I really enjoy StarCraft 2, and mostly want to play with my friends. We enjoy playing Co-op vs. AI (with 3 or 4 of us humans on a team). But I would like to get into some skirmishes against them as well.

Unfortunately, I happen to be much better at the game than many of these friends. The one time so far I have convinced a friend to try a 1-on-1, it wasn't really a competition even with me at 50% handicap. That sort of thing makes them not want to play with me anymore, which is the last thing I want to have happen.

What sorts of handicaps (other than the ones in the matchup screen) are appropriate to tune the difficulty for us such that matches between my friends and I will not be obviously 1-sided? In particular, I don't want to have to pull punches and play poorly on purpose; I would like for it to be challenging on both sides, and for all involved be able to play to the best of our abilities.

(Classes of handicaps I have considered, but not yet tried, would be arbitrary limitations on things I am not allowed to do in the game such as build certain units or something.)

  • 7
    Have you tried 2v1?
    – tzenes
    Commented Aug 19, 2010 at 3:30
  • @tzenes Once, yeah! That was fun. But I was looking for other good ideas as well, hence asking the question. The more I fumble around with bad ideas, the less inclined my friends are to try new things. Being effortlessly smashed to bits is quite disheartening.
    – Mag Roader
    Commented Aug 19, 2010 at 13:45
  • Well, make them listen to day9tv.blip.tv/file/3955518 . Maybe they will learn that a loss teaches you more than a victory and every enemy can be beaten after enough training.
    – user1978
    Commented Aug 19, 2010 at 13:57
  • 2
    (Several-weeks-later-follow-up) I love the top answers. The "give yourself AI allies" idea actually got me a little better results than the others, which is why it's now accepted. So you know, some of my friends can now beat me 1 on 1 (still with me handicapped) so thanks a lot!
    – Mag Roader
    Commented Sep 13, 2010 at 14:57

6 Answers 6


You can play with low-level computers on your team vs. your friends. I am not a big fan of uneven teams insofar as having a different number of players on the teams. A good compromise is giving your team an easy or medium computer, depending on your friends' skill levels, to help compensate. You cannot coordinate with your ally while they can coordinate with each other.

If you want to play with only one friend, you can alter this idea by giving him a hard or insane ally while you still have your easy or medium ally. Experiment with the difficulties until you find something manageable and challenging for both sides.

  • great Idea! Me and my friend are real newbies and we want to play against a really skilled friend, so we will start a 3vs3 match with 2 poor AI-allies in his team and one insane AI-ally in our team
    – rubo77
    Commented Jul 31, 2013 at 9:58

If you're willing to put some time into developing a custom map, here are some ideas:

Player A gets a high yield base to start, Player B gets a base with only 1 gas.

Player A gets an easy to defend base to start, Player B's base is in a pit surrounded by high ground.

Player A gets X minerals/gas per minute, automatically.

Player B has a artificial cap on number of workers and/or food.

Player A gets some wacky unit like the Laser Drill from the campaign, whose damage or recharge rate or something else can be adjusted to make the difficulty even out.

Player A gets full vision of the map.

UPDATE: OP wants to keep the lower skill player's game experience "normal" so they get meaningful practice. with that in mind:

  • Your first expansion is hard to defend - wide open, with overlooking cliffs. Their natural is easily defended, to encourage expanding before their main runs out of minerals, a common beginner problem.

  • Your units cost more food (or your supply units provide less pop)? this would be more "normal" than reducing the damage or HP of your units. So your buddy will still learn that X marines beat Y zealots, but you'd have less zealots. this would of course run the risk of your instincts getting confused when you switch back to regular games.

  • Ooh, I hadn't thought about custom mapping it. Clever! I wouldn't want to give them an advantage like high yield minerals because I want them to practice playing the real game and get used to the timing... but giving myself a disadvantage - like lowering the number of mineral nodes I start with - sounds like it might just do the trick!
    – Mag Roader
    Commented Aug 19, 2010 at 13:35
  • +1 For custom map, I suggest an OP make a map tailored to his own weaknesses and his friends strength
    – Josh K
    Commented Aug 19, 2010 at 13:49
  • Best Part of this suggestion imo is that as they catch up to you, you can make new maps with less and less disadvantages (which won't have any effect on their macro or gameplay) which mean it also works long term as they improve
    – Josh K
    Commented Aug 19, 2010 at 13:55
  • @Mag Roader, ahh, you want to keep their experience "normal" but make yours harder, which makes perfect sense. In that case, i'll add a few more ideas that focus on that aspect. Commented Aug 19, 2010 at 17:45
  • This idea of developing custom maps that become progressively harder for your friends would have the side effect of creating a pretty cool campaign, too. :) Just sub in a computer playing as "you" and viola, you have a little set of single-player missions. You even have the benefit of being forced to play-test them, heh.
    – Faisal
    Commented Aug 19, 2010 at 18:41

One of the best handicaps in my opinion is to hide the minimap entirely with a Post-It note.

People really forget how important the minimap is, until it is gone.

It feels as if you are blind. Your reaction is really late to attacks and you cannot see drops. Your only option is to hit space to jump to the attack.

  • This is really cool, it is exactly how a newbie feels like, cause he cannot use the map effectively. So with this handicap A skilled player would feel like a n00b again.
    – rubo77
    Commented Jul 31, 2013 at 10:05

You use a stopwatch and give him a 30 (45? 60? 90?) second head start.

  • 1
    There are so big differences in skill that even a 90 second headstart with 50% handycap might not be enough. I've seen players play worse enough that i could have gone afk for a few minutes and still win (and i'm not even a very good gamer). But yes, it might work to give them a long enough headstart and a very long no-attacks phase.
    – user1978
    Commented Aug 19, 2010 at 12:35

You could do the same thing the AI does, which is limit the number of workers you build. Economy and unit production seem to be the major issues new players have, so that might be a fairly natural way to close the gap.

  • 1
    How can you limit the max nr of workers? Or do you have to count yourself all the time?
    – rubo77
    Commented Jul 31, 2013 at 10:08
  • You would need to count them, but it shouldn't be too difficult, since you can just go up to that number toward the start of the game and then stop making them. Commented Jul 31, 2013 at 18:51

The advanced player could play with open cards

Solve this either that way, that the advanced player tells all the time, what he is building and which units he can produce now, or you sit in the same room and the weaker player may look on the others screen

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