Practice

Intro

Practice makes perfect is as true in eSports as it is in regular sports. If you want to get better you've got to be willing to practice. And not just mindless practice either. You've got to be constantly analyzing and making adjustments to your game. Repeating the way you're doing things now isn't going to improve your play. You have to be able to pick out the tiny details, or glaring holes, in what isn't working just quite right and then do something to change it. So more than just going into a ton of games and cranking out hours take a step back and analyze why you lost that last match. Really pick things apart and then develop your own strategy for what you're going to do next time to better the situation.

We hope you'll find some advice and tools here that can help you on that journey. Check out our Guides as well for tips, tricks, and advice in improving your game


Replays

replay iconBefore we dive into some of the tools below we'll state that first and foremost you should using your own replays to learn and grow from. Get your ass kicked in that last match? Watch the replay! What did your opponent do that was so dominating? What weren't you doing to keep up? Watching your own replays is one the best and easiest ways to improve your game. Blizzard has tons of built in features in their replay manager that allows you to view Production, Army Size, Income, Actions Per Minute, Resources, and more. Look at each of these elements. Study your opponent's progress in these elements as well. Use the charts on the score screen to see who had the advantage in what area at what time. Do your own homework and you will find that you can vastly improve your game by studying your opponents successes and your failures.


Unit Testing

There are a couple good unit testers out there and we'd encourage you to play around with whatever you come across. However, we will recommend 2 here that are both flexible and easy to use, each good for it's own reason.


Unit Tester

Unit Tester Online Details ImageThe first is Unit Tester Online which was originally developed by XGDragon and hosted through http://sc2mapster.com. If you search in Custom Games for "online" you'll see a couple Unit Tester Online options come back. Look for the one posted by Killer.

With this one you easily create what units you need from a menu driven system, select various terrain and angles for them to battle on, choose their upgrades individually or upgrade all units to their max with a single click, and generally let the units go at it. It also supports up to 2 players so you can practice with a friend. Very user friendly and highly recommended.

You can also use the tester offline. To do so download the map file here. Choose the appropriate version of your SC2 client, and drag TheUnitTester.SCMap over to your StarCraft II folder to open it with the Blizzard Launcher.
More information can be found here.


Unit Test Map

SupperFerret Unit Test Map Details ImageThe other one we like is the Unit Test Map by SuperFerret. If you search in Custom Games for "Unit_Test" both the 1 player and 2 player versions will come up. Basically it has all 3 races' structures laid out and you can produce units and upgrades as you see fit to do battle.

The main difference on this one is just that it's a bit more organic to train the units from their respective structures which can also help you learn some of the basics of the game. You can also attack structures and build them to test different base damage techniques. Lastly there's a mineral patch at the south end of the map if you want to construct a base there to test your micro for maneuvering around your opponent's mineral line.


Macro

Since macro is all about keeping a thriving economy one of the best ways to practice macro is in custom games against insane opponents who have a 40% mineral advantage. In reality good macro, like anything, just takes lots of practice and whether it's custom games or ladder matches actual game play is the best environment to work on your macro. You need the pressure of a changing environment to really hone in your macro skills. It's important to keep production structures in control groups, it's important to not get supply blocked, and its important to spend all your income as efficiently as possible. Watch your replays. At any point to you exceed 1000 minerals or gas? At any point did you exceed 500? Look for these gaps and adjust your builds and your macro to spend, spend, spend.


Multitasking Trainer Details ImageOne tool we do like for working on your Macro is the Multitasking Trainer modified from the Brood Wars Hotkey Trainer by stet_tcl. If you search Custom Games for "Multitasking Trainer" several variations will come up. Check out which one you're interested in but the one posted by Kralisek is the one we're talking about here. It's really a combination macro and micro trainer which when you get right down to it is one of the most difficult things about macro; keeping your economy thriving while microing your army and engaging your opponent. The concept is pretty simple: You have to keep a probe constantly alive and moving from a Zergling that's chasing it while continuing to bolster your economy, defend attacks, and eventually destroy the enemy base. There's also a unit on an island you have to rescue in the middle of all of this.

Details On the bottom left side of the map is your starting position and right above that is a terran base. Your purpose is to create an army and destroy the enemy base. The terran will attack and/or drop you at several points in time depending on the difficulty setting. There is also a neutral unit at the island on the right side that you have to rescue and bring back to your base.

The tricky part is that in the top right side of the map you control a Probe that is constantly being chased by a Zergling. So you need to manage your base, defend the attacks and save the neutral unit, all while microing the probe to keep it from dying. This is a great way to practice not only your early game scouting but also your multitasking and hotkey usage.

There is also a mineral cap that you must not exceed or you loose the game, a set number of probes that you are allowed to loose and a time limit in which you have to complete the mission.


Micro

There are lots of good maps and situations you can test your micro with. The Unit Testers above can also work quite well. Check out our Advanced Guide for some pointers as well. Basically make sure you're using your range and your terrain to your advantage always. Always know what unit type is in what control group and be able to quickly hotkey their abilities. Don't stand flat footed in any battle. Look for key units to pick off the appropriate units in your own army and direct them to do so. Micro is all directing the chaos so always be active in battle and orchestrate the best possible outcome.


Darglein's Micro Trainer Details ImageOne of the micro testers we like is Darglein's Micro Trainer. If you search Custom Games for "Darglein" you'll find it. It has 10 different scenarios for each race that you can test your micro skills with. You can enable/disable abilities/creep. You can constantly up the skill level of each encounter for increased difficulty forcing you to micro better and better. It has a nice layout and an in-battle army size counter so you know how you're doing. The help feature is a nice touch giving you advice for each challenge by pointing out things to micro and work on.

You can also increase/decrease the wait time before you opponent attacks to allow you to work on how fast you can set up control groups and organize your units. With ever-changing army compositions in the game this is a good micro test in and of itself. As you rally in new units you need to be able to quickly add them to existing control groups. As you face off with unit types from your opponent that you hadn't planned on you may need to create control groups on the fly in order to efficiently micro your units in the battle. So use this feature as well to see how fast you can get ready.