We all want to become Zest: a player with perfect timings, decision making, and really tight builds. We often hear as a solution to our problems on the ladder, “Just copy a pro build! It works at their level, it should work at yours!” That problem we encounter here is that the reality is both me and you are not good enough to make the kind of sacrifices pro players make to get where they are. Is your Probe and Adept micro really good enough to get away with performing Zest’s DT Drop by skipping the Mothership Core and staying on a single Adept until you drop your 3 DT’s? The chances are,t he majority of players do not. And there’s many types of strategies that professional players do not perform as it would not work at their level, but could very well work on yours. So, in this guide I will help you develop your own build order in a productive way that’ll help you both improve your mechanical and strategical skills in Starcraft 2.
Step One: How to Begin
The best place to start is with a simple idea. Here are some examples:
- Drop 4 Adepts as quickly as possible
- Drop 4 Adepts as quickly as possible while remaining safe
- Start the game with aggressive pressure with Stalkers
- 3 Base Blink all-in
These are just some, broad examples of builds or strategies you can think of. I recommend choosing something fun, an idea that you’ve maybe seen in Proleague, GSL, SSL, WCS, in a ladder match, or just something that’s popped in your head and make it your own. Recognize your own strengths in how you play. Are you a cheesy player? Might want to come up with a 1 base all in with units you’re particularly good at micromanaging. Are you a turtley player? Might want to look into a strategy involving skytoss or maybe even something based around Colossus. Identify which types of strategies you feel most comfortable executing, then choose an idea around that. Once you feel comfortable developing builds for these types of strategies, try types of strategies you are not comfortable with. Maybe you’re a very defensive player but want to learn how to play a hyper aggressive style? Once you have a strong understanding of how to develop a build order, you can work towards creating a timing around aggression.
Step Two: Basic Implementation
Play a few games trying to reach your goal in the most efficient way possible. Watch the replays, see where you could have built something sooner, or maybe cut something out and build it later. An example of this was during the Legacy of the Void Beta when we were trying to figure out how to Nexus first. Initially, a lot of Protoss players were building their second Pylon at around 21 or 22 Supply, but we quickly learned that the Natural Nexus, when placed at 17 Supply, finishes building before you are Supply blocked at 23 Supply and gives you that boost, so you can invest that extra 100 Minerals elsewhere.
Step Three: Study How to Lose
The next part is to figure out what can kill you and when. If it’s a PvT build, check out when the fastest time a Widow Mine can be dropped in your base, when proxy Barracks play can hit your base, when a Liberator can siege your mineral line, when 1 or 2 base Marine/Siege Tank pushes can be knocking on your front door. Figure out when in your build you are allowed to scout for these things, and how you can adjust your build to be able to defend. You want to, ideally, have a general build that can defend against the most common of strategies by default, and then develop methods to alter your build as you scout and learn more to better deal with more unique strategies. No one build defends everything without proper scouting and reacting, so identifying the weaknesses of your build and making adjustments is important.
Step Four: Practice!
This one may seem fairly obvious, but for completeness it needs to be mentioned. You need to practice this build, much like any professional builds you’ve done, until you have it down so well your hands perform the build order on their own. A great and efficient way to practice a build order is to choose a map to play on in Custom Games, but instead of clicking Create Game select Create With Mod and search for SALT, which is a mod created by turtles. In this mod, you can use the menu by pressing f10 to restart the game at any time without having to recreate the Lobby so that you can practice your build over and over again. You can even create a Build Order in the mod to have your Build Order displayed on the top left side of the screen so you can make sure you are hitting your timings correctly.
Make sure to take note of when buildings are placed, upgrades are started, and units are produced so you can track your progress of mastery of the build and any final, last minute adjustments.
Professionals may be able to perform their builds to great effects in the GSL, but that does not necessarily mean you have the mechanics to follow them. Creating a tight and strong build that works to your play style that doesn’t take too many risks can be a great way to work on both your mechanics and strategical knowledge and help you become the better player you want to be.