Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty: Multiplayer Guide


Revision: 2.0
Author: Shockwave.xpow
Copyright: (c) 2010 shockwave.xpow - All rights reserved

0. LEGAL INFORMATION                                               CH0

All trademarks and copyrights contained in this document are owned by
their respective trademark and copyright holders.  This document is
protected by copyright law and international treaties.  This may be
not be reproduced under any circumstances except for personal, private
use. It may not be placed on any web site or otherwise distributed
publicly without advance written permission. Use of this guide on any
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prohibited, and a violation of copyright.

If you wish to use any or all of ths information, you must contact me
via and request permission.  Permission may not necessarily be
granted, and non-response by me does not grant permission.

VER. VERSION HISTORY                                              VER

1.0: Initial.
2.0: Added details to various sections based on feedback.  Added more
     detail to Orlan portrait achievement.

TOC. TABLE OF CONTENTS                                             CHT
0.     LEGAL INFORMATION              CH0
VER    VERSION HISTORY                VER


I.     INTRODUCTION                   CH1
 A.    ABOUT THE AUTHOR               CH1_A
 B.    WHAT TO EXPECT                 CH1_B

II.    OVERVIEW                       CH2

III.   CORE PRINCIPLES                CH3
 A.    THE BIG FIVE                   CH3_A
 C.    SUMMARY                        CH3_C

IV.    STARCRAFT2 BASICS              CH4
 A.    ECONOMY                        CH4_A
 B.    TERRAIN                        CH4_B
 C.    CORE GAMEPLAY                  CH4_C
 D.    INTERFACE                      CH4_D

V.     RACES                          CH5
 A.    TERRAN                         CH5_A
 B.    ZERG                           CH5_B
 C.    PROTOSS                        CH5_C


 A.    GENERAL                        CH7_A
 B.    MAP FEATURES                   CH7_B
 C.    DEALING WITH RUSHES            CH7_C
 D.    ALLIED GAMES                   CH7_D

VIII.  RESOURCES                      CH8

IXA.   SETUP                          CH9_A
IXB.   PLAY                           CH9_B

IX.    QUESTIONS?                     CH10

I. INTRODUCTION                                                    CH1

Welcome to Shockwave's Starcraft2 ("SC2") faq!  This guide covers
basics of SC2 and is primarily geared towards players who (1) want to
succeed in multiplayer (2) have some experience with SC1.  This guide
focuses on broad SC2/RTS principles, since SC2 will inevitably
experience balance and gameplay patches.  Bearing that in mind, I will
focus more on general principles that are less likely to go obsolete,
and then point you to sites and forums that can give current
information.  Although this is named a beginner's guide, this is
useful for players across various skill levels.  I cover both very
basic starting skills, as well as advanced concepts.

IA. ABOUT THE AUTHOR                                   CH1_A

I was Starcraft1's forum MVP and played competitively
particularly during early Starcraft1 ladder seasons.  I am responsible
for the widely-referenced SC1 Beginner's Guide

I was never a top player but I am very familiar with strats and
fundamentals at all levels.  I was responsible for uncovering several
key mechanics in SC1 such as the sprite limit bug.  I participated in
Starcraft2 beta since its early inception and was a top diamond player
during various phases.

IB. WHAT TO EXPECT                                     CH1_B

Outright, I need to start by giving a big caveat: This guide will not
make you win all your games as you start out with Starcraft2 for the
first time.  You can read and digest all the concepts here, watch
every Starcraft2 tutorial online, etc., but you will still lose a LOT
of games as you start out, regardless if you were a top pro player in
SC1.  This guide will help you learn as quickly as possible, but for
starters, you will need to hop in with low win expectations and eat a
lot of losses while you learn.  This can be rather humbling if you
were a top SC1 player since you will lose to players ordinarily much
worse than you just because they started playing a bit before you did.
The solution is to read through the principles here, jump online, play
your games and get beaten and put into one of the lower leagues,
swallow your losses, and practice.  After a few dozen games, you'll be
back up to speed and rising through the ranks quickly just like in
your old SC1 days.

II. OVERVIEW                                                       CH2

Most of you reading this document are probably former Starcraft1
("SC1") / Brood War ("BW") players, so a lot of this guide will assume
a basic understanding of SC/RTS mechanics.  I will start with a
general overview of the differences between SC1 and SC2.

Two common questions from SC1 players are: (1) Is SC2 similar to SC1?
(2) Am I going to lose games frequently as I start out playing SC2?
The answer to both questions is "Yes", but hopefully this guide will
help you start winning shortly.  If you're a SC1 player, here are some
fundamental things to expect when getting into SC2:


In terms of the overall feel of the gameplay, SC2 is closer to an
expansion than an entirely new game.  If you can think back to how you
felt when you first started playing BW in terms of familiarity with
the game but unfamiliarity with strategy and interface improvements,
that's how you'll feel when starting off in SC2.  If you liked SC1,
you'll like SC2.  If you did well in SC1, you will do well in SC2 and
should be able to pickup strategy fairly quickly.


Just about everything you dreamed of is in SC2: unlimited sized
control groups, rally directly to minerals, ability to hotkey multiple
buildings and types, etc. (more on this later).  The interface
improvements make economy/base management a lot more pleasant such
that you can spend more time focusing on battles and micro.

* E.G. You can now use shift queueing to tell a siege tank to unsiege,
  move to another location, and siege.

* E.G. You can assign multiple barracks to a control group so that you
  can queue up a bunch of marines easily.


Don't expect to be able to use identical strategy in SC2 that you did
in SC1 (SC1 carrier rushers take note).  However, if you had a good
handle on strategy in SC1, you'll find that you can translate that
easily into SC2; you'll just be building different unit compositions.
At the start, getting used to how to use the various units
strategically is challenging, but you'll quickly adjust to being
familiar with the new unit combinations.

* E.G. Carriers are decent units but carrier rushing is not nearly as
  powerful and is not a common strategy.

* E.G. Hydras are no longer stocky all-purpose units, they are frail
  and die quickly without support.


In SC1, outside of ladder, you would often be put into lopsided games
because player records are not an indication of skill.  E.G. Even if
you created a "noobs only" game, it was likely that you'd end up
against someone far better than you who is just playing you to pad his
record.  By contrast, in SC2, all games factor into your ranking, and
the matching system attempts to place you against similarly skilled
players.  It might seem scary that every game "counts", but overall
this sytem allows you to settle into a comfortable zone where your
games are more likely to be challenging without being overwhelming.
Of course, as you get better, your rank will improve and you'll hit
better players, and likewise if you started on a lucky streak then you
will not be doomed to keep playing against crazy platinum-level
opponents; the matching system will bump you down to an appropriate

The ranking system also awards you fairly for wins and losses
depending on skill discrepancies.  If you are a bronze level player
and lose against a diamond player, you will be penalized barely any
points, and thus those games will be more like free practice and an
opportunity to learn.


The decision not to use public chat rooms has generated much
controversy.  Suffice it to say, in SC2 you will only be able to
network with other players by adding them as friends.  You can add a
friend using your friend's registered email address, or their SC
gameID (each SC2 account has a unique ID which is displayed when they
login).  So, for connecting with friends, just ask them for the email
that they used to register for SC2, or if they've logged in already
then ask them for their gamerID.

III. CORE PRINCIPLES                                               CH3

Winning a game in SC is dependent upon many different factors.
Beginner players often focus on wanting to know what units to build
and what counters what; e.g. a typical beginner question is "My
opponent made a bunch of tanks and creamed me, what am I supposed to
build to counter this?" or "What constitutes a good attack force for
Terran?  How many thors and tanks should I build?"  Unfortunately,
these are actually the wrong things to focus on as a beginning player.
While unit composition and proper counters are important for winning
games, it is far more important to focus on fundamentals first versus
specific strategies.  The following section contains the most
important concepts to master in order to excel in Starcraft2.  Those
are: basic economy and production management, and hotkey usage.

IIIA. THE BIG FIVE                                     CH3_A

The Big Five is my attempt to reduce SC1/2 learning into focusing on
the most important issues that will help improve your gameplay.  You
can read my original Big Five guide in my SC1 doc
(, but I'll also
include it here with some improvements.
Most of these guidelines are focused to buliding a solid economy and
using it; this (not unit composition) is the key to winning games at
most skill levels.  Although technically you win games by killing your
opponent's units, your ability to kill your opponent usually depends
on how many units you have, which then depends on how strong your
economy is.  If you have twice as many bases as your opponent, then
you will almost certainly win due to having a superior economy
(i.e. "win the resource war").


You need lots of probes/SCVs/drones ("workers") for each base.  The
general rule of thumb is to never stop building them.  You can never
have enough peons.

Zerg's paradigm is a bit different, but for Protoss/Terran, your
Nexus/CC ("town hall") should always be building a worker.  It can be
a bit cumbersome to remember to build workers, so if you have to,
queue up a few workers so that they automatically build one after
another.  Those workers should always be put to use, of course - you
can rally them straight to minerals so that they automatically start
mining/gathering once built (just select your town hall and
right-click on a mineral patch).

* E.G. An easy way to continually build workers is to put your town
  hall into a control group (I use "2").  With Protoss an example,
  when you're in the middle of a battle, you can just hit "2eee" to
  start a few more probes from your Nexus.  You can in fact hotkey
  multiple Nexuses to build peons from all of them.


Always build depots/pylons/overlords ("supply") early enough in
advance so that you're not waiting on supply to finish ("supply
blocked") in order to build more units.  You should try to never get
the "You must construct additional pylons"-type supply block messages.

* E.G. Generally in early game, you'll want to start building your
  next supply when your supply is 3 under its limit.  In later game,
  you'll want to build supply much earlier or in multiples.


Spend minerals/gas ("resources") that you earn as fast as you can.
Don't let resources pile up (this is called "floating" in some
RTS-speak), because resources in the bank are doing nothing for you --
those resources could have been more zealots, an expansion, etc.

* E.G. Once you have a gateway, make sure it's making zealots whenever
you have enough resources to spare, and if your gateway is building a
zealot and you have even more resources then build a 2nd gateway (or
tech, expand, etc.).  It's less important at beginner level what you
do with your resources just as long as you spend them on something.
Resources tend to pile up in particular while you're executing a
battle (e.g. controlling your marines as they take out some zergling),
so get used to the habit of reminding yourself to build unit even in
the middle of battles.  SC2's interface makes this easy; you don't
need amazing APM (i.e. keyboard/mouse speed) but rather just need to
reemember to build at all times.  Watch your replays and keep an eye
on your resources to see where you tend to fall behind.

A related rule to this is: Don't queue a lot of unts in your
production buildings just to keep your resources close to zero.  In
other words, do not queue up 5 battlecruisers in a single starport.
The reason is that when you queue units, this ties up your available
resources even though you're only actively building the first unit in
the queue.  If you have enough resources to queue up 5 battlecruisers
in a single starport, then you should instead build 2 more starports
so that you can be building those 5 battlecruisers in parallel.  When
watching your replays, check that your production buildings are not
idle (i.e. are always building something), and do not generally have
more than 2 units queued up at any time.


A standard beginner trend is to build tons of cannons, bunkers,
turrets, spines, spores ("static defense"; i.e. buildings that attack)
in your base, because static defense keeps you safe from attack and
most such as cannons also detect cloak.

However, because static defenses are defensive and in general don't
move, they can't help you attack, which means that you automatically
present less of an offensive threat to your opponent.  If you're
playing against the computer, it'll happily send units at your wall of
cannons and get those units killed, so this seems effective.  But when
playing against a human, your opponent will realize that you have
little to attack him with since you've been spending money on defense
("turtling"), and will take over the rest of the map and starve you
out.  This means that you may not lose early in the game, but you will
still lose because you've lost the resource war.

* E.G. Do not incorporate a forge into your early build in order to
  make cannons.  

* E.G. Be careful even about building bunkers.  Yes, you can salvage
  them for a full refund, but while you have bunkers, that's resources
  that's tied up that you could have used to make more barracks, start
  an earlier factory, etc.

In fact, if you're starting out as a true beginner, then I would advise
just pretending that static defense doesn't exist.  This will seem like
a major handicap since you'll lose games because you don't have enough
defenses at first, but this will force you to build units instead of
relying on static defense.  Of course, as you become more experienced,
you'll get a feel for when to appropriately build static defense.


Send a worker out to your opponent's base fairly early in the game,
e.g. usually when you are around 8-12 supply (you scout with a worker
because around 8-12 supply, you won't have other units available).
Once your worker is in your opponent's base, keep it alive as long as
possible by having it continue to move around the base.

Scouting is vital for getting an idea on what strategy your opponent
is adopting, since your own strategy is typically defined by what your
opponent is doing.  It is also not just a one-time event -- later,
you'll want to send an observer or overlord or other expendable unit
into your opponent's base to see what he's up to, or try sending
another worker in, etc.  Even if you're not experienced enough yet to
how exactly to respond to what you see when you scout, you will still
benefit from what you see.

* E.G. I scout with a probe in early game and see that my opponent is
  building a forge.  This means he is probably making cannons.  I will
  keep my probe alive long enough to see whether he starts warping in
  cannons after his forge is done.  If so, then I know he will be
  unable to attack me early on, so I can expand early.  I should then
  scout about a minute afterward to see if he is teching quickly
  (e.g. if I see a stargate and fleet beacon, I know he is making
  carriers so I need to make some anti-air).

IIIB. HOTKEYS AND CONTROL GROUPS                       CH3_B

Learning how to best use your keyboard and mouse when playing SC2 is
the other big basic principle for success.  Beginner player are often
frustrated by the wealth of options and actions in SC2, and some of
you may just not be that fast with your fingers.  Two tricks can help
you greatly with managing SC2 even if you are not lightning fast with
your fingers.  These are keyboard shortcuts and control groups
(collectively known as "hotkey usage").

Keyboard shortcuts and control groups use are critical to effective
play in SC2.  They are on par in importance to the Big Five but
require more explanation so I've moved them to a separate section.
There is no getting around using hotkeys -- you cannot become an
effective SC2 player without good use of hotkeys.  As painful and
nonintuitive as this may be, you must learn this section.


If you have your Nexus selected, you can either click the build probe
action button icon in the lower right corner, or hit "E" to build a
probe.  "E" is thus the keyboard shortcut (sometimes called the
"hotkey") for building a probe.  Why care about keyboard shortcuts?
Because hitting "E" is much faster than mousing over to the action
button, and thus hotkey usage presents a clear advantage for how
quickly you can execute actions.  You should in general never be
clicking on action buttons since every action has a hotkey.

Keyboard shortcuts takes a bit of practice and getting used to but it
is critical for effective play because in a combat situation you will
not often have time to mouseover psi storm to select the spell, and in
general want to minimize unnecessary mouse movement.

There is a simple way to train yourself to use keyboard shortcuts.
Whenever you don't know the keyboard shortcut to an action, mouse over
to the action button icon so that you can see the keyboard shortcut,
and then hit the keyboard shortcut (i.e. do not use your mouse to
select the action).  For example, if I have my Nexus selected and
forget the shortcut to build a probe, I'll mouse over the probe action
button icon, see the "Build probe [E]" tooltip, and then I will hit
"E" to build a probe.  If I accidentally press my mouse buton on the
probe action button icon, I will hit ESCAPE to cancel that action and
then hit "E".  This may seem somewhat cumbersome, but after doing this
just a few times, you'll be able to build probes using "E" without
giving it any thought; in other words, you'll build up muscle memory
to perform keyboard shortcuts automatically.


Control groups allow you to assign buildings or units to a number key
(i.e. 0-9).  This is done by selecting something, holding down CTRL,
and presing any number key.  From there on, whenever you press that
number key, whatever you had assigned to that key will be selected
again.  Control group use is critical for managing units and
production throughout SC2; for example, in late game if you have 10
stargates, you do not want to have to manually go back to your base,
click on each stargate, and build a carrier; if you the stargates
grouped to 1, you could just hit "1ccccccc" to build a bunch of
carriers without taking your eyes off of what you are doing at the

How you assign control groups is up to you.  However, be sure that you
at least put all your town halls in one control group, and at least
some of your production facilities in another.  Additionally, bear in
mind that 2-5 are the easiest control group numbers to use (since they
are easy to reach with your left hand), so generally favor assigning
those first.  My scheme is as follows when using Terran:

1 - Home base CC (so I can hit "11" to quickly get back to my main base).
2 - Main combat ground group (marines, marauders, tanks, etc.).
5 - Main combat air group (vikings, banshees, etc.).
6 - All CCs (so during the middle of battle, I can hit "2ssss" to make 
    workers for all my bases).
7 - All my barracks, factories, starports (so I can build new units at any 
0 - Temporary assignment (e.g. my first SCV scout, buildings that are
    actively researching upgrades).

Starcraft2 contains many conveniences when using control groups,
particularly for selections of mixed units and buildings.  If you have
barracks, factories, and starports in one group, for example, you can
use TAB to cycle between them, so that you can build some marines with
"a", hit tab and build some siege tanks, hit tab again and build some
vikings, etc.  Additionally, if you have multiple of the same
building, then new units are queued up smartly -- e.g. if you have 3
barracks selected and hit "a" 3 times, then 1 marine will be queued in
each barracks (versus 3 in the first).

IIIC. SUMMARY                                          CH3_C

The Big Five and hotkey usage comprises most of what you actually need
to know to both start off SC2 and get really good at the game.  I
would recommen taking some time to master those principles above
before moving on to getting distracted by these next sections which go
into more specific strategy and information.  Having said that, the
reality is that none of you are going to stop and just practice the
Big Five and then read the rest of this later, so my caution is that
you don't lose sight of the Big Five and hotkeys while reading the
rest of this.  In the end, mastering those will help you with your
beginning multiplayer a lot more than any of this information below.

IV. STARCRAFT2 BASICS                                              CH4

This section will cover some of the major SC2 principles.  This is
mostly presented as differences between SC1 and SC2 although even if
you didn't play SC1, you should be able to understand the concepts

IVA. ECONOMY                                           CH4_A


The mechanism of gas collection has changed from SC1 to SC2. (1) Your
base now starts with two geysers instead of one (2)
Assimilator/refinary/extractor ("gas") costs less to build, and (3)
Each gas harvests at half the rate compared to SC1 (i.e. 4 gas per
worker trip instead of 8).

Gas is the scarce resource in SC2, largely because minerals mine more
effectively than in SC1 (more on this later).  It is thus not unusual
to be in a situation where you have more minerals than you know what
to do with, and not enough gas.  Most opening builds start with just
taking one of your geyser; getting both is seen as a fairly aggressive
tech move.  The optimal number of workers on gas is 3 (versus 4 in
SC1).  (For some gas positions, 4 workers will give you marginally
more yield, but it's typically so small that you do not need to commit
the 4th worker.)  The other major gas behavior change is that gas
cannot be mined once it's depleted.

* E.G. It's typical to get one geyser very early, shortly after you
  start your first barracks/pool/gateway, since gas costs less than in
  SC1.  There are a few rare builds that delay first gas, but unless
  you really have good reason, get 1 and only 1 gas early.  Once your
  gas finishes, put 3 workers on it immediately.


Because unit pathing is much better in SC2 than SC1, workers harvest
minerals more efficiently (i.e. they are smarter about moving to
patches and selecting empty patches).  You no longer need 3 probes per
mineral patch; after 2 workers per patch, you will see sharply
diminishing returns (you will still get gains up to around 3
workers/patch, but not much).  You may then think that you should not
keep building workers because you saturate at fewer.  While in
advanced strategy you will want to keep this in mind, when in doubt
just build more workers.  This is because you tend to expand faster
(more on this later) and each time you expand, you will want to
transfer some workers ("Maynard", that's a verb) over to the new

* E.G. For a typical 8-mineral base, optimal saturation on gas and
  minerals is 16 on minerals and 6 on gas, i.e. 22 workers.  This is a
  lot lower than SC1 numbers.  You should still constantly pump
  workers, since those can be transferred to expansions, and because
  as mentioned above, more than 2 workers does help with resource intake,
  the returns are just not as great.

* E.G. Because pathing is smarter, you no longer need to manually
  separate your initial workers when assigning them to patches at game
  start.  Instead, just click on a patch and the workers will split
  optimally on their own.


It is important that you are familiar with each races' ability to
speed up the rate of harvesting resources.  More will be mentioned
about this in the race-specific sections, but you are at a
disadvantage if you don't utilize these.  Protoss has chronoboost from
the Nexus (i.e. build probes faster), Terran has MULEs from the
Orbital Command (i.e. harvest minerals faster), Zerg has Spawn Larva
from the Queen (i.e. generate more larvae to make drones faster).  Do
not start playing a race until you're aware of that race's resource
collection trick, or you'll be handicapping yourself.


One-base play in SC1 was viable even past early-mid game since it took
a while for the first base to become saturated with workers.  Since
resource collection in SC2 is faster because workers mine more
efficiently, expansions also tend to come much faster.  Prolonged
one-base play is generally an "all-in" where if you do not kill your
opponent early, you will almost certainly die from being
out-resourced.  The first expansion, notably, is typically more
valuable for its additional gas than minerals, given the rule#1: "gas
is king".

Knowing when to expand is always a tricky issue since it depends on
what your opponent is done and how well your early attacks are
executed; the easiest way to learn the timing is to watch some
replays, mirror the build orders, and then make your own adjustments.
Regardless of whether you learn particular build orders, however, just
bear in mind that you should generally start your first expansion much
earlier than in SC1.

* E.G. It's common for Terran to start their first expansion at around
  25 supply, which seems super early for SC1 players.  Note that
  although the expansion costs you 400 minerals, it gives you 10
  supply (i.e. slightly more than a supply depot which costs 100
  minerals), a MULE shortly aferward if you build an orbital supply,
  and a huge resource income spike once you transfer some SCVs from
  your main to the expansion.  Thus, expansions pay for themselves
  very quickly, cost less than face value (since they give supply) and
  thus are not as risky as they may seem.


Most maps will have at least one expansion that has gold mineral
patches.  These give greater yield than normal minerals and
controlling such expansions for any length of time covers an
advantage.  Note that there is no such thing as high yield gas, so gas
at these expansions is the same as in normal bases.  These expansions
are often centrally located, blocked off by rocks, or otherwise
inconvenient.  Note that controlling high yield doesn't guarantee
victory, due to rule #1: "gas is king".

The way to think of high yield minerals is that they're good to take
when you think you can defend them, but their presence does not change
strategy fundamentally.  In other words, if you're new to SC2, don't
feel like you need to learn particular strategies for securing high
yield expansions early, or that you'll lose if your opponent is able
to grab one.  If it's too much to think about, just pretend they don't
exist, and you'll still do fine.

* E.G. Take a high yield expansion if it's convenient for you.  Don't
  feel pressured that you have to expand there immediately, or that
  your opponent is going to beat you early by exploiting this.  Do
  make sure you scout the high yield expansions so you can attack the
  expansion or at least force your opponent to overcommit to its

IVB. TERRAIN                                           CH4_B


Many maps have destructible rocks that form a temporary wall to bases.
These take some effort to destroy because they are high health and
armored, but they cannot be repaired nor reconstructed afterward.
Almost all balanced maps have just one entrance ("choke") into the
base, but the destroying the rocks can create another.  Be sure to
build a pylon or put a unit near your destructible rocks so that you
can see if your opponent is trying to break through.  Some maps hide
visibility to the rocks through bushes (more on brushes later), so be
sure to have a unit or structure that spots past the bushes for you.

* E.G. Since Terran often relies on walling off their choke with
  buildings, they are very vulnerable to being backdoored if their
  rocks are taken out.  Although the rocks take a lot of effort to
  kill, even sending some units at Terran's rocks is usually enough to
  scare him into devoting considerable resources to defending against
  the threat of those rocks going down.  If you're playing against
  Terran and aren't actively attacking him, send some units to kill
  the rocks.


A few units are able to walk up and down cliffs, so do not rely too
much on just defending your choke.  These units are similar to air
units in terms of mobility since they effectively ignore most terrain.
When you play on newbie versions of maps (which use rocks to block off
bases from early rushes) during practice rounds, don't be surprised if
your opponents use reapers or colossus to attack you sooner than

* E.G. As a newer player, you are likely to die a few times to
  cliff-traversing units such as reapers and colossus until you get
  the hang of this, but overally it is not a radical change.


Most maps have at least a couple of neutral watch towers which are
owned whenever a ground (i.e. not air) unit stands near them.  These
towers then give a very large sight range.  The towers are generally
situated in strategic positions to cover standard attack paths.
Controlling these towers is very important as they give warning of
attacks and sometimes can even see expansions, so they are somewhat
like having a legal map hack.  Do not easily yield the towers to your
opponent; fight over them if you have to.


In SC1, you could attack units on high ground with a certain miss rate
(i.e. you have a 25% chance that your attack will miss).  In SC2, you
will never miss units on high grounds so there is no longer this
penalty, but you must have sight on the high ground to attack it.
Units on high ground will still appear to you when they attack, just
like in SC1, but you will not be able to counterattack.  Sighting up
high ground involves having a unit at that elevation, or using a
floating building or air unit as a spotter.


Weeds, billowing smoke, etc. ("brush") will obstruct sight such that
if you are one side of the brush, you will not see units on the other
side.  This is useful for hiding units or giving melee units an
advantage over ranged opponents.  * E.G. Hide melee units near brush
so that you can ambush ranged units walking by the other side.

IVC. CORE GAMEPLAY                                     CH4_C


In SC1, static defense was fairly robust, such that building static
defense would assure that your opponent would have to take
moderate/heavy losses to break through.  Static defense in SC2 is in
general far less effective, as there are units that can take down
defenses pretty easily without taking much if any losses.  You cannot
count on cannons and spines to hold off a concerted attack.

* E.G. Don't be surprised if you make a cannon in early game and start
  teching thinking you're safe, then a few marauders run up and
  destroy your cannons early while taking minimal losses.


SC1 had concussive and explosive damage, each of which did variable
damage to units depending on the target unit's size.  The general
paradigm was that units would do decent damage against targets they
are meant to attack (e.g. firebats against zealots), and poor damage
against other units (e.g. firebats against tanks).  In SC2, most units
do decent damage against everything, but totally obliterate units they
are intended to attack.  This is a "hard counter" (versus SC1's "soft
counter") system, and it means that building generic armies is not as
effective as in SC1 because it will get destroyed by an opposing army
that is made to counter it.

There are no longer generic damage types; instead, some units will
contain a flat bonus against certain armor types.  Pay close attention
to these because they will determine what units counter what.  For
example, immortals have a huge damage bonus against "armored" units;
roaches and marauders are listed as "armored" type which means that
you can assume that immortals will perform well against them.
Similarly, banelings do extra damage against "light" units, and
marines and zergling have "light" type which means that banelings are
great against them but not so great against marauders and roaches.

I realize this makes some parts of the Big Five (i.e. it doesn't
matter what you build as long as you're building something) trickier,
and it's a bit scary thinking about starting up SC2 where you'll die
if you build the wrong units, but this is easily alleviated by just
learning some good unit compositions (e.g. marine/marauder/tank) which
will do fine up until the highest levels.

Also note that Protoss shields no longer take full damage from
everything; instead, they follow the same rules and armor type as
their unit.

* E.G. Banelings kill marines, which kill zerglings, which kill
  marauders, which kill banelings.  This is an example of the counter


Part of the consequence of #2 is that battles are much more brief than
in SC1, typically.  Although gamespeed is just about the same, units
just kill each other and die faster than ever.  Micro (controlling
individual units to great effect, such as using spellcasters or
retreating specific units that are being attacked) is important, but
macro (overwhelming your opponent with a lot of units or superior
economy) starts playing a larger role.  Also, melee units have an
easier time chasing after retreating units (e.g. in SC1 you could run
your marine from zergling fairly effectively, whereas in SC2 your
marine will get attacked more frequently while retreating), which
sometimes makes retreat very punishing.  There is really nothing you
can "do" to compensate for this change in gamepace except to be aware
of it and to make sure you don't let your macro suffer.


In SC1, certain unit combinations were quite immobile.  SC2 is full of
better ways to get around the map, which adds more dynamics and faster
pacing to the game.  Become comfortable with each race's mobility
tricks or you'll be caught off guard.

* E.G. Zerg have nydus worms (you'll lose at least a few games by this
  before you know what's going on), Protoss has warp gates to allow
  them to build units at forward pylons, Terran tends to have more
  dropships ("medivacs") since those double as healing for infantry.


In SC1, workers were always targetted last if other military units
were around; i.e. if you had any military unit nearby, the attacking
units would ignore your workers and try to kill the military unit
first.  You could exploit this in many interesting ways, such as
attacking with SCVS+marines against zealots since the zealots would
ignore the SCVs and walk around them to get to the marines.

In SC2, workers are treated similar to any other attacking melee unit
and will be targetted.  This means that if something breaks into your
worker line, it is typically a good idea to run your workers instead
of using them to attack.  In fact, workers are typically targetted
first in priority.

* E.G. You'll often have to run your workers if a unit gets into the
  mineral line.  In SC1, suppose a zealot got into your Terran base --
  you could just build a marine and have your workers attack the
  zealot and the zealot would get stuck trying to reach your marine.
  In SC2, the zealot will happily cut through your workers and ignore
  the marine.

Similarly, spellcasters are treated as high priority targets.  In SC1,
spellcasters that did not have a normal attack (e.g. templar, science
vessels) were treated as lower priority than all military units.  In
SC2, spellcasters tend to be preferentially targetted.

* E.G. In SC1, if you were attacking a Terran siege tank line, you
  could attack simultaneously with zealots and templar, and the
  templar would be able to get into range to storm because the tanks
  would ignore them until after the zealots were all dead.  In SC2,
  your templar are likely to be attacked.

IVD. UNITS AND UNIT BEHAVIOR                           CH4_D


Energy-using units ("spellcasters") all have a maximum of 200 energy
and cannot be upgraded to 250 energy.  Instead of an upgrade that
increases the total energy, most energy units have an upgrade that
increases their starting energy.  This is arguably more useful because
it makes spellcasters more immediately able to cast spells after being

* E.G. If you upgrade templar energy, they will build with 75 energy,
  which means that they can immediately psi storm.  Using warpgates,
  you can quickly create a templar anywhere near a pylon, so in the
  middle of being attacked, you can warp in a templar and storm


In SC1, some buildings are smaller (or more "porous") than others even
if they take up the same amount of space.  For example, if you put a
depot next to a barracks, then units would be able to fit through the
space between the two buildings if they were arranged horizontally but
not if they were arranged vertically.

In SC2, all buildings fully take up the grid, so two buildings next to
each other will always prevent units from going inbetween.  This makes
walling in much easier and strategic.  Also, basic units are now the
same size -- if a zealot can't fit through a crack, then neither can

* E.G. As Terran, you'll almost always want to wall off the choke to
  your base so that units cannot get into your base without destroying
  part of your wall.  Two depots, a rax, and the rax's add-on will
  seal the wall as long as those are all flush, regardless of


In SC1, if you invested in weapons/armor upgrades, you had to wait a
long time before those actually finished researching.  If you lagged
behind on upgrades compared to your opponent, it was really difficult
to catch up.  In SC2, upgrades finish researching a lot faster, which
means they are very much worth investing in.  Typically, when you have
an upgrade station constructed, you should be researching the upgrade
since it will finish shortly and will give significant gains to the
affected unit.  You can also queue upgrades (e.g. at your armory, hit
"SP" to start on ship weapons and then ship plating right afterward).


Most units that have a splash or area of effect ("AoE") attack will
not damage friendly units (i.e. they do "friendly splash" aka "good
splash".  One notable exception is siege tanks (which does "non-
friendly" aka "indiscriminant" splash).

Additionally, units that do friendly splash will not injure teammates'

* E.G. In SC1, it was risky in team play for your opponent to use
  reavers because even though reavers won't damage his own units,
  they'll damage yours.  In SC2, you don't have to worry about your
  ally's banelings harming your own units.


In SC1, if you wanted to psi storm an air unit, you just clicked on
the unit.  Since SC2 does not use a top-down view, though, you will
instead have to click slightly below the unit (a vertical line is
drawn from the unit to its actual spot on the ground).  This takes a
while to get used to, and in the meantime you may miss air units when
using area of effect ("AoE") spells such as psi storm and EMP.

Also note that most AoE spells cannot be targetted on a unit, they
must be cast onto the ground.

IVD. INTERFACE                                         CH4_D


In SC1, if you have 12 battlecruisers ("BCs") and tell them to yamato
one target, all 12 BCs will waste their yamato on that target.  In
SC2, the same command will cause only one BC to actually cast yamato.
Suppose you have 12 BCs (that have enough energy to cast yamato)
and want to have them yamato 6 carriers to death (i.e. 2 yamatos
per carrier).  Here's two ways of doing this:

* Select your BCs, press "Y", hold down SHIFT, click on each carrier

* Select your BCs, press "Y", click on carrier #1, press "Y", click
on carrier #1, press "Y", click on carrier #2, press "Y", click on
carrier #2, etc.

[credit to hoywolf for pointing out that you don't need to use SHIFT
with smart casting]

If you rally your town hall to minerals or gas, workers produced will
automatically start mining.  You can even rally workers to a partially
building gas, and the workers will start mining once the gas finishes
building.  This is a huge improvement because it makes economy
management a lot easier to handle -- you don't have to keep coming
back to your base and assigning workers to minerals as they're built.


You can now select multiple buildings, or really any combination of
buildings and units.  If you have like-buildings selected and queue up
multiple units, they will be logically built (e.g. if you have 5
barrraks and start hitting "a" to build marines, then each barracks
will start producing 1 marine before any of the barracks queues a 2nd.
This makes later-game unit production much easier, since you can just
group 12 barracks in one group and spam hitting "a" to make marines.

This is particularly useful for Zerg, who uses just hatcheries for
their unit production.  If you hotkey all your hatcheries to 1, you 
can then hit "1szzzzzzzzz" to build a bunch of zergling out of all 
your available larva.


You can now select more than 12 units in a single control group.
Control groups are unlimited size.  If different types of units or
buildings are selected, tab can be used to select between like units.
This makes late game unit management much cleaner since in SC1, it
was tough to control a swarm of cheap units (e.g. 100 zergling)
because you would have to break up the swarm into multiple control


In SC1, if you had one unit follow another (e.g. select a marine,
right-click on another marine), then the unit will not respond to
threats.  Thus, right-clicking on a lead unit was similar in threat
behavior as doing a move (versus attack-move) command.  In SC2, follow
is generally treated as attack-move.


Most abilities work against the minimap now.  This becomes
particularly useful for abilities that target buildings, such as the
queen's spawn larvae.

* E.G. Select all your queens, click V, hold down SHIFT, and click on
  various points on the minimap where you have hatcheries.  You can
  even click a few times in case you miss, since queens will not
  recast spawn larvae on a hatchery that already has spawning larvae.


In SC1, if you set the rally point of a barracks to some marine, and
the marine died, then the rally point would be lost.  In SC2, you can
hold down shift and queue up rally points.  One use would be to hold
down shift and click on a bunch of marines in the same group; thus, if
one marine died, then the rally point would then default to the next


If workers are not actively building, repairing, mining, etc., they
are added to an idle worker count that is shown on your screen as an
icon.  You can select these workers in sequence by hitting F1 or
clicking on the idle worker icon.  Check this periodically; e.g. if
gas or minerals run out, then workers on those resources will become
idle.  In particular, one thing to get used to is that your gas will
run out, so you cannot just put workers on gas and leave them on


When in doubt, hit stop ("S) before ordering a unit to perform new
actions, particularly spellcasters ("S" causes the unit to stop its
current action and clear its action queue).  Otherwise, smart casting
may cause the unit to finish its previous command before casting the
spell.  For example, if you attack-move 3 high templar in a mixed
group, then hold down shift, then cast psi storm 3 times, then your
templar may first move to the attack-move spot before psi storming.
If this sounds confusing, the easy rule to remember is that if a
spellcaster (particularly ones that does not have an attack) is in
motion, before you cast a spell with it, hit "S".


In SC1, you had to have enough resources to start building a buiding,
but if your resources dropped below the building cost by the time your
worker got to the spot, you wouldn't build.  This could lead to
critical issues such as noticing that you didn't in fact build that
turret that you queued up in your base.  In SC2, once you issue a
build command, resources are taken away and reserved.  Additionally,
you can shift-queue to build multiple buildings either with one or
multiple workers, so it's easy to get a couple of SCVs to build a
bunch of turrets in succession using a single sequence of commands.


Some ability can be toggled to autocast, such that units will
automatically use the ability when appropriate.  In SC1, this was true
for medics.  In SC2, one of the primary uses is with SCVs.  If you
right-click on the repair icon, it will start flashing, and this will
signify that the SCV will automatically repair any damaged unit or
structure (including those belong to allies) if idle.  Thus, an easy
way to keep your mech army repaired is to select a few SCVs, activate
repair on auto-cast, and right-click on any unit in your army.
Carrier interceptors can also be set to autocast, which means that the
carrier will automatically build new interceptors.


Hitting SPACE will center your view on the last notification (e.g. "we
are under attack", "add-on complete").  In SC1, only the very last
notification would be remembered, so you had no way of centering on an
earlier notification.  In SC2, hitting SPACE multiple times will
continue to cycle you back through your notifications.

V. RACES                                                           CH5

The following are concepts that you should know about each race in order
to play effectively.  First, I will list a few things that you
absolutely must know for each race, then after that I'll mention some
other good-to-know techniques and tricks.

I will also discuss each race's "super" unit (or "core" unit).  Note
that just because this unit is listed as a super unit does not mean
that you will necessarily incorporate it into all of your builds.  And
the designation as a super unit is fairly arbitrary; this is something
that became established during the beta.  Balance patches in the
future may also make some of these units obsolete.  However, since it
would be too much to discuss every unit in depth, I will just point
out each super unit.

VA. TERRAN                                             CH5_A



Command centers ("CC") no longer use add-ons (nuke silo, comsat).
Instead, the CC upgrade converts the CC itself.  There are two
possible upgrades -- the orbital command ("OC") or planetary fortress
("PF").  Once you choose either, that upgrade is permanent and you
cannot switch or undo.

You should pretty much always build an orbital command on your command
center as soon as possible -- i.e. immediately after your first
barracks is done since a barracks is a tech requirement for the
orbital command.  If you are building an SCV when your barracks is
done, cancel the SCV so you can start your OC earlier.

Getting your OC done as soon as possible is critical because of MULEs,
which boost your economy (more on this below).  There are only very
rare circumstances where the OC is not the first thing you build in
early game after your barracks finishes.

You will generally want to build OCs on your expansion CCs as well.
Although the OC costs 150 minerals, you will very quickly make up
the resources.


The OC gives you access to 3 abilities, 1 of which is a lot more used
than the other 2.  The MULE calldown allows you to summon a temporary
super SCV-like unit that mines faster than a normal SCV and can mine
from the same patch as another SCV or MULE (the MULE doesn't interrupt
the SCV's mining, or vice versa).  The MULE will mine ~300 minerals
during its lifetime and the MULE duration is the same as the time it
takes your CC to generate 50 energy, so you will always have enough
energy in your CC to call down another MULE after the previous
expires.  290 minerals within 30 seconds is a TON of resources.
Therefore, unless you are really in a bind, do NOT use your Orbital
Command to scan or to calldown supply.  Essentially, a scan costs you
290 minerals, so everytime you have to scan, your opponent will feel
very happy.

* The lack of usable scan is thus a big difference from SC1 where
  scanning was frequent.  Instead, scout using floating buidings
  (e.g. build a barracks and fly it over your opponent's base).

* Because OC gives you so much minerals through MULEing, you will
  generally want to favor building a OC over a Planetary Fortress on
  expansions.  Regardless of what you choose, you will almost always
  want to upgrade every CC to either a OC or PF immediately after the
  CC is built.

* You can calldown a MULE straight onto a mineral patch by clicking on
  the MULE icon (or hitting "E") and then clicking on a mineral patch.
  The MULE will then immediately start mining when it finishes its
  summon animation.

* Note that MULEs don't actually just give you more minerals; instead,
  they cause minerals to be mined faster.  This means your first
  base's minerals will run out faster, which is why expanding early is

* If you have several CCs in one control group, then you can calldown
  MULEs just using that single control group, and one of the CCs with
  enough energy will cast the MULE.  (This is the same as how other
  spells work in SC2.)  Another good reason for putting all your CCs
  in one control group is so that you can use scan on demand -- if you
  select all your CCs and scan, then whichever CC has energy to scan
  will perform the scan.

* You will rarely want to keep more than 50 energy in a CC.  Whenever
  you have 50 energy, calldown another MULE.  The only common
  exception is if you are deliberately saving energy for scan (for
  cloak detection or scouting); but, again, try to do without scan
  since MULEs are so good for resourcing.


Ebays, in addition to upgrading infantry attacks, also can upgrade
turret range, building structure armor, and bunker capacity.  Turret
range and structure armor are in particular very useful, and both
research quickly.  If you are expanding aggressively, then getting
both upgrades will significantly increase the durability of your
bases.  The armor structure upgrade will benefit all your buildings,
including your turrets and bunkers.



In SC1, Toss's ability to throw down cannons to instantly guard an
expansion was enviable since Terran could only build anti-air
(turrets) or would need marines to fill bunkers.  In SC2, Terrans have
the best base defense in the game, being the planetary fortress
("PF").  This is an upgrade for the CC, just like Orbital Command,
although you have to choose between them.  As mentioned earlier, OC is
amazing for income generation.  PFs are equally amazing for base
defense.  The PF gun does a lot of damage, including splash, and is
attached to the CC so it is difficult to take down.  Since your PF is
a command center, you will probably also have many SCVs mining nearby,
so those can be sent to repair the PF as it's being attacked.  

PFs with a few turrets for anti-air can withstand just about anything,
particularly if upgraded with range and building armor (from the
engineering bay).  The general rule is to build OCs on bases which you
can reasonably protect, and PFs on bases where you need extra defense
(such as gold expansions).  You really do not want to build a ton of
PFs due to how amazing OCs are for income generation.

* E.G. A base with a PF can take out seemingly infinite numbers of
  zergling.  Once the zergling attack, just select your SCVs, click on
  auto-repair, and click on the PF.  The SCVs will surround the PF
  which means they will heal it quickly, and they'll keep the zergling
  out of melee range of the PF.


Although as a general rule you should not build a lot of static
defense, Terran can get away with this because their bunkers can be
salvaged for 100% return.  Thus, you can build bunkers when needed and
then just resell them afterward.  This allows for some very effective
defensive options because you don't have to worry about overcommitting
to defense.  Having said this, a bunker you build temporarily is still
taking up resources until destroyed, so don't overdo bunkers.


Each basic military production building can be augmented with either a
tech lab or reactor.  These add-ons can be swapped around by just
lifting the buidings and placing them on the add-ons, just like in SC1
with CC add-ons.  The advantages of tech swap are twofold: (1) you can
tech very quickly (2) you have additional flexibility in terms of

* E.G. It's typical to start with a barracks with a lab add-on; but
  later on, you can lift that barracks and replace it with a starport
  if you want to make banshees or ravens fast, instead of building the
  starport and then making a tech lab afterward.  You could even lift
  your barracks, build a 2nd reactor while the starport is building,
  and then stick your barracks back on your first reactor.

* E.G. In early game, you often will want to pump out hellions fast.
  It's typical to make a rax with a reactor, then make a factor, then
  swap the factory with the rax.  Later on, after you're done with
  hellions, you can swap back, or even stick a starport onto the
  reactor to make fast vikings or medivacs.


SCVs can be set to auto-repair (right-click on their repair icon so
that it animates), which means that they will find and repair any
nearby units or buildings.  This makes SCVs very valuable to take
along on attacks of any composition because they can build bunkers (if
you're using infantry), or repair vehicles/ships (if you're using
mech/air).  Generally, there is no reason not to have SCVs on
auto-repair.  MULEs can also be used for repair, and can be called
down anywhere so you can use them to repair your fleet of BCs that's
far away from home.

I will generally keep all my SCVs on auto-repair.  There are very
few drawbacks to doing so.


Unlike in SC1, you no longer have cheap healing in SC2.  Instead, you
have to build medivacs.  These operate in much the same way (e.g. only
one medivac can heal one unit at a time, it costs mana, and the
healing rate is pretty fast).  If you are going with bio ball
(i.e. marine/marauder), it's pretty common to tech up to medivacs to
support your army.  Note that since medivacs are transports too, this
allows you a lot of mobility and the threat of base drops.

* E.G. Use medivacs to heal your marauder army, and then in a lull,
  load up the marauders and drop them into your opponent's mineral
  line.  You'd be surprised how fast this will kill the workers, any
  static defense, and the town hall itself.


Sieged tanks have a long cooldown which can be exploited by baiting
them with a single expendable unit.  In SC1, you could send a zergling
at 12 tanks and maybe all 12 would fire at the zergling, then you
could send in the rest of your army and slaughter the tanks while
they're waiting to fire again.  In SC2, tanks will not overfire units;
i.e. each unit will be hit by exactly the number of tank shots needed
to kill it.  This means that in the above scenario, only 1 tank would
fire at the zergling.  Tanks also do decent damage even in unsieged
mode.  Not surprisingly, these two facts make tanks one of the best
units in the game.


In SC1, if you walled off your choke and then had to get out, you
would need to lift your barracks.  In SC2, you can lower your depots,
move your units out, then raise the depots.  You may want to by
default lower depots that are built inside your base that are not part
of a wallin, since this will allow your units to get around easier.
Raising or lowering doesn't affect depots' combat durability.


In SC1, if you wanted to have medics follow marines, you could just
right-click the med on a marine.  In SC2, if you right-click on a
marine, the medivac will load it up.  Instead, just hit "A" and click
on the marine, as if you are ordering the medivac to attack it.


In SC1, SCVs had a very large amount of health which makes them
decent attacking units to bring along with your army, and also
fairly resistant to being killed while constructing buildings.
SCVs in SC2 are not nearly as durable.  One of the consequences
is that in early game, your SCV building your depot/rax is often
far away from your base and thus susceptable to being attacked
by a scouting worker.  The general defense to this is to send two


The marauder is the Terran's super/basic/core unit.  Marauders are
good against just about everything on ground due to the fact that they
hard counter armored units, slow almost all units upon attack, and
have high health.  Note that even though they are infantry, they are
very durable and thus not vulnerable to a lot of anti-infantry
counters; think of them more like zealots than marines in terms of
their durability.  Be sure to get both the concussive shells upgrade
and stim.  Use stim liberally because the health cost is not that
great whereas the added effectiveness in both movement and attack
speed is scary.

* Marauders can go toe to toe against just about anything on the
  ground apart from units that deal area of effect damage.  Forget
  about marines being the backbone of your army; in general, build
  marauders unless you need anti-air.

* Since marauders deal extra damage against armored units, they are
  also great against buildings.  Notably, they have enough health and
  damage output to be able to charge up to static defenses and destroy
  them with minimal losses.

* Since marauders are high health, they are also easy to keep alive
  using medivacs.  Medivac healing is nowhere near as effective as SC1
  med healing, but it is still very good.

* Feel free to stim marauders liberally.  Stim greatly increases their
  movement and damage up to pretty insane levels, and the health hit
  is not that significant.  See for yourself how fast a group of
  stimmed marauders can take out a town hall.

VB. ZERG                                               CH5_B



Queens are built straight from the hatchery ("hatch") and do not
require larvae.  You should almost always build a queen as soon as
your spawning pool is done (since the spawning pool is a tech
requirement for queens).  There are very few circumstances where you
would not build a queen immediately when your pool finishes.  The
reason you build a queen as early as possible is because queens enable
the hatchery to generate additional larva, and larva is critical for
economy and unit production.


Queens fulfill a number of functions but are primarily used for their
spawn larvae ability ("puke"), which causes the hatchery to spit out a
set number of extra larva per application after some time.  The time
it takes for the larvae to be produced is the same as the time it
takes the queen to regenerate the energy needed to puke, thus a hatch
should always be generating larvae.  Larva generation and diligent
queen use is the key to Zerg play, since the number of larva dictates
both how fast you can make drones or units.

In SC1, Zerg had to build a number of hatches to produce enough larva,
but in SC2 a queen is essentially equivalent to having another hatch.
You thus do not need to build a second hatch as part of standard Zerg
play, and there is rarely a reason to build a hatch in your base
versus at an expansion.

Note that the queen is a fairly effective anti-ground and anti-air
unit, which means that in ZvZ, you should not leave your scouting
overlord at your opponent's base or it'll get shot down.  Queens are
also decent against even mid-game air, although their long build time
means you can't just pump out queens if you get caught off guard by


Overlords ("OL"s) no longer detect cloaked units.  They must be
individually upgraded into Overseers; this becomes available at lair
level and costs quite a bit of resources per OL.  For this reason,
cloaked attacks against Zerg are fairly effective, and teching early
to lair is fairly common in order to get detection.


This is moreso a warning to other races versus a must-know for Zerg.
Nydus operate differently in SC2 than SC1.  You can now build a Nydus
entrance at lair level (i.e. very early in the game), and once you
have one, you can then build exits *anywhere you have sight* for a
modest resource cost.  Note that this includes anywhere your overlords
or units can see; it does not have to be on creep!  This opens up
endless opportunities for backdooring into an opponent's base, since
nydus worms build fairly quickly and there is no limit to the number
of units you can cram in there.  If your opponent destroys your exit,
you can always just build another one somewhere else, it just costs
you some resources for each exit.

* The nydus behaves as a shared tunnel system (similar to GLA in
  Command&Conquer:Generals) where you can put units in at any Nydus
  and remove them from any other Nydus, versus in SC1 where each Nydus
  was paired.

* Once the nydus exit finishes production, a sound notification is
  played that is heard by everyone (e.g. similar to how the nuclear
  missile launch notification is seen/heard by everyone).

* Nydus exits have fairly low health, so if you are being nydus'd, try
  attacking the worm first to kill it and then take care of the units
  that have poured out, unless you know that you can handle the stream
  of units.

* Because of the power and flexibility of nydus worms, OL drops are
  less common in SC2 than SC1.  Unlike with OLs, units do not die if
  the Nydus is destroyed, and if an attack is failing then you can
  always retreat your units into the Nydus if it is still alive.

* Nydus can hold an infinite number of units.  You can even rally
  units from your hatches into your Nydus.


Hatches now have two rally points - one for units, and one solely for
drones.  Right-click on a mineral patch to set the drone rally point.
Then right-click anywhere else to set the unit rally point.  Once you
have multiple hatches, hotkey them all together in one control group
and you can then select them and right-click anywhere to set a common
unit rally point.  This does not disturb their drone rally point so it
is very useful.


All Zerg units move faster on creep.  Some, like queens, move
significantly faster on creep.  Spreading creep is pretty important,
particularly spreading creep between bases for shared defense.  Creep
can be spread by creep tumors, or maintained by overlords at lair



In SC1, you typically built a second hatch to have more larvae; since
hatches can produce any unit, you could treat the 2nd hatch as a
barracks or gateway that can also produce drones.  Since you're
building a 2nd hatch anyway, you might as well put it at an expansion
if you can defend that expansion.  Almost all maps have a ready
easy-to-defend ("natural", as in "this is naturally the first place
you would expand") expansion.

In SC2, you can get away with just 1 hatch since a queen effectively
doubles the hatch's larvae output.  This allows for some interesting
1-base fast-tech possibilities.  Note though that this does not mean
you shouldn't get a 2nd hatch.  It is fairly common in most build
orders to get a 2nd hatch at your expansion just in like SC1,
particularly if you're going with a gas-heavy strat (e.g. mutas) since
this gives you access to two more geysers.  It is very rare to have
multiple hatcheries in one base; just make sure you have a queen for
each hatchery.


Spreading creep is fairly essential to mobility and base defense,
since units such as queens and zergling can more effectively chase
down and engage enemy units if they are fighting on creep.  Creep can
be permanently created by queens via creep tumors -- tumors act like
creep colonies from SC1 but can each plant an additional tumor,
meaning that once one is down, you can continue to spread creep
indefinitely.  Although using queen energy for puking is generally
queens' primary purpose, consider building a second queen to start
creeping out, or just wait until your queen has enough energy both to
puke and to creep (since inevitably you'll forget to puke all the
time, so your queen will eventually have enough energy for both puking
and creeping).

Creep tumors are invisible once they're done building.  Your opponent
will know that they're there because he'll see the creep of course,
but he'll need detection to remove the tumor.  Creep tumors also give
sight, so you can see anything that's on your creep!

Overlords can also generate creep at lair level and generally should
be all toggled on to generate creep once your lair tech finishes since
there is no drawback to doing so.  Placing overlords in well traveled
paths generating creep can help with Zerg mobility.  You can even sit
overlords at enemy expansions puking creep in order to prevent the
opponent from building a town hall there.


Build overlords when larva is about to spawn.  Unlike other races,
which build units steadily (e.g. one zealot after another), Zerg
builds units in spurts since larvae is produced in batches.  If 4
larva from the queen's puke are about to finish, then you should have
at least 4 extra supply (and typically 8, since many Zerg units take 2
supply) if you expect to use the larva immediately.  Note that this
doesn't account for additional larva that are spawned naturally from
the hatchery.


Once a hatchery accumulates 3 or more larva (cocoons, i.e. larva that
is being used to build units, doesn't count towards this total), it
stops producing any additional.  This means that if your hatchery has
3 larva, then it is wasting production ability because it is not
generating any more.  Try to plan to use larva steadily so that you
never have 3 larva sitting around; this also means that when your
queen's larva hatch, you will want to use at least all of those.


Zerg's economy is very tricky to get used to because larva can either
be used to produce drones or units.  This is unlike other races which
can build workers at a steady, set rate.  The decision of whether to
make drones or units is a major deciding factor for winning games as
Zerg.  If you build too many drones, then you could be run over by an
opponent due to lack of units.  If you build too many units, then if
you do not kill your opponent then you will be behind due to weaker
economy and will probably lose.

The general guiding principle for Zerg is to build just enough units
that you need.  If you are playing defensively (e.g. in the process of
teching to mutas), your opponent attacks you with marines, and you
make 12 zergling to fend off the attack and end up with 8 zergling
remaining, then you should have built fewer zergling and built drones
instead.  In other words, even though you won the attack, you still
made a poor economic choice.

Much anti-Zerg strategy thus revolves around provoking Zerg to build
more units than necessary.  For example, someone may send an early
marine to attack you, hoping you'll overreact and build 12 zergling
instead of 2 to defend.  Even a single early game mistake like this
can cost you the game because you may never catch up in economy from
not having those 5 drones.  On the other hand, if your opponent leaves
you alone and you are able to devote all your larva to drone
production ("powering" your economy), then you will be significantly


In SC1, suicide units (e.g. scourge, spider mines) would explode
harmlessly if they were killed before reaching their targets.  In SC2,
banelings will always explode (and do friendly splash) even if they
are killed before reaching their targets.  This means that you should
generally not manually detonate banelings.  In some cases, you may
even want to move banelings towards opposing units instead of


There has been a lot of testing around when to build your first
overlord.  Possibilities include OL on 10, OL on 9, OL on 10 followed
by extractor trick, etc.  Overlord on 9 supply is the best way to go
economy-wise unless you are doing some sort of early pool or early gas


The roach is a short-ranged tank (i.e. high health) unit that does
good damage, is fairly cheap, and has few ground-based counters.
Roaches have replaced hydras from SC1 as the staple mass unit.  They
tear through just about everything, including static defenses, due to
their high health, and are only easily countered by units that deal
extra damage to armor, which is coincidentally the other races' super
units (i.e. marauders and immortals).  Since roaches have natural
armor, they are also somewhat resistant to marines and zergling.
Since they can be built very early in the game and easily massed due
to queen larvae production, they make a scary early attack force.

* Roaches continue to have effectiveness into late game since they
  make for good stock tank units in any unit combination.  Their
  ability to move while burrowed can also lead to some interesting
  attack possibilities because they can bypass defenses, but they are
  more often just used straight up.

VC. PROTOSS                                            CH5_C



Chronoboost is an ability cast from the Nexus -- for a small amount of
energy, you can temporarily speed up unit or research production from
any building.  This is an amazingly useful and flexible ability for
Protoss.  It can be applied to any building and will speed up
productin of whatever is going on in that building (e.g. unit
production, research speed, etc.).  For starters, chronoboost your
Nexus during early game to produce probes faster; if you're doing this
correctly, you should have more probes than Zerg has drones or Terran
has SCVs through most of early game.

Later on, you will want to save some energy in case you need to pump
out gateway units faster or speed up researching key tech, but in
general if you don't know what to do with chronoboost, use it on your
Nexus as you pump probes.

Various advanced tactics revolve around selective use of chronoboost.
For example, you can chronoboost in order to tech faster
(e.g. repeatedly chronoboost your warpgate research if you are doinga
proxy rush, chronoboost your robotics facility to get your immortal or
colossus out faster than usual).

* E.G. In general, you should use your first chronoboost as soon as
  your first pylon is done.  Chronoboost your Nexus to produce your
  next probe, and reapply chronoboost once it wears off.  Repeat until
  you need to use chronoboost for some other use.


Warpgates are a mode of the basic gateway that can produce units
anywhere within a warp field.  Units build much faster than if made
from gateways.

Gateways should be immediately converted to warpgates once that tech
is researched, and warpgate tech is typically the first thing you
research once your cybernetics core is finished (and you should
typically chronoboost the research).  Warpgates take a bit of getting
used to, but their main advantage is that they allow you to build
units significantly faster than if you were using normal gateways.
There are three benfits all of which are very impactful:

1. Warpgates have a shorter cooldown after building a unit, meaning
that if you use warpgates even semi-optimally, you will outproduce
another player who is using normal gateways.

2. You can warp a unit into any area that is covered by a pylon field
(or warp prism i.e. "shuttle" field).  This gives tremendous
flexibility because it doesn't matter where you build your warpgates,
and you can do proxy attacks just by building a pylon near your
opponent's base (versus in SC1 where you'd have to build your gateways
near your opponent, meaning your gateways were vulnerable to being
destroyed if your attack failed) or using a warp prism (the Protoss
shuttle).  In fact, if you are able to deploy a warp prism into
an unseen part of your opponent's base, you can then then use the
warp field to quickly deploy a lot of troops directly into his base.

3. Units warp in very quickly.  If you build a unit from a gateway,
you need to wait until the full unit build time before the unit
becomes active.  For warpgates, you just click on a location and the
unit is build almost instantaneously, then the cooldown happens after
the build.  This allows for quick reinforcement ability.

* E.G. If you upgrade templar energy, this means that if you're being
attacked, you can warp in a templar to immediately use storm.

* E.G. If your base is being attacked, you can immediately warp in
units right at the site of the attack (such as in your mineral line if
your probes are being attacked), versus having to rally units to travel
there from your gateways.

Learn to use warpgates, and learn to love them.  In case you don't
want to hotkey your warpgates, use the hardcoded "W" key to select all
of them, and also note that you'll have an icon on the bottom right
that shows how many warpgates are available (i.e. not on cooldown).
You can even chronoboost your warpgates to shorten the cooldown.  The
only major drawback of warpgates is that you cannot queue units from
them (since you have to manually place each unit), which makes them a
bit harder to macro.


Much of the intricacies around Toss revolve around their unit use,
so several of these tips will deal with specific units.


Unlike in SC1, shields no longer take full damage.  They take the same
damage as the unit itself according to the unit's armor type.  The
only exception is immortals; this is explained in more detail below.


Shields recharge MUCH faster than in SC1, but unlike in SC1, they do
not continue to recharge during combat.  This means that a unit's
shields will not recharge unless the unit has not taken damage for
some period of time.  Thus, during battles it is often effective to
back off a unit that has lost shields and wait a few seconds for the
shields to start recharging (this is particularly important for
Immortals since they only take 10 damage max per shot unless they are
completely drained of shields).


Carrier massing is no longer as large of a threat as in SC1.
Interceptors in particular have become much easier to destroy
(partially because they no longer instantly regenerate shields by
passing through their parent carrier). (Remember, you can set
interceptors to auto-build.)

Related to this, motherships are not a super unit either to rush to.
They are powerful in their own right but are not typically a
game-ender despite their appearance as a hero unit.

When starting out playing Protoss, avoid the temptation to tech rush
to carriers or mothership.  Protoss's standard low and mid-tech units
are very powerful.


SC2 no longer has reavers, but colossus fulfill a similar purpose in
being highly mobile and countering blobs of fragile units
(e.g. marines, zergling).  Bear in mind a few things when using

1. Colossus are so tall that they can be hit by anti-air.  This
includes air->air units such as vikings, as well as missile turrets.
This makes them difficult to protect because they can be attacked by
just about anything but can only counter ground.

2. Colossus can walk up cliffs and bypass chokes.  This gives them
tremendous flexibility especially when attacking bases.  Note though
that if you attack-move a clump that includes colossus to a faraway
location, the colossus will arrive first because they can take a
straight path.  They move somewhat like air units in this regard since
they largely ignore terrain.

3. Get the colossus range upgrade from the robotics support bay.  This
increases their range greatly and thus makes a huge difference in
their effectiveness and ability to stay alive.  Once you have a
support bay, immediately get the colossus upgrade and chrono boost it
while you build colossus.


Forcefield ("FF") comes from an odd-looking new gateway unit, the
sentry.  FF use will win or lose you battles.  They are generally
indestructible, so they are extremely disruptive.  Here are just a few
common uses of FF:

1. FF your ramp to prevent units from getting up your ramp.  This is
an easy way to hold off a rush.  Alternatively, you can let a few
attacking units up and then FF the ramp in order to split them from
the rest, so that the ones you let up can be killed in isolation.

2. FF in the path of melee units such as zergling and zealots to
protect your ranged units.  FF use with colossus is particularly
effective since upgraded colossus have a massive range of 9, which
means that even ranged units can be kept out of range.

3. FF into groups of units to disrupt their formation.  Casting FF
into the middle of a ball of units will force the units aside.

4. FF behind retreating units to cut them off.  You can even cast
multiple FFs around a pack of units to enclose them completely.


Blink is an ability by stalkers to teleport to a nearby point.  It
is on a short cooldown and allows for limitless possibilities of
harassment and added effectiveness. 

* E.G. Move your stalkers right outside your opponent's base, use
an observer to site into your opponent's base (which is usually
on high ground), blink in to bypass his choke, kill things, blink
back out.

* E.G. When attacked by air units, blink right underneath them so
that your whole group of stalkers can attack.  This is particularly
effective against muta hit-and-runs; in fact, as the mutas are
running away, use blink to catch up to them or blink into the path
that they are running.

One annoying issue with blink is that if you select a group of
stalkers and have them blink to a spot above/below a cliff, often
the ones in the rear will not succesfully blink there (and will
also waste their blink cooldown).  To mitigate this, queue the
stalkers to first move to the spot at the edge of the cliff, then
blink down, then move away from the cliff (i.e. hold down shift,
right-click on the edge of the cliff, hit "B" and click below
the cliff, right-click on some spot away from the cliff, release
shift).  This will cause each stalker to blink only after it's
gotten to the right location.


Void rays ("VRs") do more damage the longer they are attacking
continuously (caveats: they don't immediately lose their charge if
they stop attacking or switch targets, but will lose their charge
eventually).  Fully charged void rays actually counter many of the
units that would ordinarily beat them (e.g. vikings, hydras);
attacking a decent sized VR army is most often suicide because units
melt so quickly.

Thus, VRs are most vulnerable when they first start attacking.  To
circumvent this, first attack some target to charge up your VRs.  This
can even be your own unit (e.g. often an archon, since archons have
enough health to allow VRs to charge to full).  Or attack destructible
rocks, or an outlying building (such as a refinary or even your own
pylon).  Pre-charging VRs will dramatically improve their damage
output and usability.


Immortals look somewhat like SC1 dragoons but are far different in
terms of their use and limitations.  The immortal is an effective
anti-armor unit and base cracker.  It has two properties that make it
well suited for this: (1) when it has shields up, any attack that hits
the shields will do a maximum of 10 damage (2) it gets a sizeable
bonus when attacking armored units.  The first property is in
particular useful against units that do large packets of damage
slowly; e.g. immortals can march up to siege tanks taking very little
damage.  Although immortals are compared to dragoons in SC1, there is
very little similarity (stalkers are closer to dragoons in function).
Immortals are used in almost every matchup although they typically
require micromanagement so that they attack armored units and back off
when their shields are depleted.  Note that immortals do not attack

VI. MULTIPLAYER EXECUTION                                          CH6

Now that you've learned about basic principles for multiplayer and
race-specific properties, you may be wondering what the best way is to
improve in multiplayer.  This section details a path of self-learning
that you can do on your own.  Ideally, you'd find a friend to help
teach you how to play, but if that's unavailable then the next best
way is to adopt a strategy that allows you to learn from eaach game
and thus improve even in the absence of feedback.

VIA. THE BIG FIVE PATH OF LEARNING                     CH6_A

One of the best ways of learning multiplayer is to get someone to
teach you.  Or you can read tons of guides and watch video casts.  Or
you can just play and hope you get better with experience.  The
following presents an ordered way for self-learning; i.e. this should
help you get better just through your own experiences.  I am not
saying this is the best way to learn, but since it is a self-help
route, it has the fewest dependencies (e.g. does not require you to
depend on another player teaching you or answering your questions).
Follow these steps in order.


If you're completely new to SC and RTSs, start off playing at least a
few missions in the campaign.  This will help get your feet wet to the
basics of the game.  In particular, practice the Big Five in your
campaigns; be particularly mindful of this because campaign play can
be detrimental to multiplayer play because campaign play can encourage
bad habits.  For example, since the AI does not attack aggressively,
it is common in campaign play to just have one barracks and build
marines as you feel like it, then move out and crush the AI after
you've built a sizeable force.  This will get you killed in normal
play.  Thus, when playing campaign as a learning experience for
multiplayer, you must follow the big five, otherwise skip the campaign
and move onto the next step.

Note that some missions in the campaign are rather unique/different,
versus SC1 campaigns which were mostly just like 1on1's against the
AI.  In SC2, some campaigns have restricted resources such that you
don't need to keep making SCVs, other campaigns actually require
hoarding resources as a victory condition, etc.  So, while practicing
the Big Five is important, I understand that in some missions you may
not be able to follow them to the letter.  

As another caution, the single player campaign contains an RPG-style 
upgrade path which makes units and behavior far different than their 
multiplayer equivalents (e.g. vikings can do splash damage, refinaries 
don't need to have workers on them).  As well, there are many units
available in the campaigns that are not available in multiplayer (e.g.
goliaths, medics, predators, science vessels).  This may all give
you a skewed introduction to multiplayer.

All said, playing through the campaign as a start to multiplayer is
still valuable, but is not as clear cut as in SC1.


You can skip this step if you want to jump right into the multiplayer
fray, but if you're newer I suggest doing games against the
A.I. because it is fairly predictable and thus pretty easy to learn
off of.  Practice the Big Five against the A.I. and when you get to
the point where you can beat it comfortably, you should have a decent
chance against human opponents.  If you find yourself losing a lot,
watch your replay, then play the reverse match where you try to
emulate what the computer did.  For example, if you play a PvT and
lose because the comp beat you with marauders, then watch your replay,
take note of the A.I.'s build order, and try it out yourself in a TvP
to see how the comp handles it.  Note that at insane difficulty
level, the AI cheats by awarding itself more resources, so don't play
at such a high difficulty level that you need to resort to building
lots of static defense or resorting to cheap exploits in order to win,
since neither will help you against human opponents.


When you're ready to start playing against humans, it's critical to
watch your replays whenever you lose and see what your opponent did to
beat you.  Just as recommended against the A.I., you can then try
copying your opponent's build order in your next game.  This isn't a
failsafe way to improve since your opponents are fallible too so
perhaps you'll learn some bad habits from copying them, but the key is
that they are at least better than you are currently because they beat
you, and thus if you master what they're doing then you will at least
be doing better than you are currently.

Note that to master this step, you really want to be losing games.
Winning games against a human is less of a learning experience since
you only have a vague sense that you won, and might get the wrong idea
("I rushed to battlecruisers and won, this must be a solid tactic"
versus "I only won by building battlecruisers because my opponent
sucked so badly that he couldn't defend it.").  So, when you lose,
look on the bright side -- now you have a replay to watch and learn

I also suggest skipping the practice league matches.  These are played
on novice-style maps, which includes destructible rocks closing off
each main base which prevents early rushes (or limits them to gimmick
tactics such as reaper rushes) and make the games more island-style.
If you play practice matches, you will learn all sorts of bad habits,
and most of your opponents will probably be pretty bad so you may not
learn much from beating them or being beaten.  Additionally, practice
matches do not count towards your record, and your record generally
goes up the more games you play, so you'll likely be at a lower rating
if you spend a lot of time in practice matches, even if the
alternative is to jump into real games and lose a lot.


When learning, it may be tempting to just adopt cheap gimmick tactics
("cheese") to beat opponents since those will easily elevate your
standing.  A simple example is playing Zerg and building an early pool
("6-pool") for an all-in zergling rush; this is a lot easier to
execute than it is to defend against, so you can beat a lot of players
who are more skilled than you.

While using gimmick tactics has good short term reward, it will not
help you become a better SC2 player overall, as most gimmick tactics
violate the basics of the Big Five.  And eventually, you will get to
the point where your tactic no longer works so you'll have to throw it
away and start over again with the next gimmick.  Instead, try to
adopt a solid flexible strategy.


2v2's can be a good learning experience because many of the basic
build orders and strategies are the same as in 1v1, but you have a
partner who can give you feedback and direction during the game.
Finding a partner who's willing to help you out may be difficult, but
I suggest just playing random 2v2's and then friending your partner
and asking for some followup games if you do well.

When playing with an ally, be honest that you're a newer player and
your ally will likely be more patient.  If you don't tell your ally
that you're new, he may flame you for making basic mistakes;
mentioning at the outset that you suck will instead hopefully put your
ally in a teaching mode.

VII. SPECIFIC MULTIPLAYER TIPS                                     CH7

The following are specific hints and rules that may help you when
getting into multiplayer.  These are less about basic principle and
more about gotchas and things to be aware of when playing multiplayer.

VIIA. GENERAL                                           CH7A


SC2 has greatly improved graphics over SC1; this makes it a more
visually appealing game but the graphics don't necessarily make the
game easier to play.  Specifically, a lot of the graphics effects are
distracting or may even make it difficult to tell units apart.
Running on low graphics setting will make your game look like SC1, but
your units will be more distinct and you will maximize performance and
framerate on your computer.


This may seem out of place in a strategy guide but it's a good 
principle to keep in mind for your own sanity, so here goes.

Some of even the best players in SC2 are notorious for being poor
sports ("bad manner") when they lose.  Particularly as you're
learning, it's always a good practice to be well behaved ("good
manner").  If someone creams you, ask them for tips.  If the game is
really close, it's a perfect opportunity to ask if you can rematch or
your opponent wants to partner up for some 2v2's.  At the very least,
start each game with "GL HF" ("Good luck, Have Fun") or respond
likewise if your opponent does the same, and before leaving say "GG"
("Good Game") or "WP" ("Well Played").  Try not to lose your cool, or
it'll just aggravate you for no reason and possibly make you so angry
(go on "tilt") that you can't concentrate the next game.

Also be sure to be a good sport even if your opponent or partner
starts to flame you.  Remember that the internet is full of people of
all ages and dispositions.  Do not hold online players to the same
standards as your real life friends; if you're an adult, in
particular, note that many online players may be half your age.  In
real life, if someone half your age comes up to you and insults you,
you would probably not respond in kind or to the same level of
immaturity.  Bear in mind the same when online.  Do not let others'
poor behavior ruin your own experience and enjoyment.


If you're worried about your record, play custom or FFA games, which
are unranked.  These will allow you to practice strategies without the
pressure of a loss affecting your rating.  That said, don't get too
comfortable with FFAs, because the types of tactics plus the
randomness of FFAs can make them an unreliable measure of actual good

VIIB. MAP FEATURES                                     CH7_B


Towers give fairly large sight range and are generally near
well-traveled areas.  You will generally want to try to control the
towers.  As Zerg, this is trivial since you have cheap zerglings that
you can send to the towers.  With other races, use a worker or marine.
Bear in mind that air units do not control towers, so you will need to
use a ground unit.


You cannot hit uphill units if you do not have uphill sighting
(e.g. an air unit/building or a ground unit that's on high elevation).
If you expand in early game to somewhere that has a cliff (e.g. some
natural expansions are flush against cliffs), be sure that you will
soon have uphill sight.  Beware that even certain early game units can
get up a cliff (i.e. reapers).


Some maps have small brush areas around the corners of your base.  You
won't be able to see what's on the other side of these, so they are
easily exploited for proxy pylons or other sorts of in-base tactics.
At earliest convenience, build a structure or place a unit in that
area to maintain vision on it.


Some maps have destructible rocks in your base which open up an
additional entrance point if destroyed.  Rocks cannot be repaired, so
your opponent can whittle them down gradually or all at once.  Place
units or structures near the rocks so you can spot when your opponent
is trying to break in through them.

VIIC. DEALING WITH RUSHES                              CH7_C

Attacking early ("rushing") was the bane of novice players in SC1.
War3 (and other RTSs) compensated for this somewhat by having
structures be useful for defensive purposes (e.g. your nightelf
barracks in War3 has an attack).  SC2 allows for the same rushing
opportunities as SC1; these fall broadly into the category of normal
early attacks ("rushes") and all-in attacks ("cheese").  Although
losing to rushing and cheese can be fairly frustrating, learning how
to deal with either (or do them yourself as appropriate) will
ultimately make you a better player.


Normal rushes should be defensible.  If someone makes marines through
a standard build and sends them to attack, then if you are teching to
battlecruisers without defense then you should lose; this is basic
common sense strategy.  To defend against normal rushes, scout your
opponent frequently and be sure that your unit count is similar to
his.  If you have many more units than him, then attack and win.  This
mechanism keeps players honest, because jumping tech in early game
*should* be a risk otherwise all games would just be battlecruisers
and carriers and boringness.

Rushes also give you the opportunity to end the game as early as
possible; e.g. if you are playing against an opponent who is just not
building any units, then you should be able to attack early and finish
the game and get onto your next opponent versus waiting 30 minutes to
kill him later.


All-in rushes (6-pool, offensive cannons, proxy barracks, you name
it...), i.e. "cheese" attacks, are of the sort where if it doesn't
succeed, then generally the cheeser will lose.  These are high-risk,
high-reward attacks.  They are tough for newer players to get used to
because they are much harder to defend than to execute, and thus are
commonly considered "cheap".

There's no real advice I can give off the bat except that when you
lose to a rush, watch your replay so you figure out what your opponent
did, and then adjust your scouting so you can see them coming.  For
example, if you scout your Protoss opponent and don't see a gateway
building near his pylon, then he is either really bad, or he's built a
pylon and gateway somewhere near your base.

As a general rule, learn how to defend against cheese but resist the
temptation to rely on cheese to win.  Cheese are named as such because
they require doing something out of the ordinary and sacrificial in
order to secure an easy win.  It is far better in the long run to
learn standard playing mechanics.

VIID. ALLIED GAMES                                     CH7_D

This section covers the basics of how to play as a team.  SC2 makes
many improvements and changes in relation to SC1 in order to make team
play more seamless and interesting.


Past a certain time in the game, resources can be freely shared
without penalty.  You can send any amount of minerals or gas to your
partner instantly.  This allows for some rather aggressive strategies,
such as having one partner just focus on economy and then feed his
partner who builds the military units.  If in a team game you get hit
by an impossibly large tech rush (e.g. a dozen mutas a few minutes
into the game), then it is likely that your opponents shared


You can share control with any of your allies, such that they can
build and control your units (although they can't build structures).
This can create some advantageous situations since coordinating team
attacks in SC1 can be difficult when all players are separately
controlling parts of an army that is trying to attack all at once.

* E.G. As Terran, I'll give my Zerg partner shared control so he can
  take a couple of medivacs with his group of mutas, or use scan to
  place a nydus worm.


If a teammate drops or leaves the game, any ally can fully control
him, including building units and structures.  The teammate no longer
has his own resource pool, though; instead, (1) all resources he
gathers are split amongst allies (2) allies who build using the
teammate's units/buildings use their own resources.  In a 2v2
situation, this is fairly uncomplicated, in that if your teammate
drops then you simply control both you and him with your total shared
resources.  In a 4v4 situation, though, your teammate's resources will
be equally split amongst the other 3 of you although you will pay full
cost for building him.  This presents some interesting and possibly
advantageous situations.


Don't quit early (i.e. "rage quit") just because you got wiped out.
In many circumstances, your partner can still come back and win.  You
can still be helpful by having him share control so that you can
essentially play through his units.  And of course, give him all your


SCVs can repair both Terran and Protoss mechanical units.  Medivacs
can heal Terran, Zerg, and Protoss organic units.  This makes for some
interesting strategies since ordinarily Toss units can never heal
non-shield damage.  As a Terran player, you could even calldown MULEs
to heal your Toss partner's void rays in the middle of a battle.  Or
right-click a medivac on your Zerg partner's mutalisks so that your
medivac follows and heals the mutas.  Or select a group of SCVs, turn
on auto-repair, and right-click on a colossus so that the SCVs follow
the colossus and heal it and neighboring units.


You do not have to explicitly go on allied chat.  Anything you type
into chat will be displayed only to allies, and you will have to use
SHIFT to send a message to everyone.  Communicate frequently and at
least give your partner an indication of what you're building,
e.g. "going marauders to start."  Of course, if you have voice, use


You can ping the minimap, which will show the location prominently for
you and your allies.  Use this to coordinate rally points, attacks,
scan targets, etc.  For example, if I see opponents coming towards my
base, I'll often ping right on top of them so my ally sees too.


If you think 1v1's are full of cheese, just wait until you get into
2v2's.  Certain combinations on certain maps are extraordinarily
difficult to counter, as these generally involve both opponents doing
an economy-sacrificing build to hit one partner early and take him
out.  These are depressing and cheap to lose to, but good scouting,
conservative builds, and lots of skill will help you be able to defeat
these.  Many 2v2 teams that do cheese builds aren't actually very good
and thus will fall apart if you survive their initial attack.  As
always, try not to adopt cheese builds.  A simple 9rax proxy reaper +
9pool will probably get you all the way up to diamond so sure it's
nice if you want good stats to show off, but it's not goind to teach
you to be a better player in the long run.

VIII. RESOURCES                                                    CH8

In the days of SC1, there were fewer definitive guides and communities
around understanding and teaching the game.  Youtube didn't even exist
back then!  SC2 is a whole different matter given the larger player
base, more established pro game scene, and large beta community.  I
have done my best in this guide to present basics in a comprehensive
fashion, but there are numerous other resources out there for
bettering your gameplay.  I will list just a few of the more
accredited ones here.

These are videocasts from Day[9], a top SC player.  These videocasts
typically go through top-level replays and are full of useful
commentary.  Day[9]'s videocasts are widely referenced and discussed
in the SC community.

This website and associated forums is populated by top SC players.
There is a wealth of information here from discussions and replay
archives.  The forums are high quality because the moderators maintain
high standards for posting and etiquette.  Please read through the
posting guidelines carefully before participating in discussion or
starting your own threads!

This youtube collection contains replays/commentary of top-level players.

IX. BONUS: ORDAN ACHIEVEMENT                                       CH9

This has nothing to do with multiplayer strategy, but I'll throw it in
here just as a bonus for your getting this far through the guide.  You
can unlock a certain portrait by beating 7 insane comps in a FFA.
This is ordinarily a bit challenging because insane comps get a
resource bonus and thus it's difficult to prevent yourself from
getting overwheled.  Of course, there are tricks you can use, making
this a fairly easy achievement for either Terran or Protoss.

IXA. SETUP                                             CH9_A

* From the main menu, choose "Multiplayer" (not single player
  versus A.I.).
* Choose "Create a custom game"
* Select the 8-player map "Extinction".
* Set your own race to "Protoss".
* Add 7 AIs.
* Set all AIs to "Zerg".
* Set difficulty for all AIs to "insane".
* Don't change the handicaps (i.e. leave them at "100%").
* Set game type to "FFA".
* Set the game speed to whatever you want (e.g. if you're
  having trouble, slow down the game).

IXB. PLAY                                              CH9_B

The general idea is to secure both island expansions on the map
(i.e. the northeast and southwest ones that contain resources), wait
for the computers to kill each other off, and then cleanup the
remaining computers using a large unstoppable fleet.  Specifically,
the comp has never been good at handling large fleets of carriers
(even if this changes in some later patch, the primary strategy of
taking islands then building up a large fleet should still stay


You will eventually lose your main base, but you'll want to keep it
alive as long as possible so that you can harvest resources.  This is
easiest to do if your starting location is one of the 4 spots that's
closest to one of the islands, so if you're having trouble then
restart until you get one of those spots (yes, it is a pain to setup
the game each time from start).

The build order I use is gateway, assimilator, forge, 3 cannons,
cybernetics core, assimilator, robotics.  Build pylons and nonstop
probes during this, using chronoboost just on your probe production.
Put 3 probes on each gas.

* Once my forge is done, I'll put down 3-4 cannons immediately and
  stop production (e.g. workers and other structures) to save up money
  for them.  I'll continue making a few cannons as money allows
  afterward, towards a total of 6-8 but no more than that.

* Once my cybernetics core is done, I'll make non-chronoboosted
  sentries from my gateway and rally my sentries inside my mineral

* Once my robotics is done, I'll make a warp prism, and then
  non-chronoboosted immortals.


Place your buildings around your Nexus so that you enclose your probes
and compact your base as much as possible (this is called "simcity").
Generally, build your normal buildings and pylons on the outside
(i.e. leaving two squares, i.e. enough room for a pylon, between your
gateway and your Nexus), then put your cannons flush against the
Nexus.  This way, melee units will have to walk through or around my
buildings to attack my cannons.  A typical setup may look like this:

   A  M
  P    M
  PCNN   M

if I'm expecting attacks to come from the bottom left.  C=cannons,
N=nexus, O=cybernetics core, G=gateway, F=forge, M=minerals,
A=assimilator, P=pylon. Note how my cannons are sandwiched between
buidings such that they are generally flush on all sides whenever


The cannons are capable of stopping any early-game attack.
Generally, roaches and zergling will start being thrown at you pretty
quickly, often from your 2 adjacent opponents at the same time.  As
long as my 3-4 cannons are up and well-placed, I can hold off these
attacks with no problem.

The sentries are there to help against the larger attacks, mostly by
using forcefield to keep roaches and zergling away from my cannons and
away from getting into my mineral line.  You don't need sentries (you
could just build more cannons) but they are fun to use in this

Later on, I make immortals for stronger anti-roach, since immortals
destroy roaches.

Once your warp prism is done, your main base is expendable.  Do not
continue to spend money on your main (i.e. cut probe, unit, and cannon
production) because you will want to start saving money for your
carrier fleet.  It's not a good idea to try to spend more resources
keeping your main alive because the waves of attacks will start getting
ludicrously huge (remember, the comp on insane difficulty gets a 
resource bonus) so it's very difficult to defend your base and you
really don't need to since by this time you shouldn't have much
resources left to mine there anyway.

Note that while this is all happening, most of the comp AIs will be
eliminating each other.  You will start getting messages that the comp
AI is asking to surrender and whether you accept; answer whatever you
like, it doesn't matter for the achievement.


Once your warp prism is done, load 2 probes into it, and send it to
each island.  Be sure not to fly over other mains because queens will
shoot down your prism.  Your first island should be easy to get to,
particularly if your start was adjacent to it.  For the far-away
island on the other side of the map, have your prism move flush
against the sides of the map; e.g. if I started bottom left then I'll
move my prism due south until it hits the bottom of the map, then east
until it hits the bottom right corner, then north to get to the

Unload a probe at each island, build a Nexus, and then some pylons.
Make sure the pylons cover the edges of your island so you can place
cannons against the edges.  Build a forge at one island (since the
forge at your main will be destroyed soon) and then a couple of
stargates and a fleet beacon.  As soon as your initial pylons are
done, build as many cannons as you can afford along the edges of your
base (you'll need these to prevent units from dropping into your
base).  You'll also want to build a cybernetics core because the
one at your main base will be destroyed soon, and you need the core
for air upgrades.


Once your island expansions are up, your main concern is to make sure
that the comps do not use overlords to drop units into your expansion.
Having around 6-8 cannons in each expansion is more than enough.  The
comp will generally just build lots of roaches and hydras because it
is not smart enough to know that it needs air to break into your
island.  It's o.k. to build more than 8 cannons if you need to, just
be sure not to overdo it because your islands have limited space and
you have somewhat limited money to work with (you shouldn't run out of
resources unless you go crazy though, so don't sweat it).

Build up your carrier fleet and be sure to get all upgrades (air wpns,
air armor, shields).  Also get a mothership as soon as possible since
the cloaking will protect your cannons.  Typically, I will just build
my air fleet from one island, and have the other island be pure
cannons and pylons.


You really shouldn't have any problems here on out.  Once you reach
roughly 200 supply worth of carriers + mothership, attack-move your
fleet out and you should cleanup the remaining computers (typically
there are 2 left max) with no problem.  Be sure to have interceptors on
auto-build.  If you do start running low on resources, use your
mothership to recall some probes from an island onto an expansion spot
and then have those probes build a Nexus (or use your prism to
transport probes).  You may also want to split up your carrier force
since the comps have a tendency to try to build or rebuild all over
the map as you're destroying one base after another.

That's it!  Once you've eliminated all the comps, you'll get a ton of
achievements and the Orlan portait will be unlocked.  Right-click on
your portrait, select "Change portrait", select the Orlan portrait,
and gloat to your friends.

IXC. ALTERNATE STRATEGIES                              CH9_C


If you're having trouble beating this as Protoss, you can also try
with Terran.  For this case, load up all your SCVs at game start
(e.g. hit "O" on your command center) and float your CC to the nearest
expansion island.  Tech quickly to starport, use a medivac to expand
to the opposite island expansion.  Build up to BCs and Ravens, using
the Ravens for their point defense capability since this will protect
your BCs from damage.  As your BCs are damaged, you can either return
them to one of your bases for repair or calldown MULEs near your BCs
(be sure to set them to auto-repair).


[credit: avi]
Map: Lava Flow Set your race as Terran, the computer races can be
random if you want.

Load all of your SCV's onto the CC's, lift off and land into a nearby
island. The islands have 2 resource bases each!

From that, focus in building 2 saturated CC's and then build as many
battlecruisers as you can.

Another useful tactic is to build a medivac and transport an SCV to
the other island to repeat the process of building two CC's and
saturate them.

When you have full population of battlecruisers, is your time to hunt
down the remaining computer/computers. (In my case two computers
remained in the game)
[/credit: avi]

X. QUESTIONS?                                                     CH10

You may contact me at for questions about
this guide or for any general multiplayer questions.  However, since I
am just one person, I would suggest that unless you have specific
questions about things I brought up in the guide (versus general SC2
questions), please visit the official Starcraft2 forum (which I
also post on):