By Pavel Shchegolevatykh / June 4, 2017

StarCraft II basics for Warcraft III players

In this post, I'm going to summarize the basics of the game and talk about the concepts that should be already familiar to Warcraft III players. The newcomers, in general, might benefit from this as well. The things I'm going to talk about could be controversial and subjective, but they are not just my point of view. Famous people in the community like Lowko and Day9 are emphasizing their importance as well. You should check them out.

High expectations

Some people including myself assume that if they were playing Warcraft III back in the day at a level above the average (let's say level 35-40 on classic Battle.net) they would quickly get to the same level at Starcraft 2 (Platinum league or higher) just because it's another RTS from Blizzard. They start laddering, they micro the shit out of their 50-food limit army and get pissed off losing every single game to a complete noob. They also don't understand why they occasionally might win. They usually end up in the Bronze league and get really upset about it. Sounds familiar?

Though some skills from Warcraft 3 might be portable, you have to understand that even MOBA games like Dota 2 and Heroes of the Storm have much more in common with Warcraft III than Starcraft 2 has. Starcraft 2 is a whole different game. It's harder and requires a lot of multitasking even at lower levels of play.

Of course, you have an easy option to play early game cheese using one strategy, and hitting the perfect timing every single game. Many players do just that and sometimes are able to get to the top (Diamond or Master league), but this is a short-term success. If they reach a higher level, their opponents won't have any problems countering an early game cheese.

I used to play just one strategy in Warcraft III, and believe me after thousands of games played there was no more fun. I hit the wall. I could not win and could change my strategy because this would require playing a thousand more games to master.


In Starcraft 2 micro is hugely overrated, especially by Warcraft III players, which is no surprise.

In wc3 the game encouraged you to build a 50-food army and control well. The units were fat, and the more army you build the fewer resources you gain because of the higher upkeep taxes. It was better to save up the resources, not build any army after you hit the limit 50, instead buy items, get more upgrades, or go for an expansion.

Even if you lower than 50 it could be a better decision to buy a couple of scrolls of healing before the battle than to invest in more units, especially when you are fighting far away from your main base.

In Warcraft III Strategies were almost fixed and the players would spend hours perfecting their micro. For example, there's a high chance of losing your 80 to 100 limit army to player with a handful of units who controls way better than you. You can have a better strategy, better unit composition, better fighting position resulting in a huge advantage in a battle. But guess what? You will still lose if your opponent microes better than you.

In Starcraft 2 it's the opposite. Nobody cares how well you control when your opponent has twice as much shit. Better macro, bigger army, gg wp. You want to control armies perfectly trying not to lose every single unit, and at the same time sneak a squadron to the enemy's base to harass workers? You can do that, but you will lose to the person who was focused just on spending minerals, non-stop unit production, and who never got supply blocked. If you are great at macro, you are going to do better than most of the players.

Macro 101

In Starcraft 2 you can go far by simply focusing on the macro. You must understand that this game is more macro oriented, and the Warcraft III was micro oriented. That's why it's so hard to switch from one to the other. The general goal is this: no matter what your opponent is doing, you must have more units, upgrades, and expansions.

If you lose a match with 2000 minerals in the bank you should immediately know why. To further clarify, 400 Minerals is too much, 500 and you should start to panic!

Here's the priority list for you:

  1. Hit every queen inject/mule drop/chrono boost on time. This will allow you to have more resources to spend in the first place.
  2. Spend all the resources you have, even during the battle. It's essential to not get distracted by the things happening on the map and always spend your minerals and gas.
    1. Build workers
    2. Build army
    3. Expand
    4. Research upgrades
    5. Build more production structures
  3. Never get supply blocked. Never ever. Build your Pylons, Depos, Overlords always in advance. Build often. For overlords anticipate you might lose some and build an extra one or two.
  4. Constantly watch over the mini-map and scout your opponent early and often. Scouting in this game is much more important than in Warcraft III because of the wide variety of strategies, especially around an early-mid game. Scouting could be challenging especially at a lower level because a lot of information you get might be useless. For example, your opponent can do a lot of stupid things, like start with a double gas by default and then go macro play as usual. In general scout for the above mentioned double gas, worker count, expansions, and signature production buildings (e.g. Spire, Stargate, Dark Shrine, Ghost Academy).
  5. Micro, harassment, drops, creep spread, etc. Here I intentionally mentioned micro last. It's the least important thing for now until you reach a higher level (top Diamond or Master League).

Get this list written somewhere so won't forget your top priorities. If you get all of this almost perfectly (which would require a lot of games played) you'll be among the top players faster. Much faster than if you focus solely on your micro and APM.

Timings and unit composition

In Warcraft III there was almost no question of when to attack. You either creep yourself or harass your opponent and prevent them from leveling heroes. If you see an expansion you try to do your best to destroy it earlier than your opponent would get any return on their investment, or you expand yourself and keep creeping.

In Starcraft 2 things might seem not so clear. When you move across the map towards your opponent you immediately give them an advantage because they get their reinforcements faster. You don't have an option to creep the map anymore. You can either provoke your opponent by taking more expansions, or better do a timing push when your next upgrades (like attack, and armor) are almost ready. Ideally, your upgrades should finish just before the battle starts. There's a chance your army might be stronger, so you can win the fight or do a nice army trade.

Another common problem you might have is when to expand. In Warcraft III it was relatively easy. You either go for the fast expand build or if you have an army advantage and reached a 50-food then you know it's time.

In Starcraft 2 things are not that hard either. You almost always take a fast expand first these days. Just accept it as a fact. If you play zerg you must always have a plus one base over your opponent. If you play Terran or Protoss, you expand when you reached up to 3-4 production buildings per each base. Unsually, it's that easy.

To get better in Starcraft 2, in general, try to focus on basic unit compositions first until you reach a higher level. I know there are many players that do an early game cheese every single game but don't be like that. Just don't. Occasionally it's fine to "cannon rush" somebody or build a proxy hatchery but don't do that every game. You would get pretty easy to counter over the time, and you won't get any macro experience.

By basic units, I mean Marines, Marauders, Medivacs for Terran, or Lings, Banelings, Muta, Roaches, Ravagers for Zerg. Protoss players can use all the units they have. =) You get the idea. So, it's better not to do a Swarm Host rush or things like that until you truly get the game.

Portable skills from Warcraft III

Warcraft III experience surely has lots of "good parts". The most important part is the game mindset. You don't have a fear of losing the game anymore, you understand that your losses are even more important than wins. The more you play the better you are.

Of course, some people play better and learn faster. It would always be the case, but as long as you practice consistently you will get to their level over the time. You have a good habit of watching replays, tournament streams and getting involved in the community.

You know how to counter the opponent units. You know that scouting is important. You have no problems using unit abilities during the battle. And you already have the best gaming gear. Your Warcraft III mouse and keyboard are perfectly fine for Starcraft 2 as well. If they are too old, it's a good time for an upgrade. The new devices should make you happy.

And if you are not having fun playing this game anymore, go and do something else, and then come back later on. Fun is the most important aspect. GL HF!