Obviously if I am supply blocked and in a pinch I would use the supply add-on but unless I screw up and become supply blocked I generally won't so I'll focus this question on MULE vs Scanner Sweep.

I noticed that most people tend to say it's all about the MULE, however I tend to have a lot of success just saving up the energy for scouting as I've found that intel is EVERYTHING. Another great thing about the scanner sweep is for looking before you leap when moving in an army. To me it's just been better to save the energy for the scanning unless say I get harassed and lose some workers so I throw down a MULE to compensate.


6 Answers 6


I'm going to drop some statistics and draw conclusions from them:

  • Barracks -> 150 Minerals
  • Minerals Harvested by a MULE over its life time -> 240-270
  • Cost of a Supply Depot -> 100 Minerals

Ignoring the fact that a Scan also provide detection vs invisible units, the Orbital Command basically has 3 possible uses. I can use it to Scout; I can use it to build supplies; I can use it to Harvest. You'll notice that it is that harvesting that tends to provide the most supplies. In fact, even when we take the build time of a Barracks into account (60 seconds) and assume the SCV would have been able to get minerals during its build time (which is not true in a saturation situation), it is still more cost effective to build a Barracks and fly it over than to waste a MULE on a scan.

Now I'm not advocating never scanning; the ability to detect invisible units justifies keeping extra energy on hand for this purpose; but you should consider the implications of not using a MULE. Because MULEs can harvest from patches while an SCV is harvesting from them, your scan is essentially costing 240 Minerals.

  • 2
    good data points, though I don't think it would be worth the time to build a barracks and fly it over, not to mention tying up the SCV to build it, if it's so early that I didn't have an air unit yet to fly in for scouting I probably shouldn't be wasting a barracks
    – MetaGuru
    Commented Aug 16, 2010 at 17:52
  • 1
    @Shogun as I mentioned tying up the SCV is actual less of a waste, as 60 seconds equates to 60 minerals, bringing the total to 210. Now this does take longer to get there, but compare that to the fact that the barracks also provides vision for longer and can possibly be used more than once.
    – tzenes
    Commented Aug 16, 2010 at 18:56

NEVER start a Terran push without having a Scanner Sweep ready. You can pull it off in a pinch, and against AI opponents this will not cost you. But against diamond league players you'll loose half your army to line-of-sight issues.

Be it siege Tanks you can't target because you don't see them, or a Sentry Forcefield that splits your army on the choke while stalkers pick your Marauders off one by one..

I usually go with a standard 3 Racks build order unless I'm defending against cheese, and stop using MULEs right before the first push. If you don't have a scanner sweep ready by that time chances are you'll loose the game to 1-2 Banshees, some Dark Templars or burrowed Zerg units.

Especially if your Zerg enemy knows his game he'll try to save units by burrowing, picking them off with a scanner sweep is invaluable resource-wise.

Just to clarify: Scanner Sweeps are not to be used as a replacement for your scout SCV. Always send out SCVs to scout the enemy and try to harass Terran players while they are building their Barracks. So the first 3-4 sweeps are almost imperative to be used on MULEs to not fall behind on minerals. But after that you need to keep them ready and hotkeyed to get them off in-fight.


This will depend on your play style.

If you're very aggressive, you'll probably need a lot of resources quickly to get a small advantage in order to overrun your opponent.

If you're playing defensive, you will want to know what you're opponent is up to, so you can adjust your strategy likewise, in that case it's probably better to scout.

However, there's not a real clear cut answer, since it depends on:

  • the setting (1v1, 2v2 or more?),
  • the map (do you know where your opponent is?) and
  • your opponents play style (is he harassing you or playing defensive himself?)

So you'll still have to decide for yourself what to use when, depending on the situation at hand


It depends on opponent's race, strategy, state of game and your preferences.

I personally scout with a single SCV and use MULE heavily in the beginning. If I see opponent might use cloaked units or burrow (before I'm able to build Raven), I save up energy for sweep. Then I'm usually already expending, so I have 2 command centers to use. But my strategy is quite offensive. You might feel more comfortable turtling and using sweep to see what's going on in the battlefield etc.

So as the conclusion, there's always use for Sweep, MULE and Supplies. It just depends on quite many factors.


Everyone develops their own style, so you can't exactly say what is the "better" use. It depends on how you use them.

For example, TLO, a high caliber professional player, uses supply add-ons fairly often, even when not supply blocked, to get the extra 100 short-term minerals to get out an attack just a few seconds earlier.

So just use what works for you, but pay attention to when you play and watch replays from when you lose, and if you notice that maybe you used an extra scan that didn't help you learn anything, or if an extra MULE would give you just enough minerals to turn the tide of battle, try to remember those moments for future games.

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    That's not entirely true. Though TLO will occasionally call down supplies, the most common thing he does is the MULE
    – tzenes
    Commented Aug 16, 2010 at 14:26

I usually stick to MULEs in the beginning until i have a second command center. Then i switch to scans from my main base and use my second base for the MULEs. For every further expansion i switch the existing bases to scan and the new bases again to MULEs.

This of course changes if the enemy uses cloaked units, then i stick to scans until i have a few ravens that can keep track of the cloaked units.

Even with a Scan base up i sometimes use MULEs for emergency frontline repairs (i.e. if i have some heavily damaged tanks or vikings).

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