Its been a little over 12 years since Blizzard introduced Starcraft to the world. Besides making them millions and subjugating a small country, Starcraft set the bar for near perfect balance in a strategy game. Over a decade later a Starcraft killer is finally here, and it's in the final stages of beta. If you haven't been playing Starcraft in that interim decade, or if you've never played at all, these posts are designed to put you back on a somewhat level playing field with the world of Starcraft junkies that HAVE been playing the whole time.
Starcraft strategy is divided into two categories: macro and micro. Macro is concerned with your overall economy. This includes resource output, base building, unit building, and research. Micro is specific unit control. For example, focus firing key enemy units down, keeping your ranged units in the back and melee to the front, and using special abilities. For now, we'll focus on macro.
There are five generally accepted principles that govern efficient play. I've taken these from a great thread on Battle.net authored by player who calls himself Shockwave(xpow). The descriptions are my own.
- Never stop building peons (SCVs, Probes, or Drones). From the moment you start the game, your HQ should be pumping out peons. Once the mineral field reaches the saturation point, you should be shipping them over to your expansion. Try to never have more then 1 unit in the build queue at any given time.
- Never be held back by your supply limit. You should be building pylons/supply depots/overlords right before you need them. Keep an eye on your supply ratio throughout the game, and start building accordingly. Early you can wait until you're within two or three of hitting the cap, but later on you should be leaving yourself a lot more room for growth.
- Try to keep your resource counts as close to zero as possible. This is the most important principle of good macro. Your barracks/gateways/hatcheries should always be pumping units. If you have resources left over after queuing up a unit build another barracks or tech rather then queuing up the second unit. Never leave money in the bank, always put it to work as soon as you get it.
- Don't build too much static defense. In most cases, units will provide a better defense then static defensive structures. If you have to build them, never build more then two or three. This is more of a problem going from the single player where masses static defense is encouraged, to the multiplayer where it just slows you down.
- Scout early, scout often. Typically you send the peon you build your first supply depot/pylon with to scout, or an overlord if you're Zerg. Remember, shift+right-click sets waypoints for your unit to follow. The further along you get into the game, the more vital scouting becomes. Knowing what your opponent is doing is the best weapon you can have.
These five principles will make you a better player. I can guarantee it.
Over the next couple weeks I'll expand on these points and go into the nuts and bolts of economy and starting build orders. If you want to learn about advanced strategy and more high level strategy, I highly recommend checking out the TeamLiquid forums.
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