StarCraft Portal: Definitions

This page contains a list of terms and definitions that are commonly found when discussing StarCraft Brood War.

General Game-play terms


Describes the usages of hotkeys. Fighting units, especially with melee attack, are usually grouped on the number keys 1-3. Hence, the attack move of three control groups of units with the shortcut "1a2a3a" refers to an unmicroed massive attack. Often used as slur and soft insult towards the opponent.


Describes a highly risky strategy. If the strategy fails, the game is almost certainly lost.
Short for "Actions Per Minute". The number of commands given within one minute in the game with game speed fastest. Often seen as soft indicator for skill. Definitions and calculation of APM depend on external tools such as BWChart.
Artosis Pylon
Refers to a single Pylon powering multiple Buildings. If targeted, crucial buildings like Gateways will be shut down. Often a target for careful players. The term was often and regularly used by the American player and commentator Artosis to point out flaws concerning building placement.


Refers to a strategical move. Usually used whenever a player raids an unprotected base with harassment units after distracting the opponent / tricking him to remove protection from the target.
Refers to any unit with the attribute "biological". Mostly used to describe Terran army combination consisting of mostly units trained in the Barracks.


Refers to unconventional strategies. Theoretically, cheese also includes All-in strategies. However, a cheese does not need to rely on game ending attacks.
Choke (Point)
Refers to a terrain features, which funnels incoming ground units. The term is usually used as synonym for a ramp or a narrow point of entrance into a base.
Refers to the initial split of the four workers to four different Mineral patches.
A contain describes a strategy, in which one player positions units near important parts of the map (e.g. the entrance to a base) and thus denies access to it.
neutral "monsters" roaming the map. Mostly of no use for the actual game play.
Cutting Workers
Part of special Build Order planning. Usually, workers are being produced constantly for Protoss and Terran, and to a lesser and more abstract extent also for Zerg. To "cut workers" means to intentionally stop producing workers in order to boost either the ability to train units fast, save money to train important high tech units or to enable a faster research of technology.


Doom Drop
Describes a large drop. Usually at least one control group of units are transferred via Drop Ships, Overlords, Shuttles or the Recall.


Economy, Eco
Refers to the potential of a player's income. Usually used to describe whether or not a player gains much or very low money. The number of workers, number of mineral and gas bases, as well as the overall saturiation of workers harvesting minerals/vespine gas is counted as "eco".
Refers to a strategical move. Usually a Drop Ship, Overlord or Shuttle are used to transfer ground units in early stages of the game into the opponents base, while bypassing fortified choke points.


Fast Expansion (FE)
Describes a type of Build Order. A Fast Expansion refers to "fast expanding" in the own Natural Expansion by building a Command Center, Hatchery or Nexus there. This concept is somewhat open for subjective opinions. Theoretically speaking, a Fast Expansion is taken in the first five minutes of the game. Usually the fast expanding player delays the training of a larger number of units. Fast Expansions also enable the performing player to boost his worker force in the minutes after expanding.


Gas Steal
A scenario in which a player builds an extraction building in the opponent's main base to delay gas income.
Greedy Build (Order, greedy strategy)
Describes a strategy in which expansions are taken and the training of units is delayed on purpose. If this strategy succeeds, the player to use it gains an economical advantage. However, it is also most times linked to a higher risk of exposure, as units may be missing to effectively defend the own base(s).


Harassment (Harass)
Harass or Harassment is the act of using a small number of units, usually with superior mobility, to cause damage to the enemy without a large engagement. Harassment also serves an ulterior motive, most times stalling incoming attacks, denying expansions or to harm the opponent's ability to mine or train units.
Hidden Tech
Describes a special placement of (tech) buildings outside of the own base. This is done to disguise the own opening or transition. Usually done by Protoss and Terran, only in a lesser extent by Zerg, as creep limits the ability to "hide" buildings.
less common phrase. Can either refer to a unit's movement or some of Terran's buildings. In the first case it is used to point out that Vultures, Archons, Dark Archons, all wokers and all flying units can not trigger Spider Mines. In the second case the term is rarely used by commentators and writers to stress out flying Buildings (e.g. Barracks) used to "scout" key points of the maps.


Low Eco(nomy)
Refers to a game in which one or both players only have few workers (see also: Economy). Usually, these type of games are characterized by constant fights with a low unit count. A stereotypical "low economy" match up would be Zerg vs. Zerg.


Describes and summarizes all actions performed in order to build structures and train units.
Manner Pylon
Describes a Pylon purposefully built close to an opponent's mineral line. These type of Pylons prohibit the effective harvesting of Minerals and force the opponent's workers to take a detour. In other cases Pylons can block Terran Add-Ons to buildings, e.g. the Workshop to a Factory. They can also be used to deny Terrans from building a Wall-in.
Manner (Building)
Similar to the Manner Pylon. Sometimes Terrans and Protoss build Pylons, Supply Depots or similar buildings at important points of the maps. Usually done to block an opponent's main building near minerals. For Terran most times the construction is not done completely, so that they can be cancelled if they are under attack.
Maynarding (Maynard Slide)
Describes a transfer of workers from one base to a newly built expansion.
Mechanical (Units)
An attribute of Terran units, describes units built in the Factory and the Star Port. Rarely used to refer non-biological units of Protoss.
Describes the ability of a player to control the game. Mechanics include micro- and macromanagement, as well as multi tasking.
Meta game
Commonly refers to current strategy shifts and the most popular strategies chosen by players. However, it can also refer to "mind games" or decisions done by players within a best of series against the same opponent.
Describes and summarizes all commands performed to manage single units and armies.
Mineral Only
Expansion spots featuring only Minerals and no Vespine Geysers.
Describes and summarizes a player's ability to switch between micro- and macromanagement.


Natural Expansion
Base with Minerals and usually one Vespine Geyser closest to a player's starting position.


Proxy (Buildings, Strategy)
Proxy derives from "in proximity to". Usually describes a highly risky strategy, for which one player builds constructions outside of the own base. However, in contrast to "hidden tech" strategies, these buildings are used to train units directly.
Rare term used with very different meanings. Within the American player base powering usually refers to Zerg players training Drones instead of units, whereas powering can also refer to a player training a massive amount of units or any other race spending money on infrastructure.
Term usually referring to any kind of large attack or bigger army movement. Originally used to describe the first attack of a Terran, which ends in either a game winning battle or the setup of a contain.


Rush (strategy)
A rush strategy can be seen as opposite to the Fast Expansion Build Orders. Units are trained early on and used to pressure or defeat the opponent within the first minutes of a game.


Movement of units done in order to obtain information. Scouting is done throughout the entire game.
Term with ambigious meaning. Within the American and English speaking player base it usually refers to a building placement which creates a physical barrier like Wall-ins. In a broader context Sim City can also refer to any kind of base layout which serves a higher purpose.
In a more common sense Splitting is equal to cloning. However, units can be splitted in different scenarios as well, mostly in order to avoid suffering from Area of Effect / Splash damage. Examples would include Mutalisks being unstacked after they were irradiated.
Smurf describes an unknown alias of a player. Creating alternate IDs is done in order to disguise the true identity of a player.
Describes either a game situation, in which no player has an advantage, or a game being cancelled by referees, because neither side can win.


To be determined
Something yet to be determined such as tournament participants, map pool, or release date.
Tech Switch
Describes a strategical move. Usually refers to situation in which one player prepares and executes to train different units.
Timing (Window)
Describes a strategical concept. A player follows a Build Order to be able to train a special unit combination, expand or execute an attack at a preset time. The preset time depends on the game flow itself. The "best" time to hit a vulnerable opponent or to expand is usually described with the term "Timing Window". In a more abstract thought "Timing Window" can refer to any kind of situation in which a strategy can be used at maximum efficiency (e.g. training units, saving resources, etc.).
Turn Rate (Network)
The frequency per second at which your actions are submitted by the game. The higher Turn Rate, the more frequently you are requesting updates and the lower required latency between all players in the game.
Turtle (Style)
Refers to a very passive player not attacking for a long time.


Walling (-wall)
Describes the placement of buildings, which create a physical obstacle and prohibit ground units from passing through them. Mostly done by Terran and Zerg, but also by Protoss via "Pylon Walls".