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StarCraft 2

Starcraft 2 Beginner's Guide

Step 3: Resource Spending
So youíve gotten really good at building a strong economy, and youíre consistently building a new worker every time you need to. However chances are by now youíre gathering money faster than youíre spending it. This is the second crucial mistake that newer players tend to make: they donít match their production with their income. Not spending resources is known as floating, and floated resources are as useless to you as no resources at all. You must translate your resources into useful firepower, and the way you do that is by scaling your production to match your income.

What is production scaling?

Production scaling is exactly like the economy scaling you practiced in the previous section. 6 gatherers were not enough, so you built 16. 16 werenít enough so you built 24. Well as it turns out, having just 1-2 barracks or gateways isnít enough either. You must scale up your production to match your income rate, and the key is doing so as you scale your economy, not after youíve already maximized it. Building extra production structures in anticipation of a new expansion or newly increased economy allows you to transition to higher production much faster. By now you should be familiar with how long everything in Starcraft 2 takes to build, and this is an aspect of its play that can make it very unforgiving.

How many production buildings do I need?

There really isnít any formula that says you should have X number of production buildings for any given number of workers. Like all things in Starcraft 2, itís never that simple. Due to population limits, and the fact that youíre human, itís inevitable that you will float some cash. If you have a surplus of production structures, you can burn through that spare cash more easily than if you had only ďjust enoughĒ production structures to keep up with perfect spending. The general rule of thumb is itís better to have too many production structures, than too few. The trick is not going crazy and sacrificing your army or economy in the pursuit of getting more production structures or tech buildings.

Since different units have different ratios of gas to mineral costs, itís tough to give an estimate for how many production structures you should have. Though for the purposes of training, here are some safe ball bark estimates for operating off of a single mineral field:

  • 4 barracks (3 tech labs and 1 reactor)
  • 3 barracks + 1 tech building
  • 2 barracks + 2 tech buildings
  • 4 Gateways/Warpgates
  • 3 Gateways/Warpgates + 1 Robotics Facility
  • 2 Gateways/Warpgates + 1 Robotics Facility + 1 Stargate
  • 1 Hatchery per mineral field w/Queens injecting larvae into each.
  • Helpful to get a 3rd hatchery somewhere in your base when you have two saturated mineral lines.
Itís important to note that the above mixes or combinations arenít always the best in every situation. Getting into exact build orders and production mixes is beyond the scope of this guide, so please take the above suggestions as rough starting points. Besides, in lower leagues what you build isnít necessarily as important as simply having as much stuff as you can afford on a fully saturated economy. Remember, having a bigger army and stronger economy is whatís most important in lower leagues.

Time to practice!

Using the above suggestions as a loose guide, itís time to practice. This practice phase will be the most difficult to master and itís something even hardened experts can still struggle with. The key is not to practice in a sandbox by yourself, but to practice against a computer opponent that is better than you are.

If you end up playing by yourself, or against a weaker opponent, there are two problems. First, you wonít be forced to multitask as much and thus it will seem like itís easier to spend money than it really is. In a real game against a challenging opponent, you wonít have the luxury of being able to train units un-interrupted. Youíll be forced to engage in combat, scout, expand, upgrade units, increase your supply, and deal with dozens of other distractions. Secondly, a weaker opponent (or no opponent) makes it too easy to become complacent. The more you struggle, the faster you tend to play and faster you adapt and learn.

While the algorithmic and predictable nature of the AI is not as ideal as playing against a human opponent, the objective here is to put you in an environment that distracts you and makes you struggle as much as possible so that you can simply practice spending money on units as fast as you can get it. Online opponents in lower leagues arenít as persistent as the AI, and thus arenít that useful to train against.

Ideally, you ought to get a mentor and training partner, but playing against any opponent who is better than you are will force you to play better yourself. You canít improve unless you push yourself!


Unspent resources are useless. Starcraft 2 is different from most other RTS games because of how high its income rate is relative to unit build speed. Since units build slowly, you are required to have a large number of production buildings to keep up with your income. Constantly spending your resources is the most challenging mechanical aspect of Starcraft 2, and at lower levels of play, building lots of anything is more important than worrying about what specifically should be built.

Practice spending your money as fast as you earn it by making additional production structures as needed. Itís better to have too many production facilities than too few, but donít go overboard. Practice will be most effective if itís done against a challenging opponent (either computer, or human) since it will force you to multitask Ė the biggest distraction against diligently building units.

Donít forget upgrades!
Upgrades are seriously under-valued at low levels of play. If you find that youíre floating extra cash, and youíve maxed out your current production, burn it on upgrades or getting buildings which let you research upgrades (forge, engineering bay, or evolution chamber). You should be getting upgrades anyway, but theyíre easily the best way to spend excess cash.