LEARN: StarCraft II – Mechanics and Hotkeys

Perhaps what separates StarCraft II from most other games is the player’s ability to perform multiple actions in a short period of time to paint a picture on the battlefield. The objective is to control bases and armies with the least amount of effort possible, but it’s not exactly an easy task since

I am currently a high silver player, which says a lot about my lack of skill in the game. I do use hotkeys and I do my best with my macro, but it’s still not enough. My understanding of build orders is rudimentary at best and my fundamentals are shoddy. Perhaps fixing my mechanics will enable me to get marginally better at this game and perhaps get promoted to gold league.

Different Hotkey Layouts

First off, there’s the classic hotkey setup that I got used to from Brood War, but with changes like Pylons being E instead of P to make things easier. Then there’s the grid layout that coordinates everything on the action box to the first five letter keys on the left side of each row, so that’s QWERT ASDFG ZXCVB. I didn’t go with this since I found it quite weird to use the R key for attack-moving.

Learning Advanced Hotkeys

There are tricks like this one featured in the video below, posted by HDstarcraft, that can help players optimize whatever they’re doing, like injecting larva for Zerg. I’m not a Zerg player at the moment, but I did learn about changing base cameras through this video, so I allocated the Alt key for the base camera to switch between bases quickly.

Then perhaps the best video to watch for beginners is this tutorial by Artosis, explaining his way of thinking when it comes to hotkeys.

The Core

After watching that video, I’ve then researched more on optimizing my hotkeys and found The Core by JaKaTaK, which looked to be quite extreme. It has a whole system for whichever hand is dominant and for whatever orientation you prefer. Suffice to say, it’s quite complicated and takes a lot of practice to get used to, but it does help you use the whole keyboard effectively once you’ve learned it.

Unfortunately, I’m not ready for that kind of commitment.


In the end, I just moved whatever is at the far end of the keyboard to the left side for easy access, like the hotkey for Immortal from I to S. I’ve also changed other hotkeys for upgrades, so they’re always ASDF in sequence. My current setup is working out pretty well for me so far and I’m now looking at other areas in which I can improve.

Maybe in the future, I’ll actually change my hotkey setup around once I get better at the game.