A timing attack, or timing push, is an attack that is done during a certain period or moment in time that results in an increased advantage compared to attacking outside that window. The time period in which an attack is stronger than outside the time period is commonly referred to as a timing window. The best timing windows are ones where both player-dependent and opponent-dependent factors coincide (e.g. your upgrade completed, but your opponent's has not. see picture to the right).
At the completion of an upgrade your army will have a sharp increase in strength. This can be a good time to attack the opponent. As time goes on, the opponent may complete upgrades or get more units evening out the advantage. Another timing is to move out early with one or a few advanced units, using the increased strength of the new unit to make your attack that much stronger.
Even if a timing attack is expected it can be used to force the opponent into spending resources on something else, making other parts of his strategy less powerful. Also known as Forcing.
- Some units are more efficient in groups. 3-4 Hydralisks will not boost an attack as much as one Colossus, relative to the army size.
- Scouting can nullify some timing attacks. A Dark Templar timing, for example, will be nullified by proper scouting since the opponent will have countermeasures up in time before the attack hits.
Depending on what your opponent is doing, there will be different "openings" or times in his build where it's advantageous to attack.
Scouting or knowing timings is critical for opponent-based timing windows.
Before Tech Completion
If your opponent is increasing production capacity or investing in upgrades, then your opponent will not be spending resources on units. Until those buildings or upgrades are done, your opponent will have a decrease in production. The largest difference in strength will peak right at the point before the upgrades complete or the new units are done. Delaying attack to the last instant will make it stronger, but the risk of missing the window opportunity will increase.
If the opponent expands, you might want to consider an attack for two reasons:
- Your opponent has sunk 300-400 minerals into non-army, giving you that much mineral's worth of army advantage and oftentimes positional advantage due to the fact that he must defend the location of his expo. This mineral difference is more significant in the early to mid-game, since 300-400 minerals is a larger percentage of one's income compared to the late-game.
- If you do not "follow" him in the economic race by expanding yourself very quickly, your opponent will gain the economic advantage in the near future. Any instance where a player expands, it is somewhat of an ultimatum for the other player to either attack, or quickly expand themselves. Scouting an expansion late puts you in a position where it is probably better to try to attack and knock his economic advantage down, rather than "following" him and expanding because the gap would put you in disadvantage anyway. If you scout an expansion going down early, however, you still have a viable option of expanding yourself, since the margin would not be that great.