First off, what is a build order (BO)?
Literally, a build order is a set of instructions on the order and
timing of buildings and units you construct. The timings are usually
timed by your supply count. At a set time you should have X supply,
and when you have X supply you know its time to build a given
building or unit. Its a set of orders and instructions.
Figuratively, a build order is the refinement of an idea. At first
you know what you want to do, but you don't know exactly how to work
it into your strategy without sacrificing too much else. You don't
know when you'll have the minerals/gas to spare, when you need to
start mining gas to time everything perfectly, and you don't want to
go into it without a plan. So you create a build order.
Example: Basic Zerg Fast Expand BO
14- Spawning Pool
This is a very basic build order for a fast expand. It has been
refined and worked until it covers everything you need. It has the
14 spawning pool to defend an early attack but still gets a fast
expansion, followed by the gas you need, and finished with an
overlord so you can continue to build when it is all complete.
How do I go about creating a build order?
Creating a good build order is a critical skill to master, but it
can be difficult if you don't have the slightest idea where to
begin. First you start off with a basic idea of what you want to do.
Lets say you want to try a powerful mid-early marine rush with an
extremely fast stimpack and marine shield upgrade.
So you lay out a basic plan. You want to get some fast barracks but
you'll need early tech labs so you can train stimpack and marine
shield, thus you need early gas too so you'll go refinery before
barracks. Soon after that you want two more barracks with reactors
to mass produce marines. You need a basic, reliable, but not too
hard opponent to play against so you pick a medium-low computer to
try it out on. You try your strategy without a set build order in
Next you go back and watch the replay and take note of at what
supply you built everything. You write that down and see what the
weak points of the build were and refine the original build. Lets
say you note that the generator on the fourth rax was pointless, it
took too much time to build and you were better off just pumping
from the rax so you could get the attack out earlier. You also note
that you have plenty of resources later on but if you call a supply
drop instead of a mule you'll have the resources early on to build
your third barracks sooner, even if you're 170 min behind in the
end. You need the barracks now and the resources later are not
Ok so finally you try the refined build against another computer and
it all works out very well, you're pleased with the results. You've
got a working build, but you need just 1 or 2 minor tweaks before
you pit it against another player. Lets say you realize that
stimpack takes 30 second longer to complete than the marine shield
upgrade, so you start training stimpack before the shield instead of
after. This way they both complete at the same time and you can move
Now you're ready to try your refined build order against another
player. It has to come eventually, so GO FOR IT!