In RTS games like StarCraft2 and Age of Empires 2, one strategy you encounter semi-regularly (at least at some levels) is when an opponent sneaks a worker close to your base, builds military buildings, trains military close to your base, then walks in. The idea is, as I have gathered, to surprise you with early forces you aren't yet ready to face.

I am wondering how the math here makes sense. Since something of yours has to move from your base to your opponent's, you're not saving on travel time. The buildings still have to be built, the military still has to be trained. I'm having trouble seeing how they could arrive at your base earlier than they usually would. What is the gain of this strategy compared to making everything in the safety of your home base and then moving out?

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    if you build the building closer to your opponent's base, you only pay the travel time once (sending the worker to construct it) vs. for every unit constructed that then has to move to where they need to be to be useful, and substituting the risk of being intercepted on the move from where your opponent is expecting forces to come from, with the risk of the 'sneaky' building being discovered
    – TZHX
    Commented Sep 15, 2022 at 13:43
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    All groceries in one trip or several. Which takes longer, and which one is safer? And which one are you going to do because you didn't have to pay for them?
    – Mazura
    Commented Sep 16, 2022 at 11:24
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    @Mazura That would be an apt metaphor if the game mechanics were that a single "guide" character in the game had to go back and forth between the bases to bring the worker or the army. But as it stands, the groceries can bring themselves.
    – Arthur
    Commented Sep 16, 2022 at 11:46
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    They don't have to bring themselves home if we bring the store to their house. ... You are the guide doing all that back and forth, watching them traverse the map, all as stragglers. Or just order it all online and it shows up en-masse and combat ready.
    – Mazura
    Commented Sep 16, 2022 at 11:56
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    From an AoE2 perspective, another thing to bear in mind is unit speed - if you build a Siege Workshop at home it'll take forever for your Rams to crawl across the map, whereas if you have a forward Siege Workshop they'll be able to reach the enemy much faster. Villagers walk a lot faster than Rams!
    – Showsni
    Commented Sep 16, 2022 at 13:03

1 Answer 1


TLDR: For a proxy build, you need to accept a drawback in resources at home for an advancement in military at the enemy. If you'd simply start going with your worker once you can build your military building, it'd be no advance. If you go way earlier and build your barracks only a few seconds later and don't leave it idle, it's producing units nearly the same as home, but at the enemy -> no walkway.


You are making some implicit assumptions here.

It's not

Build 5 Workers
wait until you got resources for military building
build the military building
permabuild units


Build 5 Workers
wait until you got resources for military building
send worker to enemy
build the military building close to enemy
permabuild units

With a proxy build, some things change in your build. You send your worker early on to the enemy, before you can build the military building, i.e. barracks. That way, you get few resources but got your building closer to the enemy.

See the build order of 2 strategies from Starcraft 2:

(notation 9/11 means 9 of 11 food used. Workers are build constantly)
Double Barracks Proxy Build
9/11: Send SCV out to build proxy Barracks
10/11: Supply Depot (send this SCV out to join the first SCV once Barracks is finished)
11/19: Barracks
11/19: Barracks
13/19: Orbital Command
14/19: Marine
15/19: Bunker
16/19: Marine
17/19: Marine
17/19: Supply Depot (at home)
18/19: Marine
19/19: Marine

Standard Macro Bio Build
10/11 - Supply Depot
12/19 - Barracks
16/19 - Orbital Command
17/19 - Marine
17/19 - Command Center
17/19 - Supply Depot
19/19 - Bunker (at entrance to natural)
20/27 - Marine
21/27 - Barracks
22/27 - Barracks
23/27 - Marine
23/27 - Refinery x2

(Build orders taken from this site. They are for sure no longer valid build orders)

With a proxy build, you change some things in your build order to be maximum agressive and got no pricey defense for your base. You have few resources (early worker that's not gathering minerals) but a big military base at your enemy. Everytime your barracks don't produce units, time's wasted. In a proxy build, there is no building pause in the barracks.

There are always pros and cons, for each strategy: Pros:

  • fast military units
  • 2nd base @ enemy
  • If you loose the first attempt, the enemy has 2 options: go for your base while you build new units at your proxy and attack him or waste time and destroy your proxy base
  • counters strategies like cheese or tech
  • you fight at the enemy -> he cannot kill your workers


  • you waive out other buildings for research or stronger units to build more military
  • base is defenceless
  • less ressources overall
  • if your proxy fails, the enemy got better economy
  • even bigger drawback if the enemy destroyes your proxy base

You can see a proxy as an extreme rush: you dedicate all resources in it, like an all or nothing. If it fails, your chances of winning the game are drastically lowered.

So, in Starcraft 2 proxy only works in midclass because lowclass is to slow to make it work well and highclass uses scouts, sees no barracks@home or the proxy base and builds defenses/fast units which counter the proxy.

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    OK, that makes sense. You do the travel across the map and the resource gathering for the military building "in parallel", so to speak, which reduces the total time until your army knocks on the opponent's door.
    – Arthur
    Commented Sep 15, 2022 at 14:18
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    @Arthur yes, that's one of the key features to make it viable. When building only one barrack, the strategy wouldn't work. It's like walking over the road without looking. Big risk but faster arrival Commented Sep 15, 2022 at 14:19
  • For posterity's sake: I just learned / noticed yesterday that since Legacy of the Void, you start with 12 workers in SC2, and 15 supply cap. This doesn't affect your point, but those build orders you posted are no longer valid.
    – Arthur
    Commented Sep 22, 2022 at 11:53
  • @Arthur true, I took just some build order to show the difference. I think they may even change with balance patches or some popular player doing things different. I'll quote my source with such a hint. Commented Sep 22, 2022 at 12:19
  • if your proxy fails, the enemy got better economy” well here goes MULEs, which allow you to go with better economy even if your proxy fails…… (or at least up to HotS?) Commented Dec 8, 2022 at 8:43

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