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|Fever| Psychotikah

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Jul 21, 2018




Salutation to all Fever clan members or Starcraft 2 enthusiasts. I am Psychotikah and I wish to offer everyone this beginner’s guide for the usage of the newer or older Starcraft II players that feel stuck in their development. I am personally a very mediocre diamond league player and I vividly remember the pains of trying to crawl through lower leagues.

I am going to base these guides on my personal experience and share the little bits of knowledge that have helped me improve my game sufficiently to make it through the bottom leagues and play at a level where I can explore a lot more of what Starcraft 2 has to offer.

This guide will focus on listing mechanics and tricks that are easily reproducible for the common mortals like us casual ladder heroes. Others will offer more advanced guides for players that strive to master the game, but not me! What I will list in this guide is a series of things that can be ALL incorporated in your play and will let you have a good fundamental understanding of the mechanical requirements of the game.

Thank you for taking the time to read this guide and without further ado, the guide itself.

Basic fundamental mechanics: a novice player Starcraft II guide

1. Introduction
2. Gaining an edge before starting the game: a proper game setup
2.1 Ergonomics
2.2 Hotkeys: setup
2.3 Rapid fire hotkey trick
2.4 Hybrid graphics settings
2.5 Gameplay options
2.6 Basic build orders
3. Confronting the beast within: In game mechanics
3.1 Hotkeys: Basic controls
3.2 Hotkeys: Control groups
3.3 Hotkeys: Advanced control group mechanics
3.4 Hotkeys: Camera locations
3.5 Rally points
3.6 Queuing commands
3.7 General macro mechanics
3.8 General micro mechanics
4. When the dust has settled: Post gameplay habits
4.1 Analyzing replays
4.2 Taking a break
5. Conclusion


Starcraft II is one of the most uncompromisingly difficult and demanding game in existence. It is part of a select club of games where the skill ceiling is actually not attainable by humans, no matter how good they are or how much they practice.

The difficulty of Starcraft II comes in part from an extremely complex mechanical requirement to even have a barely functioning army and economy, coupled with a break neck pace that needs to be maintained by the player. Add the fact that unlike other high skill ceiling games like chess or go, each player always has a partial (or sometimes non-existent) view of what the opposite player does. The few specs of information that can be gleaned must be interpreted on the fly using a very vast game knowledge that must be learned through theory and experience.

Oh yeah, you are also alone, and thus you can’t rely on any team mates when things go south.

Are you discouraged yet?

Yes? Keep reading!

No? I like your style! Keep reading as well!

The redeeming factor for Starcraft II that makes the game actually playable for novice players, is that despite the fact everything about playing it is so demanding, as a 1 player versus 1 player game, you are playing against another human that is struggling just as you are. Furthermore, the matchmaking system is very well designed and will find opponents of similar skill to yours.

Now, most of you already know all that stuff of course. You are reading this guide to get an edge against your equally discouraged opponent. Fine, let’s get to the good stuff.

2.Gaining an edge before starting the game: a proper game setup

2.1 Ergonomics

This tip has nothing to do with mechanics or Starcraft II, but it has everything to do with your health and comfort. Some of us work all day in front of a computer and come back to play Starcraft II, this means that proper posture is a must.

I suggest that your read this article when you have time to kill, it’s very detailed:
The Gamer’s Guide to Ergonomics: Your Posture, Chair, Desk, Fingers and everything Else – 1-HP

Otherwise, just try to follow this diagram:


2.2 Hotkeys: setup

Starcraft II can be played using a mouse only! Of course, that would be a terrible idea for many reasons. Your mouse should only be used to select units and issue orders. If you do not already use hotkeys for all commands, you need to learn them right now and never click on any actions that can be triggered by a keyboard key.

That being said, the default hotkey setup in Starcraft II is very non-optimal. Some keys, like Metabolic boost for example, are mapped on the right side of the keyboard while your hand is going to be mostly located on the left side.

You can use the grid set up instead, which is already an improvement. You can also use the default set up with some personal customization, which is something I personally do.

Otherwise you can use set ups that were designed by passionate people that spent a lot of time optimizing hand positioning, like the core or the core lite:

The grid hotkey setup
The grid lite hotkey setup

Re-learning your hotkey setup can be a daunting task, but it’s worth it. Try and find a set up where all of the keys are located in the same area of the keyboard so that your hand stays static as much as possible.

2.3 Rapid fire hotkey trick

This trick is essential to any serious Startcraft II player and it still amazes me that it is not officially integrated in the default hotkeys. The rapid fire hotkey trick was discovered by a content creator named JaKaTak. It consists of using the key repeat rate of your keyboard just like you would do if you held down the “Z” key to morph a lot of Zerglings, but for abilities that would usually require a mouse click input to fire off, like Storm, Infested Terran or Protoss warp ins.

You heard that right, you can hold down the “Z” key to warp 50 supply of Zealots! Pretty neat right?

Here is the Teamliquid page that JaKaTak created a while ago to document the Rapid fire trick. I would suggest you watch the Rapid Fire warp in video if you are a Protoss player.

The forum post is misleading a little bit though as it doesn’t list the video that shows how to set up the trick correctly. Here is the link to the video:


2.4 Hybrid graphics settings

This section is by no means essential, but setting up proper graphic options can really help your play in indirect ways.

The hybrid settings’ premise is that when playing Starcraft II with maxed out or high graphic settings, the map and some units lack contrast and appear pretty dark. The screen will also be cluttered during large engagements especially if storms or blinding clouds are thrown in liberally.

On the other hand, if one plays with the lowest settings, the colour contrast will be somewhat sharper but some animations, like what unit is being warped in, will not be shown.

Fortunately for us, someone thought this through and designed the hybrid settings. I will let you read the Teamliquid guide as it explains everything pretty clearly.

I strongly recommend these settings as they will make the game clearer and easier on your eyes.

** Something that is not mentioned in this guide is that if you wish to use the highest levels of shaders and maxed out graphics, you can still set the “lighting=0” in the variable.txt file to benefit from the increased lighting.

2.5 Gameplay options

There are three option in the game menu that should always be used by players of any level. Most of you might know that, but I will mention them just in case it can help someone.

You can find these options under the game menu, in the gameplay tab.


Show Unit Life Bars: Set to Damaged or Always depending on your personal preferences – This will allow you to see every unit’s health bars on the game screen

Show Flyer Helper: Set to Always – This will allow you to properly target flying units with Corrosive Biles, Storms or Fungal Growth

Enable Enemy Unit Selection: Check this checkbox – This will allow you to select enemy buildings (including ones that are being built) or units to check for upgrades

2.6 Basic build orders

The last thing that I suggest you bring with you in your Starcraft II journey is a basic build order for every matchup of your race. While build orders fall into the game knowledge portion of Starcraft II skills more so than in the mechanical one, I will explain why they can be extremely important for a beginner’s or struggling player’s mechanics.

Mechanics in themselves are just tools that allow players to make workers, build buildings, build an army and move it around. But knowing what to do during the first few minutes of the game in such an intimidating contest as Starcraft II is crucial to adequately perform all these previously mentioned mechanical tasks. Knowing when to build key structures will leave you with more available mental concentration to keep constantly making workers and units.

This will also allow you to gain an edge against unorganised opponents, as your build order will allow you to go for a more optimal economic set up. Furthermore, this advantage will be magnified as you become more proficient mechanically.

Here are some suggestions of build orders for every match up. I have included one basic build per race that can be used against all other races. These kinds of builds are very useful to solidify the first few minutes of the game in your memory. I have also included one timing attack and one economic oriented build per matchup.

Timing attacks are a great way to practice hitting clearly identified benchmarks. For example, a 2-1-1 build will allow you to have 16 stimed Marines and 2 Medivacs at around 4:30. To hit those timings, you need to be constantly producing workers and units and you also need to create the right building at the right time.

Economic builds, or macro builds, will set you up for the mid to late game. These are very important to practice as well because they will make you more comfortable controlling a 3 base + economy, which is a big part of the game of Starcraft II.


TvX Terran build by PIG
TvP Rax timing attack by HuShang Standard TvP by Innovation
TvT Aggressive opener by Spinokio 3cc Cyclones by Terrancraft
TvZ 2-1-1 into 2 Tank push by Maru Hellion 3cc build by PIG

PvX Basic Protoss build by Zuka
PvP Zest’s 6 adept into stargate by Gemini 2 Gate expand build by Gemini_19
PvT 8gate +1 glAdept Immortal by Gemini_19 Blink/Robo double upgrades by Gemini_19
PvZ Oracle into Blink/Colossus by Gemini_19 4 Oracles into 2x robo Immortal by Gemini_19

ZvX Basic Zerg build by PIG
ZvP Safe Roach opener by PIG Roach timing push by DigitalzEX
ZvT Ling Bane Hydra by Railgan Roach ravage ling timing by birdy
ZvZ Ling bane aggression by PIG 3 hatch ling Bane into Roach by railgan

** I suggest that you practice your chosen builds in custom games so that you are familiar with the benchmarks you should hit. Memorizing the building timings of builds is going to help you greatly concentrate on worker and unit creation, which is the most essential mechanic to understand.

** Understanding gas timings (when you should build you gas gathering building on a geyser) is key. The moment you get your gas depends on the build you are going for, but you will notice some patterns. Earlier gas usually means a more aggressive or tech heavy build.

Getting your gases too early for no reason will severely handicap your mineral gathering and leave you behind in worker and building production.

3.Confronting the beast within: In game mechanics

3.1 Hotkeys: Basic controls

For the newer players, I suggest you read through the basic controls page on the blizzard page:

3.2 Hotkeys: Control groups

This basic and well-known mechanic is probably the most important one in the game. You can assign units and buildings to “groups” that can be quickly accessed using keyboard keys.

The default keys for control groups are:
• CTRL + 1 to 0 creates a control group with the currently selected units and buildings.
• 1 to 0 access the control group.
• Pressing twice on the control group key centers the screen on the control group.

** Binding ALL your production buildings, including worker production buildings should be mandatory for you. I personally even bind my upgrade buildings so that I don’t miss upgrade timings.

It’s easier to bind each type of production buildings in different control group all though it uses more groups. The alternative is to create one group for all production buildings and to use the Tab key to cycle between building types.

** I strongly suggest that you re-bind your control group keys since everything past the “6” key is too far on the keyboard.

** Army control group setup is definitely something that should be left to personal preference. I will only suggest binding your casters on a different group than your main army’s group.

3.3 Hotkeys: Advanced control group mechanics

Additional control group functions can be used to add or remove units and building to control groups.

Shift + 1 to 0 adds currently selected units and buildings to a group. This function will create a group if it is does not already exist.

Alt + 1 to 0 creates a control group with the currently selected units and buildings and removes them from the groups they were already bound to. This function will create a group if it is does not already exist.

** The Alt group function is extremely useful to split your forces to defend your base or set up pincer attack by having two independently controlled groups. I cannot recommend getting familiar with this command enough.

** Here is a trick tailored for Zergs : When morphing larvae into units, you can Ctrl + click all of the eggs in the unit frame and add them into your main army control group using the Shift + control group key function. This will allow you to have your newly morphed units in your group as soon as they are ready.

3.4 Hotkeys: Camera locations

It is possible to save a camera location of the map and go back to it instantly at the press of a key.

The default camera location hotkeys are: CTRL + F5 to F8 to set up the camera location. Once set up, you can press F5 to F8 to quickly bring back your screen to the saved location.

This is extremely useful to have a quick way to bring your screen back to your bases. You can quickly cycle between your armies and your bases either to defend or to create a building for example

** At the start of every game, I set up my camera locations to my main, natural, third and fourth base.

** I also strongly suggest that you re-bind the camera location keys, as the F5 to F8 are too far to be conveniently used.

** Having location hotkeys is essential for Zerg to manage queen injects.

3.5 Rally points

This basic mechanic is well known, but it may be worth remembering some newer players that it exists.

Building that can produce workers or army units can set a rally point. Simply click on the building and right click somewhere on the map where you wish your units to be rallied to.

Workers can be rallied directly to mineral patches or gas gathering buildings. Once they reach the resource they were rallied to, they will begin gathering it automatically.

3.6 Queuing commands

You can queue a very high number of commands to a unit, which can free your attention to do something else while these commands are performed.

This can be done by pressing the Shift key while issuing a command with your mouse. You can even queue a command that requires a keyboard input, like an attack move or the creation of one or more building, as long as you are holding down the Shift key.

You can use this function while clicking on the mini map as well.

** You can send Probes and SCVs to create a building and then immediately queue a command to send them back to your mineral line for example. This way, you workers will never be idle once the building is done.

** You can use the queuing function to focus fire enemy units one after the other. This is very useful when attacking mineral lines. For example, two adepts can one shot a drone, this mean you can shift + right click a bunch of workers with your two adepts to make sure they attack the same worker.

** You can use the queuing function to deploy units like siege tanks or warp prism when you wish to have them travel and deploy while you do something else.

** If you are not familiar or comfortable queuing orders to your units, I strongly suggest you practice it so that it becomes second nature to use this function.

3.7 General macro mechanics

A major part of the game of Starcraft II is to build lots of stuff and smash it in your opponent’s stuff. This might sound oversimplified, but this state of the game is magnified in the lower leagues. All ins and cute micro tricks might catch you off guard on the ladder but managing to build a large army faster than your opponent is going to rocket you up into higher leagues.

Here is a collection of essential general macro mechanics.

Never stop building workers. Unless you are planning an all-in or a timing attack that limits the number of workers you have, you should never stop making workers until you reach full saturation on 3 bases (66 workers). Zergs should be aiming for an even higher number of Drones, between 70 and 80.

The important thing to remember is to never have idle town halls and to always produce workers until full mineral and gas saturation is reached into all of your bases. If you find yourself at a point where you over build workers, consider that this is a good problem to solve.

Never stop training units. Makes sense, right? Just build stuff. Get maxed. If your composition is awful, adjust during the next games. The goal is to get maxed out and smash your opponent.

Never get supply blocked. Your eyes, they need to look at the top right part of your screen. Enough said.

Spend your minerals and gas. Good macro is not only about having lots of bases and workers. You need to know how to spend all those resources that you are gathering. If your production facilities are bottlenecked and you are floating minerals and gas, build more production!

• Somehow supply blocked? Spend your resources on upgrades! Your minerals don’t generate interest, so spend them spend them spend them.

• Keep looking at the mini map. This is crucial to spot incoming attacks or sneaky back door drops.

3.8 General micro mechanics

There are plenty of micro guides already and I don’t wish to focus much on explaining cute flashy tricks. Newer player should initially concentrate on getting comfortable with economy management. But there are still little things that you can introduce into your unit control that will help you win games.

• Play the “Starcraft Master” custom map made by Blizzard. It contains 30 rounds of micro intensive short missions. Just search for Starcraft Master in the arcade section of the custom tab.

Always attack move when moving your army around, especially if you plan on not looking at your army while it’s crossing the map.

• Try not to fight in choke points. You can lose fights with much higher supply when half of your army is not fighting.

Good map vision is paramount to your success. Use your creep spread and overlords if you are Zerg. Use scans and sensor towers if you are Terran. Use observers and hallucinations if you are Protoss. This way, you will always be well positioned against your opponent’s army.

• Workers will ignore unit collision when they are ordered to gather resources. For example, you can use this trick to save your workers from early Zerglings by selecting all your workers and spam right clicking on a mineral patch to stack up your workers and limit the surface area where the Zerglings can hit them.

• Learn all of your units’ abilities and use remember to use them. A Sentry’s guardian shield can make a world of difference during an engagement.

• Distract your opponent! If you feel that your army is strong enough to engage the enemy on his side of the map, why don’t you send a small force to hit his natural or main base to lure his main army away while you smash his third base?

4.When the dust has settled: Post gameplay habits​

4.1 Analyzing replays

While not a mechanical skill in itself, replay analysis will help you identify your weaknesses. It can also be useful to understand key timings of other races.

This guide will not explore the depth and optimizations of replay analysis, but a few pointers will be listed to help you understand how you can learn from them. Especially when you do not comprehend why you lost, so that you can look for problematic issues in your gameplay.

Identify if you are falling behind on macro: Are you supply blocked a lot? Are you floating resources? Are you constantly making workers? Are you constantly making units? No? Keep working on those mechanics, they will improve your game faster than anything else.
Compare your supply against your opponent's supply. When viewing a replay, you can press Ctrl + A to see the worker and army supply separately. If your opponent has much more supply than you do, try and identify what went wrong in your macro. (Note that Roach heavy Zergs will most likely have a lot more supply compared to you; this is expected).
• Did you lose to a cheese? Identify how you could have scouted his early build up. Scouting in lower leagues can be indeed tricky, but some sings just don’t lie: no natural base past the 2 minute mark of the game, no production buildings in his main base or an early tech building like a Baneling nest for example.
• Why don’t you also watch the replays of the games you felt good winning? A self-congratulatory pat on the back is always welcomed when playing such a difficult game.

4.2 Taking a break

The last point of this guide is not a mechanical tip. Starcraft II can be frustrating for many reasons. It’s an overwhelming and potentially frustrating game but you still play it. That being said, when you feel like you are getting angry after losses, just take a breather.

The habit of taking breaks from Stracraft II is crucial for people of any level. Even though this game sometimes feels like a disciplined training, it remains a game that you should be enjoying; never forget that.

5. Conclusion​

As much as we might say that Starcraft II is a strategy game, designing strategies is an aspect of gameplay that unfortunately doesn’t really come into play if you are not capable of executing the required mechanics to accomplish your plan. Being able to cunningly navigate the challenges of a partial information game when you get supply blocked all the time is… not going to win you many games.

Being able to decently perform macro and micro mechanicals tasks is paramount to reach a decent baseline of Starcraft II skills. Once you have reached a point where you can follow a build order, not get supply blocked, make a constant stream of workers and units while spending your resources constantly, you will be able to better explore the more interesting strategy elements the game has to offer.

If you goal is simply to get over the hump and reach a higher league you have never reached, using all of the mechanical tools listed in this guide at an above average level will quickly propel you to your goal.

Obviously, integrating so many new concepts into your way of playing the game can be challenging. But being aware that those tools exists is already one step in the right direction. You should strive to practice mechanics individually whenever you get the chance until they become second nature.

The game of Starcraft II is dauting and unforgiving. Losses can happen in the blink of an eye. Rarely does one intentionally partake into a leisurely past time that is so mentally draining. Yet we keep getting drawn to this punishing activity. Are we masochists? Are we junkies? Are we just striving to better ourselves even we are winding down from the stresses of regular life?

Whatever our motivations are, playing Starcraf II requires that you know how to perform crucial small mechanical actions that culminate in having an army good enough to own nerds. Not understanding these basic mechanical tasks would be a terrible idea isn’t it?

If you don’t want to fall flat on your own faces that is.
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