4v4 – What it means to Warcraft III (RTS) [Part 1 – The Basics]

31.01.18 | IRLSinisteR 1133

Hello and welcome to my 3-part series discussing all things 4v4 Random Team in Blizzard’s Real Time Strategy game Warcraft III!  When I started writing this article I had one thought in my mind: “why do I love playing Warcraft III and, no matter how much I try to deviate, why does 4v4 always drag me back?”  The series will be split into 3 sections:-

  1. The Basics – A glossary of terms and an Introduction to 4v4 Random Team;
  2. The Catalyst – Why I feel 4v4 is such a fun game type and why I see it as so important to the continued success of Warcraft III alongside being a catalyst to stimulate growth for new and returning players;
  3. Analysis – Some map analysis and discussion around fun strategies and builds!

Ranking Screenshot

Taking a look at Northrend’s heat map, it is very obvious that 4v4 Random Team is the second most played game type on Battle.net (after solo) with anywhere between 800-1200 concurrent users searching during peak hours at any one time.

Heatmap

But what is 4v4, why does it appeal to so many people and, most importantly, why is it key to Warcraft III’s continued success?

Synopsis of Terms – An Introduction

It’s important to remember that Warcraft III is just a regular game to most of us.  The professional scene, and all the alternative platforms to play it on, really only impact a small minority of the player base.  For most of us, we click on Battle.net, we type in our password and our heart rate starts speeding up.  4v4 Random Team is, to me, the most enjoyable experience and memory I have in Warcraft III and is something to be enjoyed by a majority of the player base – great players, good players, average players and bad players alike.  4v4 is where we all come together to cry, moan, scream, laugh and slam down on our keyboards.

I hope you enjoy this series of articles as much as I enjoy playing this game type.  If you have any questions or concerns, hit me up in-game (GGTHX@Northrend), Discord (SinisteR#1285) or here on Warcraft3.info!


Most Random Team games will begin something like the below:-

Player 1: Hello, rush?

Player 2: Hi, me CC.

Player 3 (Undead): 100g????

Player 1: 2v2 or 4v1?

What does this even mean?  At a very, very high level there are two possible starting strategies in 4v4. The “rush” – which is broken down into two elements (discussed below) and the “counter creep” known to veterans as CC.  As per usual, all Undead’s want 100G so if you have it spare do them a favour!

  1. Massing

The good old massing, known to all RTS veterans from all walks of life.  Massing is essentially a term used when a player (or, in the case of 4v4, players) make one unit en masse and exclusively.  An example of this would be mass hunts for Night Elf, mass Ghouls for Undead, mass Riflemen for Human and mass Headhunters for Orc.

  • The advantage to massing units in 4v4 is that it’s incredibly simple and it can be absolutely devastating.  If all four players in the team decide to build a mass army of 50 food and march on their opponents base and their opponents are not adequately prepared the game can be over in the first 5-10 minutes.  Massing is a very simple means of getting a large army and trying to brute force your way through your opponents and to victory.
  • The major disadvantage to the massing strategy is that if scouted by your opponents and they can adequately prepare – the game can end just as quickly for you.  Towers,  high level heroes and siege units can crush a mass unit rush and end the game right there.  It’s extremely difficult for a team that masses to transition to something else as most of their gold will be spent and they will have two tier one offensive buildings (i.e. Barracks, Ancient of War, Crypt) vs. their opponents’ tech and towers.

2. Rushing

The concept of rushing is straight forward.  Wikipedia describes a rush as:

In video gamesrushing is a battle tactic similar to the blitzkrieg or the human wave attack tactics in real-world ground warfare, in which speed and surprise are used to overwhelm an enemy’s ability to wage war, usually before the enemy is able to achieve an effective buildup of sizeable defensive and/or expansionist capabilities.

In Warcraft 3 this is split into two categories, a hero rush and a full rush.

I. The hero rush is straight forward, it’s designed so that you only harass your opponent with your hero.  Examples of hero rushes are Keeper of the Grove, Mountain King or Tinker.  By bringing only heroes, you ensure your opponent cannot gain an experience lead by killing units and by bringing only your heroes you can attempt to do damage, slow economy and gain an experience lead against your opponent.

The downside?  Losing your hero, or being forced to Town Portal (“TP”) – especially early in the game – can have a significant impact on your ability to get a gold lead later in the game.  Alternatively, if you or your teammates Town Portal back home and your opponents’ then rush you with a mass army, for example, you have no way to quickly gather at your teammates base and must walk to them.  Depending on the size of the map this can quickly escalate into a situation that you cannot recover from.

II. As Wikipedia so elegantly puts:

A successful rush usually attempts to disrupt the resource gathering of the defending player or annihilate that player entirely. The rush is a risky tactic. If the rush is successful, then the player may have won the game or significantly set his or her opponent back; if the rush fails, then the rushing player may have lost valuable time and resources that would have been better spent on research, building defenses, and building more powerful units.

A full rush requires a commitment from you and your allies to significantly disrupt your opponent or, in the case of 4v4, opponents’.  As outlined in the opening paragraph, rushes in 4v4 are either 4v1 or 2v2.  There are a lot of variables to working out which one is the most effective – but the map size and unit composition are generally the decisive factors.  Is it too far for player 4 to walk to player 1?  Would it be quicker for player 3 & 4 player to walk to player 5?  Additionally, a scout may have identified a “techer” or a “feeder” (below) and it becomes very apparent that teaming up on this opponent – 4v1 – would disrupt the entire teams output the most.

Rushes, as a general note, are not considered “all-in” as the player(s) have the option to continue playing their game as usual unlike a team who decides to mass.  Rushes, while effective in coordinated teams, can fall behind very quickly against a strong counter creep (“CC”) team.

3. Counter Creep

The Counter Creep (“CC”) is a 4v4 Random Team play style most recognisable by solo players and is a direct counter to the rushing strategy (note: this is subjective and works in theory!)  Counter creeping is, as the name suggests, creeping your hero(es) as high as possible and countering what your opponents’ decide to do.  In 4v4 Random Team, this generally revolves around a macro-based economy game vs. a team of Rushers.  The macro, economy team will generally coordinate to use their Town Portal and in-base reinforcements to push back any early-game rushes.  Once the rush has been defended, not only will their heroes be a higher level but there is also a potential that their expansion is up and running and enhancing their ability to reinforce and tech to stronger mid & late-game units.

Counter creeping strategies will revolve around late-game hero and unit compositions (think wyrms, hero ultimates) and lots, and lots of gold and items.  Once the game gets to mid-late game a counter creep team – should they not have been dominated in the early-game – can crush most other compositions.  Having an 80 supply army with a level 6 Lich and 3-3 upgraded wyrms is one of the most terrifying experiences you can face in Warcraft III (not even taking into account Bloodlust and/or Unholy Frenzy!)

4. Teching

Whatever your opinion of teching – I’ll be blunt. I hate it. – this strategy can legitimately end one of two ways.  It’s either a genius move and you win the game instantly or it’s a terrible decision and the game is over before it even begins.  So, what is teching?

Teching means beelining straight for a later tech path without getting any units from the earlier tech paths.  An example would be going straight for Troll Berserkers or Bat Riders with Liquid Fire upgrade.  The pros and cons of this strategy are fairly self-explanatory.  Getting Taurens when your opponents’ only have Huntresses’ is going to have a significant impact in an engagement.  However, on the flip side, having no early & mid-game units can result in being severely punished by rushing or massing – particularly if 4 players appear outside your base and you only have a level 1 hero to defend.

When playing in Random Team, teching is very difficult to play with because oftentimes the player who is teching has a very difficult time adapting to the circumstances of the game around them.  In a coordinated environment teching can be a very strong tactical decision when combined with a form of harassment as you and your teammates create a diversion to make way for a much stronger late-game composition much earlier than expected in the game under the normal course of events.  If done successfully, a teching player can eliminate 2-3 players single-handedly before they even have a chance to react.

5. Feeding

Feeding has, for as long as I can remember, always been a huge strategical decision in 4v4 Random Team.  Feeding is one of the most potent strategies to unleash with devastating impacts on your opponents when executed correctly.  For readers coming from a MOBA background, feeding in Warcraft III means the exact opposite – instead of giving experience/gold to your opponents you are, instead, giving your resources to a teammate.

There are various forms of feeding but one of the most common strategies is feeding Undead players (let’s be real – Undead is the absolute King of Random Team).  When a player commits to feeding (or being fed) they focus solely on funnelling all their gold and lumber to an allied player for the duration of the game.  Have you ever played a 4v4 where you have 6 Footmen and suddenly an Undead player creepjacks you with 10+ fiends?  Yep, he’s probably being fed.

While feeding may sound like a very simple game plan, it’s actually very challenging to execute correctly.  It’s important to remember that if Player 1 is feeding Player 4, not only are these two having a direct impact on each other’s game play, but also Player’s 2 & 3 need to consider the consequences should either one of those players get attacked or lose during a critical engagement.  Additionally, if either player 1 or player 4 have not executed this strategy extensively in the past they will end up hindering each other to the point of no return.  Top-tier Undead players (note: I’m using Undead for illustration purposes, each race has their own niche for feeding and being fed) can immediately tech into 4x Crypt fiends into 3x Boneyard Wyrms and absolutely crush their opponents if they are fed correctly.  The feeder, on the other hand, needs to ensure they are CONSTANTLY feeding their ally – while trying to navigate their hero – throughout the duration of the game.  The feeder can also have a key function in assisting their allies with engagements, scouting information, pings, etc. as the other players on the team can, and should, be engaging in various different parts of the map (the fed player will generally 2v1 while the other two players will fight 2v2 to split forces).

Part 1 – Summary

For the everyday Random Team player, you are going to see most strategies revolve around 1. Massing, 2. Rushing or 3. Counter Creeping.  4. Teching & 5. Feeding are very, very niche strategies and more often found at higher levels of 4v4 play.  That’s not to say they are exclusive by any means.  No one strategy is stronger than the other.  I have tried to highlight pros & cons, as well as some common tactical situations where these strategies are executed.  One of the most exciting aspects of 4v4 is that each player is different, each person has a different strategical mind and, for the most part, any and all strategies and unit compositions have a place in 4v4.  No one game will be the same and your game times (duration) will vary from 1 minute to 1 hour.

In the next series I will try and dive deeper into why games are varying, why there is no “meta” and why there cannot really be one.

In Conclusion

At face value this whole article is at a very high level.  I’ve been a “top-tier” 4v4 player for many, many years and it’s obviously a lot more in-depth than this.  However, I hope this provides new and returning players a snapshot into the (large) world of 4v4 Random Team.

In part 2, I want to go more into the specifics of why 4v4 provides a positive catalyst for the growth of Warcraft III and, hopefully, answer some of the more common problems that people face on ladder everyday.

This is my first ever article (let alone on Warcraft III) so I hope you enjoyed this snapshot of 4v4 Random Team.  If there are any comments or suggestions as to what I could do better I would really love to hear from you as I want these articles to get better and better and, above all, I want people to enjoy Warcraft III for many, many more years!

About Me

SinisteR is an avid Irish gamer.  As far as history goes, I’ve been playing video games for well in excess of 10 years, a majority of them Blizzard-based (Starcraft 2 and World of Warcraft).  I’m a Human player who, when I had time, was competitive with the top European players at the time.  Nowadays, I play 4v4 on Northrend and was top 100 in 2017.  I struggle to find time for games anymore but I still try and squeeze in 1 or 2 ladder games a day!  I’m also the owner and Head Admin of the Gym Warcraft III Discord. The Warcraft 3 Gym acts as a base of players of all skill levels and experience to come together and learn to play and get better. The original goal of the Gym was to give brand new players to the game a place to come and grow – both in confidence and skill – and become a better play. Obviously, Warcraft 3 is a long-established game, with a massive amount of depth but at the end of the day we all started somewhere and were brand new to the game once.

Comments

Gread read, especially considering it's your first article. Waiting for that part 2!
Great article!!
Had to laugh several times. Well written!
So much theory for 4v4 games. Awesome stuff
Nice article!.. for those who plays 4v4.. and, actually, for every1 else who wanna pick up this awesome mode, as well! Thanks! :) u made me involved into 4v4 :D
Please login to post a comment.