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Starcraft 2 general guide

This guide is a combination of various tips and strategies I learned from watching tons of replays online. Unfortunately, I do not have a beta key, but from watching the replays I have analysed some things better players do and some things rookies do that hurts them. As I compile more information, I will improve organization and add in more tips and media. This is the 1.0 version.

 

Rush/Cheese

This is a type of strategy. It means making units very early on instead of investing and focusing on an economy and making a large army to thwart your opponent. Your aim in this is to catch your opponent off guard with your very early attack and then cripple or defeat your opponent this way to give you the edge over the mid-game.

These things happen in the early part of the game and punish players who turtle up or fast expand without building enough defenses to defend against a rush or ‘cheese’ (as SC players commonly call it).

Note that cheeses do not just mean sending in just your Tier 1 units to harass. It can also mean teching up quickly to get Banshees, and then sending these powerful air to ground attackers to the enemy to cripple the enemy base.

The effectiveness of rushes depend on the surprise most importantly, what units you send in to rush, what units or defenses the enemy has, what kind of race is it and what map (maps like Desert Oasis are almost perfect for air rushes). Also realize that when a rush or cheese fails, you have invested quite a bit of resources into it, and therefore will be behind when the game switches to normal play.

In this video, Dimaga and Lucifron face off. Lucifron, the Terran player, uses a Banshee cheese against the Zerg to great effect. Note that Dimaga is completely caught off guard as he focuses on economy, expansion and builds a standard and strong Zerg ground army expecting to face off against a strong ground Terran force. Also refer to the video in the Proxy section for more tips on how to stop a rush.

 

Proxy

Proxy means having a unit production facility near your enemy base. It is often used in a rush so that units you create from that proxy Factory, Pylon, Gateway, Starport, Barracks etc. can quickly reach the enemy base and do damage. Proxies effectively balance the advantage the opponent has whenever you attack his base: he can send in units to defend the bases quicker than you can reinforce your attack.

Proxies are often kept hidden otherwise the enemy might send in a large force to destroy that proxy.

Here is a video of Predy vs FirstnLast. FirstnLast a Protoss player uses a rush, cheese and a proxy to attack the Terran player, Predy.

 

Turtle

Just like a turtle, players choose to go up the tech tree, get their units, focus on the economy, and build a massive army. The objective is to out macro your opponent, or get an army and your desired units and defeat them. Note that in a turtle, players are susceptible to getting rushed or cheesed because their focus on too much of the macro game may result in having too poor defenses to defend against a rush or early attack.  


Scouting

Scouting is almost everything in Starcraft. Every good player sends in his scout so that they can find out what units the opponent is making, then create the hard counters and required strategy to that build. It is needed to know whether your build will suffice otherwise if you do not know if your opponent has quick Colluses in his base, and you send in Terran infantry, your chances of victory look bleak. It allows you to plan attack, help cripple opponents and make decisions. The more information you have such as does he have expos, hidden expos, what units does he have, does he know what I am building, where is he, etc. is better to making informed and better decisions in game.

All races can send in workers, or units to different parts of the map and I encourage you to keep scouting out where the opponent has his bases, what units he has, where his expos are etc. so you can keep on top of him.

Another are Xel Naga Watchtowers. These towers provide a line of sight. These towers are placed in crucial positions that let you monitor the major routes in the map and often help monitor that high yield mineral site. Controlling these is very good, and worth the sacrifice of one cheap unit to get that intel. 

Each race has their own unique way to scout other than the two mentioned above. Terran have Scanners, Protoss have Observers, Zerg have Changelings etc. It is important to scout opponents often, to scout early, and to scout to make sure that you can get more information about your opponent. You do not want to scout out an enemy, see the Hydralisk Den, and then stop scouting, when he suddenly attacks your Siege Tank Force with an all Mutalisk squad.


Build Orders

Build Orders make up an early game. Their point is to have the order in which you make units and buildings down to an exact science so that you can quickly get your units and get set up for the best mid-game possible. Again, early game is all about build orders, and you need to have a build order in mind. You can’t just tech up to everything and hope for the best when you need to have an army out.

Build orders can revolve around rushing or just getting that huge army out and often have a few units in mind. Understand what each build order requires (like what race for starters!), what units you get (at the same time, what are the benefits of said unit), what maps are good or bad for this build, what does your opponent have, and how it can be countered (in other words, look at its weaknesses). No build order is perfect and you should have various build orders in mind whenever you play a game.

People who make build orders often follow the same format:

9/9 - Drone 
9/9 - Overlord 
9/9 - Spawning Pool 
9/9 - Drone till 11 
11/17 - 6 Zerglings 
14/17 - Hatchery at natural 
13/17 - Hatchery at expansion

The above build order gives you a good economy and a very early rush using Zerglings. Note the numbers next to the unit/building names. They usually tell at what supply to get said units or buildings. It assumes you do all the actions in order, and as quick as possible. At the same time, understand that this simple fast expansion and build is weak if the opponent goes for an extreme Roach rush against you or gets units that counter those Zerglings. Some maps like Desert Oasis are good because it allows you more time to defend your expansion.

The video below shows how the Protoss player uses the “Forge fast expand” on Lost Temple against the Zerg player. Note that the build order also specifies where to place buildings, and that Lost Temple is the only place to use such a build because of its characteristics.

 

Queuing units too much

In Starcraft, a lot of unit production buildings have the ability to queue up to 5 units. Take my advice, and don’t use the full 5 slots. Take for example if you need to build 5 SCVs (each costing 50 minerals) and you have 250 minerals in the bank. Queuing all 5 of them is a very bad idea. Why? A player could just queue up 3 SCVs for 150 minerals, be left with a 100 minerals which can be used for a Supply Depot and then wait for 2 SCVs to be done and earn another 100 minerals and then spend those resources. 

It is therefore, very inefficient to queue up any unit even up to 3 times because those resources could be used elsewhere for more immediate results to you. Ever seen a pro do this, unless the pro simply cannot afford that APM?

 

Upgrades

Some players get upgrades too early, and some get it too late. Understand that each upgrade has its own specific time, and realize that upgrades take up a lot of time to get done. Some you need immediately. Examples are when Terrans get siege tanks, they almost always need that Siege mode upgrades, or when Protoss are using High Templars, they need their Psionic Storm.

A little less clear is when to get upgrades like +1 Carapace or +1 Missile Attack to Zerg ground units and how to choose between them. This can be answered by asking what units am I facing: are they strong or weak against my units? Will I be using my units continuously to justify getting that +3 Carapace, or am I going to switch tech on my opponent, go flyer and brood lords, where Flyer Attacks would be a better choice? This all depends on your strategies and can only be answered through practice.

 

Unit Diversity

In a big battle, it is often the player who has more unit diversity in his army that wins than the player who has only one, even two units. Why? A lot of people skip out on having more than one, even two units during the mid-game when every major incursion could decide it all. This is because the power of having different units.

In a PvP match, 12 Stalkers, 3 Immortals face off against 5 stalkers, 5 zealots, and three Templars as well as one Sentry. You know what happened? The Stalker, Zealot and Templar army won because the Zealots took the brunt of the damage and stopped the Immortal and Stalker army, while the Sentry used Guardian Shield to reduce incoming damage, while the Templars used Psionic Storm.

Each unit has a specific role it excels at and having more specialists in a battle is generally better especially in Starcraft 2 where every unit has a good hard counter. 3-4 unit types are enough to complement each other’s strengths and nullify their weaknesses.

Good strong mid-game builds have at least two types of units in their build, and often pros utilize three to four units in their build. A good strong mid-game build for the Terrans is Marines, Marauders and Medivacs packing a powerful punch. Marines do a lot of damage, Marauders slow opponents, and Medivacs heal putting an only Marine force at a serious disadvantage.

Note also that having too many types of units (like 7-8) will also hurt you because you don’t have enough of each type of unit to pack a real punch. Aim for two to five going for the three to four range so that you have enough type to give you flexibility and enough numbers of each type to give you more power.



28 Mar 2010 | Comments (2)
Tags : general  tips  
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Tabasco wrote (2010-03-29 10:25:35)

avatar Zergling

Wonderful guide. As a new player I learned a lot of useful things from this. There is a lack of good beginner guides like this right now, and it was just what I was looking for!

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Seven wrote (2010-03-28 08:33:18)

avatar Brutalisk

Good write up! You were quite detailed on all of your topics, and it seemed to flow very nicely.  Just a tiiiiiny nitpick, the build order example you used comes from Broodwar, as SC2 now gives you 10 supply with your hatchery. I'll just add a few additional comments on each of your topics :)

Many people say "stop practicing rushes/cheeses, you'll never get good at the game". I disagree on this statement, because as Buzzjuice mentions, rushes/cheeses pull your opponent out of their comfort zone.  Practicing a rush/cheese to perfection gives you a strong weapon in your repetoire, able to come out at anytime to psychologically attack your opponent (especially in Best of 3's or 5's). The main reason I would suggest practicing rushes and cheeses, is to practice microing your units while macroing your base.  If you cannot micro your units while pumping more units and sending them to your opponent's base, you cannot play a late game where you are controlling multiple expansions while microing your army.

On the flip side, Turtling is great to allow you to practice the late game more often, and how to manipulate your entire army, and the best way to position spell casters, etc.

Your discussion of not queueing units is great.  A lot of players complain, "how can I get my APM up?" The real question they should be asking is, "how can I upgrade my game play to the point where my APM needs to race to keep up with it." The answer is simple: Do not take the lazy way out (and, for example, queue up your units). Play with the bare minimum of build units, and force yourself to have to move all over the map more often just to keep up with macro.  With enough practice, your APM will sore.

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