14 ways to win at StarCraft II

Quintin Smith also contributed to this article.

So you’ve got access to the StarCraft II beta, but you suck. The Zerg swarm your base within seconds. Your economy never grows fast enough for you to build more than a few marines. If you do manage to survive longer than five minutes, you discover your enemies have three bases each while you’re still stuck at home. Battle.net has become the school playground all over again, right down to the kids who call you names which are definitely not your real name.

Don’t feel bad, chum. It’s not your fault. StarCraft II is hard in ways other real-time strategy games aren’t. Where expanding your base in Supreme Commander 2 is a useful tactic, only in StarCraft’s multiplayer crucible is it essential, and while almost any strategy game can be won with a quick rush, only StarCraft’s ghastly Zerg are famous for it.

In fact, only StarCraft players ever become famous for their ridiculous strategy gaming skills, because it requires a level of skill other game’s don’t dare ask of their players. The sequel is still being nurtured through the beta stage by Blizzard, but its principles are already in place, and they’re much the same. Enter an online match of StarCraft II without attack plans, counters and build orders already in mind, and you will be almost instantly ruined.

So it’s time to get good. It won’t happen overnight, or even just by playing it. You’re going to have to read about it, think about it, make lists and hone your mind till you’re a sleek, focused StarCraft II mouse-clicking machine. All you need is a guide to help you get there. This guide.

In the following pages we explore the principles of StarCraft II, guide you through the strengths and weaknesses of its units and give you the strategies you need to get better, fast.

Note: While the following tips are separated into Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced sections, this is just the foundation for not totally sucking. Just because you can do all 14 tips, doesn't mean you're a pro. Happy hunting.