A Beginner’s Guide to StarCraft 2!

Everything you need to know about Blizzard’s RTS game

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Hello there! If you’re on this page, you’ve probably just purchased a copy of StarCraft 2 and you’re looking to quickly get started laddering and having fun with the game.

Or, you’ve heard your friends talking about StarCraft 2 and would like to join the action as well!

No matter what, welcome to StarCraft 2! My name is Scruffy and I’ll tell you everything you need to know about StarCraft 2 before you get started.

First off, if you haven’t bought the game yet, check out this unofficial buyer’s guide.

Since there are 3 different StarCraft expansions, many people end up getting really confused on which one to buy, so it’s important we get that out of the way first 🙂

Alright, now let’s get started!

The basics

In the real-time strategy game StarCraft 2, you get to choose a race from the 3 that are available.

You have Terran, the human race. Zerg, the weird creepy aliens, and Protoss, the ancient wizards. I’ll go into more details about the 3 races later on.

A screenshot of a Protoss vs Terran fight in StarCraft 2
The main objective of this game is pretty simple: kill the opponent’s structures/units and you win.

But there’s a lot to do before you can even start killing the opponent!

The most important thing in StarCraft 2 is macro (which basically refers to unit production)

Macro is what the game is all about! I’ll tell you some more about macro later on in this post.

At the start of a game, you have exactly 12 workers, who will help you mine the blue crystals called ‘Minerals’.

Using minerals, you will be able to build more workers, buildings and of course units.

However, for some structures or units, you will also need Vespene gas, which you can extract from Vespene gas geysers (see that green gas beside the blue minerals in the picture below?)

StarCraft 2 Base

You’ll need a structure on top of these geysers to extract the gas for you, which can be built with minerals.

This game also has a supply cap. That means that you need to keep building supply structures or for the Zerg, units.

At the beginning of the game, you will need to build a supply unit/structure for you to be able to continue building workers and units.

Try to keep building up supply so that you don’t get supply blocked later on in the game. The maximum amount of supply you can have is 200.

Now that you know a little more about the basics, let’s go into the deets of the 3 races!

Terran

Nice job picking Terran! They are the human race in this game. You’ll get to control a race with actual humans in gigantic space suits, as well as various robots and spaceships!

Terran
Overview: Harass heavy, cost effective units, vulnerable to production harassment, the goal is to harass and contain your opponent while building up a bigger force.

Here’s a website that introduces you to the basics of the Terran race: Click (Warning: Could be a little outdated.)

Zerg

So you’ve picked Zerg huh? Good choice! You’ll probably be having a lot of fun controlling the monstrous Zerg army.

Zerg
Overview: Macro heavy, less than cost effective units, however the fastest production, vulnerable to worker harassment, goal is to outmacro your opponent to overwhelm them with units.

I recommend reading this guide about the basics of Zerg: Click (Warning: Could be a little outdated.)

Protoss

Nice! You picked the race which LotV (Legacy of the Void) is all about. You’ll be controlling a Protoss army with very cool lasers and forcefields.

Protoss
Overview: Macro heavy, expensive but cost effective units, vulnerable to early pressure. The goal is to create an unstoppable late game army and fight with your “death ball”.

The basics of this race can be found here: Click (Warning, can be outdated)

Now keep in mind that you can play all 3 races multiple ways, this is just a VERY basic general overview.

All races have their strengths and weaknesses, so the choice is yours to decide.

Macro and Micro

In this post, you’ve probably seen me using these terms here and there. But what exactly are they?

Macro and Micro specify two techniques you must master in order to be successful when playing StarCraft 2.

Macro

Macro refers to everything involved with building a base, spending resources, creating units, and managing supply.

The player with better macro usually ends up with a bigger army than the other player.

Micro

Micro, at its most basic level, is controlling the units of your army individually and precisely.

Yes, it sounds simple. But as armies grow to dozens upon dozens of units, this gets more and more difficult to do!

To help you understand how micro can really change the tide of a battle, watch this short video:

In the video, you see the Terran player ByuN continually kiting back his Vikings (a Terran aircraft that has a strong anti-air attack ) in order to whittle down the Protoss army without suffering any damage.

I strongly encourage you to focus on macro first, because:

  •  Most of the time the player with the bigger army wins
  • Getting good at micro can take a while, it’s usually easier to practice macro

Now that the basics have been covered, let’s move into some general gameplay tips!

Quick tips

  • Go to Options > Gameplay and enable Build Grid, Enemy Unit Selection and disable Simple Command Cards. You might also want to enable in-game clock.
  • Learn to use attack move. This is done by issuing an attack command (A on the keyboard) to the ground. Your units will try to reach that location while also automatically fighting any opponent units on the way.
  • Only use the hotkeys for building units and buildings. Don’t ever click the bottom right icon of a unit or a building. It is simply too slow!
  • Learn how to use control groups. Control groups allow you to assign a group of units to a number (0 to 9) for easy access. If you assign your main army to the control group 1, then every time you press 1 on your keyboard, your main army will be selected. You can create a control group by selecting the units you want to be added to the control group and pressing Control + 1.
  • Learn to use shift for queueing commands (done by holding down shift while givings commands) Then you can, for example, send your worker to make a building and then shift-queue it to go back to mining minerals once it has completed the building.
  • Spend your resources. Good macro is a combination of mining a lot of resources (aka making workers) and then spending those resources. If you find yourself having hundreds of minerals or gas start spending them immediately.
  • Mentality. Your losses are because of your own mistakes, remember that. This might sound a bit stupid right now, but after losing a couple of games you might be tempted to blame it on game imbalance, your opponent’s race or his playstyle. Don’t do this!

Further reading

Conclusion

Alright, that should be it! If you have any more questions feel free to ask in the comments below 🙂

At first, this game will feel overwhelming. Everyone gets that feeling. So keep things simple and do not be discouraged.

Good luck and have fun on the battlefield, commander!

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