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What is so called meta-game in StarCraft 2?

What other games have this meta-game?

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Why do you not like to accept answers? Are they just not good enough? – Robb Sep 17 '10 at 18:54
@Kyralessa The point is that people are more likely to take an asker seriously if they see that he actively participates in the site and doesn't just leech off our knowledge base. – StrixVaria Sep 18 '10 at 12:07
also don't forget just because there are many answers doesn't mean there are any that actually were of any use to the OP, but I hope people don't answer for the sake of rep but for the sake of creating useful information for years to come – ioSamurai Sep 20 '10 at 0:11
Why do y'all care if he accepts or not? Get over it already. – NoCanDo Sep 22 '10 at 19:50
Sorry all, the answer is very good. I just forgot about the page. – Łukasz Lew Oct 16 '10 at 10:52
up vote 32 down vote accepted

A metagame for any game is the way that the game is played. Knowing the metagame is not just knowing the mechanics of the game, but knowing what to expect your opponent to do. It is the relative frequency of each possible tactic, maneuver, build, etc.

One of the easiest to understand examples of this is with collectible card games like Magic: The Gathering and Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. Knowing the metagame in a collectible card game is knowing what styles of decks you might come up against. For example in Magic if your opponent plays an Island on turn one, are they attempting to lock you down, draw you out, make evasive creatures, or any variety of things blue Magic players can do? You don't know if you don't know the metagame.

In StarCraft, for a more localized example, Protoss should wall off against Zerg, but not against Protoss or Terran. Zerg might 6-pool, and if you don't wall off then your opponent is probably going to beat you. As Protoss continues to wall off and 6-pools continue to be ineffective, Zerg players might stop using that strategy. As Zerg players stop 6-pooling, Protoss players might not wall off as often, making the 6-pool effective again. You have to know the current mindset of other players to make the optimal play. That is the metagame.

The metagame is always evolving for any game, so you have to keep playing or reading about your game to keep up with the current metagame.

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I can never keep meta-gaming and theorycraft straight... – Robb Sep 17 '10 at 19:30
Theorycraft is the attempt to mathematically analyze game mechanics in order to gain a better understanding of the inner workings of the game. So theorycraft can heavily influence meta-gaming, as we develop strategies that utilize the most (mathematically) effective units, skills, etc. – sjohnston Sep 17 '10 at 19:41
Theorycrafting is analysis of the game. Metagaming is analysis of the analysis of the game. For example, this is theorycraft: "Hellions are great vs. Zerg, so I'll build Hellions." This is metagaming: "Top Terran players build Hellions against Zerg, so I'll expect them and try to counter them." – Steven Sep 17 '10 at 21:35

I like the wikipedia definition: "In simple terms, using out-of-game information, or resources, to affect one's in-game decisions." So, almost any game could have a meta-game.

In addition to what Strix said, metagame (in a more localized sense) can also be influenced by knowledge of the other players. Perhaps you weren't able to scout someone, but you have watched ten of their replays, and in eight of them, the player used the same strategy. You can prepare to counter that strategy even though you haven't actually gotten any useful info in the current game.

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There are 2 sets of knowledge: what you (the player) know and what your avatar (the character you are using) knows. If you use the first set to make decisions then you are said to do "metagaming".

In SC2, as StrixVaria said, you are basically using your own experience to play: you make decisions based on what you have already seen in hundreds of similar matches. You are using your own knowledge, hence you are metagaming.

Metagaming is considered a bad thing in roleplaying games, for obvious reasons (i.e. your avatar should take decisions based on what HE knows not based of what YOU know).

Before you ask: "But my decisions in SC2 are the same of the ones a general could take in a real war. Is a general metagaming when taking decisions during war?". The answer is a big NO, because in real life, of course, there is no avatar involved, hence it makes no sense to distringuish between two sets of information.

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