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    Beginner's Guide by shockwaveXPOW

    Version: 1.0 | Updated: 04/13/04 | Search Guide | Bookmark Guide

    Starcraft Beginner's Guide
    Revision 1.0
    Shockwave (shockwave_xpow@hotmail.com)
    Copyright 2004 by shockwave
    All trademarks and copyrights contained in this document are owned by
    their respective trademark and copyright holders.
    None of this information can be reposted anywhere outside of gamefaqs
    without my express permission.  
    V.    SCOUTING
    VII.  MAPS
          A. Cloning
    This is a beginner's guide to Starcraft, it is primarily geared
    towards players who are looking to go online and do decently well in
    multiplayer against other humans.  It is also helpful for people who
    are trying to get through the campaigns but some of the principles may
    not apply as directly since the maps and computer tactics in campaign
    play can be very different from multiplayer play.  The sort of advice
    in my guide is also generally applicable for RTS ("Real Time
    Strategy", of which Starcraft is one) games.  I won't go through my
    credentials, but hopefully this guide is written well enough to speak
    for itself and makes logical sense.
    This was posted on the Starcraft general discussion forum,
    and is reproduced here.  I would recommend visiting that forum to ask
    about specific questions.  Starcraft is a complex game and there is no
    guarantee on the quality of advice you will receive through reading
    random online guides (I guess that applies to my guide as well,
    you can be the judge).
    Here are the five basic skills that I think every new player should
    start out trying to get decently good at.
    1) Always be building peons (SCV/drone/probe) from your town hall
       (town hall (CC/hatchery/Nexus) and put the peons to use on
       minerals/gas. Don't ever stop. Your CC/Nexus should always be
       flashing, your main hatchery should always have at least one drone
       building from larva. If you need to queue up peons, do it, but try
       to avoid having to do that since it ties up resources. When you get
       gas, typically put a maximum of 4 peons on it if unless it's far
       away from your hall.
    2) Never be held back by your supply limit. Always build supply early
       enough in advance so that you're not waiting for your next
       depot/overlord/pylon. E.G. Generally you should start building your
       first depot/overlord/pylon when your supply reads 8. In later game,
       build it much earlier if you're pumping units faster.
    3) Try to keep your resources as close to zero as possible by spending
       whatever income you're getting. If you have a barraks, make sure
       it's always making marines. If it's making marines and you have
       leftover money in the bank, build another barraks or tech, expand,
       etc. Just don't let your money sit in the bank.
    4) Dont make too much static defense (cannons/ bunkers/ turrets/
       sunkens/ etc.). Build those minimally. E.G. 2-3 cannons is about
       enough for each base you have, use mobiles for the rest of your
       defense. If you follow steps 1-3 well, you should not have to build
       any static defense early. In recreational play, never incorporate
       an early sunken/cannon/bunker into your regular build, you do not
       need it. So, do not start off building a forge and cannons with
       Toss, make a gateway and zealots instead. If you're losing because
       of following this advice, ask on the forum and we'll help you
       figure out what you're doing wrong.
    5) Scout early. You'll want to use either a peon or an overlord if
       you're Zerg. When your supply reads 10, take a peon off your
       resources and send him around the map. Just hold down shift and
       click on various spots on the minimap.
    I would recommend the following steps to actually getting better at
    the game, working your way up from first computer opponents to real
    1) Go through the single player campaigns, at least the Terran one,
       they're fun and they teach you various basics. Make sure you log
       onto b.net at least once so you can get patched to the latest
       version. Don't worry too much about strategy when going through
       this; e.g. you may not be able to practice the Big Five in some
       missions if resources are limited or you're forced to build a lot
       of static defense to survive.
    2) Next, try playing some 1on1's against the computer. I would pick
       simple maps like ladder/LostTemple or Challenger. Play until you
       can beat the computer consistently. Stick with one race, I
       recommend Protoss because they have the simplest build/economy
       structure but any race is fine.
    3) Then try playing 1on1 against the computer without building any
       static defense until you can consistently beat it. Try to beat the
       computer as fast as possible, play aggressively and send your first
       units to attack when you get them, don't let any units sit in your
       base doing nothing but instead be constantly on the offensive.
    4) Get online and play against real opponents. Start by creating "1on1
       newbies only" games and kick out anyone who has an appreciable
       record, or not if you don't mind getting slaughtered. If you lose,
       save the replay, watch it, and figure out what your opponent did
       that beat you. Then try doing what he did against your next
       opponent. This way you're always copying people who are better than
       you. If you need practice, you can always play against the comp and
       get good at executing your learned strategy until you're
       comfortable with it.
    5) If you can't get online and are creaming the computer regularly,
       try adding more computers. 1on2 should be manageable without having
       to build any static defense. If you can't do 1on2, do 2on3 where
       you ally yourself with one computer.
    6) If you have specific questions about strats or things you've seen,
       post them in this forum. Do not post very generic questions like
       "How do I get better at Terran?", but rather stuff like, "My
       opponent made a bunch of wraiths in my last TvT game, I have no
       idea why but he did beat me, can you explain that strat?" Do not
       post those kinds of questions in this thread; this post's intention
       is to give a broad overview of general strats versus race-specific
       help such as counters and build orders.
    Let me explain some of the rationale behind the Big Five now. For
    basics, my philosophy is that economic management is the key to any
    RTS and thus should be the first thing you learn how to get good
    at. If you can get money in as fast as possible, and spend it as fast
    as possible, then you'll do pretty well, and that's what the Big Five
    focuses on. If on the other hand, your opponent attacks you and you
    die with 1000 minerals in the bank, that's wasted money that could
    have e.g. been another 10 zealots or what not and you may have
    survived the attack. Making peons constantly means that you are
    getting resources as fast as possible. Peons make up for their cost
    very quickly. There is a limit to the number of useful peons you can
    have especially on smaller maps since only one peon can mine minerals
    at once, but I wouldn't worry about that for now. Most newer players
    forget to make peons and thus never come anywhere close to reaching
    that point. If you are oversaturated, it's no big deal at the
    recreational level.
    At recreational level, I also believe it is more important to make
    sure you're spending your money on SOMETHING, versus fretting about
    the best unit or tactic to use. We can talk about specific tactics for
    race matchups, but that's more advanced and is likely to cause you to
    focus more on advanced stuff versus making sure you have the basics. I
    could e.g. teach you one tactic that can win you most of your newbie
    games with little effort, but that doesn't buy you much in the long
    run. Instead, for now, just make sure you build anything with your
    money so that it doesn't sit around in your bank account. Good things
    to spend your money on include: 1) more units 2) more unit-producing
    buildings like rax/gateway/hatcheries 3) upgrades 4) expansions
    (building a CC/Nexus/hatchery near another group of minerals).
    For Protoss, for example, you'll start off making probes and probably
    build your first gateway. When that gateway is done, start making
    zealots out of it while you're still making probes and pylons. At some
    point, you'll have enough money to build another gateway, an
    assimilator for gas, or a cybernetics core for tech. Doesn't matter
    what you make, just choose one of those and build it. In later game,
    the principle is usually:
    1) Look at your production buildings, make sure they're all making
       something (zealot, goon, carrier, whatever).
    2) If they are all making units and you still have enough money for
       another production building, start on one.
    It's not uncommon in later game for you to have 10 gateways by this
    principle, especially if you're playing on large maps with lots of
    As a general principle, try to avoid queueing for creating units as
    Terran/Toss, because this ties up resources. If you queue up 5 SCVs in
    your CC, that means there is 4 SCV's worth of minerals that's waiting
    to be used but is not actively being used, this is 200/0 worth of
    resources that could be going towards your next barraks or supply
    depot immediately. For a more extreme example, suppose you have one
    starport with 5 battlecruisers queued up. Four of those battlecruisers
    aren't actually being built so the queue is just tying up
    resources. You should instead have 3 starports building 1
    battlecruiser each.
    Queues are a convenience but have their drawbacks. In late game, you
    can't be producing at 100% efficiency such that you start a new unit
    everytime the previous is finished, and you'll probably have some
    surplus of resources so queueing may not tie up your resources
    significantly. But at least in early game, try to never have more than
    2 units, even if that, in your production queue.
    === V. SCOUTING
    As you do get better and start figuring out what to build, that's when
    scouting becomes important. You send an early scout out for two
    reasons. One is to start getting to know the map, even from basics
    such as whether you're on a land or island. The second is to find your
    opponent's base and get some idea of what he's doing, such as what
    race he is. In advanced play, recon is very important, as most
    decisions are not made blindly. Heavy emphasis is placed on figuring
    out some way to take a peek at what your opponent is doing and then to
    adjust what you're doing based on that.
    Static defense is all structures that have an attack. A common
    question is, "Why not build a lot of cannons and static defense?
    Cannons are great units -- they detect, fire at land and air, have
    awesome range, and straight up will kill units better than most other
    Toss units for the same cost." Cannons are deliberately made better
    than mobile units where the tradeoff is that they DON'T MOVE. You
    cannot beat your opponent by having a well defended base. A good
    opponent will see this and just leave you alone while taking expansion
    spots around the rest of the map. Remember that at your level of play,
    economics has a huge impact on winning or losing. If your opponent has
    2 bases and you have 1, it doesn't matter how well defended your base
    is, you're going to lose in the long run.
    Sadly, playing single player missions tends to encourage mass static
    defense. Building cannons works great against the computer because
    it'll just mindlessly throw forces at your cannons and get them
    slaughtered. Some single player missions are in fact very hard to beat
    without building static defense. This encourages very bad habits for
    multiplayer. The computer isn't smart enough to figure out that it
    should just ignore your cannons. You can build a bunch of tanks and
    bunkers and then go out to lunch, and when you come back the computer
    will have no units and no resources because it wasted them all against
    your defenses. Players will not do this, though.
    Getting more concrete, suppose you start out building 3 cannons
    early. That's great defense and your opponent will see this when he
    scouts you. This is good news for him though because he knows you've
    been spending money on defense versus mobile units so he's safe from
    being attacked by you. 3 cannons is a bit more cost than a Nexus, so
    this means that if you both are getting resources at the same rate, he
    can for that same money plop down a Nexus at the nearest resource node
    for free. Now you're essentially going to be fighting one base against
    two, and you will lose unless out of some miracle.
    === VII. MAPS
    I will now address the issue of map choice, as an addendum in response
    to comments below. My intention is not to make a strong statement that
    will cause controversy, but to share some knowledge that can help you
    make informed decisions.
    There are generally two broad classifications of maps, so-called
    normal maps versus money maps. Money maps have overwhelming resources,
    enough that you will never have to worry about expanding or running
    dry. This includes zero clutter map, big game hunters, and fastest
    maps. Money maps simplify the game in many ways because you can focus
    just on one base strategies. And it makes some parts of basic skills
    more challenging because, for example, it's much hardeer to keep your
    resources near zero and it's not atypical to max out on 200 supply and
    still have near infinite amount of resources. On the other hand, money
    maps tend to reward strategies that are typically not feasible in
    other games, such as turtling (building a lot of static defense) and
    teching to capital units such as carriers, i.e. "turtle & tech".
    If you folow the Big Five principle on those maps, you should still
    have an advantage over someone who does not because e.g. he builds
    many cannons. But, it is far easier at a beginner level to win by
    turtle & tech than to play conventionally, so money maps tend to favor
    these kinds of tactics at that level.
    The type of map and experience you choose for yourself is up to you,
    and e.g. the vast majority of recreational Starcraft players prefer
    money maps because those simply the game to an extent that they don't
    have to learn some aspects of the Big Five. My only strong
    recommendation is that you start with land maps, since island maps add
    a whole new level of complexity and at beginner level usually involve
    memorizing some canned build order and attack regardless of the
    One of the frustrating parts about Starcraft is learning to defend
    against rushes, i.e. very early attacks. Even new players can learn
    some build order that will work against most players since some
    attacks are easier to execute than defend against. A common one is a
    zergling rush where you don't make any drones and just build an early
    spawning pool, this is a "do or die" attack but it often works against
    recreational players. If you follow the Big Five, you should be well
    equipped to deal with any early game attack. If you are attacked
    before you have many units, use your workers for defense. If you are
    attacked and have units but don't have enough, the solution is NEVER
    to build static defense. Watch the replay and see how he got so many
    units, it's likely that he either has better economy management, or
    more unit producing structures. For example, if you build a
    cybernetics core and gas for tech and he builds 2 gateways, then you
    will probably get run over by superior forces. Just modify your build
    order next time so that you don't tech as fast, but instead make early
    units. Just remember, there is NEVER a need a to build static defense
    to stop early rushes in recreational level. You should always be able
    to adjust your build or use workers.
    If you want to learn more about advanced tactics, I would recommend
    watching replays on sites such as WGTour (
    http://www.wgtour.com/rep.php?datab=broodwar ). Just click on the
    replays and save them to your "maps" directory. Watch how the pros
    play, and ask questions on the forum about things you don't understand
    and we'll be happy to explain.
    Overall, pay attention to your resources and learn by watching your
    opponent's replays when you get beat. Ask questions on Blizzard's
    Starcraft Forums ( http://www.battle.net/forums/board.aspx?
    ForumName=sc-general ) for anything you're confused about. Check out
    the Starcraft Compendium ( http://www.battle.net/scc/ ) since it
    overall has pretty good advice. Get good at the Big Five. Watch your
    replays afterward to make sure you are actually building peons nonstop
    and that you're not letting money stockpile.  
    You may email me if you need help, but I strongly discourage that
    since you're not likely to get a prompt response.  The more appropriate
    means is to just post on Blizzard's Starcraft Forum and get an
    instantaneous response from any number of the helpful posters there.
    A. Cloning
    Cloning is one of the most often confusing topics discussed on the
    board, yet it is a fairly important technique that any beginner can
    learn with very little practice.
    Cloning is a method of coordinating simultaneous attacks, the word is
    a misnomer because you're not really duplicating a unit, it's more
    that you're getting a bunch of units to do the same thing to different
    targets. If you've ever seen the comp lockdown 12 BCs all at once and
    wonder if you can do the same, the answer is Yes and cloning is the
    technique that does this for you. This technique originated in War2
    when someone figured out how to get sappers (similar to infested
    terrans) to all charge into a base at once and then branch off and hit
    separate targets.
    Here is an explanation of the technique. I will use as an example the
    process of getting your first 4 peons most quickly to different
    minerals at the start of the game.
    1) Select all your 4 peons. 
    2) Right-click them on one mineral patch. 
    3) Immediately de-select one peon in your wireframe portraits window 
       by holding down SHIFT and clicking on one wireframe portrait. 
    4) Right-click the remaining 3 to another mineral patch. 
    5) De-select one peon again. 
    6) Right-click the remaining 2 to another mineral patch. 
    7) De-select one peon again. 
    8) Right-click the remaining peon to another mineral patch. 
    If you do this correctly, then all 4 peons will reach different
    patches at roughly the same time. Hopefully the instructions are clear
    enough that you can practice this a bit. I suggest creating a dummy
    game against the comp on slowest speed, and just try this repeatedly a
    few times until you have it down.
    Other examples 
    There are countless scenarios where cloning can allow you to do
    amazing things. Sometimes I'm even accused of using some sort of hack
    by beginner players when I use cloning techniques against them. I'll
    give some examples of where this can come in handy.
    Scourge are the most cost effective unit in the game hands down, but
    they are fairly difficult to use. If you just attack-move them,
    they'll tend to overkill units or waste themselvse on things like
    interceptors. The big problem with scourge is that they will
    overdetonate on targets. Right-click 12 scourge on one wraith and they
    may ALL detonate on the wraith even though it only takes 2 to kill it.
    It would be great if you could get your scourge to behave
    better. Cloning is an easy way to do this. Let's consider the example
    of scourge vs. wraiths. It takes 2 scourge to kill 1 wraith. Suppose
    he has 6 wraiths and you make 12 scourge. You can clone your scourge
    to kill his wraiths using the same technique above. Replace "mineral
    patch" with "wraith" and "peon" with "scourge". The only trick is that
    you want 2 scourge per wraith, not 1, so we'll modify the technique a
    bit. Assume you can somehow see the wraiths, either because you have
    parasite or they're attacking something of yours. You do need a little
    distance to do this unless you're really fast or are playing on a slow
    speed, so I would start about a screen+1/2 away.
    1) Select all 12 scourge. 
    2) Right-click them all on one wraith. 
    3) Deselect one scourge. 
    4) Deselect one scourge. 
    5) Right-click the remaining 10 onto another wraith. 
    6) Repeat 3-5 until you have no scourge left. 
    You can also do this against bigger targets such as carriers. I'll
    take 12 scourge, right-click on one carrier, deselect 6 scourge,
    right-click the remaining on the next carrier. Etc. If you're worried
    about your scourge getting shot down before they reach their targets,
    just add 1 more scourge per target than necessary. 3 per wraith or
    muta, 6 per carrier or BC, etc.
    As I mentioned above, you can get ghosts to lockdown targets
    simultaneously with this technqiue too. Suppose you're fighting
    against BCs. Comsat to see where the battlecruiers are, and replace
    "peon" with "ghost" and "mineral patch" with "battlecruiser" in the
    above rules. Hit "L" and tell all your ghosts to lockdown one
    battlecruiser, then deselect one and tell the rest to lockdown
    another, then deselect one and tell the rest to lockdown another,
    etc. In detail:
    1) Comsat where his BCs are. 
    2) Select your 12 ghosts. 
    3) Press "L" for lockdown and click on one BC. 
    4) Deselect one ghost. 
    5) Repeat 3-4 until you have no ghosts left. 
    I will also use this occasionally for scouting, particularly in team
    games, if I want to get a bunch of cheap units to go to different
    areas of the map without much effort. For example, with zergling:
    1) Select your 12 zergling. 
    2) Right-cilck them soemwhere on the mini-map where you want to explore. 
    3) Deselect one zergling. 
    4) Repeat 2-3 until you have no zergling. 
    If you have burrow, this is even better. I'd hotkey my zergling to
    some temporary hotkey before sending them off, then wait until I see
    they've reached their destination on the minimap, then select them
    with my hotkey and hit "U" to burrow them wherever they are all at
    You can also do this with vultures and spider mines to get them to all
    lay mines at different locations. After you're done cloning, re-select
    your vultuers, hold down shift, and click back to your base. This will
    make your vulturse all speed out to their destinations, lay their
    mines, then run back home afterward.
    In detail: 
    1) Hotkey your 12 vultures to 5. 
    2) Select all your vultures. 
    3) Hit "I" and click on some spot on the minimap. 
    4) Deselect one vulture. 
    5) Repeat 3-4 until you have no vultures. 
    6) Hold down shift and click back to your base. 
    Another annoying uses 
    I'll also use this with BCs on the rare occasions I have them. Let's
    say I'm planning to attack a base but see some scary things
    there. I'll comsat the base, then clone my BCs to yamato different
    If I'm playing Zerg and want to humiliate my opponent, I'll sometimes
    build a fleet of queens, parasite his drone or SCV in his base, and
    then clone the queens to spawn broodling his peons.
    If I have SVs and am playing against Zerg, I'll comsat where I think
    Zerg units are, and clone my SVs to irradiate different
    targets. Irradiate is cheap so you should definitely try this out a
    few times. This is absolute murder to him. Suppose he has 6 ultras
    sitting around nearby, and I have 6 SVs. I can use the technique
    similar to with vultures and mining to get the SVs to irradiate
    different ultras and then run back to base.
    For ZvZ, scourge use is absolutely critical since ZvZ is typically all
    about air power and map control with mutas. Scourge use often
    determines who wins this matchup. I would suggest just cloning one
    scourge per muta. This doesn't kill the muta, but it does bring it
    down to a measily 10 health. Your other units can then take care of
    his near-dead mutas. One easy way to clone is to have scourge ready,
    then bait your opponent into attacking some unit. For example, I'll
    leave an exposed spore colony somewhere near my base, or some
    overlords. Once the mutas start attacking, I'll immediately clone my
    scourge from hopefully nearby. If you do this right and take 12 of his
    mutas down to 10 hp each in early game, it's pretty much GG to him
    because there is little he can do to recover until he can get hive and
    convert those into full-health guards or devourers.
    Using comsat to spot for cloning lockdowns or what not is very handy,
    as the ghosts will still clone even after the comsat wears off if they
    have not reached their targets by then. However, if you are using
    comsat to target burrowed or cloaked units, your clone will abort with
    an error once the comsat wears off, so you may have to re-comsat to
    maintain your lock. Also, if your targets move significantly after you
    lose sight, you may not get your clone off. This is because if a unit
    is given a target and sight is removed, the unit will go to the last
    known position of the target.
    I hope this has given you some taste of the wonderful world of cloning
    in SC. In Warcraft3, the computer will clone for you -- if you tell 12
    ghosts to lockdown one BC, only 1 will do so. In SC, since we don't
    have this capability, you'll just have to do it yourself manually.
    Cloning opens up a whole world of possibilities to even the beginner
    player, and is something that can be practiced and learned fairly
    quickly. Again, if you need practice, just play against the comp on
    slowest speed and try cloning your first 4 peons to separate
    patches. If you get good at this, gradually raise the speed until you
    can clone on fastest. Then try it in different in-game situations.

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