Starcraft 2 APM
Starcraft 2 Strategy Guide --> Starcraft 2 APM (you are here)
Note: This is part two of a two-part
article. Beginners should see the Starcraft 2 Actions per Minute guide for tips on improving
When you are playing in online play, by the time you get to the Gold League, most players are using most of the
hot keys and at least some unit groups. To differentiate yourself and further improve your APM, you will have to
learn some new skills.
Starcraft 2 APM - Intermediate Guide
I think that once you master unit groups and basic hotkeys, you can then save the most time by improving the way
you navigate the map via navigation hotkeys, rally points, and building groups.
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Navigation hotkeys are just as the name states - hotkeys which allow the player to improve the way he navigates
around the map. Dragging the mouse or clicking the mini-map is not always the fastest way to get around. Here are
some important ones:
Spacebar - Whenever an event happens, such as a new unit has been produced, research has
completed, a building has been constructed, or your forces attacked, you can hit the spacebar to instantly move
your screen to that location.
Shift and CTRL - when selecting units, hitting the CTRL key and then clicking a unit
selects all units in the area. Hitting the shift key and then clicking a unit adds that single unit to your
currently selected units. Holding down both and clicking a unit adds all the units of that type in that area to
your currently selected units. This is useful when adding new units to unit groups.
Pressing any unit group twice - If you have units bound to a number, you can hit that
number twice (quickly) and your screen will automatically move to that unit group. Very helpful for moving the
camera between your base and your army.
F1 - This automatically selects worker units that are currently inactive. You can even hit
CTRL + F1 to select all inactive workers.
While even newbie players use rally points, I do not think that most of them use them correctly as to boost APM
and improve their level of play. Here are the best ways to use rally points:
Harvesters - Any good player knows that you can rally harvesters to mineral or gas nodes. This
way, when they come out of the Nexus, they automatically start harvesting. This gives you the freedom to start
producing a harvester and then focusing your attention on other parts of the game.
Troops - Rallying troops can be used to make units automatically guard expansions when
they are produced as well as simply move units out of a cluttered base. If you are training units in a Barracks
that is part of a wall, you can rally your units behind the wall to ensure that units come out the back side of the
Barracks rather than on the bad side of the wall.
Note that troops which are rallying will not attack. Be sure to turn off rallying if you are currently under
attack and waiting for a unit to come out.
Building groups refers to the practice of binding your major buildings to unit groups. You should bind any
unit-producing building to your unit groups. This can boost your Starcraft 2 APM significantly. Here are the
buildings you want to bind to groups:
Main Base - You can bind your Nexus, Command Center, or Hatchery to unit groups. Set the rally
point for harvesters to the mineral nodes when you are on offensive.
This way, you can continue to train harvesters while you are harassing the enemy, without even looking
at your base! Simply hit the number that the Command Center is bound to, hit "S" for SCV, and when the
rally is set, that SCV will automatically start harvesting minerals. You can do this all while not looking at your
base and harassing the enemy with Reapers!
Another great tip is that you can then hit this hotkey twice in order to move the camera back to your base
Unit Producing Buildings - Binding Warp Gates, Barracks, and other buildings to hotkeys is also
a good idea. This way, if you are attacking the enemy, you can train units without looking at your base. You can
set the rally point to the front line so the units automatically come up and join you in battle as well.
Binding Warp Gates in particular is key, because you can drop a Pylon near the enemy's base, then warp in units
very quickly to this Pylon and send them in.
If you are currently not using these two strategies and are moving the camera back to your base to train workers
and units, learning how to use these two methods will save you immense amounts of time.
Starcraft 2 APM - Advanced Guide
The advanced guide is not nearly long as the previous two guides. Really, once you have mastered all of the
previous steps, the only thing left to do is to string multiple actions together.
Once you are at the level mentioned up to the intermediate guide, you should have all the tools you need to rank
into the Diamond league. However, if you really want to reach the upper echelons of online play, you will need to
master one more thing: the shift key. APMs of 200+ are all achieved thanks to this key.
Whenever you hold the shift key, you can make a unit execute multiple future actions. As an
example, if you only have 2 Sentries with full energy and you need to make a lot of Force Fields, hold down the
shift key and click where you want your fields. This will quickly ensure the units place the shields so you do not
have to babysit them as they place the shields and you can move on to controlling other units.
Another important thing is the shift key does is allows you to control your units' actions to a very precise
degree. If you do not want to move your units in a straight line, you can hold down shift and click many times,
very short distances apart and draw a curved line in order to give your units a curved or circular movement path.
This can be very useful when kiting.
There is no limit to the application of the shift key. For example, lets say you are a Terran player going up
against a balanced Protoss army, complete with a few Colossi and High Templar. You have a Infantry, Ghosts, and a
There are a lot of dangerous targets for the Terran player in this battle that need to be neutralized. Without
the shift key, hotkeys, and unit groups, this is impossible. First off, you can take your Ghosts and drop down EMP
on as many High Templar and Sentries as you can hit, completely neutralizing them. You can also do some serious
damage to shields by holding down shift and spray the entire Protoss army with EMP.
Next, you can grab your Vikings, hold down shift, then right-click each Colossi. This ensures that the Vikings
quickly and efficiently take down all the Colossi.
If this fight was down without hotkeys, the Protoss army would easily win; all units could be set to attack and
the Colossi plus a few Psionic Storms would melt an Infantry army. With shift and hotkeys, well-timed EMPs and
Viking focus-fire shifts the balance of battle.
Starcraft 2 APM is something that does take practice to master, but I feel that if you take the time it can be
learned faster than by simple mindless practice.
First off, be sure to master hotkeys and unit groups. Once you have that down, start moving around the map with
the keyboard rather than the mouse. Next, start training units when looking at the battlefield rather than your
Once you have all the basics down, start stringing various movements together with the shift key in order to
execute complex strategies. You will need to know all the hotkeys and master unit groups before using this method
If you can practice enough to execute those actions, your Starcraft 2 APM will skyrocket and you will win a lot
Are you still struggling to get into the Diamond
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