With the vast wealth of strategy sites for Starcraft available on the net, there is hardly a need for another. Or is there? This section, compiled by Tony Faber and extensively playtested at Shadwolf’s LAN, consists of tips you will not find on any other site on the web. Why? Because these strategies are not designed to win.
NOTE: These strats are designed for use in version 1.03. Changes made in the latest patch make some of these strategies unusable, although the spirit of annoyance is everlasting.
You know you’ve been out produced. You’re desperately trying to rebuild your defenses when you spot a fleet heading your way which will surely destroy your last base. You don’t really want to endure the pain of watching each of your last structures being methodically razed. Time to log out? Not necessarily. For those with the right temperament, your evening of fun is just beginning.
Note: most of the “strategies” listed below are not designed to actually win the game, so if you’ve nearly been wiped out and you truly hope to rebuild and give yourself a chance to come back, don’t do any of this stuff. On the other hand, if you a sort of petty or vindictive sort of a personality, and you just enjoy being annoying, then these are the techniques for you. Most of these tips, which have been extensively researched by our crack playtesting team, are most useful in multi-player free for alls. The idea is that one player, after almost wiping you out of the game, doesn’t have the luxury of hunting down you’re last hidden buildings on the map when he’s got another serious opponent still left in the game. This gives you a window of opportunity to make a nuisance of yourself.
In all of our master strategies listed below, there is one essential point to keep in mind: you must keep a structure intact to remain in the game. Therefore, when you first realize you are hosed in a game, your first priority must be to establish structures outside of your regular base area that your opponent won’t immediately find. To do this, you must be sure not to run yourself out of resources. Once you’re down to 1,000 minerals or so with no prospect of getting any more, stop spending if you know you don’t have a chance of winning. Those 1,000 minerals can do far more to annoy your enemies than the last ditch defense you could build with them. When you see that final assault headed for you, scatter your drones/probes/SCVs to the four winds. The game is afoot.
This very basic annoying strategy is a good one of you are almost out of minerals and you have no units besides workers (drones, probes or SCVs) remaining. The simple plan is to hide as many structures around the map as you can so as to make it painful as possible for your opponents to wipe you out and win the game. Once your work is done with this one, you don’t even have to keep following the game. Order a pizza and watch Seinfeld. Just stay logged on to the game and check back a few hours later. If your opponents are impatient, you may even win if they quit before finding your last structure. Nothing could be more satisfying than seeing the “Victory” screen flash up when you played terribly and recorded the lowest score.
The key here is to find spots where your opponent wouldn’t ordinarily look–stay away from active mineral deposits, bases of active players, well traveled passages, etc.
One place I like to hide pylons, or missile turrets or creep colonies, is in the destroyed and mined out base of a player who was crushed at the beginning of the game. These places are rarely revisited. Be careful not to use this technique if there are still intact buildings here; somebody might come by to destroy them for the points.
Another good place is inside any of the walled in areas that occur on many maps, particularly those with no strategic areas. Find one in a remote corner of the map and experiment with your worker. Does the place you are thinking of hiding the pylon become revealed when the worker walks by? If not, you may have found a good spot.
Another key here is to hide multiple structures in locations all over the board. Don’t be predictable. On certain maps one of the best places to hide pylons is the center of the board. Mostly though, you’ll want to stick to the edges. When you’ve finished spending your minerals, you can gather your remaining workers and prepare for the Probe Rush or the Peace Train (see below).
The Probe Rush
This silly strategy involves gathering your workers for one final assault. Players who don’t want to spend too much time on this end of game silliness will merely gather their workers into one force and suicide them on the nearest enemy base.
Those who truly embrace the dumbass late game guerrilla philosophy, however, will want to be more devious. Send one worker out as a scout while the others hide. Tour the entire map until you find a new base that is lightly defended, or an old one that isn’t defended because it’s mined out. In either case, then gather your probes for a massive attack.
The most fun can be had if you can actually jump the enemies workers in the midst of mining; if you’re opponent is slow, you can kill a few of them before he realizes what’s going on. There is a special joy in seeing those little bolts of electricity fly back and forth between probes and SCVs. If an opponent is desperate for minerals and doing the peace train (see below), these workers also are prime candidates for an ambush.
Finally if you can find undefended buildings, team up and go to it. With any of these strategies, subtlety and timing are required. You should always be patient and look for undefended buildings and workers, avoiding any risk of real combat engagement. The best time to attack with your workers is when your opponents are engaged in a big battle elsewhere. When you spot this, take the opportunity to do some damage to your distracted opponent.
If you don’t want to risk all your workers at once, one particularly annoying variation to the probe rush is to take one worker, wait until the coast is clear and start attacking a building. Figure out how long it will take your opponent to respond and disappear with your worker before he gets there. Wait five minutes, and then come back and attack the same building with the same worker. Repeat as long as necessary to destroy the building. If your foe puts the building under guard, switch to another building. If your foe destroys the worker, wait ten minutes and then come back with another worker. You can also keep one worker near one base and one near another and switch off attacking with each one. The variations are almost endless, and the serious student will doubtless work out many more to suit his own temperament.
The Arbiter Rush
If you’re playing the Protoss, you still have a base or bases, but have almost run out minerals but still have tons of gas, then the arbiter rush is for you. Make sure to stop building stuff when you still have more than 1,000 minerals. This will ensure that you can produce at least 40 arbiters. Once you have built up your fleet, the fun can begin.
Simply cruise the map, and if anything threatens you, just put it in stasis. If anyone puts some of your arbiters in stasis, respond in kind. You should have at least 5 separate groups of arbiters so you can always “out-stasis” your foes. If the opportunity arises, put all but one or two enemy units in stasis and then have your arbiters descend upon the remaining units like hungry wolves. When the other units come out of stasis, repeat the process.
If there is one particular player you want to take vengeance upon for kicking your ass, then offer an alliance with that player’s enemy. Have your arbiters join your new ally’s fleet and use your stasis power to enhance his battle chances. In the meantime, send sniveling chat messages about how you don’t care if you win as long as you’re eliminated after your enemy.
If you’re playing the Terrans and have only gas, you can still produce lots of science vessels. They aren’t as fun as arbiters, but they have their uses (see ‘Being a Pain with Your Last Unit’ below).
The Peace Train
The peace train involves sending your workers across huge distances to mine minerals that are nowhere near your home base (nexus/command center/hatchery). The name is derived from the sight of these fellows trucking across the wasteland in a long line. One annoying use of the peace train is to try and steal minerals from a foe by sending your probes in right under his nose.
Note that if your playing the Terrans and can fly your command center, or if you have enough minerals to build a home base, the peace train is unnecessary. Simply plop your base down on the opposite side of the mineral patch that your opponent is mining it from and mine it from the other side. You may steal large quantities of precious minerals before your opponent notices.
An interesting and pathetic variant of the peace train comes when the only minerals available are on a plateau. Here you must use a shuttle or dropship to deliver your workers to the minerals and then fly the workers back to your hidden base.
Note: if a peace train is successful, you may even build up enough minerals to build a combat unit. Then proceed to the next section to utilize him for maximum comedy value.
Mu’s Notes: I first coined the term "peace train" in one of my early games vs. Randy, who was way better than me. He had just kicked the third player out of a central mineral deposit when my fleet of 8 carriers and some other stuff showed up, pushing him back to fortify, since he assumed I had a HUGE development lead. What he didn’t realize as that I was OUT of minerals, and couldn’t even replace any lost fighters from my fleet, so they just sat there looming over the third player’s nearly depleted mineral patch as all of my probes formed a big peace train all the way from the upper right corner, carrying the minerals back, at the rate of about 2 minutes per round trip.
When that patch ran out, I discovered another one on a nearby mesa, but in order to get to the land access to them my peace train would have run right through Randyland. Out of desperation, I loaded 8 probes onto a shuttle, flew them manually through the maze of Randy’s outposts (I didn’t know about programmed waypoints yet) and unloaded them on the mesa, where they mined the new patch. Then I caught them as they made their way off the mesa towards certain death, and manually loaded them back on the shuttle, then flew back up to my base, unloaded, rinse and repeat. By the time I finally managed to build a nexus up there, Randy had something on the order of 4 wings of battle cruisers and was wondering what I was doing, until he found the nexus. Let me tell you something… there is nothing like the sight of 12 Yamato guns firing simultaneously from a wing of battle cruisers at one target.
Being a Pain with Your Last Unit
The variations here are truly enormous. In general, you want to have a unit which is mobile enough to run away when it’s discovered and then return to wreak more havoc.
When playing the Terrans, a wraith is perfect because it can hammer at buildings or probes or zealots for a while, and then cloak and run away when forces show up to take it out.
If you’re playing the Terrans and only have gas, then the science vessel is for you. This can be a lot of fun against the Zerg. Irradiate a few units, run away, recharge, and do it again. I’ve seen players take out dozens of Zerg units with just one science vessel over the course of a couple annoying hours. If your foe is careless and you can discover where he’s hiding his overlords, you’ve hit the jackpot.
Finally science vessels are also good if you want to ally against your nemesis and use them to support your enemy’s enemy’s fleet.
Besides the arbiter, discussed above, my favorite last Protoss unit is the humble Zealot. This little fellow can wreak instant death on workers, and he’s tough enough to absorb a couple of hits and live, and inconspicuous enough to easily sneak into position. With Zealots, and this applies to any kind of unit, if you have more than one of them, don’t blow your whole wad at once. If you have four zealots, use them one at a time. If your opponent kills one, lie low for twenty minutes. He’ll think he’s killed your last one. Then reappear with a new zealot and start the process all over again.
If your last Protoss unit is an observer, you can be a good tattletale (see below).
With the Zerg, your options aren’t quite as good but there are still some nice alternatives. A last unit queen is particularly nice. Sneak about at range and fry some lone guy on patrol or some worker and turn him into two broodlings. Then you can fly away while the broodlings attack his workers or some building. Keep doing this and you’ll never run out units.
Finally, any unit can do the job of being a nuisance if you put your mind to it. A Zerg player I know recently racked up 17 unit kills and destroyed a Nexus with a solitary unit dubbed “Marvin the Magical Mystery Mutalisk.”
Big Game Hunter
Some players like to take their last marine and pretend they’re on a Jungle Safari. You may not realize that the natural wildlife of each map can add to your kill total. Anyone who’s been annoyed by hearing “I can’t build it sir. There’s something in the way,” looked around and found a rhino where their starport was supposed to go, will enjoy using their last unit to stalk pesky prey across the wilds of Starcraft.
This special strategy is a personal favorite, but it will only work if you’re playing the Terrans and are knocked out of your last base when you still have a lot of resources left. First scatter the SCVs as usual and quickly build a couple hidden structures so you are still in the game. Then, slowly but surely work your way up the Nuke tech tree. Remember, you need a barracks, academy, factory, starport, science station with covert ops, nuclear silo add on and an armed nuke. Produce a crapload of ghosts. If you have enough resources build four or five hidden command centers across the map, armed with nukes except for one with a comsat station.
During this build up period, do not engage the enemy at all. Do not conduct attacks of any kind; don’t even scout about. You want to stay completely hidden until the time is right. Finally, when your nukes are just about on line start sending out teams of ghosts. Cloak whenever you see anything–don’t get spotted!! Then use the Comsat station to find a few poorly defended targets.
After your ghosts are in position comes the key point in the procedure. DON’T GET IMPATIENT! You’ve come this far; you can wait a few more minutes. Terrorists are by their nature patient people. Be sure to wait until you think your foe is busy engaging somebody else in battle; this will give you the essential distraction that you need. Rather than using your nukes one at a time and risk having the ghosts killed and the nukes fail, get into position and launch at least three nukes simultaneously in three different locations, all against that one jerk who was stupid enough to try to put you out of the game. If you have comsatted for detectors properly, there is no way your opponent should be able to take out more than one of your ghosts.
As soon as the missiles launch, start building a few more, if you have the resources. Once you run out of resources, put all your remaining ghosts into one band and start attacking things as a cloaked group. If you want, wander over to a battle and start locking down your foe’s troops.
If your opponent has made all his bases somewhat nukeproof with widely spaced outer rings of photon cannons or missile turrets and ground units, don’t be deterred. Simply use one nuke to take out the outer defenses, and then quickly move in and launch a couple more at the inside of the base. Then sound out a chat message taking responsibility for the bombing in the name of some sinister sounding organization.
Another excellent strategy is to use your nukes against enemy units instead of well-defended bases. The problem here is to locate a big glop of units which aren’t near any detectors. Perhaps your best bet is to locate a massive battle going on. Launch every nuke you have right into the middle of it. Have a lot of ghosts along for spotting in case some get killed, and try to lock down any science vessels. Then watch the fun begin! This should really add to your kill total. Both players will then come down hard on your ass, but it will have been worth it.
Some maps have a ridge which extends all the way around the edge of the board. This makes an excellent indiscreet way for your ghosts to get around and find poorly defended targets. Dropship a bunch of them up there and you’re good to go.
Making a Missile Turret Mesa (Or: Phun with Photons)
If you have some minerals but no gas you might consider just building tons of missile turrets or photon cannons. If you have a ton of minerals, but absolutely no chance of getting any more you can cover an entire plateau or map corner with these silly defenses. Who knows, you may even get a draw if your enemies beat each other to death and don’t bother to fight through your prickly photon carapace.
Another really stupid thing to do is to figure out where your enemy’s fleet is being produced and quickly up a bunch of missile turrets in their expected flight path out from their base. Be sure to set this up out of range of detectors. Obviously, this works even better with photon cannons. With photons you can set up a pylon and some photons within range of an undefended base and workers. Watch your cannons decimate your enemies with this late game photon rush!
If you really want to leave the game in spectacular fashion, try the building rush. This only works when playing the Terrans. Build as many mobile buildings as possible, then gather them in a huge horde and fly them straight into the middle of the enemy base. I guarantee he will be surprised.
If you only have buildings and no units and desire to be more of a long term nuisance there are a couple of things you can try. You can make an alliance with your enemy’s enemy, turn on shared view and use your buildings as flying scouts for him. If you feel more defensive you can make the alliance and hide your buildings behind your new ally’s defenses. Then if your ally wins, you can have the satisfaction of having lasted longer than your enemy.
Another silly thing to try is to find an undefended base, (usually just some probes mining trace amounts of vespian gas) and drop your buildings around his refinery or command bay or whatever so the probes can’t reach their destination.
Made famous by Dan Genovese, this strategy realizes that an opponent who doesn’t have the time, minerals or command points to defend all his bases will usually choose those bases on islands or plateaus to be less well defended. A well timed drop of a couple zealots, marines, SCVs or whatever you have on hand should foil this strategy. If you’re smart, the dropship or shuttle will have disappeared by the time you begin your petty attack, so that it survives any retribution. Never let your foe see the shuttle, make him think: “How did that zealot get up here?” After he’s killed the zealot off, wait twenty minutes and do it again. Repeat ad nauseum.
Being a Tattletale
When you have a vendetta against someone, usually the person who blasted you into the stone age, the tattletale strategy works well in combination with any of the above ideas, particularly if you’re the Protoss and you have an observer.
Ally with your enemy’s enemy and put on shared view. Set your chat on allies only and explain exactly where your enemy’s bases and forces are. Then scout around the map for him. If you are the Protoss, use that observer. If you’re the Terrans, use the ComSat station. If your enemy is the Protoss, look to reveal observers following your new ally’s fleets and reveal any hidden forces under your enemy’s arbiters.
This particular strategy will make you particularly hated if your opponent knows what’s going on.
Using Someone Else’s Defenses
Sometimes you have a few forces left and, although they suck on their own, might make a critical difference in the defense of your enemy’s enemy. Ally with him and put all your forces at his well-defended base. Fly any buildings there too or build a pylon there. This works well if you’re the Protoss and are out of minerals; you can build an arbiter and a few archons, which make a nasty surprise defense.
There are hundreds of variations and other ideas I haven’t bothered to mention. Be creative! Never allow boredom or despair to overwhelm your hatred and vindictiveness.