I see a lot of top level players handling a large force of Protoss (for example, but it applies to all races) units, and they take full advantage of Zealots, Stalkers, and Sentries abilities and strengths.

How are they able to do this?

If I set all 3 type of units to the same hotkey, I get lost while trying to tab through them (if I don't tab through them, zealots try to hit flying targets if I command the whole group to attack a unit), and If I set a different hotkeys for them I cannot effectively use the Guardian Shield as Stalkers and Sentries get separated as I advance.

What are some tips to handle attacking and supporting units, while casting abilities at the same time in a push/defense?

  • 4
    Great question, I often wonder the same thing.
    – kazzamalla
    Oct 18, 2010 at 18:41
  • possible duplicate of How do you set your control groups?
    – tzenes
    Oct 18, 2010 at 19:42
  • Dont let the name fool you @will's answer is as good as you can get without going 'subjective'
    – tzenes
    Oct 18, 2010 at 19:53
  • Thanks @tze, I found that very useful -- I don't think it answers (for me at least) the specific part about casting abilities in an efficient manner so I won't super vote to close this one, although I encourage the community to do it if they disagree.
    – juan
    Oct 18, 2010 at 20:01
  • @Juan how about this one
    – tzenes
    Oct 18, 2010 at 20:19

4 Answers 4


Setting your regular forces to hotkey 1 and your spellcasters (like sentries) to hotkey 2 seems to be the common case, with the nexus on 3 (to be able to press 3e rapidly).


Be aware that the BEST way to ensure all your units are immediately attacking the correct enemies (ground / air), is to hit "A" on the keyboard and left click on the ground in the general vicinity of the enemy group. This is a generic attack command that leaves your troops to work out which enemy is the best target and go for it.

Other cool things the "A" command does: - The best way to ensure you get a good surround when commanding melee units like zerglings or zealots. - Using this in an enemy base will ensure that your units attacking the structures will automatically focus down any units that may spawn from nearby buildings - when moving across the map, use the A command and your units will automatically attack any enemies they run into along the way, then keep moving to the assigned point


Using 'A' key for order is always good practice (but often using 'P' is better, I not sure about starcarft2, but in the 1st version ordered to attack units don't kill 'SCV/probes' while attacking units are in range. So 'P' (patrol) command is also useful (during opponent base attack).

Personally I am trying to use different groups for different unit types. Who could you study to manage them quickly: stupid but useful advice: practice. See here an example: http://www.teamliquid.net/forum/viewmessage.php?topic_id=56230


Set all units you don't need for defense to one hotkey. Don't use F2 (all units), because you will always need units for defend; I recommend disabling this hotkey (or only use it for last ditch emergency maneuvers.)

Now put Stalkers also on ANOTHER hotkey, so they will walk together and so you can immediately select stalkers to blink. (Sentries' abilities are selected first with your main army, unless you have high Templar in which case you need to put sentries on another hotkey, too).

Consider this midgame example army: Zealot, Stalker, Sentry, High Templar

I recommend these groups:

  1. All (selection will use High Templar)
  2. Sentry (so you can use guardian shield or forcefield)
  3. Stalker (so you can blink)

(From time to time, make sure your Templars don't walk into the enemy; assign them to a group hotkey if needed. Since you asked for sentries and stalkers to be free, however, you would need a forth hotkey for Templars or use tab once.)

If you want to improve your game in the long run, however, tabbing once is very common (tabbing more, as you said, is asking for trouble); you can train your muscle memory for that on custom maps like "unit tester". This enables you to only use 2 Group hotkeys (1,2) and for the very endgame additionally put Colossi on 2 instead of sentry (with 3 stalkers).

Most also rely on their mouse work to select stalkers manually to blink (ctrl + click); or you can use a tab-once + forth-hotkey-layout.

Lategame example Army: Zealot, Stalker, Sentry, High Templar, Collosi

  1. ALL (use tab to select sentries)
  2. Templars (let them walk back and spreading)
  3. Colossi (evade focus fire very fast, sneaky vikings, etc)
  4. Stalker (instead of 4 you can use R or T for example; 4 is usually bound to production...)

This is not difficult, as you can always just use '1' and will not forget anything of your army, just press the other buttons if needed. It's the most way to play the game, I found, if you actually want to play with your units and not just sit around.

By the way: "Darkgrid" puts all army on Space. Interested people should look at his whole layout.

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