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Starcraft 2 Guide for Newbies

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  • Starcraft 2 Guide for Newbies

    I thought I'd start a little guide for those newbies to either Starcraft 2 specifically, the Starcraft series in general, or even RTSs as a genre. Feel free to contribute your own tips and strategy as well. Feel free to skip around I believe there's enough for everyone to learn something. I, myself have had many troubles with RTS games in general. It can be a very unforgiving and unfriendly genre for a newbie. Hopefully this will help those get comfortable enough to start playing competitive and avoid a lot of those long awaited epiphanies.

    New to the RTS Genre
    RTS stands for Real Time Strategy. Unlike other particular genres, skill is not determined by your actual ability, reflexes (in most cases) or ability to aim well. You will never be able to make your character escape an effective counter. In a first person shooter you're able to take out an enemy through shear ability alone. In an RTS, if your enemy has units that are an effective counter to your units, you will lose. RTS games are all about minimizing your losses, and manufacturing conditions for your win (ie. choosing the effective counters to your enemy's units). Counters are everything in an RTS. Think of it like a giant game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. Paper covers Rock, Scissors cuts paper, but Rock smashes Scissors. What would be weak in one situation is effective in others.

    Protoss Zealots are an effective counter to Terran Marauders.
    Zerg Roaches are an effective counter to Zealots.
    Terran Marauders are an effective counter to Zerg Roaches.

    A great way to learn about counters is to try out the first three challenges (one for each race) under the single player tab.

    The Numbers Game
    Unlike other strategy games, Starcraft 2 is a Real Time Strategy game, and unlike games such as Dawn of War 2, base management is more than half the game. Whenever you're dealing with the base this is called 'macro' as apposed to dealing with your individual units on the front lines which is called 'micro'.

    Base management in this game relies on a few things: a steady economy, a proper tech tree, and spending resources. What you do in the early game really dictates the shape of your economy later on. Will you have enough vespene gas to match your mineral count? Are you always waiting on more supply structures to help build your army? Build orders are essential to the early game, get a formula down (ie. 3 builders, supply structure, builder, barracks). This is the solid foundation to the rest of the game which will be dictated more on the choices you make.

    Think ahead and plan accordingly. If your enemy is amassing air units, you'll need some anti-air. Again think with counters. Do you need to build a starport? You're going to need to build a factory first, and you need enough resources for both the structures and the units to come.

    Spend smartly. Numbers matter and even an effective counter will lose to pure numbers. Counters give you the edge however and if you're economy is in good shape you should have a good counter in mind. Getting rushed by zealots? Time to hatch some roaches. Keep in mind upgrades are there to make sure your counters are even more effective. Overloaded with minerals? Train some marines, add to your firepower, improve your defenses, curb your resource gap. It might be time to invest in that expansion and start increasing your economy.

    The Two Golden Rules:
    1) Don't stop building workers. Simply put your workers are your investment, they will gather resources and cost a very small fraction of the cost, they are always always always worth the investment. If you're not training workers, you'd better be saving up for something.
    2) Don't stop working on your base. I'm probably the worst offender of this. Players tend to focus on their army on the offense so much they neglect their base management duties. Amassing resources that go unspent, structures going unbuilt, tech trees not climbed, all bode very bad for you. While you might be winning early game with an offensive push, you will lose the game to that air raid later on.

    The best tip I can give is to learn from your mistake. Don't be afraid to lose but try not to lose the same way twice. If you got your butt handed to you, don't be afraid to save a replay and watch what they did right. Try to emulate this and see if it meets success. Watch a battle between two insane AIs and try to learn why they're so effective. In a 2v2, try looking to your partner, watching what they do if you're a newbie.

    If you're not comfortable playing online yet, feel free to play through the single player. Starcraft 2 does an excellent job of teaching you the skills you'll take on to the multiplayer arena through each single player mission.

    Most importantly, have fun. RTS games are games and if you're not having fun, don't force it, but don't be afraid to step out of your shell and push yourself.

  • #2
    Re: Starcraft 2 Guide for Newbies

    Pro Tip: Learn to use hotkeys!

    Hotkeys and control groups can be the difference in winning and losing a battle as they allow you to do more better, and faster. For instance, if you control group (ctrl+#) your army to 1 and you get attacked in your base. You can press 1 and then move them to your base without having to manually select them all in one part of the map and then move your screen to your base and move them there. You can also attack move and move just by clicking on the mini-map. So, if you're doing some base harass and your opponent does the same to you, just 1 A and click on your base in the mini-map without ever moving the screen off of your harassment. Of course, you should also move your workers away but this is just a basic example.

    Also, learn to place buildings onto control groups too. This way you can pay attention to your army in a large battle and macro (create units) at the same time without ever moving your screen to your base. Say you're terran and you're in a battle. You need to pay attention to your army to stim at the right time and micro your siege tanks to hit the biggest blob of units to win the battle but you don't want to fall behind in unit production. So, you set your barracks to control group 4 and your factories to control group 5. Now, all you have to do is hit 4 ddddaaaaa and 5 sss and your next wave of reinforcements is in it's production cycle. All of this done while you're paying attention to the battle at hand.

    This then brings me to hotkeys. Hotkeys are things like a for attack move z to create zealots, and sd to select larvae and create drones. Learning these hotkeys can make your macro a lot quicker and help keep your minerals and gas low. If you always have to look at the pictures and click on them you lose about a second or more just to create that unit as opposed to simply hitting e to create that probe or pylon which simply takes milliseconds.

    Personally, I will typically run with my control group setups as 1 = Hatchery/Nexus/Command Center, 2 = Army, 3 = Special units (i.e. High Templar/Air), 4 = Production Structure/Special Units, 5 = Production Structure, 6 = Production Structure/Upgrades, 7 = Upgrades, 8,9,0 = Whatever else is needed

    Remember that you can group multiple buildings together in SC2 so you don't need to worry about having multiple hotkeys for the same building. You can also TAB through buildings and units to switch through their abilites. i.e. you have marines and ghosts in a control group. You can hit tab to select your marines' ability which is stim and then hit tab to start sniping or using EMP with your ghost. The same can be done with buildings. If you have your barracks and factory together, you can hit tab to select unit production between your barracks and factory.

    Other random tips:
    • MULEs can be called down on the mineral patches themselves and will automatically start mining.
    • SCVs and MULEs can be set to auto repair by right clicking the repair icon (NOTE: they won't go out of their way to repair something if you've already given them an order. They must be idle before starting to repair).
    • Once your morph your gateways into warpgates, you don't need to set them on a control group and can simple hit W to select them all.
    • Warp prisms can be used to power buildings just like pylons.
    • Xel-naga watchtowers are insanely helpful!
    • Thors and collosus can be transported by medivacs and warp prisms respectively.
    • EMP works on ANYTHING with energy/shields. This includes buildings like orbital commands and the Nexus
    • Infestors can cast the infested terran ability while burrowed.
    • Many players on the ladder will be nice enough to help tell you what you could've done better to not lose. If you ever lose a game ask for one tip that could've helped you do better. You may get a response. (Don't waste their time doing this though, just ask a simple question and be done with it, you can always watch the replay and find out yourself).
    • Reactor cores take about the same time to build as the main building itself, decide if you want to wait for that or just create another building. Sometimes to have an early army advantage, decisions like these are necessary.
    • Learn the unit counters, hit F12 and the click on protoss/zerg/terran units and find out what they are all good and bad against.
    • Static defence turtling or large army aggression, choose one or the other, not both.

    Damnit Blizzard, fix ZvT already >.<
    In Soviet Russian, Arma admins are nice to you!


    • #3
      Re: Starcraft 2 Guide for Newbies

      Keep it commin'. If you haven't checked out yet, it is a gold mine for information. I wish I'd have remembered the amount of good information I read there so I could put it here. This is all good stuff.


      • #4
        Re: Starcraft 2 Guide for Newbies

        One of the best ways to get better in any RTS is by watching replays, which can be found Here. RTS Sanctuary (Previously Agesanctuary) is a dependable site with many expert players - Many of the top AoE3 players (Flooky, Kiljardi, Samewise12, Victor_Swe, Mayh3m, Challe, luigi, and more), and supposedly many of the top DoW players as well however I do not know much about that series.

        Former TG-21st
        Swift Mobile On Target


        • #5
          Re: Starcraft 2 Guide for Newbies

          On the note of replays, watch the day 9 daily either live at 7 PDT almost every day here or on demand here. He is a great random player that knows a lot about the game and can help anybody, bronze to diamond, in terms of improving their gameplay.

          Damnit Blizzard, fix ZvT already >.<
          In Soviet Russian, Arma admins are nice to you!




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