In the first Starcraft one of my all time favorite things was making maps my friends and I could play on. I would do some things with the triggers as far as I knew how. Then I'd spend a ton of time making the landscape look as random as possible with the doodads and raised terrain.
I've heard that about SC2. I'm not sure why things worked out that way. Maybe it's because so much emphasis was for SC2 was placed on competitive gaming that custom games were left out of the spotlight. SC2 lacked a lot of endearing qualities that I found in Warcraft 3. I did like that SC2 had less micromanagement to deal with though. At least with units anyway. When playing online against someone you still have to micromanage every other aspect of the game. This is probably true with most RTS games online though.
I probably could never bring myself to start playing again. Still though, I have many fond memories playing it. Strange now to think that there was a time where things related to Warcraft didn't actually annoy me.
Some of those technical things you're talking about I really don't know much about. And you're probably right about how imbalanced the difficulty was at times but I used a few cheat codes here and there like I can't help doing in most RTS games. But I always try and go back later and beat the mission without using any cheat codes at all.
The custom games sound really fun. More stuff that I never got into though cause I wasn't really good at creating maps or custom campaigns and stuff.
Other things though that I love about the game include even just the original menu screen. And somehow I didn't mind the cartoonish graphics at all. I thought I would, but the game was really colorful in a good way. I really strayed away from the Humans and the Night Elves though. Too many magical abilities and too much micromanagement to really enjoy them. Orcs and Undead were a bit more straightforward though.
Maps were indeed fun in Warcraft 3. A little more challenging to make than in the first Starcraft game with the 3D landscape, but still I loved even just adding trees to existing maps, creating additional barriers for the enemy to have to get through before they can attack you.
I actually thought the story in SC2 wasn't that bad. But the characters I was having some problems with. Mostly Jim Raynor's character actually. I didn't like so much the way he developed and his obsession with saving Kerrigan seemed illogical to me as she killed tons of people and many of his closest friends. And I hated that she turned human again at the end. Way too much plot convenience there.
But anyway, my favorite campaign in WC3 was definitely the Orc one. I was kind of sad by the Frozen Throne that the Orcs didn't have a full story campaign like the other three races did. And the Human campaign had too much to do with Elves, but overall Frozen Throne was awesome.
I had lots of good memories playing this game. Before WoW even became popular, I was a pretty big fan of the Warcraft franchise. Especially from playing Warcraft 2 on dial-up and tying up the phone line for hours so I could precariously play a multiplayer game with a friend.
By the time Warcraft 3 came out, I actually had no one to play online with, but I had lots of fun taking my time with the campaign. I don't care that the mission objectives weren't as diverse as SC2's. Sometimes I liked that the sole objective of the mission was to destroy every last building of the enemy base. Having four different campaigns was awesome. And then the expansion set was really fun too. Overall I just liked the pacing of the game and how each mission wasn't totally rushing you to do a thing before it was too late.
I even really liked the lore of the game. Nowadays I don't care at all for the Warcraft universe but back then I actually kind of cared about the Orcs and whatnot.