Cleaning up thousands of build order openings

At Spawning Tool, we’re all about labeling StarCraft replays with build orders. With tens of millions of unit build events tracked, build order labels are a good way to simplify and make that data more accessible. Spawning Tool collects build order labels from various sources, including:

  1. machine learning – given many examples and counter-examples of Bio Mine builds, which unlabeled builds look the closest?
  2. programmatic logic – if there are 2 Hatcheries built before the first Spawning Pool, it’s a “3 Hatch before Pool”
  3. community-approved suggestions – the yes/no you sometimes see on replays
  4. community-contributed labels – anything else the community punches in

Our certainty about the labels follows the list above as well: we are relatively uncertain of the labels from machine learning but highly certain on those contributed by hand. The gray area, however, has always been those in the middle: how certain do we have to be to add the build orders straight into the system versus just posing it as a suggestion?

After going through the data, we determined that openings are relatively standard, and have shuffled most of those to be automatically, programmatically labeled for you. By cleaning this up, we added ~9900 new build order tags. We also removed ~5000 suggestions that were relatively obvious. Currently, the list of programmatic build order labeled are:

  • Protoss: Forge Fast Expand, Nexus First, 1 Gate MSC Expand, 1 Gate Expand
  • Terran: Proxy 2 Rax, 8/8/8 Proxy Reaper, 14 CC, 15 CC, Reaper Expand, 1 Rax Expand, 1/1/1
  • Zerg: 3 Hatch Before Pool, X Pool X Hatch, X Hatch X Pool, X Pool (10 and below)

Overall, we hope that this greatly increases the quality and accessibility of our build order data. However, the data can always be better, and we would appreciate suggestions for more build orders that we can add into the system. Our hope is to come up with a broad taxonomy for build orders to label all of them and understand the relationship between them.

And even if you don’t have any new ideas, we would appreciate any help approving existing suggestions. We still have over 10,000 undecided suggestions that all of you should feel welcome to adjudicate on.

What can we do to make the build order labels more useful?

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Featured Replay of the Week: TaeJa vs PartinG MindGames

View this replay on Spawning Tool

This week I had a very hard time deciding which replay to feature on the front page. I knew I wanted it to be one of the games of PartinG vs TaeJa, but I didn’t know which one. There was the double cheese game that ended in a draw, then there was the game after on the same map in which TaeJa cheesed again, and there was this game. I chose this game because TaeJa finally realizes that he needs to mix it up to beat PartinG. In a standard macro game, TaeJa was stomped by PartinG.

In this game, TaeJa opens with a gas first. When one sees this opening, he can expect to see a 1/1/1 hyper-aggressive and possible allin from the Terran player. TaeJa decides he wants to mix in some mind games on this map though. When PartinG’s probe slips past the marine and gets into the base, he sees that the factory is moments from being finished. TaeJa immediately pulls all of his SCVs from gas and pools up to 400 minerals after the probe is dealt with. He soon after puts down a 3rd Command Center, being extremely greedy.

PartinG’s reaction to the potential aggression was to constantly chrono out stalkers and the warp gate tech, delaying his own economy. This puts TaeJa ahead because of his 2 extra command centers on the way. TaeJa also moves his hellion out onto the map to trick PartinG even more. The build that TaeJa showed made PartinG almost positive that it was a 2 hellion, 6 marine, 1 mine, 1 medivac attack at about 6 minutes. When TaeJa moves his hellion across the map, he makes PartinG think for even longer that the build he scouted was accurate information.

TaeJa takes advantage of this trick and goes EXTREMELY greedy. He stays on one gas for very long just so he can get his extra barracks out sooner, then takes 3 gases in progression to tech up as fast as possible. TaeJa also takes his third at the 9:30 mark.

Based on the stats and replays we have on Spawning Tool, it shows that PartinG only ever loses games when they go past the 16 minute mark. TaeJa must have been checking up on our valuable statistics 🙂 , because he wanted to get into the mid/late game as fast as possible!

If people say that INnoVation is a robot, I say that TaeJa is a piece of clay. In game 3 on Iron Fortress, in multple cases, his medivac drops were sniped. This ultimately was too costly and was one of the main reasons why he lost that game. In this game, TaeJa, when sending out drops, would drop one marine out to scout ahead and to the third positions the find PartinG’s army. TaeJa also goes double starport this game in order to counter PartinG’s large colossus count that overwhelmed him in game 3.

The multipronged aggression/multitasking from both players throughout the game was truly impressive. PartinG sends out a warp prism with DTs and attacks mutiple bases with it. TaeJa also defends this agression while killing PartinG’s third base!

Towards the end of this game, you can see why PartinG is known as one of the best players in the world: he just refuses to die. Even when TaeJa was a base up and microing his heart out, PartinG kept on taking good trades with his units and holding the Terran forces back.

TaeJa eventually overwhelms the Protoss army and wins despite PartinG’s efforts.
This game was extremely close. It is surprising that TaeJa, even when he is half retired, can still keep up and take games off of one of, if not the best, Protoss in the world.


TaeJa vs PartinG Mind Games

  • 9  0:54  Supply Depot
  • 11  1:26  Refinery
  • 13  1:50  Barracks
  • 16  2:56  Orbital Command
  • 16  2:58  Factory
  • 17  3:14  Supply Depot
  • 21 3:59   Pulls out of gas after being scouted
  • 21  4:01  Widow Mine
  • 24  4:19  Barracks Reactor
  • 24  4:27  Command Center
  • 24  4:34  Supply Depot
  • 28  5:20  Command Center
  • 29  5:46  Bunker
  • 33  6:07  Orbital Command
  • 33  6:17  Barracks
  • 34  6:20  Barracks
  • 37  6:40  Engineering Bay

Announcing our newest (first) sponsorship: Team Gravity’s Fight Night!


This announcement comes a few days late for those who either frequent reddit or watch Fight Night, but there aren’t enough ways to say how excited we are to be sponsoring Team Gravity and their Sunday night series, “Team Gravity’s Fight Night”.

If you have been keeping up with the data on Spawning Tool, this announcement should be no surprise: Team Gravity has been phenomenal in regularly sharing the replays from Fight Night every week. They believe, like Spawning Tool, in having replay data openly available for the community and students of the game. Both through the players and events they support, Team Gravity embodies the spirit and values that we believe are necessary to maintain a vibrant StarCraft 2 scene in North America, and we are proud to be sponsoring them.

What is Spawning Tool? Spawning Tool is a website where you can easily browse pro replays by matchup, build orders, maps, or players. It makes it easy to find, learn, and evaluate new build orders and pull together interesting stats about players and upcoming matches.

What is Team Gravity’s Fight Night? Fight Night is a weekly $100 show match series consisting of two preliminary BO5, and a main event as a BO7. You can see the full list of past participants on liquipedia, but Fight Night #19 featuring TaeJa v PartinG gives you a sense of the caliber of players participating. The events are also sponsored and streamed exclusively on

You can follow us at @spawningtool or Team Gravity at @TeamGrav for the latest news on what we’re up to. We all hope you are watching Fight Night on upcoming Sunday evenings!

See Legacy of the Void build orders from replays

Legacy of the Void (LotV) replays can now be parsed and viewed at! Big thanks are in order to Blizzard and Graylin for getting this issued so quickly. Just like LotV itself, the build is unstable and requires a lot of testing, but in principle, we can see what’s going on in the game.

In terms of our knowledge of the game, the biggest obstacle at the moment is that we actually haven’t really converged on any terminology or builds, so it’s a little tricky to know how to label the replays properly. That, however, is part of the excitement of the beta, and I’m looking forward to refining our taxonomy over time.

The biggest obstacle, however, is just sample size! If you have any LotV replays at all, please upload them or email them to us at We want to get as much into the system as possible. So far, the biggest dump just came out of the Lycan LotV Beta Tournament held earlier today. Big props to them for organizing something out of the gate and showing how exciting the game can be.

One more thing: if you see any interesting builds or strategies that you want us to do a writeup of, please let us know where you saw it, or better yet, send us a replay! We are looking to do some analyses of build orders and to really dig into this game.

Keep watching!

The First Night of LotV Beta

Like many of you, I was anxiously watching Twitter all day to see when the Legacy of the Void (LotV) closed beta would start. Thankfully, I am on the west coast, so it did start at a reasonable time for me, and I dove into watching streams.

Just watching, I haven’t yet developed a great sense of the game, but frankly, that’s really exciting: I admit that I lost interest in Heart of the Swarm as the game settled into a relatively stable metagame. I know I’m diminishing a lot of the refine that happened over time, but I could come back months later and still feel like I knew what the builds and timings would be. LotV is totally new, and that’s really refreshing to learn and see new things.

I watched Pseudorandom, a masters level Zerg player. He played the LotV fan alpha mod, so he has a decent sense of the interactions and timings coming in, and it showed as he played quite a few ZvZs. Many players are trying out early Ravager pressure, and his response to that is to go Mutas: the timing seems tight, but the Corrosive Bile can be dodged, and none of those units can shoot up. I recommend you watch his stream to see how he plays it out.

Hopefully, will be operational soon so that we can actually see some builds soon. Unfortunately, Blizzard has changed the replay format and haven’t yet released any details on what the changes are so that we can properly parse it. Even so, please upload your replays or let us know if any streamers are releasing replays so we can get them into the system. Once the parser is working, we can go back to analyze those replays, and I hope we get a good set in there when that’s ready.

Enjoy the game, and let me know if there are any particular games you would like a more in-depth analysis of! launched

Quick note here: in anticipation for the Legacy of the Void (LotV) closed beta, we have spun up Particularly because of the economy changes, it didn’t make much sense to combine the LotV data with the Heart of the Swarm (HotS) data, so it is split away into a separate database. Because I’m lazy, this means that you will need to make new user accounts: hopefully that doesn’t bother you too much.

So if you happen to get into the LotV beta or otherwise get access to replays, please upload them! Note that early on, there are definitely going to be bugs in parsing the replays, but we will do our best to rectify those as quickly as possible. Even so, the only way that we will be able to figure those out is with lots of example replays to work with. And we can always re-parse the replays to get corrected data.

I hope you enjoy the launch of the beta!

Spawning Tool has rebuilt their blog and (hopefully) has a lot to reveal

I believe I have successfully transitioned from to All existing links should redirect to the new pages, so everything should still be accessible.

I also changed up the theme to be more consistent with the color scheme. I can’t say I’m completely happy with it, but I hope it centralizes the branding.

One more thing: with the Legacy of the Void (LotV) beta coming within 2 weeks, Spawning Tool will need to go through some changes, and it would be helpful to have some people around to bounce ideas around with. Please contact me at if you have any thoughts to share or at least would be willing to be a sounding board.

One more thing: I haven’t written much for this blog recently, but I might try to write more in the coming weeks. Fill out the poll if you have a moment so I can focus on writing the best content for you.

What content do you enjoy reading and would like to see more of?

  • Build orders and guides (63%, 5 Votes)
  • Spawning Tool site updates (13%, 1 Votes)
  • Graphs and statistics from Spawning Tool data (13%, 1 Votes)
  • Detailed analysis of professional games (13%, 1 Votes)
  • Critique of game of design (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Reporting lessons from my personal games (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 8

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Moving to

In an effort to realign content, I will be moving this blog to It isn’t up yet, but I figured I would post forewarning in case I am not able to make a smooth transition. I will post again afterwards.

Since I’m posting, here are a few tidbits.

First, I’m excited for the upcoming launch of the Legacy of the Void (LotV) beta! There aren’t too many surprises in the announcement, but I’m glad to see it coming so soon. There will probably need to be some changes to Spawning Tool to accommodate Legacy of the Void, but I haven’t really figured out the details there. Hopefully I can get into the beta early and play the game.

Second, speaking of playing, I played a game this morning, which is more noteworthy than it should be. The game was unremarkable, and I feel bad for my opponent. I went for a Reaper expand into a (not very good) 10 minute timing attack while they opened 3 Hatch before Pool. I saw 1 Overlord early, so I took a slightly different path to their base, and in the process, I think I might have (unintentionally) perfectly skirted around the vision of 3 Overlords. I think they were probably surprised.

Third, I think I’m going to play around with more Ghost builds. I saw this reddit post lamenting the diminishing importance of the Ghost, and I figured I should give it a shot. I don’t know any Ghost builds or how to even integrate Ghosts into a composition other than late game TvP, but I’ll report back on what I find, hopefully.

See you on the other side at!

Spawning Tool-SALT Integration

A big goal of Spawning Tool is to make build orders more accessible. StarCraft demands a high level of multi-tasking, and having a build order ready by rote can help players focus on other decisions. Of course, making the build orders available in the browser is just the first step in transferring knowledge into a real game, and integrating with SALT helps to bridge that gap.

SALT is a StarCraft mod that allows you to Save and Load game states for practicing engagements and build orders. The most relevant part to Spawning Tool is that it allows you to compose a build order, and it will prompt you step-by-step through the build order. Instead of looking back and forth between StarCraft and a written build order, you can practice it all with in-game audio prompts.

So we integrated SALT and Spawning Tool by allowing you to import build orders from your favorite pros straight into SALT. I’ll let JaKaTaK do a much more interesting explanation of how it works:

There are a few unfortunate technical caveats to it, so be sure to read the help text as well. Otherwise, I hope you find it useful, and of course let me know if you encounter any bugs with it. Happy practicing!

Spawning Tool supports the LotV Custom unofficial fan alpha mod

Quick note here on the blog that Spawning Tool now supports the LotV Custom unofficial fan alpha mod. Their team has put together a lot of work to faithfully recreate the LotV previewed at BlizzCon, and it’s definitely gotten a lot of excitement about how StarCraft will change with Legacy of the Void (LotV).

To support that, Spawning Tool has added support to parse the new units and abilities to show build orders including Ravagers, Disruptors, Lurkers, and everything else new. You can see some of those here, and you’re welcome to upload your own. This is the wild west as we try to figure out new builds that account for both new worker/economy timings as well as the new units.

In other news, Spawning Tool also has all of the replays from WCS season 3, BlizzCon, and IEM San Jose. Check those out as well.

There are a few other changes in the works for Spawning Tool, so keep your eyes peeled!