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The free, online multiplayer side of starcraft is, in my opinion, the sole aspect of Starcraft that has kept it alive all these years. When in multiplayer, you can play melee games in real time with up to seven other Starcraft players at once. UMS's, or Use Map Settings style games(a.k.a. scenario maps) can be played here as well. There is an online ladder system where you can go against other experienced starcraft players and see how your skill ranks amougst the competition.
 
Battle.net Basic Commands
 
Along with your battle.net username and account, you get a friends list capable of remembering up to 25 different screen names. This list allows you to see if and where your friends are online, and it allows you to talk to them easily. Below are the instructions on how to use your friends list and a few other handy features of battle.net. Remember to type the command in exactly as instructed in the quotation marks and press enter.
 
To access your friends list: "/f list" or "/f l" for short
 
To whisper to some one: "/whisper <screenname>" or "/w <screenname>"
 
To add someone to your friends list: "/f add <screenname>"
 
To remove someone from your friends list: "/f remove <screenname>"
 
To send a message to all your friends: "/f message <text>" or "/f m <text>"
 
To see another players stats: "/stats <screenname>"
 
Winning and Losing
 
Everyone loses a game sooner or later, even the best of us. You'll slip up and forget a tech tree building or let an enemy behind your lines by accident-something will go wrong someday no matter how good your are or what you do. Don't get upset when you lose. Alternatively, nobody likes a bragging winner either. It's true, you'll win sooner or later and when you do a little victory rant is somewhat acceptable, but don't over-do it and rub it in your opponents face-this can work against you sometimes. In many cases, your enemies will team up against you the next time you play if you brag too much about your last victory over them. In either case, the concept is the same. A little courtesy goes along way wether you win or lose.
 
Free For All
 
In a free for all game, its a plain battle royal. You're against everyone, and everyone is against everybody else. The last player standing is declared the victor. But sometimes the game is not what it seems. If the map has the melee setting, two players could secretly ally and make the game unfair for the rest of the players. Make sure to set the map to free for all before you start to ensure that a secret truce won't develope.
 
Melee
 
This function has two uses. One is for comp stomps. The comps set the human players as enemies and they team up to try to destroy them. Its also the other way around for you-you can team up agaisnt the computer and play what is called  a comp stomp. After all the computer comps are dead you and your allies are awarded a victory. It doesn't always go as smoothly as this-sometimes your human ally will turn on you after you help him kill the comps, so it is wise to be prepared for a back-stabber near the end of the match. The other function for a melee game is for allied team battle. You and a few of your friends can pick teams and go against each other. The remaining team wins, unless your ally turns on you after eliminating the opposing team.
 
Use map Settings
 
This is only useful when you have a map with special triggers or conditions that you have set to the map with the campaign editor.
 
Allies
 
Allies can be your most important resource in a team battle or in a comp stomp. Without your ally in a team battle, you are as good as dead, because two armies can easily overwhelm one. If your ally is under attack and at risk of being erradicated, send some troops to help out. Who knows-they just might repay the favor later in the game. If you are someones ally, be a true ally, don't turn on them after they help you bring down the enemy.
 
Back Stabbers
 
The title of back stabber is a lothsome one. These sad individuals who decide to break their truces and attack thier allies when they have thier backs turned are considered back stabbers. Backstabbings can happen in one of two ways: they can turn on you after you kill the computers in a comp stomp, or turn against you in a team battle after you help them kill the opposing team. For the most part, backstabbers are people who suck at the game and can't win under fair conditions. So instead of going head to head against a human, they pretend to be thier ally and wait until the threat is almost eliminated and your troops are diminished from battle. Then when you least expect it, their troops open fire on you, and usually they see an easy victory, because they have an army ready while yours is weakened from battle.

The Multiplayer Difference
 
The first time you play multiplayer, you may notice a big difference between playing against the computer and playing against other humans. The computer will always attack with the same number and variety of troops, while a human likes to max out with carriers, battlecruisers, and guardians. There are hundreds of different possible outcomes when you fight another human.
 
The primary thing you may notice about players on battlenet is how fast they get moving. When you're a newbie, you may still be building a bunker and barracks for defense, and just starting to get enough minerals to afford a starport when 70 dragoons come knocking at your door. The pros on battle.net know what to do and they know how to get there in a hurry. In order to keep up, you must be at the top of your game. It is key to completely understand the counters, weaknesses, and tech tree of your choice species.
 
Building faster
To build faster you must think big. if you want to build 24 battlecruisers at once, you must have 24 starports. If you want to build a wall of photon cannons lickedy-split, you'll need to open multiple warp points. Use as many buildings and builders as you can control effectively.
 
Gathering faster
The more the merrier! Obviously the more gathers you have collecting minerals and gas, the faster you accumulate resources. But there is a limit to this. You won't need anymore SCVs gathering from that vespene gyser if they have to start lining up for a turn to enter the refinery. The Same goes for minerals, after a certain limit (about 3 gatherers per cluster) the gatherers begin getting confused and production is actually slowed by all the units crowding the minerals. Not having enough gatherers is worse than having too many, so don't skimp on your labor force. Also, if you know of an extra mineral expansion, and if you have the resources, go ahead and move in. Because if you can gather faster than your opponent, you'll have a huge advantage over them and a great opportunity to overwhelm them with money. And if an enemy destroys one of your expansions and you don't have another one, you will be crippled and further limited on your war budget.
 
More Efficient Attacks
Do you ever have the problem of sending your troops enmasse' against the enemy? Have you ever tried to command an army of goliaths manually and ended up with half your troops dead and the other half still where they in your base? Organize your troops into control groups to make attacks easier and much more effective when you attack with shier numbers. What is a control group you ask? A control group is a group of up to twelve units set to a number 1 through 0 on the keyboard. To assign a control group, select the wanted units and hold control( thats the Ctrl button on the keyboard) and press any number 1-0 (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,or 0). Now when you press that number again, you'll have command of the same troops you set to that number before. This makes controling 120 hydralisks a simple as ten clicks of the mouse.
 
Sometimes the enemy is killing your units with just a handfull of powerful ones. You can make all your units attack the enemy and usually kill it with one collective shot, and you'll have minimal casualties from an expensive unit. In such cases, target one unit at a time. You can hold shift and queve up to 9 different targets for your units to target individually.
 
When attacking large groups of enemies, attack the area they dwell instead of one or two units at a time, this way your units will defend themselves. Otherwise, they would take multiple casualties just trying to get to the enemy you designated.
 
Starcraft is a two handed game. The keyboard should be used just as much as the mouse. Each action has a hotkey you can use to make things run a little faster. It may just seem like your saving a few worthless seconds, but those seconds can add up to your advantage later in the game. To find the hotkey for a unit, building or command, simply hold the mouse over the regular button that you click on and a small box will appear next to your mouse pointer, identifying the unit or command. The highlighted letter in the box is the hotkey for this unit/action.
 
 

Scouting before you fight is important! I learned this the hard way. Take a look at each of your enemies and determain which is the biggest threat and attack them first. It's risky to attack a nearly dead enemy and leave the dangerous one unattended.
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