I realize this may sound silly, but in the poker game Holdem many of the top pros have said it is much harder to beat a bad player than a good one, because of the crazy random stuff a newbie will do.

I'm a bronze leaguer myself, and I've taken many of the ideas from various casts and this site and have been somewhat successful since starting playing 2 weeks ago. What I'm wondering is if there are any known tricks to beat bad players that would never work on a good player.


I don't want cheesy tactics to sneak my way to the higher leagues. The truth is, there have to be tactics that work only against bad players; that is what I'm looking for. As to the comment about scouting, that's where the poker analogy comes in - the bad player is hard to beat because you have no way of knowing what he's doing even if you can see his hand (or scout well).

I just want to win, I could care less about what league I'm in - I'm just looking for ways to win now, which is why I asked this question. Another way of asking it may have been "What mistakes cost you games when you were Bronze/Silver", but I thought linking the poker analogy (on a gaming site!) would be fine.

Final Edit

So I guess I was unable to ask this question in a way that the community could understand. I'm fully aware of the heap of resources geared toward new players and that is not what I was asking for. I simply wanted interesting tactics that more experienced players have found useful in the lower leagues but not in higher leagues.

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    Playing at a gold level!
    – tenfour
    Commented Mar 21, 2011 at 18:21
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    The poker analogy doesn't really hold. In poker you have to be able to read your opponent, so being completely chaotic will sometimes win. In Starcraft, a platinum player is going to beat a bronze/silver one 100% of the time.
    – bwarner
    Commented Mar 21, 2011 at 18:37
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    @Ten Right, which is why the poker thing seems like a complete non-sequitur. In poker, crazy can win against experts. In Starcraft, crazy can't win against experts, and while it may work against some beginners, it is generally less effective than just playing well.
    – bwarner
    Commented Mar 21, 2011 at 18:51
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    @Joe May I suggest a rewording towards "What can I do to make it more difficult for my opponent to know what I'm going to do, or cause them to react incorrectly to my actions?" I think "known tricks to beat bad players that would never work on a good player" is just confusing the real issue.
    – bwarner
    Commented Mar 21, 2011 at 19:55
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    I think it is not clear what OP is looking for. We have a large number of resources on GSE for new players, but the existence of this question suggests they are insufficient. What's more, I think this question is hampered by an inept analogy (no offense); the realities of Starcraft are sufficiently different.
    – tzenes
    Commented Mar 21, 2011 at 23:17

6 Answers 6


After thinking about this a bit, I interpret your question as follows:

Which tactics can I execute today that will cause the most distress for the opponent for the least distress of my own, and can be executed in ALL leagues of play?

If you are a superior player to the bronze you wish to beat, then do as everyone else has said and just out play them and forget about this.

If you are on equal footing, then practice and you will eventually beat them.

For today, you will have to find a way to cause them distress in the most cost-effective way. And by "cost" I include both your mental focus as well as minerals / gas (for example multitasking will cause your own game to suffer because you will forget to macro).

For example Kiwikaki's blink stalker + mothership recall is probably not viable because it requires so many things to be in place and tons of APM.

Because the goal is "little effort for me", you should be careful to choose tactics that you can carry with you as you get better, or could help develop your gameplay instead of just going for a cheap win that will over-promote you to gold. This is why I said "ALL leagues of play".

For example I would exclude things like the planetary fortress rush. Maybe that could win a large number of games, but it would be completely invalidated past silver league I think.

Here are some other ideas:

  1. As Protoss, at the very start, build a pylon in their base they can just barely see, and that's far from their mineral line. Bronze players may send their entire worker line out to kill it, and you can easily cancel it before it dies. This is completely worthless if you're playing anyone that knows better.
  2. Send a few cheap units periodically into an unguarded base of theirs. Manage the attack if you can, but favor just letting it go by itself. Obviously there are a million things to consider to make this more effective. But just a few keystrokes here and a couple hundred minerals could take down an entire expo, force their entire army to relocate, force them to retreat prematurely if you're mid-battle, force them to spend 2000 minerals on static defenses, and more to the point: their fundamentals will suffer because it takes them much more effort to defend than it took you to attack. This is a good way I think to warm up to the idea of multitasking in general, to get used to the idea of "my army is fighting and I'm not watching it". So this tactic can be evolved and developed over time as you get better.
  3. Hallucination is something that, on the battlefield, will often not go detected, and bronze won't have the game sense to even realize it's hallucinated. A couple keystrokes and your army looks twice as big and will absorb so much damage. The opponent may just 'gg' naively at the sight. It has huge potential at higher levels too, which makes this also a valid tactic.

Hmm I can't think of any more. But hopefully I have made the question more specific so others can contribute?

  • Actually tenfour, after re-reading your answer, this is closest to the type of thing I was asking for. Add in your funny 'Play at a gold level' comment and it makes this one a winner. Thanks.
    – JoeB
    Commented Mar 22, 2011 at 15:31
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    What's "hallucination" in this context? Commented Mar 22, 2011 at 16:39
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    wiki.teamliquid.net/starcraft2/Hallucination - a Protoss Sentry spell that spawns phantom units. The units don't do any damage, but they can soak up enemy fire, surround the enemy, or cause the enemy to retreat out of fear, that kind of thing. It's also used for scouting, or a quick way to spot high ground.
    – tenfour
    Commented Mar 22, 2011 at 16:44
  • IMO the key to defeating low level players is to play a macro game. Just start the way you think you can get into a good macro game. You will get cheesed and timing attacked a lot and u adjust ur build, so it is cheese safe. You don't want to cheese yourself (although you can learn and try the cheese strats along the way) and you don't want the crazy greedy economy builds in the beginning. Pick a safe build that allows you to defend against most of the cheeses. For example as Terran: Supply, Gas, Rax, Gas, Fact, CC. Most low level players get far behind in economy after just 5 minutes. Commented May 15, 2019 at 10:15

So I'm not 100% sure what it is you're looking for, but I did once write about great ways to learn Starcraft, and I've given advice to people who feel that they're stuck, and I've even posted on dealing with common build orders. But I'm going to assume you've seen all that, and its not what you're looking for.

I could lecture you on the fundamentals (like Opera did) and why watching high level games is a waste for a new player, but you didn't seem receptive to that, so I'm going to treat you like how I treat my friends who are learning Starcraft 2, and I'm going to explain exactly what you need to do to win.

Usually I like to start new people with Protoss because I feel like they're the easiest race to learn; and the build I like to describe is called the 4 Gate. With solid execution you can get to Diamond with just about any build (this is where fundamentals trump strategy), but the 4 Gate is a really easy build to execute, so that often helps people who are new to the game.

The most important thing about any Starcraft 2 build is constantly building workers, so for the moment, unless I say otherwise, assume I'm always telling you to build Probes. In fact, the number I'll stick next to most of these things is about the number of Probes you should have at that point. Additionally, most of your Chrono Boost should be on boosting Probes.

The 4 Gate is a "Core First" build which means (despite its name) you're going to build 1 Gateway then a Cybernetics Core. Because you don't want to build the Gateway before you have your economy, this usually means Pylon on 9 and Gateway on 13. You can play with these numbers, but the key here is good execution so inevitably you're going to find those numbers some of the best.

From here you'll want Assimilator (14), another Pylon (16) and the Cybernetics Core (17). Usually players like to get an early Zealot (18) out of their Gateway to stop any funny business, and then back that up with an early Stalker (22).

They key to a 4 Gate is your Warpgate technology, so as soon as that Cybernetics Core finishes (around 20 Probes or 24 supply). You'll want to save a Chrono Boost to make it finish faster. From here you'll want to drop the other three Gateways (for a total of four, as in 4 Gate!), and another Pylon.

Around 26 Probes you should stop Probe production (this is called cutting your workers) and just warp in Zealots and Stalkers. This should be at about 5:30 into your game and, at this time, you'll want to start pushing out. Make sure to bring a Probe to build a Pylon near your opponent's base (this is called a Proxy Pylon) so you can warp in reinforcements. As soon as it finishes, Warp in another bunch of Zealot/Stalkers, and attack.

This Attack should be at about 6:00 minutes into the game.

More than likely your first attack will not come at the 6 minute mark, but at the 7:30-8, and this is sort of the difference between a Silver/Bronze player and a Diamond player, those 2 minutes; because if you can launch an attack two minutes earlier, its likely he'll have half the army and won't be able to handle you. So you're goal then becomes: getting that attack down to the 6 minute mark.

This is called: working on your Execution.

You get that down and you can stomp your way through to Diamond.

  • "constantly building workers" - Unless you're playing Zerg. Then it's more complicated.
    – Hello71
    Commented Mar 22, 2011 at 2:19
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    @Hello even as Zerg you want to constantly be building workers, knowing when to cut Drones (like knowing when to cut Probes) is a skill, and sort of beyond the scope of what we're talking about here.
    – tzenes
    Commented Mar 22, 2011 at 4:20
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    As a Zerg, I really HATE that build. It takes much more skill to counter than to execute :(
    – Opera
    Commented Mar 22, 2011 at 6:52
  • appreciate the writeup here, but it really is a 'Protoss Primer' and doesn't answer the question at all. It does have the up-votes though, so if noone actually answers my question this week I'll mark as answer.
    – JoeB
    Commented Mar 22, 2011 at 15:28
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    @JoeBehymer as I mentioned here and in the comments to the original question, no one seems to know what you are asking for; it is not clear to us. The way I read your question is: I need a BO which will work at Bronze/Silver level. Opera read it as: Why aren't the high level things I'm learning from VoDs helping?. Tenfour read it as: What are some obvious mistakes new players make?. The sheer breadth of these answers suggests that we were unable to parse your question accurately.
    – tzenes
    Commented Mar 22, 2011 at 20:45

When you are in bronze/silver/gold league you have to concentrate on one thing only : fundamental mechanics.

It may sound silly but most of low level players focus on things of much higher level concepts such as microing units, timings or gaining map control.

There are three main things you need to focus on :

  • First you should focus on is your macro. Try to find a standard build order for your race and focus on spending your ressources. If you manage to keep your ressources low (minerals < 500 and gas < 300) by spending it on buildings / units. You should produce workers (SCV, drone or probe) continuously at until around 100 supplies.
  • The second thing is to know what you are doing and what your opponent is doing. Don't play blind games. Try to scout regularly your opponents (every 2-3 minutes is fine) in order to know what he is doing (tech, army size) to be able to react to his moves.
  • The third and last thing you should focus on is to use your units. Control Xel Naga towers, scout or harass your opponent, make a push for the win. There are many things you can do with your units, but they should NEVER be idle (unless you are massing them before attacking).

Of course, it may take some time to master these aspects of the game but if you train as much as you can, you will be a gold level player in no time. When these are natural to you, you will be able to focus on the other aspects of the game.


You don't need specific tactics to beat a bad player. You just need to have better fundamentals. If you want a "magic" build order to win 95% of your games, it doesn't exist.

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    Stating the obvious doesn't really answer the question here. About scouting, see my edit.
    – JoeB
    Commented Mar 21, 2011 at 19:04
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    Well, it may be stating the obvious, but if you focus on these fundamentals you will win regardless of the opponent in bronze / silver league. The mistakes bad players make the most are forgetting to macro (produce workers, spend ressources) and do nothing with the unit they produce.
    – Opera
    Commented Mar 21, 2011 at 19:17
  • Maybe, but you don't need to assume that I'm doing these things incorrectly. The question was based in curiosity, and apparently you guys weren't interested in actually answering the question but rather repeating the same 'Intro to Starcraft2' we've all read hundreds of times.
    – JoeB
    Commented Mar 22, 2011 at 15:26

There certainly are tricks that will work against SOME low-level players. But why bother, when simply outplaying them will win far more often? The only reason to resort to tricks is if you think the other player is stronger overall, but can be defeated by some unanticipated play. And therefore as a player who thinks he belongs in a higher league, the only real reason to try trick builds is to learn how to effectively counter them if a weaker player should try one on you.

  • I'm not looking for cheese builds, rather I want minor tactics that would usually confuse a Bronze player but not a Gold+ for example. Something like, "Flying a factory over their mineral line gets their army there so you can come up the middle" - may be an acceptable answer.
    – JoeB
    Commented Mar 21, 2011 at 19:09

No good poker player would ever say it's harder to beat a bad player. In fact they would all vastly prefer bad players if they are playing for lots of money. The reason players who are usually just past the beginning stage think this is true is they are obsessed with bluffing and metagame when they should just be sticking to the fundamentals and value plays. Or sometimes they are just not very good and they use this as an excuse.

Fortunately the analogy extends itself. Focus on the fundamentals - building workers and keeping your money low and you will sky rocket out of those leagues without a problem. You shouldn't overthink bad poker players - or bad starcraft players.

  • I played poker professionally for quite a while and this is just plain incorrect. Bad players who aren't afraid to lose quickly are a much higher threat to your bankroll than a medium-skilled player who is playing weak/aggressive or similar style.
    – JoeB
    Commented Mar 22, 2011 at 15:33
  • Sorry, then I know 100% you were not an exceptionally good player. The first rule of good poker players is bankroll management. No game should ever threaten your bankroll. There will be higher variance but also higher expected value. And if a more reckless style is harder to win against than a 'medium-skilled' weak style than the reckless style is actually better play by definition, in which case you can't call them a 'bad player' vs a 'medium player', it's actually the opposite. But most 'bad players' actually just call too much which is absurdly simple to beat (read 2+2 beating small stakes) Commented Mar 22, 2011 at 16:35
  • Not a poker player, but I would have thought that a 'high variance' player could be more of a threat than a low variance. A 'high variance' player has more chance to benefit those few times they get exceptionally lucky. Commented Apr 26, 2011 at 21:23
  • @DJ That is sometimes true. Would you rather play a game that always gives you $5 or one that gives you $30 8 times out of ten but costs you $30 the other 2? You will make almost twice as much with the second game in the long term (which is all pro gamblers care about). But yes, you get burned more often, similarly to how most pro SC builds are reasonably aggressive and do leave them more open to cheese than more conservative builds ( see all the 6pool wins in the GSL). Commented Apr 28, 2011 at 15:52

I'll take the other tack and say you should definitely try some cheese. Proxy a couple of gateways, do some cannon rushes (protoss). 7 pool, possibly with a spine crawler on his creep (in ZvZ). Or just go all in proxy rax. Then try to follow it up.

If you don't get complacent it's a good way to get some micro practice and get your fundamentals up when you try to transition out. You'll also understand what works and what doesn't better (though at this level of play, probably won't see many good counters).

It's great that you want to be friendly to your opponent and what not, but you are trying to beat him aren't you? Once you get to the higher leagues you'll have to give up on these soon enough (if you want to stay competitive), but you'll still find yourself having to defend against one every now and then.

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