Desert Strike HotS: gas rush

Every now and then I play Desert Strike HotS, which is an arcade game on the StarCraft 2 platform.

It is a 3v3 tug of war game. You place units on your platform, and they all spawn periodically and head towards the other side of the map. The game ends when you kill the base of the enemy team.


You cannot control the units after they spawned (with the exception of some abilities), they just engage the enemy units as the AI sees fit. That means placement of units can be almost as important as what units you choose to counter the enemy force.

To place units, you need minerals, which you get though a steady income. Every second or so you get some minerals. The team that controls the centre gets 15% bonus income. You control the centre by having the battle take place on the other side of the centre line. A second way to increase your income is to “build a gas” (a refinery building). Doing so costs 100 minerals and pauses your income for some time. Each new gas you place pauses your income longer. Once the gas finished, your income resumes, with a 10% bonus. You can maximum build 3 gas (plus an additional one in late game). Halfway between the centre line and the enemy base on each side, there is a tower (defensive structure) of the team on that side. Killing this enemy tower gets each player of the team 200 minerals.

Those are the basic game mechanics, in particular those related to economy. This post is on how it is a bad idea to rush building gas, something a lot of people are doing. And most of them don’t seem to understand why it is unwise, even while it’s so simple.

10% income bonus is nice. However, 15% income bonus for both you and your two allies is clearly nicer. Quantifiable so: 4.5 times.

Now this 4.5x advantage is not holding into account two additional relevant factors. If the advantage is 4.5x, it means the enemy team has to build 4.5 gas to cancel out your centre control. That means all their players need to invest in a gas, and two need to even get their second gas (which is more expensive than the first). At that point you are even income wise, assuming your team did not build any gas yet. Phrasing it like this makes it clear that your team can however build one, and then be ahead. The second factor is that having these gas does not give you a tactical advantage, while controlling the centre does. It means you are closer to their tower, and if you take it out, you get that 200 minerals bonus.

So clearly, the best investment you can make is securing the centre. And jeopardizing centre control for getting a gas is folly. One should only get gas during periods in which the centre is secure.

Unless your opponents don’t know how to play (hint: gas rush is a good indication), you will need all the minerals you have dedicated to controlling the centre. At the beginning of the game, you have few units. Every mineral makes a difference, which also makes it so much more important to cause a huge income gap by having the enemy team control the centre. So it really is the worst possible time to get a gas. It’s a “long term investment” which ends up costing you in the short term, and even more in the long run.

I wonder if these gas rush noobs put their real money on savings accounts, and than go borrow money because they locked away too much. There definitely seems to be correlation between gas rushing and not being very smart, as manifested by playing badly. So how do I know that these people are generally not simply new to this game, and simply don’t know the mechanics? Amazingly, a lot of them have played the game hundreds of times (which is a lot more than me). If after playing so many times, you still do not know which units to get, where to place them, and how gas rush correlates to stupidity and defeat, well, then you are probably indeed not the brightest person around. I’ve also asked many gas rushers why they think it’s a good idea, and most of them make it clear they indeed don’t get it, and are completely certain that the stupid thing they did the last 500 games is a great idea.

Time to end the rant and switch to some screenshots. And yeah, I did not know “gas” is spelled with only one “s” 🙂

Desert Strike HotS gas rush

Desert Strike HotS gas rush

Desert Strike HotS gas rush

Desert Strike HotS gas rush

And here you have a video of me playing the game, without anyone in my team gas rushing.

13 thoughts on “Desert Strike HotS: gas rush”

  1. showing screens of games with low points for the guy gas rushing is not really relevant on games of 28 minutes…

    since during those 28 minutes, this teammate has been getting more minerals – if he is not a bad SCII player, he should be doing far more points that the funny guys thinking “no gas ever”.

    So.. it’s a unit composition problem – no way it’s a resource management pb.

    but ok. Gas first is useless if the 2 others on the team are bad SCII players, that’s a fact.

    On a real team, one going gaz first is not a big risk most of the time – it may make the difference on long term.
    (gaz first means 120 mineral less army… 1 marauder .. on 3 teams… no big deal).

    1. To make this simple we have team 1 and team 2, with me being on team 1. Lets now examine the 1 person gas. If I am the only person to gas on my team, that means my allies are equal with thier 2 oppenents from team 2. However I am now down vs my opponent from team 2 economically. This causes my forces to lose. After the first wave I am still not caught up on minerals from the 240 mineral loss I took from gassing once. This means by the second wave I am still losing economically to my opponent. Anyone who plays desert strike knows that if you lose your wave on the second wave then your leaking will now pour into your ally and not soley the bunker/cannon. Now my ally is suffering for my gas. Not to mention this carries over to my other ally and then so on into me. Meanwhile the wnemy team has for sure taken the center line and so everyone on team 2 has a plus 15% income. So even my oponent is beating me on economy. How the hell can I beat an opponent who has A) more troops deployed than I do, B) is leaking his units into my allies causing a cascade effect, and C) now has a higher income than me. Not to mention my bunker is losing health for this. Also people might say something about bouncing off the bunker. Little good that will do when they then again bounce off their bunker. You suggest cheesing them? They could also cheese as well, not to mention they could already be cheesing you. Anyone wirh real skill knows all the mechanics to this game, including economy, and plays to win. They dont take unnecessary tisks that hardly pay off, and when they do its only because your enemy sucks more than you do (i.e. 2 gasses, horrible composition, etc). How this doesnt make sense idk. Lets also examjne the fact that you generate 300 mineral per minute with zero gas. -240 mineral for gassing once. Then your income resumes to 330 mineral per minute. You went from 5 mineral per second, to 5.5 mineral per second. This means you now have an extra .5 mineral per second. It would take you 480 seconds to finally surpass zero gas. Thats 8 minutes. 8 minutes of having less troops deployed than your opponent, 8 minutes of your enemy killing your forces and then leakig into your ally’s. 8 minutes the whole other team has plus 15%. So in 8 minutes, you now have 2400 mineral. So do your two allies each. You will now finally start to make more money than your two allies who have zero gas. Meanwhile your enemies (assuming they are on zero gas) each have 2,760 minerals. Thats like have the same army as you but with upgrades and ability upgrades. Try coming back from that.

    2. Also it isnt 120 mineral less. It is 100 mineral for the cost of the gas, plus the 125 mineral for the 25 seconds of economy pause at 5 mineral per second. Thats 125 mineral. Correction to my previous post (change the 240 to 225, and the 480 seconds [8 minutes] to 450 seconds [7.5 minutes]. Also excuse all the typos, i didnt care to spell check.

  2. I disagree with you Phil, its not only about unit composition and counter, its also about economy. As Jeroen mentioned if you take gas early against a pro team without any gas, you will sacrifice the middle dominance for sure, means %45 versus %10. And this middle dominance bonus %45 is not only an income, it also guarantees the enemy doesnt take this income… And you may still think and claim you can still get the middle with 1 gas early. The answer is NO YOU CANT VS A SOLID TEAM… It is impossible with stupid cheese also… If you think you can, this only means you never were up against a good team…and not so much experience..

    1. Well, actually if all 3 team players are Pro (build right units against opponent’s units with correct position) each built gas just prolong the game. You can go with no gas and win very fast (only valid if all team mates go no gas). And even faster when your opponents do some gases. That’s the funniest thing on the game. Gases are just to confuse.
      This is more visible when playing 1v1. Rarely I go 1 gas. Mostly no gas and win. When I lost it was because of wrong units built or position or that I built gas. Also I found good channel on YouTube if you are new in game

  3. At early, few units are your only difference between winning and loosing the middle… And certainly with %45 more income you team can make even more units than your enemies considerably…

  4. Man I wish gas would cost 300 minerals, but 100 is distributed to each ally. This is surely a good way to stop those greedy gas hogs.

  5. Hi, a casual Desert Strike player here (Asia Server)

    How I’ll usually DS:
    -Gas immediately at the start of the game, and either a few zerglings or roaches.
    -Upgrade to Rank 2, and check for opponents strategy before planning out my next move. (MutaCorrupter, HydraRoach, QueenRoach->Ultra etc)

    IMO gassing early in the game helps me quite a bit, is it really bad to just have a gas early in the game? I mean, it’s just 100.

  6. No.. the first gas is not only 100. Gas already cost you 225 due to income stop, T2 cost you another 250. Your opponent can literally copycat your build (if on same race) and win every time because of the income difference.

    I made a so-called gas hog list for myself, and I tried to avoid those players as much as possible, and now I win 80% of my games by just doing so.

  7. Can someone make a counter list. What counters what. I found content only put to tier 1 and 2 units

  8. Gas costs 150 gold, sure those 3 marines are securing you the center, not the composition, write it again until you do it right

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