This question will probably have subjective answers so I don't know whether this is allowed here or not, but here goes anyway...

I am not much of an RTS guy, I am more into shooters. My favorite games include the likes of Max Payne, Prince of Persia (Sands of Time series), Heavy Rain, etc.

The last RTS I really enjoyed was Warcraft 3 and I guess that was due to the individual 'heroes' you could pick and power up.

I was wondering how StarCraft differs from typical RTSs like C&C. If I didnt' like C&C much, is there something different about StarCraft 2 that I might like?

Edit: I made question a little less subjective. How does this sound?

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    Yeah, Unfortunately this is a bit too subjective. Jul 28, 2010 at 22:49
  • The question is a bit subjective, but if you could rephrase it a bit. Jul 28, 2010 at 22:50
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    I agree this question is really subjective. There are a lot of videos and reviews out there on this subject if you'd like to check them out, we even have a thread with video game review websites in it: gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/416/…
    – tzenes
    Jul 28, 2010 at 23:05
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    I think the new phrasing of the question is borderline, but acceptable. Jul 28, 2010 at 23:14
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    +1 This is a really great question! I mean seriously, it's probably one of the best I've seen on the site so far! Do we have any RTS experts in the room?
    – Christian
    Jul 29, 2010 at 4:16

3 Answers 3


I would say that Starcraft 2 does not have more strategic or tactical depth. Just the opposite, I think one of the great selling points is its simplicity.

Harkening back to the original Starcraft the actual game design is very simple:

  • You gather a resource
  • You build buildings
  • You build units from said buildings

By comparison a game like Sacrifice, requires you to manage dynamic resources on the fly while engaging in a mercantialistic struggle for a sometimes intangible concept of souls.

Starcraft is, if anything, very normal for a RTS game. There are few bells and whistles. What it has done that few others have is take this simplicity and hone it. The fact that its relatively simple has allowed its creators to exercise great balance between its units compositions.

As for unit aspects of the game, Starcraft 2 places a lot of emphasis on the concept of being seen and the effect of terrain.

Units can often be seen or not seen depending on their approximate location to one another as well as special abilities they posses or units around them posses. Sight, therefore, becomes a new kind of tactical advantage.

The major departure in terrain that Starcraft 2 has is that non-flying units are able to overcome otherwise impassible obstacles based on their abilities (such as teleportation or "jumping"). Additionally, some units can create new impassible obstacles, while still others can remove them. Finally, terrain can sometimes be changed in nature allowing increased speed or instantaneous travel.

While these two aspects are not unique, they are given more emphasis than a lot of other RTS games such as Age of Empires or Total War (which lacks both).

As for personal enjoyment, I can't speak to what you might enjoy. Perhaps if you told me what you didn't enjoy about C&C?

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    I have to disagree. Simplicity is most definitely not mutually exclusive with depth. That's why I said it takes an hour to learn but a lifetime to master. Jul 29, 2010 at 17:30
  • I didn't say it didn't have depth, I said that it did not have "more" depth. I would argue that the depth present in Starcraft is on par for RTS. I would also so that no RTS I've ever played has required as little as an hour to learn. Even as simple as it is, Starcraft requires a lot more time to learn.
    – tzenes
    Jul 29, 2010 at 20:25

Starcraft II, like most great games, is a game that you can learn in an hour, yet takes a lifetime to master. Not saying that's a recommended thing to do. It has a great amount of strategic and tactical depth and a compelling single player story line. It must be worth something if it's the only video game that's a national sport! (S. Korea)

Perhaps the selling point for me was that Battle.net is undisputedly the best online service for gaming there is in regards to speed, uptime, and matchmaking. The games are quick and decisive, usually, meaning if you have only 20 minutes to play there's a good chance you'll be able to finish a game in that time, since Battle.net can match you with an opponent of similar skill in seconds.

Plus everyone likes space marines fighting mystic aliens and evil infectious swarms.

Edit: Starcraft differs from other RTS's in that it is probably the most balanced game out there. The only RTS I can see coming close to the quality of Starcraft 2 is Company of Heroes. It's also different from Starcraft 1 as it has new units and a much more streamlined interface. Basically, it fixed everything that was wrong with the first game.

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    well all games say they have a great amount of strategic and tactical depth. How exactly does starcraft achieve its depth and how does it differ from the rest?
    – pdeva
    Jul 28, 2010 at 23:26
  • +1 for mentioning balance. SC2 did fix a lot of bugs from BW, but I don't know if made it a better game, especially at the competitive and spectator sport level. SC2 is definitely not as balanced as BW.
    – Atav32
    Jun 6, 2012 at 19:59

Game handling: The game handling is very good. You can queue commands, adding / removing units to or from a group works as expected.

Resources: You have only 2 resources this way the economic system is not very complicated.

Micro: In Blizzard RTS games you benefit greatly from micro and you can improve drastically if you use it correctly. This way if you know more about the game and are faster with your mouse and keyboard you will have a huge advantage. Marine stutter step takes about 200 APM alone.

Game duration: Most games last for about 10-20 minutes. This is really cool, as you can play up to 6 games in an hour. Of course you will win and lose some of them, but is less frustrating than playing Age of Empires for about 1-3 hours to lose at the end.

Constant re-balancing: Blizzard regularly fixes bugs and exploits, so many strategies remain viable and all races are about even. In bad RTS everyone places the same race with the same strategy (e.g. GDI tank rush).

Maps: The maps are designed carefully with all races in mind, they are not randomly generated. Every player knows the advantages and disadvantages for each map and race. The maps are changed regularly in tournaments and ladder.

Fixed base locations: Everybody knows where potential bases could be, so you could scout them regularly. In other games you can build and harvest resources almost everywhere on the map. The only method to look for expansions is to sweep the whole map.

There are many other aspects, but none of them sticks out. It seems as Starcraft 2 just implements all details better than its competitors.

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