I’ve been all around the world and had CTM in thousands, THOUSANDS of different countries and restaurants, and this little frozen box is the best one of all of them.

However, you and I are BOYCOTTING these rat bastards, because they recently replaced half of the curry in the box with RICE. I don’t need RICE, you idiots. I got RICE. I know how to cook RICE. Gimme the goddamn STEW.

Plus, who has the time and money to go to the store and microwave a box of food? Nobody! However, we all have the time and money to go to the store and cook it fresh!

But we don’t have a LOT of time or money, and plus we are not good at following complicated directions, which is why we need:

Ben’s Famous "Fast ‘n’ Easy(tm)" Chicken Tikka Masala

Alright. There’s two parts to this. The chicken, and the sauce. So as not to OVERWHELM your Scotch-addled brain with too much at once, we’ll cover these separately:

THE CHICKEN

————–

– a couple chicken bresses

– a cup of plain yogurt

– juice of 1 lemon

– 1 teaspoon each: salt, pepper, cumin, cinammon, red pepper (optional, for heat)

1. Cut chicken bresses into 1 inch cubes.

2. Mix yogurt, lemon, and spices together.

3. Put chicken in there, and let marinate for an hour. Normally I’d say "overnight", but this is FAST N GODDAMN EASY.

4. Cook the chicken, however you find FASTEST AND EASIEST. Me, I’d just throw that shit under the broiler for ten minutes, but you got your own life to live.

SAAAAAUCE

========

– 1 tbsp butter

– Couple cloves of garlic, minced

– 1 cup (8oz can) tomato sauce

– 2 tsp garam masala (you can find this! at your store! in the spices!)

– 1 tsp coriander (or just substitute another tsp garam masala)

– 1 tsp each salt, pepper, paprika, cumin, sugar, red pepper (optional, for heat)

– 1 cup heavy cream

1. Cook garlic in the butter for a minute.

2. Add tomato sauce and spices, stir and let simmer for five minutes.

3. Add cream, and let sauce simmer until thickened to the DESIRED THICKNESS. Which is thinner than you might think. It should coat the back of a spoon, but not hold its shape in the pan at all.

FINISHING IT UP

===========

1. Add chicken to sauce, simmer until warmed through.

2. Make some goddamn rice.

3. Garnish with chopped cilantro if you have any.

4. GO TO TOWN!

Thank you.

I’m here to answer your questions.

Pinback’s Cool of the Day: BALLOONS

Today a bunch of hot air balloons flew over our place! Like, close enough where the people in them were saying, not yelling, “Mornin'” and taking pictures of us while we took pictures back. Apparently in this area that’s not a big deal, but it was by far the coolest thing that’s ever happened to me.

Well, I decided right then and there that I would get totally into hot air balloons for at least the rest of the day. “How do you steer them?” I asked myself! “How do you pilot them?” I asked myself!! “WTF?!!” I asked myself! Then I stopped screwing around and reminded myself “Hey, there’s probably a hot air balloon simulator somewhere.”

There is! It’s only 2D, but in terms of learning how balloons work and simulating control of one, this seems pretty spot on, as there are only two controls: make the air in the balloon hotter, make the air in the balloon not as hot.

Using those controls you are tasked with completing… a task (going somewhere, then turning around and landing where you started), and like all great human endeavors, it seems incredibly stupid and simplistic before you start, but then you realize it isn’t.

So my COOL OF THE DAY is:

http://balloonsimulator.com

And the most frightening thing I learned today was the answer to my original question, “how do you steer them?” Which is, in a very literal sense: You don’t.

The above link will give you due appreciation of that fact.

Enjoy!


Here was the balloon that said “Mornin'”, if you want to play along at home. They eventually landed in the backyard of the house about three down from ours.



I mean, imagine walking out of your house in the morning, looking up and seeing this. Wouldn’t you be, like, “whoa”? We were like, “whoa”.



Pinback’s Final 2010 Academy Nominee Rankings

As of three nights ago, we’ve finally made it through all ten of last year’s Best Picture nominees, thanks to True Grit finally coming out on DVD. I will now rank them in order, with ratings and a small NIBLET of opinion about each of them.

Rankings are on the famous Pinback 0-5 Star scale, where the fifth star is reserved for extremely special films, not just great ones.

#1. The Social Network (****1/2): A masterwork. Two hours of people talking about websites, and the most riveting movie I’ve seen in years. It’s Fincher’s third best movie, which means that Fincher might be the best director on the planet. Far outclasses anything else in this list, and the fact that it didn’t win is still a monstrous injustice.

#2. 127 Hours (****): Another movie about something you wouldn’t think would be interesting (a guy stuck on a rock), and it’s fascinating, terrifying, funny, and at one particular point which you can guess, awfully difficult to watch. Another Danny Boyle winner.

#3. True Grit (***1/2): A solid Coen Bros. effort, but one which you feel like they could have done in their sleep. A raucous, hilarious first half gives way to more traditional narrative by the end, but it’s a joy throughout, and Jeff Bridges once again knocks it out of the house, even though I’m not sure I understood 1/4 of what he said.

#4. The King’s Speech (***1/2): I wanted to hate this for beating Social Network, but it’s hard to hate. A well done telling of a "made-for-the-Academy" storyline. Colin what’shisname won all the acting awards, but Geoffrey Rush steals the show.

#5. Black Swan (***1/2): A bit of a return to form for Aronofsky, this mindfuck turns ballet into a literal horrorshow, and also features Natalie Portman masturbating vigorously. So, there ya go.

#6. Toy Story 3 (***1/2): I saw the original Toy Story about five hundred times, but only saw the second one about a week before this came out on DVD. This is much better than the second one. My only complaint was, Christ, there’s just SO MUCH going on in it, it’s actually quite exhausting. But for a movie like this, too much is better than not enough.

#7. Winter’s Bone (***): A Heart-of-Darkness-like trek through the Ozark Mountains, done up to look just as dangerous and foreboding as the Congo river, the land through which Jennifer Lawrence must navigate is the most impressive character in the film. Also holy crap is she gorgeous. Oh my god.

#8. The Kids Are Alright (**1/2): A difficult movie to like, because everyone in it is a horrible person. One character is presented to be perhaps not a horrible person, but by the end, everyone is horrible. However, good performances and at least a slightly interesting narrative make this reasonably watchable. Once, anyway.

#9. Inception (**1/2): It’s inexcusable that this is thought of so highly. It’s a reasonably well-executed caper movie, with one reasonably interesting idea, and a few reasonably entertaining special effects. Two and a half stars is a reasonably accurate rating.

#10. The Fighter (**): What the hell is this? This is a movie? Christian Bale’s performance aside, I cannot think of a blander story to put to film. Not to spoil it for anyone, but as far as I can tell, the story is: "Pretty talented boxer practices a lot and then wins a bunch of fights." Yeah, that’s… that’s great. Couldn’t you have just told me about it and saved me the two hours? David O. Russell was a better storyteller when he was punching his stars and calling Lily Tomlin a cunt.

This concludes this list which is now over.

Starcraft 2: From Worse to Bad — Core Concepts (Part 1)

In this part (3) of a possibly two-part part, we’ll examine what I like to call core concepts, because they are concepts, and also core. These are the some of the basic overlying, or possibly underlying concepts (or "things") that you will want to — nay, have to — keep in mind at all times whilst playing a game of StarCraft II.

To refresh, "playing a game" refers to playing a 1v1 multiplayer game against some other nerd on the internet. While these core concepts apply to other game styles as well, they are most vitally important in the core game, which is 1v1.

Alright, ready? I will try to list these concepts in descending order of importance, but realistically, to rise up to the level of being a bad StarCraft II player, which is our goal, they are all nearly equally important.

CORE CONCEPT #1: Always be building workers.

Start here, and if you must, play several games focusing on nothing but this. With very few exceptions, you are going to want to always be building workers. SC2 is a game of strategic and tactical skill second, and economy first, and it is vital that you grow your economy as quickly as possible. Some might disagree that economy is more important than strategy/tactics, but believe me, if economy is not your #1 concern, you’ll never get far enough into a game to try out any of your precious strategies. And the way you grow your economy is to make as many workers as possible, as quickly as possible.

It also helps to know how many workers are effective at each base. That’s fine, and we can learn that later. Short version: about 24 on mining, and 3 on each gas. But don’t worry as much about that. Just worry about always be building workers. It’s as easy as cake, too. You’ve got your base(s) on hotkeys, and you know that "q" is the grid hotkey for worker, so two quick keypresses will be enough to get the new worker in the queue.

The only time you ever want to not be building workers is if you are going to die if you don’t do something else immediately. If you’re about to be ZERGRUSHOMGed, then some more defenses or military units are probably more important than another worker if you can’t afford both. But once the emergency’s over? See: always be building workers.

CORE CONCEPT #2: Always be building supply buildings.

One of the two most embarrassing things you can do while you’re building your army is to be "supply blocked". Your military buildings are sitting there waiting to create units, you’ve got plenty of money, but instead, they might as well be SPACE HOTDOG STANDS, because you didn’t build enough supply buildings. The word "always" in this case isn’t as precise as in CORE CONCEPT #1, because you don’t really always need to be building supply. You do, however, always need to be watching your supply counter in the upper right hand corner, and when you see you’re getting close, you need to start building it, so that you are never prevented from building more units.

Don’t get supply blocked. It doesn’t look good.

So far, if you’re following these CORE CONCEPTS, you’re developing what pilots call a "scan". A normal checking of certain things that is done on a regular basis to make sure everything’s going well. So now your mental "scan" consists of: "Am I building workers? Am I keeping supply up?" This "scan" will take you far, but it needs to be happening constantly. Many people even put a little sticky note near the screen that says "workers, supply, …" to remind them what they need to be thinking about, all the time.

It’s hard work. That’s SC2.

Now let’s add even more things to your "scan", with:

CORE CONCEPT #3: Always spend all of your money.

"Money" is a general term which is applied to the resources available in the game: minerals and gas. The other most embarrassing thing you can do during your game is have any money. This is because your economy, which you’ve built up pretty well by following the first two CORE CONCEPTS is completely worthless if you’re not spending the money that it generated.

Watch any low-level play, look up at the little resource counters in the upper right, and you’re guaranteed to see some high numbers. Anything more than a couple hundred is "high". Anything more than 500 is "very high". And anything over 1000 is embarrassing.

It’s contradictory to how you might think. You’re sitting there with 1500 minerals and 1000 gas and thinkin’, hey, things are goin’ pretty good! Look at all that cash! Meanwhile, the enemy army comes in and roflstomps you because while you were hoarding wealth, he was spending it, and spending it immediately, to convert it to force on the battlefield as quickly as possible.

Now, there are two ways to spend all your money! One is the right way. One is the wrong way. Let’s say you’re playing Protoss, you’ve got a gateway up, and you’ve got 500 minerals in the bank. Let’s look at the two ways you can spend ’em:

RIGHT WAY* (example): Select the gateway, build a zealot (100). Select the nexus, build a worker (50). Select a worker, build another gateway (150). Select a worker, build a supply building (100).

WRONG WAY: Select the gateway and queue up five zealots. (100, 100, 100, 100, 100).

Do you see the difference? Sure, in both scenarios, your bank account is now at zero. However, in the RIGHT WAY, every last mineral is actively going to use to bring more force to the battlefield, where in the WRONG WAY, only 100 is actively doing anything, and the other 400 are just sitting around in escrow.

Queuing stuff up is one of the most common errors new players make, in fact. So don’t do that. But spend all of your money. If you’ve got a unit-building structure sitting around idle, build a unit with it. If you don’t have enough structures to spend all your money on units, build a new structure.

If you can make money as fast as possible, and spend it as fast as possible (without queuing), you cannot help but become a bad StarCraft II player. And if, god forbid, you actually want to be better than that, then none of this is even a little bit optional.

Let’s review your scan: Am I building workers? Am I building enough supply? Am I spending all of my money?

The final core concept, I was considering saving for part 2, because it may seem more advanced than these basic concepts, but ultimately it still fits into the theme of growing your economy as fast as possible, so I’ll just launch right into:

CORE CONCEPT #4: Always use your macro ability.


Link


One significant addition to SC2 from the original game is that each race now has what’s called a "macro ability". In layman’s terms, it’s a little gimmick that, if you remember to do it, allows you to build your economy faster than you would normally by just building workers. Here’s a quick description of each race’s ability:

TERRAN: May call down "MULEs", which harvest minerals extremely fast for a short period of time before breaking down.

PROTOSS: May "chronoboost" buildings, which has the effect of making that building build stuff faster than it would normally for a short period of time.

ZERG: May "inject larvae" into hatcheries every so often, which gives a one-time increase of the number of units that can be produced from the hatchery at the same time.

At first these may seem like fun little things to try out from time to time, but you will quickly learn that these abilities are not optional, and that you must be using them, every time, as soon as they become available, or your economy will fall behind, because the guy you’re playing is using them, every time, as soon as they become available.

I forget this one the most often, because Jesus Christ, don’t I have enough to worry about with the workers and the supply and the money, and by the way I’m also trying to build units and scout and deploy them to the battlefield and research upgrades and GOD DAMMIT I CAN’T BE THINKING ABOUT THE STUPID MACRO ABILITIES TOO!! It’s too hard!

Well, it is. But you still have to do it. Nobody said that becoming a truly bad SC2 player was going to be easy.

Let’s do one final review of the "scan", which contains all the things that you have to be thinking about at all times, oh my god:

Workers, supply, money, macro ability.

Burn these CORE CONCEPTS into your mind, and into your game, and I guarantee that you will definitely not suck quite as much as you do now.

(*) I realized after the fact that these only add up to 400. You get the idea, though.

The Social Network

The Social Network keeps the streak alive.

What streak is that? The Fincher streak. Many have heard me talk about this, so if this is a repeat, forgive:

David Fincher, one of my favorite directors, has an amazing streak going, where his movies alternate, unblinkingly, between greatness and mediocrity. It’s amazing! Let’s go back through history and relive the STREAK:

Alien 3 (**) – The worst of the Alien movies, and an inauspicious beginning for the young Fincher. He has even gone so far as to disown it himself, so it feels like it might possibly not have been all his fault.

Se7en (****) – KaBAM! Fincher blows the world away with a movie that has had every film fan asking this question for over fifteen years now: What’s in the booooox?

The Game (**1/2) – I haven’t seen this in a while, but I remember it being a fun little piece of fluff, while not terribly noteworthy. Some, however, felt it was the worst movie of all time!

Fight Club (*****) – In my top five movies of all time, and one of the greatest works of 20th century American art. As fresh and mindblowing as it was in 1999.

Panic Room (***) – Certainly not bad, and I enjoy movies that try to keep things in a very limited space, but would anyone dare call this movie a great movie? Except for when Jodie Foster yells “FUCK!”?

Zodiac (****1/2) – ALSO one of the greatest movies of all time, and the first time Fincher was able to make greatness without constantly dicking with camera tricks and stuff. A long, long movie, that goes by in a blink.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (**1/2) – Interestingly, his first movie to gain widespread critical acclaim, even getting a Academy Best Picture nomination, is his most boring, least-rewatchable effort to date. This ALSO is a long movie, but unlike Zodiac, it feels every bit of its length. That’s what she said.

Which brings us to:

The Social Network (****) – I sighed with everyone else back in 2008 when we learned his next movie would be “about Facebook”. THINGS I DO NOT CARE ABOUT: 1) Facebook, 2) movies about Facebook.

But as Zodiac showed that Fincher can make a movie about what sounds like a dull topic (hunting the same killer for 20 years with no resolution) positively spellbinding, here he shows it was no fluke, as we have yet another spellbinding movie about a bunch of nerds sitting in rooms either programming, talking about programming, or talking to lawyers. The entire movie is comprised of people sitting in rooms and talking. The dialogue-heavy aspect is no surprise, given writer Aaron Sorkin’s profuse writing style. And it’s about a website.

And somehow, even with his most visually restrained (I counted only one real noticeable camera trick, though it is a cute one) movie to date, Fincher has made this the most entertaining, exhilirating movie I’ve seen in quite a while.

And if Jesse Eisenberg, who plays Facebook founder and sperging dickhole Mark Zuckerberg, doesn’t win Best Actor, I will punch Finsternis in the face. His portrayal, along with the snap-tastic writing, slick direction, and epic soundtrack by Trent Reznor, make this two hours of hardcore, high quality, adult-style entertainment.

Facebook still sucks.

But the STREAK IS ALIVE!

Starcraft 2: From Worse to Bad — Control Groups

SC2! This installment is called:

Putting Your Buildings In Control Groups

That sounds like a terribly dry, boring title, so it may surprise you when I tell you that this is the most important installment that you could ever read, if you want to be a not-quite-as-terrible SC2 player. Stick with me.

If you’ve ever watched a replay of a professional (or even half-decent) SC2 match, you will notice two things:

1. Something has gone horribly, horribly wrong in your life, because you’re sitting there watching replays of other people playing video games.

2. Somehow they’re able to move their armies, attack with precision, AND build new units and buildings and upgrades at the same time!

I could never figure out how that was possible. I’d either be base-building, getting a bunch of guys together, while the guys I’d already built just sat around waiting, or I’d be taking my big group of units and attacking, while my base just sat there doing nothing. There are names for these things! You may have heard them, and if you watch a replay, you will definitely hear them:

TERM: "Micro"

DEFINITION: "Micro"-management of military units. Moving them around, having them scout or attack enemies.

USE IT IN A SENTENCE: "He’s micro-ing really well, see how he sent those marines around to the other side of the (whatever, etc, etc.)"

TERM: "Macro"

DEFINITION: Economy building, Base building, Unit building, etc.

USE IT IN A SENTENCE: "That one guy micros better, but he just got overwhelmed because the other guy out-macroed him lolz gg omfg"

To restate my problems above, I could micro or macro, but not both at the same time. And that amazing thing the pros do? Microing and macroing at the same time. That is the number one key to becoming a only-a-fraction-as-awful SC2 player. And the number one key to microing and macroing at the same time is:

Putting Your Buildings In Control Groups

To review, a "control group" is when you assign a clump of units to one of the number keys on the top row of the keyboard. If you got ten zerglings, and you want to attack, you’d put them in, say, the "1" control group. Then whenever you wanted to select all of them, you’d just hit "1". If you wanted to center the camera on them, you’d just double-tap "1".

That’s fine. But the key thing here is, you can put your buildings in control groups too!

Before I explain how to do this, I will give you an example of what it looks like:

1. Hurm, durm, here I am with my little army on control group 1, I’m gettin’ close to the enemy, this’ll be fun!

2. Oh, I should probably build some more guys back at the base, in case this doesn’t go well, cuz I suck at micro.

OLD WAY: Leave your army sittin’ there, scroll back to the base, select the production building, click on the little Marine picture (or whatever), then double-tap 1 and go back to moving your army around.

NEW WAY: Let’s say you’ve grouped all of your production buildings on the "5" key. You hit "5". You hit (hotkey for Marine). You hit 1 to go back to controlling the army.

Holy crap, right? You just started building a guy, and it took two keystrokes, and you never had to move the camera. You were looking at your army the whole time, confident that back at your base, a new guy was being built. If you had two production buildings, you’d go 5, q, q, 1, and it would automatically make one building start building one guy, and the other the other. You made TWO GUYS in less than a second, without having to take your eye of your army. Oh man.

This gives you the idea of why this is so important.

I will just tell you how I do it. You can play around with it and configure it more to your liking.

TERRAN/PROTOSS:

I put "town hall" buildings (Command Center, Nexus) on 4. All of them. Any time I need a new worker, "4, q". Boom. Need a few? "4, q, q, q". BAM. BUILDIN’ WORKERS. Also each of the town hall buildings has its own little special abilities which you’d also activate this way. As Terran, want to scan the opponent’s base? "4, x, (click on where you want to scan". KAPOW. (Note, all of these examples assumed the "Grid" hotkey system, see last installment.)

I put production buildings (any building that makes units) on 5. I already gave you an example of this. This also, though, makes rallying easy. Want to rally ALL your newly created units to one spot? "5, (right-click on rally point)". Holy Jesus, you just rallied like twelve production buildings to one spot with one key press and one mouse click! HOLY CHRISTING LORD!!

I put "upgrade" buildings (those that you don’t actively interact with except when you wish to do research to do upgrades) on 6. Want to research Warp Gates but are too busy to click around to find the Cybernetics Core? "6, z". KERSPOWW!! JOB’S DUN!

That’s it. I use 4, 5, and 6 because 1, 2, 3 I reserve for groups of military units. Note how awesome this is, though. Using the Grid hotkeys, with these control groupings, I literally never have to move my left hand to do ANYTHING IN THE GAME that you’d ever need to do.

ZERG:

Zerg is slightly different because the "town hall" building is also the only unit production building. So they stay on 4, but 5 is instead used for grouping all the "queen" units, which have special abilities you need to be constantly using — particularly "spawn larvae". Need to spawn larvae at two of your hatcheries with your two queens? "5, x, (click on minimap hatchery), x, (click on other one)". BOWFF!!! Now that’s some fine larvae-spawnin’!

Alright. That’s about it for today’s installment, see you nex—

"HEY WAIT A MINUTE, PINNER! There’s ALL SORTS of production and upgrade buildings! If you have them all grouped together, how do you select a Barracks to build a Marine, vs. a Factory to build a Siege Tank, vs. a Starport to build a Banshee? And if all my upgrade buildings are on one key, how do I research Zergling speed at the Spawning Pool vs. Air attack +1 at the Spire? Etc., etc.?"

That’s the question, isn’t it. And there’s a very special key on the keyboard that has the answer. I will give you a hint as to which key it is:

Did you figure it out? It’s the "Tab" key. And the reason it’s the Tab key is because SC2 has something called "subgroups". You may group a bunch of different types of buildings together, or types of military units together, but SC2 will secretly distribute them into "subgroups", based on their type.

So when you select "5" to select your production buildings, can you guess which key will select the next "subgroup" in your main group? Can you?

I’ll give you that hint again:

Here’s the real life example, which will BLOW YOUR FRIGGIN’ MIND:

You have two barracks and two starports, all on group 5. You’re fightin’ a battle, but quickly want to get two marauders and two medivacs building back at your base. Check it:

"5, w, w, TAB, w, w".

Your mind? FRIGGIN’ BLOWN. First you selected the whole group (which defaulted to the barracks), built two marauders with the "w" hotkey, tabbed over to the starport sub-group, and built two medivacs, with the same hotkey. And since SC2 distributes your requests to all available buildings, each of your four buildings is building one of those units.

And it took you one second, and you never had to look at your base.

I guess, to sum up, I’d say that the most important thing to learn to do as you climb the ranks of the eternally mediocre, is:

Putting Your Buildings In Control Groups