While this guide covers all of Starcraft 2's multiplayer achievements, you'll want to take a look at this Starcraft 2 campaign guide for single player achievements. It's debatable whether or not achievements are an inherently "good" thing to have in games, but they're here to stay.
Whether you love or hate them, Blizzard decided to add hundreds of achievements to Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty. Are they inventive? Most of them are the old, tired grindfest nightmares: win 1,000 matches as Protoss! Kill 50 milion units. Play the game for fifteen straight years.
Thankfully, they're not worthless titles. The more difficult achievements, at least, unlock new portraits and unit decals for you to spice up your profile. Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II had far more comprehensive unit appearance customization, but I guess I can't complain too much about what is an "extra" feature in Starcraft II.
Don't earn these achievements because you care about what other people think. The number of people who don't care about achievements far outnumber the people who do, and if that's your deal, just focus on winning league games. Some achievements are spectacularly difficult to earn, though, and those are the ones you'll be able to talk about years from now with a nostalgic gaming pride.
Exploration achievements mainly deal with the Challenge missions, accessible from the Single Player tab by clicking on "Play Challenge." Each Challenge mission has a slightly different objective. In one, you have to rush your economy and defend against increasingly tough waves of Zerg. In another, you have a limited number of Protoss units, but you have to rack up as many kills as possible in just a few minutes.
Each Challenge scenario has three medals (bronze, silver, and gold), and you'll need to pick up all three in each of them. Getting all the medals for all of the Challenge missions gets you a new profile portrait, and you can generally complete these missions in about 5 minutes. Unfortunately, gold is a challenge, so be prepared to restart the Challenge several times once you understand which units are available and what strategies you'll need to use.
The rest of the Exploration SC2 achievements focus on custom, FFA, 1v1, and team league games, but you can unlock these particular achievements simply by winning a few matches of each type. Only the Challenge missions provide any sort of difficulty, and Exploration achievements are a quick way to rack up some quick unlocks.
The easiest achievement in the world requires absolutely no effort on your part. "Play Replay" only requires you to view any Battle.net replay, which takes perhaps 5 seconds. Is that really an achievement? You'd almost expect "Breathe" and "Successfully Install the Game" to be achievements. Fortunately, Exploration is the outlier in terms of difficulty. The remaining groups all take more dedication or time to earn.
Starcraft II Custom Game achievements are split up by A.I. difficulty. You won't be playing with friends, but you will be playing 1v1, FFA, team A.I., and "outmatched," all with A.I. allies and opponents. Medium, hard, very hard, and insane A.I. provide varying levels of difficulty, and you'll have to play with different race combinations to earn all the achievements.
- Medium is pretty easy, especially once you've played through the campaign and some normal matches
- Hard isn't bad either, but you can't screw around as much
- Very hard demands some advanced strategies
- Insane is, as the name suggests, absolutely insane. Insane A.I. receives a significant bonus from mining resources, so they can produce twice the troops as you in the first several minutes. It only gets worse from there. Cannon rushing can work against one or two insane A.I. opponents. If there are more opponents or you aren't Protoss, turtle like crazy for the first few minutes. If you have incredible micro, you might be able to outwit superior numbers of troops, but if that's the case, you probably aren't reading this guide. Be prepared to lose many matches against insane A.I. opponents. If you can't out-micro your enemy, teching up is your only real option left.
Blizzard Mod achievements require you to play custom games like the old "Use Map Settings," or UMS, maps from the original Starcraft. Simply scroll down in the custom games list to find new matches in popular maps like Aiur Chef and Left 2 Die. Earn these achievements sooner than later because they might not be as popular later, making it difficult to play them (and earn their achievements).
Cooperative achievements are just like Custom Game achievements except your allies are human players this time around. Set up cooperative games from the multiplayer panel, but put A.I. only on the opposing team. You'll need to win a respectable 250 cooperative games against insane A.I. teams to earn the awe inspiring "Co-Op Stomp: Insane 250" achievement. Mix up the teams' races to unlock the "Race A.I." achievements.
The fastest way to earn all the Cooperative (and Custom Game) achievements is to only fight against insane A.I. teams. The challenge will be great, but fighting against insane A.I. counts towards all the lesser difficulties as well. It's the same reason many players choose a random race instead of Terran, Zerg, or Protoss. Random counts towards both "random" and the race you end up playing. For racial achievements, you get two achievements for the price of one. For difficulty achievements, you receive credit for four instead of one.
If insane is too difficult (and don't fret about it if it is), starting at hard or very hard will at least credit your medium A.I. Cooperative achievements at the same time. You won't get credit for all the difficulties, but you can still work towards two or three at the same time.
Cooperative games also allow you to effectively work together with a human ally. A.I. teammates tend to do their own thing. You can ping the map and hope that they'll attack a specific target, but you'll never see A.I. allies help you build siege tanks and lay in wait for your enemies. A.I. also tends to forgo strategies like harassment in favor of large scale offensives designed to overwhelm your own defenses.
Quick Match Achievements
Starcraft 2 Quick Match achievements are actually fairly easy to acquire. You just have to be willing to grind through them for weeks and months. Basically, you pick them up as you use the basic matchmaking functionality and win matches. There's not much more to it than that, and some of the tougher achievements unlock some very cool profile pics.
There's nothing fancy about unlocking these achievements. Just win matches. With Starcraft 2's thankfully balanced matchmaking feature, average players should win about 50% of their games. Of course, some will win more and some less, but even if you're frankly terrible at the game, you should generally be pitted against players of equivalent skill. Even experienced players should find themselves in balanced matches most of the time.
It's time consuming, but it's a sure thing so long as you keep at it.
You'll have to rack up literally thousands of victories in 1v1 matches to earn all the Solo League quick match achievements. The very first tier of achievements start at 10 victories for each race choice (Terran, Zerg, Protoss, and random). Playing random means you earn Terran, Zerg, and Protoss achievements at about 1/3 the speed, but it's faster overall for earning all the racial achievements at the same time. If you play random and win 1,000 matches as each race, you'll only have played 3,000 total matches. If you choose each race individually, you'll have to play a depressing 4,000 matches.
Yes, there were players who unlocked the Queen of Blades and Tassadar portraits (for 1,000 wins each as Zerg and Protoss) a few months after the game went live, but those players probably forgot to feed their children or pass out once every few days. Here's some simple math to describe how long it will take you to earn these achievements. If you play the game every single day and win about 10 matches (which will take at least 2-3 hours), you'll be unlocking the top achievements about a year from now. That's only for Solo League. We haven't touched Team League and Competitive achievements yet.
The SC2 Team League achievements are the exact same as the solo league ones except you earn them, of course, on a team. Choose a 2v2, 3v3, or 4v4 game from the Quick Match panel (all three contribute wins to your Team League achievement counters).
Once again, the portrait unlocks at the end are the coolest rewards you'll pick up. You briefly met Artanis in the Prophecy missions in the campaign (or Starcraft: Brood War if you played the first Starcraft's expansion pack), and winning a daunting 1,000 team league matches as Protoss unlocks his portrait for you. At 750 and 1,000 wins playing as random, you'll also unlock the Archon and Hybrid Reaver. The Zerg Leviathan and Terran Diamondback portraits are decent enough, I suppose, but they don't hold up to the Protoss and random race ones.
Just like for the solo league achievements, the fastest way to rack up wins across the board is to play at random. If you just want to focus on one race, specializing in Terran, Zerg, or Protoss will earn you those individual achievements faster, but you'll be stuck at the beginning if you'd like to start unlocking other racial portraits.
FFA, or free-for-all, quick matches aren't quite as popular as 1v1 and team games. Instead of a 50% chance of winning, you'll win closer to 25% of your FFA games. Good players will win more, and mediocre players will win even less. From personal experience, there's less balance in these matches. You're occasionally stuck with players new to the game and Top 8 Grandmaster champions in other matches.
However, the games provide more surprises. There's a wider variety of strategies at play. Many players rush in the beginning few minutes, only to find themselves vulnerable against someone who continued training units. Turtling players can be overpowered by somebody who quickly expanded.
Fortunately, you only have to win 800 matches (instead of 1,000) for the top Starcraft II FFA achievements. That helps with the lower win rate, but you'll still end up having to play twice the number of matches as Solo and Team League achievements require. All the Quick Match achievements require dedication over skill. Don't shoot for them unless you're playing the game for the long run. Trying to pick up Quick Match achievements when you're only trying Starcraft II out for a few weeks is just a waste of your time.
Combat SC2 achievements are, so far as I can tell, fairly miscellaneous. Each one requires a slightly different action to unlock, and you won't get any reward beyond achievement points (and the ability to place these achievements in your profile's showcase). Some are easy to pick up just through general playing, but you'll have to devote one or two games to getting the rest. Fortunately, each one is much easier to unlock than, say, Quick Match achievements if for no other reason than you'll only have to play one or two games instead of several thousand.
What's lacking in quantity is more than made up for in quality. Unless you're really good at the game, some will be close to impossible to earn. A few have posed such a problem, you might have to collaborate with your opponents to earn them, and good luck with that.
Economy achievements are about what you'd expect from the name. Mine resources and construct buildings and units very quickly for these achievements. Two of them, like "Fast Expand" and "The Rich Get Richer," work with any race. You have to build an expansion (command center, hatchery, or nexus) in the first 225 seconds of a game or deplete 10 yellow mineral nodes, respectively. The first is fairly easy, but the second's pretty dificult since most yellow mineral nodes are located halfway between your main base and your enemy's.
The other Economy achievements are race specific, and it's really hard to earn two of them in the same game, so expect to play at least one match for each individual achievement.
- "It's Morphing Time" – Morph a lair in a little less than 5 minutes
- "Zergling Rush" – 20 zerglings within 255 seconds
The other races have the same achievements, except Terrans have to build a factor and several Marines while Protoss build a Twilight Council and Zealots in roughly the same time. Terran players can also earn the "Just a Scratch" achievement by repairing at least 1,000 damage on their own and allied buildings and units.
To earn the capstone achievement, "City Builder," you'll of course have to complete all the other economy achievements. Most of these achievements can be earned simply by focusing on them early on in a game, but you'll probably want to look at specific build orders to easily breeze past them.
Here's where the achievements become varied, fun, and challenging. Unfortunately, melee combat SC2 achievements really require your opponents (in melee games) to perform specific actions, and you can't earn most of them on your own. For example, "Can't Touch This" requires you to dodge a Raven's seeker missile, but you can't earn it unless your opponent builds a Raven.
"Psionic Death" sounds simple enough – kill 20 units with a single high templar in a game, but you aren't really going to manage that unless your enemy sends waves and waves of zerglings or marines your way.
That's not to say that you'll have to wait for your opponents to use truly weird strategies. If you keep on playing, you'll finally have the opportunity to repair 8 burning buildings as Terran or kill off a number of cloaked and burrowed units.
However, the chance that you'll be able to earn these achievements in a single game is comparatively small to the solo-friendly Economy achievements just above. This advice might sound lame, but you'll just have to keep on playing, waiting for your opponent to use the right strategy so you can earn these achievements.
Thankfully, you have a bit more control over League Combat achievements than the Melee Combat ones, but you'll have to pursue a very specialized strategy for most of them, strategies that might leave you open to an easy counter if you aren't careful.
"A Roach's Life" is fairly interesting, since you have to regenerate a staggering 500 health on a single Roach without taking friendly fire. This one's far easier early on in the game before players can build up huge armies. A Roach has a decent amount of health and can withstand fairly heavy firepower, but the poor Roach won't stand well against air units, siege tanks, or mass marines and marauders. You'll want to research fast Roach movement, Zerg burrowing, and burrowed movement.
Want a sick challenge? "Unbreakable!" requires you to kill 40 enemy units with a single unit of your own. You'll never earn this achievement with tier 1 units like marines or zerglings. Battlecruisers, High Templars, Colossi, and even Infestors stand a fair chance, but you'll really want to be routing your opponents if you want a slim chance to unlock this achievement, and even then, it's not a sure thing.
Blizzard did include one achievement that is incredibly stupid and almost impossible to unlock. "Meet the Spy" requires you to kill five changelings in a league game. I'm sure some Zerg players use changelings extensively, but I generally only see one or two a game, if that. If you ask your opponents nicely, they might just throw you a bone and send some changelings your way.
Feats of Strength
If the past three pages of achievements have you thinking it'll take about ten years to earn all of them, the Starcraft II feats of strength achievements will provide a welcome relief. These are little more than little bonuses Blizzard tossed to players, and there are only a few you can actually work towards unlocking.
Let's start with the feats of strength achievements you can unlock in multiplayer. There's are a number of Top 8 achievements for finishing a season in the top 8 (out of 100) spots in a league. This one didn't go into effect until season 2, but we can expect to see more of them going into future seasons.
"Hot Shot" is more challenging, and you don't get many chances to get it right. You have to finish a qualification round without losing any matches, and if you lose at least one match in each qualification round, you'll have to wait until the next season.
There are, of course, the requisite "pay Blizzard money" achievements. All right, they're actually called "Devoted Fan," "Cataclysmic Devotion," and "BlizzConqueror 2011," but "pay Blizzard money" is more accurate. You can only unlock these if you purchased the collector's edition of SC2, the collector's edition of WoW: Cataclysm, or tickets to Blizzcon 2010.
The last are unlockable in the campaigns, and there's no good reason for them to be in feats of strength other than being particularly difficult to unlock.
Kill all Zerg structures in The Devil's Playground on normal to unlock "The Scenic Route." Doing the same to the Protoss in Welcome to the Jungle gets you "You're So Crazy!" The last one will probably take a few attempts, but you have to lure the Brutalisk in Piercing the Shroud back to the A.R.E.S. and kill it with the machine.
A few more that probably should have been included were "Red Lobster" from The Devil's Playground, where you kill the Bbrutalisk with rising lava, and "One Shot, Fifty Kills!" from Belly of the Beast. The name says it all for that one.
Jumping Into the Deep End
So you've completed the single player campaign and have toyed with the idea of testing your skills online. Expect to get your butt kicked repeatedly. The campaign, as in any RTS, probably did a very poor job of preparing you against other human players. However, scrolling through the list of SC2 achievements will give you some idea of what strategies are available in the "real" Starcraft 2 – league play, that is.
By rewarding players for performing such feats as "Killing 20 units with sniper rounds" in a single game, Blizzard gave players an incentive to try out new strategies that they might otherwise never consider.
Most games do revolve around that early 5- or 6-minute push or the later offensive with Mutalisk harassment and the slow crawl of siege tanks across the battlefield. However, there's always going to be that game when a Zerg player kills off your entire swarm of 30 Mutalisks with 3 Infestors or a Phoenix squadron coming up behind your lines to decimate your siege tanks (just before the enemy ground rushes in and overwhelms your own army).
I'm not trying to suggest that achievement promote these different strategies, but they do open the window for new players to test some of them out. Thinking back to the campaign, without the "Red Lobster" achievement, I never would have spent the time or repeatedly reloaded the mission to use lava to kill the Brutalisk. Achievements gave me some incentive to try out using Ghosts, Ravens, and Infestors in multiplayer.
Getting Primed for Heart of the Swarm
It's pretty early on yet. Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty has only been out for about a year, and we'll likely be waiting at least another year before Blizzard ships Heart of the Swarm. It's doubtful that Starcraft II's first expansion pack will feature the same number of achievements. Multiplayer won't be radically changed, and the races will have most of the same units with just a few additions scattered here and there.
Nobody even seems to know if Wings of Liberty's achievements will carry over into Heart of the Swarm. If Blizzard were to ask players to win another 3,000+ team league games, such an achievement would be bittersweet, especially since Wings of Liberty would be forgotten by most players at they migrated to the expansion pack. With so few additions, could any expansion pack hope to double the number of Starcraft II achievements? There will be a few more, but a scenario in which Blizzard adds hundreds of new achievements seems unlikely at best.
- Author’s experience.
- Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty. Blizzard Entertainment. 2010.