Explaining How to “Macro Better”

If you’ve been looking up how to get promotions or improve your game play online, then no doubt you’ve come across the expression “you’ll improve a lot once you learn how to macro better.”  For those still confused on what this actually means please let me introduce to you the general concepts:

Basic Macro

  • Workers
  • Supply Blocks
  • Unit production
  • Expanding
  • Upgrades

Each of the above bullets presents a problem for most players at some point in their SC2 experience.  Fixing these problems in the order written above will assuredly improve your game play itself, with your ladder rank soon to follow.

Workers

This is the single most important aspect of the game.  Until you have 70+ workers and you are mining off of 4+ bases, your economy is not nearly as high as it should be, and thus you won’t have the income you should have in order to keep up with your opponent.  Therefore, be sure to CONSTANTLY BUILD WORKERS (SCVs, Probes, or Drones).  When you perform each and every build on IMBAbuilds, it is assumed that you are 100% always always always building workers (except for the rare build where it tells you explicitly to stop producing workers).  Without constantly making workers, you will be unable to afford the units/buildings that the build orders discuss.  I repeat again: CONSTANTLY BUILD WORKERS.

Supply Blocks

This is the next most important aspect of the game.  YOU CANNOT EVER BE SUPPLY BLOCKED.  Every second that you are unable to produce units (and also workers), your opponent’s army (and income) grows in strength, while yours is stopped in its tracks.  As an example: assuming you play a game where you both perform identical builds for the first 10 minutes except you get supply blocked 3 or 4 times, your opponent will be around 15 supply above yours, and will simply be able to roll over your army in the open field.  Every build on this website also assumes that you are never supply blocked.  It is much better to be way under supply (e.g. 150/200) and have many extra Supply Depots/Pylons/Overlords than to be completely supply blocked (e.g. 150/150) and unable to produce anything.  That being said, optimally, you should never be too far under supply (think 1 or 2 Supply Depots/Pylons/Overlords) away from being blocked because those minerals used to construct the unnecessary Depots right now can be used elsewhere right now for more unit production/building production/etc.

Unit Production

Now that you’re familiar with the concept of constantly building workers and never getting supply blocked, the third most important aspect of the game is SPENDING ALL YOUR  MONEY.   If you ever have extra minerals/gas (whether you’re in the middle of microing your heart out, or just staring at your main base and making sure it is building workers), your army is not as large as it should be and your technology is not as far along as it can be.  Just like you need to constantly be building workers in order to have the largest income you can, you have to be spending that income on actual army/tech/bases in order to have the best army you can.

That being said, your money should never be tied up in queues.  For instance, if you tell your Barracks to queue up 5 Marines, then you have just spent 250 minerals right here and now that won’t actually be used to produce 4 Marines until their production bars actually start up and the unit is about to be produced.  This is why when you watch the professional players, they have such a ridiculous APM.  People constantly (and I seriously mean constantly – at least once per second) go through their production control groups in order to make sure that (1) all their buildings are chronoed/injected/addoned/etc, (2) all their buildings have appropriate rally points, and (3) ALL THEIR BUILDINGS ARE ACTUALLY PRODUCING UNITS/WORKERS and not excessively queued.

In a way, you can think of all builds on IMBAbuilds as simply different ways to perform items 1, 2, and 3 in this list.  After the build order ends, it’s up to you to transition into standard game play by continuing to make constant SCVs, never get supply blocked, and actually spending your money.

Expanding

This goes hand in hand with constantly producing workers because making and taking expansions also increases your income.  However, you cannot take advantage of expanding until you are actually capable of constantly making workers and spending the money that those workers give you.  You never want to be down on bases against your opponent for the same reason that you never want to be down in workers against your opponent – you don’t want to be behind your opponent in the income battle.

Upgrades

I don’t know if you’ve ever actually seen how effective upgrades are, but here is a very easy way to do so:

Load up a game of SC2 with a friend.  One of you play Terran, and the other one play Protoss.  Now, let the Terran max out (have ~60 workers) on exclusively 0/0 Marines with Stimpack and Combat Shields. Let the Protoss max out (have ~60 workers) on exclusively 0/0 Zealots with Charge.  Attack each other in the open field and watch what happens in the fight.  Re-max, except get 3-3 for the marines.  Watch what happens in this fight.  For the price of 2 Engineering Bays, 1 Armory, and 6 Upgrades, those marines went from being sort of not bad to being actually unstoppable.  This is what the power of upgrades gives you.

Upgrades make a huge difference in actual fights, but the ability to make workers and spend the money they give you is significantly more important.

In Summary

Hopefully now you understand “how to macro” better.  You will be macroing well once you are able to constantly produce workers, always avoid supply blocks, spend your money, take extra bases, and research necessary upgrades.  Thus, every build on IMBAbuilds can be seen as a walkthrough on how to do these 5 steps in a reasonable manner.  If you are a newer player, however, I would suggest making sure that you are able to keep up with these 5 steps making whatever units you want before trying to keep up with these 5 steps while following a professional build order.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the IMBAbuilds Forums.

-NoseKnowsAll

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