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Whats a good way to increase my actions per minute (apm)? Please note I don't want Starcraft 2 to become my life either, so reasonable strategies would be much appreciated, but please provide any solution :p.

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You may find this question also helpful. –  FAE Jul 30 '10 at 16:07
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I would much rather do 20 important actions per minute than 300 useless or spam actions per minute. –  Lotus Notes Jul 30 '10 at 17:27
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@Carl common misconception. At high level play you are capped by your ability to issue commands and the ability to spam decreases. That doesn't mean you can't spam, but to be a good player you can't afford to. –  tzenes Jul 30 '10 at 22:04
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I realize this thread is fairly old, but I thought it would be worth mentioning that APM roughly correlates to tournament success. I think that is a worthwhile metric. Though, its still a small data set, it does demonstrate why people are concerned with APM (if not why they should be). –  tzenes Jun 26 '11 at 17:32

7 Answers 7

up vote 15 down vote accepted

Don't APM spam useless actions.

While lots of people on youtube will do this to appear better, no professional player does this. Often times jitters at the start of a match will cause them to select between multiple units but Starcraft does not register this as actions. During the course of battle you will see professional players microing units with a large number of clicks for a given move, or swap between a dozen different buildings to keep track of queues, or send new workers to mineral patches (no auto rally in SC1). This is not spam, every one of the actions has a directed purpose.

Additionally, Splitting your workers (having them divide to different patches at the beginning of a match) was necessary in Starcraft 1 as the AI was less intelligent. There have been studies in Starcraft 2 to show that the effects of this are below the margin for error. While many pro Starcraft 2 players still do this, it is hold over from Starcraft 1, not a necessary strategy.

There are a number of resources you can use to help your apm. My favorite is the SC2 Multitasking trainer map by Stet_TCL. You can find information on it here: http://www.teamliquid.net/forum/viewmessage.php?topic_id=124983

The design is to build an army to assault an enemy base while keeping a probe on an island alive through micromanagement and picking up a stranded high templar all in a time limit. It is VERY hard, but an excellent training resource.

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@tzenes: I have seen the pros, in live matches, spam actions which do nothing. Re-selecting the same area over and over again, re-issuing commands. At BlizzCon, all of the pros were doing precisely that. Spamming actions. Don't get me wrong, during a battle they are amazing, doing things I couldn't come close to doing, but not all of their actions, particularly at the beginning, are actually doing something. –  McKay Jul 30 '10 at 17:40
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@Merlyn there were a large number of Paid competitions held during the beta. You can find information on them Here: teamliquid.net/forum/index.php?show_part=36 though you'll have to scroll back a couple pages. Amongst them are the famous HDH Invitational, the TL Invitational and Day9's Starcraft Release sponsored by Razer –  tzenes Jul 31 '10 at 18:04
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@McKay some players do that to not slow down during a period where not much has to be done but to keep up hand/clickspeed –  F.S. Jul 31 '10 at 19:07
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Kyra's remark is that it is significant, based on observation, and for good reason. How can you just reply that it's not? I think we all agree that pros do APM-spam at the beginning of a match. Whether you are selecting units, sending a flurry of move commands, or playing a Rachmaninoff prelude, they do it to keep sharp and keep their fingers warm just as a musician plays scales before a concert (and even during a concert, just before a technical passage). If you still don't believe, I'll send you the first pro replay I can find. –  tenfour Mar 11 '11 at 17:40
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@tenfour I don't think I'm communicating accurately here. Kyralessa said that players spam actions at the start. I said that this doesn't affect your APM. Over the course of a 20 minute game the spamming you see by Pros at the beginning is usually a) lower than their average APM, and b) less than 5% of the total game. As a result it is not a statistically significant sample to determine a player's APM. Also, as a Pianist myself, I can tell you that flexing your fingers is far more effective as warming up, then spamming the keys. –  tzenes Mar 11 '11 at 17:51

I wouldn't worry about APM. Focus on build order, keeping your resources spent, scouting, harassing, and micro (There's already several custom maps focused on this). If you can keep all that juggled then your APM will be improving as a matter of course. Training AMP is just a way to free up your brain so you can focus on the actual strategy of the game.

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+1 for focus on BO + strategy before improving mechanics like covered here teamliquid.net/forum/viewmessage.php?topic_id=66048 –  F.S. Jul 31 '10 at 19:17

To increase your APM you have to increase your finger speed. Good ways to increase your speed on a training map:

  • Take the most micro intensive unit of your race and micro as long as possible. e.g. Take 20 Marines split them as fast as possible and then cluster them again. Repeat.
  • Take 10 workers and build some buildings as fast as possible and rally them to the minerals again. Stop production and repeat. e.g. Take like 6 SCVS build 6 Supply depots as fast as possible and rally them to the minerals.
  • Train stutter step with Marines or Stalkers.
  • Train to throw the perfect Storms, Force Fields, Fungals or EMPs as fast as possible.
  • Train to queue commands as fast as possible. e.g. Take 1 Medivac and send it to a group of Marines. Put 8 Marines into the Medivac by selecting them and clicking on the Medivac. Select the Medivac shift click an optimal way to the drop location and queue the drop command. Repeat.

The basic idea is to identify small routines that you will have to execute during a game and to automate them. Imagine you are heavy supply stuck, but there is a battle. Go to your base select some SCVs and build a bunch of Supply Depots. Then queue them to the Minerals again and return to battle etc.

Good ways to increase your APM in the first 2-3 minutes in the game:

  • Select your Main building and change the rally points to every Minerals patch in sequence.
  • Hotkey your Main and a production facility to different hotkeys and switch between them while observing their production progress.
  • Take your first few units and train your spreading.
  • Send out scouts and micro them.

Now you should be able to press the buttons very fast and reach up to 100+ APM. But the most important part is to know where to invest your APM. You have to get a feeling for this by playing a lot of games.

If you are not issuing commands all the time, you are doing it wrong. Use this time to check the progress of your production facilities and upgrades. Send out a single scout or make a drop.

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As legendary guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen says of personal improvement,

"Never, ever, start with the wrong technique."

Basically, world-class Starcraft 2 pros have such high APM because they've simply practiced more than anyone else. If you reach a point in your life where you've practiced as much as them, your APM will probably be that high too.

However, it's also very important to fully customize your set-up until it works perfectly for you.

From the Starcraft: Wings of Liberty Strategy guide, "Setting up a custom hotkey profile is the first thing you should do."

For example, I was able to drastically increase my APM by customizing the keyboard so that hotkey groups are handled with the keypad (since I'm a lefty.)

The important thing is to practice on your own customized set-up. Practice on a set-up that's not ideal won't build the right skills.

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Practice. Practice. Practice!

One thing the pros do is they maximize their APM, even during the first couple minutes of the game when there isn't much to do. Right when the match starts, and you're moving workers to the minerals, send all of them to one mineral patch, but then divide into smaller groups while they're moving, and manually send them to other patches.

Watch some videos of what pros with high APM are doing. A lot of their actions aren't entirely necessary, but it gets them in a high-APM mode.

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I rolled my response into a real answer, but suffice to say, I disagree. –  tzenes Jul 30 '10 at 16:09

Blizzard has a sticky poll titled, "APM Racing" which focuses on APM.

Some key takeaways from the comments

  • Its more about strategy then how many times you can click the mouse
  • Harass with your worker scout. Will definitely get that early-ish APM up with good reason.
  • Lot of APM buffing I've seen is just mindless repeats of basic commands and I'm just not into that. I've seen my APM spike around 170 but thats just me needing to cast FG or use Inject Larva after morphing a bunch of units.
  • The people going "APM is for noobs that spam", it keeps your hand warm during the early games. its difficult to go from 30 at the start to 200+ later, when you really need it. Cold hands= slower reactions and it gets harder to click stuff properly, resulting in misclicks.
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Try practicing at Guitar Hero! I can play with 300+ APM and make my hands a blur and also play tracks like "GH3 Solo Suite 3" on 95-99%.

It's not necessary though, but it's very good to spam a lot at the start of the game so you get in the "ZONE".

APMs purpose is a lot of things, everything really. But most importantly MULTITASKING: being able to spread creep, inject larva, cast fungals transfuse abduct etc, in a matter of seconds efficiently is key to victory.

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