The Beginner’s Guide to Starcraft 2 Part IV: The Economy


No, I’m not talking about the stock exchange. And don’t worry, the basics of Starcraft economy is really simple. The objective of a game of Starcraft 2 is to destroy all your opponent’s buildings. In order to do this, you need an army and in order to produce an army, you need to pay for each individual unit, production building and upgrade that you’re going to need.

There are two resources in Starcraft 2: minerals and vespene gas. Minerals are the more common of the two and is available in higher quantities. Because of this, mineral costs of your production is generally higher than its gas costs. Vespene gas is the more specialized resource. It’s only available for gathering after a Refinery (or Protoss and Zerg racial equivalent) is constructed on a Vespene geyser. At the start of every Starcraft 2 match, you will spawn on the map with direct access to two Vespene geysers and 8 mineral patches. Each patch and geyser has a finite amount of resources before they run out.


Each mineral patch can hold a maximum number of 3 workers. A mineral line with 8 mineral patches can therefore hold a maximum of 24 at which point it becomes saturated. Vespene geysers, like an individual mineral patch, can be harvested by up to a maximum of 3 workers before it becomes saturated. Being saturated means that any additional worker added into a saturated mineral patch will not increase the rate that you gather minerals. You can quickly glance at the number of workers you have at a mineral line through the worker count icon on your Command Center.

Screenshot2015-08-16 20_21_10

It’s interesting to point too, that above 16 workers, each worker you add offers a diminishing return on your resource income. For maximum efficiency, I suggest having 18-19 workers on minerals excluding the 6 from the 2 gas geysers.


Since you can no longer increase the rate of resources you gather if your main base is already saturated, it’s often a good idea to expand. Expanding simply means building another Command Center at another mineral line. Often, you’ll have another mineral line close-by, called the natural expansion or simply the natural, an easily defensible position to expand to. Of course, expanding is a risk and if your opponent sees you expanding, he might try to attack so prepare accordingly. Expanding is also a generally good idea once you start running out of resources.

Keep your income high…

In order to support a growing army, keeping your income as high as possible will be key. This means constant worker production until you have full saturation. As beginners, this would simply mean putting your worker production above everything else. If you’re over-saturated (meaning you go above 24 workers mining a mineral line), instead of stopping worker production, expand and build another base for your workers. If there is one tip I’d give to beginners, it’s to never stop building workers.

…while keeping your resources low

All the resources in the world will be pretty useless if you don’t use it. Starcraft 2 has no place for thrift! Keep your pooled resources low. I’d recommend trying to keep your resources below 100. If you’re having trouble spending, build more production buildings.

Quick summary and tips

  • Never stop building workers. Make constant worker production a priority.
  • The maximum number of workers in a base is 30 (24 in minerals, 6 in gas).
  • My suggested number of workers per base is 25 (19 in minerals, 6 in gas) due to the diminishing return on worker harvest beyond 16 workers in a mineral line.
  • If you’re starting to saturate a mineral line, expand.
  • Keep your income low. The best income in the world would mean nothing if you cannot translate it into production. If you’re having trouble keeping your income low, do not stop worker production. Instead, build more production buildings.
  • If you manage to get inside your opponent’s base, the best targets you can go for is usually their workers. Remember less workers for them means less income and less income means less production.
Over saturation leads to workers bouncing around wasting their mining time, and actually hurting your economy.

Over saturation leads to workers bouncing around wasting their mining time, and actually hurting your economy.

Beginner Goals (Bronze to Silver)

  • Try to get to two-base saturation as fast as possible.
  • Keep your resource pool below 100 minerals and 100 gas.
  • Once you can easily keep your resource pool below 100 on two bases, go up to three.

Next up: Unit Types and Counters


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