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RTS Tips (Warcraft 3, etc. . .)

RderdallRderdall Registered User regular
edited May 2010 in Help / Advice Forum
Hey All!

With the upcoming release of Starcraft 2, I've decided to brush up on my RTS skills. To be quite frank, I'm actually looking to DEVELOPE some skills. I've played DOTA with friends at gaming cafes a loooong time back, and was never very good. I re-installed Warcraft 3 / Frozen Throne last night and gave a couple of custom games a whirl (4 to be exact) against the Computer on Easy. I lost 3 of those 4 times.

Can you provide me with some basic strategies and tactics to help me get a solid understanding of what it takes to win? I realize that no matter what the case, it's not going to happen over night, and it will require dozens of hours of practice, but I'm simply looking to reduce the hours of trial and error.

Thanks in advance,


Xbox Gamertag: GAMB1NO325Xi
Rderdall on


  • SipexSipex Registered User
    edited May 2010
    I'm pretty horribad at strategy games too but some things that I've learned which work.

    1) Expand expand expand. Once you've secured your first resource deposit(s) then go find more. This will boost growth rates substationally.

    2) Don't turtle up. You win by defeating the enemy. Turtling up just lets him expand easily and get ready for consecutive assaults. The only time turtling up works is if you hold all the resources.

    3) Don't send all your army out at once. If your army is concentrated at one spot that isn't your base then your base is left open.

    4) Take advantage of powers/abilities. Units have certain abilities, including hero units. Use these often! This leads me to the next point:

    5) Don't upgrade unless you can use the upgrade. If the upgrade isn't useful to you or a stepping stone to something else, why are you spending resources on it?

    6) You're allowed to retreat. Not all attacks need to be live or die, not all defenses need to be this way too. Retreat if things start going south.

    Sipex on
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  • see317see317 Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    General advice, watch people who are better then you.
    Choose a race to play and stick with it. Some stuff carries over from race to race, but a lot of stuff doesn't.
    Find recorded games on youtube or, if you can, observe some games on battlenet.
    Watch their early builds and try to duplicate them.
    Practice your micro-game. Focus fire on wounded units, pull your wounded back from the fight, etc...
    If you're observing a live game ask questions of any other observers. They may be able to tell you why certain decisions where made.
    Practice. Play games against people rather then the machine whenever possible.
    You may look like a noob, but so what? It's If your self worth is linked to what they think of you, then you've got bigger problems that may need addressed.

    see317 on
    Ringo wrote: »
    Well except what see317 said. That guy's always wrong.
  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu ___________PIGEON _________San Diego, CA Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Never float resources. Spend everything you have; you don't earn interest on unspent stuff. If you find yourself with excess resources you're either collecting too much or (much more likely) you don't have a great enough production capacity.

    TychoCelchuuu on
  • nukanuka What are circles? Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    When you first build your base build a lot of resource gatherers. I'm not great either but I got a lot better by just going with 8 of them instead of 4 that I used to do. I think 8's a pretty good number to go with actually.

    Most of those games are won like 30 seconds after the game starts and this is why, the other guy got more resources faster than you did.

    nuka on
    DS: 2667 5365 3193 | 2DS: 2852-8590-3716
  • Dark MoonDark Moon Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Watch HDStarcraft's and HuskyStarcraft's Youtube channels for excellent commentaries on excellent SCII games. Just watching them made me pretty decent at SCII before I even got a beta key.

    To add to all the good points already mentioned: Map control is key. Control of the map is control of the expansions, and if you control more expansions than your opponent you win (save phenomenal fuckuppery by yourself).

    Dark Moon on
  • KathrisKathris __BANNED USERS
    edited May 2010
    How to win at Starcraft II

    #1 Scout
    #2 Expand
    #3 Build different unit types
    #3 Advanced - Build counter unit types

    #3 Explained - Blizzard games work off a Rock, Paper, Scissors mentality. Unit types are good and bad vs other unit types. Dont invent all your resources into Rock, a good opponent will scout you, see what you are getting, and then go Paper and eat your face.

    (On another note, you seriously need to invest time into your basic RTS skills. An easy computer is supposed to be easy, if you are losing to it, you have a severe lack of SOMETHING in your game) Most people can beat an easy computer and only get heroes and gatherers.

    Warcraft 3 is entirely different than Starcraft II in strategy BTW. Only basic RTS skills will transfer over.

    Kathris on
  • SteevLSteevL What can I do for you? Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    For what it's worth, Starcraft II is supposed to come with training modes that teach you important RTS techniques. One of the podcasts I listened to the other day mentioned one of them where you have to control units using only keyboard hotkeys in order to beat the mission.

    SteevL on
  • Dread Pirate ArbuthnotDread Pirate Arbuthnot OMG WRIGGLY T O X O P L A S M O S I SRegistered User regular
    edited May 2010

    If you're playing a Blizzard RTS the biggest mistake you can do is have a worker idling here and idling there.

    In Starcraft 2 the ideal number of workers per base is 23 - two per mineral patch and three per gesyer.

    You always always always want lots of busy workers.

    Dread Pirate Arbuthnot on
  • LoneIgadzraLoneIgadzra Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Don't worry about WC3, playing ladder games is an exercise in masochism.

    Basically you never want to be sitting still. I find playing RTS extremely stressful for that reason. You have to be going a mile a minute and there are no breaks.

    Resources are everything. Prevent your opponent from expanding (while expanding yourself) and that's pretty much game over unless you and your opponent are both really skilled. Once you're at all familiar with the game, using the proper counters isn't even that advanced a tactic - it'll just be automatic.

    LoneIgadzra on
  • FallingmanFallingman Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    I've never played any of the Star/War-craft RTS'. But I got into Company of Heroes in a big way. They have a great community over at gamereplays and there's always plenty of people posting resources on strategies. It's quite a different game, but the basic principles are the same.

    Fallingman on
  • KotenkKotenk Registered User
    edited May 2010
    If we're talking SC2, then yes, scouting is everything. You will never win (against good players) by guessing a strategy.

    Kotenk on
  • RaekreuRaekreu Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Harassing your opponent is never a bad idea as part of your scouting strategy. If you wander a weak force into your opponents territory and take a few potshots then he might think that you're preparing for a push and try to turtle down, wasting resources in the process. If he sends out a force to pursue you, then you can set an ambush further back on the map and focus fire down a few guys. Once you start racking up casualties you have a choice: push with what you've got or modify your tactics. You CAN win by just spamming units to reinforce your casualties but a good opponent will probably start building counters to whatever he saw that slaughtered him. So go with your rock/paper/scissors skills and start building counters to his counters.

    Micro, micro, micro, though. That's the part that wins - part luck, part strategy, and lots of clicking.
    Never float resources. Spend everything you have; you don't earn interest on unspent stuff. If you find yourself with excess resources you're either collecting too much or (much more likely) you don't have a great enough production capacity.

    This is really important, too. If you've got more resources coming in than are going out then it's probably time to build another barracks or the equivalent so you have more units fielded.

    Raekreu on
  • LemmingLemming Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Sipex wrote: »
    3) Don't send all your army out at once. If your army is concentrated at one spot that isn't your base then your base is left open.

    This is actually generally a bad idea. If your army is split up, and you attack his main force with it, your shit will die. If he attacks your base with your secondary force in it, it will die, and when you bring your main force back, it will die too. If you're playing a game like SC2, your base defense should either be static defense or units that you're creating from your production buildings, since there should ideally be a pretty steady stream of them.

    Lemming on
  • LoneIgadzraLoneIgadzra Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Lemming wrote: »
    Sipex wrote: »
    3) Don't send all your army out at once. If your army is concentrated at one spot that isn't your base then your base is left open.

    This is actually generally a bad idea. If your army is split up, and you attack his main force with it, your shit will die. If he attacks your base with your secondary force in it, it will die, and when you bring your main force back, it will die too. If you're playing a game like SC2, your base defense should either be static defense or units that you're creating from your production buildings, since there should ideally be a pretty steady stream of them.

    One thing about static defenses, at least in Starcraft, is that making defined lines of defense = bad. You want a few turrets spread throughout the entirety of your base. They should be used primarily as a delay until your army can get there, and then as backup for your army. If you make a big strong line, the enemy will just go around, or they will punch a hole in it in two seconds and then have free reign over your base. Whereas if you have a turret behind your production buildings, they will have to kill your production buildings to get to it which will take much longer - all while they are being shot at.

    LoneIgadzra on
  • GrombarGrombar Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    One topic that hasn't been discussed much yet is where to attack.

    Don't attack where the enemy is strong. Attack where he's weak instead. My favorite Starcraft strategy is sending flying units around the enemy's defenses to attack unsuspecting units in the back or flanks, especially any exposed workers.

    If your opponent is foolish enough to leave his workers without adequate protection, you can rip his heart out all at once with a well-timed raid.

    Remember also, as someone said up above, know when to retreat. If a fight starts going against you, then back off unless you're on vital defensive ground. If your units can be healed or repaired, have a well-defended, open area designated where they can fall back and recharge, and position healing units nearby where they're ready to receive them.

    And remember to send sufficient forces on your raids. A medium-sized squad can do exponentially more damage in a short time than a small one can.

    Also, one Starcraft strategy that drastically improved my game: Never stop building workers. You can always find something productive for a worker to do, and a steady stream of them will ratchet up your efficiency in a hurry.

    Grombar on
  • Shorn Scrotum ManShorn Scrotum Man Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    In any RTS learning how to micro your units will help a ton. More than once I've turned the tide of a battle with effective micro, even though the enemy had much better units over all. Be very familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of your units, it makes them more effective and less likely to die to something stupid.

    Shorn Scrotum Man on
  • Ash of YewAsh of Yew Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    For wc3 (and sc2 but I suck at it), remember that you win by destroying their buildings not their army. My wc3 3v3 team is pretty good, top 15 usually, and we win by avoiding their army and making units to destroy their towns. Teleport out when they come back to defend. Make your base very defensive, with a lot of towers. Turtling up isn't necessarily bad, but you need to be able to strike out from it as well. I play a little of every race though I'm best with orcs and wolf raiders. For night elves I do mountain giants (pick up trees for siege) and invisible mortars as humans. Wait for them to attack, or at least be out of their town, and go for their hall. If you're quick you will get it before they can teleport, if they do teleport finish it off and teleport out yourself.

    This mainly works in 2v2 and 3v3, I don't play much 1v1. We usually sacrifice at least one persons base in 3v3. You attack when they attack you, but since your units are designed for destroying buildings you are able to cause a lot more damage while they are throwing themselves against your towers.

    There's a lot more to it of course, there is a lot of hero harassing and getting your build order down. Base lay out and all that kinda stuff. The thing is the majority of people on bnet do the same thing and when you do something else they don't know how to adapt. Don't be afraid to experiment and figure out what works best for you.

    I think the best advice is Grombar's, which is actually from the Art of War: Avoid that which is strong, attack that which is weak.

    Ash of Yew on
  • tony_importanttony_important Registered User
    edited May 2010
    Learn your hotkeys.

    tony_important on
  • ApogeeApogee Lancks In Every Game Ever Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    My main two tips for SC2 specifically:

    1: Scout. Always always scout, it doesn't matter if his army is twice as big as yours if you have the right units. Always know what strategy he's doing, and where his resources are coming from.

    2: Balance expansion and armies. Expanding is good, but expanding before your first mineral/gas line is at full capacity is generally a bad idea, as is makign two expos at once (unless you have a gigantic surplus already). Remember that expanding costs a lot of money and time that could be used for an army - for example, a Command Center is 400 resources. That's 8 marines. Not much, but then you also need 20-odd workers - that's almsot 30 marines, a sizable army on it's own.

    If your opponent shows up with 30 marines to your expansion, it's obvious who will win. If you hold it for a few minuites though, the tides turn. Just expand as neccesary, since you can have too much of a good thing.

    Apogee on
  • ScrubletScrublet Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Echoing the replays, watch tons and tons. If you're serious about getting good, you can't just WATCH them. It's not a sitcom. Pay attention to every little thing and think about why it happened WHEN it happened.

    Scrublet on
    subedii wrote: »
    I hear PC gaming is huge off the coast of Somalia right now.

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  • RderdallRderdall Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Thanks a ton for all of the tips, everyone. Reading these really got me amped up to start practicing. I picked up the Starcraft Battle Chest on my way home from work yesterday, and I'll start practicing this weekend!

    Rderdall on

    Xbox Gamertag: GAMB1NO325Xi
  • BEAST!BEAST! Adventurer Adventure!!!!!Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Never float resources. Spend everything you have; you don't earn interest on unspent stuff. If you find yourself with excess resources you're either collecting too much or (much more likely) you don't have a great enough production capacity.
    This i think is the most helpful idea to me, this is how terrible my RTS skills are.......

    Also our signatures are similar :D

    BEAST! on
  • SeanronSeanron Registered User
    edited May 2010
    A small hint that I have used my entire RTS-life is the following:

    "Always make the foe react to what you are doing, never the other way round"

    What I mean by that can be demonstrated in the following example -

    Red Alert 3: I love RA3, it is by far my favourite C&C game (let us forget the nipple-clamp that is C&C4 shall we). In RA3 I play the Sovet's who suit my style to a tee - lots of armour, lots of firepower and the sheer Fear-factor that can stop most folk in their tracks.

    A favoured tactic of mine utilises the humble Twinblade Attack Chopper. I try to lull my opponent into trying to combat it. I want him to react by building anti-air. I'll never build huge amounts of twinblades, just enough to strike random places and to give the impression that I have a fuck-ton of twinblades.

    In the meantime, I am actually pumping out V3's and Hammer Tanks, unbeknownst to my opponent. I have made him react to my moves (he builds anti-air to counter me, then I use ground to counter his ill-adviced counter) and it means that he is on a sever back-footing in the forthcoming ground attack.

    A third tactic can then be applied, if he is able to stand up to the ground assault, bring the Twinblades back in or better yet, roll out the Kirov's. The quick jump from air to ground to air again can leave the most unprepared spinning and cursing. I find this leap-frog tactic very effctive with the Soviet's, and even moreso the Empire of The Rising Sun.

    In short, make your opponent react to your choices, and maintain the pressure. You can make an opponent literally crazy with panic with some applied pressure and falsehoods (man, I can't wait for RUSE to come out) :p

    Seanron on
    PSN: Seanron - XBL: Seanron - Steam: Seanron
  • AsiinaAsiina Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    I'm still pretty bad at SC2, but by watching a few people who know what they're doing I've learned a few things.

    The biggest thing that changed my strategy is that you don't need an lolhuge army to win. While it's fun to build 50 carriers and send them like a plague across the map, it's not at all necessary and takes a buttload of time. Some games are over in 10 minutes using 6 units because their opponent wasn't ready.

    You need to scout to learn what they're doing, but if you don't really know what the counter is to their strategy, that's not really going to help. At least when you're first learning the game. There's no harm in sending things out to explore though.

    Learn at least a few hotkeys. The more you know, the faster you'll be.

    Don't build unecessary buildings. Try to learn the tech tree to get to one or two things you like and build those. If you want battlecruisers, look at what you need to build those and work backwards. Having a well rounded army isn't really necessary and takes a lot of time and resources.

    Asiina on
  • LoneIgadzraLoneIgadzra Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Asiina wrote: »
    Learn at least a few hotkeys. The more you know, the faster you'll be.

    Oh yeah. Something I don't even think about because I've been playing SC so long that I know every key combination by heart, but knowing the most common shortcuts helps enormously.

    Some casual players might dismiss it as "too much effort" but it really isn't, and blizzard has it's own kind of logic so after you know a few you can guess other races pretty easily.

    LoneIgadzra on
  • BerserkisBerserkis Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Taking out the workers is a sure way to cripple opponent. I like to have a few units that are good for taking out workers while my main army does the attackking up front in SC2 to distract.

    No income = no production !

    Also - always have units pumpin - need to use the money - no point hanging on to it (this goes for WC3 and SC2)

    Berserkis on
  • darksteeldarksteel Registered User
    edited May 2010
    I've been playing a lot of RTS games for a long time, and a weird thing I found is that a lot of real life military theory applies to RTS games as well.

    Notice how a lot of people are mentioning scouting. The first step in any military operation is always reconnaissance. Information is power, and it shapes your decisions to combat the enemy. Prevent similar reconnaissance on you, and if it can't be prevented, counter it with misinformation.

    Seanron also mentions another common military guideline: maintain the initiative, and dictate the tempo. Essentially what this means is that you should be proactive, always dictating the time, place, and terms of your engagement. When the enemy is reacting to you, you are controlling him, and of course the reverse is also true.

    With regards to workers, they are an abstract of the supply problem. It's a numbers game, basically. More workers = more numbers = more resources to spend on fighting assets. Like other people say, expand any time you have the resources to spare, but beware of overextending your resource base when you have little capability of protecting them.

    There is literally a ton to learn in RTS games, and you are always, always busy. Watch good replays, take notes, learn what the pros are doing. What I'm saying in this post is that learning military theory and science might be a fun common sense way of learning the pivotal factors that win you an RTS game.

    darksteel on
  • DunxcoDunxco Should get a suit Never skips breakfastRegistered User regular
    edited May 2010
    I've seen it mentioned before so I'll just re-iterate: The opening stages are probably the most important part of any strategy. I used to play Dawn of War up until Dark Crusade (fuck Soulstorm) and the most important lesson I learnt? Harrass, harrass, harrass.

    Generally speaking in any RTS, your first tier troops aren't going to be strong enough to take down buildings without a serious time investment and you'll probably lose them when the enemy notices you're doing this. It's fine for a brief diversion, but harrassing the enemy builder units is a much better idea. They are generally weak, unable to handle combat with proper units, and if you can get rid of them you can seriously hamper your opponents momentum early game.

    If you are harrassing early enough, the enemy is not focused on building up to the next tier for stronger troops and abilities - he is focusing on building countermeasures to get you away from him. He is wasting resources to do this. Fast attack and stealth units make the best harrassers (going back to Dawn of War, for me this was Chaos Raptors - Jetpack melee units): You're not interested in keeping them there for the long fight, just throwing the enemy off his early game so you can scrape a lead in the tech race to better and stronger units.

    Good luck, and be sure to watch a lot of videos to see what the pros are doing!

    Dunxco on
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