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How to learn StarCraft

From Liquipedia StarCraft 2 Wiki

StarCraft 2 (SC2) is free to play. Therefore you will find new players in almost every league. In SC2 skill is not just about talent. Like in every other sport, skill is about practice. Pro Gamers often work hard to stay on top of their game. They often practice 6 to 10 hours a day or even more.

Maynarde will explain in much detail how you can start with the Campaign or Co-op. There is no reason to fear to play SC2. None.

Whatever you do in SC2: Have fun! The more fun you have, the more you will play, the more you will learn.

There are a few rules to improve. Even in Campaign or Co-op these rules will help you to be a better player.

The most important rules[edit]

  1. Build workers constantly!
  2. Keep your money low!
  3. Do not get Supply blocked!
  4. Watch the Minimap!
  5. Scout your opponent!

Rule #1 is very important. Protoss/Terran: If you want to play a Macro game with 66 to 80 workers, every second you do NOT build a worker is a mistake. For Zerg, this is a little bit more difficult. Check out Drone Timing for more information.

If you are stuck from Bronze to Gold, you probably should focus on the first 3 rules. Minimap and Scouting are very important parts of the game, but trying to learn all 5 steps (rules) at once, might be a little bit overwhelming.

Choosing a Build Order[edit]

Many people will tell you: "A BO is mandatory! An absolute must!". It is not. If you are in Bronze it's just not. BUT ... it helps a lot and it will help you in every league.

Unless you really enjoy making stuff up yourself, I always suggest to copy something, that someone made, that is a lot better than you. Especially lower level guys don't have the knowledge how to understand how a good build order works.[1]

Method #1: Play like a pro[edit]

If you have very much time, this is an approach, you should consider. If you have only a few hours per week, like playing 2 games every day, check out other learning methods.

Sooner or later you need to play SC2 with a solid BO. This learning method is about a solid BO from the beginning. Of course it's possible to start every game building two gas, but that is not efficient. The following video is just an example, you can choose any BO, which seems easy to you and which you understand. One thing is important though: The guide should contain specific numbers (supply count, timings), if you are a lower league player.

If a new player asks in a forum "How should I start?" the advice oftentimes is given out: "Just play the game"; or they say: "Watch Serral and try to copy his moves."

These players then watch Serral play (YouTube, Replay, etc) and slowly and steadily understand his BO and his playstyle.

We can say: "Whoa, you don't even doing your build order properly." You should always to be able to follow at least your first three or four minutes in the game super-exact.[2]

"Play like a pro" means you should focus on:

Pro: You will learn everything at once. After a couple of thousand games, you will understand, what your major mistakes are and what you should improve.

Contra: Make no mistakes, this is by far the most slowly and most frustrating way to learn SC2. E. g. if you focus too much on Micro, you might not spend your money, you might forget to build workers. In every other sport, "play like a pro" would be impossible to accomplish. Playing basketball like Michael Jordan right from the get-go is impossible, but somehow new players in SC2 are expected to copy Serral's playstyle. Is it possible? Yes. Is it hard to learn everything at once? Yes.

Method #2: TheStaircase[edit]

TheStaircase is a proven learning method. It worked in

Why is that?

Play like yourself - not like a pro

(...) It seems to me that far too often lower league players are tying themselves unnecessarily to the way progamers play. They see, learn and even get taught builds of progamers, without adjusting them to their own skill level. Let me give you an example of how you can change that and probably have a better personal experience with the game.

Let's say you're Zerg, you're on 3 bases and struggle with macroing. You tend to float minerals and gas like it's nobody's business and get frustrated after another loss with 2000 minerals unspent. Macro is hard! But it doesn't have to be, it's only that hard if you want to play perfectly but aren't yet capable of it. So how can you make it easier? Don't entirely copy progamers![3]

You get frustrated "after another loss with 2000 minerals unspent". TheStaircase will teach you how to Macro. It will focus on Mechanics. But it will take away every distraction in the beginning.

"Keep your money low" is a major factor in TheStaircase.

TheStaircase has very simple rules, like "You may not mine gas!", in the first step. Since you take away many distractions, TheStaircase is a simple way to learn SC2. Each step creates a new challenge for the player. New units are introduced over time.

Pro: TheStaircase does not require much time since most steps will be accomplished in a hundred games. The goal is not to win, the goal is to improve. Success is not measured by winning or losing.

Contra: TheStaircase does not suggest a "Pro-Gamer-Build". You are free to experiment. It restricts you from learning complex unit compositions right away. This will happen in the later stages of TheStaircase.

Method #3: Macro & Mechanics[edit]

Micro is a very important aspect of the game, especially in the higher leagues (Master, Grandmaster). But from Bronze to Diamond it is more important to focus on Macro & Mechanics. Basic Micro like A-Move is still required, though.

But even in high leagues (Master) it is possible to win with Macro, Mechanics and A-Move.

Harstem plays vs Ziggy, who is Terran (6,328 MMR). He looses a couple of games, but he wins one game, too. Harstem fights only with A-Move and starts Run-Bys via the Minimap (using Shift).

It is very important, that the Core is on time, when you play Core-First. Because like three seconds is a massive deal.[4]

In the lower leagues, it does not have to be a perfect build order. Remember the quote by TLO: "Play like yourself - not like a pro".

The first step is to choose a solid BO and try to execute the first minutes as efficiently as possible. In Bronze to Gold you focus on building workers and you try to keep your money low. Try to build as many basic fighting units, as you possibly can, e. g. MMM as Terran, Stalker-Colossus as Protoss and Roach-Hydra as Zerg.

You just play a couple of games and get used to this style of game-play. 15 minutes of SC2 per day is better than 2 hours on a Saturday. It's like learning an instrument, steady practice helps a lot.

Check out How to Practice, to improve on that part of the game.

After 50 or 100 or you start with Timings and Benchmarks.

It is so, so, so, so important, that you do everything cleanly and on time and that you have a good timing with everything.[5]

Focus on one or two things with this learning, not on everything at once.


  1. Choose a solid BO
  2. Try to execute it perfectly in the first few minutes
  3. Example #1: Try to avoid Supply Blocks and to keep your money low
  4. Example #2: Try to scout as good as you can and to constantly build workers

The first two steps are more difficult than you might think. But since the early game is so important, you should really try to hit Timings and Benchmarks.

It's very important, that you have benchmarks, that you're doing all the time.[6]

Method #4: Mental Checklist[edit]

The Mental Checklist does not focus on a perfect BO. It focus on the first three rules in the beginning. And it puts a heavy focus on Micro for Harass or Scouting.

Pro: The Mental Checklist will help you throughout your SC2 career. To become a Grandmaster, you will need the Mental Checklist at some point anyway. It is mandatory to have your production facilities on different Hotkeys. It is mandatory you have an "Army-Hotkey", e. g. 1 to jump to your army. All of this will help you in higher leagues.

Contra: The Mental Checklist depends on using Hotkeys. Often times players do not realize, that they use the mouse to box or click on buildings. Searching and finding mistakes and playing as efficient as possible, might be frustrating. It's like running 5 miles every day as a Basketball player. You just want to play ball, why is running important? This might be obvious, but in SC2 it is more "hidden". A "cardio workout" in SC2 is called "refining Mechanics". Many players are just too lazy to do it.

Various Guides[edit]