Macro (short for macromanagement) is everything dealing with your economy. It includes spending minerals and gas and preventing a supply block. While your income increases the amount of resources you possess, your job is to spend these resources by constructing buildings, training units or investing in upgrades. Macromanagement comes with decision making - what to spend your 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)
Multiple Building Selection (MBS)
You may select multiple production buildings / Larvae at once. For every keypress, one unit will be produced, so if you select 25 Larvae, you would have to press25 times in order to morph all of them into Drones. You can also hold down to morph all the Larvae into Drones.
A hotly debated topic in the early stages of SC2's development was macro-management mechanics. With Multiple Building Selection (MBS) and Automine, players were afraid of having too little a challenge of keeping up with macro, thus lowering the skill-ceiling of the game and its use for competitive play. As a solution, Blizzard has introduced multiple Race-Specific Mechanics that allow you to prioritize certain aspects of the game.
Unlike in Starcraft 1, Workers will start mining automatically if their rally-point sends them to resources of any kind. They will also split themselves evenly among patches.
Spending on your Army means you are building units, and the production buildings that create those units. If your resources are rising faster than you can spend them, you may need to build more production buildings to be able to produce more units at a faster pace. Units are what you use to engage in combat, having more of them allows you to defend and attack against the enemy more effectively.
Spending on Tech means you are either constructing buildings to progress down the tech tree which allows you to build new types of units or buildings, or you are getting upgrades to enhance your existing units. Unlocking the tech tree allows you to build more powerful units or a better variety of units. Upgrades enhance your units to be stronger or more versatile.
Spending on Economy means you make an investment that will increase the rate at which you gather resources -- or creating Pylons/Depots/Overlords since Supply is considered one of the three Resources. Building worker units allows you to collect minerals and gas at a higher rate at your existing bases. Constructing new bases allows you to have more resource patches from which to gather resources. This is necessary to do because beyond approximately 24 workers (3 on each gas geyser, and 18 on minerals), the collection rate increase per worker created drops significantly.
- Chrono Boost is an ability on each Nexus costing 25 Energy, that speeds up the targeted building's production rate by 50% for 20 seconds. 50% increased production rate means a perfectly and continuously Chrono-Boosted item will complete at 2/3 the normal time requirement. Unit production as well as research can be sped up by targeting the appropriate building. Players must decide which buildings to boost in order to produce faster. Chrono Boost cannot be used on an allies' buildings.
- Warpgates reduce the total production time of any given unit by 10 game time seconds, compared to the production time by Gateways. Although it would be ideal to warp in another unit immediately after a Warpgate's cooldown has expired, there is still a 10 second window in which if you warp in another unit, you are still "ahead" compared to the gateway's production time. Because of the way Warpgates work, there is absolutely no queuing possible. In exchange, you do get a 10 second shaving. (But still, you should compare everything to the theoretical best possible, not a sub-par benchmark.)
- is an extra hotkey (in default keyboard layout) that is unique to Protoss and selects all Warpgates on the map. This allows you to free up a numeric hotkey for other things.
After upgrading the Command Center with an Orbital Command, Terrans can choose between three options, each for 50 Energy:
- Calldown: MULE - An improved SCV is dropped at a chosen location and can mine minerals at roughly 4-4.5x the rate of a normal SCV or repair for 90 seconds. This ability is especially useful in early game.
- Scanner Sweep - Reveals a certain area of the map and uncovers cloaked units. Important to note that the actual reveal area is much larger than the animation's radius.
- Calldown: Extra Supplies - Instantly increases the supply yield of a selected supply depot by 8. This is good for when you become supply blocked, allowing you to continue to produce units to fuel a "ball", fend off an attack on your base, or forego the build time in certain situations (see TLO's supply drop fast expo build)
- Forgetting to MULE as soon as you have 50 energy results in lost opportunity cost. But even if you forget, your MULEs will still mine you the same amount of minerals. It is the opportunity that is lost, since you could have had those minerals earlier. Arguably, forgetting to MULE ASAP is not as bad as forgetting to Warp in units or forgetting to inject larvae, considering that only the opportunity cost is permanently lost.
- Pressing while having selected multiple types of building producing structures will cycle through them (same for unit types). However, Tabbing is not always necessary, If you have regular Barracks, a Tech Lab Barracks, and a Reactor Barracks selected, click for Marine will be prioritized to be made at the Reactor Barracks, regular Barracks, and then finally the Tech Lab. (it used to be that pressing did nothing if the Tech Lab Barracks was not first on the tab cycle. (not sure if this works between among all types of production buildings, or just the same buildings with various addons)
- Hatcheries produce 1 Larvae every 15 game time seconds so long as there are less than 3 Larvae at that Hatchery. For maximum Larvae production in conjunction with the Spawn Larva ability, it is best to utilize Larvae right when the spawn Larvae pop, so that you are never sitting with 3 or more Larvae.
- Spawn Larva (25 energy) at a Hatchery controlled by the player or an ally, making 4 Larvae hatch after 40 game time seconds.
- However, it is sometimes desirable to stockpile Larvae and keep injecting larvae with the queen despite foregoing the Hatchery's innate production.
- Every second that a Hatchery is not injected by a Queen is permanently wasted; if you forget to inject Larvae for some time, you cannot gain that production time back.
Quick Mass Injection Keystroke
A quick way to inject all Hatcheries with Larvae is by assigning all queens to one hotkey (or is recommended for this method), then pressing , then from this point on you hold the key, then alternate between pressing and clicking the center of your screen.
(hotkey for all Queens), , hold , , click, click, (etc.)
- is pressed with the index finger.
- is pressed with the pinky
- is held down with the thumb
- is pressed repeatedly with the index finger.
As you may know, holding shift preserves a command, like when building structures or casting abilities. the same can be applied to the Queen's Larvae inject ability.centers your screen over the next Hatchery/Nexus/CC, and clicking the center of your screen while having the larvae inject ability preserved injects. Because you have all Queens selected, and because SC2's smart-casting AI, the nearest Queen will be told to inject Larvae to the targeted Hatchery as you alternate between pressing and click.
This method can inject all Larvae on all Hatcheries extremely quickly. And additional Hatcheries hardly cost additional time.
Caveat: When a Queen does not have sufficient energy, the next nearest Queen with sufficient energy will move to inject the targeted Hatchery. This may result in a Queen traveling across the map, putting herself in danger and missing out on 2 Hatcheries' injection cycles. Prevention measures are: 1) having extra Queens above the number of Hatcheries in play and positioning them near Queens that might have to use transfuse and run out of energy; 2) or simply having enough awareness to make sure your Queens do have sufficient energy can prevent this unwanted scenario.
Creep should be spread as part of your macro using some of the below techniques;
- Spawn Creep Tumor will expand the Zerg creep, and each Creep Tumor can spawn another Creep Tumor, so one Creep Tumor can start a chain that can cover the entire map given enough time.
- After Lair tech, Overlords can be used to spew creep ahead of a tumor, allowing a new tumor to be placed as far as possible, resulting in fastest spread overall.
- An extra Queen can accompany an Overlord, starting original creep locations all around the map, rather than only building creep contiguously from your base. (done by TLO in one game - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ar_FK-g6Mms)
For other techniques see the main creep article.
Learning where and when to spend your resources is a fundamental part of StarCraft II. In order to be quick and concise about building your base and army, you need to plan ahead. In order to plan ahead you need a goal. For example, if your goal is to get a Siege Tank, you will need a Barracks, Gas and a Factory with a Tech Lab. Having made this plan beforehand allows you 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 get you to your goal in the best way possible.
|A simple example|
Scenario: Playing Terran, in order to invest in Eco, you set your goal as: constant SCV production. |
In this case the optimal time to get a Supply Depot is when you have 10 SCVs. This way it will be finished once you reach 11/11 SCVs.
You don't have any minerals to make the Supply Depot any earlier, but delaying it will leave you will too little Supply to keep making SCVs. Building a Supply Depot at 10 therefore, is the optimal way to enable constant SCV production.
Once your base fills up, your 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 you queue up a Marine prematurely, your money isn't actively used and if you make a Marine later you're wasting time as your Barracks is left idle. When multiple production facilities are available, units are often built in simultaneously. The player cycles through his building, queueing one unit per building, completing one production round (or macro round). This way, since the units complete at the same time, you can do a full round after the previous one finishes, allowing you to macro very efficiently. A more advanced approach is to take build times into consideration. For example, a Hellion's buildtime is 30, whereas that of a Thor is 60. With one Factory producing Hellions and another Thors, you can queue up 2 Hellions and 1 Thor to sync up production: As soon as your Thor is done, 2 Hellions will be done also and you can again produce start the same production round.