Introductory StarCraft 2: Reading Build Orders

Notes about Introductory StarCraft 2

This is going to be a series of articles to help brand new or mostly new StarCraft players. This is the first article in the series and my goal is to write one every Tuesday until either A) I need to scale back the amount of content I am producing due to school or B) I feel like I have covered a lot of Introductory StarCraft and a new player could easily find most to all of the information required. I will do my best to keep the articles non-version dependent, so they are relevant even for people still playing HotS or WoL.


This article is meant to help brand new players read build orders properly so there is less confusion. For experienced players build orders are straight forward and make sense, but to someone who has never seen or used a build order before there may be parts that are complicated or confusing. Since so much of this site is based around build orders, this is meant to help those people so they can properly use the resources on the rest of the site.


This is the build for the pool first Ravager Ling Queen Timing found here:

Dark’s Ravager Ling Queen Timing ZvT

It contains four main ways of indicating something must be done in a build order as well as notes at the end explaining the end of the build.


For the first few lines and a very common way of indicating something must be done in a build contain a number next to the action that must be performed. This number indicates the supply at which you should complete the action. Unless otherwise stated, the units you should make to reach that supply are drones. What the beginning of this build really says is:

@12 Supply – Drone
@13 Supply – Overlord
@13 Supply – Drone
@14 Supply – Drone
@15 Supply – Drone
@16 Supply – Drone
@17 Supply – Extractor
@16 Supply – Drone
@17 Supply – Spawning Pool
@16 Supply – Drone
@17 Supply – Hatchery

And this is generally how it appear in the build order tab after the game. Next in the build order is:
@100% Pool 1x Queen 2x Lings Metabolic Boost

This means that as soon as your spawning pool completes, you want to make 1 Queen, 2x lings (1 larvae’s worth) and start the metabolic boost upgrade. Whenever you see @100% this means that once something is done building you want to start something new. This is common for structures like evolution chambers to start upgrades as soon as they are complete.

NOTE: This build is not specific on the amount of drones you are making, just what times to make things to complete the timing attack. You want to be building drones as often as possible with overlords as needed. This is because the build is composed mostly of @100% or @X resource or @x:xx time rather than specific supply actions.

The next line in the build notes that @100 Gas you should start the overlord speed upgrade. This is another way of indicating the time for something to happen. It means when you have mined 100 gas, use it to start the upgrade. This can be the same for any mineral or gas requirement in the build. Such as @150 minerals build a Queen. For this, you generally don’t want to be spending the required resource on anything else. This means you shouldn’t use any gas for anything until you have 100 and can start the upgrade, however you can keep making drones because you will have enough minerals for the upgrade.

The final way of indicating an action in a build order is the game clock.

NOTE: The in-game clock as of Legacy of the void is in real time

In the build order you make your third hatchery @3:30 this means that 3 minutes and 30 seconds into the game you want to be making the third hatchery with a drone.

The final notes of the build describe what you want to be doing to start the attack (use drop overlord to bring queens) make as many ravagers as you can and then nonstop zergling production.

This Zergling production stops when either:

A) You have won the game
B) You have dealt significant damage or otherwise must transition out of the build


In general there are a few things that are important to note that most build orders won’t talk about. If the build is mostly comprised of times when you should build things using @100% or @x:xx time, then you need to be building workers in the meantime unless otherwise stated. For timing attacks, builds may state at the end that you want constant production of a certain unit for the attack, while this is true, it may not talk about transitioning after the attack.

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