How to Read a Build Order

I write up a lot of build orders around here. Although I believe that mechanics are the most important thing to in playing better, they aren’t particularly fun to write about and don’t really involve strategy, almost by definition. So instead, I write build orders.

Build orders are a what you make for the first 5 minutes or so of a game. They’re kind of like the writeup of Chess openings. There are some basic conventions and notation to understand, but once you have that, you can copy what professional players are doing and really understand what their plan is. This page is just a quick guide about those conventions.

Let’s work from this example.

PvT 1 Gate Expand

  • 9 Pylon (you won’t have enough minerals for your 10th probe immediately, but that’s okay)
  • 11 Chronoboost probes
  • 13 Chronoboost probes
  • 13 Gateway (scout around here)
  • 15 Assimilator (3 in gas)
  • 16 Pylon
  • 17 Cybernetics Core
  • 18 Zealot (rallied to enemy)
  • 22 Stalker (Chronoboost)
  • Mothership Core
  • 4:20 Nexus
  • Warpgate
  • Second Assimilator

First, it’s a PvT build, so as Protoss (P), you use this against Terran (T). Similarly, there are PvZ builds against Zerg (Z), PvP, for the mirror matchup. There are, of course, 3 more for each other race.

Second, you’ll see numbers before each building or unit. Instead of giving you timestamps, which vary game to game, to indicate when to build things, we use supply numbers so you can see the sequence of things to build. In this case, “9 Pylon” means to build a pylon when you see “9/10” in the upper right of the screen, when your 9th probe is building.

Third, assume that you should be building workers continuously to fill in the supply gaps in the build. In general, you should be building workers until you have about 75 across all of your bases (it takes awhile). This is easy for Protoss and Terran, but for Zerg, you might need to play around with the build to figure out when your larva are coming.

Fourth, early Pylons/Overlords/Supply Depots are usually mentioned, but later ones aren’t. In general, you want to build these just a few supply before you’re capped and can’t build anymore units. That way, you can build units continuously but aren’t wasting early resources on extra supply space that you don’t need.

Fifth, later buildings and units may either not have supply counts or may have a time. The time is usually an approximation (+/- 15 seconds). If there is no supply count, it’s looser and you should just pay attention to the order.

I think that’s it. Enjoy reading and trying out builds!

3 thoughts on “How to Read a Build Order

  1. Thank you so much for this blog it really is full of good quality reads and has definitely helped me understand the game more. I usually struggle to find any upto date blogs with quality like this so good job!

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