What Modes to Play

I’m a hypocrite: I have compiled a lot of information to help players learn StarCraft, and yet I’m a strong believer that the best way to improve is not to read, but to play. Unfortunately, there are many different ways to play, so here are the major options in progressing towards live multiplayer games. These are roughly in-order but can be skipped.

Basic Tutorial: totally green

If you have never played a RTS (like Age of Empires, WarCraft, or Dawn of War), you may consider starting with the tutorial to familiarize yourself with the UI and controls. Warning: it’s pretty pedantic, so it’s not actually that much fun. Even so, it should take you maybe 10 minutes to get through all of it.

  1. Start the game and sign-in
  2. Click on “Campaign”
  3. Click on “Launch Tutorial”

Campaign: enjoy the game

The single-player campaign is great. The story is very engrossing, and the campaign alone is probably worth the value of the game. Blizzard also designed missions to teach you mechanics and how to use units. Unless you’re raring to play multiplayer, I recommend you play through the campaign first.

  1. Start StarCraft and sign-in
  2. Click on “Campaign”
  3. Click on “New Campaign”

Training: get into Multiplayer

Once you can play through an entire mission or game of StarCraft, you’re ready to hop into multiplayer. The basic setup for multiplayer is that you and 1 other player are plopped on a map with a basic structure and 6 buildings, and over the course of 5 minutes to over an hour, you try to defeat the other player. Although you’re clicking the same buttons and building similar units to the campaign, there’s a very specific set of strategies that you should be familiar with.

To master that, Blizzard designed Training missions, which pit you against progressively more difficult computers. The best part about it is that the game will coach you through the whole game by instructing you what to do next so you can see how a typical game flows. You can play through 3 stages with all 3 races to get a handle on how the game works.

  1. Start StarCraft and sign-in
  2. Click on “Matchmaking”
  3. Select “Training”
  4. Pick a race and hit “Play”
  5. Work from Stage 1 up to Stage 3

Versus A.I.: getting comfortable

Once you understand how multiplayer games work, it’s all practice and learning strategies from here. To shelter you from the trolls of the internet, Blizzard added a “Versus A.I.” mode, where you can play 1v1 against the computer. The computer adjusts its difficulty depending on whether you win or lose, so it should be a decent challenge at all times.

  1. Start StarCraft and sign-in
  2. Click on “Matchmaking”
  3. Select “Versus A.I.”
  4. Pick a race and hit “Play”
  5. Keep playing as long as you like!

Unranked and Ranked: the big time

If you own the game, you can now join Ranked and Unranked games where you are matched with humans of similar skill to play games. The only difference between them is that Ranked games place you in a league so you can see how well you’re doing. This is it! Enjoy!

  1. Start StarCraft and sign-in
  2. Click on “Matchmaking”
  3. Select “Unranked” or “Ranked”
  4. Pick a race and hit “Play”

Other resources

Blizzard also has designed a few other challenges for you to play around with. They’re a ton of fun but are also instructive.

The Challenge Missions will teach you about army compositions, controlling individual units, and dealing with common game scenarios.

  1. Start StarCraft and sign-in
  2. Click on “Campaign”
  3. Click on “Challenge Missions”
  4. Play them all!

If you own StarCraft, you can also play StarCraft Master, a series of 30 mini-scenarios where you use all sorts of tricks and fancy micro to do seemingly impossible things.

  1. Start StarCraft and sign-in
  2. Click on “Arcade”
  3. Search for “StarCraft Master”
  4. Select the map and play it

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