Scouting in Starcraft 2
Starcraft 2 Strategy Guide --> Scouting in Starcraft 2 (you are here)
One of the most important concepts in Starcraft 2 is scouting. If you do
not scout or do not know what you are looking for, odds are you will not win many games. There is a reason
scouting is the first topic in my 6-part e-mail course (that you can sign up for on the left side of your
What to look for when Scouting
Scouting is used to determine your enemy's game plan. Your enemy might be going for a rush, an early push, an
air rush, fast tech, or an early expansion. All of these things can be detected by scouting.
When to Scout
The standard method for scouting as Protoss is to send the Probe that builds your first pylon of to scout.
Terran players generally send their 9th SCV, right after it finishes the first supply depot, and the safe play for
Zerg is to scout with the 10th Drone.
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What to Look For vs Terran
When playing against Terran players, the most important thing you are looking for is what their second
unit-producing building is. All Terran players will build a Barracks - a single Barracks alone tells you
If their next move is to make a second Barracks, you know you will be seeing Infantry (and likely very soon!).
If the Terran player was not interested in making Marines, Marauders, or Reapers, he would not build 2
If you see a Factory next, you know you are safe from attack (at least for the time being). The earliest attack
that might happen in this situation is a Hellion push (if you are Zerg), so you have time to tech up yourself or
expand whenever you see this play.
When you see a Factory next though, you do not know exactly what their move is - all that you know is that a
rush is not imminent. You could be up against a 1 Barracks / 1 Factory / 1 Starport play, or they could throw down
a second Starport or a second Factory.
As a result, if the Factory is their second building, you want to get another look to see what goes down as
their third building. If it is a second Factory, mech is in your near future. If it is a Starport, you can bank on
1/1/1 play 90% of the time, which may be a Thorship or another type of drop.
What to Look For vs Zerg
When you are playing a Zerg player, the key metric is the timing of their Spawning Pool. If it goes down prior
to a supply count of 10, they are rushing. Additionally, one early extractor indicates Speedlings are in your near
future (you only need 1 Extractor to get Metabolic boost).
If it the Spawning Pool goes down from supplies 11-13, odds are they are going for a 1-base build (such as
fast Mutas or a Roach push). One extractor could be Roaches or Speedlings; Mutalisks will always require 2
extractors (due to high vespene requirements). Whenever you see 2 early extractors you know air is in your
If the Spawning Pool goes down at 14, 15, a 16 supply count, the Zerg player is going for a traditional fast
expand build. You can often hurt them badly here with a timed push of Zealots/Stalkers, Roaches, or
What to Look For vs Protoss
When playing against Protoss, your key thing to look for is the second non-pylon building that is warped in. The
first building will almost always be a Gateway. The second building could either be a second Gateway or a
If the second Gateway warps in prior to the Cybernetics Core, you know with 100% certainty that a Zealot rush is
coming very soon (or the enemy is very bad). If the enemy did not want to make Zealots, they would grab a
Cybernetics Core to get access to more units rather than building a second Gateway.
If a Cybernetics Core comes next, you know the player is not going to rush. but you still do not know what they
are planning on making. To figure that out, you need to see what the next few buildings are.
Two Gateways is typical of almost all Protoss builds (aside from mass-air), so a second Gateway does not tell
you much. If you see 3 Gateways, odds are a Zealot/Stalker/Sentry army is in your future.
If you see 2 Gateways and a Robotics Facility, odds are you will face a traditional army of Stalkers, Zealots,
Sentries, and a few Colossi.
As a side note, when playing Protoss players, be sure to check around their base for hidden Starports or
Twilight Councils. If the player is stashing these away out of sight there is a good chance they could
be opting for something sneaky like a Void Ray rush or Dark Templar.
The key to scouting in Starcraft 2 is to look for whatever the player's second move is. Everyone has to get a
Spawning Pool, Gateway, or Barracks. Do not simply go in and look to see their first building. Instead, try to hang
out for awhile and see what they do next.
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