Damage to Value: Choosing the Best Target

By Kevin “qxc” Riley of Complexity Gaming

In a fight, you want to maximize your own damage output while minimizing the damage output of your opponent. That means any unit that has bonus damage generally wants to target the unit they do bonus to rather than anything else. In addition, some units have a lot of hitpoints for the amount of damage they do. Generally stalkers are one of the last things to target when fighting protoss because they have a significant amount of hitpoints and armor, but do some of the lowest damage in the game. If you don’t know the numbers, take a moment and head over to liquipedia and take a look.

Against protoss the best targets are (in some order depending on the point in the game and situation) colossus, immortal, high templar, dark templar, oracle, followed by zealots/archons followed by everything else (with some exceptions – voidrays are much more important when defending allins for example than they would be in other situations).

When damaging your opponent’s infrastructure, a similar logic applies. You want to deal damage to the things that give the maximum return for damage dealt. Workers are, in 99% of situations, the best target. At ~40 hitpoints and minimal armor, and a cost of 50 minerals they are worth several times more in terms of damage dealt -> resources lost.

Consider the following:

  • Every 40 damage kills 1 worker (50 minerals)
  • A barracks has ~1000 hp, that’s 1000 damage for 150 minerals.
  • A supply depot has ~400 hp, that’s 400 damage for 100 minerals


400 damage in workers is 500 minerals. It’s very obvious that workers are going to be the greatest resource lost -> damage dealt you can do to your opponent. There are few situations in which you don’t want to target workers, although better players will recognize this weakness and move workers away from danger asap.

If there are no workers, then currently active upgrade structures are usually the next most important. Stim, shields, +1/+1, charge/blink. These structures tend to have a relatively low amount of life, cost a lot of money (including gas) to replace, and the delaying of upgrades usually leads to big opportunities for aggression in the coming minutes.

After that, aim for tech structures such as templar archives, robotics bay, spire, baneling nest, spawning pool, factory, starport, addons and the like. These are also relatively low hitpoints, often high cost, and also can lead to big timing attacks.

Finally, you can clean up supply structures/production if nothing else presents itself, but these are some of the worst targets due to their high hitpoints relative to their cost.

Notice that so far I haven’t mentioned cc/nexus/hatchery at all. That is because these structures have the most hitpoints out of basically anything in the base. The decision to target a main structure should be based on how much time you have. In most cases, there will be insufficient time to actually focus down a nexus and you would rather kill some smaller things than do 1500 damage to a nexus and leave it standing (as this often results in ~0 damage actually dealt). If a main structure can be killed, that is often significant enough to ‘end’ the game assuming relatively equal positions and skill, but due to their very high hitpoints this is often impossible and targeting one of these structures and failing to kill it is pretty much worst case scenario. The safest way to deal damage with a drop/attack on infrastructure is to aim for the targets I listed above, in that order.

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