Sense of Style

In Starcraft, players must spend minerals to build an army. The minerals can be mined from patches spread throughout the map. In order to mine from a mineral patch, the player commands a worker to mine from the patch. The worker will then collect the minerals by carrying them back and forth from the patch and the nearest base. Bases are buildings which must be constructed somewhere on the map, but it is most common to build bases directly beside a cluster of mineral patches. Mineral patches always come in big clusters, so the best base locations are obvious. Most bases allow 16 workers to mine at one time; additional workers are completely ineffective. If a base mines out—as in, all of the available resources have been collected—the base ceases to be a source of income for the player. If the base lacks workers, either because the player never assigned them or because they were killed off by opposing players, the base is referred to as being under saturated, and ceases to be a source of income for the player. In the case of a base being mined out, the income is lost forever, whereas an under saturated base can be restarted once the base receives new workers.

When starcraft experts are viewing or playing a match, they bundle all of these concepts—mineral patches, workers, bases, saturation—into the single idea of "how many mining bases does a player have." That's it. That, is a mental chunk, and it is substantially less complicated to reason about than the constituent parts.

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