N00B Guide


The single biggest foundational strategy and skill you can learn in StarCraft 2 is managing your economy effectively. This means harvesting minerals and gas as fast as possible at the highest sustainable quantities while also keeping pace with supply to support your workers and your army. In general it means you never stop producing workers (*until you're well into the game on 3 plus bases, and even then it depends) and you never let yourself get supply blocked--in a situation where you can't produce units because you don't have enough supply.

Saturate Your Mineral Lines

This base is a *bit* oversaturated...

Each mineral patch in StarCraft 2 typically consists of 8 mineral fields and 2 vespene geysers. Full saturation is when you have 3 workers harvesting each of the 8 fields and 3 workers harvesting each vespene geyser. This would mean that total saturation of a mineral patch is 30 active workers. Having more than 30 workers at a single mineral patch does not increase your rate of income and therefore will not increase your economy.

The minimal amount of units one would consider to effectively "saturate" a mineral patch is arguably between 22-24 workers with 6 of those workers always on gas. Gas is harder to come by and vital for many unit types and upgrades and as such it's recommended to have 3 workers on any given geyser you've got an extraction structure on for full gas saturation.

As a basic strategy we recommend having 24 workers on any given patch leaving a little extra supply to supplement your army and to ensure you're spending at an aggressive rate without building up too much spare income. Possibly of more interest and the conclusion of this number is that after 2 workers per mineral field there is actually diminishing returns until it completely plateaus at 3 workers per mineral field. Workers aren't necessarily "queued" up at this point but you have them start to bounce around from field to field and there are fractions of seconds shaved off their time to return harvested minerals to your base. Beyond 24 workers it's actually more valuable to look into expanding then to fully saturate (see comment below about oversaturating your *first* base).

A good trick to determine how many workers you have at a given base is to box-select all of them. To ensure you have 24 workers you should have 2 full rows plus 6 workers in your 3rd row—which is 22 but you'll have 2 workers inside the geysers at all times giving you 24. Beyond being this precise just take a look at your mass of workers. Does it look crowded? If so, you should be looking at expanding anyways to give those extra workers a new home.

Remember, never stop making workers until you're well into the middle and late stages of the game so when it's crowded, look at expanding.

It takes roughly 5 minutes and 10 seconds (game time, faster setting; 1.24 real time seconds = 1 game time second) to hit 24 workers so around the 5 minute mark you should be nearly saturated. If you notice that you're not hitting that stride then take a step back and practice. Set up a custom game against the computer and work on ensuring your constantly producing workers while keeping up with your army and production structures. This is tricky for anyone at first and it simply takes practice.

It is common practice in StarCraft 2 to actually oversaturate your first base so that when you expand you can quickly transfer the extra workers to your new base to begin quickly harvesting those minerals. Once you have reached total saturation at your base you should really be looking to expand fairly quickly.

Next we'll talk about the strategy behind control groups. Next>>>

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