The Starcraft 2 Beta is back on! The retail release is just under 3 weeks away on July 27th!
How to play SC2 and tips to get better.
Starcraft 2 is an amazingly fun game that can be enjoyed to new players and veteran players alike. The game itself is much easier to understand and get into than Starcraft 1 ever was, but the learning curve is still rather steep. If you are brand new to Starcraft or RTS games in general, start by reading this beginners guide written by our very own forum member, eeSanG. He is a Gold/Platinum level player who knows his stuff and was generous enough to take the time to write out this very informative piece on the basics of SC2. It's a long read, but quite worth it. (spoilered for size)
eeSanG's basics of Starcraft 2[/size] for all you new players to SC2.
How to play with fellow PA people and other PA related stuff.
Start by joining the master PA friend list by clicking on this link.
I have written this to help anyone who is interested in playing but have little experience and no one to teach them.
There are many things in Starcraft that are so basic that no one mentions them. However, they’re also incredibly difficult to find out for yourself without a natural intuition for Real-Time Strategy. This makes it extremely difficult for people new to RTS’s to learn about them so they get trashed by everyone and everything; the entire process can be extremely demoralizing and leaves only a bitter taste in the neophyte as they quit in frustration. These basics are so fundamental that without them, every player is doomed to failure against someone with solid mechanics.
I am going to go over many of these basics. Here are some simple tips that apply to almost every RTS that involves resource management:
* Keep building workers/harvesters.
* Don’t let resources build up.
* Learn build orders.
* Don’t play blindly, scout often.
The slightly more advanced mechanics all branch off from these principles.
Why you want to keep building workers.
Workers in Starcraft are great investments; you spend time and resources building them and they’ll provide great returns on those investments. The most significant mechanic behind Starcraft is resource management: you need minerals and gas to do everything. The more you have, the more you can do; but, the reverse also applies: the less resources you have, the more limited you are in options. This is macromanagement.
Okay, so more workers mean more resource gathering, but where do you stop? You don’t. In Starcraft 2, every base has 8 mineral patches and 2 gas geysers. Maximum saturation is 3 workers per mineral patch and 3 per gas; however, the optimal amount of workers on minerals is actually 2. There are heavy diminishing returns after 2 workers per mineral patch and returns stop altogether after 3. So why don’t you only make 22 workers, 16 for minerals and 6 for gas? Because you will want to expand.
Expanding is a critical aspect of micromanagement. Two fully saturated bases have double the production of one: this means twice the upgrades and twice the units. That is an unfair advantage over your opponent if you’re playing 2 bases to 1. Expanding does require an investment though, you cannot recklessly place bases all over the map or you risk losing everything to an aware opponent.
So back to workers: Why don’t we stop at 22? Because you will want to expand and you will want your investment to make immediate returns once you do. How do you do this? By transferring several workers from your first saturated base to your second (For future reference, transferring of workers will be called maynarding, as that is the term used by competitive Starcraft players). So say you kept building workers and you have about 34 (6 on gas, 28 mining), 4 of your workers mining are actually doing absolutely nothing. You still want to produce this many workers because once you expand (which you should when you safely can) you can maynard 17 workers to your expansions and put 6 on gas with 11 on mining.
Doing this, you’re now fully saturated on gas in two bases and have 11 workers on minerals each base. This is clearly insufficient and suboptimal but now you have 2 worker producing buildings and by splitting evenly, you can hit optimization in both bases with 5 worker production cycles. Well, 11 isn’t an optimal amount, so why not only move 16 and have 16/6 on minerals? You could, but because you have 2 worker production buildings you would have to go through 0 and 10 worker production cycles to hit optimization and that is inefficient because you have only one building doing all the work instead of dividing it equally. This doubles the amount of time for your bases to hit optimized mining and every worker built at an optimized mineral line is worth less and less.
So to keep the first facet of macromanagement strong, worker production is required beyond optimization. You’ll want to keep producing workers at both bases after your first expansion because the late game phase is usually played on 3 or more bases and you will want to continue maynarding workers to new expansions.
Why you don’t want resources to build up.
Worker production is the first stage of macromanagement: actually getting the resources. The second facet of macromanagement is actually using those resources. As you gather resources, you use them to make units for fighting. Every resource hoarded is a potential investment you did not make. If you engage in a battle with 1000 minerals hoarded, that is 1000 minerals worth of units you could’ve had at the fight had you macromanaged better. 10 Zealots, 20 Marines, or 40 Zerglings can significantly change the outcome of a battle. Unused resources mean smaller armies and smaller armies usually mean battles lost. Having 10 Marines is not going to win against 10 Zealots; you need more Marines for it to be a fair fight.
To prevent yourself from running into unfair fights, you want to be continuously spending your resources on something. It can be workers, buildings, upgrades, or units. Just spend it. But! Don’t waste it on things you will never use. Don’t get speed upgrades on a unit that you never plan on using. Efficient spending is implicit. It is not obvious; it is not shouted at you when you lose. Players will have excuses on why they lost, but underlying all that is usually because they did not spend their resources efficiently.
Another bad habit that many players have is immense amounts of unit queuing. Yes, you are spending resources, but it is not being spent efficiently. You make absolutely no returns on unit production until those units are actually made. Filling a unit queue right as or before a fight starts means those are units you could’ve already had. How? By making more unit producing buildings. Learning how many unit producing buildings you can have per base is difficult to learn, precise amounts can only come from experience.
Using Protoss as an example: A single mineral line can support roughly 3 Gateways running full time with minimal ‘teching’ (unlocking upgrades or new units). It can support 2 with heavy tech investments and it can barely support 4 Gateways with absolutely no tech investment. Running 4 Gateways usually ends in disastrous results for the Protoss player unless the opponent is quickly killed or there are no tech investments left to make. This is because if the opponent can get severely ahead in tech, the Protoss is at a significant disadvantage due to a lack of viable options.
If you have resources piling up, you have two options: make more unit producing buildings or expand and then making more unit producing buildings. Being choked on unit production is an easy way to lose after trading armies with your opponent. Having too many buildings is better than not having enough.
There are two ways of losing via smaller army: not having enough or not spending enough resources. Both of these are easily avoidable.
Now that we’ve covered resource management, we continue onto build orders.
Learn build orders.
Build orders are a prearranged order in which you construct your buildings. Good build orders are those that everyone uses; they are cookie cutter. Now, some might rant about how cookie cutter builds destroy innovation and creative play. No! Build orders allow innovation and creative play to be efficient. They are cookie cutter for a reason, because they are the most effective openings in regards to resources and time. Starcraft and Starcraft 2 are battles of resources, but they’re also battles for time. A few seconds difference can change the entire game through a delayed unit, a building, or an entire expansion. Many openings trade time for resources or resources for time. Time creates advantages in tech, resources, or army size.
Learning build orders is more difficult in Starcraft 2 because it’s so new, not everything has been discovered or tested. It’s your job now to create, adopt, or steal build orders that are the most efficient. Constructing a building 5 seconds earlier than normal can lead to enormous advantages but not learning or refining build orders can lead to constructing buildings later than necessary!
For Starcraft 2, there are two ways to create the opening Pylon as Protoss. You can either make it at 9 supply and have it finish at 10 so you can Chrono Boost or you can cut an early Probe to create a Pylon at 8 and Chrono Boost the 9th Probe immediately. The difference between these builds provides a difference of about a second in the first Gateway, so this is an extreme example. I myself enjoy placing the Pylon at 8.
The difference between a solid and shaky build order can mean living or dying during the early game.
Don’t play blindly, scout often.
Map hacking, the most prominent hack in Starcraft, provides perfect information on the map and the opponent. This third-party program is looked down upon by the competitive community because it provides such an unfair advantage and because it is cheating.
You can simulate these same advantages through proper scouting. A player’s first scout is usually their worker. Many beginners believe that they are sent out for the sole reason of finding where the opponent is. Naïve! Keeping your scouting worker alive reveals so much valuable information, but only through proper analysis that comes with experience.
The subtle things will tell you much: the progress on the spawning pool will tell you whether to expect early Zerglings or not. A 10pool (a spawning pool created after the 10th Drone but before the 11th) will most certainly make Zerglings while a 13pool may only make 2 or skip them altogether. A surviving worker can reveal a Protoss player’s entire tech tree if kept alive: 1 Gate into Cybernetic Core? 2 Gate? THREE Gate (3 means you are going to get rushed)? 0 Gates? You just got proxy’d, get ready for a fast rush. A scouting worker can easily dodge Zealots through proper micro, many will need to get a Stalker or Sentry to kill it if they don’t want you to see their tech tree and that means gas spent, unit created, tech delayed.
When the first scout dies, many no longer scout for the rest of the game. Foolish! Continue to send out scouts; they can be either workers, a fast and inexpensive unit (Zergling), or a unit that is concealed and difficult to kill (Observer). Knowing where your opponent’s army is, knowing what it’s made of, and knowing when they expand are all critical intel. Location allows you to set up flanks or ambushes. Composition allows you to create the correct counters to their units, and knowing when and where an expansion is built opens up an opportunity to attack before they make returns on such a heavy investment. However, don't needlessly sacrifice units into the maw that is your opponent's army. Scout often, but be conservative with them.
Scouting is much harder and is much more demanding on your multitasking than macromanagement. You shouldn’t let your macromanagement suffer for the sake of scouting, but neither should you forsake scouting altogether. Balance is key to consistent success, though knowing when to take risks is also important.
Combining these fundamentals together means that your armies will be as large as possible, your economy as efficient as can be, and the knowledge of your opponent’s play are as clear as crystal.
These basics are just that, fundamentals. A lack of fundamentals means that defeating an opponent with strong mechanics and safe play will be an impossibility. Real-Time Strategies incorporate strategic play but that is meaningless when lacking in basics. Smaller armies, weaker economy, and blind play are disadvantages the player only gives himself; they are completely unnecessary and preventable.
So here they are again so you can drill them into your head. The basics of resource based RTS’s are:
* Keep building workers/harvesters.
* Don’t let resources build up.
* Learn build orders.
* Don’t play blindly, scout often.
It can be difficult to do everything simultaneously at first, but it becomes more natural through practice!
Good luck and have fun. Until next time.
If you can't do this, then we don't want to be your friend.
To view the player list, follow this link.
You can view the form and rearrange the values by going to "view" -> "list view". On the list view page, you can click on the pull down tabs to look at just players of a certain race or rank. Whatever you want.
The official PA SC2 tournament thread!
You too can sign up and play in our very own team based weekly tournament. Think the NFL meets Starcraft only with more violence, less off the field issues, and less bullshit holding calls. For best results, tell 'em Dover sent ya.
Livestream for our friend Exoplasm.
Good quality. Watch it.
Livestream for our friend Trus.
Beware of loud music.
PA SC2 Steam Group.
A great place to meet up with other PA forum people and set up games, talk strats, or just bullshit around. This is the most common place for us all to meet before big tournaments and stuff. Very useful!
Mumble voice chat.
Since the forum has been back and forth about having a large voice chat system in place but can't decide between Skype and Ventrillo, we've decided to go with Mumble instead. Download it via the link above, install it, and follow this information to get with the rest of us:
Connect to the server: vx36.commandchannel.com (or v.exosquad.net) port 31117
Password is: wang
Comprehensive unit spreadsheet.
A publicly editable spreadsheet that details all of the costs, build times, damage, and other unit specific information you could ever ask for. Make sure to read this first before asking how much damage hydralisks do versus air units. Special thanks to our very own Vin for making it.
Other non-PA related SC2 stuff
The Day Daily Live Stream.
Sean "Day9" Plott is an 11 year Starcraft veteran, so he knows his shit. He does a live stream Sunday through Thursday that airs 7pm PST/10pm EST. If you miss a stream, you can watch it, and every other streams he's ever done, in his archives
. BOOKMARK HIS SITES! You will not be disappointed.
Good site for beginners to learn from and watch higher end players as well. Being Youtube videos, you can fast forward and rewind to help learn strategies and build orders.
The brother site of HD Starcraft. Another good site for watching videos of foreign tournaments and for general learning by watching pros.
Team Liquid is the biggest Starcraft related fan site out on the Internet today. They follow everything Starcraft related including the pro scene. Many great articles, forums, and information can be found here. A must bookmark for any Starcraft fan.