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style="font-style: italic;">One base usually just isn't
enough.  Eventually you'll have to leave the nest, and the
sooner the better typically.

Of all the skills you need to learn to compete in the world of
multiplayer StarCraft II, one of the biggest ones people struggle with
is expanding.  Too often, people will build up an army, and
headbutt their opponent a few times while replenishing and increasing
their forces, and then the horrible sound of minerals being depleted
begins to echo... and their income ceases.  Since one of the
main forces that turn the tide of the game is denying your opponent
income, you do not want to deny *yourself* income by not expanding
before your previous bases run out.  So we'll cover the when,
why, where, and how to expand in the perilous world of multiplayer
StarCraft II!


    As if it wasn't already obvious from the
above, there are a few more reasons to expand

-It's a forward base to defend.

-Having two or more income streams makes it so successful economic
harassment doesn't cripple you nearly as much as when you're on one.

-People will go through your expansion before your main base, so it can
give you time to produce a few more units and put up a defense at your
main base if it comes down to it.

-If you have to evacuate your workers, you can send them to work at an
expansion rather than having them twiddle their thumbs idle.

-More money = more production = more forces = victory.


    99 percent of the time, you will want to
expand to your 'natural', or your expansion right outside of your
base.  This enables quick reinforcement and a quick response
to any threat.  It also gives you better defense against
harassment since your units have less ground to travel between groups
of workers.  From there, it's entirely up to you. 
Maps such as Steppes of War and Kulas Ravine have expansions behind
destructible rocks that are nearby, and make for relatively simple
third points.  Generally your second expansion option will be
far more difficult to defend than your first, so keep that in mind
before you go for it.

    You can be sneaky and go for a first
expansion off in a corner, or at the High Yield gold
minerals.  The key is not to let it be known.  Tech
slowly and keep a mighty army of low tier units on hand to give the
illusion that you're going for an early 1 base style attack. 
Don't send workers from your main base, if they're seen moving that
direction, it may tip them off immediately that something is
hidden.  Play aggressively and keep them on their toes, so
they're not thinking about scouting the odd spots, and only concerned
with scouting your army and tech pattern.  Once you have a
decent economy going at the hidden expansion, throw up your natural
expansion to give the illusion that it's your first expansion and that
they might be ahead if they expanded before you... when in reality,
they're probably way behind!


    This is often times the toughest part of
expanding.  You want to expand when you can get away with
it.  Zerg players often do so very early, because when Queens
hit the field, they're capable of dealing with early air quite well and
once the creep expands, even Zerglings without speed can be
threatening.  Protoss players have a similar build order that
involves a Pylon, Cybernetics Core, and Forge creating a wall that
limits entry into their expansion.  This only works on maps
where the expansion is directly in the way of your main base, but can
enable a very quick expansion, and provide a good defense point for
possible rushes.

    Try starting your expansion as you move
out for an attack.  These things take almost two minutes, and
in those two minutes if you're unable to achieve victory, you can at
return to a completed expansion and increase your income to come back
twice as hard.  What's more, your opponent certainly isn't
worried about your Nexus being built, he's worried about the horde of
Zealots and Sentries heading his way.  Diversionary tactics
often lead to the best expansion opportunities, especially at sneaky

    Once you you hear that initial cue of
minerals being depleted, you need to start an expansion if you haven't
already.  By the time it finishes, a few more will have been
removed and your peak income from that base will have dropped
sharply--something you cannot have in a competitive game. 
Transfer your workers as needed and leave a few at your main base to
finish off the remainder of the minerals.


    Besides the obvious 'send worker, build
home structure', you can increase your likelihood of a successful
expansion by doing a few things

Terrans - Build your Command Center ahead of time inside your
wall-in.  When it's done, upgrade it to an Orbital Command,
and fly it out to your natural.  If you're going to be sneaky,
build it in your base, load it with 5 SCVs, and send it to the island
expansions or expansions behind destructible rocks.  If it's
scouted and you're fearful, immediately throw up some Bunkers around
it.  Bunkers are free, remember, so long as you Salvage them
and they're not taken out.  If they are taken out, you would
have lost anyway without them.  Basically, a wall of Bunkers
can buy you time to get a real army up, or start taking advantage of
that expansion far quicker than you would producing units alone in the
early game.

Zerg - It is advised that before you take an expansion that might be a
hot spot, that you start a highway of creep to that point so you can
get your Spine Crawlers into position.  Your defenses are
mobile, take advantage of them!  Also, you can use Nydus Worms
and Networks to provide a safety net of units on demand at the
expansion.  However, the best defense for Zerg is a good
offense.  Keep the enemy in their base, and cover the map in
creep and expansions while they cower.

Protoss - Start two pylons next to your Nexus at the
expansion.  This will give you a solid anchor to use your Warp
Gates with to reinforce whenever, where ever.  If you're
expecting air harassment, a Pylon behind the mineral line will also
serve you well to summon a line of Stalkers on demand to defend your

More games have been lost due to players not expanding, than due to
players expanding.  Most players also have a surplus of
minerals on hand, perfect for putting down an expansion and some basic
defenses.  So keep these tips in mind when you're going out on
the battlefield.  The war will not be won without a vast
income, and the person with the higher income almost always will
command the mightier army!

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty Game Page.

Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016