Dominate Your Next

These strategies will help make you an unstoppable force on

Want to become a legend in the Starcraft 2 "Desert Strike" custom map? These fairly simple Terran strategies will leave your enemies scratching their heads as your victories quickly begin adding up.

For those who don't know, Desert Strike is a custom multi-player map available on Blizzard's online It's considered a "Tug Of War" game, meaning your team makes troops while the other team makes troops, and both teams continuously clash in the middle. The overall goal is to push the other team back to their nexus, and then to destroy it.

You do this by constructing buildings on your own non-battlefield building ground. Every building you erect will produce troops each time your turn comes around, so your "waves" will naturally become bigger and bigger as the game progresses. You pay for these buildings with minerals; which are given to you every second. Your initial income is 10 minerals per second, but by building gas refineries/extractors you can increase that income dramatically. With six (the maximum) refineries, your income is roughly 50 minerals per second (but don't quote me on the exact number...).

"Gassing" - or the process of building a vespene refinery - is a very important part of the game. Each refinery costs 800 minerals, and temporarily freezes your income, so timing the construction of these is very important. The more refineries you have, the longer this freeze period lasts - they get longer in increments of 30 seconds each. I should mention that the last three geysers are only accessible after round 41.

And there's one other variable I'd like to mention: The game length. At the beginning of the game, all players get to vote on the number of "rounds," ranging from Expert (60 rounds) to Epic (80 rounds). If neither team has won by the end of the rounds, all six players will meet in the middle for a slug fest "sudden death" match.

Okay, let's get to the strategies:

Terran Rush Strategy

The Terran race has a huge advantage over the other two races early in the game: Firebats. You make them by first building a barracks (which creates two marines) then adding on the appropriate expansion. The barracks costs 270 minerals, as does the expansion, which gives you two firebats and two marines for a mere 540. Considering firebats wreck havoc on any other light units, this is your key to an early push. Since the other team will only be able to build light units, they'll roast under your firebats' flame throwers while the marines chew them up from behind. This is especially true for Zerg - even a large group of zerglings is quickly destroyed by just two firebats and marines.

So this should be your first build: A barracks with a firebat upgrade. I'd keep the pressure up with at least two more of the exact same buildings before building your first vespene refinery (don't fall for the common trap of gassing first, it's a great way to get behind early - especially if your silo is destroyed as a result... it's a very "noob" mistake).

If you're playing a brief/expert/short battle, I'd keep the pressure on and not build your first refinery until you've destroyed the enemy silo and collected the 1,000 mineral bonus (use that as your refinery money). Of course that's dependent on good partners who are on the same page. Honestly, if they aren't pushing and instead decide to gas, you probably won't be able to lead the charge alone, and it might be worth your time to gas up yourself...

Regardless, I always start out with at least three or four barracks worth of firebat upgrades. If you're pushing but can't quite destroy the silo by this point, build one or two reapers, as they have a power up that makes short work of buildings/structures. Just make sure to "lower" these buildings, otherwise they'll cruise way ahead of the rest of your wave and get eaten alive by the advancing enemy. I usually try to avoid reapers all together, as they really aren't very strong against enemy forces and are specialized only for destroying buildings. If you can justify not using them, then don't make them.

My next step is a barracks with a marauder upgrade. Marauders are tough as nails, have a decent range for light units and do some serious damage. The sooner you can get a decent army of these guys, the better....

By now your opponent is either massing light units or starting to develop heavier tech units. If he's massing, I'd put up a factory and then save for the 800 minerals for a Diamondback upgrade. The rail guns on those vehicles does mega damage to light units, and the armor makes them last a long time, especially against the lighter damage of early units. If my opponent is massing, I alternate between building marauder barracks and diamondback factories, always keeping a watchful eye on the cool down timer to build my next gas refinery. I usually don't build anymore than the initial firebats unless my opponent seems fixated on zealots or zerglings, as the flamethrowers will cut both these units down fast, but anything with "range" will quickly chop the firebats down before they even get close.

If your opponent is beginning to roll some bigger tech units, I'd focus my efforts almost exclusively on marauders, as a handful of them will shred one or two big units. For added help I'd build one or two medics to prolong the life of my army.

If you notice your opponent using cloaked units, you better build a blimp to see them! It's an upgrade at the command center and costs 600 minerals (or maybe 650, I can't remember exactly). If I'm way ahead in a game I'll often build a blimp before it's needed, rather than letting one sneaky unit damage the heck out of an entire wave. But otherwise I'll wait until he or she gives me a reason to build one.

Speaking of which, if you're playing against a Protoss opponent, Ghosts are your best friend. At 900 they aren't cheap, but they are invisible (which is a nice bonus, provided they don't have an observer) and their shells completely drain Protoss shields. Most 'Toss will build at least one archon, which has very low life but high shields, so one shot from the ghost will nearly kill it! Even though ghosts are much more popular in non-rush games, I think they are still worth buying early.

If you've been busting out the troops in this fashion, and your team mates are on the same page, you should have made a pretty good push past their silo, destroyed their silo monster and maybe even destroyed their defense canons. Best case scenario you actually win by pushing, but a more likely scenario is that you force them to use their precious booms early in the game.

Chances are, you'll probably need to switch over to a Tech Strategy mid game (but that's okay, because you've built a very big "meat shield" right from the start). With plenty of "meat," it's okay to start saving up for the big artillery: Tanks! Siege tanks are probably the best ground units in the entire game, especially with a full army of units in front of them keeping the fire away. If you and your team mates can make the tanks start stacking, you might as well count it as a victory.

Terran Wraith Strategy

Wraiths, as you probably know, are cloaked units. And although they deal light damage, the fact that they can disappear if your enemy loses his eyes is a huge advantage. If you can get a big ball of wraiths rolling, there isn't much to stop you from really causing some problems, especially considering the wraiths will target detectors very early.

The downside is that these are quickly destroyed and they charge ahead of the rest of your army. So if they fly head-on to an incoming wave, they will likely get knocked out of the sky very fast. But if your team is pushing hard, so that your team mate still has units on the map when you spawn, those units should keep the others tied up just enough for the wraiths to take down the detectors and start raining hell down from the sky.

Keep in mind that it's going to take a whole lot of wraiths to really make this strategy work. But at 550 minerals each, they aren't very expensive, so it's worth a shot if you see that your opponent doesn't have much in the way of anti-air units.

(Note that advanced players will easily counter a wraith spam with a myriad of air "decoys" and plenty of anti-air units. So if you can't get a push within a couple of waves, it might be worth abandoning this strategy for something new.)

(Also note that wraiths pretty much suck in sudden death, so don't rely on this strategy for a long-haul game. If you want to "blitz" to win early, go for it. But don't expect all those wraiths to last more than 20 seconds into sudden death).

Terran Tank + Marauder + Thor Strategy

This is probably the most well-rounded strategy of all races in the Desert Strike map. The marines and marauders make a tough meat shield in front of the the tanks and thors, which will blast enemy lines to oblivion. And the marines and thors will take out any enemy aircraft within range, keeping them clear of the precious tanks.

Personally, I like to throw in a few Spartans as well, because they provide additional ground-to-air cover from pretty much anything. And if the other guys start stacking their air, I'll put up some starports with the point defense drone add ons... they really confuse the heck out of opposing anti air units, especially in mass.

If the enemy's air forces become overwhelming, throw up a squadron or two of air vikings. Unlike other Terran aircraft, these sit back behind the front line (out of the immediate line of fire) and deliver punishing anti-air attacks. In combination with the Thors, Spartans - and to a lesser extent, the marines - you should have a die-hard army that is capable of whipping the pants off darn near any player on the

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