Beginner's Guide to Starcraft II


Starcraft II Moderator
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This tutorial will gear you up with the information that you will need when entering the world of Starcraft II. It covers not only the core mechanics of melee (also known as “ladder”) games and races, but user created maps, the community, and much, much more.

With that being said, let’s begin with the first part of the tutorial:

The Races

There are 3 races in the game: Zerg, Terran, Protoss. When playing, you can choose one of these, or be randomly selected one if you choose to.

First of all take a look at this section of the official Starcraft II website and watch all the videos on this page:
They will give you some general info, possibly things you may already know, but it is important to see them.

After that I highly recommend playing the campaign, since it will give you golden practice for the real Battlenet experience.

Now that you are a bit familiar with the general basics about each race.​



• Their main building, also known as the Command Center, can be transformed into two things: A “Planetary Fortress” or an “Orbital Command.”
The Planetary Fortress loses its ability to lift off, but gains health, armor, a cannon that attacks ground units and can help prevent harassment, and the ability to garrison up to 5 SCV’s inside it. You shouldn't build this in your main, or for your first expansion. The planetary fortress is best for your 3rd and 4th base. You don’t HAVE to get it there, but it makes it that much easier to defend.

The Orbital Command is the building which has caused the most commotion with its abilities. It can still lift off, but the main thing that it has Energy, which can be used on three abilities. The most used are the Mules, a special worker lasting a decent amount of time which mines as much as 7 SCV’s would mine. In lower leagues when players have no idea what macro is it is considered OP, because in a game of 10 SCV’s per player this economy boost is really huge. In a decent level of play though, the mule just gives a small edge.
The second ability is the Scanner Sweep. It reveals an area of your choosing for 12 seconds, uncloaking all units in that area for the same amount of time. It is incredibly powerful. You can scout, kill cloaked units and much, much more.
The last ability that the orbital command has is “Call extra supply” ability. You can enhance a supply depot to double its maximum supply, thus instantly giving yourself needed supply yourself. This is very useful when you are supply blocked. However, it can only be used once per depot.
Each one of these abilities costs 50 energy. The orbital command has a maximum of 200 energy, although it is recommended for you to spend this energy the second you get 50.​

• Speaking of buildings, the supply depots can raise and lower, as you have probably noticed. In Multiplayer games, Terrans tend to wall in, to increase their defense against early rushes.

Example Terran wall-ins:

• The Terran unit tiers are pretty easy to understand:
Barracks - Tier 1, contains biological units.
Factory - Tier 2, contains mechanical units.
Starport - Tier 3, contains flying units.​
• The Terran buildings can also construct additions to itself, known as “add-ons”. Buildings can switch between already built add-ons. They are the following:
Reactor - Allows you to produce 2 basic units at once. Contains no upgrades. The basic units are Marines, Hellions, Medivacs, and Vikings.
Tech Lab - You can produce the more advanced units and you can upgrade your units from them.​

Now, moving on to the Terran units.

• Most units have VITAL upgrades from the tech lab. Some of them are passive, like the marine’s combat shield, marauder’s concussive shells, and the hellion’s blue flame. You want these upgrades. They make your army extremely potent.
• The Terran race has a lot of harass units and harass options. The most obvious ones are the reaper, banshee and hellion (since the reaper can jump up/down cliffs, the banshee is a flying unit and can cloak, and the hellion is one of the most mobile units in the game)
• A few notable skills that the Terran army has are:
Stimpack: The marines and marauders lose some health, but gain a lot of attack speed and movement speed.
Infernal Pre-Igniter (Also known as “Blue Flame”): The hellion does 3 times its normal damage when it hits light units.
Siege Mode: The tank transforms into siege mode, gaining range and damage, but losing the ability to move.
Raven’s Point Defense Drone: All of your opponent’s missile shots are stopped.
EMP: The ghost fires a grenade which drains 100 energy and shields from all units in the area. This is an amazing ability against Protoss.​

There are a lot more like the Nuke and Hunter Seeker Missile, but I will let you to explore them yourself : )



• As you have probably noticed, the Zerg build their unit production buildings once and produce everything from larva. That is pretty cool!
They are the race that can expand the earliest (whereas the Terran can get away with really late expansions).
•The most important things: You expand fast, you utilize your queen as much as possible (it is the most important unit in the game for you!) and your supply increases by producing Overlords which can move around the map.
The Queen: Costs just 150 minerals, 2 supply, and has 3 abilities. Each one is extremely vital for the Zerg army. The queen has a weak ground attack, but she is good against air units. One very important thing to note is that the Queen is extremely slow when she is off creep.
Inject Larvae: Your hatchery has a maximum of 3 larva. With the injection, 40 seconds later 4 new larvae will spawn which bypasses the maximum larva the hatchery can have. I highly recommend using up as much larvae as you can, because you want both the hatchery and the queen to be producing it to maximize your unit production capabilities.
Spawn Creep Tumor: The creep tumor is an invisible building generating creep and vision. It can produce more creep tumors within a limited range provided there is creep to build it on. The more tumors you have in one location, the faster the creep spreads. The creep lets your ground units travel faster whilst they are on it.
Transfusion: For just 50 energy you can instantly heal any of your Zerg units/buildings (Except the Queen itself) for 125 hit points. From spine crawlers to weakened tech buildings like a roach warren, or any of your mutalisks, infestors, ultralisks, or broodlords. The possibilities for this spell are huge!​
• The Zerg tiers are divided into… well, tiers. Your hatchery is tier 1. When you upgrade it into a lair it is tier 2. The hive represents tier 3.
• This is the key to Zerg macro: do what it takes to not forget those larvae injections!​


• It is in the Zerg's nature to max out their supply count the fastest.
• The overlords may be easy targets in some situations, but with the speed upgrade and proper placement you can be warned for virtually any attack or drop and you can scout your opponent’s tech without losing hardly anything.
• The Zerg units are pretty cool. You have the very fast Zergling, the explosive Baneling, and the “tank” Roach.
• The Zergling is pretty useless without speed. With speed, it is one of the most cost effective AND mobile units in the game.
• The roaches regenerate a lot of health when burrowed. They are quite slow without their upgrade so players tend to use them mainly for defense before they reach tier 2.
• The spine and spore crawlers can un-burrow and reposition. They are cheap for the power you get with them and can be transfused. A lot of Zerg players rely on them for defense (they are considered units instead of buildings, even though it takes a drone to build them).
• The second tier brings good anti air units, the second caster unit, and another harass unit, the mutalisk, giving excellent map control.
• The Overseer is a flying upgraded overlord who can contaminate buildings (halting production and researching from them). It can also see invisible units, and summon changelings that can scout for you. The overseer is your best scouting tool! In this tier, overlords can generate creep, but most players tend to use creep tumors.
• The third tier brings the ultimate Zerg units: the ultralisk and the broodlord.
• These tier 3 units are extremely strong in numbers.
• The real potential of the Zerg race is the fact that you can easily re-max your army supply during the battle. This is so that after it is done, you can once again challenge your opponent in a direct attack.
• The race has quite a few ambush mechanisms. Units can be burrowed (banelings in particular are very potent with this strategy – they are basically mines). Some units can move while burrowed (roaches and infestors) and there is always the possibility for drops in the opponent's mineral line.
• I should point out that every Zerg ground unit can burrow. Every Zerg ground unit can be placed in an overlord and carried (yes even the ultralisks) after completion of the Ventral Sacs upgrade (though it is recommended you get the speed upgrade as well!).​



Ah yes, the Protoss.
• The nexus has the Chrono-Boost ability. You can use it on anything that can produce something. Training units, researching upgrades, warp gate refresh time, building probes, gateways turning into warp gates, virtually anything you build or research. This is a fundamental concept for the Protoss.
• Protoss buildings build themselves, but they need to be near a Pylon, inside its power-field at all times; to start to build or for them to function. If you take out the pylon, the building cannot be used until the pylon is replaced – rendering it useless.
• Gateways contain basic units for the Protoss. After this building, the Protoss tech-tree divides into 3 branches:
Robotics Facility: Contains robotic ground units and flying observers for detecting cloaked/burrowed units.
Stargate: Contains flying ships.
Twilight Council: Contains upgrades for the gateway units and unlocking the templar tech-tree.​
• In order to get to the tier 3 units, you must build the building which unlocks them.
• The warp-in tech is one of the biggest advantages of playing Protoss. You can warp in gateway units anywhere within a power field.
• Another cool feature of the Protoss is that the attack upgrade is for all of the ground units, both for the robotic units and templar units. Same goes for the armor upgrade. However, the shield upgrades are for all Protoss units (they are quite expensive though!).
• Supply count for supply count, the Protoss rise the slowest because they have the most expensive units, but in theory a Protoss 200/200 supply army should kill any other maxed out army from other races.
• The Protoss tier one units are the zealot, stalker, and sentry.
• Zealots are a unit who can withstand a lot of punishment. They are slow, but they have a charge upgrade which lets them get close to the enemy quickly and deals quite a bit of damage.
• Stalkers are the all around unit for the Protoss. They are quite mobile, but don't have amazing attack damage. They can shoot ground and air, so this makes them a must have in almost any Protoss army composition. They have a teleport upgrade (Known as “Blink”) which further increases their mobility.
• Speaking of must have units, let’s talk about the sentry. They have a force field ability which lets you manipulate the terrain with impassable barriers. They can cast a guardian shield which reduces the ranged attacks of every attacking unit by 2 damage. After an upgrade, they can “hallucinate” any unit in the Protoss arsenal, creating a fake illusion of the unit that deals no damage, but can scare your enemies or scout for you. Each one of its abilities has a lot of potential uses (for example, starting guardian shields indicates that you want to attack, so you can use this to fake an attack and pressure your opponent).​

The Two Core Mechanics!

Starcraft II has 2 core mechanics- Micro and Macro

• Macro is basically the aim to have a high income and to spend it.
To do so: Constantly build workers. You need 3 per mineral patch, 3 per geyser. That makes 3x8+3x2=30 per base.
Build supply units(pylons, supply depots, overlords)
When you have left over minerals build units. When you have left over minerals AND you are building workers and units, then add more tech/structures. This is the most macro heavy play you can go. Often people stop unit production in order to get the tech/unit production buildings faster.
The easiest way to practice your macro is against a very easy computer. You are not competing with him, you are competing with yourself :)

• Micro is the unit control- how you position your units, how fast you react, how fast you back them up, how good is your kiting, casting of the different abilities.
Micro is easy to pick up but very hard to master. The way to improve it is to play more. The more you play the more mistakes you are going to find in your micro and the more you are going to develop it.
On a large scale, the macro is more important than the micro, however, the good players do both at the same time.
This pretty much concludes the introduction to the basic game mechanics.




The Leagues from Strongest to Weakest:
Grandmasters - Top 200 (The really good guys)
Masters - Top 2%(where I am placed)
Diamond - Top 20%
Platinum - Top 40%
Gold - Top 60%
Silver - Top 80%
Bronze - Bottom 20%
Practice - For people new to the game, with different maps.​

These are the leagues, they don’t necessarily show your skill level since diamond players sometimes loose to "bronzies" (players in Bronze league), the big ladder is made to create a competitive feeling for everyone. It is for fun, it Is a bar of your progress, not as much your skill.
The big problem with the leagues is that people sometimes get obsessed with them. The only reason why you’d want to be high ranked in a master/grandmaster division is to get into a team, but not just a team, but a team that pays you to play, and there are already enough pro’s for 5-6 times as many teams, so what you should do is just enjoy your game, if you get to a decent place in your division then great, if not, who cares, you lose nothing!
Personally I recommend skipping the practice league since it won’t prepare you in any way for the real ladder experience.
Some Starcraft II players, especially in the lower leagues like bronze will try to end the game as fast as possible and get a fast win so that they can spam Starcraft II games and get a lot of points, and into a higher division. This is all fine and well, but at one point people begin defending these pushes and the player is either forced to start to learn, therefore getting beaten a lot of games or just staying at the same level.

Bottom line: Unless you want to go pro, leagues don’t matter, they are just for fun ^_^

Icons, Decals and Achievements
As you may have noticed upon reaching 10/25/50/100/250/500/750/1000 wins with a race you get an icon. Starting from 500 you get decals as well. They are just for a show-off, they don’t affect your game in any way. Perhaps a small psychological lead at best.
Same goes for the achievements in general. They are something to make you explore a bit further into the game, since most things have an achievement for them.
You can collect them for fun if you feel like it, or just don’t bother to get them. The only achievements worth getting are the ones with the decals really, because they give your main building a unique look (or at least not so much of a mainstream look)

Game Types
There are 2 game types:
Melee Games and Custom Games.
The melee games are the official games, ones that are handled by the matchmaking system, ones that give you a fair challenge, once that track your score that give you points and unlock achievements. This is the main type of games you should play.
•The custom games are 2 types- user created maps (aka mods) and unofficial melee games.​

I don’t recommend the unofficial melee games since your opponent will rarely be at your skill level. You play custom games when you want to train a specific build order or style in the early stages- when you still don’t have a clear idea of it, when you are still figuring it out. Once it is figured out, proceed to ladder to iron out the last details.
The user created maps are a community of players(usually either weak melee players or people who dislike ladder) who play what the map-makers offer them. There are pretty good maps, I do recommend playing a user created map every few melee games, to relax, to take pressure off and to see what new has been created. Who knows, maybe you will find something worth playing more than once : )
SO, just to sum it up:

Unofficial melee games - just when you want to try something specific.
Official melee games- what you should be playing
User created maps - play them while you are resting to take pressure off.​

Melee Game Types
There are 2 other types of games: Rush and Macro.
Macro Games are when players are tending to get 2+ bases, have tier 3 units and play with upgrades and a large variety of units.

Rush Games are when one of the players tries to end the game quickly. If his plan fails he is utterly behind and he usually looses. Weaker players will often try to rush. Players rush in every level (in fact over 80% of my losses are from getting rushed)​

Getting Ready for Ladder - Challenges
I recommend playing the challenges, trying to score a good score on them, without using youtube tutorial videos. They will teach you important micro techniques of each race. They aren’t a must do, but blizzard has put them in, they are fun to do and are free practice, what more can you ask for :p

The Player Mindset
When you win you get points and 1 win closer to that 1, 000 win icon. Nothing more. You shouldn’t play for the win, you should play for the game itself, that way you will get a fun and pleasant experience.
The system is designed so that you should have around 50% win rate. If you have more, you will go to a higher division until you get around 50%, then you will start to raise in the division itself.
I am saying all this, because it is okay to lose. Even the best players loose games. Some of the grandmaster players (top 200 in each region, see the previous part of this tutorial for more info) have around 54-8% win rate. Others have above 70% but behind these people there are teams, they practice over 6 hours a day… If you are willing to put that much practice, you will become a pro too, but for most people(like me) Starcraft II is a game for enjoyment and fun.
If you lose, take a 1-2 minute break, then continue playing, if you win, do the same, the idea is just to clear your mind. These rests may seem unimportant, but trust me, after playing around 10 games without rest you WILL feel tired.

Manners - How to behave

In Starcraft II we greet the players in the beginning of the game, and say bb in the end of it.

Here is a list of some of the ways to say hello:
• Gl hf (good luck, have fun)
• Hf (Have fun)
• Gl (Good Luck)
• Glgl (Good Luck, Good luck)
• Hfhf (Have fun, Have fun)
• Gl hf gg (good luck, have fun, good game)​
It is just a little something that we always say. We are not trying to get into a conversation but just spreading some good karma, throwing some words in the game. Always do that. It is a little something that makes the E-sport community friendly : )

In the end of the game, if you are losing, you should type one of the following:
• Gg wp (good game, well played)
• Gg (Good Game)
• Wp (Well played)​

One of my favourite players said once “No gg, no skill” and I agree to some extent with him. If someone has beaten you in a straight up macro game, he deserves a “good game”.
However, is someone has been bad mannered to you or has rushed you, you don’t have to respect him with that.
Regardless, it is good if you GG even the ones who are trying to end the game early it is good to type it, just for the sake of having a nice and friendly community.

Chat Channel & Practice Buddies

Soo…. Are you having trouble with a match up? You want to have a discussion with more than 1 person at the same time? Well, since one of the patches Blizzard implemented; there are now the chat channels. There is a set of Blizzard created chat channels.
Feel free to join them or to create your own. They are a bit time consuming so I don’t recommend spending more time in them than you need too.
• The practice buddies are people who will play lots of custom games with you. Usually you are about the same skill level and you train specific build orders against each other or just play a lot. This is better than the custom games and it is cheese safe, but I recommend using the practice buddy system when you want to train something in particular. If you just want to play I recommend going ladder.​
In Starcraft II the connections with people may be really important at one point, that is why I recommend always being good mannered, do not troll or insult people.
It is not once or twice when I’ve been offered a place in a team from a contact with which I have played with/against more than once, do try to behave : P

Getting into a Team
I have little experience with teams, since I can’t believe that I will have to take part in tournaments on a weekly basis (time consuming omg wtf bbq) but here are some general tips on how to get into a good team/what to expect from a team:
Most teams will require you to play a minimum of ladder games per week.
Every team worth joining attends clan wars. Your participation in them is extremely important. You MUST be on time, good mannered and skilled in these team battles. Even if the time doesn’t suit you, you must enter a clan war every now and again.
Some teams have more than one division, if you are not in the main division you are in a clan just for the sake of being in a clan.
When you are in a clan you are supposed to enter tournaments on a regular basis (weekly/2weeks at most often)
When you are in a team they ask you add your team tag to your name. Do not do that. Ever. I was lucky enough to waste my name change soon after I got the chance to use it… else I’d be TgXBlooDCounT, FLBlooDCounT, and a few other teams which I won’t name(not that I am naming these lol)
Now, this is what every good team should require. It is simple. Be dedicated and you will manage.

Going "Pro"
Going pro… you need a lot of practice… 4+ hours a day to make progress. You must learn to analyse games. Sadly I can’t give you a lot of info on that, some people just can analyze good. If you can’t analyze good just play a lot. When you are facing the same situation over and over again you start to create better things. A simple example is the following: When walling off VS Zerg as Protoss, most players would make the entrance to the cyber core. In fact it is way better to have the choke point next to the gateway- that way the second the zealot comes out, he will block the chock in case a rush occurs.
“With enough practice anyone can be pro” LiquidJinro

Casters and Streams

Starcraft II has quite an impressive number of casters and streamers. Casters are people who commentate games, and streamers are people who record and show their matches, sometimes live.
I have assembled a few of the best casters around. Watching casts is fun and you learn a lot by watching how good players play.

A huge stream list(updated only with live streams) Click Here


1 Example control groups.

There are 2 main ways to use control groups.

The first one is to have only 2 control groups, 1 for army, 1 for buildings and to scroll between the different buildings with tab.

The second one is to have your army from 1-3 your main buildings on 4. The macro buildings are from 5-9. 0 Is for observer/idle worker, or something of the sort.

2 Styles of play by the number of bases

There are 3 styles of play, when graded upon the number of bases. The most late-game oriented one is the fast expand- you will have a weaker tech and army, but you will get an economical advantage.

The "safe play" is a safe expand- you aren't economically ahead (sometimes you are behind) but you secure the expand safely.

The last one is a 1 base play, where you don't expand, you get a desired army composition and either attack, or put aggression on your opponent until he crumbles.

On a Faster Map, Real time for macro managing is:
1:04 for 50 energy on Orbital command (Mule)
0:32 for 25 energy on Nexus
0:15 for Chronoboost to finish on a building
0:30 for the larva to spawn on a Hatchery

*Zerg can use nydus networks to either attack an enemies base directly or to connect their own expansions to quickly move your troops from one point to another to defend yourself.

*Zerg have very bad anti-air in the early game, for this reason the spawning of additional queens is adviced to protect from early air harrassment.

*Terran and protoss forces cannot build on creep, therefor creep tumors and overlords can be used to block expansions from your enemies. (if they are not zergs themselfs)

*A hatchery still has a maximum of 19 larvae, no matter how many injects you use.

Anyway, yes – i hope this has helped you in some way. Big thanks to Monsterous for proof-reading this. He is awesome.



Super Moderator
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I think another thing that should be added could be basic macro hot-keys and things which would help with this.

Like the using of CTRL/SHIFT + Numbers, or tabbing through unit groups.

EDIT: Forgot to add: Nice guide.


Starcraft II Moderator
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I am pretty sure that I have missed other things as well. I will give the thread arround 20+ hours so I can gather more ideas for add-ons and then I will add them. ^_^


Super Moderator
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When writing a guide this size it's almost definate that you will miss something :p

I like it though :thup:


Starcraft II Moderator
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When writing a guide this size it's almost definate that you will miss something :p

I like it though :thup:

Thanks a lot. I hope that after this tutorial is ironed out, we will release it and the other ones I made, so that we can really kick the TH SCII tutorials into overdrive !


Starcraft II Moderator
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I added section extras, containing some fragments which I've missed.

Do what you want with this tutorial from here on out. I can't format it nor write it any better, so it's final phase is in your hands. It is a big tutorial, so take your time guys, and good luck !


Starcraft II Moderator
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Went up to the zerg section today. I'll see if I can do more tonight. Your English has definitely stepped up :)

Nice ! After Miz has a look at the final version I think we can launch the tutorial project with 5-7 starter tutorials ! That'd be awesome : )


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I touched up the Titles (how they were formatted or how they were titled like Mindset of Players to Player Mindset), Indented the lists or any sub-lists. I also touched up on Bolds, Italics, spacing centered the smaller pictures, (not sure what to do with the huge league ones), etc.

Making Threads Sexy = My Job. xD
We could utilize a Banner at the Top. But it would need to work both in the Forum and on the Dark Background of the Sc2 Site.

I did fix some spelling mistakes but I didn't know how far Whitesock got with touching up the English. I am going to touch up some more in a little bit if I think it needs some more, overall reading it again ,its a great tutorial. IT touches all the bases and speak personally like a real person would. (Which I think is good for new players)


The Evolved Panda Commandant
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Nice guide, I enjoy it. :)

Maybe touch more on macro and micro?
Macro being the big picture, managing economy, building, strategy all together, in all your bases.
Micro more of details and managing selected things at a time, like making sure you're building units constantly or, like you said, controlling units smartly. Maybe mention apm.

Great job!


Starcraft II Moderator
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It took too much time before this was released. Oh well, better late than never.


2D-Graphics enthusiast
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I havent yet read everything but i can already say one can see how much effort you have put into this. But still i think the turtorial lacks quite some important information.

Since i play mostly zerg i will only point out some zerg focused information i would like to be added to the turtorial.
Here is a list:

*Spine-Crawler: The spine crawler has a greater attack range then any other defensive structure (terran bunker, protoss cannon) and therefor can be used to hold off early bunker or cannon rush tactics quite well.

*Zerg can use nydus networks to either attack an enemies base directly or to connect their own expansions to quickly move your troops from one point to another to defend yourself.

*Zerg have very bad anti-air in the early game, for this reason the spawning of additional queens is adviced to protect from early air harrassment.

*Terran and protoss forces cannot build on creep, therefor creep tumors and overlords can be used to block expansions from your enemies. (if they are not zergs themselfs)

*A hatchery still has a maximum of 19 larvae, no matter how many injects you use.

I just think some of these things are really useful to know for beginners.


Starcraft II Moderator
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I like the idea. From here on, this tutorial is open source for input. Or in other words, if you have to add something, do so in a comment here. I will add it under the "Extras" section. ^_^


Starcraft 2 Editor Moderator
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*Spine-Crawler: The spine crawler has a greater attack range then any other defensive structure (terran bunker, protoss cannon) and therefor can be used to hold off early bunker or cannon rush tactics quite well.

This should not be added since it's false information. Spine crawler has the same range as the photon cannon(7) and if there's a marauder or a ghost in the bunker(not marine) they have the same range as well.

Bunker adds +1 to range so marauders and ghosts with 6 range will get 7. Marines only have 5 however.


2D-Graphics enthusiast
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I bet i am not as expirienced as you are but i could swear i remember a game where my spine crawler destroyed a photon cannon of a cannon rushing protoss without him shooting back. (the spine was not on the high ground of course)
but i might be wrong. its okay.
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