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These tips are for multiplayer games on large maps. Many of them don't apply to
two-player ladder-type games, where the map is small and/or you know exactly where your
enemy is; for those games you need a tight rush order. I almost always play on an
8-way map with one or more teammates or in multiway FFA, and these tips reflect that bias.
- First thing: make a drone with your initial 50 minerals.
- Scout with your initial overlord, but be careful with it. If it finds a Terran
base, run it away, perhaps to your preferred expansion spot. If it finds Zerg, park
it over the base until you see a hydra den building. If it finds Protoss, park it
there until you see a cybernetics core (dragoons) or forge (photon cannons). Also
remember that the player you scout will usually be able to figure out where you are by the
direction from which your overlord comes. You may want to turn the overlord back
before the opponent sees it, attempt to come in from a different direction, or not scout
at all (especially if you are trying to climb the tech tree instead of going mass
- Hotkey your initial hatchery to number 1, and subsequent hatcheries to 2, 3, 4, etc.
Then later you can type 1sh2sh3sh4sh5sh to make 15 hydralisks, all while you're
watching the front line battle. Except in very special cases, don't bother hotkeying
groups of units. If you're like me, you make so many units so fast that you'll need
to reform the groups every 30 seconds -- it's not worth the time. People want to
believe otherwise, but Starcraft is a game of production; combat is important, but
- Try to make new overlords a little bit before you run out of control points.
Depending on the stage of the game, this could be 2 points in advance (early game) or 10
points (late game with several hatcheries going). If you make a mistake and run out
of control points, make some more overlords; but while they are incubating, make a
building or two (perhaps some sunken colonies or an extra evolution chamber, or new
hatchery). This will free up a couple of control points and let you get back to
making units. Also, since you'll have money sitting around that you can't spend on
troops, check on the status of your upgrades and expansions. Another thing to do
during this lull is launch an attack; this will free up control points and kill the enemy
at the same time.
- Don't bunch your overlords in a corner. Spread them out over your base, your
expansions, and the surrounding area. They will give you advance warning of an
incoming attack, they will totally nullify cloakers anywhere near your base (no nukes!),
and they will not be as vulnerable (only one or two will die if they are attacked, because
they are spread out). They will also draw fire from attacking anti-air troops like
marines and hydras, delaying their attack on your base and splitting them away from ground
troops like zealots and tanks.
- Make a spawning pool as your first building. When? That depends on the build order you
are using. See the build orders page.
- Sunken colonies are a great defensive tool. Sunkens absolutely own marines and
zerglings (but die to tanks and reavers). Make a few in each of your towns.
YOU MUST PLACE YOUR SUNKENS CORRECTLY OR THEY WILL DO YOU NO GOOD. Put your
sunkens right up against your hatchery and surround them with other buildings (this looks
ugly but you'll learn to love it). Make sure all of your drones are covered by the
sunkens. Don't just put a sunken or two at the entrance to your town -- the enemy
will run right by and kill your drones. If your sunken-protected town gets attacked,
keep your forces out of the way until the enemy goes for the sunkens; then swoop in with
your troops. This method ensures that all the fighting takes place inside the range
of the sunkens, thus giving you more free hits.
- Make a second hatchery early on (according to your build order).
You need this second hatchery to increase your unit-building capacity. Hotkey the new
hatchery as number 2.
- Don't make your extractor too early. If you are going mass zerglings, you can
delay the extractor for quite a while (though you will need gas for burrowing and zergling
speed). If you are going for hydras or mutalisks, you will need to make the
- Drones make good scouts, because you can get them so early (and you can expand with them
if they find an empty resource location). However, once you have a spawning pool,
use zerglings to scout the enemy. Use the 'move' command (or right-click) for
scouting. You want your scout zerglings to go to the start locations as quickly as
possible; you don't want them to waste time chasing down whatever stray units they run
- Burrowing costs 100 minerals and 100 gas to research, but its many uses make it a most
valuable upgrade. The best recon technique in the game is to burrow a zergling at
every mine. Prosecute expansion attempts vigorously! If you are attacked, the
best way to protect your workers is to burrow them and let the enemy beat on your hatchery
while you gather your troops to repulse the attack. You can also use burrowing to
save a doomed attack group until the next wave arrives.
- If your drones are getting hit and you have no troops and can't burrow, you have two
choices. If your attackers are few or weak, you can fight back with your drones.
This is hard to do because drones do not have an attack-move action; you have to
target the attackers individually. The other alternative is to run away.
Running works surprisingly well, especially against melee units such as zerglings and
zealots, because the attackers 'acquire' individual drones as targets and then have a hard
time hitting them when the drones are running away in a big stampede. Running your
drones out of town and into your allies' troops is a good way to save your skin.
- Expand when it no longer makes sense to keep building drones at your original mine
(keeping your build order in mind). Hotkey the new hatchery
as number 3. Make sure you have enough troops to protect the expansion, or make
sunken colonies. Once the new hatchery is up, make drones there as fast as you can
-- you already spent 300 and a drone on the hatchery, so don't let it sit idle.
Sacrifice troop production to get the drone count up as fast as possible.
- You should generally wait until you have an expansion before going to lair. Don't
do it too quickly -- those minerals and gas might be needed for troops to save your hide.
But when you see that you will soon need the lair's benefits (queen's nest, spire,
overlord upgrades, etc), go for it.
- Choose your upgrades wisely, as they are expensive, in both resources and 'click time'.
Don't get an upgrade if few of your troops benefit from it -- don't upgrade melee
attacks if you are making only hydras and don't waste money on flyer attack upgrades if
you don't have very many mutalisks or guardians. Get the attack and carapace
upgrades that help the troops you use the most. Burrowing is essential for recon and
drone defense. Zergling speed is great for large maps, mass-zergling strategies, and
hit-and-run. Hydras are dangerously slow until their speed is upgraded, and their
range upgrade really helps their flexibility on both offense and defense. Overlord
speed is a must for medium or long games. Broodling helps against entrenched
Terrans. You'll need ventral sacs if you plan to do any transporting. Adrenal
glands make zerglings into a formidable weapon.
- Expand again. Mine three or more mines at a time (hotkey each new hatchery!).
Make workers until you have 1.5 drones per mineral patch plus 3 or 4 drones per
geyser. Then switch the hatchery over to troop production. 1sh2sh3sh4sh5sh!!
- Spore colonies are useful for detection (die observers!) and late game defense from
aerial attacks. Spores are also useful in island games.
- If you don't have spores and sunkens, keep a group of hydras (numbers depend on the
stage of the game, from three to twelve) plus at least two overlords at each base.
The overlords are for detection (cloaked wraiths make great expansion-busters). This
force can't fend off a full-scale attack, but it's not meant to. Its role is to
protect the expansion from a small scouting force, and delay a larger force until you can
send an army to deal with it. Hydras have some advantages over towers: they can hit
both air and land, they can move around to cover all areas of the base, and they can go
attack the enemy later on.
- When attacking with ranged troops (such as hydras or mutas), attack-move the swarm
toward the target. Once there and fighting, select a group of 12 and sequentially
target one enemy at a time by shift-right-clicking on the enemy units in succession.
Once you've queued up a number of enemies, select another 12 of your troops and
repeat the process. This kind of fighting gives you a great advantage, especially
against tough units like zealots, scouts and battlecruisers. Remember to make
reinforcements while you are fighting (1sh2sh3sh).
- If at some point you find yourself needing more gas for the hydras, mutas or whatever,
make a gas-mining expansion. While the expansion is coming on line, make zerglings
-- you don't want ANY larva to sit around. Zerglings can be quite effective as
support for a mostly-ranged-attack army (such as a hydra or muta swarm), especially if
upgraded. They die fast but they draw fire away from your hydras. :)
- Midgame and later, always take overlords along on any attack, because you need cloak
detection. Upgrade overlord speed (very important, so they can keep up with the troops)
and sight range.
- The best way to bust up a well-defended Terran base is with guardians, backed up with
overlords (for detection), scourge (for air defense) and mutalisks (for versatile ranged
air/ground defense and replenishment of your guardian force). Let the guardians do the
damage; keep the other units just behind the guardians to protect them. Don't send in the
hydralisks until the seige tanks are dead; a row of seige-mode tanks with bunkers in front
can stop just about any hydralisk charge.
- Set rally points for your hatcheries. You may want to wait until the hatchery has
finished making drones (i.e., there are enough drones at that hatch to fully use the
surrounding resources). Once it has finished making drones, set the rally point to a
position just outside your main base (or some other convenient spot, like a choke
point). Do the same for expansions, so troops made there will show up at your main
rally area. If a hatchery is attacked, turn off the rally point, so that the enemy
won't get free hits on your newly-made units.
- In many games you may need to use overlords as transports. Four hydras fit inside
one overlord. So select a group of 12 hydras (double click at the rally point), then
shift-right-click on three overlords in succession. The overlords and hydras will
move toward each other and the hydras will get in. When all twelve are inside,
select the overlords, hit 'u' and click the destination, then shift-right-click near the
rally point. This unloads the hydras and brings the overlords back home for another
load. The speed upgrade is very important for overlords to be effective transports.
- In a deadlocked battle versus Terrans, use queens to parasite the enemy bases.
Make a queen or two and parasite the worker fields (expansions too) plus the forces near
the base entrance, such as seige tanks.
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