The Art of Terran Macro

Terran Discussion
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A Detailed Look at Terran's Macro System

Now that I'm on break and have some time, I thought I'd go ahead and start writing some words on some realizations I've been having lately, and how it is affecting my game. And that, simply put, is the art of Terran Macro.

This will be a long post, because I'm going to go into a detailed look at several aspects that are key to our macro game. If you want a TL:DR, I'll include a form of one, but truth is that defies the point of this post, because there are 100 posts like that already, but few like this.

This is designed to make you think about it, to help clarify why all those little help points are important. I don't expect you to get all of this at once, but I'm hoping as you read little light bulbs go off in your brain and it helps your game go to the next level. I will include a table of contents so you can scan and find a part that interests you.

Like the name says, this post is designed around the Terran Macro game, but as Protoss's macro is similar in the fact they also have to expand and build more structures, the basic concepts are also probably similar, so it could be that you can take something out of this as well.

Also, let me say I am no expert by any means. I am not in the Top 200, and I'm not pro...I am Master's league. But I have gained an understanding about this, and it's helped my game out a ton. In fact, writing this helps me, because putting those words in writing helps solidify these points in my mind as well as yours. I'm still learning, and still make mistakes. But I learn after every one, and my game is growing.

So, now let's get into it.

Table of Contents:

1: Macro- What it is

-1.1 Income
-1.2 Output
----1.2.1 Unit Costs
----1.2.2 Example of income vs. output in a build

2: The Macro Game

-2.1 What is the Macro Game?
-2.2 Early Game Macro: Expanding
-2.3 Mid Game Macro
----2.3.1 Production
----2.3.4 Your Third Expo
-2.4 Late Game Macro
----2.4.1: 200/200 Unit Armies
----2.4.2: Hit and Run Tactics
----2.4.3: Dealing with Turtlers

3: A look at the Macro of Other Races

--3.1: Zerg
--3.2: Protoss

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1: Macro- What It Is

Macro, in its simplest form, could be considered large control, or more simply: your base. When we talk about macro, we refer to how you are managing the income of your base/bases. It revolves around expanding, and building more structures to handle the additional income. Sounds simple, right? Well, not necessarily . It can take awhile to gain understanding of just how this works, and how it is so important, because macro can let your enter the late game and hold your own.

Stay with me if this next part is too in-depth and seems like too many numbers. I will clarify and make it make sense afterward

1.1 Income

This is probably to key to understanding Macro.

Income refers to the amount of minerals and gas SCV's bring into your base, and I believe it's based off each game minute. No matter what it is based off of, your SCV's are bringing in minerals and gas at a measurable rate. You can find this rate by watching your replays and going to the income tab. I'll call it RPM (resources per minute) to make it easier

I made a game up against a very easy computer and just tested the rates of income on one fully saturated base, then two bases, both with and without mules added in. I kept building workers then watched the replay and saw where the income pretty much stabilized .

1 Fully Saturated Base:

Harvesters: 28-30 - 6 on gas, 22-24 on mineral line
Income- gas: Stayed stable between 220 and 240 RPM with 6 SCV's
Income- Mineral Between 760-800 RPM
Time to saturation: 8 Minutes nonstop SCV production
Mineral Income with 1 Mule: Between 1000 to 1150 RPM for 90 seconds

2 Fully Saturated Bases

Harvesters: 54-60
Income-Gas: Between 400 and 460 RPM
Income Minerals: 1400-1500 RPM
Time to saturation: 13 minutes nonstop SCV production
Mineral Income with 2 Mules: 1800-2000 RPM for 90 seconds

(Note, when you are fully saturated, you'll start notice SCV's running all over the place trying to find somewhere to mine. Once that happens, you won't be getting much more income from that base, though you can keep building to transfer to the next expo)

1.2: Output

Now that you understand income, it's time to talk about output.

Too often I see players que units. This is a bad thing, which I'll talk about in section 2, but for now, think about these questions:

You have all this income flowing into your base, right? So how do you use it? Build more structures right? Yes, but this is where it can get complicated. How many structures do you build? When do you build them to take advantage of this income without hurting your unit production?

When it comes to the early game, I always add structures when I have the income to build something out of everything I already have and still have minerals and gas left over to build something new. What I recommend is going into the Single Player vs AI and practicing a build. Set a goal, and find out how to best get to that goal. Make it smooth, and by that I mean not missing an scv, not getting supply blocked, and adding buildings so that it doesn't kill your unit production. If you can get to that point, you have a strong build indeed

But the biggest question is how much can you really support on one base? On two bases? Well, that depends on what tech path you are using in your game

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1.2.1 Unit Costs

Let's look at each Terran unit cost and production time


Marine- 50 m, 25 sec
Marauder- 100m/25g, 30 sec
Reaper - 50m/50g, 45 sec
Ghost- 150m/150g, 40 sec


Hellion- 100m, 30sec
Siege Tank- 150m/125g, 45 sec
Thor- 300m/200g, 60 sec


Viking- 150m/75g, 42 sec
Medivac- 100m/100g, 42 sec
Raven- 100m/200g, 60 sec
Banshee- 150m/100g, 60 sec
Battle Cruiser- 400m, 300g, 90 sec

1.2.2- Example of income vs. output in a build

Let's say you wanted to go 3 rax,2 tech for heavy marauders, 1 reactor'd for marines, with siege tanks and medivacs for a heavy 1 base push. Can you do that reliably on one base? Let's see based on production per minute:

Base1: 2 tech rax, 1 reactor rax, 1 factory, 1 starport without reactor

Marauders are 100/25, 30 sec built time =400m/100 gas, 4 marauders per minute

Marines are 50 m, 25 sec build time = 200 m, 4 marines per minute

Siege tanks are 150m/125g, 45 sec build time = 150m/125 g, 1 tank per minute

Medivacs are 100m/100g, 42 sec build time = 100m/100g, 1 medivac per minute

Now as this is a very supply heavy build, you'll need to build at least 2 supply each minute to keep up

Supply = 100m, 30 sec = 200 minerals per minute

Total cost per minute= 1150 minerals, 325 gas per minute (with mule)
Total income for one base =1150, 240 gas.

So you can see you cannot support this on one base...not really, and you'll have nothing left over for upgrades. You'll have to research any upgrades such as stim or siege before you start production like that. And you won't be able to keep it up for long, because your main will start to mine out soon, especially with heavy mule usage. You will have to cut production to expand, and that leaves you weak mid-late game.

Now, I'm not saying that you need to calculate all this crap out for yourself when you try a new build. Not at all. But I say all that to make a point, because you do have to THINK about what you build. You're are limited by gas early game on one base. If you reactor your startport to build two medivacs at a time, you won't have enough gas to build siege reliably. If you go double factory on one base, you won't be able to build out of both at the same time for long. Do you see where this starts to get important? If you build random things it can hurt you. You have to nail down what it is you want to do and how to do it.

If you plan on doing a heavy mech or air build, you will have to be on two bases, minimum

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2: The Macro Game

Too often I see Terran players complaining that they keep losing games, because whatever they do gets countered in late game. But then when I see the replay or hear a recant of what happened, I realize it's because you've limited yourself in what you can do because you opted for 1 base heavy pressure, instead of a macro game that allows you to enter the late game, and gives you so many more options for what tech you want to use.

There are a few things I'll call the Rules of Macro that I want ingrained into your head:

1: Always build SCV's
2: Build more production structures
3: Build enough supply
4: Always know where your next expo is going to be, and how to secure it

The reasons for each will be covered in this section.

2.1: What is a Macro Game?

Most of the higher platinum and diamond players already know what a macro game is, but a lot of people struggling to learn in the lower bronze, silver, and gold leagues still have trouble grasping the concept. This section is for you my friends

A macro game refers to a game where the primary focus is not necessarily early pressure, but on expanding and taking advantage over your opponent by using the additional income to build up a powerful army and crush your enemy. It is a game where you have a plan, and are always thinking about the next move.

Now, that does not mean that there can be no early pressure. Building up a force of units and going to put pressure is fine, as long as you take advantage of that pressure by expanding, as I'll talk about next.

But the plan is what is important, and not just how and when to expand. You have to decide what you want to do and stick to it throughout the whole game. This is important for several reasons. First, it teaches you to be consistent, and second you have something to keep you focused if you get thrown a loop during early or mid game.

When thinking about plans, I recommend watching LiquidTLO vs WhiteRA on Jungle Basin. In that game, TLO had a plan to secure both middle expos, splitting WhiteRA's bases, making him weak, and he pulled it off beautifully. THAT is an example of a plan.

The mid game is where this plan for your overall game strategy is going to start taking shape, as you'll see.

If you are bouncing all around, building things randomly, and can't come up with a plan to save your life, you need to work on mechanics more than macro, because to be good with Terran you need to have solid play. There is little room for forgiveness in the higher leagues. In fact, most games aren't won by your opponent, they are lost by you because of mistakes, and that can hold true for ALL races. Focus on nailing down build orders and unit compositions, as well as be consistently building SCV's and never being supply blocked.

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2.2:Early Game Macro: Expanding

This is the most important part of learning the macro game: When do you expand? There are several different times you can do this, and each has its own benefits and risks

Fast Expand (FE)

FE refers to where you expand within the first 4-5 minutes of the game. The most common example of this is the 1 Rax FE, where you build a barracks then thrown down an expansion as soon as you have 400 minerals, then build a bunker to help protect until you can get more structures.

Benefits- If you can pull it off, you can gain a very real economic advantage over your opponent, and build up quicker.

Risks: You are incredibly vulnerable to early rushes and early pressure pushes. That is why positioning and scouting must be key before deciding to FE. If you are on a large map such as Shakuras with long positions (such as top right, bottom left, ext), FE becomes more viable, because you have more time to build up before they show up.

Also, if you scout a FE, FE'ing yourself usually becomes a lot more reasonable. If someone FE's they usually cant mount effective early pressure. But if you scout one base for a Zerg, or two gate for a toss, or 2 rax for a terran, odds are they are putting early pressure, and FE might not be the smartest thing, and you might even have to cancel that FE.

Expanding when you make a push

This is a much more common and safer rout when it comes to expanding: You build up units to put early pressure, and when you move out to apply that pressure you start building an expansion. This gives you an expansion before the 10 minute mark usually, and you can build units to protect it if need be, but if you hit him, he won't be hitting you, usually, unless it's a base trade. The point in this is to try and hurt them by taking out an expansion if he has it, while you gain one of your own.

Benefits: You gain income in a safe way, that is very easy to protect, and can possibly take out their source of additional income.

Risks: You will have to cut unit production for a short time to build expansion, so if your push gets totally dominated you won't have as many units to defend a counter push.


Turtleing is where you put up a very strong front to protect yourself while you expand. You throw down bunkers and back them up with other units. It is very hard to crack, but has its risks as well

I do something that could be considered a form of turtleing. I do a 1/1/1, and throw down an expansion when the starport is done. This gives me so many different tech options to help defend off early pressure. For example, against Toss I usually 1/1/1, reactor the rax, and tech the starport, and build marine/banshees while my expo is building. This gives you a harassment unit (the banshee) to put early pressure, as well as give you high DPS units to defend early pressure when allied with bunkers, or another banshee or two. When the expo is done, I bunker up my front, build an armory, and add thors into the mix. Then I go whatever tech path I want to based on what I scout and start putting pressure.

Benefits: Expand while maintaining a very strong front to protect from pressure

Risks- You usually don't apply pressure beyond simple harassment when you do this. This can give your opponent a chance to out expand you, especially if it is a Zerg, and can give your opponent complete control of the map. To counter this, once you get production up, you must be aggressive and regain control of the map. You cannot sit in your base, because they will run over you. You can harass with this build as well. Make use of that

NOTE: Keep on top of what your opponent is doing, because if he opts for a very heavy one base push, it can roll right over you. You usually have to go one base to defend one base pushes, so be careful of that if you start trying to macro. It can throw a monkey-wrench in the middle of your plans, if not hit you in the face

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2.3 Mid Game Macro

You've got your expo up, and now we are in the mid game. This is a very important phase, possibly the most important, because this is not only where the engagements start happening and the game starts heating up, but where you have to prepare to enter the late game as well. You do this in two ways: Building production structures and taking a 3'rd expo

2.3.1 Production

There are two main areas that people make mistakes in the macro game, and this is one of them: they don't have enough production to take advantage of the income.

The one thing you do want to be building is more units as quickly as you can. This is because Terran has the worst reinforcement in the game. Protoss can Warp in gateway units across the battlefield instantly, and Zerg can build 21 units at a time on 3 bases, but Terran has to build 1 unit at a time out of each structure and they has to travel across the battle field to reinforce. THAT is why queing hurts you so bad. If you have the minerals to que units, you have the minerals to build two units at a time, and make two units instead of one. You should build another structure and build as many units at a time from each structure as you can. This makes your reinforcement better and your army larger. Also remember to make your rally point either on one of your existing units, or at your front line.

If you've been constantly making SCV's, then when your expo is done you can transfer a good bit of them to the expo and gain an instant boost in economy, as you keep building more SCV's to help saturate both again.

This is going to give you some extra money to build some more structures with. Now, remember when I said you needed to have an overall game plan? This is where that gets important, because you need to build the buildings to make that plan come through.

One thing I like to do is go for a mech build, either ground or air, supported by infantry. Then, mid or late game, I try to hurt them, and then overwhelm them with infantry, because it is the quickest to build and fastest to cross the map. I love my Thors, but lets face it: A Thor can't outrun a fat man encased in cement being pulled backwards by a freight train.

So to do that, I'll add on either another factory or 2 if I go tanks or thors, or starport or 2 if I go banshee/raven/viking, and about 3 more barracks, because you need the meat shield. As my third gets up, I'll usually add on several rax, bring the total up to 6-9. This allows me to build between 9 and 15 units every 30 seconds.

You don't have to switch to infantry if you don't want to. You can keep building the same unit compositions as well if it's working for you. It all depends on your plan.

If you are going heavy mech build, make sure you go double gas on the expo as soon as those SCV's get there, and throw down another factory or two, or some more starports. If you go infantry heavy, go ahead and get the gas anyway for upgrades, if not right away. If you need to switch late game to mech, you don't want to be gas blocked.

Managing the income on two bases can be hard, but as you practice it, you'll start getting the hang of it. You'll know when it's time to throw down more structures. But for now, keep all your structures on hot keys, and build out of them constantly. While you do that keep an eye on your minerals. You don't want them above 500. And queing units doesn't solve the problem. Building more structures does.

Also, now is the time to be getting upgrades. DO NOT underestimate the power of upgrades late game. For some reason, most Terrans don't get upgrades. In late game against a halfway competent Protoss or Zerg player you will be facing upgraded troops. That is why your guys can melt like a snowball in hells outhouse. I will throw down a second engy bay and two armories and start upgrading whatever it is I'm going with once I'm on two bases. You have to keep a close eye on your gas here. You want upgrades but not at the cost of building units, because it's in the late mid game stuff usually hits the fan.

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2.3.2: Taking your Third Expo

Another problem I see is lot of players get focused on the two base pushes. They get their second fine, then they charge out and attack, attack, ATTACK..... and all of a sudden, they start getting "Not enough minerals" and they can't build as much. That's because while they were so busy attacking, their main mined out, and they are back to one base income. This is the second huge mistake people make, and it can cost you the game. I know it's cost me...many times before I learned. I'm going to spend some time here because it is so important.

Remember when I said that a macro game is about planning? This is an important part of it: Knowing when and how to take your third expo. This is harder than your natural, because the 3'rd expo is almost always harder to defend. And the map you are playing on is going to factor heavily into how you secure your expo, and the way you have to change your game play to compensate. You always want to be on at least two bases throughout the game.

Regardless of the map, you have to expand soon after your natural gets fully saturated, because you main will run out shortly. You MUST be on three bases before that happens. The minute you hear "Mineral Field Depleted" or you see missing patches from your main you need to start building your third near your natural, and behind your army.

There are two types of maps when it comes to third expos: easy, and hard difficulty to defend

Easy Maps:

These maps are where your third expo is close by your main and natural, and map control is easy. For example: Steppes of War, Delta Quadrant, and Shakuras Plateau all have close 3'rd expos, and there is middle ground that you can take and make it hard for your enemy to slip around you and hurt your economy. Quite frankly, Shakuras is a macro gamers dream, providing you keep an eye on the back door.

Lost Temple can also be considered an easy map, because the entrance to the gold is right next to your main and natural entrance, making it easy to set up a front line at the nearby tower, depending on your opponent's positioning. But it can also be hard if close positions force you to expand far away from your base.

On easy maps, you can expand with limited worry. You will probably have to cut unit production for a brief time, but over all your general game play does not have to change. You do need to extend your front line further out though. You cannot simply sit in your base.

Hard Difficulty Maps:

These maps are where your third expo is close to your base usually, but there are several path ways around the map, making defending both the 3'rd and the natural harder.

Metalopolis is one of the easier to defend harder maps, because even though there are 2 paths to your 3'rd/natural, you can react very quickly to both places. But what makes these maps difficult is the fact that when you push one side, they could push the other side and you can get in a base trade situation, which is bad for the macro game. This is where map control of the towers becomes important, and why you need to stay on top of his army by saving energy for scans.

Xel'Naga Caverns is another example of this type of map. Not only can they slip around the back of the map, they can march around the back of a Xel'Naga Tower and hit you at a weak point.

Jungle Basin is another that is hard to take a third. Either you have to expand to the middle, and put up a strong front, leaving your back door open, or knock down that back door and expand up the side, leaving your main vulnerable.

Blistering Sands is a map that is annoying as hell to take a 3'rd expo. Either choice, the gold or the blue patch near the back door of your base, leaves you somewhere vulnerable, and controlling all three paths is almost impossible.

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2.3.2: Taking your Third Expo, continued

So, how do you take a third on a hard to defend map? No matter what you do, there are going to be risks involved, one of the biggest being running into their damn army while you do it. This is especially common when playing Zerg. When it's time, you have to push out and secure the expo as quickly and safely as possible. This is part of the planning required to play a macro game: knowing how to positioning your troops to defend while the 3'rd gets up and running, and what makes the choice of location for your third important.

A couple of things will help with this:

1: Build a CC at your base then fly it to the expo.

This speeds up the time to securing that expo. Make sure your troops are there and set up before you land the CC.

2: Make a PF at your third.

I know all the other races hate the PF, and it's even annoying for me to deal with if my opponent has one, but the PF is huge in the macro game. Our armies are just too slow when mech gets added in. Moving across the map can take forever. Making your CC into a PF can help hold off pressure while your troops lug their way over to help. Zerg gets units that on creep run faster than a squirrel on crack, Protoss gets a powerful army that is fairly mobile, and we get a big damn fortress of guns. I wish we could move faster, but I'm happy enough with the trade off. The other races have ground defenses they can put up to protect their expos. This is ours.

3: Put Pressure

Instead of turtleing the third expo, you can try hitting them instead, if the map positions are good for it. Remember, constant aggression is not a bad thing, if you do it well, and if he is reacting to and defending himself from you, odds are he isn't attacking your bases. You build your macro game around your style. If you are an aggressive player, then be aggressive. If you are more defensive, then be defensive. Mold it around your style. I usually build a third when I make a large push.

Here is another important thing: Through my gaming experience, more large battles and game changing events happen when you take your 3'rd expo. If they see you expand again odds are they will try to hit you, and hard. Some will just expand with you, but in my experience over 70% opt to try to own you before you can get that 3'rd up and running, while trying to get their own built. Be ready for that.

Once I get my third up, I usually transfer the SCV's from my main to my third, because the main is almost mined out anyway. That keeps me on two base income, except for the short time it takes for them to get to the new expo.

I hope you've followed me so far and build those structures and taken that 3'rd expo. You're about to need them, because now is where macro gets tricky, because we've just entered the late game

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2.4: Late Game Macro

A lot of Terrans have trouble late game, because quite frankly, we don't have much experience here. We're used to winning or losing in the early or mid game, because since the days of the beta Terrans have been hard and fast hitters. But our enemies have learned to defend that hard hit, and the pressure that follows. They evolved, and we haven't. Too many players try the same unit compositions and wonder why they lose. Maybe it's because those strats have been used since the beta and they are well prepared for them.

And so when games hit the late game mark and we haven't crippled our opponent yet, we get lost on how to continue. But you CAN survive the late game if you've prepared yourself enough in the mid game by following me up to this point. The reason is because if you plan a macro game, you have the resources and ability to actually BUILD units that are viable in late game. You can go mass thor, you can go mass air, you can go thor - air, thor- tank infantry, you can go banshee-thor-tank-marine-marauder. You have so many options to do something that is different from the everyday large infantry-tank pushes that your enemy expects you to do.

The late game is where your plan solidifies. When I'm on my third, I'll be throwing down another 4 or 5 barracks if I've chosen to overwhelm, and I'll throw them up around my 3'rd expo. This does two things: 1) allows quicker reinforcement, and 2) provides a metal shield to help protect the third expo if they attack it before my troops can get back.

The Late game usually sees a significant amount of minerals and a smaller amount of gas start building up, especially if you have a gold expo. This is usually due to the fact that populations start maxing out late game, unless it's been a constant battle from the mid game. When this happens your minerals and gas will go up...a lot, because you can't spend them. This is not a bad thing when you are maxed out, and in fact, can give you an edge.

If I get maxed out, I will throw down a crap ton more structures. Barracks, usually, but factories, starports, whatever, it doesn't matter because I know that late game, whoever wins is usually the one who can rebuild faster. I want to be able to build 20 or 30 units at once after that battle. Then I'm going to go find him, try to get good position, and let the battle begin.

In late game you also need to finish your upgrades. This is beyond important. If you are not upgraded, you had better have been in a nonstop crazy fight that has required you to spend every mineral and drop of gas on units. If you enter a large late game battle with guys that aren't fully upgraded, odds are you are going to die, painfully.

Another thing to think about in the late game is the fact you might need to take a 4'th expo. Your natural is probably close to being mined out, and you might need to cash you can build up. If you've gone mech heavy, you also probably need the gas. Oh, another can stop building SCV's around the end of the middle game, when you get your 3'rd fully saturated. Any more, you run the risk of limiting your army size. I try not to go above 50-60 workers, because I want units that can actually shoot things.

Now, no two late games are the same, because of different unit compositions and different maps, but there do seem to be three trends that late games can seem to follow: 200/200 armies, hit and run, and turtle. How you react to each is important.

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2.4.1: 200/200 armies

Some games reach a point where both players are pretty much maxed out. The bad thing is there is going to be a battle...a LARGE one. How can you give yourself an advantage?

During that battle, I'll be trying to build as many units as I can as I start losing them. I try to either win that battle, or take out a HUGE chunk of his army. If I didn't take out that huge chunk, there are usually three reasons why: I had bad position (got caught moving while tanks were unsieged, got surrounded, ect), I wasn't upgraded enough, or I was a retard with my unit composition and got countered.

Regardless of whether or not I won that battle, I am going to be rebuilding as quick as I can and putting nonstop pressure to keep him from building up again. That is what wins you the game, if you aren't stupid. If he still has a significant chunk of his army left, you can't engage with anything less than equal numbers. If the big battle lands in a stalemate, it can either go back to the 200/200, and you need to take a 4'th expo, or it can turn into a hit and run game

2.4.2: Hit and Run Games

Hit and run tactics are designed to hurt your opponent while trying not to hurt yourself. Sending in a small force to take out an expo, slipping around the back, drops in a base, are all examples of this. If you take out an expo, they have to spend 400 minerals (300 for Zerg) and the time to rebuild it. They might not feel it at first, because late game odds are you have a cash reserve, but if you can keep doing that, it will hurt later on.

But the biggest thing about this tactic is the psychological impact. If you can put pressure on them, take out this expo, drop in a base, you can hold him in place. Psychological he'll be on the defensive now, trying to figure out where you are coming from. This can also be used to lure his army out of position and smash them on the move, because most people tend to move their whole army, or a large part of it, and you can take them out piece by piece.

The biggest risk in this is the fact that you split your forces, and if you leave yourself too weak he can rick roll you. You need a very strong front to hold if he hits you. AND the buildings to rebuild no matter what happens. You will also need buildings to tech switch if need be.

Also, trust me, you do not want to be on the receiving end of this. It sucks. If you are, rebuild right then, and move out to secure yourself as much as you can, or hit back if you are able.

2.4.3 Dealing with Turtlers

Most of the people who turtle are doing so to get out tier 3 tech of some kind quickly during the middle game. A few scans can keep you on top of that and let you know how you need to react.

Late game turtlers seem to want you to break your army on their anvil and then they move out to crush you. One way to break this is to contain them, then build up a lot of structures and start wearing down at their defenses.

Don't make that mistake thinking you can rebuild up quick enough every time though. I've been on 4 bases with 13 rax and still couldn't build up enough to stop a Terran counter. I thought my 3/3 infantry had what it took to break his 6 siege tanks and 50 marines. Nope, or I just failed at microing them. And once that tide broke, he rolled me because I couldn't pop enough units. Be smart, and don't take any risks. Macro up, take another expo, and get ready to rebuild or tech switch quickly if need be.

You can also turn it into a hit and run game. Drops all over the base/expos, running away at the first sign of counter attack. Bleed him slowly. You have the map, you will win if you keep your head.

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2.5: The Macro Game- Summary

The reason the macro game is so important, like I've said before, is because it gives you options in your game plan.

For example, I hear a lot of players asking for help winning against Zerg right now, because the Muta/ling/bling combo is so powerful against Terran and we're getting rolled by it. I did too. I would keep building the same things, trying to get out more and more, so that I finally had enough units to break his army and have enough left over to hurt him. And I lost, and I lost. I just couldn't build the right army to beat it. Then I started thinking that they have our number. We've been doing this for a long time, and they have learned to evolve and to counter our huge ground pushes. What if it's time for us to evolve as well?

So instead of keeping on building that ground army, why not do something that renders it useless, like going heavy air? Now I know, I thought the same: Terrans can't win with air against a Zerg with mutas in the air game, or hydras on the ground. Then I saw it done. I watched some replays of a 2k+ diamond named Azzur, i believe, who went 1/1/1 into expand and triple starport. He built banshees, vikings, thors, and marines. When he had enough banshees and vikings, he flew around the map, crushing any expos and sniping overlords. The Zerg would simply not have the gas (They cost 100/100) to build up enough mutas to counter the air power of vikings AND the AA of thors and marines. If he tried to go hydras, it would also be a simple thing to counter with blue-flame hellions.

So, who says you can't be creative? To go air heavy against a race that usually dominates air? Playing a macro game allows you to do that. You could never do a build like this on one base and make it work. You have to have an expansion up and running early game to allow you to stay on par, because if you allow him to build enough mutas, you won't have map control anymore.

A macro game allows you to do something like this: to build more powerful units sooner. Do you know how hard it is for a Protoss to stop an army of 2-3 thors, 4-5 banshees, a raven, and around 30 marines at around the 13-15 minute mark? Unless they build exactly the right units to counter that build, they will lose to it. It's time for our game to evolve. It's time to try new things, and new ways of doing them. I'm not top 200. My micro can't win me games like theirs can. I have to rely on something else: Macro.

This will not be easy to do. You will try it, and you will lose. But trust me, stick with it, because you will learn quickly, from how to expand to how and when to build structures, to what army to build. If you keep losing time after time trying to do this, there is something wrong with your execution or your plan. If you tried to tech to battle cruisers and got dominated, that doesn't mean that a macro game doesn't work, just that might not be the best tech path. Just saying. The best macro won't help you if you get completely countered by your opponents army. Watch your replays and look for bumps: supply blockage, mineral spikes, lack of production, and try to smooth that out next game.

I said this before, but it is very important, so I'll reemphasize here: Games, especially higher level games, tend to be reactionary. If your opponent allows you to set the pace, great. Macro up like a mofo. But if they try to cheese, or go for a very heavy one base push, you have got to react, and a macro game might not be the best choice. If you can hold, then macro up, you've probably just won the game, but you have to hold first. One base pushes usually require one base, or the right unit composition to hold. So stay on top of what your opponent is doing, scouting and scanning, because that will tell you what you need to do. Do not go mule heavy. Use your scans as well. If they see they have no expo and are building up a lot of units, one base push, and you have to get ready to hold. Bunkers, tanks, whatever you can to survive. While the attack is happening, you can throw down an expo if you have the money and advantage to do so.

I know for a fact this will work up until the high diamond level, with few exceptions. I have climbed the ladder from 1400 to 2.2K using these principles, and I've beaten 2900 diamonds with it. I've beaten Master League players in my clan by playing a macro game. So do you think it won't work on bronze? In platinum? It does, trust me.

This is how I play. I still lose, but far less then when I was trying to one base it, or not taking a 3'rd expo. I don't hold stock in OP/UP. Everything is counterable, if you see it and react to it. This type of game allows you the opportunity to do that. If you don't think that macro is worth anything, look at Jinro. His style allowed him to enter the late games and hold his own against the best players in the world, when everyone said that Terran couldn't survive the late game.

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Highly Rated
3: A look at the macro of the different races

Now, I'm no expert on the macro of different races, but I do understand the basic concepts. We'll break it down by race and explain how this effects late game play

3.1 Zerg

Zerg is the most different from the other two races. Whereas Protoss and Terran macro revolves around taking more bases and building more production structures to build more units, Zerg macro revolves around taking more bases to build units, as the hatcheries are their production centers. One base with a queen can spawn 7 larva every minute or so. I don't know the exact timings on that. These larva are used for both workers and combat units. The term "Droning" refers to the Zerg using all larva to make drones, as there is no pressure to build combat units. So, if you get this trend, Zerg players can make 7 units at once on one base, 14 on two bases, and 21 on 3 bases, and the number goes up and up. This allows them to rebuild armies very quickly late game and overrun opponents, hence the name "The Swarm."

I heard it put best this way one time: "In a match, the goal of Zerg is to keep expanding. The goal of their opponent is to stop them." If you can limit the number of bases a Zerg can get, you can out macro him, both in income and production. He gets on 4 bases...good luck. You can destroy his entire army and it'll be back up by the time you get to his base. You have to limit the amount of units he can produce.

3.2 Protoss

Protoss Macro is much similar to Terran, in the fact that they also have to expand and build more structures to help manage that income. The difference is chrono-boost and warp gates. With Chrono boost, they can saturate expansions quicker, which is why we have mules to help keep up, until saturation. Then you can use the energy for scans. Chrono-boost can also be used on buildings, allowing quicker research, unit production, and decreased cool-down time.

Warp gates also allow them to warp in gateway units anywhere there is a pylon, allowing for instant reinforcement of every unit except those built from a robo bay or stargate. This is why they will throw down a proxy pylon nearby your base when they push. They can warp in reinforcements across the map quicker than you can rebuild, especially with chrono-boosting.

With Protoss, like Terran, you want to limit the number of expansions they have. This can make some of their buildings worthless, because they won't have the income to build out of them. Once they get 8+ gates, they can reinforce so quickly that you will have a hard time breaking them. This is where your own high level of production structures can come in handy. Have a steady stream of reinforcements rolling in every 30-60 seconds.


I know this is an insane wall of text, but its my hope that this helps out whoever reads it. If this post helps one person take their game to the next level, then it'll be worth the time spent working on it.

If you have questions or something isn't clear, or just want help with your macro game, I'll try to check back here and answer questions. Due to people messaging me in game, I'd like to add, I don't mind that, but I do play and watch a lot of replays, so if I'm set to busy, or don't answer you right away, I will when I get done with whatever it is I'm doing, or if I have time.

Also, a player made a post with Macro tips in this thread that is pretty good as well. Check it out.

Caustic -

Also, I'd like to thank Clan RH for helping me learn and grow as a player, and for giving me the idea to write this post. Check us out at:

Keep gaming, and learning.


To break it down into simple steps:

Always build SCV's, until the late-mid game when you have a fully saturated 3'rd expo
Always know where your next expansion is going to be
Build enough production structures
Try to never be supply blocked
Take a 3'rd expo before your main runs out
Upgrade your units
Late game build more production structures
Have a plan you stick through the whole game, unless changing that plan becomes necessary, such as early pressure or air rushes.

If you want to know how to do that, read the big post where it relates to what you want to know.
Post reserved for good replays and good tips/comments of other players

EDIT: 04/04/2013

Hey guys, WinterbornRH here again. The links I had posted to replays no longer work.

To everyone who wants replays:

Most of the good replays I have are are old, old, old. I haven't played SC2 in a 1v1 scene for nearly a year and a half or longer. I hit masters and said "I'm done." Uploading old replays would be a waste of time because things have changed so much.

I just started playing again with HOTS and I'm starting from the bottom and working my way up, getting a feel for the game again. Once I get to high plat/diamond again, I'll start posting good replays against good opponents so you guys can see what I'm talking about.

But first I got to get there, because a simply truth is: You don't use it, you lose it. I hope to get you guys some good replays soon.

In the meantime, feel free to ask questions or holla at me in game if you wish, but remember that my skill level has gone down quite a bit in the year and a half I haven't played, and I'm not up on strategies for all the new stuff we have yet. But I will be, and I still love helping people, so if you feel like it, message me or email me at, or stop by and holla at me there.

Thanks for reading, and keeping this post alive!
Very very long but I think I learned alot especially from the whole how much income do you need for X.
Very, very, very good post. This pretty much let me know how to take a 3rd, which was the rough patch in my macro game.

I'd say recommended for all Terrans to read.
The Godly info wall of text, meh trying again this is alot to take in
nice mate! I think one of my biggest weaknesses is macro as I always focus on one base pushes
Thanks for this! People like you helped bring me from 2-20 to 94-77. I need alot of help with my macro game.
I read it all, very basic simple key points that might get you started on the basics of Terran macro. You could have went into Specific builds '3rax off 1base + expansion at 7:00 Build', or 'adjusting gas timings for Cheesy strats that require gas', but non the less, covers majority of the theories behind Terran macro. Definitely suggest this thread to anyone who has trouble with their macros.

*On 2.3.2 Section Easy maps, there's a small typo. "Quite frankly, Shakuras is a macro gamers dream, providing you keep an eye on the back door." I think you meant Provided,

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