StarCraft® II

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What is StarCraft II?
Gameplay Overview
Campaign Overview
Terran Overview
Protoss Overview
Zerg Overview

Playing the game

Learn the basics of playing StarCraft II

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty was designed so that players can learn the basics with ease; you’ll be building bases and commanding armies in no time. But it certainly won’t hurt if you familiarize yourself with some of StarCraft II’s basic gameplay mechanics, especially if you’re new to RTS-games.

The Basics of StarCraft II

StarCraft II is a strategy game played in real-time. You see the action from a top-down perspective and command your armies to gain control of the battlefield and ultimately defeat your opponents. The game’s single-player campaign focuses on the terrans, but you can play multiplayer matches as any of the three StarCraft II races: the terrans, the protoss, or the zerg.

Each race has access to unique units; these units fill specific roles on the battlefield. Combining different units to form versatile armies is one path to victory.

The most basic units at your command are your workers. They harvest the resources you need to expand your base and to add more units to your growing army, and your workers also create new buildings. More advanced units become available once your base meets certain requirements, such as having constructed certain buildings or researched certain technologies.

In multiplayer matches, you win the game when you’ve wiped all your enemy’s buildings off the map or if the other players surrender to you.

UI Overview

The main interface bar at the bottom of the screen is divided into three sections:


The minimap on the left shows units, structures, terrain, resource deposits, and special buildings.

Information Panel

The information panel in the center displays useful data about the currently selected units or structures, like hit points, armor, and a graphic representation showing its current condition.

Command Panel

The command panel on the right lets you issue commands like move, build, patrol, and attack.

Selecting Units and Buildings

To issue commands to a unit or a building, you must first select it. The most basic way to select a unit is to left-click the unit on the screen. However, there are other ways to select units that may come in handy.

Drag Selection
Click and hold the left mouse button, then drag the mouse to draw a box. Every unit within that box will be selected. Buildings cannot be selected by drag selection.

Control Selection
Hold down the Ctrl key and left-click a unit to select all units of the same unit type (e.g., all Marines, or all Siege Tanks) with one click. Double-clicking a unit has the same effect.

Shift selection
Shift-clicking a unit will add that unit to your selection. Drag and shift selection can be combined, which allows you to create varied groups quickly.

Group selection
You can press Ctrl+1 through 0 to save your current selection of units and assign them to a control group. Pressing 1 through 0, you can quickly recall that selection. Double-pressing the number will center your view of the battlefield on the current group.

For example, if you have two strike forces on the field; you could select one of them and assign them to group 1, and the other to group 2. This would allow you to quickly jump back and forth between the two groups without wasting time re-selecting them manually.

Issuing Commands

Once you’ve selected a unit or building, you can start giving it orders. Again there is a basic way to do this, and several more advanced ones.

Right Click
Right-clicking will issue a context-sensitive command to your currently selected units. For example, if you right-click the terrain, your units will attempt to move to where you clicked; right-clicking an enemy will make your units try to attack that enemy.

Some units have special abilities which can be set to “autocast” by right-clicking the ability’s icon in the command panel. Autocasting means that the unit will use their ability automatically when appropriate. For example, if you can set an SCV’s repair ability to autocast, it will attempt to repair any damaged buildings near it automatically.

Command Panel
All available commands for your current selection are shown at the bottom right-hand side of the screen in the command panel. The commands shown here can be issued by left-clicking them. Some commands, like the “move” command, require a target. In that case, left-click the command, then left-click the target.

The most efficient way to issue commands is via hotkeys. If you mouse over the command panel’s icons, you will see that each command is associated with a hotkey. Pressing the hotkey is identical to clicking the control panel, but much faster. Learning the hotkeys is important if you want to play as efficiently as possible.

Queuing Commands
Hold down the Shift key to queue up commands. For example, you can use this to quickly order an SCV to build a series of Supply Depots instead of having to re-select the unit and re-order a new Supply Depot each time, or you can queue move orders to make your units follow a specific route across the battlefield.


Building an army is expensive, so you will have to send out workers to gather resources to feed your hungry war machine. There are two types of resources you can gather: minerals and vespene gas. As your workers (SCVs for the terrans, probes for the protoss, and drones for the zerg) gather resources, your total resource count will go up; expanding your base, growing your army, research, and certain abilities will consume resources and make your total go down. Resource management and knowing when and where to spend your income is one of the most important aspects of StarCraft II.

Mineral cluster Vespene geyser


Your base’s infrastructure places a limit on the maximum size of your army; in other words, if you want to field a large force, you will have to raise your supply cap by investing some resources into measures that will let you support a bigger army. Each race has its own unique way of raising the supply cap:

Supply Depot

Terran supply depots provide the logistical backbone for a large army.


Protoss advanced deployment technologies require pylons to expand operations.


Zerg swarms cannot grow beyond a certain threshold without the overlords’ ability to telepathically keep units in line.

Scouting and Fog of War

Knowledge of what’s going on in your opponent’s base is vital to countering attacks and deploying an effective match-winning strategy. You can only see areas of the battlefield that are in your units’ line of sight, which means that you need to send units to scout.

Scouting early on is important, but so is keeping up your scouting efforts as the game progresses. Workers can be effective scouts at the beginning of a game, but they are fragile and easily destroyed. If that happens, the area you were scouting will be covered by the Fog of War again and you won’t be able to see it until you move your units in again.

Raising an Army

Tactical finesse at the front lines is important, but you also need to keep unit production going if you want to gain the upper hand. Thankfully, each race has its own unique methods to push production capabilities to their limits.


Any building with an attached Reactor add-on gains a second production queue, allowing you to train twice as many units from that building. Remember that you can swap buildings by moving a currently attached building out of the way and landing another production facility in its place.


The zerg are blessed with naturally high production rates, but zerg Queens can kick unit production into overdrive with their Spawn Larva ability. Targeting a Hatchery, the Queen causes the structure to spawn additional larvae. This lets you create a large number of units quickly.


The protoss can use the Nexus’s Chrono Boost ability to temporarily speed up any structure’s unit train and research rates. Once you open a Warp Gate, you can also instantly warp units into any friendly psionic matrix. This is especially useful if combined with the Phase Prism’s ability to generate a psionic matrix anywhere on the battlefield.

What’s Next?

Once you’ve mastered the basics, you can begin to refine your skills as a battlefield commander by delving into the finer points of StarCraft II gameplay-overview.

Special Abilities
Learning how and when to use your units’ special abilities is key. As you become more familiar with the game, you’ll learn your preferred race’s unit abilities and those of the other races as well, and you will also develop a deeper understanding of each unit’s tactical significance.

In case you haven’t noticed, StarCraft II is all about strategy. Once you’ve developed a firm grasp of the game’s tactical nuances, you should check out replays of other players’ matches to learn new strategies; another excellent way to buff up on the latest strategies is to visit the StarCraft II forums and engage in discussions with other StarCraft II players.

StarCraft II multiplayer maps aren’t static; they offer a wide range of strategic options you should familiarize yourself with. From Xel’naga watchtowers that lift the fog of war on strategic locations to destructible rocks that can provide a new access point to your enemy’s base, knowing how to use each map’s terrain to your advantage could make the difference.