Professional Starcraft II (SC2) gaming requires two primary skills: macro and micro. Casters often discuss players' macro and micro play styles. However, new fans of the game may not know exactly what these mean.
Macro - short for macromanagement - deals with a player's economy. This includes managing the two types of resources players harvest, which are vespene gas and minerals. Additionally, macro play involves managing the supply cap. All races have a type of structure or unit designed to provide supply to an army; the more players build these structures or units, the more army units they can create. Not having enough supply causes players to become supply blocked, meaning they cannot create more units until they acquire more supply.
Macro also involves spending resources and maxing out supply. Because units, buildings and upgrades all take time to complete, players cannot just save as many resources as possible and then spend them all at once. Players with excellent macro play:
- Consistently acquire supply with enough time to keep from getting supply blocked but not too early, which can waste valuable resources
- Have a plan (often known as a build order) to make sure that they are spending resources only when and where needed
- Only keep excess resources when necessary (e.g., players often save resources right before a battle, as they will need to spend a lot at once to reinforce as units die)
Having excellent macro play enables players to build more specialized armies quicker. It also allows players the ability to reinforce their armies as they lose units in battles. This reinforcement is critical to a victory in SC2.
Micro, which stands for micromanagement, details how players control individual units. This includes all commands issued to units, including attacking, retreating, positioning and moving. Because each player can have up to 200 supply worth of units, eSports professionals must micro extremely well to issue commands to many units almost simultaneously.
A key part of excellent micro play is unit positioning and control in battles. Players often win games because of their armies' excellent positions. Because matches take place on a variety of maps, players must learn and command map locations that provide a positional advantage. Additionally, players must hold these good positions while commanding their units to attack the same target (quickly getting rid of high damage-dealing units) and moving away their units with lower health (keeping them from dying).
Finally, micromanagement includes scouting opponents' bases to gather information on their actions. With good micro, players can keep units alive inside their opponents' bases for quite a while, giving them time to see what tech their opponents plan to use. Having this knowledge allows players to modify their build orders if needed to counter the opposing players' forces.
While some players may be known for one more than the other, professional SC2 players must be excellent at both micro and macro play. Together, these two elements make up all types of actions taken by SC2 players.
This article kicks off a series of articles for fans new to the SC2 scene. These articles are designed to help those watching professional SC2 tournaments understand some of the game's mechanics, especially those mentioned by casters during SC2 matches.