What is the “magic box” in Starcraft 2?

Tzenes mentioned a “magic box” in Starcraft 2 in chat. Despite myself, I’m now overwhelmingly curious:

What it is the magic box?

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  • 3 Solutions collect form web for “What is the “magic box” in Starcraft 2?”

    For the tl;dr crowd who only care about the usage I will give you a quick break downs:

    1. Group your Mutalisks
    2. Move them out of harms way and press “stop”
    3. Wait for them to spread out
    4. Move (not attack move) near by the Thor
    5. No two Muta should be hit by the splash
    6. Once the Mutalisks stop on their own you can Focus Fire the Thor
    7. Remember: after the Thor dies you will need to move (not attack move) to the new target or risk bunching up.

    I’m going to quote myself on this one:

    Right now, the Magic Box is one of the most interesting things happening in Starcraft 2 game play. At its core is the idea that “Hard Counters” don’t really exist in Starcraft 2 and that, rather, how you use your units is more important than what they are. Those people familiar with using Speedlings against Hellions or Tanks against Marauders have already encountered this strange Phenomenon.

    To help you understand this, it’s probably best if I start by explaining what a “Hard Counter” is. The concept of a counter unit is very much based in the children’s game Rock-Paper-Scissors. For those unaware of the game, children simultaneously choose one of the three titular elements, each of which wins against another element while losing against the other differing element (same elements are considered draws). A first glance at Starcraft seems to indicate a similar trend: Hellions do extra damage to light units (which Zerglings are) and can be upgraded even further in this capacity; by comparison Zerglings do not do extra damage to Hellions and, further more, clump up causing them to take additional damage from the Hellions’ AoE . This would imply to the layperson that an army of Zerglings will lose to an army of Hellions. Strangely enough, you’ll see many Zerg players actually employ Speedlings (speed upgraded Zerglings) in defense against Hellions. While this may seem counter intuitive, if the Speedlings can surround the Hellion (thus preventing escape) they are very effective at killing it.

    As Day9 might say, “[Hard Counters] deeply bother me.”

    The Magic Box is a technique which gives Mutalisks the advantage against Thors. For a long time people considered Thors to be the “Hard Counter” to Mutalisks, and it’s not hard to see why. A Thor costs 300 Minerals and 200 Gas, has a DPS of 8 (or 16 vs Light, which Mutalisks are) and 400 Hit Points. Since gas is often a limiting factor in building costs, conventional philosophy dictates that you could build 2 Mutalisks for the same price (100 Gas each), each doing 5.92 dps (or 8.55 spread across three targets), and having 120 Hit Points. The armchair math is thus, 400 HP @ 8.55*2 dps vs 240 HP @ 16 dps. It’s not hard to see which will die first. What’s even worse, for the Zerg player, Thors do splash damage, and Mutalisks have a tendency to bunch up (as air units often do). As a result, a sufficient force of Thors could wipe out a much larger force of Mutalisks.

    Depending on how close together a selection of units are, they may or may not stay in formation when you order them to move. When the units are spread out too much, they will converge into one location instead of moving in formation.

    The magic box refers to the maximum distance the units can be from each other for this behavior to occur. Magic box technique or magic boxing refers to taking advantage of this quirk when moving your units around, say to avoid splash damage from Thors when attacking them with Mutalisks.

    It’s just a poor name for formation management.

    More specifically it’s about preventing mutalisks from clumping up. For example, you move overhead and stop instead of attack-moving.

    It makes a huge difference when fighting units with splash damage.

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