StarCraft® II

A Comprehensive Look At Terran Micro

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More Comprehensive Look at terran micro

So I was looking on the forum and I noticed that there was only one micro guide and TBH i thought it was a little light so I decided to write up my own guide which goes into more details I think.

ToC

1 Introduction
2 The 4 main unit advantages
2.1 Range
2.2 Speed
2.3 Position
2.3.1 High ground vs Low ground
2.3.2 Arcs and Chokes
2.3.3 Army Order
2.4 Targeting
3 Commonly used techniques for micro
3.1 Stutter Step
3.2 Staggering Tanks
3.3 Hellions
3.4 Marine Splits
3.5 Pre-arcing
4 Conclusion

1) Introduction
When most people think about micro they think of something small, however in starcraft it is short for micromanagement which is a misnomer for the most part. Micro refers to unit control more specifically relating to increasing their cost efficency when in a battle by using the 4 main unit advantages to help you. Micro can range from something as small as moving a group of units not in combat the the epic marine spread that has wowed many people.


2) The 4 main unit advantages
Now when we are talking about micro these are the four main aspects that people seek to use to gain an advantage in combat. The four advantages are Range, Speed, Positioning and Targeting. Positioning is usually the most important one as it is the advantage you are most directly in control of. Now I will explain these advantages into more detail


2.1) Range
Range advantage is a very simple advantage to explain on paper as it simply means you can hit your opponents units farther away than they can hit yours. Good examples of this are Bio vs Zerglings, Bio vs Roaches, Bio vs Zealots, Vikings vs Ever other air unit ect. The main way to use this advantage in your favor is to use a technique called the stutter step which is going to be covered later in this post. To counter a range disadvantage you can do three things: keep moving forward or retreat or fake a retreat then turn around when he chases after you. As a terran you usually have the advantage of range on your side with units like viking with 9 range and tanks with a whopping 13 range.


2.2) Speed
The speed advantage is also very cut and dry, your units are faster than your opponents units. Examples of this are Reapers vs pretty much every unit and hellions vs pretty much every other units. There are several ways to use this advantage to your favor. If you have a speed and range advantage you can kite your opponents units and take very little damage to your own, however if thats not possible, you can use the speed to run around your opponents army and harass his base and force him to be pinned next to his base until he throws up a ton of static defense. To counter speed disadvantages you will need to leave some units back from your army or have some static defense to protect your base. Terran usually has a speed disadvantage in both matchups.
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2.3) Positioning
Positioning is an exceptionally important advantage that Terrans need in order to win most battles. The difference between engaging in a good and bad spot is usually the difference between winning and losing. There are several sections of positioning to discuss:

2.3.1) High ground vs Low Ground
Engaging the high ground from the low ground has changed since BW. If you have a unit on the high ground and your enemy runs up to it on the low ground without a way to spot up the cliff your unit can kill all of theirs without taking any damage. Using this to your advantage includes using tanks on cliffs to cover areas like your natural or your ramp and take some shots at an approaching army. Another way to use this is reapers, harassing an area then jump up a cliff and kill your attackers, this proves extremely annoying to defend against.

2.3.2) Arcs and Chokes

Now the best way to describe an arc is that it is a C shape for your fighting units rotated however many degrees. This is optimal, because it provides a large area for your units to attack with and a much smaller for your enemy to attack with meaning more DPS for you even if your army is the same size. Chokes come into play because if you arc at the opening of a choke, you further increase this advantage. A choke is an area where units are funneled like a small ramp or a walled area. If you find yourself on the bad ends of an arc or choke, you should stutter step your way up so all of your units start firing. When engaging you always want the big arc on them, and you always want to engage with them in a choken whenever possible.

2.3.3) Army Order
Army order is another imporant aspect of the terran army. In most cases you are going to want your shortest range units up front, however if you are fighting a bunch of lings and banelings you instead will want your longer range marauders up front to soak the baneling damage while the marines dps from behind. Aother example is if you have marines and tanks you are going to want the marines to be around the tanks to prevent mutas from picking the tanks off. Flanking with units is also very helpful as it not only prevents a retreat but ups the DPS of your army and prevents reinforcements.

2.4) Targetting
This as our final advantage you can have and its a fairly brief one, Although the AI has improved significantly since BW, you can still play the targetting AI to your advantage. For example putting an insignificant unit in front of your push (SCV) can will cause the opposing army to target them first and allow you to do some damage to the army before it returns fire on you. Another big example is that Thors target air as a higher priority so you can fly a medivac or a viking over a thor and prevent its ground dps. To counter this its pretty simple, just control your units.
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3) Commonly Used Micro Techniques
Here I'm going to describe when, when not, and how to use some common micro techniques you may see in games as well as the theory behind it.

3.1) Stutter Step
WHEN: You want to use this when you have a range advantage over your opponents units or if you are caught in a bad arc to increase the dps of your army.
WHEN NOT: When you have a good arc you don't want to use this and ruin it as well as potentially increasing the dps of your opponents army.
HOW: There are 2 main ways to stutter step:
1) Move command (right click) in the direction you wish to go, (If you want to kite, move away, if you are in a bad arc, move forward) then attack move and issue the move command after the firing animation starts.
2) Same thing with the move commands, but instead of attack moving hit stop button (s).
THEORY: The theory behind this is that you are cutting the useless parts of the attack animation out and using it to cover distance, preventing or delaying melee or shorter range units from hitting you. Both methods of doing this are equally valid and it comes down to preference.

3.2) Staggering Tanks

WHEN: When you are pushing out with your tanks in TvP/TvZ
WHEN NOT: TvT or if you are being defensive with your tanks
HOW: The method I use is that I move command the tanks to a far location, box the back 3-4 and hit e, wait a second, box the back 3-4 and repeat until all are sieged. Unsiege the back 3-4 move the up ahead of the front 3-4 and siege, repeat until you get to desired location or get into combat.
THEORY: The theory behind staggering tanks is that if you get into an engagement while moving all your tanks you will likely die a horrible death and lose the game, doing this would only mean 3-4 tanks would get quickly murdered. The other part to this is that if fast melee units attack a tank ball, you can easily kill lots of your own tanks with FF or have a bunch of them rendered unable to fire, so you stagger them which allows them to fire if you are chased. You don't want to do this in TvT because a bio army could easily overrun small tank groups, and if they are going a tank viking strategy they will be able to spot and quickly clear the back tanks.

3.3) Hellions
WHEN: Always micro your hellions.
WHEN NOT: Never
HOW: This is one of those hard things to describe, but you want your hellions line damage to hit as much as possible. For example if someone comes with a wall of marines, you want to get up the side of the wall when you shot so you hit as many as possible. For zerglings/banelings its mainly about the stutter step as that will line them up pretty well. If you are attacking a mineral line with hellions or fleeing workers you are going to want to click on a worker a few units up the Congo line so that the splash hits as many workers as possible or just move command all the way up to the bottom of the line then attack move.
THEORY: The hellion splash is a fairly unique mechanic in SC2, if you just attack move hellions they will only hit the first unit in range which is fine when fighting melee units attacking back but makes them do very poorly against ranged units. With proper control hellions murder any light unit cost for cost, but without proper control they are simply 100 mineral gifts to your opponent.

3.4) Marine Splits

WHEN: Large amounts of banelings are rolling at marines that don't have the ability to escape to a unit that can help them.
WHEN NOT: Small amounts of banelings and lots of speedlings, When tank cover is close enough to run to, when you can pick them up in medivacs.
HOW: There are 2 real ways to do the splitting, both of them are extremely APM intensive.
1) Have all your marines in one control group, quickly box and move command several marines after they are all stimmed to different areas, once you have 4-5 large groups split them into smaller groups and keep repeating till each marine is standing by itself or banelings die.
2) Have 3 control groups to pre split your army into 3rds, then box split from there.
This doesn't necessary mean that splitting is with the intention of fighting, if you have speedlings and banelings moving at you and you have tank cover but its pretty far away you can split a box off to suicide to keep the rest of your marines alive.
THEORY: Splitting marines means that it takes more banelings to kill them which can raise it to the point of being extremely cost ineffective for zerg, however speedlings become extremely effective once you split your marines so its a judgement call whether you want to or not.
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3.5) Pre-arcing

WHEN: Anytime you have a bunch of ranged units and free time to arrange them.
WHEN NOT: If you are a slower player and can't move units without sacrificing macro.
HOW: Its really simply, just move units from your rally points into an arc and see how much more effective them become when an attack comes at you especially on maps when they come up a choke (XC, ST ect).
THEORY: By prearcing your units get more firing time and less running to fire time, you obviously don't have to make each unit stand in a line, but making clumps in an arc shape can help tremendously compared to the ball shape.

4) Conclusion

There is obviously so much more that can be added to a discussion like this, I encourage everyone an anyone to come up and add suggestions about what can be added into this. Keep in mind this is about MICRO, not macro or strategy. I do intend to get videos or at least pictures demonstrating micro techniques listed here in the future and I hope this helps at least some people out.
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A few notes on Stutter step: It should always be used when retreating from melee units such as zealots, or in engagements when your mm are free to use their mobility, ie, not defending units like siege tanks. You should ALWAYS try to micro your units when engaging in small groups, especially early game.
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Very very nice work! :) Should post a link to this thread in the 'Useful Terran Learning Threads Compiled' sticky at the top.

I would like to see some drop techniques mentioned somewhere. Such as highlight the units + medivac and right click medivac to have the 2 groups converge to pick up and leave. Hitting 'D' and left clicking the medivac to drop marines 1 at a time while the medivac continues to move.
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Posts: 6,974
Very very nice work! :) Should post a link to this thread in the 'Useful Terran Learning Threads Compiled' sticky at the top.

I would like to see some drop techniques mentioned somewhere. Such as highlight the units + medivac and right click medivac to have the 2 groups converge to pick up and leave. Hitting 'D' and left clicking the medivac to drop marines 1 at a time while the medivac continues to move.


I already posted it there :)
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Posts: 1,270
Very very nice work! :) Should post a link to this thread in the 'Useful Terran Learning Threads Compiled' sticky at the top.

I would like to see some drop techniques mentioned somewhere. Such as highlight the units + medivac and right click medivac to have the 2 groups converge to pick up and leave. Hitting 'D' and left clicking the medivac to drop marines 1 at a time while the medivac continues to move.


I already posted it there :)


That was fast :p
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Posts: 937
Very very nice work! :) Should post a link to this thread in the 'Useful Terran Learning Threads Compiled' sticky at the top.

I would like to see some drop techniques mentioned somewhere. Such as highlight the units + medivac and right click medivac to have the 2 groups converge to pick up and leave. Hitting 'D' and left clicking the medivac to drop marines 1 at a time while the medivac continues to move.


Yeah, for sure, I'm not much of a drop heavy player so there's always stuff that slips through the cracks and thank you!
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I already posted it there :)


That was fast :p


I'm a forum lurker. *spikespikespike*
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03/01/2011 1:27 PMPosted by MtlGuitarist
Lol this is a troll waiting to happen...I'm not saying this is a bad thread, actually one of the best BY FAR


Not sure what you mean.
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Posts: 183
You forget banshee with its kite shoot. A lot of practice for that.
For helions, don't get surrounded. So hit smart and move smart.
There're more micro. Ex: vs Protoss with HT, you want to split your army and put a small group in front to trick the HT storm. and constantly moving your army to not get trap by FF and sandwiched. Also in a battle, target the immortal 1st (25dmg ; 50 dmg vs armored and -10 damage received when its shield still up). Immortal is Protoss's Siege Tank
There're also micro for Thor. 220m cannon vs Immortal and target stalkers instead of Void rays. Use marines to hit the void ray.
Edited by GaChocobo on 3/1/2011 3:20 PM PST
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All of your suggestions are already covered Kite-shoot is called stutter step, hellions have their own section and Targetting has its own section.
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Posts: 33
Gj dude I salute you.
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Posts: 2
Nice guide, this helped me out a lot, i have major problems with Terran now, no more Bats or Goliaths means i have major trouble with air battles or out in-between bases when i get overrun by lings, any ideas?
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Posts: 3,686
I thought Terran is all about A moving
/sarcasm
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Posts: 31
Maybe you can create videos using unit tester map and upload em to youtube or something. It would be really helpful xD
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Posts: 246
Awesomesauce
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Posts: 4
i always wondered how players managed to pull off the stutter step. thanks.
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