What do you need help on? Cancel X

Jump to:
Would you recommend this Guide? Yes No Hide
Send Skip Hide

Beginner's Ladder FAQ by prax0r

Version: 3 | Updated: 08/26/02

 Warcraft III - Beginner's Ladder FAQ
                        revision 3 by prax0r

   1.  Who is this document for?

   This document is for players new to the ladder (but not to the basics
   learned by playing the campaign and reading the manual) or any other
   standard melee competition in Warcraft III.

   This document is maintained with a focus to and priority on presenting
   generalizations that make the most valuable concepts about playing
   Warcraft III competitively easier to understand and remember.

   There are exceptions to all of these generalizations, and, for the most
   part, this document will not mention them.  This document reflects the view
   that these exceptions are better learned when encountered through
   experience.  Please keep this in mind when generalizations are presented.

   This document is not inteded to be complete by any means, but is intended
   to provide a basic framework for newer players to grasp vital concepts to
   make things easier to remember and learn.

   If you keep losing and you do not know why, this may be for you.

   Send any feedback to nonsoph@netscape.net
   2.  Table of Contents

      Section One - General Questions

         1.  What do I do to get X icon?
         2.  How do I watch replays?
         3.  I'm new.  How do I get good [with X]?
         4.  How many points do I gain or lose from X?
         5.  Does rushing take skill?

      Section Two - Huntress Questions

         1.  Are Huntresses ranged or melee?
         2.  Are Huntresses imbalanced?

      Section Three - Vital Concepts

      Section Four - Race Notes

 Section One - General Questions

   1.  What do I do to get X icon?

      See http://www.battle.net/war3/ladder/icons.shtml

      (You could have found this if you went to www.battle.net, clicked War3,
      Ladder, Ladder Icons.)

   2.  How do I watch replays?

      Currently, you must view them offline from "Single Player, View Replay."

   3.  I'm new.  How do I get good [with X]?

      Playing well with any race follow the same basic ideas.

      1.  Begin with a strong build order (opening sequence)

         This is where newer players are lost.  No matter what the race,
         there are two basic options that will do for nearly all situations.

         Either "rax first" (rax refers to the tier 1 combat unit production
         structure, the Barracks, the Ancient of War, or the Crypt) or
         "altar first."  The most common manuver, currently, is to place
         all five workers on gold, but quickly take one worker away from
         mining gold to construct the first building, more commonly an
         altar.  Either way, the second building is typically a food building.

         Undead players right now always go "rax first" because they cannot
         get more lumber without more Ghouls and need Ghouls to creep.

         Night Elf players try to make as few archers as possible so that
         more of their money goes to Huntresses, upgrades, moon wells, and
         later on, upgrading their hall (hall refers to the main building,
         the Town Hall, Tree of Life, Great Hall, and Necropolis or the
         upgraded tier 2 or tier 3 equivalent).

         It is typical to get one worker unit on lumber quite quickly.  Most
         races need to return lumber at least once before they can construct
         all of their early buildings.  Humans do not, but extra lumber makes
         cooperative building (to construct a building faster for a slightly
         higher cost using more than one peasant) possible.

         More advanced players in certain situations may try to get a
         keep (2nd tier hall such as a keep, halls of the dead, stronghold,
         or tree of ages) faster and may combine this with a well-placed
         tower with or without a "rax" either before or after the "mill"
         (a mill typically lets a race gather lumber more quickly when it
         is placed close to lumber and allows the construction of basic
         towers and secondary tier 1 units).  An early keep can allow a more
         volitile mixture of units including the possibility of a second hero,
         but be warned, this is not strong in every situation.

      2.  Be able to creep well

         Creeping well is the largest challenge for newer players.  Creeping
         well means knowing where the creeps on the map are, which ones drop
         which kind of items, and what is best to kill them with.

         Creeping simply takes experience.  The same monster will drop
         the same level of item every time.  The levels of items can be found
         at http://www.battle.net/war3/basics/heroitems.shtml.  The map
         editor can be used to see which items drop items (they have a white
         aura on them) by pressing U (for Unit Layer) and then selecting a
         folder in the lower left so that the peasant is no longer selected.
         Now double click a unit with a white aura and view the item drop

         Creep behavior is important to understand in creeping.  Each creep
         on the map has a set "following distance" that they will chase units
         that they have started attacking.  Once units move outside of this
         range, they will end their targetting of that unit.  Creeps flee
         when hit by static defenses.  When a creep goes hostile (by a unit
         coming close while they are awake or a unit attacking them while they
         are asleep), they will attack whatever is closest, generally.

         Remember that this following distance is far, so do not wait too long
         before trying to save the lives of injured units.

         Some heros can creep well on their own, especially ones that can
         cast summon spells so that the summoned unit takes damage.  Night
         Elves also can use moonwells to heal heros after taking hits from
         creeps, very early.  Combining "solo creeping" with knowlege of
         which creeps can drop favorable items (such as tomes of experience)
         can be very effective.

      3.  Become a scholar of replays

         Examples of how the top players (and some of their friends) play can
         be found at http://www.war3replays.com.

         Watching replays of yourself, your opponents, and these top players
         should teach you a number of things.

         First, examples of good build orders and creeping, the most basic
         fundamentals of Warcraft III.  Creeps give items, experience, and
         gold.  Strategy revolves around creeping or disrupting the creeping
         of your opponent.

         Replays can also demonstrate common mistakes and their outcomes.

         Take careful note of when players choose to scout, fight, flee, creep,
         and go into an upkeep, and if it seemed to be favorable or not.  These
         are the most important decisions deciding the outcome of Warcraft III,
         once players have learned how to build and control their units in a
         strong manner.

      4.  Practice a little bit

         Rehearse your build order(s) and creeping and scouting until they
         are easy to do.  This can be done against computers (do not worry if
         you lose to them or win easily) or with friends in practice games
         where you don't even have to fight if you don't want to.

         Scrimaging with friends can also be useful.  The ladder is an
         unpredictable map and race matchup, so a good way to rehearse
         can be with a friend so that you can choose the race matchup and
         map to work on, one at a time.

   4.  How many points do I gain or lose from X?

      See http://www.battle.net/war3/ladder/rules.shtml

      (You could have found this by clicking on Ladder, then Ladder Rules
      from www.battle.net's War3 area.)

   5.  Does rushing take skill?

      "Rushing" is just another way of saying that "whatever wins unfair" and
      "please don't attack until I'm ready to win."  The fact is that making
      units as quickly as possible, give or take some long term tradeoffs such
      as upgrades, staying in low upkeep, or going to a higher tier, is just
      how this game is played.

      The purpose of competing on the ladder is to win, and whatever causes a
      win is "skilled."  If something is too effective, perhaps Blizzard will
      adjust the game, but by no means should someone insult players for
      trying to win, but rather they should wonder why Blizzard lets the
      game stand, as is.

      Would it be skillful to let your opponent live when you have them beat?
      I think not ...

      Skill is making decisions such that you will not be killed and may kill
      your opponent (eventually), not seeing how many different units you can
      get or how long you can make the game last.  Losing to a rush is the
      result of some mistake.  Even if the game is unfair and imbalanced, the
      mistake may be simply not being the right race, although this does not
      seem to be the case in Warcraft III.

      As pointed out in a thread by Toasty Goat (I hope he doesn't mind me
      paraphrasing him), you have the same amount of time to make units
      as your opponent (the "rusher") does, and you also have travel time
      (in the time they travel to your base, you can make more) and
      natural defenses (militia, burrows, moonwells, lumber ghouls) on your
      side and the option to counter-attack their base if you would rather
      do that than save your own.  He also points out that if losing is
      your definition of skillful, you must not have a very good definition.

 Section Two - Huntress Questions

   1.  Are Huntresses ranged or melee?

      Huntresses are technically ranged (thorns does not work on them, but
      trueshot aura does).  Their range is short, but not quite as short as
      melee.  Huntresses do normal damage, like most melee units, but they are
      ranged.  Most ranged units in the game do piercing, but not all.

      Defend does not work on huntresses because then all of NE's tier 1 units
      would be beaten by defend.  This could be one reason why Ancient
      Protectors are not piercing, either.

   2.  Are Huntresses imbalanced?

      Does the power of Huntresses seem out of place in War3?  Yes.  Are good
      Huntress players unbeatable by counterpart of the same approximate skill
      class playing a different race?  No.

      Many people claim huntresses are imbalanced but no one has offered up a
      replay of themselves losing to huntresses where they are playing well and
      still lose.  If you are going to claim imbalance, have replays as
      evidence, as good players beat huntresses frequently.

      Perhaps the problem is the cummulation of Entagle Rushing, Moonwells to
      aid/compensate for Entangle Rushing and free creeping without losing
      units in addition to the great effectiveness of large numbers of
      huntresses in various situations.  There may be a potential strength here
      that is too strong and not good for the game.  We'll have to wait and see
      what Blizard thinks.

      Perhaps poorer players do defeat slightly better players with huntresses
      in certain situations.  Perhaps Blizzard will adjust NE such that pure
      huntresses is not the wisest early option.  This has already been argued
      to death, so, rather than complain about balance, have replays ready and
      ask for help.

      Quite simply, if you feel that Huntresses are imbalanced, your best way
      to learn about this situation is to play Night Elves and find out how a
      so-called "huntress rusher" can lose, because they do.

 Section Three - Vital Concepts

   This section is an addenum to provide the most basic framework for
   conception of War3 strategy.  It should help newer players grasp things
   more quickly and is intended to be as brief as possible.

   There are exceptions to many generalizations in this document that are
   excluded intentionally for brevity and ease of learning; this document
   tries to leave many things left unsaid that are better learned through

   1.  Upkeep

      Upkeep is a penalty on gold coming from mines on a player based on amount
      of food currently used.  There are three levels of upkeep:

      1.  No Upkeep,    0-40 food, 100% gold from all mines
      2.  Low Upkeep,  41-70 food,  70% gold from all mines
      3.  High Upkeep, 71-90 food,  40% gold from all mines

      Upkeep means that, no matter how many units a player is using, there is
      a distinct penalty for using them poorly and a reward for using them
      well.  Going into Low Upkeep because of a few units will not be worth
      the cost of Upkeep.

      Going into a higher Upkeep is a significant decision that should not be
      taken lightly.  A player with an expansion would have 200% total from
      both mines, 140% in Low Upkeep, but only 80% in High Upkeep.

      So a player with an expansion in low upkeep (200%) gets almost as much
      gold as a player with two expansions in Low Upkeep (210%).  So basically,
      an advantage can be gained, over time, by cautiously scraping by in a
      lower upkeep through superior strategy.

      Likewise, being in Low Upkeep without hurting the opponent who may be
      in No Upkeep, for example, is going to get a player behind without
      even knowing what happened.

      Keep in mind that creeping is also a source of gold, and that there are
      several ways to spend gold without using food:  items, upgrades, and

   2.  Typical Unit Types

      Tier 1 "Melee" units typically are melee-ranged (although Huntresses have
      a slightly longer range) and do "Normal" damage, which does 150% damage to
      "Light Armor" units (see below).  These units have "Medium Armor" which
      simply takes 100% damage from everything.

      Tier 1 "Ranged" units have a longer range and do "Piercing" damage, which
      has 150% damage bonus to "Heavy Armor" units (see below).  Compared to
      Tier 1's "Melee" units, these "Ranged" units provide more damage for
      their cost, but less health for their cost, meaning it is better to have
      the "Melee" units to take hits.  These "Ranged" units have "Light Armor",
      taking 150% damage from "Melee" (Normal Damage) units.

      Tier 3 "Melee" units have "Heavy Armor" which means they take 150% damage
      from "Ranged" units (Piercing Damage).  These units do good damage and
      have excellent armor and health but, unfortunately, Tier 1's "Ranged"
      units are extremely effective against them as are many magical abilities
      which will be explained later.

      Tier 2 features casters, which have Light Armor and do Piercing damage.
      Some casters do better damage than others, and they typically gain
      health with caster upgrades, but do not gain armor from armor upgrades.

      Tier 2 also features long range siege units.  "Siege" damage does 150%
      damage to "Forified Armor", which most buildings have.  "Fortified Armor"
      reduces Normal damage to 50% and Piercing to 35%, so this 150% damage is
      a large bonus, and these siege units do a large number of damage to
      begin with.  These siege units are usually very slow and easy to kill.

      Another important note about damage types is that Normal damage does 100%
      to heros while Siege and Piercing do 50%.

   3.  Typical Unit Variations and Spell Effectiveness

      Some units do less and cost less per unit (food, gold, etc.).  These
      smaller units suffer more from spells that do damage or stun all units
      in an area (many heros have abilities like this).

      Likewise, relatively larger variations on units which cost more food
      than their counterparts are harmed more effectively with spells which
      target a single unit at once.  For example, spells like Polymorph
      are great against flying units, tier 3 melee units, and are more
      effective against grunts and huntresses than they are against ghouls
      or footmen.

      Relatively larger melee units also suffer less obstruction per power
      than relatively small (in terms of power per cost).  Obstruction is where
      too many melee units are trying to attack to the point where melee units
      spend significant time running around eachother.

      Because armor's effect in Warcraft III is to reduce damage, this
      effectively makes the unit's health worth more than a unit with less
      armor.  Because of this, healing abilities are more of a bargain against
      units with higher armor.

   4.  Hero Decisions

      The first Hero decision is which hero should be used.  To decide this,
      evaluation of the desired Hero's abilities must be used.

      There are several heros which are effective at stopping large groups
      of units that are close together, especially ones with lower health.

      A hero may also be selected to aid in creeping.  Some heros are effective
      enough to be made early and run around the map assassinating creeps that
      have desirable item drops.  Other heros can cast summons, which can take
      the damage creeps deal so that more permanent units do not.

      Many heros also have interrupt abilities which can cancel ongoing spells
      that Heros do.  These interrupting spells often incapacitate the Hero so
      that it can be surrounded and killed (or force it to use a Town Portal
      Scroll) as well.  Hero killing heros are the defense against hero rushes,
      where an enemy runs a hero into an opponent's base in hopes to hurt them
      more than the hero rusher has been hurt by hero rushing instead of

      A hero may be chosen for crowd control, an ability to gain an advantage
      against an area of enemy units.  Take careful note of which heros can
      fill this role and be aware of this option to discover when and if it
      can be more effective against certain strategies than a hero best
      suited to creeping or hero killing.

      The second Hero decision is which abilities to get and in which order.
      Caution should be taken when getting three Hero abilities spread out
      instead of two, as this often is not as effective as focusing on two.
      Also, getting two mana-intensive abilities can prove to be an error if
      the hero typically does not have enough mana to use them both.  Take
      these situations into consideration when evaluating Hero usage.

   5.  Upgrade Decisions

      Players have to juggle many potential options with how to spend money.
      One of these options is upgrades.  Upgrades effect each unit differently
      in how the damage or armor is increased.

      Looking at the numbers, armor upgrades appear to be more of a bargain
      than attack upgrades, but these numbers are adjusted in this manner
      because attack upgrades allow faster killing with concentrated fire
      against a single unit, whereas defense is always spread out, even on
      units not being attacked.

      Upgrades, particularly the higher ones, can become extremely expensive.
      Players should remember that while having no upgrades can certainly
      lose a game, and upgrading armor on units that are being hit most
      frequently and attack on units doing most of the attacks can be very
      worthwhile, it makes little sense to have an upgrade for a unit which
      a player has very few of.  Getting too many upgrades too early is not
      a guaranteed advantage against an opponent, as these expensive upgrades
      could mean having less units, a slower keep (any 2nd tier hall), less
      items, or a slower expansion.      

   6.  Micro (Micromanagement)

      The first basic aid in "micro", or micromanagement, the effective control
      of one's units, is to use the full potential of the keyboard and mouse.
      Speed is very important, and sometimes the keyboard's options, once
      familiar, are quicker than the mouse's.

      Units and buildings can be hotkeyed, even in groups, by selecting them
      and pressing Ctrl+(Number).  Pressing (Number) will select the units on
      the hotkey.

      Right clicking on an area of ground will move selected units to the
      area.  This is used commonly to try to run past units (including creeps)
      to quickly surround them.  Right clicking can also be used to flee.

      In Warcraft III, selected units move in formations by default.  This
      means that all the units will try to move together, with more vulnerable,
      ranged units in the back and so on.  Faster units will not move at their
      full speed inside a formation with slower units.  To try to flee at
      maximum speed, ignoring formation, hold alt and then right click where to
      flee to.  There is a formation button near the minimap.  When it is on,
      units move in formation by default, and alt makes them move ignoring
      formation.  When the button is set to "no formation", alt will make them
      move in formation.

      Focusing fire on a unit kills it faster, more quickly reducing the
      damage you are taking from enemy units than spreading your damage out.

      However, you (and your opponent) can see when units are being injured and
      pull them backwards, causing a new target to be aquired or the units to
      chase that unit around like idiots while being hit.  Creeps always
      aquire a new target, since they aren't focus firing, but you must
      move out of range of the creep completely first, which can be far
      with ranged creeps so make your injured units flee before their health
      is too low once you see it is going down.

      Sometimes it may be better to focus on pulling units, and sometimes it
      may be better to focus on killing units.

      Remember that you can hotkey units and press tab (and shift tab) to
      change which type of units (including heros, casters, etc.) abilities
      you have available to you, and that you must ctrl+click or click twice
      to select a unit or type of units and deselect the rest.  You can also
      ctrl+command to only give the command to the currently highlighted unit
      (e.g. ctrl+right click to make a specific highlighted unit flee).

      When you have a group of casters highlighted and you try to cast a
      spell that targets one unit, only one of the casters will cast it, so
      you can easily tab over to cast spells manually or spells that can't
      be auto-casted (right click to enable auto-cast on the gold-bordered
      spells if you want them to be casted automatically where they could
      help).  You can click on a unit's icon as a target, not just the unit
      itself, which makes casting buffs like the necro's unholy frenzy.

      Realize that attacking where your enemy is not can make them use a TP
      scroll or at least stop creeping, after which you can just run away.
      Running away can be very important in this game, as losing a fight can
      decide a game (but always try to come back, as this game favors it due
      to upkeep and natural defenses).

      Try to keep all your units on at least one or two hotkeys except maybe
      siege which you can just have follow your units (right click on your
      units with the siege or rally and they will follow).  Give commands to
      your group first, then press F1 F2 etc. if you want to do something else
      with your heros.

      There are essentially three important types of situations which demand
      different micro.  The first is where the enemy has a clearly superior
      force and the priority should be to lose nothing while, perhaps, costing
      the enemy as possible.  The second situation is where the enemy is
      clearly outgunned and careful care must be taken to killing as much as
      possible against an opponent which may be trying to flee, and reducing
      losses as possible.  The third, and most challenging situation, is where
      both players appear able and willing to fight.  In this situation,
      maximum effectiveness of units will decide to whom the favor shifts.
      The more units attacking (rather than manuvering) and the fewer different
      units being attacked, the more effective the attacker is.  Sometimes,
      manuvering can be viable where it prevents an important unit from feeling
      and allows reduction in the amount of units the attacks are being spread
      over (killing 1 unit at a time without any units moving around not
      attacking is the good deal manuvering can both make possible and

   7.  Using Siege

      Using siege well can be very challenging.  Siege comes into play early in
      "tower wars" where one player, for whatever reason (countering an early
      expand, too fast teching, or just trying to pull a fast one) gets towers
      up near the enemy and will soon try to bring siege there to fight the
      siege which you should try to get to stop this (assuming you can't just
      kill the towers before they get up).  ORC TOWERS SHOOT FARTHER THAN
      YOURS, BEWARE.  They also build very fast, which is kind of messed up.
      If an Orc is annoying you early on for no reason, suspect towering.

      The time for siege can be when you've already won and need to finish off
      an opponent you clearly have by the throat.  This must be done with
      patience.  Trying to use siege too early, unsuccessfully, can turn the
      tide of a game.

      Great players may be able to use small amounts of siege to win fights and
      take down expos (expansions), but realize that trying to do this as a
      newbie is a good way to lose games.

   8.  Items and Shops

      Sometimes entering a fight at the maximum food for a chosen upkeep is not
      enough to have an advantage.  Further spending can turn the tide of the
      battle with mana and life potions for heros, life and protection scrolls
      for all units.  Make sure your heros have the mana they need and that
      your units die as little as possible when you consider using items.

      Goblin labs can be very important and should not be overlooked.  Reveal
      can easily check hard to reach gold mines to see if someone is building
      there for 50 gold, or to evaluate an opponent's base if you can spare 50

      Goblin sappers can take down massive buildings and do good damage to
      heros.  Make sure you lead with other unit(s) so that the sappers do not
      get hit, and press B and click where you want the sapper to detonate.
      Sappers are particularly effective against the low health buildings of
      the Night Elves.

      The Goblin Zeppelin is the only transport in the game, capable of
      carrying units through the air to be dropped anywhere you want.
      Zeppelins are often used to move siege units around for fast hit and
      runs.  Most importantly, Zeppelins cost no food.

   9.  Time of Day

      Night time is the time you can shop at buildings where the creeps are
      sleeping, but the first night you cannot buy anything.

      Scouting the map is easier at night because creeps will not hit you,
      but you can scout at daytime if you know how to move barely close enough
      to see (because daytime has better visibility) without alarming creeps.

      Certain creeps, such as Golems and Dragons, do not sleep.  Beware! ;)

 Section Four - Race Notes 

   1.  Orc Notes

      Other than The Grunt Problem, Orcs stand out for their universal armor
      upgrade (their armor upgrade applies to all units), their lumber mill
      is also their upgrade facility, their barracks builds the catapults
      once you have keep (tier 2 hall, Orc's is called a Stronghold).

      Shamans do nice damage for a caster unit, and using an army of shaman
      and other units saves on food through lust (Bloodlust) and smaller units
      (shaman, 2 food), but making at least one Witchdoctor can be helpful to
      place sentry wards everywhere.  Generally Orcs try to get lust first,
      then healing ward witchdoctors second, if needed and possible.

      Do not forget that Purge damages summons such as Water Elementals.

      Remember that burrows, while doing nice damage, have MEDIUM ARMOR, which
      means they die much, much easier than other buildings.

   2.  Night Elf Notes

      Night Elves typically rely on Huntresses in the early game as the
      backbone of any force, as Archers simply have too little health.  If
      you ever see Archers, kill them first, if at all possible, unless you're
      running away (better to run than to lose a fight completely).  Typically,
      ranged units have lower health and light armor (vulnerable to normal
      damage, e.g. melee units and Huntresses) and are better off not getting
      hit compared to units like summons, heros (as long as they are not in
      danger of dying), and the disposable melee units.

      If a hero gives you trouble, you may be better off using Demon Hunter
      to mana burn them (early and often) rather than going Keeper of the Grove
      for entangle and thorns or treants depending on expectations.

      Moon wells are a handy supply of health and mana and should be used well
      (they only recharge at night) and might sometimes be worth making even
      if more food is not needed.

   3.  Human Notes

      Humans can do well with AM first (although MK first is also possible),
      followed by MK (although AM or Paladin second can work, too), taking
      advantage of militia, repair build, masonry upgrades, defend against
      piercing, the high health and damage of riflemen (for a ranged unit) and
      priests, sorcs, or knights as the situation calls.

      AM's Water Elementals are very strong units, especially when level 2
      or higher, and with level 2 brilliance the AM can practically cast
      them nonstop.  I suspect this may change in a later patch.

      Riflemen are strong for a ranged unit in terms of health and damage.

      Later on, a force of steam tanks can be used to take down vital
      structures even while taking a beating, as steam tanks have the armor
      type of buildings.

   4.  Undead Notes

      It is common to see Undead make many, many ghouls, try to out-expand
      you (take more bases than you for more money), and then try to use
      necros (Necromancers) to use skeletons or curse to win fights.  UD can
      upgrade their farms to towers once they have their mill (Graveyard) and
      their keep (Halls of the Dead) does as much damage as two towers with
      much more health.  Keep in mind that UD cannot TP to a gold mine, only
      a hall.  Banshees are the counter to large units (but necro's curse also
      helps), and aboms (Abominations) are the high tech melee unit (good
      against tier 1 units).  Frost Wyrms are handy in low numbers to
      neutralize defensive structures against your army and provide some
      slowing of the enemy.

 Goodbye from nonsoph@netscape.net 

View in: