====================================================================== BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO STARCRAFT2 MULTIPLAYER Revision: 2.0 Author: Shockwave.xpow Email: email@example.com 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 other web site or as a part of any public display is strictly prohibited, and a violation of copyright. If you wish to reproduce any or all of ths information, you must contact me via my email address above and request permission. Permission may not necessarily be granted, and non-response by me does not grant permission. ====================================================================== VER. VERSION HISTORY VER ====================================================================== 1.0: 8/1/2010 Initial 2.0: 8/5/2010 Added details to various sections based on feedback. Added more detail to Orlan portrait achievement. 2.1: 8/11/2010 Minor miscellaneous corrections. 3.0: 8/13/2010 Added a personal FAQ section to "About the Author". Added a UI tricks section for each race. Added single player campaign section. ====================================================================== TOC. TABLE OF CONTENTS CHT ====================================================================== 0. LEGAL INFORMATION CH0 VER VERSION HISTORY VER TOC. TABLE OF CONTENTS CHT 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 B. HOTKEYS AND CONTROL GROUPS CH3_B 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 VI. MULTIPLAYER EXECUTION CH6 A. THE BIG FIVE PATH OF LEARNING CH6_A VII. SPECIFIC MULTIPLAYER TIPS CH7 A. GENERAL CH7_A B. MAP FEATURES CH7_B C. DEALING WITH RUSHES CH7_C D. ALLIED GAMES CH7_D VIII. RESOURCES CH8 IX. OFF TOPIC CH9 IXA. ORLAN MULTIPLAYER ACHIEVEMENT CH9_A IXB. BRUTAL SINGLE PLAYER CAMPAIGN CH9_B IXC. Q&A WITH SHOCKWAVE CH9_C 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 b.net forum MVP and played competitively particularly during early Starcraft1 ladder seasons. I am responsible for the widely-referenced SC1 Beginner's Guide (http://forums.battle.net/thread.html?topicId=12454627968&sid=3000). 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: 1. STARCRAFT2 IS NOT RADICALLY DIFFERENT THAN STARCRAFT1 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. 2. STARCRAFT2'S INTERFACE IS MUCH IMPROVED OVER STARCRAFT1 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. 3. STARCRAFT2 UNITS ARE DIFFERENT THAN STARCRAFT1 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. 4. STARCRAFT2 WILL MATCH YOU WITH PLAYERS AT YOUR SKILL LEVEL 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 level. 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. 5. STARCRAFT2 HAS NO CHAT ROOMS 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 (http://www.gamefaqs.com/pc/25418-starcraft/faqs/29831), 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"). 1. ALWAYS BE BUILDING WORKERS You need lots of probes/SCVs/drones ("workers"/"peons") 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. As mentioned above, Zerg's paradigm for building workers is a bit different, because you have to decide between building drones versus units. I talk about this more in the Zerg race section; suffice it to say, there is no simple rule that works with Zerg, although the temptation is still to build too few drones so this rule holds as a general statement. 2. BUILD SUPPLY IN ADVANCE SO YOU ARE NOT EVER WAITING ON SUPPLY 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. 3. KEEP YOUR RESOURCES AS CLOSE TO ZERO AS POSSIBLE 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. 4. AVOID BUILDING A LOT OF STATIC DEFENSE 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. 5. SCOUT EARLY AND OFTEN 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. 1. KEYBOARD SHORTCUTS 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. 2. CONTROL GROUPS 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 time. 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 time). 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 here. ------------------------------------------------------------ IVA. ECONOMY CH4_A ------------------------------------------------------------ 1. GAS IS KING 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. 2. YOU ONLY NEED AROUND 2.5 WORKERS PER MINERAL PATCH 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 expansion. * 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. If you're fast, you can then click on maybe one worker and assign it to a separate patch, but it's not generally worthwhile to try to manually assign the others unless you are playing on a very slow speed. 3. ALL RACES HAVE WAYS TO BOOST RESOURCE COLLECTION 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. 4. EXPANSIONS ARE MADE SOONER 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. 5. HIGH-YIELD MINERALS ARE IMPORTANT BUT NOT CRITICAL 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 defenses. ------------------------------------------------------------ IVB. TERRAIN CH4_B ------------------------------------------------------------ 1. DESTRUCTIBLE ROCKS 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. 2. SOME UNITS CAN IGNORE CLIFFS 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 expected. * 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. 3. XEL'NAGA WATCH TOWERS GIVE SIGHT 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. 4. HIGH GROUND REQUIRES SIGHT 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. 5. SOME TERRAIN OBSTRUCTS SIGHT 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 ------------------------------------------------------------ 1. STATIC DEFENSE IS FRAIL 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. 2. SC2 USES A NEW DAMAGE MECHANIC 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 system. 3. BATTLES DON'T LAST AS LONG 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. 4. MOBILITY IS MUCH IMPROVED 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. 5. WORKERS AND SPELLCASTERS ARE TREATED AS HIGH PRIORITY TARGETS 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 ------------------------------------------------------------ 1. ENERGY MAXES OUT AT 200 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 built. * 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 immediately. 2. BUILDINGS ARE IMPASSIBLE ON ALL SIDES 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 zergling. * 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 orientation. 3. UPGRADES RESEARCH MUCH FASTER 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). 4. MOST UNITS DO FRIENDLY SPLASH 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' units. * 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. 5. AIR UNITS ARE VERTICALLY OFFSET 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 ------------------------------------------------------------ 1. UNITS WILL SMART CAST 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 twice. * 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] 2. WORKERS CAN RALLY TO MINERALS 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. 3. BUILDINGS CAN BE MULTI-SELECTED 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. 4. CONTROL GROUPS ARE UNLIMITED 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 groups. 5. UNITS ON FOLLOW WILL RESPOND TO THREATS 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. 6. MINIMAP TARGETTING FOR SPECIAL ABILITIES 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. 7. BUILDING RALLY POINTS CAN BE QUEUED 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 one. 8. IDLE WORKERS ARE SHOWN 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 indefinitely. 9. HIT "S" BEFORE ISSUING NEW COMMANDS 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". 10. BUILDING CONSTRUCTION TAKES RESOURCES AWAY IMMEDIATELY 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. 11. SOME ABILITIES CAN BE SET TO AUTOCAST 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. 12. HITTING SPACEBAR WILL CYCLE THROUGH NOTIFICATION HISTORY 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. Finally, I will discuss UI tricks for each race. ------------------------------------------------------------ VA. TERRAN CH5_A ------------------------------------------------------------ VA1. THINGS YOU MUST KNOW ABOUT PLAYING TERRAN -------------------------------------------------- 1. BUILD AN ORBITAL COMMAND IMMEDIATELY AFTER YOUR BARRACKS IS DONE 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. 2. USE THE ORBITAL COMMAND MOSTLY FOR MULES, NOT SCAN 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 important. * 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. 3. ENGINEERING BAYS HAVE STRUCTURE UPGRADES 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. VA2. THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT PLAYING TERRAN -------------------------------------------------- 1. PLANETARY FORTRESS USE 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. In later game, it is sometimes useful to build multiple PFs at expansions for defense. Although they are expensive, you will often be mineral-rich (i.e. limited by the amount of gas you have versus minerals) in which case spending money to build a CC just to use as a PF is justifiable. 2. BUNKERS CAN BE SALVAGED 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. 3. ADD-ONS CAN BE SWAPPED 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 strats. * 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. 4. SCVs CAN AUTO-REPAIR 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. Note that as usual, repairing does take resources, although the amount of resources to repair is fairly small compared to the original cost of the unit; i.e. units are far cheaper to repair than to rebuild. SCVs autorepairing mech can make the mech very durable. Thors in particular can be kept alive for very long periods of time in early-mid game if you bring a few SCVs along to repair, given that Thors have a large amount of health and take up a large amount of space (i.e. are easy for SCVs to surround and repair). 5. MEDIVACS REPLACE MEDICS 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. 6. TANKS ARE EVEN MORE EFFECTIVE THAN IN SC1 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. On a related note, use tanks both offensively and defensively. Often, newer players will build tanks at their choke and leave them there for defense. This is a great for keeping you safe since defensive tanks are difficult to break through, but tanks at your opponent's doorstep are equally difficult to break through and present an immediate threat. If you must, leave a couple of tanks in your base for defense, but bring the rest along with your attack and set them up outside your opponent's base to pound on his buildings or units from afar; this necessitates an immediate response because if he can't kill your tanks quickly, then they will do a lot of damage as you advance them forward into his base. Also note that as with SC1, tanks can fire farther than they can see. Use air units or scan to extend your tank sight range. Finally, bear in mind that tanks in normal mode actually do a good amount of damage, particularly to armored units. Tanks can be used effectively in tank mode and in fact will sometimes kill units faster in tank versus siege mode. Siege mode obviously has the advantage of range and splash, but tanks as a combat unit are quite effective in certain early-mid game attacks even before siege is researched. 7. DEPOTS CAN BE LOWERED 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. 8. SCVS HAVE LESS HEALTH 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 consequence 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 additional SCVs once you see this happening -- one repairs your SCV, the other attacks the scouting worker. * A tactic that has fallen out of favor is attacking with a mixed marine/SCV force. The SCVs will tend to be targetted first by the AI, which will keep your marines alive for longer. However, since SCVs have low health, this is often a waste for resources unless you are doing an "all-in" type of attack where you expect to knock out your opponent with a massive SCV attack supported by a small number of marines. 9. USE SENSOR TOWERS OFFENSIVELY AND DEFENSIVELY Sensor towers are available after construction of an engineering bay, and reveal units on your view and minimap. Any unit in the detection range of the tower and outside your visible range (i.e. in your "fog of war") will show up as a red mark. This includes cloaked units, but the tower does not provide detection to attack them. (E.G. If a dark templar walks towards your base, you will see it as a red mark but you will still need a turret/raven/scan/etc. to be able to actually attack it. Your opponent will be able to see the extents of the sensor tower and thus will know whether you are aware of his units. Therefore, don't depend on them too much, because your opponent can just walk around them. Sensor towers have a number of good uses: * Build one in your base to be able to tell when your opponent is moving in to attack. One is often enough, although two provides complete coverage if you them on opposite corners. * A sensor tower in your base can give you early warning of harassment, such as hit-and-runs from mutas. * Sensor towers can be used in conjunction with tank pushes. In SC1, you had to advance tanks forward slowly (e.g. have two lines of tanks where you constantly unsiege the back line, bring it forward a bit, and resiege) to prevent being caught off-guard with all your tanks unsieged and advancing. In SC2, if you build a sensor tower towards the area you are advancing, you can safely move your tanks through that area since the tower will tell you if units are waiting in ambush. Don't overbuild sensor towers since they are somewhat expensive. VA3. SUPER UNIT - MARAUDER -------------------------------------------------- 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. VA4. UI TRICKS FOR TERRAN -------------------------------------------------- 1. USE "A" TO HAVE MEDIVACS FOLLOW-HEAL 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: * Example: a. Select your medivacs. b. Press "A". c. Left-click on a marine in your blob. Result: The medivacs will follow that marine and heal it and other neighboring units as needed. 2. HOTKEY YOUR CCs FOR FASTER SCAN USE As mentioned earlier in the hotkey section, you should definitely have one hotkey with all your CCs so that you can quickly build SCVs. Hotkeying all your CCs together will also allow you to use scan on demand; if you hit "C" to scan, then the AI will automatically choose one CC that has enough energy to perform the scan. This is particularly useful for cloak detection. 3. TANKS SIEGE/UNSIEGE CAN BE QUEUED In SC1, tank hopping (i.e. have a couple of groups of tanks in an advancing line where you continuously unsiege the back row, move it forward, siege, and then repeat) was a micromanagement chore. In SC2, you can tell a tank or group of tanks to unsiege, move, and then resiege, all in one queued set of commands: * Example: a. Select your tanks. b. Press "D". c. Right-click on the spot you want to resiege your tanks at. c. Hold down SHIFT. d. Press "E". Result: the tanks will unsiege, move to the new spot, and siege. 4. FOR MIXED ADD-ON GROUPS, BUILD TECH ITEMS BEFORE REACTOR ITEMS Suppose you have 2 barracks selected, one with a reactor and one with a tech lab. You would like to build 2 marines and a marauder all in parallel (which you should be able to do -- the reactor rax should be able to build 2 marines in parallel while the tech rax builds the marauder). If you hit "DAA", you will get that correct behavior. If you hit "AAD", you will instead incorrectly have one marine queued in the reactor rax and one marine queued in the tech rax, with the marauder waiting for the tech rax marine to finish. If that example is hard to follow, sorry this is difficult to explain, so just keep this in mind: If you have a mixed group of buildings selected such that some have reactors and some have tech labs, hit the button to build the tech lab units (e.g. siege tank, BC, marauder, thor etc.) first, and then hit the button to build the reactor units (e.g. viking, medivac, marine). In this way, the reactor-enabled units will be assigned to the buildings with reactor. Hopefully Blizzard will correct this mechanism soon in which case this point will become moot. In beta, this UI issue was avoided because the rax would be assigned to different tab groups (i.e. one group for tech, one group for reactor). * Example: a. Select two barracks, one with tech and one with reactor. b. Press "DAA". Result: A marauder is started in your tech-rax, and two marines are started in parallel in your reactor-rax. 5. YOU CAN STIM UNITS INSIDE A BUNKER In SC1, to stim units in a bunker, you would have to first unload the unit, stim, and reload. In SC2, you can just select the bunker(s) to stim any units in it. (Side note: in the single player campaign, if you have medics in the bunker, the medics will heal your stimmed units; unfortunately in multiplayer medics don't exist.) * Example: a. Load a marauder, reaper, and marines into a bunker. b. Select the bunker. c. Hit "T". Result: The marauder and marines are stimmed. (The reaper is not because reapers cannot be stimmed.) ------------------------------------------------------------ VB. ZERG CH5_B ------------------------------------------------------------ VB1. THINGS YOU MUST KNOW ABOUT PLAYING ZERG -------------------------------------------------- 1. BUILD A QUEEN IMMEDIATELY AFTER YOUR SPAWNING POOL IS DONE 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. 2. USE QUEENS FOR GENERATING LARVAE 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 air. 3. OVERLORDS DO NOT DETECT CLOAKED BY DEFAULT 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. 4. NYDUS WORMS CAN BE PLACED ANYWHERE YOU HAVE SIGHT 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. 5. HATCHERIES HAVE TWO RALLY POINTS 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. Note that queens do not ever rally (either to the worker or unit). 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. 6. ZERG UNITS MOVE FASTER ON CREEP 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 level. VB2. THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT PLAYING ZERG -------------------------------------------------- 1. YOU DON'T ALWAYS NEED A SECOND HATCHERY 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. 2. SPREAD CREEP EVERYWHERE WITH OVERLORDS AND CREEP TUMORS 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 have built the next tumor (i.e. they are visible after being built, but after you use a creep tumor to create another one, the expended creep tumor will then become invisible). 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 (i.e. they still move the same speed etc.). 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. 3. BE AWARE OF WHEN LARVAE IS ABOUT TO SPAWN 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. 4. DON'T LET LARVA SIT AROUND UNUSED 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. 5. DON'T OVERBUILD UNITS 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 ahead. 6. BANELINGS EXPLODE FOR DAMAGE EVEN IF KILLED 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 attack-moving so that the banelings can nestle up against the units. 7. THE GENERAL STARTING BUILD ORDER IS OVERLORD ON 9 SUPPLY 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 strat. 8. HIDE TECH USING OVERLORD CREEP GENERATION Zerg buildings can be built anywhere you have creep. Since OLs can generate creep at lair level, this means that you can hide a tech strcture by having a drone build the structure at the location of the OL's creep. This is useful for avoiding scans or normal scouting (e.g. put a drone and OL in some corner of the map; once you reach lair level, have the OL start generating creep and immediately start a spire there. Your opponent will recon your base and not see the spire, and hopefully not be ready for your mutas). Note that if the creep disappears (such as if your OL is killed), your building will slowly take damage until it loses all its health or the creep is replaced. VB3. SUPER UNIT - ROACH -------------------------------------------------- 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. VB4. UI TRICKS FOR ZERG -------------------------------------------------- 1. USE BACKSPACE ON QUEENS TO QUICKLY PUKE ONTO HATCHERIES If you have multiple queens and want to puke on hatcheries, you can hotkey all the queens in one group, click "V" to puke on a hatch, and the nearest queen with energy will perform the puke. This is fine but requires you finding and centering on each hatchery, but there is a faster method assuming your queens are each near their respective hatcheries. Assuming you have all your queens in one hotkey: * Example: a. Hit the hotkey for your queens to select them. b. Click "V" (for spawn larvae). c. Click BACKSPACE. d. Hold down SHIFT. e. Click BACKSPACE, left-click. f. Repeat step#e until all hatcheries are done. Result: All hatcheries are spawning larvae. 2. USE CLONING TO SPREAD CREEP QUICKLY WITH OVERLORDS At lair level, you will want your OLs to all be generating creep. Generally since my OLs at lair level are clumped around the same area, I will want to send them out to new destinations to start generating creep. * Example: a. Select a bunch of OLs (after you have reached lair level). b. Press "G". c. Clone-command your OLs to various locations: d. RIGHT-CLICK on a spot on a minimap e. Hold down SHIFT and click on a OL. f. Release SHIFT. g. Repeat steps#d-f until no OLs are left in your selection. Result: One OL will go to each of the spots you clicked on the minimap and will start generating creep. BTW: "Cloning" is a War2 UI technique for making a group of units all do something the same action to different targets, such as assigning each worker to mine a different patch on game start. See my SC1 beginner's guide for details. Cloning doesn't refer to actually copying units. 3. USE HATCHERIES' MULTIPLE RALLY POINTS TO MANAGE WORKERS I've mentioned this already so here again in case there is any confusion about how to use this UI. Hatcheries have two rally point, one is just for workers and one is for your other units. * Example: a. Select your hatchery. b. RIGHT-CLICK on a mineral patch. (this creates a brown-ish line) c. RIGHT-CLICK at your choke. (this creates a white-ish line) Result: a. Drones will go to your mineral patch via the brown line. b. All other units except queens will go to the white line. c. Queens will not move anywhere (queens do not follow rally points) 4. USE NYDUS TUNNEL RALLY POINTS Almost all buidings can be rally pointed, including nydus worms. This can help manage when you have a flood of units coming out of your worm, or if you want drones to come out and immediately head towards a mineral patch. * Example: a. Load your nydus worm with a dozen drones. b. Select the worm. c. RIGHT-CLICK on a mineral patch. d. Press "D" to unload the worm. Result: your drones all exit the worm and start mining at (or around) that patch. ------------------------------------------------------------ VC. PROTOSS CH5_C ------------------------------------------------------------ VC1. THINGS YOU MUST KNOW ABOUT PLAYING PROTOSS -------------------------------------------------- 1. USE CHRONOBOOST 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. 2. USE WARPGATES 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. VC2. THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT PLAYING PROTOSS -------------------------------------------------- Much of the intricacies around Toss revolve around their unit use, so several of these tips will deal with specific units. 1. SHIELDS DON'T TAKE FULL DAMAGE 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. 2. SHIELDS RECHARGE QUICKLY OUTSIDE OF COMBAT 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). 3. CARRIERS AND MOTHERSHIPS ARE NOT SUPER UNITS Carrier massing is no longer as large of a threat as in SC1. On the plus side, carriers start with 4 interceptors each and do not have to be upgraded to carry 8, so they are ready to use once they're built. On the minus side, interceptors are much more fragile since they do not near-instantly regenerate shields when damaged. In SC1, it was often a lost cause to attack interceptors because as soon as their shields were damaged, they would pass back through the carrier on their attack run and instantly recharge shields. In SC2, interceptors will not regen unless you order them to stop attacking. This means that attacking interceptors is often a good idea. 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. 4. USE COLOSSUS CORRECTLY 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 colossus: a. 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. b. 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. c. 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. 5. LEARN TO USE FORCEFIELD 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: a. 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. b. 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. c. FF into groups of units to disrupt their formation. Casting FF into the middle of a ball of units will force the units aside. d. FF behind retreating units to cut them off. You can even cast multiple FFs around a pack of units to enclose them completely. 6. LEARN TO USE BLINK 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. 7. PRE-CHARGE VOID RAYS BEFORE ATTACKING 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. 8. PSI STORM DOES NOT STACK This has not changed from SC1, although there is common confusion around this so I will mention it in case. High Templar psi storm does not stack. If you cast 4 storms in the same spot, those will do the same damage as 1 storm. VC3. SUPER UNIT - IMMORTAL -------------------------------------------------- Immortals look somewhat like SC1 dragoons but are far different in terms of their use and limitations (stalkers are closer to dragoons in terms of overall usage). 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. You often will want immortals leading your other units because they can soak up damage and also because they do not have long range. Immortals are used in many matchups 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 air. VC4. UI TRICKS FOR PROTOSS -------------------------------------------------- 1. SET INTERCEPTORS TO AUTO-BUILD Interceptors can be set to auto-build, so that the carrier starts rebuilding interceptors as soon as they're destroyed. This saves a lot of pain from the SC1 paradigm of having to select carriers and hit "IIIII". Example: a. Select all your carriers. b. Right-click on the interceptor portrait on your bottom right menu. Result: The interceptor portrait should animate, and interceptors should automatically rebuild as they're destroyed. 2. CHRONOBOOST CAN BE USED AGAINST THE MINIMAP You can chronoboost a building just by clicking on its location on the minimap. This is not always practical and you may "miss" (i.e. click on a gateway instead of your Nexus since the minimap does not make your buidings easy to distinguish. Example: a. Select all your Nexuses. b. Press "C". c. Click on a Nexus location on the minimap. Result: The targeted Nexus is chronoboosted. 3. VOID RAYS CAN ATTACK GROUND AND AIR SIMULTANEOUSLY Void rays can be made to nearly double their damage output by switching rapidly between ground and air units. This is similar to SC1 where BCs had separate cooldowns for air and ground attack and thus if you clicked fast enough between a ground and air unit, your BC could essentially be attacking both at full speed. Example: a. Select your void rays. b. Click on an enemy air unit. c. Click on a ground unit. d. Repeat steps#b-c as fast as possible. Result: The VRs will do damage to both the air and ground units at nearly the same rate as if you attacked either unit alone. 4. BLINK YOUR STALKERS PROPERLY BY QUEUEING 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. Example: a. Select your stalkers. b. Hold down SHIFT. c. RIGHT-CLICK to the edge of the cliff you want to blink past. d. Press "B". e. LEFT-CLICK on the spot below the cliff you want to blink to. f. RIGHT-CLICK to another spot away from the cliff. g. Release SHIFT. Result: Your stalkers will each go to the edge of the cliff, blink across, and then move to your final destination point. If any or all stalkers cannot do this, they will not waste their blink. ====================================================================== 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. 1. START OFF WITH THE CAMPAIGN 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. It may not be helpful to play through the entire campaign since it doesn't accurately reflect the multiplayer aspects (more details below), but playing at least a few games is recommended. 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 much a clear cut win as in SC1. 2. PLAY SOME GAMES AGAINST THE AI 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. 3. PLAY AGAINST HUMANS, AND WATCH YOUR REPLAYS WHEN YOU LOSE 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 from. 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. 4. DO NOT ADOPT GIMMICK TACTICS 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. 5. PLAY WITH AN ALLY 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 ------------------------------------------------------------ 1. USE LOW RES SETTINGS 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. 2. BE A GOOD SPORT 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. 3. PLAY OFF-THE-RECORD GAMES TO IMPROVE 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 gameplay. 4. RESIST THE PRESSURE TO CHAT A LOT Better players will often chat in games, particularly in early game while they are idle and waiting for workers to finish and such. There's nothing malicious about this (usually it is just for social reasons), but don't feel pressured to chat back if you are new. Focus on your game, respond with short but not unfriendly messages if you have to. Note also that your opponent may chat during times that are idle for him but not necessarily yourself (e.g. maybe he's supply blocked and waiting around while his depot finishes, whereas you are in the middle of putting together a drop on his base). ------------------------------------------------------------ VIIB. MAP FEATURES CH7_B ------------------------------------------------------------ 1. CONTROL THE XEL-NAGA TOWERS 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. Even if you don't want to commit a unit to watching a tower, you can also just walk units past the towers occasionally to gain split-second sight. This can tell you in particular if there are buildings around (since those will stay indicated on the map even after you leave the tower). In particular, when sending out your first scout, if you are on a map where there is a tower on the way between you and your opponent, right-click on the tower and then into your opponent's base, and your worker will stop to activate the tower along its way. This can warn you if your opponent is doing some sort of proxy attack (i.e. making a building near your base). 2. WATCH FOR CLIFFS AT EXPANSIONS 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). 3. WATCH FOR BRUSH AREAS IN YOUR BASE 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. 4. WATCH FOR DESTRUCTIBLE ROCKS IN YOUR BASE 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. 1. NORMAL RUSHES 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. 2. ALL-IN RUSHES All-in rushes (6-pool, 8-rax, etc.), 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. 3. PROXY RUSHES Many games particularly on higher levels, and particularly if your opponent chooses random, involve proxy attacks. A proxy attack is where your opponent builds a structure near your base so that he can attack earlier, or so he can setup defensive structures before you have units to take them out. Common proxies include reapers (build the rax near the opponent's cliff, rally the reaper into his base), offensive cannons (build a pylon inside the opponent's base but not within sight range, then start buiding cannons into the base), even offensive spine crawlers (build a hatchery at the opponent's ramp, build spine crawlers to lock him from exiting his ramp, build a queen to generate creep into the base and heal the crawlers). Proxies are typically much more difficult to counter than they are to execute and they feel "cheap". Once an offensive cannoning has started in your base, it is difficult to counter. Scout early and look around the fog of war in your base to make sure there are no proxies going up. Also bear in mind that a proxy is usually an all-in attack where if you beat it, the opponent will be so behind economically or on tech that you will win. So even if that super- early reaper kills 4 or 5 probes, you may stil be even in the game economically, so don't lose heart. ------------------------------------------------------------ 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. 1. RESOURCES CAN BE SHARED 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 resources. 2. CONTROL CAN BE 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 you are playing with a trusted partner, I suggest making the habit of sharing control near game start once you assign your workers etc., since that's often idle time. 3. IT'S NOT ALL OVER IF YOUR TEAMMATE DROPS 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. 4. DON'T QUIT JUST BECAUSE YOU GOT WIPED OUT 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 resources. 5. YOU CAN REPAIR/HEAL EACH OTHER'S UNITS 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. 6. CHAT DEFAULTS TO ALLY CHAT 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 it! 7. USE MINI-MAP PINGS 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. 8. GET USED TO CHEAP LOSSES, BUT DON'T COPY THEM If you think 1v1's are full of cheese and proxy attackd, 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. 9. USE VOICE IF POSSIBLE Headsets make communication a lot easier and faster. Additionally, if you rely on typing, you may accidentally make mistakes and hit keys outside of chat (e.g. I once thought I was entering chat and hit "T" which promptly stimmed my entire marine force outside of combat and lead to me losing the game). As of the writing of this guide, voice in SC2 is somewhat iffy. If you can't get it to work, considering using Skype. Skype works great with SC2 and does not degrade SC2's performance; just remember to turn off voice in SC2 if using skype. ====================================================================== 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. 1. DAY DAILIES http://day9tv.blip.tv/ These are videocasts from Day, a top SC player. These videocasts typically go through top-level replays and are full of useful commentary. Day's videocasts are widely referenced and discussed in the SC community. 2. TEAM LIQUID http://www.teamliquid.net/forum/index.php?show_part=34 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! 3. HDSTARCRAFT'S CHANNEL http://www.youtube.com/user/HDstarcraft#p/u/2/ZJfkBg0aPZ8 This youtube collection contains replays/commentary of top-level players. ====================================================================== IX. OFF TOPIC CH9 ====================================================================== The following section contains non-multiplayer-strategy information that I do not think is worth creating another guide for, but is useful to know. I am sure that once there are more guides out there, this section will be overshadowed by other guides that look into these areas in more detail. But for now, here you go. ------------------------------------------------------------ IXA. ORLAN MULTIPLAYER ACHIEVEMENT CH9_A ------------------------------------------------------------ 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 overwhelmed. Of course, there are tricks you can use, making this a fairly easy achievement for either Terran or Protoss. Before you start reading this the particular strategy I outline, note the alternate suggestions below; playing Terran on Lava Flow is for example probably an easier way of accomplishing this achievement. 1. SETUP -------------------------------------------------- Make sure you follow these steps exactly as listed. If you make the game incorrectly, you will not get the achievement. * From the main menu, choose "Multiplayer" (not single player versus A.I.!). To reiterate: You must create a Multiplayer game, not a Single Player game, to get this achievement. * 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). 2. PLAY -------------------------------------------------- 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 valid). A. BUILD ORDER 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 line. * Once my robotics is done, I'll make a warp prism, and then non-chronoboosted immortals. B. BUILDING PLACEMENT 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 FFCNN M FFCCCC M PGGOOA GGOO 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 possible. C. MAIN BASE DEFENSE 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 situation. 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. D. TRANSITION TO ISLAND BASES Once your warp prism is done, load 2 probes into it (or more if your main base is about to fall and you want to save your probse), 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 expansion. 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. E. BUILDING YOUR FLEET 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. F. CLEANING UP 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. 3. ALTERNATE STRATEGIES -------------------------------------------------- A. PLAYING AS TERRAN 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). B. PLAYING AS TERRAN ON LAVA FLOW [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] ------------------------------------------------------------ IXA. BRUTAL SINGLE PLAYER CAMPAIGN CH9_B ------------------------------------------------------------ First, this does not contain heavy spoilers, so it is generally safe to read. Everyone has s different definition of spoiler so I can't guarantee that you won't read something here that will ruin something for you, but I do not believe that this reveals any major twists or surprises. Second, just to be clear, you gain no direct multiplayer benefit from playing single player. (e.g. It's not like you will get extra units or such in multiplayer if you finish single player.) The only thing you get from single player is additional portraits, which are purely cosmetic. The brutal campaign is a good challenge although of course not impossible. One of the more pressing issues though is that because you cannot take back your upgrade choices (i.e. your laboratory research route, armory upgrades, etc.), you are stuck with the decisions you make. Although you should be able to win even with arbitrary upgrade choices, the final missions (particularly the final mission itself) is far easier to handle if you made good choices. This guide will thus cover some "gotchas" that you may not be aware of during your playthrough. I will not try to dictate all your choices; instead, I'll just mention the ones that seemed the most important (or rather, are the most likely to not make you feel like kicking the computer if you didn't choose them). As a warning, it took me 6 hours to finish the final mission because I made suboptimal upgrade choices (I was chose an upgrade path that would most resemble multiplayer play, so I didn't get upgrades such as the friendly tank splash reduction). 1. GENERAL -------------------------------------------------- A. Offline doesn't count You can play missions offline (i.e. are not connected to the internet and choose "Play Offline", but you will not get achievements from them nor will they count towards actual mission completion. So if you played a mission offline, you will have to play it again online for it to count. In case you forgot which missions you did offline, just check the achievements and "highest difficulty completed" tab on the mission selector. If they have none, then that mission didn't count. I believe this factors into missions if you play *any* part of them offline; e.g. if you start them offline and then continue online, you will also not get the achievement. B. Mercenary Achievement You get the mercenary achievement by hiring all the available mercenaries. Note that if you don't want to actually use the mercenaries and waste credits on them, you can just wait until you have enough credits, save your game, hire all of the mercenaries, get the achievement. 2. MISSION LOGISTICS -------------------------------------------------- A. Mission completion Contrary to the achievement requirement, you only need to complete the 26 main missions (25 normal plus 1 secret) in order to unlock the Kerrigan portrait. This does mean though that you will have to play both branches of the missions that give you a choice (e.g. kill the infected terran colonies or save them). If you missed a mission or want to play the other branch, choose the mission selector on the Bridge console. You can complete missions in any order; missions will not go away or become more difficult or alter the storyline if you choose them in a particular order, just take on the missions as you see fit. B. Storyline choices When you need to make a mission choice, you're stuck with your choice for the rest of the campaign (e.g. you can have either ghosts or spectres but not both). However, non-Char mission choices are super critical, so feel free to choose whichever path based on your storyline preference. The Char mission choice is a big deal, more info on that below. C. Secret mission There are 25 normal missions in the campaign, which includes 2 branching missions. There is 1 secret mission which you will get after destroying the Science Facility on the bottom-right corner of the "Media Blitz" mission. The science facility is easy to spot and can be destroyed by any unit, but note that your units will not auto-target it. If you missed activating the secret mission and are already on Char, you must, at some point, reload to the Media Blitz mission, destroy the science facility, and finish the mission. The secret mission will then appear as a normal selectable mission on the Bridge. In other words, you cannot play this mission through the Char mission selector. This means that if you do not have a save around the Media Blitz mission, you may be out of luck and have to start over. If you've finished the campaign and missed the secret mission, you can reload to the Media Blitz mission, play that, get the secret mission, play that, and you'll get your achievement immediately on completion. It's not like you have to play through the rest of the campaign again just because you reloaded to Media Blitz. D. No more credits or research after Char You will not receive any more credits or research after you enter Char. Thus, if you want to be in the best shape possible, complete all the missions before Char before heading to Char. 3. UPGRADES -------------------------------------------------- These are the upgrades I recommend as near mandatory for putting yourself through the least amount of pain for the later missions, particularly the last one. I recommend not making upgrade choices until you absolutely need them (i.e. if you are failing a mission or a mission is much more difficult because you are missing an upgrade). You can't take back your upgrades, so be conservative about them. In particular, save credits and research going into the final mission since you'll probably end up playing it a few times and then realize what you need to upgrade to beat it. Anyway, here's my suggestions: A. Laboratory * Zerg regenerative bio-steel. B. Armory * Marines: Both upgrades. * Medics: Stabilizer medpacks. * Marauder: Both upgrades. * Bunker: Both upgrades. * Turret: Both upgrades. * SCV: Dual-fusion welders. * Building: Both upgrades. * Siege tank: Both upgrades. * Viking: Both upgrades. C. Mercenaries * Tanks * BC * Vikings 4. STRATEGY -------------------------------------------------- A. Marines and Medics Rule Marine/med will win you many games even on brutal. Note that both medivacs and medics can heal infantry, although you'll generally just want to rely on medics since they're cheaper. Also be sure to protect your medics since the AI will target them first. A simple strategy then is to just get a few rax some with reactor and others with tech, build marines and medics and the occasional marauder or firebat, research the infantry upgrades at the engineering bay. B. Ghosts and nukes are great for base removal Some missions require destroying bases that are fairly well defended (e.g. Haven's Fall, where you have to eradicate infested colonies). Using a couple of ghosts and nukes is a super easy way to accomplish this, since the AI will not automatically move overseers to find your ghost. Nukes are cheap and build quickly, so you can just make a few silos and work a ghost in gradually into a base, nuking the outlying spore colonies etc. For this strategy, you will want to purchase the upgrade to allow ghosts to be cloaked without energy use. C. Mercenary Use Mercenaries are very useful because they are generally more powerful for the same supply, are built near instantaneously, and bypass the tech requirements (e.g. you don't need a factory to calldown tanks). This all allows you to quickly reinforce your base or create units that are needed on demand. For example, if you are attacked and are short on defense then calldown the tank mercs. The battlecruiser merc is particularly useful since you can calldown a BC whenever you need it versus tying up the resources for a long time while the BC builds. Also bear in mind that the merc building can be rally pointed just like any other building. 5. THE SECOND TO LAST MISSION -------------------------------------------------- You have a choice between not having to deal with nydus worms, or not having to deal with air, in the final mission depending on what you pick for the second to last Char mission. I chose to play without air, but the Nydus worms on brutal are a huge pain so I would recommend choosing to play without worms since I hear that is less painful. The two consequences are: A. Kill the nydus worms This will mean that you will deal with waves of mutas and broodlords. Your turrets and vikings will take care of the mutas just fine (you did get the turret and viking upgrades, yes?), so you only really need to worry about the broodlords. An air boss appears as well but this is not terrible to deal with. B. Kill the air This will mean that you won't have any spire units to deal with during the mission (although you will still get dropped by OLs once), but nydus worms will randomly spawn at various points of the map and send waves of units at you. And these aren't your ordinary nydus worms; they send continuous MASSIVE streams of units and sometimes appear far from your base guarded by sunkens and spores such that they are tough to take out. The streams of units are colored differently on your minimap so you know just how much you are suffering from leaving the worms alive. 6. THE LAST MISSION -------------------------------------------------- This mission made me hate SC2 for a while since I had committed to the wrong upgrades and chose to deal with nydus worms, but it won't be so bad for you if you follow my advice. This advice will cover the nydus worms version (i.e. no air, but you have to deal with nydus worms) only; you'll have to adjust for the air route although again I believe it is easier and the same principles hold. A. Build a kill zone at each choke Ah, back to SC1-style turtling play. Build bunkers backed by siege tanks at each choke. You will want to completely bunker off each choke (e.g. a marine should not be able to move to the other side of the bunkers), fill the bunkers with marauders, and then spend the rest of your supply on SCVs and tanks. By end game, your chokes should literally be packed with a monstrous number of tanks such that units other than the boss will not be able to get close. Be sure to use the merc tanks too since you'll eventually be supply capped and the merc tanks do more damage for the same supply. The two chokes should be recessed towards your base such that they do NOT cover the high ground leading to the artifact. The reason to recess the chokes is that they're close enough to your base so that your units can rally there quickly, and the tanks can cover parts of your base (e.g. such as when units are dropped into your base). This does leave the artifact exposed, but generally units will leave it alone and attack your choke instead. In later game, I build a couple of planetary fortresses and bunkers on the artifact area to protect it. You should always have 3-5 SCVs (at least) at each choke on auto-repair to repair your bunkers and tanks. And oh yeah, you did get the 2x repair upgrade I suggested yes? And you got the tank splash damage reduction too so that you tanks don't kill your bunkers and the artifact with their splash? 90% of finishing this mission successfully is just setting up a tight choke properly. B. Save the artifact use for the boss Since you will often be swarmed with nydus units when the boss appears, save your towers for when she gets near your front lines so that your forces can focus on just attacking it. I believe the tower also damages it. C. Remove the nydus worms... if you can The nydus worms appear at various parts of the map randomly. They are not destroyed by artifact use. They progressively spit out tougher units including ultralisks if they are not destroyed. They are a major reason why this mission is hard and they are not easy to remove if they appear far from your base, given that there is a vicious cycle where you have to devote more units to defense to take out the units that the nydus worms spew, which leaves you fewer units to take out the worms themselves... I used my two initial BCs plus the merc BC to go around killing nydus worms using yamato. Be careful not to let your BCs die from hydras or the boss. Apart from the BCs, you may also want to try a group of banshees or medivacs full of infantry. One thing to try is to get the marine pods calldown upgrade to send marines to the worms if you have enough barraks. You will generally want to use the artifact to clear the worms, then kill them before new units start arriving (note that this violates the earlier rule though of saving the artifact for the boss). D. Keep your BCs away from the boss You'll learn this the hard way if not, but the boss has an attack that destroys any single unit and has pretty good range. Keep your BCs away. You can try using yamato and then immediately running away, although strangely I don't find that yamato makes much of a difference in this fight. E. Build tons of SCVs You should know this already from the Big Five. You have a ton of resources in your base and will need SCVs both for mining and repair, so keep building SCVs. You may want to get the research upgrade that allows for two SCVs to be trained simultaneously. Of course, use your MULEs too; you won't need to use your scanner so just use all the energy for MULEs. F. There is one annoying OL drop to counter If you have spare minerals, start building turrets around your base after approximately the second boss attack. There is one scripted mass OL drop event that occurs, and it is annoying to deal with since you will mostly have tanks and thus no anti-air at this point. The OLs drop all sorts of stuff right into your mineral line which will cause your tanks to blow away your SCVs (you did get the friendly tank splash reduction upgrade, yes?). 7. CONCLUSION -------------------------------------------------- Hopefully this gives you enough information to beat the brutal campaign or at least make the right choices. Once you finish all the missions, you should get your nice Kerrigan portrait as well as other portraits from related achievements. Enjoy! ------------------------------------------------------------ IXA. Q&A WITH SHOCKWAVE CH9_C ------------------------------------------------------------ In response to the flood of emailed questions I've been getting, here's some details about my gaming habits in case you're interested. Most of you will find this silly and self-indulgent which is why I put this at the end of the guide :-). 1. Are you a pro player? No. I'm too old and crusty to be a hotshot SC player. Nor do I play nearly enough. My APM is typically not stellar, I violate all my own rules when playing, etc. I was a fairly reputable WoW player (I wrote one of the definitive Hunter PvP guides, captained the top-rank 5v5 arena team on my server, GM'd the 2nd rank alliance guild on my server), but for SC I am more of a theorist than a pro. I am like the basketball coach who knows a lot about strategy but would get my butt kicked on the court by most decent players. I am really not that good, seriously. 2. What race do you play? At the time of this submission, I play mostly Terran. I was a Zerg player through most of Beta. I like Zerg because of the flexibility of making drones versus units, although this makes them more difficult to play. I've always liked Terran and played them almost exclusively in SC1, even in the early days when they were horribly weak; in SC2 allied games, I particularly like how they can repair or heal allied units. 3. I notice you don't have a lot of 1on1 games in your record, why? In SC1, I was fairly addicted to the game and lost a lot of perspective on the importance of maintaining a normal balanced life. Once I started playing 1on1's any given day, it was hard to stop; e.g. friends would ask me to go see a movie with them, I'd try to play until the last minute, then I'd be in the middle of a game when I was supposed to leave for the movie and I'd miss it entirely. Those of you who are avid video gamers can probably identify with this sort of behavior. Same thing happened with WoW. For SC2, I've resolved to maintain a healthy distance from the game. Allied games create a natural limitation because I can't play if my partners aren't on, I have to quit for the day once my partners quit, and I have no feeling that I should be top diamond since this depends on the quality of my partner too whereas if I played 1v1's, I would keep playing day and night until I hit top diamond. How much time you devote to any given game or activity is of course your choice, so I am just mentioning the choice I've made for now due to my lack of self-control :-). While we're at it, though, I'll pose a simple question to help you make good decisions: Do you think that 5 years from now, you'll look back and say that your current habit was time well spent? I remember that SC1 was released around final exam time at MIT and some people were tempted to play instead of study; this to me is an example of a decision you may look back at in 5-10 years with regret. 4. Can I add you as a friend on b.net? I don't use firstname.lastname@example.org as my b.net account. Although I am flattered at the requests to friend me, I already have too many people both from the SC1 community and in real life whom I am committed to playing with. You are welcome to email me to ask me questions about the game, but I am limiting how many friends I maintain online. 5. What race do you recommend that I play? If you want the race that is currently (at the time of this guide's writing) the most powerful, play Terran. That said, up until high competition brackeets, the racial imbalances aren't very severe. If you want to play the easiest race to control, I recommend Protoss, since they the easiest build paradigm, the easiest defensive structures (e.g. cannons attack air and ground and detect), and use more expensive units so you'll generally be controlling a smaller army. Zerg is a ton of fun to play, but they're difficult for beginners to pick up because of the constant decision-making between whether to build units or drones, and because their playstyle focuses more on mobility, harassment, and flanking, which means that their units are more frail. 6. Can you write for my webpage or consult for me? I am actively involved in forum communities and such as a poster, and used to run a gaming forum during SC timeframe, but I probably do not have time to commit to anything formal for SC2. If you like my writing, I do have a real job so I probably won't accept any paid writing offers, although I can give you good recommendations for ones. 7. What do you do in real life? I'm an engineering manager at a well known gaming company. My specialization is in graphics and rendering. I will leave out the name of the company but suffice it to say, they are not a competitor to Starcraft. 8. Will you actually let me use your guide if I ask? In general, yes. If you write to me and ask for permission, I will generally give it out if your site checks out as reputable. I am (obviously) not getting paid to write this guide so my main motivation, like most gamefaq-ers, is to just to spread the word and hopefully help you all out. 9. Thanks for your guide! You're welcome! Comments like these are why I do this. ====================================================================== X. QUESTIONS? CH10 ====================================================================== You may contact me at email@example.com 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 b.net Starcraft2 forum (which I also post on): http://us.battle.net/sc2/en/forum/13436/ If you would like to contribute to this FAQ such as by giving ideas or making corrections, feel free to email me and I will incorporate those. If you would like to be credited for your contribution, please note that in your email and also the name under which you would like to be credited.