StarCraft® II

Hotkeys: Learn 'em, Use 'em, Love 'em

I think there is often an overlooked aspect of the game that people miss out on and it causes lots of trouble down the road. All of the people stuck in bronze, silver, or even gold can benefit from reading this thread and practicing the very basics of the game.

I am talking about your mechanics of playing. Yes that's right, pushing buttons and clicking mouse buttons. I know all these people who are struggling just come post and ask for help and they get this build order or strategy thrown their way - which isn't necessarily bad - but if you can't do what you need to do in a timely or efficient manner, the greatest strategy in the world won't help.

You have to use your hotkeys and PRACTICE. I will list how I practice at the end but it is imperative that you practice using hotkeys and speeding up your play - if you want to get better. Open up one of the build order testers below or play against a very easy computer and USE HOTKEYS FOR EVERY SINGLE THING YOU POSSIBLY CAN.

A Basic Opening the Right Way

*Practice doing this until you get faster and faster. I will use my hotkeys (3 for command center, 4 for barracks, 5 for factories, and 6 for starports) but you may use what you feel most comfortable with*

1. Game starts.
2. Send all your SCVs to mine.
3. Select your command center, hit S (to build SCV). Set your command center rally point to the minerals and hit CTRL + 3 to hotkey your command center to 3. Your supply should show 7/11. This just means that you have 6 SCVs mining and 1 currently building for a total of 7.
4. Build 3 more SCVs.
5. When you supply shows 10/11 and you have about 65-75 minerals, select 1 SCV and move him to your ramp. By the time he gets there you should have about 100 minerals. Hit B -> S to Build a Supply depot. With the SCV still selected, hold shift and right click a mineral patch. This will automatically put the SCV back to work when he is done. Always make yourself do this.
6. Build 2 more SCVs.
7. When you are at 12/19 supply and have about 100 minerals, move another SCV out to your ramp. When he gets there you should have about 150 minerals. Hit B -> B to Build a Barracks and left click to place it down. As before, shift + right click the SCV back to a mineral patch. Then click the barracks and hit ctrl + 4 to hotkey your barracks to 4.
8. Build 1 SCV to put you at 13/19.
9. Build a refinery by selecting an SCV and hitting B -> R and left click it into place. No need to shift + click this SCV back to minerals since we want him to start mining gas when the refinery finishes.
10. Buld 2 more SCVs to put you at 15/19. When your refinery finishes, put 2 SCVs on gas immediately.
11. Your barracks and 15th SCV should finish at about the same time AND you should have close to 200 minerals. Build 1 marine (50 minerals) by using your hotkeys. 4 -> A. Then turn your command center into an orbital command for 150 minerals using your hotkeys, 3 -> B.
12. While your 1st marine and orbital command are being produced, use your next 100 minerals to build your 2nd supply depot to finish your ramp wall. Use the same procedure as #5.

And that is your basic opener and is what 99% of strategies use as an opening build order. Use the build order testers below, practice with friends, or play the very easy computer and use all the hotkeys for everything. Build your factory and starport the same way as in the opening - move your SCV over to the spot BEFORE you have the money and then shift + right click that SCV back to work.

When you are practicing this you must use your hotkeys at all times. It is so easy to just use your mouse for one or two things when you don't know the hotkey but that is not correct. If you need to build, for example, a factory and you don't know the hotkey: select and SCV and hit V (for build advanced structure) and hover your mouse over the factory to find out the hotkey. Then USE THE HOTKEY and build the structure.
Edited by Charger on 1/31/2011 11:59 AM PST
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Practicing

vs. an easy computer

I can't even tell you how many of these games I played only working on my mechanics. Don't worry about trying to do a 1/1/1 build or 3 rax or early expand build, just worry about the basics as described in this thread. Get more comfortable and more comfortable with using hotkeys. Then, work on improving your macro. Macro alone took me to diamond.

qxc's Build Order Tester

Most recent version - http://www.mediafire.com/?yc3hc269ausfn9y
Info - http://www.teamliquid.net/forum/viewmessage.php?topic_id=126942

This is really basic, at least when I used it near retail release of SC 2. But that is fine, the simplicity of it is exactly what makes this an effective practice tool.

YABOT (Yet Another Build Order Tester)

http://www.teamliquid.net/forum/viewmessage.php?topic_id=128752

This is more advance than qxc's because you will have an opponent and you can choose what strategy you want the computer to execute against you. I debated whether to include this or not in this thread because this gets away from the basics I was trying to help people with and is for the slightly more advance player. ONLY USE THIS AFTER YOU GET GOOD WITH YOUR HOTKEYS!

--------------------------------------

I hope you take some advice from someone who started out as a below average player and quickly rose to the diamond level by ONLY marcoing well and using my hotkeys well. That is no lie, I did not micro at all until I reached diamond.

Yes it takes practice but make it a challenge and it won't be boring. Try to get better and faster and tighter timed builds, it can be quite enjoyable AND will greatly help you improve. If you have any questions or things to add, please post and let me know. Good Luck!

*Notes*
- In my build order example I purposely left off scouting. As you improve, you'll want to start working on sending your SCV that built your 1st depot to scout. So instead of shift + right clicking him back to work, you would ctrl + 1 and shift right click him to the other starting location(s) to scout. He would also be hotkeyed to 1.
- More to come as comments come in...
Edited by Charger on 1/19/2011 9:28 AM PST
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I love this post. I think you know this, but the grid hotkey system never forces your left hand to move. I think that for more nooby players (like me), not having to move your hand around like Nada helps alot. Plus, all units are on the top rows for production buildings for terran, so your hand has to move even less.
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01/19/2011 9:50 AMPosted by BlackRa
I love this post. I think you know this, but the grid hotkey system never forces your left hand to move. I think that for more nooby players (like me), not having to move your hand around like Nada helps alot. Plus, all units are on the top rows for production buildings for terran, so your hand has to move even less.


Good point and it's entirely possible that it is easier for newer players. I just put in what I know and what the default setup is :) Thanks!
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Hi Charger,

Love the post as well. Another tool that I have found helpful is the unit tester found here: http://www.sc2mapster.com/maps/unit-tester/

And of course being able to practice is huge. I have even ventured into the Zerg strat channel and playing with zerg in custom games, so I can become a more competitive player, since it is my weakest matchup.

Also, I second what you second playing against an easy AI. It allows me to focus on my macro and basics and it's allowing me to improve faster.
Edited by Kail on 1/19/2011 1:29 PM PST
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I actually just found out today how to assign hot keys without going through it numerically, I usually do that for my scv's where I'll move out with my marines and just select 1 scv too make an expansion but you still wanna keep saturated and its as easy as 1+s I also made my hotkeys so when I press "f" it makes the basic unit I usually go (marine,viking ect) Its really helpful to level them based on unit tier so you can just press number tier you want and your good to go. Keeping up your macro like I used to though made it hard to micro at the same time.
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I wish I could customize my hotkey selections.

To start I use CTRL + F1 right off the bat and it select all the scv's so all you have to do is click the minerals and then CC, press S and click on minerals.
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+1

I 100% agree that learning a very basic start is smart.
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01/19/2011 1:39 PMPosted by Doomsday
I wish I could customize my hotkey selections.

To start I use CTRL + F1 right off the bat and it select all the scv's so all you have to do is click the minerals and then CC, press S and click on minerals.


I thought the new patch allowed customizable hotkey setups?

I thought about using the select all idle work technique but since I practiced so much and learned it the manual way I am much faster that way. I think generally speaking it's best to just keep things as simple and straight forward as possible which is why I used the basic setup with basic hotkeys that everyone needs to know. The more advanced stuff isn't imperative to play the game correctly and is probably best left alone until the necessary hotkeys are practiced and down enough. Just my two cents, everyone is absolutely entitled to do things their own way :)
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im still learning alot I only switch to keyboard instead of mouse clicks less than 2 weeks ago! Its not easy!!!

Sometimes I build a Barracks in the Refinery spot!
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01/19/2011 1:48 PMPosted by Doomsday
im still learning alot I only switch to keyboard instead of mouse clicks less than 2 weeks ago! Its not easy!!!

Sometimes I build a Barracks in the Refinery spot!


I promise the switch will pay off, it is absolutely critical that you use the keyboard so good job! Keep making yourself use the keyboard ALWAYS, I know it's tough and can be frustrating but man the day will come when you can do things so fast it's like second nature. :)
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using hotkeys is helping me a lot.

It is really hard at first, but one trick that made the thing is that I'm now telling me that I don't use the mouse button at all to build units. That means, when I don'T know the unit shortcut key, I over my mouse button over it, then use the hotkey with my keyboard. That is the only way I could get it done.
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This thread is worth a bump ...

I love this post. I think you know this, but the grid hotkey system never forces your left hand to move. I think that for more nooby players (like me), not having to move your hand around like Nada helps alot. Plus, all units are on the top rows for production buildings for terran, so your hand has to move even less.


Good point and it's entirely possible that it is easier for newer players. I just put in what I know and what the default setup is :) Thanks!


I'd definitely recommend switching to grid hotkeys (in Options) right away, because unlearning the default hotkeys was a pain for me. Although minimizing hand movement is nice, the real benefit is consistency between races - q is always make a worker/marine/zealot/..., zw is always build gas, etc. Playing all 3 races (or random) will become important later, and switching to grid hotkeys now will make it a lot easier.

Also while you're in options, turn on "show hotkeys" to avoid having to mouseover the command card to see them.
Edited by Torsian on 3/11/2011 4:32 AM PST
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This thread is worth a bump ...



Good point and it's entirely possible that it is easier for newer players. I just put in what I know and what the default setup is :) Thanks!


I'd definitely recommend switching to grid hotkeys (in Options) right away, because unlearning the default hotkeys was a pain for me. Although minimizing hand movement is nice, the real benefit is consistency between races - q is always make a worker/marine/zealot/..., zw is always build gas, etc. Playing all 3 races (or random) will become important later, and switching to grid hotkeys now will make it a lot easier.

Also while you're in options, turn on "show hotkeys" to avoid having to mouseover the command card to see them.


Actually love these suggestions. If you plan on playing other races or going random, grid seems to be the way to go for the reason mentioned above. If you don't then it really doesn't matter, it's all about what's comfortable to you.

I always mean to click 'show hotkeys' in the menu but everytime I log on I forget. :( Still a few upgrades and such I click on way too much, this would be really nice for learning.
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Report for sticky?
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03/11/2011 8:47 AMPosted by SteveTheFoB
Report for sticky?


Every one! report this thread for sticky and thumb it up!
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Thank you very much.
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Wow i disagree with so many things you said, just reading the first few lines of your opening 'the right way.'

Tho i guess it might still be helpful for a noob, not to put this down just my honest opinion. But you are 100% right that it's worthwhile to invest time into learning how to use hotkeys properly....
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01/19/2011 09:50 AMPosted by BlackRa
I love this post. I think you know this, but the grid hotkey system never forces your left hand to move. I think that for more nooby players (like me), not having to move your hand around like Nada helps alot. Plus, all units are on the top rows for production buildings for terran, so your hand has to move even less.


being able to move your hands around like nada also helps a lot :p
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