2003-07-01 (The Frozen Throne)
Apple Mac OS X
Players are required to strategically and quickly manage their Economy, Technology and Army in order to defeat their opponent. The basis of playing is, on the one hand, to harvest resources and on the other hand using said resources to purchase buildings, upgrades and units.
In this most basic understanding of the game we distinguish two tasks for the player: Macro and Micro. As the name indicates, Micro refers to more local, specialized events, while Macro concerns the overall flow of the game and the economical side. It is important for every Warcraft player to have a balance of these two.
Micro (or micromanagement in full) encompasses managing your army. Moving, attacking, retreating with the ultimate goal of overpowering your opponent. Micro is the ability to control your units individually, in order to make up for pathing or otherwise imperfect AI. The general theory of micro is to keep as many units alive as possible.
Macro encompasses managing your economy and technology: making sure you have an income (by harvesting resources) and spending said income (by purchasing buildings, upgrades and units). An important factor in Warcraft is to balance the army size with respect to upkeep. Breaking at the right moment can be crucial in a game; break too soon and you will not reach the army size required to beat your opponent, but break too late and your standing army may have been defeated by the time reinforcements arrive.
All these operations take place in real-time - commands are executed as they are given. This means a player not only benefits from strategical insight, but also from speed and multitask ability, measured by APM (actions per minute). The ability to perform specific actions in limited time is often referred to as Mechanics.
Warcraft was initially developed to be a Role-Playing Strategy Game. Although it ended up closer to a regular Real-Time Strategy Game (RTS), a few important elements carry on from the early versions. Chief among them is the Hero-unit, which plays more like a character from an RPG game than is normal in an RTS. They are given individual names, progress throughout the game by gaining experience and leveling up, and have skill points that the player must choose how to spend. Which heroes and what skills the player selects will have a profound impact on how the game pans out.