How To Fail At StarCraft II Multiplayer

Last night I played my first round of StarCraft II multiplayer. It was the first time I ever played any StarCraft game against a human opponent. It might also be my last.

I never played the original StarCraft, and while I am enjoying my time with the campaign mode of StarCraft II, it doesn't do much to prepare you for the online multiplayer portion of the game.

I've played through the StarCraft II tutorials, which prepare you for the basic tasks of building structures, moving units, harvesting resources and entering combat. What those tutorials don't teach you is the strategy necessary to compete online against other players.

Nowhere in the Collector's Edition box did I see any materials containing hints or tips to help take your game online. There's an online Beginner's Guide available at the StarCraft II website, but I couldn't find any information there either.

I didn't get much help from the single-player game either. My missions so far have had specific goals that didn't involve overrunning a competing player's base.

It's as if I am supposed to simply know what to do, so I went into my first game assuming I did.

I did not.

I started off by selecting the Practice League. Each player gets 50 Practice League games to play before being forced into ranked play, so I figured this was a safe place for a novice to start.

I chose a 1-on-1 battle and soon found myself in charge of the Terran faction, while my opponent chose to back the Zerg.

Quickly I started building up my SCVs, gathering crystals and minerals in order to build more units. Soon as I had a couple of refineries running, I built a barracks in order to start generating troops. As soon as the barracks went up, I noticed this little floaty Zerg guy hovering over my base, and figured I was already in trouble. My opponent already knew where I was.

Let me pause here for a moment to reinforce my point: I have never played StarCraft until yesterday, and my knowledge isn't going to be up to snuff, so when I say things like "little floaty Zerg guy", you may feel the urge to respond, "That's an Overlord, you idiot!" Well don't, because I don't know what that means.

Anyway, the Overlord showed up, and I decided it was time for some defences. I tossed up a missile tower and a bunker. Then I got distracted and started building other things that I probably didn't need.

Without a working knowledge of tactics, I instead relied on my knowledge of StarCraft fiction. Having read the StarCraft: Ghost novel, I knew that Ghosts are pretty damn cool. I decided to make a couple of those.

While the Ghost was being worked on I added a bunch of Marines, a handful of Reapers, a Siege Tank and a Banshee, which I figured I could use to scout. I forgot all about the Banshee once the Ghost got the cloaking ability.

I can almost hear the StarCraft players groaning. There was absolutely no strategy to any of this. I just built what sounded nice and hoped for the best. I managed to fend off his first group of Zerglings at least. That's good, right?

Soon I had my Ghost, who I had nicknamed Clarissa, wandering the map in search of the enemy base. Clarissa scouted high and low, pausing now and then to regain cloaking energy before finally stumbling upon a massive Zerg structure.

Did you know there was an achievement for setting off a nuke?

I felt immensely proud of myself as the base exploded. Sure, it wasn't destroyed, but all I had to do was mobilise my forces, which were busy being slaughtered back at my own base. Dammit.

You can build more than one base in StarCraft. This was not something I had yet realised with my limited time with the singleplayer campaign, so when the Zerg forces came screaming into my base from a different location, I was a bit surprised.

I was so surprised that, before I knew it, my pitiful defences had fallen. My production facilities were destroyed. All I could do was wait while my enemy finished the job.

While my first attempt at playing StarCraft II multiplayer was a failure, I did learn some important lessons that could help me in the future.

Lessons Learned

  • Don't be afraid to expand beyond your stupid little base. Hell, don't be afraid to pick up and move if you need to.
  • Defence. You should probably do it.
  • Ghosts are still pretty damn cool.

What, you wanted actual advice? Visit the StarCraft II Beginner's Guide and familiarise yourself with all of the units, what they do and what can kill them. Play some Versus A.I. missions to help familiarise yourself with the units you don't get to control in singleplayer. Work your way through StarCraft II's Challenges, as I plan to do this weekend.

Still not good enough? Ask someone on to help tutor you. It's a social network, after all.

StarCraft II isn't the sort of multiplayer game you can just hop into unprepared and hope to succeed, but with a little work, you might suck slightly less than I do and that's half the battle.


    DiggitySC, Huskystarcraft and HDstarcraft all have VERY GOOD tutorials for a new player. I watched a few but didn't finish them because I thought "this isn't for me" but for a new player, it would be very useful!

    Some tips for a new Terran player from the top of my head:
    Don't stop making workers (applies to all races)
    Wall off the choke point with supply depots and barracks
    Take a look at the tech tree (again, applies to all races), Blizzard has kindly quickly listed which units a particular unit are strong or weak against
    SCOUT with one of your workers before your first building is finished (usually when you have about 10 workers)

    Oh, and congratulations on the nuke by the way, I still haven't actually done that ever.

    I like the layout and screenshots in this article, really good balance of words and pictures. Grats on getting a ghost and nuking that looks so sick!. Don't feel too bad, zerg easily destroy a beginner Terran. Although I can't help but feel a little sad inside, as I know all the units and races yet I have yet to pick up my copy >< especially since I just had a dream in which I could somehow sell air, and successfully did for $70. I couldn't believe it! but then realised Starcraft II is $100 in my dream!. FML.

    It's really worth checking out some youtube videos that were taken during the beta for good strategies, HDStarcraft and HuskyStarcraft are my favorites even though there are heaps more. If you really want some full guides check out (who I am not affiliated with in any way)

    Don't feel bad, many people including myself aren't all that good at RTS games. Even after all my time practicing with it, and memorizing build orders, timing, how to manage units in battle, i just can't translate all that theory into practice. As much as i love RTS's, im horrible at multi-tasking on a level that requires base management and unit management in combat.

    It will probably take you quite a while to get the build order, the timing and the multi-tasking of units required to play very well, but hey, if you are keen, and you don't inherently suck at it (hopefully, its just your inexperence) then you should do fine.

    Practice makes perfect as they say.

    Son.. You just got zergrushed. kekekekekeke

    Yeah, the only time I'm venturing into multiplayer is to play against real friends who are at the same novice level as me.

    I played the original SC, but never competitively (a friend and I would connect on a modem and take on 6 AIs, which was fun, but not the same as even 1 human opponent).

    Biggest thing that I know I don't do right is keep building workers. The end games stats show that my opponents (after kicking my ass) have sometimes double the number of units I do.

    Also, watch replays of the guy that just beat you. Blizz have built some really incredible long-term multiplayer tech into this game, so you can actually learn from your mistakes. Between the stats and the replays (and the stats you can bring up during the replays) you can learn a lot about other players' techniques.

    It made me Lol'ed -I'll probably end up the same way as you did when I pick up a copy this weekend.

    See, this is why, when the original came out, that i stopped playing X v X maps and just played custom maps... i got muc hmore enjoyment out of that than having my butt handed to me in regular VS play.. lol

    Even my friends constantly owned me..


    thats why you get 50 practice matches, and not 1...

    another thing that will NOT entirely prepare you for human v human play BUT WILL atleast help you get the format right, is skermish against bots. so you might wanna try that too.

    sounds like you did fairly well actually, I saw "built two refineries before my first barracks" and expected you'd ave been wiped out before you got your first marine.

    Day[9] and his who day9tv (youtube ustream etc) is a great place to learn stuff. i also agree with jeff team liquid's liquidpedia 2: wings of liberty wikia is 100% focused on multiplayer and is already fairly well populated thanks to the betas.

    The general idea of the practice mode is to allow the game to figure out what your skill level is then place you in a tier where people are at the same level as you. In other words if your awesome, you will only play against other awesome people.

    If your terrible at the game you will only end up playing against other terrible people. Once your the king of your particular tier you graduate to bottom feeder of the next tier. It's a good system, you just need to stick with it through the practice games.

    The Single Player Challenge Missions go through the basic strategy for each race.

    for some reason I thought this article was really cute!

    Very funny commentary :D

    Sooooooo, the multiplayer side of StarCraft is still just one dumb lame arsed Zerg rush after another then? I think I'll pass.

    I have only once played starcraft against a human opponent - a 2v2 game with some mates.
    I am hugely proud to say I made one of them throw his keyboard and rage out of the room.
    I am buying corks in preparation for the raping I shall receive in SC2 online however.

    You're pretty much bound to lose your first several games of any online game. The practice matches are to determine your placement once they're done, so you could also end up with people who'll be put in the platinum league while you end up in the bronze league. So yeah. Keep at it.

    Single player campaigns in RTS NEVER teach you the skills you need to play online, because the situation in a mission is COMPLETELY different. You aren't in a race with your opponent to develop faster than them, they already start with their base and army mostly developed and the only thing keeping them from crushing you unmercifully is deliberate restraints on the part of the AI. Unless you have special objectives to acomplish, the way to win most campaign missions is always to turtle up until you're a match for your pre-developed opponent, fending off their futile scripted raids, and then slowly steamrollering them. In multiplayer, this kind of strategy will get you absolutely bushwhacked.

    If you MUST play single player for practice, do it in skirmish, not campaign. Campaign is good for getting a feel of the mechanics and the different units for each faction, but is useless for learning practical strategy.

    You're a gamer, you're not supposed to need a manual! You're supposed to be intuitive!

    "Don’t be afraid to expand beyond your stupid little base. Hell, don’t be afraid to pick up and move if you need to."

    I learned that, playing as the Guard in Dawn of War. You need to infect the map like a cancer.

    Actually the guy probably thought he was trolling him given he was playing so badly and even managed to get a nuke going.

    I lol'd pretty hard.
    Great article.

    I never played much proper SC1 1v1, but when the beta came out I got really excited (didn't have the game), so I watched a bunch of commentaries.

    HDStarcraft and Huskystarcraft, purely through watching, made me an immensely better player.
    I recommend you do the same, you'll start to love the game.

    lol! if you want to win 100% TvZ pretty much regardless of skill level, just turtle up as mech then push out. btw those saying that practice matches are to 'figure out what skill level you are' are incorrect, that is placement matches.

    This game sounds like it requires more work to "have fun" than my day job.

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