I've been playing Starcraft 2 with many real-life friends who have varying levels of experience with Starcraft and RTSes in general. At this point most of them have gotten the hang of the macro game, how to efficiently build their economy, army, and tech.

However, they haven't really mastered the value of scouting and of attacking when the time is right - they tend to turtle up behind their defenses or just build a big standing army but not do anything with it.

My personal experience has given me some instinct, however crude (and I'm not a super-skilled player by any means) for timing and for the value of attacking when the time is right, but I don't know how best to build that instinct in my buddies.

What are some videos or exercises/training kinds of things we could do to teach the value of scouting and of attacking when conditions favor you?

These guys aren't necessarily interested in jumping into league play and learning by getting stomped, but it would be more fun for everybody if we were all of similar skill levels. I'm looking for things we can do, in an environment more casual and friendly than league play, to improve via positive feedback instead.

  • One thought I had would be to play 1v1 and build a purposely 1-sided army, encouraging them to scout and build the correct counters, perhaps with some kind of time limit so they don't just turtle.
    – lilserf
    Sep 10, 2010 at 14:54
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    Tell them to play on the Korean servers for 2 days and see if they still do this.
    – tzenes
    Sep 10, 2010 at 16:01
  • @tzenes: I realize you're being partially sarcastic, but can you actually do that? I was under the impression you had to buy a korean copy of the game to play on korean servers. Sep 10, 2010 at 17:13
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    @BlueRaja Yes you have to buy a second copy of the game. No I wasn't being sarcastic. When I play on the NA servers I regularly curb stomp 700+ diamond players. When I play on Korean I struggle with even gold level games. It's not that Korean players are better, its just that they have a different play style: Step 1 - Build Barracks/Hatchery/Gateway, Step 2 - rally all building structures to your opponent's base, Step 3 - Pretend like you're Macro-ing, Step 4 - Go out for Kimchi. I'm not joking its like they rally every single unit to my base.
    – tzenes
    Sep 10, 2010 at 17:27
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    I edited the question slightly. I know that you'll certainly learn by getting stomped in league play, but that kind of stress is not for everybody. I'm looking for alternatives that use positive feedback to teach these techniques.
    – lilserf
    Sep 10, 2010 at 18:22

8 Answers 8


I think the first step is to determine whether or not they really want to get better. Most of us on this site probably care about improving our skills and getting "better", and we actively go out and do things to attempt just that. Maybe they just want to fool around? You don't mention whether they are asking you for tips, or you are hoping to make them better so you can have more fun playing them :) If they just want to play casually, then making a big army and throwing them at each other might be fun enough for them.

OTOH, if they've caught the competitive bug and really want to improve, then you might start by going through a replay of theirs (esp where they lost) and pointing out things like "oh look - right now, you have 20 guys ready to fight, and your opponent has only 2! If you had scouted that and attacked right now, you could have wiped out his expansion. Instead, he was able to tech up and build a ton of void rays, and wipe you out.

I myself am often horrified to see how empty my opponents base was at various points in a replay. (Granted, that is usually vs a Terran,who can hold off my 7 ultralisks with a bunker, a tank, and a few scv's) But every time I watch a replay like that I tell myself i need to scout more, and not be afraid to attack.

  • They are mostly not interested in league play, but it would be more fun for all of us to play together if our skill levels were closer. So they're interested in improving relative to me and the other more-skilled players, but not necessarily interested in Diamond-level skill.
    – lilserf
    Sep 10, 2010 at 18:30

Get them into watching replays by Husky or HDStarcaft or Day9 watching the pro level play gives you so much insight! Not to mention that they somehow manage to make it exciting to watch a replay.

Then after you watch a replay, do a custom game and have them try some of the tactics from the video, and you and your friends can both improve your skill at the same time.


In my experience it's not hard just to see the value in scouting and aggression. You don't need to play online long before you get frustrated with rushes and incoming attacks that harass you or do real damage to your army or base. It's easy to flip that around and say, hmm, maybe I can do the same sort of thing if I get better at launching an attack.

And everyone has had the experience of running their army into an enemy army that perfectly counters it, where your troops just seem to melt without doing any damage at all. You flip that around by saying, hmmm if I knew he had Vikings, I wouldn't have gone heavy Mutalisks... and so on.

But for teaching how to do this, I recommend the resources jblaske posted, a well as SC2 Noob School by Trebis at Team Liquid. Check out his forum thread with videos and commentary, and the SC2NoobSchool YouTube channel.

  • 1
    Incidentally, I think heavy Muta is a great counter to Vikings. Usually I can out produce his Vikings to such an extent that as long as I catch them away from a Marine ball he'll lose.
    – tzenes
    Sep 10, 2010 at 17:15
  • @tezenes Oh, my bad then. But then I tend to be terrible with Zerg. :)
    – Wikwocket
    Sep 10, 2010 at 18:05
  • @tzenes I just did some testing - all it takes is 5 mutas for every 4 vikings to win pretty easily. I never realized how close it was. in even numbers though, mutas seem to always lose. very good to know. one less thing to have nightmares about. Sep 10, 2010 at 20:25
  • I think your answer is awesome, certainly I upvoted it, I just wanted to include that so people don't think you're advocating Vikings vs Mass muta. A better example might be: "If I realized he had Roaches with Tunneling Claws, I would have gotten an Observer." Since figuring out a Zerg player has burrow is usually easy with scouting its a nicer example.
    – tzenes
    Sep 10, 2010 at 21:06

They'll hardly learn anything by getting stomped in league games, nor do they learn from playing others their level. Videos/VODs also won't help unless they are already on a decent level so they can learn by themselves. They need tutoring to gain skill fast.

And luckily, it is actually very easy to explain why turtling in is bad and convince them not to do so. If a players does not move their army, the opponent has free reign on the map. So a skilled opponent will, once noticed of that fact, simply expand everywhere and gather an insane amount of resources, build up the corresponding army and achieve a crushing victory.

You should do exactly that to your friends. They'll ask "How could you possibly build such a megalomaniac army?" to which you're going to answer "Well, since you did not show any remote sign of aggression I simply took what you apparently did not want." - "So I need to be more aggressive and attack you to prevent you from building up that much?" - "Yup. And to see that I needed to scout..."

They'll understand once you showed them the flaw. Try and teach them how to successfully scout and be aggressive. For instance, explain the replay of the above game in which you crushed them with your POV on.

Also, make sure not to overwhelm them - just give them a helping hand, but don't expect them to get it right immediately. From your question I gather that they were happy to learn a bit, so I guess you did good on that part so far.


Make them watch replays of their own games.

(I commented on Eric's answer, which I like, but I thought of several points I think add up to a separate answer)

I suggest you get them to watch replays of their own games. A great guerrilla way to do this is for you to very explicitly announce that you're going to watch the replay of the last game to see what YOU did wrong, then go watch the replay. You're 1) giving them a little peer pressure to watch it and 2) giving them dead time to fill before the next game starts, so they have nothing better to do. You'll also get better by watching the replays yourself!

If they're not making MASSIVE mistakes, (never building anything that can defend against air) then don't tell them what they did wrong at first, unless they ask. Let them figure out their own mistakes if they're at all inclined to do so. They'll naturally notice and learn things they were closer to learning, whereas your suggestions might be far from their current awareness. Also, anyone who watches a replay and WANTS to get better will naturally watch a battle they lost and try to figure out why they lost it, without you having to do anything! If they don't do this naturally, there may be little more you can do for them, because it likely means they don't really WANT to learn.

If they're doing this, sooner or later they probably will ask you why they lost a battle that they don't understand. Definitely answer, but in concrete terms they can emulate. "Better micro" is abstract and hard to duplicate. Still say it, so they get used to the term, but focus more on "I killed your air units first" or "I used my unit's special abilities". Those are simple ideas they can understand and try themselves. The abstract things like "Better micro" are doing all the little things together, faster, which will only be learned through practice anyway.

Whether or not they're asking questions, you should be complementing them on the things they got RIGHT as you watch the replay, especially (again) the concrete things they can do again. "Scout more" is abstract, but "that marine you sent out found my unguarded expansion right when I didn't want you to" is easy to repeat. You'll plant the seed that says "send out a lone Marine now and then" and they will.

And even if you can't get them to watch replays, even just talking about the last game for a few mins can help. You can do the same things... compliment the good tactics, answer questions. And overall, always try to pose things in a positive way. "I thought you were going to X and destroy me" is an opportunity, but "you lost because you didn't X" is a criticism.


You can watch a replay with them then point out every single time where attacking would have been good. This will also tell them that scouting would have told them that fact in-game and created an opportunity for an "easy" win

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    Several of my friends had "ah-ha" moments when they saw a paused replay of them being in an amazing position compared to an opponent, but they did nothing. They still don't scout early, but they occasionally send a unit or two outside their base to see what the weather is like. Sep 13, 2010 at 6:57

Demonstrate the value of good scouting by attacking their expansion when it has recently built... do that a few times... it will be enough :)


Try to coach them. The best way to do this is to let them play against a stronger opponent (perhaps another friend) in a custom game. You are an observer. Set the vision to their camera and constantly remind them what they should be doing over Skype.

Your work is to make sure they produce constantly new units, upgrades, get new expansions at the right time. You will need to make them scout properly, otherwise you will be blind and cannot help them.

You basically provide them with game knowledge and check their Macro for them, so they do not have to spend APM on cycling through all production facilities to hit the perfect timings.

The voice chat could look something like this:

  • SCVs
  • Marines
  • Medivacs
  • Send Marine to 3rd
  • Look at Minimap, Drop
  • SCVs
  • Marines
  • Supply Depot
  • Expand at 3rd
  • SCVs
  • Scan Enemy Natual
  • Stim and A-Move into Enemy
  • Back to your Base and Supply Depots
  • Marines
  • Split Marines
  • SCVs
  • ...

If your coaching is good they should be able to win against a higher league opponent easily (Bronze should beat Silver and Gold).

After such a game they will feel totally hyped because "they" won against a stronger opponent and everything seemed to "fit" together. Usually this leads into lengthy QA session where they ask why you ordered them to some stuff.

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