TheCore is a completely new take on how to use a keyboard in Starcraft 2. It offers all 10 control groups, all 8 location keys, and out of 22 keys, 19 are adjacent to the resting position. All the common key combinations are planned out to flow smoothly without finger repetition. It is designed with both efficiency and ergonomics in mind so that you can enjoy the game without the keyboard getting in the way. TheCore is a pair of new running shoes: For a beginner, it will make running more comfortable. For an expert, it can make the difference between winning and losing.
The 5 Stages of TheCore A short explanation of what your experience will likely be should you choose to try TheCore.
The Players The list of high-level users, and a poll on the leagues and number of all active users.
Getting Started Watch this short video series before starting, in order to optimize your learning speed and get the most out of TheCore.
Resources More nitty gritty details on using TheCore and ways to efficiently learn the layout.
Frequently Asked Questions And we do mean frequently. Seriously, it's so much faster to read this than it is to ask one of these questions and then wait for an answer (which will probably be "Go read the FAQ"). Help us help you.
The Team Key contributors to TheCore and their other jobs, projects, activities etc.
What is this 240 page thread on hotkeys? Hmm, looks interesting. I'll give it a try.
Back to School
So it turns out you have no natural talent. You don't naturally remember dozens of hotkeys. Your fingers don't naturally press the right thing. Your brain doesn't naturally remember the right thing in the first place. It turns out what got you to where you are now is practice. TheCore has robbed you of that practice, worse, it has robbed you of your illusion of natural talent.
You have been promised a carrot. Either you are the victim of a horrible practical joke or this will get better. And it does. You build your first few structures and units faster. Then your next few. Then the learning curve decreases. The button for all the Terran transformer modes are the same, and your fingers remember. The buttons for building Zealots and Stalkers are the buttons for researching Charge and Blink and your fingers remember. The button for Zergling Speed is the same as the button for Hydralisk Speed, and your fingers remember.
The Point of No Return
You start to find new uses for Control Groups you thought would be useless. You react to drops and air harass with camera location keys that you thought you could never learn. You play for long hours and feel less tired. For fun, you try to play a game on your old hokey layout and realize that you'll never go back. You have reached the point of no return.
Poll: Do you use TheCore
Yes, I am in the Platinum League. (219)
Yes, I am in the Gold League. (213)
Yes, I am in the Diamond League. (173)
Yes, I am in the Silver League. (157)
Yes, I am in the Bronze League. (127)
Yes, I am in the Master's League. (111)
Yes, I am a pro/semi-pro player. (72)
Yes, I am in the Practice League. (68)
Yes, I am in the Grand Master's League. (66)
1206 total votes
Your vote: Do you use TheCore
(Vote): Yes, I am a pro/semi-pro player. (Vote): Yes, I am in the Grand Master's League. (Vote): Yes, I am in the Master's League. (Vote): Yes, I am in the Diamond League. (Vote): Yes, I am in the Platinum League. (Vote): Yes, I am in the Gold League. (Vote): Yes, I am in the Silver League. (Vote): Yes, I am in the Bronze League. (Vote): Yes, I am in the Practice League.
Current List of High-Level Players Learning or Using TheCore:
On December 22 2012 09:08 sanddbox_sc2 wrote: I think I've been using TheCore long enough to finally put my two cents in. I didn't want to post until I could put my full endorsement behind TheCore, and now that I'm fully updated it's that magical time. Up until a few days ago I was on a sort of bastardized core (because I made the switch right before several changes were made that I didn't want to learn after going through the process once). Now that I'm playing HOTS, I've updated to the most recent version and been really surprised what an improvement it was over the version I was previously using.
Switching to TheCore: If you play the game anywhere near a high level switching is going to be very painful for awhile - the first day you'll have trouble with very basic macro, but within a few days you'll find yourself learning the system and finding the hotkeys more natural. Completely learning the hotkey setup takes a lot longer than getting to a level of proficiency; like learning any skill, you'll run into the law of diminishing returns relatively quickly. My experience switching was made pretty painful because of some clan wars/showmatches I had to play in, so make sure you're not playing anything important within 3-4 weeks of switching (a month is really the time it takes to be able to tangibly feel the benefits, even though you'll be playing pretty well within a week).
The best way to switch is to dive right in, and now that TheCore is a lot more fleshed out you don't have to worry about huge, sweeping updates to the system. The hotkey trainers help, although no matter what you'll have to just play a lot of games. Once you're reasonably proficient with the setup, you'll be able to guess what the hotkey is for an upgrade without having ever seen it before; the hotkey setup is just that well-designed. Obviously it'll be a complete shift in terms of hotkeys, however, so don't expect it to be easy, but it's certainly worth it in the end.
Pros/Cons: TheCore is, to the best of my knowledge, the best and most intelligently designed hotkey setup out there, and although the learning curve is steep it's worth it in the end if you value your mechanics. I actually finally made the switch because of wrist pain (presumably some form of early RSI), and since then pain in my keyboard hand is basically gone; the setup itself is ridiculously more ergonomic than the standard setup.
The only real con besides the learning curve is that playing campaign, custom games, other games, etc obviously don't use TheCore, and it can feel weird having to go back to standard hotkeys at times (although, like anything, once you've learned a hotkey setup you'll never forget it). If you're debating switching and plan to be playing Starcraft for more than a month into the future, make the switch - you won't regret it, although your cortisol levels will rise for about the first week or so.
I'm now basically using the Standard version of the core, minus a few very minute adjustments (the biggest of which being that I don't use the layered inject method; I just hotkey each queen individually still).
The tilt of your hand is critical to getting the most out of TheCore. Getting your hand in the correct position is easy, though.
1: Remove the keys between alt and ctrl. If your left hand is on the keyboard you will need to remove two, if your right hand is on the keyboard, you’ll need to remove one. If you have a conventional keyboard, get a butter knife (or something similar) and slide it down the top side of the key. Remove key out by twisting the knife away from you, like a lever. Almost every keyboard ever allows you to safely remove keys this way. (if you have a mechanical keyboard, look up how to safely remove your keys, its very possible and easy to do safely) 2: Find a comfortable keyboard angle. The goal is to make resting your fingers on the home keys comfortable for your arm. For me, that means sliding the keyboard to the left, moving JIOP closer to my left hand, and tilting it quite a bit. Experiment to find a comfortable position. 3: Align your fingers. Place your fingers in the rest position. For most, this will be JIOP. J is the pinkie, P is the index. You need just the right angle to make this work. Tilt the keyboard so the when you curl your index, it moves straight down to ;. You’ll notice that the row below that has a greater offset, so you won’t line up perfectly with it. That’s exactly how we want it.
For WERG, it’s the same thing. Line your hand up so your index curls from W straight to S.
Now, with your hand in the correct place, take a second to study your layout. Practice pressing each button. Think about what units you’re selecting with the control group, think about issuing the attack command when pressing J or G.
Most of the abilities, from blink to stim to fungal, will be on Ability 1. Practice selecting a control group and then pressing the ability key. Just like in physical sports, imagining you performing the action serves as practice for your brain -- without the stress!
Now that you know how to strike the keys, it’s time to talk about control group.
TheCore basically is split into two sides, the control group side and ability side. The index and middle fingers are in charge of the control groups. The ring and pinky are in charge of the abilities. There are exceptions, but those are the basics.
After much consideration, we’ve concluded that subgroup production is generally the best way to macro. Here’s why:
1: Space There is so much you can do when properly using all of your control groups: harassing the enemy until they want to pull out their hair; easy, constant scouting; superior battle micro; not losing track of that overseer when the DTs march into your base. Things big and small that free up your memory and speed up your actions. We wanted to take these to the max.
But, macro is so important, doesn’t this slow it down?
2: Speed Having all the production facilities on one key (excluding CC, Nexus) allow you to check how everything is producing with one click, until you get over 24 production facilities. The select next subgroup (tab) button is now on a super easy key, making production faster. By having them all in one place, checking on the progress of an upgrade or colossus is just one click away. Everyone I’ve talked to finds that this actually improves their macro, and lets them spend more of their memory on other parts of the game.
3: Exceptions For zergs who like to separately control group their hatcheries, using the designated harass control groups for your other hatcheries works well. This is also great for hidden expos, or your natural and main, to ensure warriors are coming from the correct hatch. Though we don’t have the data to back it up, we tend to think the advantages for this fall off drastically in the mid game (slower production, enough map presence that you can have a safe rally point). IdrA, last time he had his control group revealed, uses individual control groups for his main and natural, and then combines them all into one once he gets his third. This get’s the FoxyJaK stamp of approval.
On another point, the layered cameras allow you to get the best of both worlds with only one more click. Use a hatch cam to go to the desired hatch, select it with the mouse, and then produce the units you want specifically from there. Or, if a hatch is dying, select all your hatches and then shift+click the undesired hatch.
If you try sub-group production and find you just can’t get it to work for you, consider placing the second-most-used production structure on a harass key instead. But we strongly suggest trying sub-group production, it’s very effective.
4: Specialization The layout control groups are oriented toward the late game, where control is at its most complex and neglected. Sometimes it won’t apply to your two-base timing or one base all in, if you’re working on optimizing one of these strategies, take the time to consider what bindings will be best for that -- it might include things like at tech lab on one of the harass keys.
TheCore has a few key bindings that have been carefully chosen to give you the fastest, most ergonomic control. The army key is placed to combo well with the casters, harass, ability keys, and macro keys, allowing you to swiftly control back and forth between them in the heat of battle. Changing the position of the army, casters, and viking/broodlord key is not recommended.
On the other hand, the harass keys are good for almost anything. They combo well with each other, making 3-pronged harass easier than ever. They combo well with abilities, thanks to the split. Use them for anything from monitoring upgrades, to observers and dropping Nydus. It was very important to us that players could express their own play styles while still having some of the best control possible. The harass keys do that -- we just call them harass because we don’t want players to fall into the trap of passivity, something that is very easy to get into the habit of when first switching. It’s usually better to default to an aggressive mindset than a passive one, only choosing to be passive when it’s a deliberate part of your strategy (as far as we understand the game).
Enhanced Practice Using a unit tester is key to smoothing the transition to the new layout. You’ll need to practice late game army control, or you’ll freeze when the time finally comes. Use a unit tester to practice engaging a friend using armies you’ll actually have in the late game. Use it to practice multitasking drops or flanks. Take breaks, but the goal is to practice engaging each of your strategies until you have the control you desire. This is truly a neglected “secret” called deliberate practice.
Likewise, build order testers allow you to quickly restart, skipping blizzard’s slow menus, the countdown timer, and load time, letting you practice your opening twice as much in the same amount of time. And since it’s so easy to start over, once you’ve got the hang of things up to about a 2-base timing, you can practice opening restarting every time you screw up, until your opening is super refined.
Now you’re ready for games with your friends, or ladder. Soon the layout will be second nature, and you will be a better player.
This lesson teaches muscle memory and requires a lot of practice. Since this is a beta, we may have to change how things work, screwing up what is learned here. Proceed at your own risk.
If you have patient friends, it’s time to play the baneling drop game. Start a game with him and expand to 5 bases. Spread your workers out to there are only 8 per base to prevent minning out. Your friend creates 5-6 transports (medivac, prism, overlord with upgrade) and puts workers in them.
These workers are now banelings. Your job is to learn to use the layered cameras to respond to threats. Your friend is going to simulate a mineral line tear-inducing bane drop by dropping his workers.
To simulate actually playing, you’re going to need to macro this whole time. Have your friend create a bunch of static defense at the front of his base. As you macro, you will constantly send your units to die, preventing you from maxing. Now you can macro the whole time, it’s time for the training.
Your friend starts by dropping your main. He will do this at random times, calling out he’s about to drop. Once he calls, keep checking the minimap. When you see the dropship appear, use the layered camera to move to your main base and pull your probes. A successful probe pull means you’re getting it!
Step up the difficulty from there. Now he doesn’t call out when he’s going to drop, so you have to keep looking at your minimap to pull. This takes a lot of repetition, but it will become second nature after practice and sleep. Then add your natural to the list of targets (he may need to call which base he’s dropping for a few tries so you can learn the reaches. Once you have the reach down, he drops silently.) Keep adding bases, practicing reaches, and then practicing your reaction time, all while macroing.
You are now a base cam god.
For most, it takes 2 sessions, separated by sleep (so your mind can solidify your practice), about an hour long each to get it down well. That’s only 6-8 games worth of time, and you get so much more out of it.
It will help to spend about 15 minutes practicing on maps you have trouble with to make it second nature.
As you can see, this is advanced practice, and it takes a patient friend. You should return the favor if he’s switching too. But once you make it second nature, SC2 feels smoother, snappier than ever before. Welcome to the world of enhanced control.
It greatly depends on your natural ability to adapt to change, but players often report between the range of 50-100 games for a basic understanding and feel of the layout and 100-200 games for a complete understanding and feel of the layout. Most players reach the point of no return after 2 weeks of daily play.
2. My Ctrl+Shift+0 doesn't work / I can’t create my Control Group. How do I fix this? + Show Spoiler +
1. Go to Control Panel. 2. Click Clock, Language, and Region Options. 3. Click Change input methods 4. In the left side click Advanced settings 5. Click Change languaje bar hot keys, and select Between input languages. 6. Click Change Key Sequence. 7. For Switch Keyboard Layout, select Not Assigned. 8. Click OK to close each dialog box.
3. Why does my camera move every time I try to set a camera?/Why is "Center on Current Selection" bound to Alt? + Show Spoiler +
Alt is set to "center on current selection" this is not a mistake. The reason for this is that 5-6 cameras are dedicated base location cameras that will snap to your base whenever you want to shift+click back to minerals, do a transfer, or defend against a drop. These cameras are set with Alt and recalled with Shift. The 2 remaining cameras are called free cams. These cameras are set differently depending on your version, so try it out in TheCore Visualizer. 3b. What if I want to set the "base location cameras" on an area where there is no building? + Show Spoiler +
7. Which Control Groups do you suggest I use for army, harass, macro, etc? + Show Spoiler +
Look at the "Suggested Control Groups" section on the your race’s page of TheCore Document
8. Why can't SCV and Probe be on J(G)? All the other primary units/abilities are on J(G). + Show Spoiler +
The SCV is produced from 3 different structures, one of which is the planetary fortress. Since the PF has an attack command, the SCV cannot be on J(G) without changing the attack command. The addition of photon overcharge gives the nexus an attack command as well, so the probe cannot be on J(G) either.
TheCore stresses tabbed production over things like the "Warp In" key. After weighing the pros and cons of each we found tabbed production to be superior. If you want to use the "Warp In" key, feel free to bind in the the place of one of the control groups.
TheCore uses a simple Acronym to help you find the version that is right for you. The first letter stands for the race: Protoss, Terran, Zerg, or Random. The second letter stand for the hand you use the mouse with: Left or Right. The third letter stands for the size: Small, Medium, or Large.
TheCore is a community project. It would be next to impossible to list every person who has contributed to the ideas and changes that have resulted in what TheCore is today. These are the people who have put the most time and effort into the project.
JaKaTaK JaKaTaK makes educational content for Starcraft 2 on his stream, YouTube Channel, SC2S, and other community threads like TL and Reddit. With FoxyMayhem, JaK created the first version of TheCore and is responsible for the final decisions regarding changes to TheCore. He also creates and maintains the seed file, documents, and answers questions and comments in the thread.
FoxyMayhem I co-created TheCore, wielding the experience from my first 3 layout designs to push the limits with JaK. It is the culmination of all the ideas and criteria, it's great to see it's growing adoption. I'm really happy to see how many people pitched in to refine and support it, now that I'm spending all my SC2 time on the OneGoal Project!
JDublinson Jonny "JDub" Weiss is a full-time software developer at Epic in Madison, WI, where he is captain of Epic's undefeated AHGL Team. JDub created the script that generates 44 of the 48 hotkey layouts based upon the initial 4 seed layouts that are maintained by hand. This script greatly sped up the development for TheCore, and has made it possible for the development team to support and maintain specific versions of TheCore for different races, hand-sizes, and languages. JDub's motivation for helping out was mainly personal, as he really wanted an up-to-date version of RRM 0.5 to use in season 3 of the AHGL, and maintaining 16+ versions of TheCore without a script had slowed TheCore update process to a crawl.
RaynorSnipe is on RaynorCommando, not Jim Raynor (Commando) but Jim Raynor (Sniper). Jim Rayor (Commando) is Raynor not RaynorCommando and does not snipe.
This is just one of the many lessons Sixtus learned when he began contributing to TheCore by adding campaign keys. Another lesson was "Do not put yourself through this again" but he must have lost that piece of paper because he came back for more with the release of HotS.
Sixtus also dabbled with writing motivational material, thankfully that was just a phase.
Ninjury Jeremy "Ninjury" Miller is a computer science and philosophy student at McGill university. Ninjury initially became involved with TheCore because he saw an opportunity to further enhance the Zerg layouts. Specifically, he aided with the design of the 3 ability / 1 Control group split of the home keys. He also facilitated the development of a layered control group for queens in order to make the layered inject method more efficient. Ninjury also helps maintain the Reference Spreadsheet and with answering questions and comments in the thread.
Graylin Kim Graylin Kim is a full time software developer for the New York State Senate where he works on open data projects and open source software. Graylin maintains sc2reader, a python library that gives developers and researchers open access to the detailed game play data that they need to build better tools and do better research. Graylin built sc2reader for fun over winter break in college continues to develop it thanks to fantastic projects like the TheCore and GGTracker that remind him why open data is really that awesome. sc2reader was used in conjunction with a program developed by Voltaire to analyze professional games in order to find which actions were most often executed during TheCore beta.
Download the most recent stable build of TheCore on SkyDrive
You can find the absolute most recent updates on TheCore on github
TheCore Visualizer TheCore Visualizer is the latest and greatest in hotkey visual representation. It is interactive and up to date with the latest version of TheCore. Great for getting a feel of what the layout might be like, or for practice when you can't play Starcraft.
TheCore Reference Spreadsheet Here you can find our suggestions for Control Groups and Camera Location Keys as well as a list of all the keys for your version of TheCore.
TheCore Archive is where you can find the changelog (eventually) as well as all of the switches, gears, pulleys, and levers that make TheCore work. Its not pretty. This is where you can check out the latest work on TheCore as it progresses as well as access all of the data that made TheCore what it is today. Enter at your own risk.
On June 03 2012 07:27 Sergio1992 wrote: For this release we have left and right handed layout for random players with or without 4th and 5th mouse buttons.
So there will be other releases? :D
Our plan is to eventually have 48 different versions so that each person can pick the one that is right for them :D
On June 03 2012 07:29 EU.Pink wrote: I don't understand. According to the setup if you use mouse in right hand you also have to use the right side of the keyboard only..? Isn't it supposed to be the other way around?
Not in this layout :D take a look at the video if you are confused about positioning.
Last edit: 2012-06-03 07:48:44
Imagination is more important than knowlege
iTzSnypah United States. June 03 2012 08:02. Posts 1251
I wish you would write out the hotkey binds for unit/building production. And what about the lazyman's camera hotkey, the base camera? I find I use it A LOT more than I thought (Terran, doesn't use camera binds).
Also I learned today that I'm a fingertip gripper. Yay me!
I've been using a heavily modified standard for a while now. I'M going to give this a shot tonight and see how it feels. I've been Really exited to see how this would work for me. So much announcement of announcementing I wasn't sure how much longer i could take the hype
Team Emanations | EmNBadgKat | teamemanations.com
JaKaTaK United States. June 03 2012 08:15. Posts 1495
On June 03 2012 08:13 BadgKat wrote: I've been using a heavily modified standard for a while now. I'M going to give this a shot tonight and see how it feels. I've been Really exited to see how this would work for me. So much announcement of announcementing I wasn't sure how much longer i could take the hype
Its going to be a weird at first, but having the shift key under my thumb feels soooo good now that I am used to it. GL HF
Imagination is more important than knowlege
bgalang92 United States. June 03 2012 08:44. Posts 155
Switching straight to this right away! I'm a bit confused about the camera hotkeys, unsure of how to optimally assign them. I'm hoping this"ll be released in time?
Feedback I can currently give, I find the "Cancel" command awkward. With a command that I use very frequently, having to remove my hand from the rest position and back is much more difficult the hitting the escape key then going back to my old 1-4 control groups. I've assigned it to the spacebar (EDIT:Left Arrow key), since I don't use the keyboard to scroll at all, but I may switch it back to F5 if I find it doesn't work out very well.
Last edit: 2012-06-03 08:49:47
7Sevii United States. June 03 2012 08:45. Posts 17
As far as the Mac stuff goes, I am not sure where you have to put it. My best guess would be to make a really silly unique name for your dummy hotkey file and then run a search for it. Then you will have the directory it needs to go in. Macs are a bit trickier with this kind of stuff.
He didn't look like he was playing there, but I'd definitely be interested to see if he does this while he's in a game as well.
On June 03 2012 08:44 bgalang92 wrote: Switching straight to this right away! I'm a bit confused about the camera hotkeys, unsure of how to optimally assign them. I'm hoping this"ll be released in time?
Feedback I can currently give, I find the "Cancel" command awkward. With a command that I use very frequently, having to remove my hand from the rest position and back is much more difficult the hitting the escape key then going back to my old 1-4 control groups. I've assigned it to the spacebar, since I don't use the last alert function at all, but I may switch it back to F5 if I find it doesn't work out very well.
We'll have a layered camera tutorial up as soon as we have the time. Basically the 5 layered cameras(set with alt) work best for your bases and the other 3(set with shift) can be used for whatever you feel is helpful :D
As far as Cancel goes, feel free to mess around with it until you're comfortable.
Last edit: 2012-06-03 08:53:19
Imagination is more important than knowlege
iTzSnypah United States. June 03 2012 08:53. Posts 1251
Everything you could ever want and more (hopefully). Enjoy. As far as the base camera is concerned, feel free to change it.
EDIT: you did watch the video on how to put the file so you don't have to do anything manually, right?
After reading the spreadsheet I think I'll be staying with my own custom hotkeys. Yours doesn't feel like its going to be efficient enough to get me to switch. Maybe after beta testing, when its more refined I'll come back and look.
I have to ask, why 'I' and then 'J' for spawn drone? I find that 'I' and then 'I' would be much quicker, especially because I and J are not the easiest to hit (as per your instructions its with the ring and pinky finger). Droning is a key part to Zerg, so I feel it should be an easier thing to do. For example, Darkgrid, hitting 'W' and then 'W' was so easy for making a drone, perhaps 'I' and then 'I' would be easier? I also feel like it would make sense because you make more drones than overlords, so the easier key hits should go to the more prominent units. Thats my thoughts so far for Zerg.
Still giving this a go, making adjustments as I see fit. So far its feeling very weird but thats expected, I'll get back when I test it more!
Thanks for your efforts by the way both of you ^^
EDIT: Missed bracket.
Last edit: 2012-06-03 08:55:50
Learn. Adapt. Evolve.
JaKaTaK United States. June 03 2012 08:57. Posts 1495
On June 03 2012 08:54 Cozzak wrote: I have to ask, why 'I' and then 'J' for spawn drone? I find that 'I' and then 'I' would be much quicker, especially because I and J are not the easiest to hit (as per your instructions its with the ring and pinky finger. Droning is a key part to Zerg, so I feel it should be an easier thing to do. For example, Darkgrid, hitting 'W' and then 'W' was so easy for making a drone, perhaps 'I' and then 'I' would be easier? I also feel like it would make sense because you make more drones than overlords, so the easier key hits should go to the more prominent units. Thats my thoughts so far for Zerg.
Still giving this a go, making adjustments as I see fit. So far its feeling very weird but thats expected, I'll get back when I test it more!
Thanks for your efforts by the way both of you ^^
Thank you so much man. As far as not using 'I' for drone, it is faster to hit PIJ than it is to hit PII (P is the optimal CG for hatcheries. The overlord is give the PII combination because you are likely building a specific number, and usually a lower number than other units.