StarCraft II Strategies for Veterans
Moving up in the ranked matches and having problems? Here's a few extra tips to step up your game.
Playing Terran? Block off your ramp. The Terran Marine loses to the Zergling and the Zealot in close-quarters combat, so if your opponent is playing as a Zerg or Protoss commander, you should use your buildings to block off the main entrance to your base.
Two Supply Depots and a Barracks should do fine, though using two Barracks makes for more Baneling-resistant wall. Be careful, though: You don't want your Marines to spawn outside the wall, or they'll get butchered; so set the Rally Point for the Barracks to a spot inside the wall, and they'll be fine. When you want to open the wall, just select the Supply Depot and click Lower.
Take advantage of Control groups. Managing a large army is a pain. You can assign separate keyboard shortcuts to frequently used units and buildings. Just select the unit or building and press Ctrl + any number you want to assign to it, and thereafter you'll be able to select the desired unit or building simply by pressing that number key. This arrangement is very useful when you want to build units without scrolling all the way back to your base, or when you want to issue different orders to different units.
Build more supply depots. Any time you spend waiting for completion of a Supply Depot so you can build more units is time that your opponent is spending building more units. To avoid this kind of downtime disadvantage, build another Supply Depot whenever you get close (within 4 food or so) to hitting your supply cap, .
Build more Barracks/Gateways/Hatcheries. The more unit-production buildings you have, the faster you can rebuild your army. And they typically don't cost much, either--a Zealot costs 100 minerals, and a Gateway costs 150.
Use the back door. Your guys will get killed entering the enemy base from the front. Each race has its own way of getting around blockades, and each map has its own surprise entrances and back-doors. Learn them, use them, love them.
Attack enemy workers. You don't have to challenge your opponent's army head-on. Harass the worker line, and your opponent will have a much harder time rebuilding the army or researching better tech--and you can catch the army out of position when it comes back to defend.
Start every game with 'gl hf' (Good Luck, Have Fun), and end every game with 'gg' (Good Game). This is a sign of StarCraft sportsmanship. No matter how crushing the defeat or how glorious the victory, you should do it.
Learn the Lingo
Die-hard StarCraft players have a few phrases that you'll need to know if you want to get better.
Micro is short for Micromanagement--your ability to issue detailed orders to your units during combat. The better you are at micromanaging your units, the more mileage you'll get out of each individual unit in your army.
Macro stands for Macromanagement--your capacity to maintain a thriving economy, establish expansion bases, and rebuild your army. Both micro and macro skills are crucial, but beginner players should focus more on their macro skills first.
Build Order is a player's beginning game plan, similar to an opening in chess. Different build orders lend themselves to different strategies. Zerg players, for example, often like to invest in their economy early on by quickly building a second Hatchery; but if they're worried about an early rush, they might instead spend the money on more Zerglings or Roaches.
APM stands for Actions Per Minute--a measurement of how quickly you order your army around. Though having a high APM is great, giving the right orders is more important than giving lots of orders.
StarCraft II Required Reading
Hungry for more tips? Here's where you can go to become a pro.
Blizzard's own Battle.net forums are a good place to start--a solid mix of newbies and veterans hang out there to ask and answer questions. If you're looking for people with a stronger competitive streak (and plenty of free time), however, drop by the Team Liquid home page and forums for a chance to chat with bona fide professional players, or read their Liquipedia II wiki for plenty of information on competitive StarCraft.
Visual learners, on the other hand, would do well to subscribe to HuskyStarCraft and HDStarCraft on YouTube. Not only do they regularly broadcast (and provide commentary for) matches between professional StarCraft II players, but they occasionally produce tutorial videos, as well.
If you're looking for a StarCraft II coach, Sean "Day" Plott is about as close as you can get; in his Day Daily online series, he systematically dissects and explains StarCraft II replays with the patience and detail of your favorite college professor. He doesn't focus exclusively on the pros, either--check the archive for episodes devoted to debugging lower-level play as well.
Feel free to post your strategies and questions in the comments!