Monday, October 18, 2010

Starcraft 2: The Bronze & Silver Crash Course

by Evan "FCsTrYKe" Kim on August 12, 2010
If you’re in the bronze, silver, or even gold leagues, then this guide is for you. In it, I took the fundamentals of solid play and broke them down into seven easy to follow rules.
To prove that this works, I purposely moved down to the bronze league to see how far I could get using nothing but the information found in this guide. I went 70 wins to 3 losses getting back to platinum and then 1 more win got me to diamond.
I’m confident that if you can master these rules, you’ll get into the platinum or even diamond league in no time – and you’ll actually deserve it.

The Idea Behind the Seven Rules
The main problem with new players isn’t that their strategies are bad. Surprisingly, many newbies enjoy watching pro replays, surfing forums like Team Liquid, and talking about Starcraft 2 strategy with their friends.
No, the main problem with new players is that when push comes to shove, they simply don’t have enough units. Not enough of an army, not enough workers, not enough of anything. At its heart, Starcraft 2 is an economically focused game, which means that having a ton of units is more important than having the right units.
Once you reach the higher levels of play where most players are good at getting a lot of units, then you can start deciding what units to make. Until then, it’s important that you worry less about your strategy, and worry more about what matters – managing your economy.
The seven rules were designed to give you a solid economic foundation. Using that foundation, you can learn to play the game the right way and progress as quickly as possible.
With that, let’s get onto the rules!

Rule #1: Constantly Build Workers

Building workers nonstop will give you the resources you need to make a giant army. Every time you don’t build a worker, but your opponent does, you’re falling behind.
Just think about that for a moment. By forgetting to make workers, you’re putting yourself at a disadvantage before you even do any fighting.
Here’s a common in game example of Rule #1 in action:
  1. You start the game happily making workers
  2. Eventually your mineral line will get saturated. At 24 workers on minerals, you won’t make any more money by making more workers.
  3. When your mineral line gets saturated, expand and move the extra workers to the expansion.
  4. Rally both your main CC and expansion CC to the expansion’s minerals and constantly make workers from both of them.
  5. Repeat for any additional bases

Rule #2: Spend All of Your Minerals

Any minerals you’re saving are minerals that are going to waste. For the entire game you should try your best to spend all of your minerals all the time.
As an example, if you lose a game with 3000 minerals, you could have had 30 extra Zealots, 60 extra marines, or 120 extra zerglings. No amount of strategizing can save you from that kind of deficit.
In fact, in the bronze and silver leagues, whoever follows this rule better is usually the one who wins the game.
Here’s a common in game example of Rule #2 in action:
  1. You notice that you’re over 500 minerals and you want to spend all of them.
  2. Check all of your buildings to make sure a unit is under construction
  3. If you still have extra minerals, ask yourself if you feel safe expanding.
  4. Yes: Throw down an expansion
  5. No: Build more unit production buildings (barracks, starport, etc.)
  6. If you want to get really fancy, you can start researching upgrades

Rule #3: Never Get Supply Blocked

Everybody knows getting supply blocked is bad, but it’s hard to put your finger on why exactly it’s bad.
Basically, getting supply blocked forces you to do things you don’t really want to do.
Supply depots take 30 seconds to construct, which means that all of your production structures are frozen for close to a full production cycle. While your buildings are frozen, you’re not spending the money you should have been spending, breaking Rule #2: Spend All of Your Minerals.
Because you’re not spending your money correctly, you’re forced to build more production, tech faster, or expand when you might not be ready to. It also messes with your timings, causing attacks and defenses to be slightly watered down.
If you do get supply blocked (it even happens to the pros from time to time), do your best to keep following Rule #2 and don’t be afraid to make additional structures – you have to do something with the extra money.

Rule #4: Stay Light on Static Defense

For many new players, their gut instinct is to turtle up so they don’t die to any sort of rush. After that, their plan is to either mass a huge army or tech to something fancy (carriers anyone?)
Now not being too aggressive is fine, but as a newer player you need to shy away from making static defense. Actual units are far more flexible than cannons or turrets are and give you a nice army to attack with once you’re done defending.
Once you hit the Diamond league, there are situations where it’s very difficult to defend without some well timed static defense – but before that point, if you ever feel like you needed cannons to fend off a rush, you’re probably failing at the other rules.

Rule #5: Use Simple Strategies

Now that we have the basics figured out, we need some strategic glue to hold it all together.
Since we already have rules #1 to #3 to worry about, we don’t want to add a complex build order complete with harassing, clever timing attacks, and heavy micro.
Instead, we need to favor simple builds which are highly flexible and let you really focus on the things that matter.
Some Sample Builds that I Would Recommend:
  • Terran: 3 Barracks (two with tech labs, one with a reactor) -> Expand
  • Protoss: Gate -> Core -> x2 Gate -> Expand
  • Zerg: Pool -> Roach Warren -> Expand -> Lair -> Hydralisk Den
You might be wondering what the exact timings on the buildings are. Don’t worry too much about it. If you just follow the rules, you’ll naturally find good times to build everything.
Too many players get caught up in this “exact build order” mentality where if the slightest thing goes wrong, their entire plan is messed up. This is the wrong way to learn at the lower levels – just keep building stuff, and if you start making too much money, build more buildings.
Easy. Just the way I like it.

Rule #6: Prioritize Base Upkeep

In your games, you’ll find it hard to remember to do everything at the same time. The important thing to remember is that following Rules #1 – #3 are the most critical things you could be doing at any time.
When the big battles happen, you’ll naturally want to watch the battle unfold. This is fine if you can follow the rules at the same time. What ends up happening with most players is they watch the big battle, forget to keep making units, and then their opponent ends up rolling them over.
In the large confrontations, don’t be afraid to get into a good position, cast a few spells, and then let the attack move AI handle the rest of the fight. While that’s going on, happily make more units and buildings in your base and you’ll have a nice big second army ready to go.

Rule #7: Experience is King

No matter how much reading, strategizing, or pro replay watching you do, the fact remains that you can’t get good without putting in time to actually play the game. If you want to get good, it’s far better to spend 90% of your time playing games than it is to spend 90% of your time theorycrafting.
Speaking of which, what are you doing still reading this guide? Get out there and play the game!
If you need any help or have any tips that you think would help other newer players, leave a message in the comments below!

Evan is an ex-top 75 Red Alert 3 player. In Starcraft 2, he plays random and is currently hovering around the Diamond 500-600 point range.


  1. these are pretty hardcore tips, lotta them applicable to the first game i feel. cool stuff. I bet koreas gonna get hard by the new rules tho lol