[SC2 Q&A] How To Micro and Macro At The Same Time

Hey guys! Hope you've had a great weekend and if you play WoW, how's Cataclysm going so far?

Today's question comes from Victor about Terran micro/macro:


"I’m a Brazilian #1 on my 1v1 platinum and average 2v2 3v3 4v4 diamond player.
The big question: I have pretty decent openings and I usually make the right choices, however I find myself falling behind on micro..

For instance, let’s say the zerg player fast expands, and I see it, so I make a push with 5 marines and one hellion, which does f*k them up early, because instead of drones they have to make lings, who then get roasted by hellions while I expand and make a bunker on my exp…

However, when the little “attack” is finished, I’ve had summed up to 1500 minerals.. I just can’t seem to do it… You might say “just work on multitasking, making production facilities, etc”… but HOW DO I WORK EXACTLY ON THAT?? like, what do I have to do not to get so carried away in the action?"

My Answer:

This is a great question!

You are definitely not alone, I struggle with the same thing a lot of the time. Getting so caught up in the battle and forgetting to macro is a very common problem. Here's a couple ideas to help you work on this:

#1: Evaluate Your Results

The next time this happens to you, go back and watch the replay. Put it on slow mode and hang around your base while your small army is being microed. It will give you a pretty good perspective about what's going on in the game as a whole.

Here's what to look for: Was it worth microing and killing 4 extra Zerglings when you could have been macroing and produced 10 Marines, 2 Tanks, and SCVs?

If you look closely at the reality of the gains you make microing versus what you could have done just macroing it will help see which is the higher priority. Sure you may hamper his economy a little bit, but you also hurt your own, so is it worth it?

#2: Hit and Run

After you get your mindset changed a bit you'll start to value good macro over good micro. When you're caught up in a micro battle, train yourself to glance at your mineral count to see if it's getting high.

If it is, retreat your army into the enemy's fog of war and do some macro. Then head back in and continue your attack. With practice you'll be able to see opportunities while you're microing where you can fit in some quick macro.

Just try to keep it always at the top of your mind. Am I Macroing? Am I Macroing? Kite that zergling..Am I Macroing?

Another great thing about doing this is that you keep the threat against your opponent alive. If you have a small army right outside his base he will be forced to make Zerglings instead of Drones to defend.

#3: Use Hotkeys!

If you aren't using hotkeys for almost every action you take then you need to get used to them A.S.A.P! Figure out a key set that you are comfortable with and use them every game.

Before you train a unit or make a building, mouse over to see the hotkeys, then take your mouse off and build/train with the hotkey only. This will help you learn them quick.

To get good with your hotkeys it takes a lot of practice! The high APM that you see Pro's have is a result of a well-practiced hotkey set up. They know what they need to do, and they know how to do it fast using their hotkeys.

So right now decide on a hotkey set up that you like and practice it every game. Here's my setup:

  1. Command Centers
  2. Scout/Spellcasting combat units
  3. Main army
  4. Air units
  5. Barracks
  6. Factories
  7. Starports

I should get in the habit of putting my Armory and Engineering Bays on hotkeys too, but hey nobody's perfect!

By having a setup like this I can quickly make units when I'm focusing on a micro battle. If I see my resource count getting high, I can hit 1,s,s,5,a,a,d,6,e,7,d. Assuming I had the resources, this would allow me to create 2 SCVs, 2 Marines, 1 Marauder, 1 Hellion, and 1 Medivac without ever taking my screen off of my army.

The real trick is practicing enough to know what unit you need to create and not queueing any up =)

I wrote another article awhile back about learning Terran hotkeys that you may want to read over as well.


Be sure to get yourself to understand that macro truly is more important than micro. Micro looks cool and can definitely help you win games, but when it's at the expense of your macro it usually puts you behind.

Use hit and run tactics to do a little damage and keep the pressure up, then back off and do some macro to keep your economy advantage.

And finally practice your hotkeys so you can make units fast without ever looking at your base.

Hope these tips help out!

Let me know what other struggles you have or how you've overcome these issues in the comments below!

If you enjoyed this article, then I know you'll learn more great tips & tricks from my Starcraft 2 Macro GuideDownload it now to learn more about the most important skill in Starcraft 2 - Click here to download

Related posts:

  1. Starcraft 2 Micro – Basic Terran Infantry Micro Tips
  • Vadimir

    Hi unnamed Brazilian player,

    Aside from the good advice already given consider some of these options:

    1. You’re playing Terran, so you can queue units or probes and chrono boosting them right before hitting his expansion. Maybe not as optimal as just traning one at a time, but maybe easier to do than Taerix’s Just in Time philosophy. Though, it’s probably preferable to stockpiling minerals and gas.

    2. Put down those building before you engage: if your harass works you’ve “earned” those buildings. If your attack fails miserably and you know early on: cancel buildings if you need the money to pump out more marines or hellions.

    3. Add to Taerix’s advice for changing your mindset the following: whenever you do a push, have a plan for a follow up, otherwise it’s a bit of an all-in. Y’know: what if he defends against your push? What have you got then? The answer should be: an expansion, a new tech, protection during transition or a follow up with another push using, say, a different mix of units, or something else entirely.

    4. Another small thing which is kinda an extension of evaluating your results: just because you’re doing a harass push doesn’t mean you should chase his poor drones all over the map as that valuable time could have been spent better elsewhere. So, from that principle: go in, do your worst in the shortest time possible, then pull back, macro a bit, harass again. That will still force him to produce lings instead of drones.

    • Taerix

      Hey Vadimir thanks for your thoughts. Thinking ahead in the game and preparing is definitely key to winning games of SC 2. On #1 you’ve definitely got a point that queuing units is easier, I do it too when I’m under pressure. But in general it’s just good to stay out of that habit and train yourself to keep 1 units going at a time.

      Good advice, thanks for contributing!

  • Vadimir

    I just did just *not* use the term chrono boosting to a Terran players, did I? Oops, sorry for the slip up :) Oh no, I said probes too. Anyway, you probably get the point.

  • victor

    great advice…

    i started to put that into practice, it’s quite hard actually… it’s really nice to focus fire those units that are low health -.- then get 1000 minerals hahaha

  • PragmaOnce

    I’m getting better at macro what gets me is having to go home to create supply lol