Monday, January 10, 2011

Pros and Cons of the Starcraft 2 Races

How would you describe the Pros and Cons of the different Races in Starcraft 2? I.e. which Race has stronger Air-to-Air Units? Which can adapt faster to enemy tactics? Which has the strongest Defense? etc.

CW as this Question is obviously subjective.

  • Zerg: Macro heavy. High number of units, requires less micro to be effective. Focus on expanding and being ahead in resource game. Highly maneuverable (creep highways, overlord transports, unit speed upgrades).

    Terran: Micro heavy (notice that almost every terran unit has an ability, or requires specialized micro). Strong static defense. Can be effective in few units if micro'ed (think tanks, ghosts, hellion micro, Marine Marauder Medic ball). Medium cost. Low maneuverability (seige mode, thors) without transports.

    Protoss: Strong units with high hp but with high cost. Medium micro. Select abilities are useful (sentries, blink, templar). Medium maneuverability with warp gates and speed upgrades (charge, blink).

    Lotus Notes : I was under the impression that Protoss were more micro heavy than Terran. You're simply going to be casting more spells constantly throughout the battle than Terran even has available. Psi storm, gravitron beam, force field, guardian shield, feedback... the list goes on.
    Mark : I agree with @Carl I think Protoss is the most micro heavy because there are so many spells to cast. With the exception of very few units, they all have some cast-able ability. While I agree about Zerg being Macro heavy, there is a lot of micro between burrowing individual units, burrowed banelings, infestors, etc.
    From Calvin
  • Since this is a very large topic I'm going to try and break it down in to a series of sections

    1. Macro Mechanic (one of the new Features in SC2)
    2. Unit production and Tech tree
    3. Expanding
    4. Harassment
    5. Defenses
    6. Unit compositions - ability to adapt
    7. Upgrades
    8. Air

    I broke up my answer into a series of race specific answers. You can find them here:

    Ivo Flipse : Perhaps it would be better to split them up into three answers for the three different classes. Then the OP can direct link from the question body ;-)
    dbemerlin : Excellent answer, i doubt anyone could add much to this so i accepted it now. Too bad that it's CW, you'd deserve points for this.
    tzenes : I might break them up just so they can be linked to more easily. I don't have the time to take care of it right now though. @dbemerlin if you really believe I deserve rep I have dozens of great answers to other Starcraft 2 questions you can look at. I am sure many of them are deserving of +1s.
    Regent : Wow, you really wrote an article! +1
    tzenes : @Regent I cut down a lot of it, partly for space economy and partly for redundancy. When i first saw this question I thought maybe it was too big a topic, but I'm more satisfied with my answer now.
    Jason : these are great summaries. my question is, there are already professional SC2 players?!
    tzenes : @Jason Greg "IdrA" Fields, Dan "Artosis" Stemkoski, Jonathan "Jinro" Walsh, Dario "The Little One" W√ľnsch, and Aleksey "Whitera" Krupnyk, just to name a few.
    Jason : @tzenes i actually watched a "the little one" match today. HA!
    tzenes : @Jason he's awesome to watch, but not helpful for learning how to play.
    From tzenes
  • Zerg

    One of my all time favorite races. I think the thing I enjoy the most about the Zerg is the idea of them. Nothing to do with actual play style or units, but rather the idea of a ravenous horde constantly adapting. Unkillable.

    Macro Mechanic

    The macro mechanic for the Zerg in SC2 is based around the queen. Traditional Zerg production is based on larva (as discussed in section 2). Larva are in turn produced from the Hatchery structure. To increase larval production in Starcraft and Broodwars meant building additional Hatcheries. This is revolutionized in Starcraft 2 by the addition of the queen. Unlike traditional Zerg units, the queen is build directly from the Hatchery (similar to other races unit production) and has the ability to infuse the hatchery with additional Larva. The result is that Zerg play becomes largely focused around unit production. As one of these units is the Drone, this often leads to heavy macro style play as zerg economy becomes exponential based on the production rate of drones. While this macro heavy style is facilitated it is not the most common style of zerg play. The other alternative is to devote this extra larva production to units. This leads to massive forces produced very quickly. Finally the queen has two other abilities to add tension to this mechanic (which will be discussed in sections 4 and 6). Because larva injection is a blocking operation (only 1 per hive at a time), this macro mechanic is often criticized as being the hardest to use (though I might say the Protoss one is on par).

    Unit Production and Tech Tree

    Zerg unit production has not changed since Broodwar. Units are still morphed from larva. Larva are still produced from hatcheries (though faster with the queen). There are still units produced from other units, most notably banelings and broodlords. The Zerg tech tree is far more linear than its Protoss and Terran equivilents. It can easily be broken up into "Tiers" based around upgrading the Hatchery. The result is that high tech takes an extra delay as this upgrade must be built and it is more vulnerable as player rarely upgrade more than one Hatchery (there is no additional benefit). Many players will say that the Zerg has the most flexible tech tree as all units are built from a single structure. While this is true, the flexibility is countered by each building adding only 1 new unit (with the exception of the Spire) and costing a drone which further reduced resource production. The result is that late game change in composition is easy, where as early game it is nearly impossible.


    At 350 Minerals (300+50 to replace the drone) the Zerg have the cheapest resource gathering building. The result is that expanding with Zerg becomes very easy. In fact, it has become so easy that it is vital in many strategies. Since Zerg units hit their strength in the midgame (section 6) which tend to be high in gas. It is often a popular move for a Zerg to take a new expansion and immediately saturate the gas (build two gas production buildings and assign 3 workers to each) before the minerals. The result is an influx of an otherwise rare resource (most comparisons rate gas as being 2.5 minerals in value). It is worth noting that many macro style Zerg strategies (section 1) require very early expansions (sometimes called FE for fast expansion) for a massive boost to the economy (doubling larval production as well). Its worth noting that most people believe that Zerg must control one more expansion than their opponent to be effective. Though the advent of the queen has lead to a number of 1 base strategies (no expansion), expanding is still very common play for Zerg.


    As others have mentioned Zerg are an extremely mobile force. This mobility is boosted by a number of upgrades (Zergling, Baneling, Roach, Overlord), the addition of easy creep production (Creep Tumors and Overlords), and the advent of the Nydus Network. The Nydus Canal was a building in Starcraft 1 which allowed Zerg to connect any two points on the map (provided they had creep). In Starcraft 2 ALL Nydus Canals are connected to each other (leading to the connection of N points on the map). Additionally, Nydus Canals no longer require creep to be built on and even produce creep. The result is even slow units (Hydralisks) can become extremely mobile and Zerg are able to field large armies in rapidly different sections of the map. To complement this, creep now acts as a speed boost to Zerg. Any Zerg units on creep naturally move faster. Additionally, some Zerg units are penalized for being off creep (Queens). This is further bolstered by the fact that Overlords can produce creep starting at Tier 2 (the upgrade of the Hatchery to the Lair). Additionally, Queens can produce what are called Creep Tumors. These Tumors must be built on creep but readily spread creep. While this may seem lackluster, the tumors are also cloaked and able to produce more tumors. The result is that Zerg often construct creep highways which are expensive for opponents to destroy. Zerg has some of the most mobile units in the game. All Tier 1/1.5 units can receive speed upgrades (Zergling, Baneling, Roach) making them the fastest land units in the game (Zerglings). The Mutalisk (by comparison) is the fastest Air unit in the game. Its high mobility has lead to the technique of Muta-Harass, where Mutalisks attack workers in Guerrilla style fashion and devastate opposing economies. Mutalisks are so effective at this that both Terran and Protoss have specific units for countering them (Section 8).


    Zerg are often criticized as having the weakest defense in the game relying more heavily on units. This is an exaggeration. Zerg receive an early unit (the Queen) which has good air and ground defense as well as having a powerful heal for both units and defensive structures. Additionally, Zerg defensive structures can be uprooted and reused. The result is a very cost effective defense force. While in Starcraft 1 the production of defensive structures was often seen as admission of a mistake, in Starcraft 2 professional players feel free to build them liberally, using them to both augment forces as well as control the map.

    Unit Composition

    Zerg production rates mean that compositions are often dictated by resource gathering more than anything else. The result is compositions with both Gas heavy elements and Mineral "dumps." This usually lead to compositions like: Hydra/Roach, Ling/Muta, Infestor/ling/bane, bane/ling/ultra and so on. When constructing a force a Zerg player is often forced to think "Where do I want to spend my gas?" The answer to this question often dictates her strategy (Zerg get the feminine pronoun for Kerrigan). One of the major problems with Zerg unit compositions is the lack of any real anti-air until Tier 2. This is a result of the fact that the Queen is the only unit that can attack air before Tier 2 (Hydralisk/Muta/Corruptor at Tier 2). This may force players to tech up faster or build excess defensive structures to deal with early air harassment. While the initial Zerg units tend to be fierce, Zerg don't hit the strength of their force until Tier 2. The advent of high damage Hydralisks and effective harass of Mutalisks often make the mid game the strongest part of the Zerg offensive.


    Zerg have a high number of unit specific upgrades. These usually consist of speed, burrowing, or increase of another ability. Additionally certain units can be upgraded into other units (Zerglings into Banelings, Corruptors into Broodlords). By comparison Zerg have the fewest basic damage upgrades (5 on par with Protoss). This usually leads forces to either be designed around Ranged Damage, Ground Damage or Air so as to share these effectively.


    Zerg air is the most powerful or least powerful depending on who you speak to. Zerg Mutalisks are the fastest air units, Zerg Corruptors are very good Air to Air units (better than vikings worse than phoenix), and Broodlords are an absolutely devastating unit in their own right providing unmatched air to ground. The Broodlords in particular are such a powerful unit. The Broodlord is designed around the traditional Gaurdian from Starcraft 1. A long range air unit that does high damage to ground units. To further bolster this, when a Broodlord attacks it produces a broodling. This is a weak ground attacking unit. While the broodling does additional damage, the most effective part is that enemy AI will target it over the Broodlord. Additionally, broodlings will physically block enemy anti air forces from attacking the Broodlord. Many professional players say that even if you took away the broodling's damage, the Broodlord would be just as effective.

    tzenes : Good catch on Canals vs Channels
    From tzenes
  • Protoss

    "For destruction, Ice is also great; and would suffice."

    The changes made to Protoss between Starcraft Broodwars and Starcraft 2 have lead to a race with a completely different feel. Based around the Warpgate Protoss forces easily resupply in mid combat with some of the toughest units in the game. Known for valuing quality over quantity the Protoss force tends to be small but powerful.

    Macro Mechanic

    The Protoss macro mechanic is the Chrono Boost. This ability allows any building to increase the rate at which it is performing by 50%. This includes research and unit production. As a result Protoss can quickly upgrade and progress up the tech tree or produce strong forces on the fly. This is perhaps the hardest macro mechanic to use, not because of the tension (deciding what to use it on), but remembering to use it. Especially in late games you will see Protoss Nexus with unused Chronoboost.

    Unit Production

    While back in Starcraft 1 Protoss were unique in that their buildings built themselves without the help of a worker (once started), this has further been augmented in Starcraft 2 to allow the same production of Units! Warpgates allow for the production of Gateway units (Zealot, Stalker, Sentry, High Templar, Dark Templar) anywhere on the map where the Protoss has power (anywhere they could build a building). This is further bolstered by the Warp Prism which allows power to be distributed anywhere it can move to (which as a flying unit is anywhere). The result is unparalleled map control. The ability to field a force where ever, whenever and reinforce it. This also lead to Protoss builds being heavily Gateway unit dependent. The Protoss techtree then usually looks like a thick trunk with 2 or 3 major branches. This trunk is the large bulk of gateway units, which are later supplemented by units from the Robotics Factory or Starport (or more Gateways). This also leads to a "Sim City" style of play, where Protoss players seek to produce a high number of Gateways (to turn into Warpgates). Its also worth mentioning that Warpgates decrease build times.


    Protoss expansion is fairly easy because new Nexus can be warped in and probe production can be boosted by Chrono Boost. Additionally, the ever flexible Photon cannon leads to cheep but effective defense. Finally, the presence of power around new expansions means that a Protoss player can respond to Harassment almost immediately. Without having to wait on the bulk of his forces.


    Protoss actually have a verity of tools at their disposal for harassment. The Charge upgrade for Zealots, in addition to providing the Charge spell, is also a movement speed upgrade. This allows your Zealots to work as an effective harassment force. Stalkers are fast to begin with, but also benefit from Blink as it allows them to bypass cliffs (in a manner similar to Reapers). Both of these are excellent harassing units right out of the Gateway, but Protoss' real harassment power comes from the Warpgate/Warp Prism combo. Warp Prism functionality is fairly straight forward: Move to an area, activate Prism to produce power, warp in units. What people frequently forget is that units can be loaded into the Warp Prism as it is a transport. This means you can drop an Immortal (or other ground unit) in the back of someone's base and then Deploy the Prism for reinforcements. Alternatively you can Deploy and warp in units and then load them up when the Opponent brings back troops to defend. The Warp Prism is a very versatile and often underused unit. Additionally, Phoenix work very effective as a harassment unit. Their ability to shoot and move provides air dominance over a number of other air units, but it is the Graviton Beam that really makes the Phoenix shine. This allows a Phoenix to lift workers so that other Phoenix can shoot them (remember workers are light armored units). Finally, the Voidray is often used as a harassment unit due to its ability to quickly destroy buildings. 2 or 3 Voidrays will make short work of a Command Center/Nexus/Hatchery often times before reinforcements can arrive. Don't send one in alone though, as they are expensive and take too long on their own.


    While the Photon Cannon is known for being reliable (Attacks both ground and air and is a detector for stealth units). Protoss defense usually trades on their ability to control the map. Fast units like Stalkers (which can teleport short distances) plus the ability to make impassable terrain (Sentry), added to great anti air (Pheonix which can move and shoot) combine with Warpgate technology to produce an army that can control when and where battles take place. This ability becomes the greatest defense the Protoss have, choosing their ground. Just ask the defenders at Red Cliff or Thermopylae, you control the terrain you control the battle.

    Unit Composition

    As mentioned before Protoss tend to rely on heavy gateway unit compositions with a few others thrown in. Because a given Protoss based can support 3 Gateways plus an additional building of constant production, Protoss strategies are often described as "3 Gate into Robo" or "4 Gate" or "3 Gate plus Starport". In the case of "4 Gate" this often refers to producing some sort of templar out as well. The Protoss ability to adapt is often based around what this fourth building is. This leads many to believe Protoss is inflexible in early to mid game. While this maybe true, they make up for it by having a very powerful core unit group which lasts from early to late game.


    Protoss also have only 5 weapon/defensive upgrades. However, since Protoss have two different defenses (armor and shields) this often leads to just having weapons upgraded. While this can be frustrating, they make up for it by being able to Chrono Boost upgrades in progress, leading much faster upgrades. There are a few key upgrades outside of basic weapon/defense, such as warp gate or thermal lance, but their low number makes them very accessible.


    Protoss Air is usually considered an after thought by many players. This is a mistake. While Protoss may lack the massive airpower Zerg has, they are not to be underestimated. For starters Protoss have the strongest Air to Air unit, the Pheonix. In additon, to being able to move while it shoots, the Pheonix is able to lift up ground units, effectively taking them out of combat for the duration, and making them target-able by other Pheonix. This strategy is very effective against high powered units like the Terran Siege Tank. Added to this, Protoss have the very scary Void Ray. The Void Ray is a unique unit in that the longer it attacks a target the more damage it does. This ability, combined with its bonus versus armored, has lead to players using the Void Ray to snipe buildings. This tactic, often employed as a rush, is most effective against Zerg who have late anti-air.

    BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft : No "harassment?"
    tzenes : @Blue damn you're picky. I'll get to it when I get home.
    C. Ross : +1 For Robert Frost quote.
    From tzenes
  • Terran

    Boasting the highest number of units, as well as some incredibly cool niche units Terran is often considered the most powerful or the most cheesy race, depending on who you talk to. While actual statistics tend to show Terran to be more balanced than not, this massive unit diversity often leads players to think otherwise.

    Macro Mechanic

    The Terran are unique in that they have two different macro mechanics. First they have the Orbital Command center which allows the production of MULEs which harvest minerals at 3x the rate of normal workers and allow normal workers to harvest the same Crystal at the same time (a net result of an increase of 3 workers even when fully saturated). Its worth noting that the limited life span of the MULE means that it will harvest 240-270 minerals over the span of its life. While the Orbital Command increases economic production, the Terran have a different mechanic to increase unit production, the Reactor. Reactor allows for double production of units from an attached unit building structure. Since these two mechanics do not have the tension between the two that is present in the Zerg or Protoss mechanics, both mechanics are limited in important ways. While a Reactor allows for double production, it is of only certain units (Marines, Hellions, Vikings, Medivac). The other units require an attached techlab for production instead. This limits production of other units or those units. Fortunately the Terran build's ability to fly allows for quick switching between addons. The Orbital Command is balanced by being forced to spend energy on either a MULE or Scans or upgrading Supplies. Usually players will tell you that MULEs are always the best choice as the opportunity cost is at least 240 minerals. Additionally, a Terran player must choose between Orbital Command and Planetary Fortress (an excellent aoe defensive structure). In comparison to the large number of decisions a Terran player must make about their macro mechanic, it is relatively easy to use. Excess energy for MULEs can be used later with little cost, buildings with addons don't require additional attention to use.

    Unit Production and Tech Tree

    While Terran Units may build similar to Protoss (from structures), the units are spread out over a larger number of structures. This often leads to Terran players going down one of three paths. Heavy Barracks units or heavy Factory units or an even mix between the two and Air units. While this may seem like a Heavy toll, the large unit diversity means that all three of these production strategies are valid. The resulting tech tree is also very wide which can either lead to amazing flexibility or an over specialized build.


    As you'll see more in section 5, Terran has a very heavy defensive arsenal. As a result many players will make few expansions. However, this practice is not characteristic of the race as a whole. The ability to fly Command Centers, combined with Planetary Fortress allow for safe expanding for even fortified Terran. Command Centers can safely be constructed behind allied lines and moved into position. Once landed Planetary Fortress provides for relative safety from harassment until more effective fortifications can be constructed. It is worth noting that Planetary Fortress cannot be lifted off, and should only be constructed after the Command Center has landed, and even then sparingly.


    Terran harassment is characterized by very niche units. Terran units can be divided into three categories: Harassing, Defensive, or Bulk. In the first category is made up of Hellions, Reapers, and Banshees. Each of these units is used in a different fashion but almost all are most effective against workers. Reapers trade on their ability to jump over cliffs this ability allows them to surpass any natural defense. While they are effective because of this, their low hp makes them fragile (a recurrent theme). Hellions, by comparison trade on their high speed and AOE damage, as well as incredible bonus vs light units (which workers are). As a result they are most effective behind mineral lines or attacking fleeing workers (which naturally form lines same as Hellion AOE). Finally, Banshees are fast air units with very high damage vs ground. They further benefit from a stealth upgrade which makes them invisible to players without detectors. All these units are highly offensive, but weak when pinned down, making the poor for pushes and defense.


    Like harassment, Terran have very specialized units for defense. No unit epitomizes this more than the Siege Tank. Back from Starcraft 1, the Siege Tank has been upgraded in two important ways: - Siege Tanks AOE damage is now centered on its target (and larger) meaning it will strike more of an incoming force - Siege Tanks will coordinate to reduce overkill (multiple tanks attacking the same target when fewer would suffice.

    These two changes result in such an effective defensive unit that a "moving defense" has become a viable strategy. This is accomplished by moving Siege Tanks forward in waves (similar to Starcraft 1). To further bolstered by Turrets and Planetary Fortress, both of which have good upgrades from the Engineering Bay, making them very effective. Finally the Bunkers from Starcraft 1 return with the ability to sell them off when they no longer become useful.

    Unit Compositions

    Terran unit compositions are based around unit producing structures (section 2). These are further complimented by their upgrades (section 7). The result is unit compositions that tend to be made out of Marine/Marauders or Tank/Thor or Marine/Tank/Viking; the last of which chooses heavy diversity over sharing upgrades or production structures. This often leads to tough and slow pushes, with more aggressive units mixed for harassment and winning battles. This leads Terran to really excel at mid/late game.


    More than any other race Terran require their upgrades to function. Every unit has its own upgrades (except Viking/Medivac) all of which are useful and many necessary (Concussive Shell, Siege Mode, Stimpac, etc). The result is a force which often times is very inflexible and unable to adjust to rapid changes in strategy. To make matters worse Weapon/Defensive upgrades are different for each unit producing structure (6 different upgrades).


    While not the best, Terran air is no slouch. Vikings provide very long range and excel at killing Air units which are effective against ground. Banshees provide great harass (section 4). Ravens are an ever useful caster; so useful that many strategies become unstoppable with the addition of Ravens. Medivacs are often used to bolster Marine/Marauder forces making them not only tougher but more mobile. Finally Battle Cruisers have recently been shown to be extremely effective in even pro matches.

    BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft : No "expanding?"
    tzenes : @Blue oops, forgot about that.
    From tzenes

How long does it take for zerglings to spawn during 6-pool and 7-pool in StarCraft 2?

I'm interested in the time from start to when the first 6 zerglings spawn for the 6 and 7 pool rush. Is the 6-pool significantly faster?

  • Based on these two videos: 7pool and 6pool

    The timing seem to be:

    • 7 Pool: 1:20
    • 6 Pool: 1:35

    Note: these values are in Real Time, not Game Time.

    Based on your skill your results may very.

    dbemerlin : Looking at the videos it seems to be 2:20 gametime for 6-pool and 2:30 for 7-pool so there seems to be no significant difference and if the rush fails 6-pool leaves you with a slightly weaker economy.
    tzenes : Again there is a difference between gametime and realtime. The numbers I posted are for a player playing the game. An in game replay will show different numbers as gametime is faster
    From tzenes

How to build and fight simultaneously in Starcraft 2

I feel like my main deficiency is that I have a hard time with the multitasking required. Specifically, when I have troops in the field, especially more than one group of units, I tend to not keep up with building (structures and units) and my resources just sit there, wasted.

What strategies can I use to keep up with building structures and units while I'm coordinating my troops across the map?

  • Have you tried getting gold medals in the single-player challenges? They are designed to help you become a better starcraft player, and especially the last 3 challenges might be just the sort of practice you're looking for.

    Unfortunately, the truth is that the only thing you can do to improve your macro (building economy + units is known as macro) is to


  • There isn't a good answer for this but I'll give you some of what I've found helps

    • Don't focus on your army so much, when you send it out stay focused on your base
    • When you're just about to make a push is a good time to expand (your opponent will be pushed back)
    • While you're in the middle of a battle build a couple workers. New units usually won't get there in time (or you'll be capped on unit production), so its a good time to add in workers to rebuild after an assault (or defense).
    • Hot key your buildings, with Multiple Building Selection its really easy to have your production running from a distance
    • Make your pushes right after upgrades finish
    • Always set your rally points, even if its just to the nearest choke.

    I hope these help.

    Lotus Notes : I have to disagree with the first one. Your base should be managed mainly by hotkeys but you have to keep the focus on your army. If you make one little mistake with unit positioning, or your enemy gets the jump on you, the game could be over for you assuming your economies are roughly equal.
    tzenes : @Carl While intuitively your assessment makes sense, years of experience in Starcraft Broodwars shows just the opposite is true. The penalty for messing up your economy compared to the penalty for messing up your micro is actually larger. What's more, most of the time your focusing on your army it is merely moving from point a to point b, where as your economy should need constant attention.
    Lotus Notes : I guess it depends which race you play. For zerg, you are definitely correct, but an unprepared protoss army may be as good as dead if your force fields/guardian shields are not up or your templars get sniped before you can psi storm. Or if your siege tanks aren't set up yet. Upvoted your post. The only 'base' thing that cannot be entirely remote controlled is the actual placement of buildings and possibly telling certain workers to go on gas, everything else can be done through hotkeys in the heat of battle.
    tzenes : @Carl use @tzenes to make sure I'm pinged on these comments. We're not talking about in the middle of battle. 90% of controlling your force doesn't require any attention at all. This is why the comment says "Don't focus on your army so much." It goes on to say that when you send it out (not when it engages the enemy) stay on the base. This is due to the fact that you don't need to follow your army until it gets close to the enemy. I think you're really missing this point.
    Let_Me_Be : @tzenes The "Don't focus on your army so much" is pretty much ok, the problem is with the other part "when you send it out stay focused on your base". When you play Protos or even Terran and loose your army without doing equal damage to the opposing force, you are dead. The enemy will either crush you or double expand, because there is nothing you can do about it (you have no army). And you will loose your army if you are watching your base (assuming your army is not in your base).
    tzenes : @Let I'm continually surprised at the number of times I have to repeat this: `most of the time your focusing on your army it is merely moving from point a to point b` and `It goes on to say that when you send it out (not when it engages the enemy) stay on the base. This is due to the fact that you don't need to follow your army until it gets close to the enemy.` This is not about _during_ a fire fight.
    Let_Me_Be : @tzenes Yes I know what you are saying. Everyone here knows that. If you move you army and watch your base at the same time you will loose it. You should always keep your focus on your army. The only exception is when you army is camping somewhere with forward scouts to intercept attacks. And we are not talking about the "during fight" phase (at least I'm not).
    tzenes : @Let If I understand you correctly you're saying that [this player]( "flash") is playing poorly. He continually sends out his forces and then focuses on his base. You'll notice the only time he really pays attention to his army is when he's regroup units, or microing in battle.
    Let_Me_Be : @tzenes Now you pull Starcraft 1 on me? That's just LOL
    tzenes : @Let FPVod are easier to find for BW, but here is a [replay]( "July vs Tester") for SC2. Watch AugustWeRRa's PoV. Again you'll notice he continually sends out units without paying attention to them until: a) he needs to micro, b) he needs to position Siege Tanks. With IUS he no longer has to worry about grouping units like Flash did.
    sjohnston : Perhaps there is more than one valid strategy here? I could see how some players might keep base production up with hotkeys and otherwise focus on their army, while others might focus on their base while keeping tabs on their army on the minimap (as well as a whole spectrum of variations in between). I would guess that Tzenes' strategy (focus on the base more) would work better for noobs like me, since my micro will be mediocre anyway.
    tzenes : @sjohnston if you look at the replays I linked they're all top pro players. Focusing on your base is universal across skill levels
    From tzenes
  • StarCraft is partially a game of processing information. Multitasking is one of the main skills you improve while playing.

    First, you need to use hotkeys. Use them to quickly get information on production status and jump to different groups.

    With SC2, hotkeys can bind to multiple buildings or groups and you can use the Tab key to tab between them. Personally, for Terran, 1 is for command centers, 2 is used for my initial initial scouting SCV and then for general unit usage, 3 is always barracks, 4 is always starports and factories. 5 through 8 become groups of units in the mid- and late-game.

    The above scheme lets you tap 3 and 4 to see production status of the army. Do this and, if you don't see white dots underneath the green building icon in the bottom console, start building something. (What to build is another discussion.) Cycle between your hotkeys to move units and check on production status.

    Don't forget that double-tapping hotkeys takes you to the group, Ctrl and a number assigns the group, and Shift and a number adds units or buildings to the group.

    Next, you really, really need to pay attention to audio cues in the game. Make sure to turn the music off so you can hear them more clearly.

    Finally, note that Space takes you to where the action is. Did you year "Our units are under attack?" Hit space, and you'll be taken to the action. Or maybe you'll remember which hotkey you assigned that group and you can double-tap it.

    Hope that helps :)

    Ivo Flipse : It's simply impossible WITHOUT hotkeys
    Mag Roader : While I agree with everything else in here, I personally disagree with turning off the music. Improving your skills through practice is all well and good, but purposefully making the play experience worse just to gain a tiny edge makes me think you're focusing on the wrong things. It's a game - have fun and enjoy it!
    Mike Akers : @Mag Roader Turning off features to focus on the action is pretty common in the pro gaming world. I've watched a bunch of top Quake/other FPS players in action and they have every possible graphics option turned down to the point where it resembles the original wolfenstein more than a modern FPS. They do this partially to maintain a constant ridiculously high frame rate, but they told me they also do this to reduce visual clutter.
    Kyralessa : I **highly** recommend the grid keys. It'll take you a few days to really feel like you're used to them, but the advantages are huge...especially if you have an ergonomic keyboard and some of the regular keys are way over on the right side of it. Plus the keys are very similar for each of the three races.
  • Just to add a little to a paid nerds' excellent answer: learning all the hotkeys, for building various units is also very important. So you can be in the middle of a fight, quickly tap you barracks shortcut key, crank out a few more units by bashing A (marine) and D (marauder), then tap your units short cut key and you're back in the fight!

    In all, even without practice, that's ultra fast. Getting the hang of this was a bit of an eureka moment for me.

    a paid nerd : Aww, thanks! :D
    From Geoff
  • In addition to most everything a paid nerd said, I would add a couple things.

    Playing StarCraft well is similar to driving a car well. You need to pay attention and check your mirrors a lot to ensure you're fully aware of everything that's going on. With practice, you can get into a nice rhythm of checking on the fight, checking your building production, glancing at your base, and throwing up new buildings.

    Specific things to watch out for:

    • Are your workers idle? There is an icon in the bottom left that pops up whenever that happens. To help avoid them going idle, use Shift to queue up actions such as "Build a Factory, then go back to the minerals."
    • Are your buildings building units?
    • Do you have too many resources in the bank? If you start to get high, you likely need to produce more, which may mean more production buildings.
    • Are you running low on supply?
    • Did you accidentally leave a bunch of units sitting next to your buildings?
    From Mag Roader
  • If you want to improve your multitasking, the best way, is practice. For good practice, I recommend giving the "multitasking trainer" map a try.

    sjohnston : This thing is a great resource - definitely gets your brain in "multitasking" mode (also panic mode).
    From RodYan
  • there is the grid option in hotkeys which helps alot (especially on my ergonomic keyboard)

    What does Grid do

    When you select Grid every button in the Bottom Right is assigned to match the following layout

    q w e r t
    a s d f g
    z x c v b

    for example: if you're in your hq press q to build scv or if you have units selected use t for attack-walk (don't remember the correct name)

    From peter

How to select all units of specific types from a group in Starcraft 2

Say I have Marines, Wraiths and Siege Tanks selected in one group binded as group 1. Now what's the easiest way of i.e. selecting all Wraiths from the group so can I can quickly cloak them. I know I could assign them to different group but I don't want to do that.

From gaming RaYell
  • There is a certain key combination to cycle through subgroups in a group. Something with TAB.

    Alternatively you could double-click on one unit which selects all units of the same type.

    McKay : ++ Yeah, if all you want to do is cloak the units of one type, this is definitely the preferred solution.
    Lee : Tab on its own cycles through unit types in a control group.
    From StampedeXV
  • You can ctrl+click the unit in the hud. That will select the same type of unit in the group even if they are not visible on screen.

    Lee : Ctrl+click and double click are interchangeable, both on the ground and the HUD. I mention this because I find double clicking to be faster.

Adapting game resolution to screen

I have a 1280x1024 screen and some games do not support this resolution.

For example, DeusEx support only 1280×960. When it stretches to my screen, fonts gets very hard to read and I don't get the best image quality.

Is there any way to get the black borders instead of stretching like on TVs? In the case of DeusEx that would get me 32 pixel high black lines above and bellow the game window but pixels would match. That doesn't mean playing in window, to be clear, that's still full screen.

The same goes for older games that are limited to 1024x768.

  • The Widescreen Gaming Wiki and Forums have solutions for many games. For individual games that are not covered there you can always ask us, however :)

    For Deus Ex, Google suggests this tool. The problem is that apparently Deus Ex reads screen resolution from a .ini file, then overwrites the custom field with default ones at every launch (source with batch file workaround).

    From badp
  • My LCD monitor has an aspect ratio control in the menu system. If I change it from "stretch" mode to "1:1 pixels" mode it fixes that problem.

    It would be worth checking if your monitor has something similar.

    Hugo Riley : Unfortunately, it does not. Which monitor you have? And how did they named this option? I could buy a new monitor soon, so that would definitely be the "killer setting".
    Incredulous Monk : @Hugo: It's a Dell monitor, model number it-came-with-my-computer :-) I had a quick look on the Samsung site though, and they call it "intelligent adjustable image size function" for example.
  • I've always set this option with my video card settings... I know for sure nvidia does this. Not 100% sure ATI does, but I find it hard to believe they don't. May need to update your video card drivers, but it's well worth it to me.

    Hugo Riley : I don't believe I didn't see that option till now. It works great. Thanks.
    Aeo : Glad I could help. Best part about this method is it works for every game, and not just a hack for one specific game.
    From Aeo

How do you increase your team members' loyalty in Mass Effect 2?

In Mass Effect 2, it shows each character's current loyalty. How do you increase their loyalty, and what does increasing it do?

  • Character Loyalty is something specific to Mass Effect 2. Getting a character's loyalty involves completing their character-specific Loyalty Mission, after which the character becomes "Loyal", and one of their powers becomes available to Sheppard as a bonus talent. (Also unlocks a bonus outfit, I think?)

    Depending on your actions, you can also lose a character's Loyalty -- for example, Tali and Legion can get into a fight, and if both are loyal to you, the one who's side you don't take will lose their loyalty to you.

    More information can be found here:

    Andy : The character's loyalty mission becomes available to you at a certain point in the game automatically. It's not like you have to search for it.
    Zemm : I'd also note that you can complete their mission, and not gain their loyalty, based on the WAY you complete their mission. Also to note, when you gain their loyalty you unlock a power for the character, which is also available to Sheppard in his extra power slot (the only one you get to choose, and you only get to have one at a time).
    Zemm : @Andy: well it's not quite automatic, as you can completely avoid talking to the characters between main story missions and never pick up their loyalty mission. But they're certainly not hard to find either, your secretary will tell you to go talk to so-and-so when so-and-so's loyalty mission is available whenever you approach the galaxy map.
    Andy : @Zemm good point. I just meant that it's not like you have to know to travel to a certain planet to find the mission - the game makes it pretty easy to make sure that you know you have loyalty missions to do.
    BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft : Also note (SPOILER) that if you pick a teammate who is not loyal for one of the tasks in the final mission, they will die, even if you complete the task perfectly.
    Raven Dreamer : It's a little more complicated than that, BlueRaja, but the intent is correct.
    Donal Fellows : When you've got a choice between retaining the loyalty of one of two team members, you can keep both loyal if you can pass a paragon or renegade check. This in turn requires doing certain loyalty missions quite late in the game (naturally that's not so much of a problem for Legion's case).

    Raven Dreamer's answer is good, but as to the other part of your question (what does increasing [loyalty] do?), there's one thing s/he missed...loyal characters are more likely to survive throughout the game...which, in turn, improves the odds of your own survival.

    Specifically, when you get to the final mission set you will encounter a series of choices that must be made about who will lead various side missions. Those choices, combined with which/whether characters are loyal, will determine whether everyone will make it back from the mission, or whether someone will die (permenantly). Characters that are not loyal are much more likely to perish. If too many of your crew die, (if you have less than two team members surviving to the end), you (Shepard) will not survive the final mission (though you may complete it successfully before your death, you will die in the aftermath.)

    Having Shepard die during the final mission may seem like a non-event in a sense, since it happens after s/he has won the game...but it may well affect whether you can bring that save over to Mass Effect 3. (There is a loading screen tidbit that promises that you can import your ME2 character into ME3..."if you survive.")

    rmontagud : Beware also with the fights between team mebers, namely Miranda/Jack and Tali/Legion if you don't have the proper Paragon/Rebel points you won't be able to convince them to stop the fight and you will have to choose between one of them getting downgrading the loyalty of the "loser" in that fight
    Beska : @rmontagud: Quite true. Apparently, you can eventually repair the damage through talking to them again later, but it takes a *much* higher paragon/renagade score to do this than it would have to just get it right in the first place.
    From Beska

How many levels has the arena mode in Hammerfight?

I've reached level 20 and I can't beat the enemies, is the end near?

  • nope. The link is a spoiler, but rest assured you have a ways to go. And that's not even the end.

    From Mechko

Is there a game like Little Big Planet for PC?

Is there a platform game like Little Big Planet for PC, where the users can create, share, vote and play different game levels?

From gaming Drake
  • Garry's Mod. The editing is far more complicated, but the social aspect is far less developed also. It's certainly not as casual as LittleBigPlanet.

    Also, there is far more emphasis on the creating of vehicles etc. than of levels. But it's the closest you will get.

    Drake : @Macha I own Garry's Mod but as you said, it cannot be called casual at all. :) I am looking for something more simple, that can be played in relax and by children too
    Macha : AFAIK, it's the closest you are going to get, sadly.
    From Macha
  • MineCraft Is very casual. You build Pixel-art style buildings and levels out of blocks.

  • The Powder Game.

    Technically it's a Java applet, not a PC game, but you can play it on the PC so I would say it qualifies.

    The game itself is a physical simulation where you create particles from various materials, let them interact with each other (and with gravity) and also apply wind. Don't expect any fancy graphics, it's as basic as it can get - just colored pixels as particles and lines for air currents.

    There's an impressive variety of materials, from stone and water, through gunpowder and rubber balls, to C4 that can explode and seeds that can grow trees if they have soil and water (and the trees create seeds of their own, and you can burn them, and fire creates upward air streams, etc. etc... you get the picture).

    You can save your creation for everyone else to see, and there are weekly and monthly rankings. The game seems to be pretty active, and some of the creations are simply awesome.

    A word of warning, though: the author's grasp of English is very poor, so don't rely on any decent instructions there. But it's easy to get the hang of things, and it's fun to experiment (e.g. will birds pop soap bubbles? And yes, there are bird particles and soap bubbles).

    Turrican : Interesting thing. It's one of the games where you sit in front and actually don't know what you're really dealing with, but it looks fun.
    JohannesH : I love the powder game.
    From Oak
  • Kodu It's available for the XBox and PC, and you can create your own levels and games.

    Drake : It is interesting, but at the moment it seems to much "programming" :)
    From McKay
  • Atmosphir has recently come out of beta, and it looks to be in many ways similar to LBP. It needs Unity, and its a browser game, but looks pretty full featured.

    Drake : Never header before, really interesting! It already have many users and hundreds of levels. Thank you.
    From RCIX
  • Create from EA looks quite similar, but has not been released yet.

    Drake : yes, that seems very nice, we will see in some months
    From morfu

General strategies to avoid game crashes

As my Question on freezings on Dragon Age: Origins seems not to be able to help me, I think it's a rather general problem on my PC.

So what are you doing, when a game keeps on running unstable?

Edit: Well, I bought myself a new graphic card and it solved the problem. However I still don't know what caused the freezes. (Temperature of the graphic card was ok)

From gaming eL13
  • Get the newest update of your games. Look also for community patches which are e.g. available for Gothic 3, Vampire: The Masquerade, ...

    From eL13
  • Make sure you are up-to-date with:

    • Drivers
    • Windows Updates
    • Game patches

    There could be a hardware explanation, of course. Either a fault in one ore other components or an overheating issue...

    eL13 : probably someone can precise how to track down those hardware-issues.
    CJM : @el13 - well the first simple test is to run Memtest86+ overnight:
    From CJM
  • Apart from drivers and game patches, get a monitoring tool that shows your CPU and GPU temps. Overheating is always an issue. A cheap, quick fix for an overheating computer is to buy a little floor fan, open up the side of your computer, and blow the fan into your open box.

    Donal Fellows : Also check that the heatsinks are clear of dust, which is an issue that tends to plague older machines. A can of compressed air can really help clear that sort of thing out, and it's hugely easier and cheaper than new hardware.
  • I am going to put this one out here even though it's a very specific story:

    A friend of mine had a dual GPU graphics card. Radeon 4850X2. He started experiencing bad freezes, crashes and lag. Turns out one of the two GPU's was busted. When he clocked down the bad GPU core the problems dissapeared.

    So, if I were you I would try clocking down your card a bit in case it's a overheating problem. If this solves your trouble at least you have narrowed it down =) From there you can determine whether it's a bad fan, clogged heat sink or other nastyness.

    Mechko : Every single machine I've ever had has had overheating issues on the GPU. When I used to play Deus Ex (like 10 years ago omg) the machine would die for about half an hour after every hour of constant play, which was a great way of keeping my time in check. Of course, that wouldn't work now since I'd need my computer to do work after playing.
    From Nailer
  • One thing I've used to help with this problem in the past is the Microsoft Application Compatibility Toolkit. It's sort of a way-advanced version of the options you get in the compatibility tab of an application (different Windows mode, different color mode, etc.).

    In particular, I've found that a lot of Maxis games crash abruptly on my system. A guy suggested in an Amazon review that I try restricting processor affinity. (I have a dual-core system.) I did, and this seems to have alleviated the problem.

    Unfortunately, the App Compatibility Toolkit isn't as straightforward as it could be, but it does give you a lot of control. For instance, there are several different ways to identify the application, from path to version to checksum.

    From Kyralessa

Good gaming machine for Starcraft II?

I'm planning to pick up a new system to coincide with the release of Starcraft II, but I haven't been keeping up with gaming hardware for a while... What system do you feel is the best value currently that will let me turn up all the settings to high, but won't cost an arm and a leg?

(NOTE: I'm not a cheapskate so an arm OR a leg is fine, but not both... I guess that would be an arm XOR a leg.) :)

  • Blizzard recommends that a PC should run Vista or Windows 7 and have:

    • Dual Core 2.4Ghz Processor
    • 2 GB RAM
    • 512 MB NVIDIA® GeForce® 8800 GTX or ATI Radeon® HD 3870 or better

    For Macs, it's recommended that you have:

    • Intel® Core 2 Duo processor
    • 4 GB system RAM
    • NVIDIA® GeForce® 9600M GT or ATI Radeon® HD 4670 or better

    However, I don't know what specific system to suggest.

    Ricket : I wonder why a Mac needs so much better hardware, especially since all their hardware is overpriced and you'd think the Unix-based OSX would run more efficiently... I guess maybe it's a low quality port of the Windows version?
    Kevin Y : Yeah, in most cases with cross-platform games Macs get [not so great] ports of the Windows counterparts. That's my best guess.
    Skrymsli : Those recommendations are weak. I currently have a quad core 2.4 with 3 gigs of ram and a GeForce 9500... starcraft 2 is a slideshow with at the highest settings.
    Kevin Y : They're what Blizzard recommended; not my personal recommendations.
    Lee : @Skrymsli You may be under the mistaken assumption that a 9500 GT is more powerful than an 8800 GTX. It isn't; not even close.
    Jay R. : The Mac specs are sometimes higher because the drivers aren't as tuned for Mac OS X. Also, memory usage is higher primarily because PC game specs are written assuming 32-bit Windows. Most 64-bit Windows users already have larger memory size or they wouldn't be using 64 bit. Mac OS X is varying degrees of 64-bit. You can't install 32-bit only Mac OS X. 64-bit executables generally consume more memory while running.
    From Kevin Y
  • My baseline MacBook ran the Beta just fine. I'd go 27" iMac :)

    Matt Williamson : 4 Gigs of Memeory, no less.
    Ricket : [why did you comment on your own answer rather than editing it?]
    gfr : Could you expand on your MacBook specs? CPU, GHz, graphics chip?
  • I'd suggest the following:

    • i5 or equivalent. While i7 might be better you won't need the performance difference, you'll run out of memory first
    • 9800 GTX or better. The 1 GB of Graphics Card RAM really makes a difference.
    • 4+ GB RAM
    • SSD -> This one is key. Put your OS and game on this, but make sure your saves and other files go on a normal HD. You want to avoid writing to your SSD unless you have to. Its best when reading from.
    • Widescreen monitor. SC2 actually chops off the sides of the image to project on 4:3 monitors. Widescreen you'll see more.
    Drake : It seems a bit overpowered for StarCraft II and I really don't understand the additional cost of a SSD
    Ricket : I agree, quite overpowered for this game especially the SSD since their prices aren't very low yet.
    Skrymsli : Marking this as answer because this is the only answer that actually suggests some specs, but what I was really looking for is a link to a pre-built system, guess I should have clarified.
    tzenes : @marco.ragogna you can get a 30GB SSD <$100, and its well worth the cost.
    Drake : @tzenes I prefer spend that $100 more for a better CPU o GPU. SSD does not improve your gaming experience and with 30GB nowadays you can install maximum the OS and 2/3 games max
    tzenes : @marco.ragogna wrong! The SSD will make the BIGGEST difference in your gaming experience these days. Modern CPUs are very very powerful, however the bottleneck in most computers is not processing power, but bandwidth. I don't mean internet, I mean getting the data to the GPU and CPU. This is why a Graphics card with more RAM is better (hence my suggestion of 1GB) and why an SSD will improve your performance more than going from i5 to i7. Also, I fit Windows Vista and about 12 games on my SSD.
    Drake : @tzenes link me some benchmark
    r00fus : SSD for starcraft helps with load times and startup; also I've noticed that my 2010 13" MBP on Med would sometimes warn me when I ran off HD (to reduce GFX settings), but not since I moved it and OS to SSD.
    Davy8 : SSD would only really help load times unless you're low on RAM and it has to page to disk. Bang for the buck, getting 8GB is gonna help more overall.
    tzenes : @Davy8 Starcraft doesn't push much past 1.5 GB because it doesn't preload textures into RAM before pushing out to the GPU. It does, however, load them from HD. So a SSD will seriously improve your load times and texture loading when your GPU starts thrashing.
    From tzenes
  • If you're looking to mitigate cost but still have some significant power, I'd have to agree with the i5. The extra cores in an i7 is nice but for gaming, including StarCraft, you won't see enough different to warrant the price jump. Instead, invest in a faster i5 vs. an equivalent i7.

    Definately keep memory above 4Gb, although keep in mind to make use of anything above 3.6Gb you'll need to be running a 64-bit OS. Again, if you're trying to get as much bang for your buck, you'll find that Dual-Channel memory doesn't take much of a performance hit compared to the newer Triple-Channel memory and when comparing DDR2 vs. DDR3, DDR3 still doesn't provide enough kick to be worth the significant cost increase.

    An SSD for the OS/Main Game you're playing plus a standard drive will be key to providing the best experience you can get. If you're looking for a compromise, I'm using a Seagate Momentus XT that is a hybrid SSD drive. It uses 4Gb of SSD attached to a regular drive and frontloads the most commonly used information to the SSD portion. It doesn't quite perform as well as an SSD, but it does consistenly perform better than standard drives and costs significantly less. I picked mine up for aroun $130 and it is a 500Gb drive, whereas a good SSD at 128Gb will cost at least that much if not closer to $200.

    Definately get a widescreen monitor if you don't already have one, as you'll want to take advantage of higher resolutions and games that tailor to widescreens typically put you at a disadvantage when you aren't using one. If you can, look for a widscreen that can handle 1920x1080 or 1920x1200.

    The most important part you'll pick up is your video card. Definate pick something with 1Gb of RAM or better on it. As previously stated by other posters, the 9800 GTX is a good choice that doesn't break the bank, although if you want to push the system farther you might consider something more along the GeForce GTX 275 line. Alternatively, ATI has the Radeon 4870 and even better, the Radeon 5870.

    From CaedJar4
  • I built a machine just for StarCraft II. I use a 24" 1920x1200 Dell LCD with all of the settings maxed and get 60-120 FPS. It gets a little choppy, however, when I use Page Up/Down to zoom in on gameplay, but one usually only does that during replays and not live gameplay.

    Here are the specs from March, 2010:

    • Intel Core i7 920 CPU ($100 off at my local Microcenter)
    • EVGA 141-BL-E757-TR motherboard
    • Cooler Master V8 CPU cooler (overkill but awesome)
    • 3x2GB Corsair Dominator DDR3 1600 RAM (mobo supports triple-threading)
    • Corsair 750TX power supply (overkill, shoulda gone modular)
    • MSI-brand ATI Radeon HD 5770 "Hawk" (1GB SDRAM, bad-ass heat sinks, best 5770 variant)
    • Logitech X-540 speakers (good enough, nice breakout volume knob)
    • Belkin 802.11n 2.0 wireless adapter
    • Windows 7 Pro 64-bit

    I already had some Western Digital drives and a case. Solid-state drives seemed overkill; all I would save would be game boot-up time.

    I planned on overclocking the system a bit. I turned on EVGA's "dummy O.C." mode to peg the CPU at 3.23 GHz, used the Radeon Afterburner app to push the GPU clock to +900 MHz, and haven't bothered to push anything further.


    Alternatively, I use a MacBook Pro for development. I got one with a 2.8 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo CPU, 4 GB of RAM and dual NVIDIA GeForce 9400M/9600M GT graphics chips. I play the Mac StarCraft II client at medium settings at 1440x900 resolution and it's pretty consistently smooth -- about 25-50 FPS.

    Hope that helps.

    ahsteele : What do you mean by modular on the power supply?
    a paid nerd : Modular means that most of the cables plug into the main brick and can be removed. They'll give you less-cluttered case innards (for sexiness or air flow, allegedly) but will cost a little more. Make sure to read reviews on NewEgg — on one of them I read that every cable was removable except for the ultra-useless floppy cable. Corsair usually gets great customer ratings.
  • I have this machine. I run everything on all the highest settings and it never slows or glitches. It is super quiet, and frankly, bad ass. You can get it for under $1500 at best buy.

    From Jason