Macro (short for macromanagement) is everything dealing with the player's economy. It includes spending minerals and gas and preventing a supply block.
While a player's income increases the amount of resources the player possesses, the player generally spend these resources by constructing buildings, training units or investing in upgrades.
Macromanagement comes with decision making - what to spend one's money on. The options basically boil down to Army, Tech and Economy. Generally, players will want to spend their money as soon as possible, unless they are waiting for a specific tech to become available (e.g. many Zerg players will save up gas so they can make a large number of Mutalisks immediately after the Spire finishes)
Spending on producing an Army means the building of units, and the production buildings that create those units. If the player's resources are rising faster than can be spent, more production buildings are generally advisable to be able to produce more units at a faster pace. Units are what are used to engage in combat, so having more of them enables a more effective offense, which may in turn provide defense at the same time.
Spending on Tech means either constructing buildings to progress down the technology tree which allows the production of new types of units or buildings, or researching upgrades to enhance one's existing units.
Unlocking the tech tree allows the player to build more powerful units or a better variety of units. Upgrades enhance units so they become stronger or more versatile.
Econ or Eco
Spending on Economy refers to making an investment that will increase the rate at which resources are gathered -- or creating Pylons/Depots/Overlords since Supply is considered one of the three Resources. Building worker units allows a higher rate of minerals and gas collection in one's existing bases. Constructing new bases enables more resource patches from which to gather resources. New expansion bases are necessary because beyond a certain number of workers, where gas geysers and mineral lines are saturated, the collection rate increase per worker drops significantly.
- Hatcheries produce one Larva every 20 game time seconds as long as there are less than 3 Larvae at that Hatchery. For maximum Larvae and unit production, it is preferable to utilize Larvae right when the Larva is spawn with minimal idle time. However, it is sometimes desirable to stockpile Larvae for production purposes.
Learning where and when to spend one's resources is a fundamental part of StarCraft. In order to be quick and concise about building bases and armies, it is advisable to plan ahead. One should play towards a goal. For example, if the goal is to produce a Siege Tank, the player will need a Barracks, Gas and a Factory with a Machine Shop. Having made this plan beforehand allows the player to plan ahead on what buildings to build.
A build order is the optimal way of reaching a goal. They are often thought-out before hand so that perfect execution will enable the player to reach one's goal in the best way possible.
| A simple example
Scenario: Playing Terran, in order to invest in Eco, the player sets a goal of: constant SCV production. |
In this case the optimal time to get a Supply Depot is when the player has nine SCVs. This way it will be finished once the player reaches 10/10 supply.
The player doesn't have any minerals to make the Supply Depot any earlier, but delaying it will leave the player with too little Supply to keep making SCVs. Building a Supply Depot at nine therefore, is the optimal way to enable constant SCV production.
Once the player's base fills up, one's main macro task is making units.
Each race has an ideal time at which to produce units. A Barracks for example, can only make one Marine at a time. Therefore, the best time to make a Marine is right after the previous Marine completes. If Marines are queued up prematurely, money/resources are not actively used, while making a Marine later is wasting production time as the Barracks is left idle.
When multiple production facilities are available, units are often built in simultaneously. The player cycles through each building, queuing up one unit per building, completing one production round (or macro round). This way, since the units complete at the same time, a full round can be re-executed after the previous one finishes, thus enabling a very efficient macro process.
A more advanced approach may be to take build times into consideration. For example, a Marine's build time is 24, whereas that of a Siege Tank is 50. With one Factory
producing Tanks and a Barracks producing Marines, two Marines can be queued while one Tank is queued to sync up production: When the Tank is done, two Marines will be done also and one can again produce start the same production round.