StarCraft II - Terminology Encyclopedia

Even if you think you're the champion of the Terran and the bane of the Zerg, going online to some forums and seeing strategies will confuse even the most ha

Even if you think you're the champion of the Terran and the bane of the Zerg, going online to some forums and seeing strategies will confuse even the most hardened player if they've never seen the terminology before.  Starcraft 1 had its fair share of this, but over the course of the many years of following it most of it could be figured out fairly easily.  With Starcraft 2 around the corner though, we here at Ten Ton Hammer don't want you to be in the dark when watching the best players and hearing seemingly foreign commentary, so here's a good start towards filling out your vocabulary.

For All Players

APM - Actions Per Minute.  Generally refers to your ability to control your units, build more of them, and continually manage your economy and expand it.  Most players will barely break 100, semi-pros hover a little under 200, and the pro level of Starcraft 1 is anywhere from 250-400.  Even if this is calculated through the general clicks and button presses you make, don't make random clicks or spam to raise this stat.  You're only kidding yourself.  We'll elaborate on this in later articles.

Macro - Macromanagement skills.  This refers to the beginning of the game and managing your workers and production well.  Powerful macro play will keep your resources on hand below 500 and keep your unit production facilities running 100% of the time to build your army.

Micro - Micromanagement skills.  This term refers to your ability to control the fights as they break out.  If one of your Roaches get wounded and you can pull it back or burrow it to prevent its death, that's micromanagement.  Focusing down the units that are the biggest threats, or the units your squads are most effective against, is all micromanagement.  Micromanagement enables you to take down superior armies with less forces or losses.

Worker Saturation - There's a point where you get no extra income from extra workers mining minerals or gas at a base.  It varies from placement to placement, but it averages to 2 per mineral patch, 3 per vespene geyser. 

Rush, or All-Ins - Sacrificing your economy building to get out offensive units faster and catch your opponents off guard.  Common rushes involve Reapers, Hellions, Zealots, and Zerglings.  Some of these involve building your production facilities right on your opponent's doorstep.  Doing this is called a Proxy, described below.

Proxy - Putting up production facilities or a pylon outside your opponent's base, or inside them.  The key to a successful proxy is hiding it, and a hidden proxy is often quite difficult to stop.

Expo - Short for Expansion.

Timing Attack or Timing Push - These attacks center around knowing the vulnerabilities in the build of your opponent, or the strengths of your own build.  Say your opponent is going all out with defense and rushing to Battlecruisers.  If you know it takes 10 minutes to feasibly finish the Starports and Fusion Core necessary to begin production, you know that the time to attack is right as he's spent all of his money on the tech, and you've spent the money on the army, givng you the advantage should you strike then.  A lot of these center around upgrades--Terran infantry are much fiercer with the first weapons upgrade complete, and Zealots can kill a Zergling in two hits instead of three once their first upgrade finishes.

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Terran Specific

Bio - Refers to anything involving marines and marauders.  Reapers and ghosts are biological as well, but don't factor into match-ups as the bread and butter infantry.

Bioball - A clustered horde of infantry, generally at least 2:1 or 3:1 in ratio of Marines to Marauders.  Main strength is tearing up melee before it can reach them with Stimpacks.

M3 or M&M&M - Marines, Marauders and Medivacs.  The staple Terran army of high damage with stimpacks, combined with mobility and healing in the Medivacs.

- Spacing out your Siege Tank lines so that one melee charge doesn't negate all of your long range firepower, or cause them to kill each other all at once.

Leapfrogging - Using two groups of siege tanks and using only one in siege mode at any given time, while the other moves forward and sieges up, then un-siege the one behind it. Repeat until in your opponent's face!

Orb - Orbital Command.  Generally the building most players forget to make the most of, it's your MULE station for extra resources.

Mech - This refers to builds that are centric around multiple factories and a mechanical ground army.  Large quantities of Siege Tanks with Hellions in front and Thors for light anti-air and punching holes in those tough enough to endure your first tank barrage make up this strategy.  As of beta patch 5, mech builds are generally non-viable due to the weakness of Thor anti-air versus large targets, and the amount of time it takes to produce the army.

Wall-in - Terran Specific only because they do it so well.  On any map with a ramp or chokepoint, 1 barracks with add-on and 2 supply depots is more than enough to prevent any scouts from coming in and preventing melee forces from overrunning your marines early on.

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Zerg Specific

Speedling Builds - These revolve around getting Zerglings with enhanced movement speed as fast as possible.  You put 3 drones in your first vespene geyser and pull one out every time it returns at 92 gas (so you get 96, then 100 gas, enough for the upgrade).  From there you can deny your opponent scouting, early expansions, and more with the map control you get from fast zerglings before counters hit the playing field.

Cracklings - Zerglings with both movement speed and attack speed upgraded.  Not as fierce in terms of raw damage output and attack speed as they were in Starcraft, but they benefit greatly from the improved pathfinding and surrounding AI of Starcraft II to make up for it.

Burrow Micro - This refers to avoiding deaths of your units by timing your burrow to go off just before your unit dies.  This is only effective when your opponent has no detectors, or with Roaches since their burrowed regeneration rate is so massive that they can actually tank quite a few lesser units while underground and detected, mostly due to their high innate armor of 2.

Muta Stacking, or Muta Stacks - A well controlled group of mutalisks that stays mobile, harassing any and every target they can find undefended in their opponents base.  Lone anti air defenders, workers, supplies and overlords, and tech buildings are all high priority targets of this type of raiding. 


The term comes from an old Starcraft trick that had you controlling a large group of mutalisks with a unit far away from your base, typically an Overlord, that caused the Mutalisks to all gather on top of each other and create one ominous Mutalisk that the actual number count of them is a mystery.  This still exists in Starcraft 2, but they will stack quickly, and unstack quickly when attacking.  One of the neat methods of determining how big an enemy stack of Mutas is, is by looking at the strength of the shadow cast by them.

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Protoss Specific

Zealot Bombing - This is the fine art of loading up a Warp Prism with Zealots and dropping them slowly next to vulnerable units who are in range of a large line of Siege Tanks.  This is a lot less common in SC2 due to the Terran dependence on infantry and the general inferiority of Mech builds.

Cliffjumping/Cliffwalking -These refer to strategies with Colossi making great use of their ability to walk up and down different levels of terrain without a ramp.  Typically it's used to harass workers and other undefended areas, or buy time against melee hordes to keep frying them with lasers.

1gate, 2gate, 3gate - These are specific to Protoss builds, and it refers to how many Gateways you or your opponent get quickly.  You can tell a lot from how fast your opponent is teching, and can react accordingly if they're teching quickly or slowly.

Proxy Pylon - A proxy in general is most often pulled off by Protoss, who can do anything from one mere Pylon hidden in the back of a base, behind tall grass or smoke, or placed below a cliff.  From there you can warp in a variety of units, from a horde of Zealots to overrun from within, High Templar to Psionic Storm all of the opponent's workers, or Dark Templar to take advantage of a lack of detectors or assassinate workers without making a ruckus on the radar.

Did you get all of that?  It's only the beginning of the game's lifespan, and more vocabulary and definitions will arise as the game evolves.  We'll keep you posted and informed, so you're never clueless when watching the finals of a tournament.... or participating in one!

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