What is so called meta-game in StarCraft 2?

What other games have this meta-game?


5 Answers 5


A metagame for any game is the way that the game is played. Knowing the metagame is not just knowing the mechanics of the game, but knowing what to expect your opponent to do. It is the relative frequency of each possible tactic, maneuver, build, etc.

One of the easiest to understand examples of this is with collectible card games like Magic: The Gathering and Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. Knowing the metagame in a collectible card game is knowing what styles of decks you might come up against. For example in Magic if your opponent plays an Island on turn one, are they attempting to lock you down, draw you out, make evasive creatures, or any variety of things blue Magic players can do? You don't know if you don't know the metagame.

In StarCraft, for a more localized example, Protoss should wall off against Zerg, but not against Protoss or Terran. Zerg might 6-pool, and if you don't wall off then your opponent is probably going to beat you. As Protoss continues to wall off and 6-pools continue to be ineffective, Zerg players might stop using that strategy. As Zerg players stop 6-pooling, Protoss players might not wall off as often, making the 6-pool effective again. You have to know the current mindset of other players to make the optimal play. That is the metagame.

The metagame is always evolving for any game, so you have to keep playing or reading about your game to keep up with the current metagame.

  • I can never keep meta-gaming and theorycraft straight...
    – Robb
    Commented Sep 17, 2010 at 19:30
  • 4
    Theorycraft is the attempt to mathematically analyze game mechanics in order to gain a better understanding of the inner workings of the game. So theorycraft can heavily influence meta-gaming, as we develop strategies that utilize the most (mathematically) effective units, skills, etc.
    – sjohnston
    Commented Sep 17, 2010 at 19:41
  • 5
    Theorycrafting is analysis of the game. Metagaming is analysis of the analysis of the game. For example, this is theorycraft: "Hellions are great vs. Zerg, so I'll build Hellions." This is metagaming: "Top Terran players build Hellions against Zerg, so I'll expect them and try to counter them."
    – Wikwocket
    Commented Sep 17, 2010 at 21:35

I like the wikipedia definition: "In simple terms, using out-of-game information, or resources, to affect one's in-game decisions." So, almost any game could have a meta-game.

In addition to what Strix said, metagame (in a more localized sense) can also be influenced by knowledge of the other players. Perhaps you weren't able to scout someone, but you have watched ten of their replays, and in eight of them, the player used the same strategy. You can prepare to counter that strategy even though you haven't actually gotten any useful info in the current game.


From Wikipedia:

Metagaming is a broad term usually used to define any strategy, action or method used in a game which transcends a prescribed ruleset, uses external factors to affect the game, or goes beyond the supposed limits or environment set by the game. Another definition refers to the game universe outside of the game itself. In simple terms, it is the use of out-of-game information or resources to affect one's in-game decisions.

Simply put, it is the set of strategies that have been tried and found effective by the general community at large in how to win in the game you are playing, whether it is Starcraft 2, Starcraft, League of Legends, DoTA, or any other video game/board game that you are interested in.

To improve it, you first need to understand it to the point that you understand its strengths and weaknesses. You need to understand the intricacies of the game in question enough to understand how you can then improve upon the existing meta game.

To get it is much easier, you can play a lot, you'll see it used enough to get a basic understanding or you can watch others play a lot. Alternatively you can also read articles/books of strategies that people have used with success. The resource depends with what game you are talking about. For instance, Chess has lots of great books as many have studied the game and chosen to write books on the subject. On the other hand, video games may better be learned online or watching streams of "professional players"

  • 1
    wonderfully put ^_^ thank you for the information I will be observing the GG classic and hope to pick up an small bit of knowledge that I can put to use in my gaming as I would like to become a pro player.
    – DarkAveril
    Commented Mar 25, 2012 at 9:34

There are 2 sets of knowledge: what you (the player) know and what your avatar (the character you are using) knows. If you use the first set to make decisions then you are said to do "metagaming".

In SC2, as StrixVaria said, you are basically using your own experience to play: you make decisions based on what you have already seen in hundreds of similar matches. You are using your own knowledge, hence you are metagaming.

Metagaming is considered a bad thing in roleplaying games, for obvious reasons (i.e. your avatar should take decisions based on what HE knows not based of what YOU know).

Before you ask: "But my decisions in SC2 are the same of the ones a general could take in a real war. Is a general metagaming when taking decisions during war?". The answer is a big NO, because in real life, of course, there is no avatar involved, hence it makes no sense to distringuish between two sets of information.


Meta is a word for the currently most used/most viable things. You can use it to builds, team setups,champions.


Solo Top, Jungle, AP-Mid, AD-Carry + Support Bot combination would be a meta.

  • @DarkAveril You're welcome.Best way to thank me is to +1 my answer and since you are the one who made the question you can mark it as accepted question.Btw you shouldn't bother with meta crap,play the way you like it and the way you think is the best.
    – MaxBedlam
    Commented Mar 25, 2012 at 9:27
  • I would still like a little more input on what a meta game is because your information has told me something but I still would like to know more and maybe some other people can shed even more light on the subject... and what is marking as accepted do? XD
    – DarkAveril
    Commented Mar 25, 2012 at 9:30
  • @DarkAveril Well accepted answer is the answer you think answered your question the best.Once you accept someones answer other people know that there is no need for them to further answer the question (but it does not stop them to).And both asker and the person who answered question get reputation once you accept someones answer.
    – MaxBedlam
    Commented Mar 25, 2012 at 9:36

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