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In theory and according to the rules book, Starcraft can be played by 2-6 players. From my own experience and what I heard from others, it does not work at all for 2 players. The random factor gets really high and the game--which takes quite some time to set up--is over within a few moves if one party attacks early on. It is not fun that way.

I have heard from others that it starts getting interesting with 4 or more players. Unfortunately we don't have that many players available, so I am looking for ways to make the game more enjoyable for 2 players. Can anyone provide such house rules or strategies?

  • Downvoting because this is asking for recommendations of house rules to solve a problem, as mentioned on meta. The suggested rewrite, in this case, would be something like "What strategies can be used to counter early attacks in 2-player Starcraft?" – Dave DuPlantis Feb 21 '12 at 15:27
  • @DaveDuPlantis I felt like the question was very borderline on whether it needed editing or not. I made some minor changes to make it less recommendation-y. What do you think of it now? (Also @ Demento feel free to rollback.) – Gregor Thomas Feb 21 '12 at 23:24
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    The first tip in the meta question Dave cites is "focus on what issue you are trying to resolve", which I think this question already did very well. – Gregor Thomas Feb 21 '12 at 23:28
  • @shujaa, it's better, but I think the type of question that works best in this situation is more specific than "how do we make X more enjoyable?" That seems to me to be subjective and not such a good fit for this format. I really don't think asking for house rules is something that fits well; it's specifically mentioned in that meta post, and is more likely to lead into a discussion of house rules. Sticking with the perceived issues - randomness and quick games - and asking if that's an issue with 2-player Starcraft is, I think, a better way to go. – Dave DuPlantis Feb 22 '12 at 0:22
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The Brood War expansion includes a number of scenarios, one of which is explicitly designed for two players. The gameplay in a scenario is pretty much the same as the core game, except with predetermined galaxy layout and often some form of "capture the objective"-style mechanic added (the two-player scenario, for example, prevents either side from moving onto the Terran's home planet unless they have control of a "bridge" zone first). I don't have the rulebook handy for reference so I don't know if the two-player scenario is entirely playable with only base-set pieces.

Fantasy Flight Games offers this scenario for free download, which is for four players (two teams of two players); there's no reason it can't be played with two players each playing both factions of a team. It does however require pieces from the expansion.

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To be honest I think the game function very well with only two players. In fact the best game I ever played was with just two people. I think it mostly comes down understanding the game mechanics that allow you to stop early attacks such as the air defense module and simply blocking their orders. If you're looking for ways to prevent super early aggression I have a few ideas...

Add a Planet

Obviously this will change a few dynamics in how special victories are can be obtained but this is actually a recommendation made in the expansion pack rule book. With this they recommend increasing the point limit but in a two player game one extra planet will make a pretty small difference and allow for more room to breathe before players are able to attack each other.

No Mobilize Orders on Home Planet

During the first planning phase don't allow players to place Mobilize orders on planets with other players home base. Going through a whole round without threat of attack is more than enough time to prepare adequate defenses.

Strategies to Prevent

Getting the air defense module severely limits the other players ability to be aggressive. By dropping your base on an area with a high supply cap (3 or 4) and getting the module, this makes it so that they have to land elsewhere on the planet first before they can attack your base. This allows you to be the attacker and arrange the fight how you want. Another thing to remember is that if they are building a lot of units early on they may be preparing for an attack. During this time investing in some better buildings or upgrades can lead to you have one better unit than them which could make their attacks very hard in the future if you hold them off.

Hope some of this helps. Like I said, I've played a fair amount of 1v1 games and they were actually quite fun. More people is a lot of fun but the game is definitely enjoyable with just two.

P.S. as was mentioned before the expansion pack has some great scenarios, one of which is specifically designed for two players. There are also a few new mechanics that I think help out with the problem you mentioned, in particular the defend order which makes stopping early aggression much easier.

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Since Starcraft supports Team Play Variant, couldn't you an your opponent each play both people on a single team? (is Team Play also unbalanced?)

Otherwise, you will have to develop some sort of AI, or alternate turns controlling a third player (if that is possible strategically).

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