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It's customary to send off a worker early in the game to scout the enemy's base. I do it, too, but find the information gained to be of not much use, at least in the lower leauges.

I usually can only see their first non-supply building, and whether they got gas, before they wall off (P,T) or get zerglings. Against Protoss I can often see if they have a cybernetics core or a forge, Terrans often sometimes wall off before I get there at all on larger maps.

Now, the vespene info should be useful, but unfortunately I've fallen to bronze leauge (haven't played in a long time and switched from Terran to Protoss), and on this level people often don't seem to have a bigger plan.

The only thing I can consistently see when scouting is whether they are preparing some kind of cheese, placing a pylon or a rax in front of my base etc.. Against most other forms of early aggression I can easily defend myself with a variant of the FFE, just by walling in at my main or natural (depending on the map).

So, I've been thinking it's kind of a waste to send out my probe, and I'd have an economic edge if I don't. If I keep it at home, that's ~50 minerals a minute, plus the 50 minerals of the probe. That means by the time I have a gateway, I can afford an additional zealot, and never have to stop producing workers.

Obviously, that's not what people do. So would that be a good strategy, or where's my mistake?

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dude if you are worried about one probe, you aren't Macro'ing right. First of all you don't lose the probe, you get it back in a minute, and the information you glean is worth it. I get 45-50 SCVs at ten minutes, that ONE i sent to scout and got back a minute later isn't going to hurt me much. I think you should work on your fundamentals and not worry about the insignificant 1-2 minutes that ONE probe wont be working –  user41604 Mar 22 '13 at 14:32
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@MarcoLeblanc Actually having that one worker more mining can allow you to hit some timings just a few seconds earlier, which can make a huge difference when trying to hit a very specific timing. However, unless you are going for such a timing and are able to judge how big the risk of an earlier attack is, the information from scouting will give you a bigger advantage. –  dbemerlin Mar 22 '13 at 14:37
    
I dunno, an early probe should have an exponential effect. That being said, detecting cheese at low levels seems like a vital reason to keep scouting. –  Sconibulus Mar 22 '13 at 14:38
    
I hit 50 SCVs at 10 minutes regardless, and I scouted the enemy. Keep playing in the dark, easier wins for people like me. I still think if you are asking this question, you aren't marco'ing optimally and you should work on your fundamentals. –  user41604 Mar 22 '13 at 15:24

4 Answers 4

Scouting is important and you should do it just to make it a habit. Also you're probably underestimating the information you can get with an early scout. You can detect early cheeses from Protoss and Zerg pretty easily. If the Zerg doesn't expand (and you definitely need to keep your worker there until he does so) then something is fishy. With a Protoss opponent you can stay there until a Stalker comes out, which is enough time to get a lot of information. Did he take a second gas, is he cannon-rushing, etc.

It's probably hardest to determine what a Terran does (because they tend to wall-off), but you can keep your worker somewhere close to the enemy base and then go in a bit later to see if he expanded, army composition etc.

Since you're in bronze-league, it's hard to say if what you scout will come true or not, because sometimes people there just do weird builds. Still it's a good practice to keep that worker in the enemy base as long as possible, identify what he does etc. And since this is bronze league, you shouldn't worry about the gain in minerals of just one worker early on. That's definitely not what's going to be the deciding factor in a game.

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You are not making a mistake, in fact, it would've been more of a mistake if you just mindlessly continued sending a probe :)

There is nothing wrong with not scouting, especially if you do notice you are learning nothing from your current opponents. Many pros do not scout early on two player maps (though when they eventually do, they always seem to learn even the cantine menu by the angle of leftmost screw on the outer supply depot). Day[9] is recommending to scout only when you know what you are looking for. Of course, most of his advice is aimed at a level above bronze, but as you yourself say you find it useless - go for it.

As I understand, you are not going to abandon scouting vs. randoms, for proxies and to control space, so you're fine.

But, at the end of the day, you can only answer the question yourself. Just try to skip your early scout and see if you are getting surprised a lot. Maybe just the feeling of being bold will outweigh the risk :)

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In bronze, this question is pretty pointless. Most likely the multitasking of scouting at all is putting you behind your build more than a couple seconds. Even more importantly, scouting doesn't mean much in bronze. Early double gas for Zerg? You still have no clue if they will be aggressive or not.

But technically, scouting as late as possible will have less effect on your econ, plus the effect of losing a worker is less over time. If I were you I'd just pick a different time to scout.

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While those precious extra minerals might give one player a slight edge at higher leagues if you are in the bronze league then the economic loss from that 1 scouting drone will be fairly insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

What is significant however is the 1 game in 10 where the scouting drone shows something a bit fishy going on (like a very early zergling rush, or a complete lack of production buildings, indicating some sort of proxy rush).

From an improvement point of view its a good idea to get used to doing an initial scout in order to practice multi-tasking and so that you get used to what to expect in your opponents base.

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