Attacks and armor
Warcraft III in general consist of two parts: Micro and Macro. Macro are the strategic decisions you have to do in every strategy game, Micro is the controlling of every single unit. Warcraft III is often said to consist of 70% Micro, 30% Macro. That means, that your Micro is far more important for victory. However since Micro is used only during combat, you will be doing Macro most of the time.
Micro starts out with using all of your units according to their specific traits. That means ranged units (who usually do not have very many hitpoints) stand in the back of the army and use focus fire (all of them fire at the same target to neutralize it as fast as possible) and the melee units stand up front in a row against the other melee units, in order to prevent them from getting to the vulnerable ranged units. Another part of units is to try to prevent your units from dying. The aforementioned focus fire is used to kill ONE unit fast. That means it cannot do any damage afterwards obviously. It is a much better idea trying to get your units out of a fight if you notice it is losing hitpoints rapidly and then sending it into battle again. Keep in mind that a unit that is ALMOST dead still does the same damage as a unit that has full hitpoints. A unit that IS dead doesn't do any damage at all!
In order to be more effective at Warcraft 3 (and any similar game), it is essential to use the keyboard a lot. For example, you need to be able to select units with the keyboard. Supposing you have a group of melee units and some artillery. You want your melee units to attack the enemy mobile units while your artillery separately and simultaneously attacks static defenses. Let's say you decide to label the melee units with "group 1" and the artillery with "group 7".
Select your melee units (with the mouse, just this once). Press+ . Select the siege weapons and press + . Now you can select these elements separately with the keyboard, by pressing "1" or "7", respectively.
Macro means doing a lot of things at the same time. It's not just about building your buildings and units, it's far more than that. Macro includes producing, scouting, expanding, decision making of all sorts:
To be a successful player you have to always know what your enemy is up to. And for this you need scouting. Scouting means sending out units or using abilities to see each and every step your enemy is making. You should periodically send out units to see
- ...where your enemies start. You should do this right at the beginning. Send out one of the first peasants you produce to check where your enemy starts. (see the build order sections for each race) You need this for your decisions on where to creep, where to expand, and where to scout. In order for this to be successful you need to know the map, because you need to know the possible starting positions.
- ...what your enemy is building. Even though there are some strategies that are played most of the times, your enemy could always do something different or try to surprise you. To prevent being overrun by units that you have no counter to, you need to scout regularly what the enemy is building. For this you can send out basically any unit you want into the enemies base. Often these are peasants, because you can regularly afford to lose them, but even better units are "free" units like illusions or summons. If you have the possibility to make your units invisible (Blademaster, sorceresses) you can send invisible units into the enemies base without the risk of losing them. There are also abilitios which allow to scout easily. The magic sentry upgrade for Arcane Towers gives them a skill to reveal a part of the map, You can buy the same ability at the Goblin Laboratory for 50 Gold. (which is cheap) Additionally to these there are tons of possibilities to scout the enemies base.
After you have scouted the enemy base you know which buildings they have, fine, but what do you get from this? Here comes the next important part of this: You have to know about the enemies race. What does it mean if an undead is Tier 3 and has 2 Slaughterhouses? How do I see if his mainbuilding is Tier 3 or Tier 2? You have to be able to answer these questions yourself, but it is in fact fairly easy to learn that. If you don't want to risk losing in order to learn, then watch replays or read the strategy guides for the other races.
- ...where your enemies expands. You always have to make sure that your enemy is not expanding. And if he is expanding you have to attack that expansion as soon as possible. Ideally even before it is finished. But to be able to attack even before it is finished you have to scout it even before it is finished. There are certain times when you should send out a scout unit to check all possible expansion spots to check whether your enemy is scouting or not. When to scout varies depending on map and enemy race. Humans and nightelves expand more often, Undeads expand rarely. The map Lost Temple is great for expansions, so scout often there, Turtle Rock is not so great. But whatever you do, you should at least scout every few minutes. You can do this in several ways. You can send scout units, you can place wisps or scout farms at strategically important points, you can use abilities, or you can use many of the other possibilities. There are also certain signs that show whether an enemy is expanding or not. If he stays on Tier 1 especially long (scout his base) he is almost certainly doing a fast expansion, if your scout units accidentally run into his army and he has got peasants with him, he will almost certainly want to move them to build an expansion. But remember: While there may be certain times when to scout, there are no times when not to scout.
- ...where your enemy is. This is a rather small part of scouting. Since the enemy is most likely always moving his army it is almost impossible to always know where he is, except if you have an invisible unit attached to him or if you have feary fire casted on him. But there are situations when you should know where he is. For example it can be valuable to know when the enemy is creeping a big creep spot close to you. You can then rush into his back and he will have to fight against you and the creeps at the same time, resulting in an almost certain loss. To do this you can place scout wisps at strategic points. Especially near possible expansions. On the other hand you don't want the enemy to attack you while you are creeping. So don't use all your units to creep, but place 1 or 2 units behind you to make sure that the enemy is not there. If the enemy should appear behind you it should give you a few extra seconds to adjust yourself for a fight or to retreat. Similarly you can place one scout wisp or scout farm outside your base to be warned when the enemy wants to attack. Those extra seconds can be crucial.
Producing is pretty much self-explanatory. Simply put it means that you have to produce the right units, to counter the enemy. In order to do this efficiently you have to scout which units the enemy has, and you have to know which of your units you should build against his. You also have to know where to build them. It's not very productive if you build every possible building and then check each to see where to build which unit. Ideally you should have only the producing buildings you need. Each additional one costs money and resulsts in a slight disadvantage in battle, because the enemy is able to build more. However you also need enough producing buildings. If you have an expansion you will get more money, so will have to be able to produce faster to spend the money faster. Some units like priests are cheap to produce, but take long, so you need to have 2 Arcane Sancti if you want to constantly produce from them.
If you notice that your gold increases constantly though you are constantly producing, chances are that you don't have enough buildings. Also you should ideally be always producing in your buildings. That means that you have to have enough farms to build the units you want. That also means that you shouldn't stop building while in a fight. Especially rookie players often stop producing while in battle to concentrate more on the battle. But if the enemy constantly receives reinforcements, and you don't, you will almost certainly lose the battle. But while you should in theory always be producing, it's often better to safe your money for something bigger. A second hero for example or an expansion, items too. Especially Humans need healscrolls which cost 250 gold each, so you have to save a long time to get some of them - So all in all you have to make a lot more decisions then just "which unit do I build next?". And you have to do those decisions all the time.
When should I expand and when should I not expand? Expanding means assigning a second goldmine so that you have in theory double the income of your enemy. This allows of course to build double the amount of units of the enemies, which would result in a safe win. But expanding is a risky business. That's because you will spend a whole lot of money on your expansion. You have to pay threehundredsomething for a second main building, build more peasants, build some defense for your new expansion etc. This means that you will lose a whole lot of money when expanding, and that the expansion will have to run a good amount of time before it is worth it. Since you can't spend that money on your army, your enemy will most likely win a battle if he attacks during that time. That means an expansion puts you at a disadvantage over a short time period, but in the long term puts you in an advantage. So when you plan to expand you have to consider if you can hold the expansion long enough. That means, that you should expand when you don't expect an attack soon, or when you are already at an advantage. If you have just won a large battle, and the enemy will need some time to recover you might consider either finishing him off, or expanding.
If you expand, you will put yourself at an even greater advantage thus making the game a sure win, but it will take longer than just finishing the enemy. Another situation is the very early game in which you might consider expanding. A so called fast expansion is often hard to destroy by the enemy because he simply doesn't have enough units at that time. But if he manages to destroy your expansion you will lose a huge amount of money early in the game, which often results in instant defeat. Another time at which expanding might be useful is, if you think your army is strong enough for the moment, and if you don't expect the enemy to scout the expansion. Because if he doesn't scout it it is unlikely that he will try to attack you during your period of weakness. On each map there are some gold mines which are scouted less frequently, or not at all. If you expand on those goldmines, and avoid a direct battle during your period of weakness, it will put you at a huge advantage, and the enemy won't even know what hit him when you suddenly attack with a huge army. Lastly, the most obvious time for expanding is, when your main goldmine is empty. If it is empty and you don't have a new income source you will lose.