The Shokz Guide, Starcraft 2 Guide

Starcraft 2: Builds, Timings, and Polish - Chapter 4

Chapter 4: Specifics (Builds, Timings, and Polish)

If you’ve got the fundamentals to macro and decent micro, you should be well on your way toward being a decent player. However, even the best macro or micro player will still lose if he doesn’t have a logical build order, good timings, and polish.

A build order is the order in which you construct your buildings, units, or research upgrades. Build orders are often numbered by the supply count at which something is built, but can also simply be based in chronological order. For example, a “10 gate” is a gateway made when you have 10 probes. This could be followed up with a cybernetics core “immediately afterward”, meaning as soon as the gateway is completed, but at no particular supply count.

    Build orders are designed to give you utmost efficiency and effectiveness in your strategy. If you plan for early aggression, when is the best time to build your first gateways? When should you attack? When do you transition out of this early build? The only way to know is with experience and theorycraft. You need to know when your enemy will be ready for you, and when he won’t be. This will take scouting and the experience to extrapolate information from what little you’ll be able to see. You’ll have to theorize when and where he’ll do what, and form your build around it.
  • For example, if you scout a Zerg player Fast Expanding (FE, expanding very early in the game, often before any combat units are constructed), then you know he won’t have very strong defenses for a certain amount of time. If you quickly build a second gateway and “pump” (build nonstop) zealots out of both of your gateways, straight toward his base, you can do serious damage before he has time to defend. On the other hand, if you wait too long, he will have ample defenses, and any attempted attack will easily be repelled, and you’ll likely lose the game for missing your opportunity. As I said before, to know when is the right time to do anything, you need a bit of experience to know what is coming next, based upon their build.

Timings are the times throughout a game when something noteworthy takes place. For example, in the previous example, the Zerg will be in a weak defensive position for a window of time. However, knowing the best precise time to attack is more than being aware of the window. A precisely timed attack is called a “Timing Attack”. So when would you want to attack this Zerg player? Every game varies somewhat, but a general rule is to attack right before a player gets a return on his investment. This is because the Zerg player’s army will grow more slowly than yours up until the point he starts getting a return. If he is building an army half as quickly as you until his expansion is saturated, then your advantage will steadily grow for the entire duration of the window. His army will be weakest in relative to yours the moment his expansion becomes saturated. A common timing attack, therefore, is when the enemy is maynarding workers from his main to his natural.

  • Specific example: Zerg players will often “14 hatch” “16 pool”, meaning they build their expansion hatchery (Zerg equivalent to the nexus) at 14 supply, and then their spawning pool (allows them to build combat units) at 16 supply. An appropriate response from a Protoss player who already made a 12 gate (before scouting Zerg) is to, immediately after scouting the enemy expansion, build another gateway, probably a 13 gate. Save chronoboosts for the zealots to be produced from these structures, make sure you build another pylon at about 14, and send your first zealots immediately to the Zerg base to try and kill drones before he is ready to defend. If done correctly, this attack is very hard to hold off, depending on the distance between your mains.

This timing rule can be used for every kind of investment. If the enemy has spent a significant amount of time and resources on tech, then attack just before he can use that tech in his army.

Polish is otherwise known as perfection of a strategy or build. Polish, although subtle, can mean the difference between crushing defeat and clear victory. Having one extra unit to defend an attack can mean the successful defense of your expansion, and your eventual victory by superior economy.
The only way to polish is to carefully observe your own games from an objective perspective, find the places you could improve, and then practice. This goes for games whether you win or lose.
For example, after successfully attacking an enemy, watch the replay of the game. Were you doing the fundamentals the whole time you carried out your attack? Was your attack timed correctly; could you have attacked a bit sooner or later and been more successful? Was your attack executed with proper micro?

Polishing all of these things will give you a smaller margin of error, and greater chances of success.

Another part of your build is your building placement. Building placement is the way you arrange your buildings for strategic purpose. The two most important kinds of building placements are walling your ramp/choke and simcitying.

To wall your ramp or choke, build your buildings at the top of the ramp that leads into your main, or the choke that leads into your main or natural. As Protoss, you should leave one cell (game unit of distance) unblocked by buildings, to allow for your own units to pass through. To keep any enemies from getting inside, you can leave a single unit (such as a zealot) on hold position in that cell.

The point of walling your ramp or choke is to severely limit the number of enemy units that can actually attack your units or buildings. This is especially effective against melee units.

To simcity, place your buildings in such a way as to create a wall of buildings, minerals, and vespene geysers, around your worker lines. There are several reasons why you might want to simcity instead of walling your ramp: It’s easier to pull probes(have probes attack invading units instead of gather, for a short time). If your ramp is very wide (such as on Scrap Station), it can be easier to complete a simcity instead. It doesn’t choke your ramp, meaning you can move large numbers of units out of your base more quickly. It concentrates all of your important structures in one small area, making it much easier to defend everything into the mid and late game.

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