ABOUT THE WRITER Alex “TerrorBlade” Benner is one of the country’s best real-time strategy players (RTS), with three Warcraft III xLAN championships under his belt (including NewZealand World Cyber Games representation in 2004). He was also the runner-up in this year’s StarCraft: Brood War New Zealand World Cyber Games qualifiers.
1 - Make sure you get the Warpgate technology (researched at the Cybernetics Core) as soon as possible. It gives you two advantages: You can react quickly to an incoming army by quickly warping in the specific units required to counter your opponent; and while on the attack, you can reinforce in a few seconds if you have a forward pylon or a Warp Prism, or even harass multiple bases at once with multiple Warp Prisms.
2 - The Stalker's “Blink” ability (researched at the Twilight Council) makes it one of the most effective and frustrating-to-handle harassment units in the game. The short cool-down means you can seriously hurt your opponent's economy by simply blinking up their ramp, killing several workers in a few volleys with their ranged attack, then continue blinking around the base, damaging his/her economy while making sure you have an escape route so you can blink to safety.
3 - Due to the passive defences in the Zerg arsenal you can often expand very early at your nearest mineral patch to increase both your potential income and production output. If your opponent realises this and he/she is assembling to apply early pressure to your expansion, it is very important to build some Spine Crawlers and an additional Queen to assist in the defence.
4 - Place Creep Tumours with your Queens in the mid game, fi lling out the area between your bases and spread out as far as you can towards your opponent and potential expansion spots. The increased mobility provided by the on-creep speed bonus can be game-changing, allowing you to retreat from unfavourable battles, quickly fl ank your opponent's army, or even send some emergency aid to an expansion under attack!
5 - Loading up units into several Medivacs then dropping them down in the back of an enemy base to kill key tech buildings or workers can be devastating (read: rage inducing). This will force the opponent to split his army for fear of being hit at his main base or expansions, giving you the opportunity to strike at the main entrance with a large group while his forces are split up.
6 - If you plan on expanding but want to keep your opponent in the dark, try building the Command Centre in your main base instead of next to the mineral patch, then lift off and fl y there when it's completed and you feel it's safe. The lack of information might cause your opponent to incorrectly hold back from attacking you when you're vulnerable seeing the absence of an expansion, giving you time to reap the income advantage and close the army size gap.
7 - Always try to build workers constantly throughout the course of the game. This addresses both the lack of mineral saturation less experienced players often suffer from (three workers for each mineral patch and vespene geyser is optimal) and also allows you to populate expansions very quickly as you can move over seven or eight workers from your main base as soon as it's completed, maximising saturation at both of your mineral patches and splitting up worker production more effi ciently between the bases.
8 - StarCraft II is a game of income rate and production capability. It's vital that you increase your production with each expansion so you can replenish your forces faster than your opponent and overwhelm them. For example, Protoss might sustain three or four Gateways on one base and then add three or four more gateways for every running expansion. As a general rule, if you can't stay below 500-1000 minerals, you probably don't have enough production.
9 - Always be mindful of your opponent's army size and location, and keep tabs on his/her potential expansion areas by scouting regularly. This will allow you to either push and fi nish the game if he's too weak, expand if you can't quite break in but are capable of defending, or scramble to get more defences if he's stronger than you and is getting in position to attack. Make use of Protoss Observers, Zerg Overlords (zerglings work great for scouting enemy expansions too) and Terran Scanner Sweeps to gather this information.