Coming Soon: Collaborative List of Efficient Action Sequences for Control Group Stealing.
Control Group Stealing, which on the Blizzard Hotkey Layouts (standard, grid, and classic) involves the Alt key is a new feature added to LotV for Archon mode that has the ability to significantly improve the mechanical execution of particular action sequences in 1v1 games as well. Since anyone unaware of this functionality has yet to ingrain any inefficient habits, now is the best time to take a good hard look about how best to utilize this new functionality and where to bind it in your personal hotkey layout. Unfortunately, as happens with many new things, there is some misinformation going around about Control Group Stealing. This video will arm you with efficient vocabulary and accurate information that you can use to help discuss Control Group Stealing and dispel this misinformation.
Common Misconception #1: There is one new steal function
There are in fact TWO Control Group Stealing Functions: add/steal and create/steal. Depending on the scenario one of them will be more efficient than the other. This means that just using one and ignoring the other will result in decreased speed and utility.
The First, (bound to ALT+# by default) we will call Create/Steal. Because Create Control Group and Take Away Units is really annoying to say as well as type out. This will create a control group with the current selection and remove that selection from all other control groups. If there is anything else in the control group you’re stealing these units to, (by default the number you pressed in conjunction with alt) it will be removed from that control group. The latter part is how the Create Control Group function works (bound to control by default). But that’s confusing as hell to understand without an example.
Let’s say we have 10 hydralisks on Control Group 1 and 3 lurkers on control group 2.
We decide that 7 is really the amount of lurkers we want, so we make 4 lurkers.
We control click the Lurkers and press ALT+2.
Because we used Create/Steal and not Add/Steal the lurkers originally in control group 2 have been removed from the control group.
We forget about them, lose the game, and realize it would have been really nice to have those 3 extra lurkers for the big fight.
Efficient scenarios for Create/Steal include but are not limited to:
Splitting your army in half, or in third, or into 1 million pieces. This can be used for tactical advantages like flanks and surrounds as well as for defending multiple locations at once.
Zergling or other unit runbys.
Changing a CG’s function. For example, let’s say I use my 5th control group for upgrades, but we’ve reached the super late game and I have no more upgrades to get. I can now use this control group as an additional spellcaster or harass control group in one swift motion.
Fixing your mistakes. For example, you added your warpgates into your army control group… again. Simply control+shift click them out of your selection and create+steal them to the control group they’re already on. This works just as well as the original create function. (remember this for later)
But the biggest gain in efficiency and utility for the create/steal function by far belongs to drops. While this is most commonly used for Terran, feel free to replace the word medivac with droperlord or warp prism.
In the past the only way to make a drop control group that has both the medivacs and the units inside the medivac in the control group, would be to perfectly select the medivac and the exact number of units you were going to load into it. Needless to say, this was rarely practical and was usually replaced by the following action sequence:
Right Click to load Medivac
Create or Add to Harass Control Groupm
Create Control Group
With the new create/steal function we can, in exactly the same number of actions, create a drop control group that includes the units inside the drop.
Add army to harass control group
Right Click Medivac
create/steal to army control group
Doing this consistently will ensure you don’t have the units you just dropped move commanding through enemy forces because they’re still in the army control group.
Having the units inside the drop as part of the drop control group is useful for a couple of reasons:
First it allows for easier execution of the Snipe Queue action sequence:
Attack a structure
Right Click Medivac
Right Click Retreat
Before, this action sequence would require the boxing of your harass control group as an additional step.
Second it allows for a faster retreat reaction. This is especially useful when you’ve split up your dropped units to maximize their effectivity. This would look as follows:
Select Control group
Right Click Medivac
Right Click Retreat
Keep in mind, that both of these sequences also work when using multiple medivacs or sniping multiple buildings by using the shift button.
The important thing to ask yourself when considering whether or not to use the create/steal option is “do i want my current selection to REPLACE the control group I’m moving them to.”
Common Misconception #2: You need to use Create Control Group to Create a Control Group
The term Create Control Group is misleading. You don’t actually need it to make a new control group. When dealing with a new control group (or a control group that currently has nothing in it) add and create (whether stealing or not) will work identically. This is why it’s easier to understand if you think of Create Control Group as REPLACE control group instead.
The Second Steal Function is we will call Add/Steal. This is bound by default to (ALT+SHIFT+#) eeeegggghhh. If you play zerg, you’re very likely going to want to rebind this immediately. This is because zerg has Morphs. Back to our hydra lurker example.
We have 10 hydralisks on Control Group 1 and 3 lurkers on control group 2.
We decide we want 7 lurkers, so we make 4 more.
We control click the Lurkers and press ALT+SHIFT+2. (or hopefully something way better that you’ve rebound this function to)
Because we used Add/Steal and not Create/Steal the lurkers originally in control group 2 are still there and we have all 7 lurkers in our lurker control group with none of them in our hydralisk or main army control group.
This sequence can be applied to all zerg morphs, so ravagers, broodlords, lurkers, and banelings. Once you learn how to do it for 1 of these units, you will be able to easily do it for all of them.
You can also use Add/Steal for splitting your army and doing run-bys, but only when you are stealing the units to an empty control group, or a control group you want to add to. Luckily, the terminology Add to control group is intuitive here.
Now that we know what these functions do, how do we add them to our Hotkey Layout without breaking our wrists in the process.
The first question is “Do I want to have units in more than one control group”. Some Terrans have their marines both in the main army and in a special side control group so they can pull them back quickly against banelings, allowing the marauders and thors to soak up the damage. Some Protoss have stalkers set up in a similar way to target fire vikings in PvT or Zergs for keeping their hydras behind their roaches when engaging with a ranged army. These are just small examples of what’s possible. If you are not interested in this functionality, simply replace your binds for create with create/steal and add with add/steal and your done. For everyone else, it’s going to take a little more effort.
If you have units in multiple control groups, you can’t get rid of, or replace any of the 4 control group options without sacrificing efficiency or utility. What you can do is prioritize them. Consider each of the 4 options and how often, and in what degree of time sensitivity you’ll be using each one of them, assuming you always go with the most efficient option. Then Create a second priority list with all of the modifiers and combinations of modifiers ranked from most to least ergonomic. Generally speaking it will look like this: [priority sheet] but feel free to adjust your list based on your personal anatomy and research.
I list all 7 options here for the sake of completeness as well as because it is often efficient to use some of these modifier for location hotkeys rather than reaching to the F keys, it may be a good time to re-consider investing in loss and improving your long term efficiency and utility through hotkeys. As long as shift is not involved, you can use modifiers with any key for cameras without conflict. This means you can have your first cameras on ASD if you like.
Finally when matching up these two lists, consider making adjustments for modifier synergy.
Control click, shift click, and control shift click are not customizable. But Control groups are! So you can make adjustments that streamline your control group management process, such as using control for add to control group, that way after control clicking eggs you can easily add them into whatever control group they belong in. There are tons of little synergies that you can set up, and they’re different depending on the mechanical style of each player, so consider the details of your action sequences and you will very likely locate some opportunities for increased efficiency.
After this last step, backup you hotkeys in a folder NOT IN STARCRAFT. Starcraft will sometimes revert some or all of your hotkeys to standard without warning, so it’s well worth taking the time to make a quick backup.
One last misconception before you go
Misconception #3: You can bind the steal functionality to any key you want.
While this is technically true, it really only makes sense on a modifier or modifier combination. To bind this functionality to a non-modifier you would in effect need 20 keys that could be used for nothing else in the game. 2 steal functons x 10 control groups, now, that’s taking hotkey inefficiency to a whole new level. The reason why modifiers work for this function is because the 1 modifier is applied to 10 keys to make key combinations. Each individual element of the key combination can be used on its own without causing conflict in the layout (most of the time).