Home > Starcraft II > Starcraft II Basics: Scouting

Starcraft II Basics: Scouting

Scouting is one of the most important things to do during a Starcraft II map. If you do not know what your opponent is making, it will inevitably leading to nasty surprises. This article will cover several of the basics, including timing. Protection against scouting will be dealt with in another post.

Scouting is sending one of your units over to the opponent’s base / point of interest (like expansion spots) to find out what kind of units and buildings your opponents currently has and to get an idea of what he is planning. If you do not know where your opponent’s main base is, then that is the first priority of scouting. The distance between bases both on the ground and through the air is often an important factor of what will be built.


When to scout remains one of the most difficult things to learn for beginning players. Looking at your opponent’s base all the time may seem like a good idea, but by doing that, you are actually wasting resources. E.g. a Terran player using all energy of the Orbital Command to scout is not gaining minerals through M.U.L.Es.

The question to ask yourself is: Will information about my opponent impact the decision I am about to make?

For example: If your plan is to always build two Barracks and get one Extractor first whatever you opponent is doing, then you do not need any information from him up to that point.

For example: If your plan is to go all-in then you will probably not have to resources to do extensive scouting (you do need to know where your opponent is located), so scouting at this point will actually delay your attack.

For example: Can I safely expand now? depends on if your opponent has strike force ready to attack you.

For example: (As Protoss vs Terran) should I sacrifice economy to build a fast Stalker? depends on if your opponent is making fast Reapers.

There are many, many decisions to be made during an SCII match, so it is important to get as much information during a single scouting run to cover more than one decision. Learning that is a matter of experience.

Race specific

Every race has its own scouting methods. Basic workers are a good choice in many cases, although specialized units can be much more effective at it. However, scouting with those will automatically give your opponent a clue about some of your tech: e.g. do not scout with a Banshee if you are planning on using it to do a mineral line attack.


SCV’s make excellent scouts during the early game. Once the Orbital Command is up, it can be used for 50 energy. Note, however, that 50 energy could also be used on gaining minerals through M.U.L.Es. Fast air units like the Viking and Banshees (with and without) cloak are excellent choices as well. Personally, I like scouting with a Raven, because it can do some pretty safe harass with autoturrets as well. Reapers make fast and mobile scouts that can do massive damage to workers as well.


Probes are good scouts, but the Observer is the true scout of the Protoss. It is difficult to stop as it is permanently cloaked. Phoenixes work as well. If you are investing in Sentries, the hallucination of a Phoenix can also be used as a cost-free scout.


Zerg drones are good scouts, but they are soon overtaken by the cheaper Zerglings Speedlings can run through the smallest openings to get a total view of a base. They can also be buried at expansions to see if your opponent is building there. The Overlords make good early game scouts, but they are very slow without speed upgrade and thus vulnerable to early ranged units. A single Marine can take out a badly positioned Overlord and that will invariably lead to a supply problems. Later in the game speedy Overlords can do suicide flights. Overseers make excellent scouts as well. They can also drop the Changeling, but that will often be spotted.

Categories: Starcraft II Tags: , , ,
  1. June 5, 2010 at 1:29 am

    Cool, thanks!

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