Income Wars: Strategy Guide
(Huge thanks to Juglaz for writing the vast majority of this - I only brushed it up and added visuals)
The map is composed of two fields: the chooser field and the battlefield. The chooser field is where you pick which units to make etc., while the battlefield is where all the action takes place.
The only unit you can control and can be used to build units, defenses, heroes, etc. To make a unit simply move your chooser onto that unit’s square. When your chooser spawns a unit, it appears at your cannon on the battlefield and starts marching toward your opponents cannon. Choosers can also blink and patrol. Both abilities are very important and I will go into more detail on those later.
Resources are awarded every 30 seconds, and include 50 gas and your income in minerals. Most units cost 1 gas but some cost as much as 5 or more. The gas cost of a unit is indicated on the unit’s square. Note that gas dose not compound from round to round but gets reset to 50. You also see here the unit’s cost and income. Every time you make a unit, you spend the ‘cost’ amount and the ‘income’ amount is added to your income which is earned every 30 seconds. Thus, as you make units each round, your income increases and you are able to make more powerful units.
Spending All Your Income
Having a higher income than your opponents is one of the best advantages you can have. It is very important, particularly in the early game, to foster a strong income because this income advantage compounds as the game progresses.
There are essentially two things you can do to ensure that you are getting the most out of your income:
1. Build units with a high income ratio: This is the ratio between a unit’s cost and income (cost/income). But you don’t need to do the math. When you click on a unit, the box in the lower right-hand corner of the screen will tell you exactly what the ratio is. Note that higher cost doesn’t always mean worse income ratio, although this is the general trend.
2. Spend all your money: When you don’t spend all your minerals before the next income, you are missing out on additional income that could have been earned had those minerals been spent. Again, this is particularly important in the early game since your income compounds throughout the game.
While this is the best way to grow your income, it is not a good way to move in for the win. There are other tactics that can be used to make an aggressive attack that will be discussed later.
Patrolling & Blinking
There are two basic uses for patrolling:
1. You can patrol over two or more units at once to get a mix of units. It is often a good idea to build a variety of units as opposed to just one. More on this later.
2. Quick-Spawn is activated by patrolling onto a unit’s square, then right-clicking on the square.
You’ll notice that when your income comes in, you will build all your units in an instant. This method builds much faster than just moving or blinking onto a square.
Blinking is very useful for getting around the map quickly and can be used during a build to get units from different areas of the map in the same build.
I’m not going to get into all the different counter units, but knowing your counters is fundamental to this game. There are three great ways to learn your counters:
1. Study the units – When you are victorious in a game, you have the option to return to the game.
By doing this you have time to study the units. Note their type (biological, light, armored, etc.), damage bonuses (bonus against massive, area damage, multiple attacks, etc.), income ratio, move speed, abilities, etc.
2. Practice – Play lots of games and experiment with different counters.
3. Watch replays – This may be the best way to get better at this game, especially when you lose.
There are almost always multiple takeaways from doing this.
Saving is not good for your income as discussed earlier, but can be very useful in staging an aggressive attack.
A Two-Step is when you save an income and then spend those minerals right before the next income in order to get a double wave. By spending your resources right before the next income, you get two waves grouped together while still optimizing your income advantage.
Saving can also be done by making units that leave you with left over minerals while still using all 50 Vespene. This can be done opportunistically by using cheap counter units (Corruptors countering Battlecruisers for instance). While this is not always good for your income, it can be devastating when you go to spend all that saved up cash all at once.
Use Your Talent Points
This is extremely important to upgrade whenever you have the chance.
In the late game especially, you should be able to afford to purchase extra talent points via the "Talent Point Purchase" square next to the section with the heroes. It is extremely important to upgrade your talent points in the late game. More upgrades to your talent points means that each unit you produce is more valuable or in greater quantity - this is the case for both tier 1 and 2 talent points.
As for the tier 3 talent points, the only real viable ability in my opinion is the "Invincible Shield" ability - although your units may take damage under the shield, they are temporarily invincible. The other 2 abilities (flame turret and attack boost) just don't really compare.
Units that have a high move speed have a special use in this game. It is always a good idea to make something with a high move speed in the income after building a large push. This way the fast units catch up with your big wave making it even more lethal. Fast units are generally weak on their own so don’t send them out to die alone. Some fast units include Zerglings, Hellions, Wraiths, Predators, Uruns, Vultures, and Tauren Marines.
When you destroy your opponent’s bunker, everyone on your team is awarded 750 minerals. If done within the first 10 minutes or so, this can give you a nice income advantage. But don’t put too much stock into getting an early bunker because this advantage can be easily made up. It’s definitely not worth wasting your nukes or shields over.
It is almost always a good idea to have more units than your opponent. Spending all your cash on a few great units is usually a bad idea (excepting heroes of course). A good general strategy is to patrol over a group of units (2-3 or more) such that you have a well-rounded combo and you spend most over your minerals and most of your Vespene. The more variety you have the harder it is to counter. And of course, don’t forget the Talent Points discussed earlier to make each unit more valuable.
Heroes are absolutely critical in the late game. They cost 18,000 minerals and 40 Vespene. Once you build a hero you cannot build a different one unless you buy the ‘Reset Hero Selection’ just below the hero area (I never do this). Note that to build a hero you need to move onto its square after you have the required resources (you can’t just move onto the square at wait for the income). This is most easily accomplished by patrolling onto them.
It’s a good idea to make sure you always have your hero on the battlefield.
There is no one hero that is better than all the others. Some are very overt and deal damage to large swarms of units while others are illusive and deal massive damage to a single target. Some are very good against biological units while other have an armored bonus.
Stacking heroes is extremely powerful and difficult to counter. Consider effective combos of heroes. It's always good to experiment.
Nukes & Shields
Nukes and shields are precious and are not to be wasted. There are ONLY TWO cases in which either should be used:
1. You are about to lose.
2. You are about to win.
Don’t use them to get the bunker… it’s not worth it. Don’t use them to gain ground… ground can be easily lost. Note that just because you have a big swarm of units at your base, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to nuke them. Are they powerful enough to take out your cannon before the next income? Can you counter them with your next build? You can always repair your cannon with Mules after it’s taken a hit (although after 30 minutes have passed repair is disabled).
Early & Late Units
At any given point in the game there is a range of units that fit nicely into your income level. But there are tactical advantages to stepping outside that range.
When I say ‘Early Units’, I’m referring to building a unit that is so expensive that you can only make a few of them in one income. I usually like to two-step my early units to get a better bang for my buck. This is not good for your income so do it sparingly and only when you want to make a big push.
Some good early units include lurkers or Fatties. For the mid-game (about 10,000 income mark), you can get expensive units like Odins to put huge pressure on opponents. There are others that are good for different situations. Experimentation is key.
A ‘Late Unit’ is one that is much cheaper than what your income level would allow. Making late units provides some fodder to keep your opponents busy while you save for a giant wave. Some great late units include Immortals, Queens, and Infesters to name a few.
When there is AI added to the game or if someone leaves in the middle of a game, you’ll have more than one chooser at your disposal. You can bind them separately and try to manage them as individuals which can provide a great variety of units, but this is very difficult to maintain well.
Alternatively, you can bind them all to the same key and treat them as one chooser. Some people take this a step further and make sure that the incomes of all their choosers are exactly the same. To do this right you have to forgo the Config since you can only Config your own chooser. The advantage comes when you want to stack your heroes. If the choosers are all exactly the same, then you always know when the others are ready to make a hero.
For every 300 units that a team kills, that team is awarded a damage bonus percentage increase. An interesting note here is that as we discussed earlier, swarming is essential to winning. If you are swarming your opponent they are going to get more kills (usually). This usually results in your opponents getting a damage advantage.
But don’t worry… Additional talent points can be bought from just next to the heroes. It costs 5,000 minerals for an extra talent point. I don’t buy the talent points until I’m at about 18,000 income because it’s just not worth an entire income while your opponent has the opportunity to pressure you with your lack of an army.
ONLY buy talent points when you are ahead and his forces are far away. Getting swarmed by your opponents who have a damage advantage is the wrong moment to buy damage. When this happens you need to counter their units, gain some ground, and then buy damage. If you can’t counter them then you may need to nuke.
Tortoise or the Hare
The Tortoise always has the income advantage and is extremely careful with his nukes and shields. He rarely saves, or makes early units. He doesn’t do bunker rushes, and he always has the upper-hand in the late game.
The Hare takes out his opponents bunker as soon as possible through two-stepping and wave stacking. He makes lots of early units to gain ground and reach the opponents cannon. He’s not afraid to use nukes and shields to finish the game. The Hare loves to save with late units and make ultra-huge waves that can only be stopped with a nuke. He likes to make super-early overt heroes like Kerrigan. The Hare usually wins in the mid-game or not at all.