Hi! Now that we have all gotten
our feet wet with the starcraft 2, I thought I would write a short
guide to help beginners develop micro and macro skills for
multiplayer. Please note this is not the end-all stop for micro and
macro knowledge, it is here to help beginners get started, and to
hopefully teach a few tricks to help micro and macro skill
development. This guide was primarily written for Terrans, but may
be adopted for other races with a few changes. So with that lets get
First a quick description for those who do not know.
* Micro: "Micro management", or effective use of your current
army. Tactics include focus firing, using your available hard
counters on their most effective units in a specific fight,
effective ability use, speed, timing, and accuracy, and so on. An
effective micro use leads to a higher kill-to-death ratio on
individual units in your army, extending each unit's life, use and
* Macro: In a nut shell, building/upgrading your base(s),
expanding, maximizing and effectively using your economy. Easy at
first, but becomes more difficult later into the match while you are
doing micro. An effective macro use increases the rate in which you
are able to produce and replace units, upgrade units and continue in
the tech tree.
Skilled use of both functions are required to be effective in
So lets get started!
Hotkeys: You must absolutely positively learn hot-keys for your
race, all of the ones you will commonly use during a match. It is
critical for both effective micro and macro. Beginners, you will
increase your speed dramatically if you follow this step. Don't skip
it. Honestly, the easiest way to learn these are to do custom maps
against 1 AI, on medium, as much as needed till you know them to the
point you can do them without thinking about it. Learning your
hotkeys is critical for a good macro - so you can manage your base
without looking at it. So you can think of "what" you are going to
accomplish in terms of your overall strategy, and less of "how" you
are doing it. Some hotkeys that are essential are unit abilities (R -
Snipe), building (C - Command center) , unit training (M - Marine)
Upgrades (Z - Tech lab) ect.
Control Groups: Everyone knows and loves control groups, but there
are more uses to them than just your main army. For an effective
macro, assign building(s) to control groups in a logical manner.
This is discussed more below. Again, effective control group
management is critical for good micro and macro.
Ok, to begin with, staying on top of your macro during a fire-fight
with the enemy, can easily make or break your match. Lets use an
Its 5 minutes into the game and you have your first strike force in
good accord. You got a marine/marauder ball rolling. You head out of
your base to assault their base. Mid field, you meet his army, a
couple of zealots and stalkers. You are great at micro, but tend to
forget about your macro at times. You focus fire his army down and
lose a few units, but continue on to his base. You begin to harass
him, but he already has a smaller new force defending his base, plus
a couple of void rays which wipe out your marauders. You spend about
a minute harassing. After you back off or lose your units, you
notice that you have 1000 unspent resources and 700 gas. You have
next to no army to speak of, while your opponent's army is both
teched to counter and has units. He could easily launch a counter
attack and overwhelm you and you do not have the tech to defend.
Game over man, game over.
Preventing situations like this is all about having effective,
efficient, and fast control over your base, and having presence of
mind. All of this comes with practice.
(Tip 1) To begin, here are some tips on control groups:
Standardize them. Standardize your control groups, so you can
quickly switch between units in groups and use them effectively.
This greatly helps with both micro and macro. It is not always
possible to always have them standardized (being flexible to
situations) but it goes along way to help your speed. Here is my
1: Primary Marine/Marauder/Medivac Attack force
2: Siege Tanks
5: Designated builder(s)
9: Ghost academies
10: Command centers
TIP: While you have
multiple unit selections (Say, Barracks and Tech Labs) you can
switch between the different unit selections with TAB. This is
helpful to use different abilities/upgrades while still having them
(Tip 2): The general idea is
to have a strong focus on micro, while effectively managing macro
and economy with minimal direct attention. That is to say, 80%-95%
of the time, your eyeballs are on your army, moving forward with map
control and the rest of the time managing your bases. This is how it
* Control groups: Control groups allow you to manage your
base without looking at it. This is very effective while doing
micro. You can be back-stabbing a colossus in the face with your
group of mauraders, and telling your base to build more marines and
set the rally point on your army to help kill the additional void
rays your opponent is making. In other words, it is possible to keep
the focus on your micro and pwning your enemy, while still making
effective use of your economy to create replacement units and tech.
* Control group jumping: Control groups on buildings also
allow you to -quickly- look at your base, and back to your army.
Example: Double press 6 to see available barracks, then double-press
1 to get back to army. Use this often to drop MULES from your
* Hotkeys: Learn them so you can -quickly- build buildings,
units, ect. in your base with minimal time spent looking at your
* Designated builder(s): Assign 2 or 3 SCVs currently mining
to a group. do NOT use this group off the bat, but rather use it
later into the match when you are microing. The idea is to be able
to -quickly- build buildings and continue teching with minimal
effort, focus, and time.
You are scouting for expansions with your main force. While you are
doing this, you need to tech up to siege tanks, and build a few
supply depots. Double Hit 5(Focus on Designated Builders), V(advance
building) f(factory) place. b(build), s(supply depot), place.
Shift-right click minerals. Double Hit 1(focus back on army). You
just spent 1-2 seconds, are building a factory, and supply depot(s),
and told your SCVs when they finish them to immediately return to
their mining duties, and you are free to continue macro'ing your
army. It is also a good idea to put repair on automatic on these
guys to be able to quickly get a group of SCVs to repair a structure
(bunker, supply depot, ect)
- Economy and unit replacement management: This one requires
presence of mind, and alot of practice. This is effectively
building units throughout the match and effectively using your
economy so it doesn’t balloon into uselessness. You have to keep
in mind to keep looking at your supply, your resources, and to
keep building units, even when you are under attack or you are
attacking. Effectively doing this can make or break you. Use
control groups on buildings and hotkeys for units to greatly
increase speed and control of units and buildings.
- Rally points: You can set rally points on pretty much
anything. One effective use includes reinforcing your army
mid-stream. Use: select your barracks(s), build a que of some
marines and marauders. Look at your army, and right click the
rally point on a unit (I usually pick units that are tough and
generally will have a better chance to survive, so the rally
point wont break). Any unit that now spawns will automatically
be set to follow that unit out of the barracks.
(Tip 1): Scout. Scout. Scout scout scout scout scout. And then scout
some more. This is absolutely vital to your success in multiplayer.
Effective scouting can tell you how your opponent's economy is
doing, how big their army is, what his army composition is, if they
have expansions, ect. That one 50 mineral SCV you used in the
beginning of the game could save you 600 minerals in marines if your
opponent is going early roaches... The gamble is ALWAYS worth it.
Scout. Do it early, and do it often. Do it through out the match.
Your opponent is human, they think just like you do. They will be
doing the same thing, adjusting -their- strategy to hit your
weakness. I typically scout my first SCV after building a supply
depot (10 supply). Much earlier if it is zerg.
- TIP: An example would be if you were facing protoss, and an early
scout picked up a cybernetics core. There is a chance he is going
stalkers. You can start building more marauders to counter his force
to compensate for this. While you are doing this, scout again to
confirm your initial hypothesis. Stay flexible and keep your
intelligence on the fly.
- TIP: While scouting, you must develop the knack of gaining as much
knowledge from as little intelligence as possible. This is developed
through experience and practice. Suggest you watch replays of pros.
Watch what they do -after- they scout. Do they change their build
order? Do they change what units they are building? Are they teching
less? or more? ect.
(Tip 2): LEARN COUNTERS!! Learn what units counter what effectively.
Know them second nature, so you can make quick and informed
decisions on your economy and army composition. Knowing hard
counters and using them effectively will GREATLY increase your
(Tip 3): Practice to be able to mentally estimate unit strength. Can
3 marines effectively kill 2 reapers with micro? without? Can a un-sieged
tank kill 2 hydras? Learn to estimate your unit's strength to be
able to quickly make informed combat decisions on the fly.
(Tip 4): manage your units with an overall goal in mind. Don't just
let them sit around in your base, use them. Put pressure on your
opponent. Use them to defend an expansion while it develops. Scout
for enemy expansions. Enforce map control and pressure. Harass your
(Tip 5): Focus fire. Use this to quickly eliminate units in your
enemies army. Take for example, 5 marines vs 5 marines. One group
uses focus fire, the other doesn’t. The one using focus fire will
kill all 5 of the other marines and will likely end up with at least
2-3 remaining marines.
(Tip 6): Hotkeys for abilities. USE THEM. Stemmed marines and
marauders are devastating, especially if micro'd. Effective use of
ghost Snipe and EMP can cripple large armies, giving you a decisive
advantage in spite of size.
(Tip 7): Shift commands. You can give Shift Commands to your units to
make a "queue" of commands to perform. Use this with scouting to
have your SCV check for expansions in multiple spots!
Hope this guide helps!