Kiting (to kite) is to move units around to make the enemy chase them and thus not be able to attack as much, or not at all. This is often used by ranged units against melee units in combination with move-shoot micro, but can also be used to let other units standing still deal damage, or to buy time for example in an early game rush.
While kiting may come as second nature to some, it can nonetheless be pretty micro-intensive during some battles, especially if you have multiple control groups of units to move around. There are several different ways to kite, although they are all pretty similar in execution.
Let's say you want to retreat back with your Stalkers, all the while shooting at the incoming enemy Zealots. You want to a bit behind your Stalkers right after their first attack. After this you want to try and time the Stalkers built-in attack cooldown and interrupt your retreat at the right time to immediately shoot another volley at the Zealots.
This command can be done by, for example, pressing Stalkers will "Patrol" the area, and since Zealots are in range, they will immediately fire at them. After that you simply rinse and repeat. Note that the Stalkers will not focus fire a selected target with this execution.(Patrol) + on the ground where you originally right-clicked. The
Kiting can also be done with the(Attack) + , (Hold) + or simply right-clicking an enemy in between the retreat intervals.
Another way is to clickand click to moving direction. After Stalker attack animation starts click move and immediately after +move to the same place. Using this Stalker will continue to walk and shoot right after attack cooldown.
The most important thing to practice when it comes to kiting is the timing. You usually do not want to waste an opportunity to fire. In order to deal out the maximum amount of damage in a given time while moving with your units, you're going to want to attack just as the cooldown for the units attack is up. Different units have different cooldowns of course, but most ranged units have roughly similar periods.
Note that kiting is not just for retreating, but for pursuit, or even a transitional tool to get your units into a better place during a battle. Pursuing an enemy force with the kiting technique ensures that no time is wasted by the enemy getting out of range during your units cooldown period. By that I mean, for example, that as the Zealots retreat, they escape your units range just before another attack is about to come. Since the Zealots were in range for most of the time, your units had no inclination to follow, and the gap between you and your enemy gets bigger for nothing.
Moving a large force up a ramp is another great example of when kiting serves great purpose. Without kiting, you would have to march your entire army up the ramp before you could engage, or parts of your army would be blocked by your own units as you engage. Marching an entire army can take several seconds, which can prove to be valuable time lost during an encounter. With the kiting method, the front part of your army will already be attacking while moving, greatly reducing the head start your enemy no doubt gets from being in place already.
Basically any ranged unit can kite, but some benefit more from it than others. Here are the units that currently benefits from it the most.
When using the Stim ability, your units speed increases greatly, making them that much better at kiting in any situation.
- Marauder. The Marauder is currently one of the best kiters in the game due to the Concussive Shells upgrade, researched at the Tech Lab. With this upgrade and proper kiting micro, few units can even attack or escape from them without some sort of special ability like Blink or Fungal Growth. Kiting with the Marauder is a very strong harassment technique early-mid game and is an essential part of pretty much any Barracks push.
- Reaper. The Reaper is another unit that benefits greatly from kiting. Considered mainly an early harassment unit, it excels at getting inside an enemy base early on and killing workers or buildings. If faster units like Zerglings, or ranged units, like Stalkers and Marines, are chasing it though, it will die in a heartbeat. Reapers are very fragile, but make up for it with their speed (which can be upgraded further at the Tech Lab). This is why kiting with it is so effective.
- The general idea is to try and circle around the back of your opponents mineral line, moving away from any enemies while at the same time sniping the workers.
- Note that this requires you to actually the same worker as you are kiting away from the enemy. This technique is a bit harder than the normal type of kiting.
- Viking. The Viking is another example of this technique, with its massive range, the Viking can easily kite Battlecruisers for being both slow and shorter in range.
- Hellion. Hellions are one of the most mobile units Terrans have access to. Against Zerglings and Zealots kiting is essential both to minimize damage received and to maximize damage dealt. By kiting away from enemies Hellions can force the enemies to group up in order to take advantage of the Hellion's AoE attack.
Zerg units are considerably faster on creep, and therefore kiting on regular ground can be quite different with/against Zerg units on creep.
- Mutalisk. The Mutalisk is a fast flying unit, which means it has certain options when it comes to kiting that regular ground units can not do. For instance, it can kite approaching enemies to the edge of a cliff, where the opponent can not follow, thus halting any attack against the Mutalisk. It is also impervious to any sort of terrain, and can kite in any direction it wants to, without fear of being blocked or cornered. However, since the Mutalisk has less range than any unit that can hit it, except the Archon, it's kiting is not very effective, since anytime it can attack, so can the target.
- Hydralisk. The Hydralisk might not be the fastest unit on normal ground, but the range upgrade available at the Hydralisk Den increases its range from 5 to 6, which outranges most other ground units in the game. One problem with the Hydralisk is that its attacks are hard to see, and as such you want to keep an eye out for the actual attack animation of the Hydralisk instead of the missiles when kiting with this unit.
- Roach. Kiting your Roaches well is very important early game against Zealots. Unmicroed you risk getting overrun by a 2-gate, while kiting can kill a lot of Zealots without losing any Roaches at all. In low number (say less than 5 of both) it can be very effective to use just one Roach to kite (don't bother attacking) all the Zealots while the others stand still and shoot. When the opponent changes target, you just change the kiting Roach. In bigger numbers it is mainly a matter of not getting surrounded and if possible micro the damaged Roaches closest to the Zealots away while the full health Roaches shoot.
- Stalker. The Stalker is one of the fastest ground units in SC2, and as such, is a great unit to kite with. Kiting with this unit works very well in conjunction with the Blink ability that can be researched at the Twilight Council.
- Phoenix. The Phoenix has sort of a built-in kiting ability. It does not actually need to stand still in order to shoot, it only needs to be in range. Instead of the usual kiting technique, you only need to move this unit in the desired direction while maintaining the range required to hit its target.
- Colossus. With the Extended Thermal Lance upgrade researched, the Colossus has a range of 9, which combined with its cliff walking, allows the Colossus to kite effectively.