A Beginner's Guide to StarCraft 2 Multiplayer - Part 1

I've finished the singleplayer campaign of StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, but I still need to run through all of the challenges before I'm ready to write my review. Expect it early next week.

With the weekend approaching, many StarCraft II players will be wrapping up the campaign and considering trying out the multiplayer game. A lot of people believe that they will be instantly steamrolled by players of a much-higher skill level, but that shouldn't be the case. StarCraft II's ladder system and matchmaking is designed to try and give each player a 50% win ratio.

nope I recommend that players use the built-in progression that Blizzard has put into the game for going from campaign to multiplayer, which has a different set of units and data. Complete the tutorials, play the campaign, do the challenges, play against AI opponents, and finally check out the ladder to play against humans.

Remember that you have to lose to get better. The first five matches are "placement" matches, meaning that they aren't necessarily going to be against players of your skill level. Do yourself a favor and finish these five to be placed in the proper league. Even then, it may take more matches to normalize your position.

As for race selection, it is ideal to stick with a single race from the beginning as it is less information to absorb. Terran and Protoss are both good first choices, while the Zerg are mechanically a little more complex. Either way, pick a race and try to play using only that race when you begin. While there is more to learn than what I will discuss here today, I hope these ideas and tips help you out.

There are a few key economic concepts you should know about StarCraft before we jump into specifics in-game. Your economy in this game is extremely important. It helps to begin thinking about buildings in terms of how many extra marines, zealots, or zerglings you could make for the same cost--do you really need that factory yet, or would you be better served with 3 extra marines? By the way, always build workers. You need about three workers per mineral patch so look to build 21 to 24 for your main base. At this point, keep building them as you can transfer extra workers to a new expansion to begin mining there immediately.

nope You also want to keep your minerals and gas low. Money in the bank just means wasted minerals. If you cannot build any additional units, build more supply depots/pylons/overlords. If you still have extra minerals, add more unit production buildings, tech up, or expand. Basically, find some way to spend your money with the priority being more units.

When starting out, versus humans or the AI, it helps to focus entirely on generating as many units as possible as quickly as possible. Don't worry about scouting yet or teching to that super-awesome battlecruiser. Just make as many marines and marauders as possible. Most of the time, you'll have more units than your opponent and should be in a good position to win the game. This will help you get used to cranking out units, while creating workers to keep your economy growing.

If video is more your thing, go ahead and watch this excellent episode of Day[9] Daily where he goes over the "mental checklist" every new player should run through while playing and why it isn't as hard as you might think.

In part II, I'll go into learning some opening build orders and how to read the notation used by the community as well as the importance of scouting and what to do with the information you gain by doing so. For now, I'll leave you with some easy fixes for some common beginner mistakes:

  • Never pull your workers away from mining unless not doing so would result in a loss. I see many inexperienced players send eight workers after my single scouting unit. With some simple micro, I can keep my scout from being killed and my opponent loses a ton of precious mining time giving me a huge advantage.
  • Watch your replays! If you lose, load up the replay to find out why. Watch it from the perspective of your opponent. See what he saw and how he reacted to what you did. This is key to learning the game and getting better. If they play the same race as you, try copying their build order.
  • Use hotkeys! You should get to a point where you never have to click on or even look at the bottom right grid for issuing commands or building units. Your mouse should be used entirely for selection and issuing orders along with hotkeys. The harder challenges in the game's challenge mode will force you to use hotkeys. Play them repeatedly!