I play zerg, and there are a number of little things that I do to late, or never. Things like creep spreading, larva injects, etc. are things you should obviously do (if you have decent apm), but some of the other things, which require a decision/risk/investment, I often neglect or decide randomly.

Here are some examples of decisions that need to be made throughout the game:

  • Extra hatches around the main
  • Getting noncritical upgrades (overlord speed, burrow, air upgrades with only a handful of mutas/corruptors)
  • Overlord suicide scouting/overlord placement
  • Watchtower control
  • 3rd/4th Expansion location choices (especially on scrap station)
  • Against air, queens vs. hydras vs. spore
  • Drone transfers to vulnerable expansions
  • Using drones to defend early aggression vs. waiting for units
  • Attacking decisions unrelated to timing/micro (Retreating, killing workers vs buildings vs units)

How should I think about these various things? What factors play into the decision making?

  • Overlord speed is not what I'd call noncritical. Scouting in SC2 is key. Sacrificing a speedy overlord to scout out a tech switch could be vital in making sure you are properly prepared when the enemy attacks. The cost is so minimal when considering the benefits.
    – Crag
    Dec 16 '10 at 20:39
  • In the earlyish game (35 food maybe), a slow overlord can give you all the info you need. I won't argue that it's not necessary at some point, but it's priority depends on many factors, which I'm trying to figure out from this question.
    – Mark
    Dec 16 '10 at 21:39
  • 2
    Can you please break up questions like these into smaller ones? There is already a question about extra hatches and another about expansions (though for specific maps you should ask a separate question). But I can see at least 5 different questions here
    – tzenes
    Dec 16 '10 at 22:50
  • 2
    I think I phrased my question wrong. I'm not looking for the answers to each of those decisions, just some insight into how to think about little things, especially things that rarely come up. Perhaps that's not really an answerable question...
    – Mark
    Dec 17 '10 at 7:45
  • Ah, enlightenment. My mistake, when you listed 9 things I assumed you wanted 9 answers. Instead, I should have just read the title: When do you make decisions
    – tzenes
    Dec 17 '10 at 8:09

Before I answer your question, I must apologize, I misread it. Perhaps there is a better phrasing, perhaps I should L2Read, C'est la vie. In any event I will try to answer your question: When do you make decisions.

I know you asked specifically about the little things, but I don't really consider anything on your list little, and I do it at the same time I make almost every other decision (except micro).

To make it up to you I've decided the theme for this answer will be Green Eggs and Ham. Please begin each title with: I would not eat them...

In a box

The number one thing that triggers a decision for me is that little pop up you get on the left side of the screen every time something finishes. Usually this is because as soon as I start I thing I immediately forget about it as I've moved on to the next thing. That pop up is usually a good reminder of when something has to be done. Ideally I'll catch things right before they're done, but that doesn't always happen. Examples of things are:

  • Upgrade finishes -> usually meaning I should start a new upgrade
  • Units finish -> crucial for reinforcing a battle or realizing you just hit 5 Muta
  • Expo finishes -> I should have already Maynard my Drones, but sometimes I forget, and I'll often throw down Extractors when the expo finishes

Here or there

I spend a lot of time sending scouts at my opponent or sending things around the map, and as I keep one eye on the mini-map every time they run into the enemy this means I'll have to make a decision. Whether its: micro the unit to keep it alive, or rally my forces, or hey, he through down an Armory, this is when a lot of my high level decisions are made. Examples are:

  • Did my scout provide new information -> Should I tech switch? Should I attack because he's weak or out of position?
  • Not enough information? -> Send another Scout (maybe an Overlord instead of a Zergling or from a new angle)
  • Incoming army -> Rally the troops, rebind my hot keys, queue up more units to reinforce, save my scout (in that order)


99% of my time is spent looking at my base (usually my main, but I skip around) thinking about Droning or Teching. If you're spending time looking at your army or parts of the map, chances are you are doing it wrong. Only time you should look at your army is when they're in battle, and only time you need to look at the map is when a scout encounters the enemy. The rest of the time you should be looking at your base. The key things to look at in your base are: What are you getting? What is your supply? What do you need? and Larva. The decisions I make off of this information are things like:

  • Should I be expanding?
  • Should I be teching? If I could I would get every upgrade in the game. I usually hit 2/2 around 120 supply
  • Is this expo almost done?
  • How many larva do I have? -> a lot usually means I need to spray again, very little usually means I don't have enough queens/hatcheries

Sam I AM

Even with these useful queues there are still things that fall through the cracks; things like spreading overlords and spreading creep tumors. For these things I don't have good advice for you, they're just things you have to get used to. I often find making an extra Queen just to make creep tumors really helps me remember to spread creep (I usually bind her to her own control group). Sometimes just cycling through your control groups will remind you of something like: need to spread creep for my Hydras, or Why aren't these Muta out harassing? I'll even toss a bunch of overlords on group 7 or 8 just to remind me to spread them out. The hot keys help, but unless you get in the habit of checking these things when you have a spare moment, chances are you'll just miss them.

I hope this helps.

  • I like this answer, because instead of focusing on considerations, it emphasizes making decisions at times when they will be better decisions.
    – Mark
    Dec 18 '10 at 0:27
  • The one thing I'm not completely in agreement with is in (I would not eat them) Anywhere. After a lot of multitasking trainer practice, I tend to minimize time spent looking at my base, since you only need to look at it for upgrades, building, and base-unit control. There's always something to do, creep/harass/whatever, and the things you listed to look for aren't things where you need to be focused on your base to know. What's your reasoning for this?
    – Mark
    Dec 18 '10 at 0:36
  • @Mark the short answer to your question is: 12 years of Broodwars. Early on in Pro-Starcraft (think 2002) people realized that the value of looking at your base vastly outweighs the value of looking at your army or anywhere else. There are a lot of reasons this is the case (largely macro and strategy oriented), but is very hard to argue with almost a decade of experience.
    – tzenes
    Dec 18 '10 at 3:45

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