Sunday, June 27, 2010

StarCraft 2 Newbie Guide: Pick a Race

Each race in StarCraft 2 has its own quirks and unique playstyle.  Because of this, it's important to find the right race for you.  After a lot of play you may eventually be comfortable playing with all three races, but to start off it's much easier to simply concentrate on learning one race really well until you are more comfortable with StarCraft 2.

No race is "better" than any other race in StarCraft 2 but each race does play differently.  Nothing is overpowered because all three races are balanced against one another.  Lets dive in and discuss the three different racial options players have to choose from.


Terran are as close to human as you can get in StarCraft 2.  If you like to defend or have a tendency to turtle your forces, then the Terran may be your race of choice.  They have a strong emphasis on mechanical units and the future progression of modern day technology.

Marines, tanks, rifles, snipers, stealth technology and nukes are all represented in the Terran army.  Marines and Marauders are the closest units to modern infantry that you'll find in StarCraft 2.  The majority of Terran units are mechanical and can be repaired by SCVs, which are the Terran resource harvester.  This, along with the Medivac which can heal infantry units, means that a Terran army that is severely damaged can retreat and repair back to full health without having to rebuild from scratch.  The Terran also have one of the most satisfying attacks in the game, the Nuclear strike.  Landing a Nuclear strike with a Ghost is a great way to both demoralize your enemy and see a huge explosion.

The Terrans have the unique advantage that their structures can be built anywhere.  Compare this to Zerg that must build on creep and the Protoss that must build within a psionic matrix.  Most of the Terran buildings, including their Command Center, can lift off and be flown to new locations.  Terran can also repair their structures with SCVs, something neither Zerg nor Protoss can do.  Bunkers and Supply Depots lend themselves well to defending Terran bases.  Bunkers can protect units inside of them and Supply Depots can be raised or lowered on command to completely wall off a base or allow your own units to pass through.  The Terran also have access to anti-air Missile Turrets, anti-ground Siege Tanks, Sensor Towers, Orbital Commands, and Planetary Fortresses all of which can be used to help mount a successful defense.


If you like to crush your enemy with an overwhelming number of units the Zerg may be for you. A Zerg force is most reminiscent of an insect swarm.  Units don't cost many resources and many units can be created simultaneously from each Hatchery.  Certain Zerg units also have the ability to burrow under the ground and hide from enemies.  A few can even move while burrowed.  Zerg gain supply from Overlords which are a mobile flying unit. Compare that to the other two races which get supply from stationary structures.

The Zerg have to build on creep, which is a special type of ground.  Drones, the Zerg resource harvester, actually transform into structures.  Because of this, a Drone is lost every time a new structure is created.  The creep expands outward from Hatcheries and Zerg Queens can also use a special ability to make it expand faster.  Any Zerg unit on the creep gets a 30 percent speed boost and slowly regenerates health.

As Zerg you will need to expand to win the game.  Every Hatchery that a Zerg player creates means that they can build 3 more units at a time.  Most players that choose Zerg try to win by taking over as many base expansions as they can.  This concentration on economics is called macro play.  Every race needs macro play, but a Zerg player needs to master it to truly succeed.


Units in the Protoss army tend to be more resource intensive than the other two races, but each unit is also more powerful.  If you like to concentrate on controlling your units more than controlling your base, the Protoss may be for you.  They also have the unique ability - after being researched - to warp their units in anywhere on the map that has a Pylon or active psionic matrix.  This lets them reinforce their units quickly and efficiently.  If a Protoss player can build a Pylon in the correct place or sneak a Warp Prism behind enemy lines they are able to warp in units behind the enemy or even right into the enemy base!

The Protoss warp in all of their structures too.  This allows one Probe to build every structure instead of the Terran who need one SVC for every structure being built or the Zerg who lose a Drone every time they create a structure.  The downside of structure creation with Protoss is that all structures must be warped into an area with a pisonic matrix.  Psionic matrices are produced by Pylons, which are also the structure that gives unit supply to the Protoss.  If the Pylon is destroyed then all the structures around it stop functioning until another one is created.

Another property unique to the Protoss are their shields.  All of their structures and units have shields that recharge when not under attack.  This is their outer layer of damage absorption that must be completely drained before the unit's health starts to decrease.  If properly micro-managed, the Protoss units can be pulled out of combat - or back from the front line - when their shields are low which will give them time to recharge.  It can mean the difference between winning and losing a battle.  Properly micro-managing units is a key to victory with the Protoss.

Picking a Race

This is just a quick glance at each of the races available for play.  To truly learn a race you need to experience it for yourself.  I recommend playing at least one game with each race before deciding which one to concentrate on.  After making up your mind you will find that playing as only one race will help your StarCraft 2 skills improve quickly.  You will learn build order, unit abilities, hotkeys, and the tech tree faster when you only have to learn it for one race.

Later, when you feel you have a good handle on your race of choice, it pays to branch out and at least dabble in the other two races.  But, for now, put that out of your mind and really focus on mastering one race until you have a better grasp of StarCraft 2 as a whole.


  1. "As a Zerg player builds more structures the creep expands and they can also one of the Zerg Queen's special abilities to make it expand faster."

    This is misleading. The only way to expand creep is with the Queen's creep tumor. Other than that, Hatcherys are the only building that generate creep and I wouldn't call that "expanding" the creep, since it's in a completely new area.

    The one other unit that can generate creep is the Overlord, but it can only generate it while stationary and it disappears when it moves away.

  2. Updated it. Thanks for the catch.

  3. Great Intro. I think a person should dabble between the races often. And Any structure of zerg secretes creep around it, so technically void's right.

    As for terran though, banshees cannot be repaired at all. So... yeah...

  4. uh... void you're a retard... banshees can be repaired.. as can every mech unit for terran.

  5. I never said that. It looks like Zergtoss did. Thanks for reading the article anyway.

  6. This is great! I'm getting the game in a week, but I have no idea what to pick. Thanks to you I have a lot more knowledge of the different races now, so thanks Void! :D