Starcraft 2: Hot Key Guide

Written by Shokz

Before you play your first match you need to know one thing. If you ever want to play Starcraft 2 at a high level, possibly even Diamond League, you must understand and learn your hot keys. Players who use hot keys will have an advantage over their opponent in both the Macro and Micro game providing them with much quicker unit control and base construction.

How effectively you use hot keys is what will set you apart from most players, and while learning hot keys at first may be a little difficult after using them for 10+ games it will start to become second nature.

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What is a hot key?

A hot key is a keyboard shortcut to create a structure, unit or perform a unit ability. You can also set anything you like to a numbered hot key to quickly access a unit or building. To see what a building or unit’s hot key is simply move your cursor over the their icon in the and the hot key will be in the brackets.

If I move my cursor over the Barracks icon, the building information pops up with the name and at the end of the name you see the [B], that tells you the Barracks building hot key is “B”.

Building Hot keys

There are a few different types of hot keys. The first type of hot key I’m going to discuss is your building hot keys. These are the hot keys you use when building your base and creating units from your buildings.

For example when you are playing as Terran and have your Command center selected by hitting the “S” key on your keyboard will start the production of an SCV.  This is a lot quicker than having to move your mouse down to the SCV icon and click it. While you may say this is only saving a couple seconds by using hot keys for everything it will end up saving you minutes compared to players who don’t use hot keys.

Now when you have a worker selected such as an SCV, Probe, or Drone and are ready to start building up your base you have set of 2 hot keys which take you into your building structures.

Build Basic Structure [B]

When you select “B” this gives your basic structure menu. You then must select the building you would like to build. This example is with Terran and I will build a Barracks so when I have my SCV selected I will want to press “B” to build basic structure then I will then press “B” again to build a Barracks.

You can do this with every building / structure so if I would like to build a Supply Depot I would take an SCV and press “B” than “S” since “S” is the hot key for a Supply Depot.

Build Advance Structure [V]

Each Race also has a second hot key on their worker which is “V”. This takes you into the advance structures of that race and requires a building from the Basic Structure build before building and advance structure.

In the image to the right you when you want to build a Starport you will want to use the hot key “S”. As you can see hot keys that used in the Basic Structure may be reused in the Advance since the hot key for Supply Depot in the basic build structures is also “S”.

Of course you could go right ahead and click on the Starport to build it but after practicing using the hot keys you’ll notice the amount of time you’re saving by using them and you’ll see your game speed increase the better you get with the hot keys.

Unit Production Hot Keys

Now that you have your building finished it is now time to use your hot keys to create units. Every building that can create units has a series of hot keys to quickly start the production of the units.

We will continue with the examples of Terran but remember this is the same for all buildings for all races. When I have my Barracks selected I’m able to create one of 4 units. To create a unit I would click one of the following hot keys.

Marine – “A”

Marauder –“D”

Reaper – “R”

Ghost – “G”

You’re able to click a hot key or different hot keys in a sequence. So if I would like to create a Marauder than have 2 marines be built and a Reaper I would select my Barracks and click “D” “A” “A” “R” and my barracks would start building those 4 units in that order.

Along with building units you can use the hot keys for upgrades. This works the same way as a building, select your upgrade structure such as an Engineering Bay and then hit the hot key to start training that upgrade.

Not only is this for upgrades but can be done with special ability training such as Cloak for Banshees and almost anything else in the game.

At first learning all these hot keys may seem a bit overwhelming but as I said before if you start making yourself use them at the beginning it will be easier than trying to do so when you’re in the habit of clicking. After doing so for a week of playing it will become second nature and you’ll start becoming very quick.

Control Group Hot keys

Besides making buildings and units you can set your buildings and units to a set of hot keys. This will allow you to access your buildings or units when you are anywhere on the map.

To set something to a hot key click on the unit or building you would like to hit key then press CTRL and any number 1 – 0. This will set that unit / building to that number as a hot key which can be accessed by clicking that number and if you double click it will jump your camera to the unit.

When you set a numbered Hot Key an image will appear above the middle of your control bar showing your all you’re numbered hot keys and what you have them set as.

In the screenshot above I have 4 Barracks set to number #6. By doing this it will allow me to create units while controlling my army. This is extremely useful when you are attacking as you can keep the camera on your units while you attack and quickly hit #6 on your keyboard to bring up your 4 barracks then use hot keys to create additional units all without ever taking the camera off your units.

This will become extremely important as you will want to hot key special units so you can quickly use a one of their skills such as a Raven you can have it selected to #1 and while in the middle of the battle hit #1 and then “D” to drop a Point Defense Drone.

This method is a lot quicker than trying to find the unit you want in the middle of the battle and then trying to hit their special skill. This will be discussed more in-depth in our Micro section.

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Selecting Units / Buildings

You can set an entire group of buildings or units to a Control Group hot key using the method. When you have a group selected you can hit Shift + the same number to add newly selected units to the group.

If you’re looking to select all the same buildings / units you can double click on them to select all of that unit / building nearby.

There are times that you may want to select more than one type of building and add them to the same Control group. To do so click the first building and then Shift click an additional building, this will add the building to your group selection. You can continue to add different buildings by Shift clicking them and then add them to a control group by using Control + a number.

If you like this Hotkey Guide, and want to learn more advanced guides, to become an advanced Starcraft 2 Player, then purchase this Shokz Starcraft2 guide. We did.

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