Cheese in Starcraft 2 doesn’t refer to the dairy product. It refers to cheesy builds designed to be easy to execute yet hard to defend against. They are builds that are used to net easy wins. Cheese builds are gambles and if they get defended, you are generally in serious trouble. An example of cheese is the infamous Protoss Cannon Rush.
Types of Cheese
The definition of cheese has been wildly been debated. Some argue that the true cheeses are only builds which are extremely risky and puts you significantly behind if it fails. Things such as the infamous 6-pool and the bunker rushes usually falls into this scope.
Cannon rushes should belong to cheese under this definition but it’s a well known fact that failing a cannon rush is not as debilitating as it should be. Yes you would be behind if an opponent defends it, but you are definitely still in the game. For this reason, I simply use cheese throughout this post as a general term that includes
Aggression refers to timing attack builds. Timing attacks are attacks that happen once a crucial upgrade finishes (such as Stim). Aggression does not usually put you behind as much as a cheese build should. True enough, most aggressive builds expand behind them in order to keep up with macro.
All-ins are similar to aggressive builds with the slight difference in that there usually is no back-up plan. It’s all or nothing, hence the name. All-ins are more powerful than simple aggressive builds because the build revolves on one single attack. While it’s still possible to continue after failing an all-in, it’s often very difficult and requires you to do enough damage to your opponent to put your economies at least on equal footing.
Cheese are the true cheese builds. These are all or nothing, period. If you don’t do enough damage, you’re dead. Things like 10-pool Baneling or 8/8/8 Reaper Rush I consider as cheese builds.
It’s important to note that there is a lot of overlap among these three and it’s very difficult to firmly categorize a build because of it.
As a beginner, you have no doubt been told that you should only focus on your macro. Even the earlier parts of this guide advocates focusing on building workers and increasing income while keeping resources low through constant production. There’s a reason for that. Cheese builds are just fishing for wins, without focusing on improvement.
Throughout the community, the prevalent mentality in teaching beginners is that you never teach them cheese. Some people think that beginners will have a false sense of improvement as their wins pile up and as they move up in ranks and leagues by cheesing. When they get to the point where cheese no longer works, they will have so much stuff to catch up on.
Should beginners learn cheese?
When it all comes down to it, winning is fun. Why else would we be playing a game if not for that dopamine surge we get from winning? Cheese is SC2’s equivalent to the noob-tube of CoD, the P90 of CSGO, Ryu of Street Fighter, or Face hunter of Hearthstone. It’s a way for beginners to enjoy the thrill of winning without much effort. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to win and cheesing will let you have easy ones.
Cheesing also allows new players to discover how to use build orders. This is especially true for beginners to the RTS genre itself. Having a set path of things to do allows new players to get a grasp on the concepts and basics of the game.
Most cheese builds are focused on micro and the success usually depends on army control. In order to deal the most damage to the opponent, units need to be fully micromanaged. The economy will be limited when cheesing so each unit becomes much more valuable. Efficiency is going to be key, as we strive to get the most out of every unit which in turn improves micromanaging skills.
Ironically, cheesing also improves macro as it improves our grasp of the timings of our production cycles. Production cycles simply mean the time interval in between producing new units. When microing your army in the front, it’s easy to forget to make units immediately after a unit is produced. Cheesing allows us to focus on remembering our production cycles, as long as we are cognizant of it.
As beginners, I still maintain that you should focus on improving your macro, especially if you are looking to improve. However, seeing as cheese also allows you to practice other skills too, don’t be afraid to use them. Don’t listen to the people who tell you off. Think about what you want to get out of the game, and improve the way you want to.
Here are a few sites to look for some cheesy goodness: