Starcraft 2 Economy Tips and Strategies

Starcraft 2 Strategy Guide --> Starcraft 2 Economy Tips (you are here)

At a basic level, Starcraft 2 is purely about resource management. The winner of the game is often a combination of who collects the most resources and who uses those resources most efficiently. Of course, there is a lot of blowing things up, missiles flying, and aliens thrown in for good measure, but at the end of the day, it is all about your economy.

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Starcraft 2 Resource Gathering Strategy

The "Most" Resources

A key part of having a good economy is having a big economy. At a basic level, to have a bigger economy than your opponent involves having either having: 1) more harvesters, 2) more expansions, or both.

It is a fairly simplistic way of looking at the game, but the practical applications are significant. If you want to win games of Starcraft 2, your opponent cannot have more expansions than you.

You will lose about 75% of the games where your opponent has more expansions than you do. Perhaps your loss rate will be less if you are great at micro, more if you are poor at micro, or 99% if you are Zerg, but that is beside the point: You are at a significant disadvantage if the enemy is making more money than you.

When faced with the situation where your enemy starts making an expansion (or a second expansion), you either need to 1) make an expansion yourself, 2) attack his expansion, or 3) harass his mineral lines.

Whether you go with option 1, 2, or 3 depends on the game situation. Making an expansion yourself is fairly simple; just make sure you have the units to support it. If your opponent's army is of a similar size than yours, this is a good idea.

Attacking the enemy's expansion requires that you either have some fast moving units or a much larger army. Harassing the enemy is when you have no other option and really need to make something out of nothing. If you can bounce between several expansions with a few air units or drops, you can cause a lot of damage with just a little firepower. This is a great way to get back into a game that you are about to lose.

Maximizing Economy Via Harvesters

You can get an economical advantage over your enemy by building more Drones, Probes, and SCVs, even on the same number of expansions. If you have 25 Drones harvesting at your main base and your enemy only has 18, you have an advantage.

The numbers of harvesters at a base is commonly referred to as saturation. Two harvesters per mineral node and three harvesters per vespene geyser results in no "waste". As saturation increases (up to a max of 3 Drones per mineral node), the amount of waste increases (workers sitting around doing nothing).

For example, having 8 Drones harvesting minerals at a base with 8 mineral patches will give you about 480 minerals a minute, while 16 Drones harvesting minerals would nearly double that, increasing your harvesting rate to about 810 minerals a minute. This is an increase of about 330 minerals per minute. Any Drones added after this are in the saturation zone - they increase harvesting capacity but not as much as the previous drones did. Having a fully saturated base of 24 Drones harvesting minerals only yields about 1000 minerals per minute - an increase of 190 minerals per minute over having 16 Drones.

Having a fully saturated mineral field can be beneficial and can increase your economy. The only downside to this is that more harvesters will drain our your mineral pool sooner. What many players do is build a lot of Drones or Probes for their main (max of 30 - 24 for minerals and 6 for gas), and then pull off 12 (leaving just 12 on minerals) as soon as their first expansion finishes.

This way, you can maximize your main base's production and then reduce saturation as soon you throw up another expansion.

With that said, economy management varies from race to race and also includes how you spend your money.

Economy by Race

Each race is a bit different when it comes to economy. By default, Zerg players need more resources than other races, Terran needs the least, and Protoss players need a moderate amount.

As a general rule, in Terran vs Zerg matches, players are "tied" if the Zerg player has 3 bases (main and the natural expansion) and the Terran player only has two bases. If the Terran player takes and defends his third base, the Zerg player must take a fourth base or they will lose 90% of their matches.

In Protoss vs Zerg matches, the Protoss is slightly ahead if their bases match up (but not overwhelmingly so). A Protoss player is behind if he has one base to the Zerg player's 2 bases, but the match is about even if the Protoss player has 2 bases to the Zerg player's 3 bases.

In Protoss vs Terran matches, Terran players get a bit more out of a single base, so the Protoss player needs to try to get more minerals. However, the Terran player is at a slight disadvantage if the Protoss gets 2 bases to the Terran player's 1 base.

In mirror matches, players want to mirror their enemy's number of expansions (or attack when the enemy tries to expand).

Spending Your Money

The way you spend your money is just as important as how much money you have. You need to opt for spending your resources on units that counter your enemy's to get the most bang for your proverbial buck. See the Starcraft 2 Counters guide for more information.

Aside from building unit counters, you need to protect your units. Do not let your units die recklessly and snipe enemy units whenever possible. Each time you snipe an Overlord, know that you just picked up a 100 mineral lead over your enemy. The bigger the units you can snipe, the better.

Finally, you need to spend frugally. Investing in a new tech tree is an expensive pursuit. Before you go for a Colossus, know that by grabbing a Robotics Bay, your first Colossus will actually cost 900 instead of 500 resources).

That same money could turn into quite a few Zealots and Sentries. You should always be asking yourself: "Is my army and economy big enough to support this new technology/research?". Often times massing T1 and T2 units is what wins games, simply because you have more money to spend on those units when you do not tech up.


If you can keep up with your enemy's economy and waste less resources than him, you will win most of your games, even when your enemy is a better player than you. If you get 1 more expansion than your enemy and combine that with spending your resources well, then you will win nearly all of your games of Starcraft 2.

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