Help for other RTS players

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This list outlines some of the main differences and similarities between ZK and Starcraft (other games could be added here as well). It could give a head start to players learning ZK who are already familiar with popular RTS games.

Units and UI[edit]

Give Attack Orders rarely[edit]

Nearly all mobile units can fire while moving. This means that instead of giving force fire commands you should focus on the positioning of your units. Micromanagement is mostly done with move orders.

Right Click+Drag to give Move Orders[edit]

A normal right click will give a move order. But Right-Clicking and dragging will give a line-move order which positions your units along a line. This is a much more powerful way of giving move orders and quickly deploying formations. Units cannot fire through each other and AoE weapons are common so using line-move is required.

'Attack-Move' and 'Patrol' Orders enable Unit AI[edit]

Long ranged units with an Attack-Move or Patrol command will automatically kite. Short ranged units will attempt to dodge shots. This behaviour is not as good as a player could implement but it means units can be ignored for some seconds.

Advanced commands[edit]

Zero-K has many advanced commands that automate manual tasks from other games, a list of the most common ones can be found here.


Queue Construction[edit]

Shift queuing units and structures does not reserve the resources as it does in Starcraft. Queues have no downsides. There are many advanced queueing options to simplify the creation of queues.

Resources are Spent Continuously, not in Batches[edit]

Constructors and factories work by constantly draining resources to add the the progress of a project. If you are trying to drain more than your income each project will take longer.

Metal and Energy costs are equal[edit]

The cost value of a unit is both its Metal and Energy cost. As a rule of thumb try to have slightly more energy income than metal income. Both resources are equally required for production; energy is also required for some unit abilities. Excess energy is automatically converted into bonus metal.


The wreckage of dead units can be reclaimed for metal. This is an important part of the economy. Map features such as rocks and trees can also be reclaimed.

Game Flow[edit]

Constantly Expand[edit]

Expansion in Zero-K is about taking control of an area and building Metal Extractors. This should be done gradually throughout the game in multiple directions at once. Defense for each Metal Extractor should be no more than a Picket or Lotus. Your Commander is a powerful tool for expanding and defending the most pressured edge of your territory.

Constantly Raid[edit]

Raiding is similarly gradual. Raid the outlying Metal Extractors, not the base.