Intermediate Guide


Hopefully you've gotten the basics of saturating your mineral lines down and are keeping up a healthy amount of workers and sustained income. If not, please check out the Economy section in the N00B Guide. What we want to evolve here is your build order as it pertains to gas and the rate at which you expand.

When to Start Mining Gas

In StarCraft 2 it's an important decision of when exactly to get gas. When you consider that a gas extraction structure costs 75 minerals, takes 30 seconds to build, and with exception of Protoss it ties up or consumes a worker this is a significant cost if done very early in the game. Don't get early gas just out of habit, you should have a strategy. Say you have 12 workers mining minerals, when you add up the cost of the structure and the loss of a miner you're costing yourself just shy of 100 minerals in that 30 seconds alone. If you pull 2 more workers off the line once the extractor is complete you'll be costing yourself another 100 minerals over the next minute.

If your build is going to ultimately be largely comprised of mineral only units produced from mineral only structures then you're better off massing those units first, and in greater numbers, before you go ahead and get gas and the associated structures and units.

As with any economy management you want to keep your stored resources as low as possible, your units build queues as shallow as possible, and your overall production rate as high as possible. Don't get gas early if you don't need it because the trade off in more units can be well worth it.

Early Gas is considered between 10-12 supply, Average Gas happens between 15-17 supply, and Late Gas would be around 22-26 supply or greater all of which would be on a single geyser. Hitting both geysers at the Early or Average stages is indicative of a gas heavy early build and something to watch for from your opponent while scouting.

Your build ultimately determines when you'll get gas and so if your following a predetermined strategy having this train of thought isn't necessary. However, as you adapt and create your own builds this is an important factor to consider and it's doubly important to understand these mechanics when scouting your opponent to help you determine what they may be building towards.


$$ I want the GOOOLLLLLDDDD!! $$

There are many decisions in StarCraft 2 that go into when to expand. Often times it's after your first push or if you find your opponent bunkered in. You might also expand faster if your natural expansion is very close to your main and is easily defendable. Good scouting is paramount in expanding. However, strictly from an economical perspective here's what to keep in mind.

If you get to a point where you've let your stored mineral income build up in to an excess of 600 minerals, you have all your constructed production structures with 2+ units in queue, and you have a moderate army for which to defend an expansion then you may as well go lay it down regardless if you think it's a bit premature in your standard build. Queuing up more units beyond 2 isn't necessarily the best use of that extra income. Again, other factors must be considered but this is a decent rule of thumb and something you should be conscious of.

Note:the above statement can also be indicative of 2 other things; you need to examine your build structure and consider always adding an expansion at this stage or getting additional production buildings or, more likely, in this particular match you got caught up in other things and weren't macroing properly. If the latter is true it is definitely advised to go ahead and construct your expansion base and start playing catch up.

Timing is important as well. If you've been sitting on one base for anything in excess of 10 minutes (game time) then you'd better make damn sure your opponent is in the same position and that you're both mounting sizeable armies for the soon to come clash. Most people will have an expansion base started or fully active by the 10 minute mark and if you let yourself fall behind in terms of the income your opponent is pulling in then you'll soon be in trouble.

When you see your opponent expand you have a decision to make. You either need to expand yourself to keep up with economy or quickly mass/tech and attack yourself since they've sacrificed some of their army for the extra economy. If your opponent is outpacing you in economy you either need be sure you can catch up or you need to outpace them in army and technology and quickly use that to your advantage to either win the match or reduce their economy. This topic is covered further in the Advanced Guide

Be Conscious of Dwindling Mineral Patches

It's getting pretty crowded around here

As mineral fields on a patch become depleted you'll have workers try and move to other mineral fields and eventually start becoming queued up waiting to gather resources. This is when you need to start migrating those workers to expansion bases and patches where they can continue to be productive.

As you have entire patches and bases drying up is where you want to be one step ahead in creating another expansion base that is fully constructed prior to the workers becoming dormant. In short, keep your workers active and not queued up oversaturating any given mineral field.

Next we'll cover scouting. Next>>>

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