Speed running ≠ commander strength

Something to keep in mind. Lately, it seems too many co-op forum posters are laboring under the delusion that a specific commander’s speed-run time equates to their overall strength or balance. This is not true. Speed-run time can be indicative of a commander’s strength, but it’s only a small piece of the sum whole.

Speed running values any strategy that decrease the time it takes to complete the map. This means they often use unconventional and abusive strategies that aren’t the best to look out when trying to determine how powerful a commander is.

"What if my commander full clears a map conventionally though and still has the fastest time? Would that make him the strongest commander?"
Even then, this wouldn’t necessarily equate to their overall balance. For example, if you could only do that before the enemy starts using their aoe and other abilities then I might say that it shows the commander has a faster start or power spike but maybe can’t defeat as tough an enemy. Something that must be looked when trying to gauge a commander’s strength.


People forgot starcraft is a RTS - Real Time Strategy game. Time is the essence here, the faster you clear the easier the game is for you.
If the commander can clear enemies before enemies can use AOE or abilities, isn’t that a strength itself lol?
A better indicator to track is total damage output, that’s probably an easier indicator because it directly tells the truth about your damage output. Too bad, this indicator is only shown in Maguro’s maps.
I would argue time and total damage output are the leading indicators that dictate 80% of commander’s strength; 30-40% for time, 40%-50% for damage output , the rest 10% of other indicators is just icing on top.

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That has been the case since 2017, 2018.
Speedrun has never been the measurement for strong commander.

Commander can have

  1. Strong assets to deal with early wave which some commander by that time haven’t even set up a Barrack yet and YES, there is some forked up code in the game that send wave at 2:30 minute (even in HARD mode) to ruin your behind. Example: Zagara’s swarmling, Zeratul’s legion, Vorazun’s Guards. Swann, Raynor, Stukov, Abathur, H&H… are debatable because their top-bar is either unreliable or they need a mindful set up or the cooldown is just too late for the wave.
  2. Commanders that have an easy mid game. Mid game is the time when the commander army has yet to achieve its full potential but so is the enemy attack wave. Kerrigan and most commanders that have heroes belong to this classification since they can complete most objective in this stage without difficulty or minor difficulty.
  3. A very high power ceiling and i say “Power ceiling” not “Skill ceiling”. Example of this is Abathur 100 Biomass 200/200 supply army which is very slow to get there but will be extremely powerful.
  4. Commander that have consistent power in the entire mission who will always have something to deal with the enemies. These commander are probably Tychus and possibly Dehaka. This feature is different from No.2 above because No.2 only have easy mid game. This category is about an easy GAME without much difficulty regardless the phase of the mission.
  5. Commander can also have very sustainable eco to resupply the army in case they lost everything. Raynor is the lead in this category with Artanis and possibly Kerrigan behind. Zagara is tricky because her army has very limited eco and a wrong move in wasting resource will cripple her beyond repair. Mengsk ain’t able to resupply anything, i love to see him resupply 3 BCs and 9 Aegis guards the instant he lost it.
  6. Army that is so phenomenally powerful that they kill enemies before considerable damage was dealt. Thus, protecting them completely from harm and the need of resupply the army. Tychus, Abathur, Dehaka and may be Nova, Alarak and Zeratul are in this class.
  7. Commander that can push enemies across the map. Why this category is important? Well, such commanders have an almost omnipresence through out the map and can detect, engage, flood or stalk enemies for the objective or act as meat-shield for allies. Stukov and Raynor are in this class for now.

There is a lot of thing to consider a commander is strong or not. Most of the time i will say Kerrigan is the best or Tychus is the best because they have no visible weakness that can be caught off-guard. Kerrigan’s Hydra-Omega have map teleport ability, capacity to melt everything from Viper, BL, Colossus, Tank or bases… and they are cheap and low-tech requirement enough to mass-produce and re-supply without the need of many researches.
Tychus team and especially Crooked Sam, James “Sirius” Sykes, Kev “Rattlesnake” West, Rob “Cannonball” Boswell team can handle anything and have the largest damage output of all Tychus teams. They can’t be destroyed is what i will say.


It is one metric of commander strength, one of many. It is often cited because unlike most other metrics, speedruns have actual numbers that provide evidence beyond non-rigorous measurements like endgame army strength, mutation resilience, etc. that are mostly qualitative.

Not even speedrunners make tier lists based solely off speedrun records.


That might be a valuable arguement for the overall of commanders at hand but look at Speedrunner Gods like Abathur, nasty early game if you know what you are doing by getting 3 ultimate evolutions right away, in the early-mid game he get’s the Leviathans and those 6 units alone can devastate armies of the late game. Pair that with a couple queens, vipers, ravagers, guardians and devours and they are an unstoppable late game force. Same can be sed for Dehaka once his units get the Gene Mutations plus the cooldowns, not to mention the fact that the hero unit alone can solo most waves anyway, both of this commanders are speedrunners and yet they have the strongest late game armies.

Same for Zeratul and the list goes on and on, there is a reason why they are considered the “best commanders” in the game, besides all of this strenghts they are also mutation resilient. I do get your arguement though but I feel like the speed running variable is definitly one of the strongest facts there is.

EDIT: I think a good example of a commander that fits your theory would be Zagara.

A commander strength = how strong a commander can get and how fast can they achieve that strength.

Speedrun = complete the objective in the fastest way

Sometimes, speedrun involved completely ignore certain wave of attack altogether.

Say you have to face a large attack wave but your commander can bypass these and cheese the map objective (time stop for example).

Then suddenly your commander is op speedrunner but no where as OP as a Commander in term of strength.

Often time, the strength of a commander allow they to speedrun but there is a fundamental difference between them that should never be considered as one.

But… what is your metric of strength for? The goal is to win the objective, not to bash into the strongest late game enemy wave the mission can throw at you.

Could you define your concept of commander strength in a way that isn’t circular? As you just said commander strength is how strong they are.


My ideas on Commander strength really come from build consistency, strength of options, and the ability to have “answers” to certain things (not including Mutations.) Speed is a little bit of a factor, but not in a speedrunning sense – just in power scaling.
Some Commanders are very strong in an early-mid game setting, but fall off later. Some are weak or mediocre early on, but have a stupidly strong late game. Some are good all around.
Personally, my top 3 Commanders in terms of strength are Abathur, Dehaka, and Zeratul. My bottom 3 are Stukov, Han & Horner, and… I guess Swann? I don’t know who to put for my third choice right now. But definitely Stukov and H&H.

Erm. If you use word “strong” it has nothing to do with “fast”. Speedrun commanders are fast. But other comments here are mostly right by my opinion. Strong for me is how many enemy forces can commander annihilate in endless engagement before dying. In that regard zagara is probably the weakest, other commanders are fine and don’t need to be compared cuz they are just good enough. But anyway the game is mostly early and mid and early lategame in co-op so Zagara is strong too. Zeratul is just overpowered and cannot be counted in total list of commanders cuz it just would be ridiculous. Funny to hear how Han&Horner or Stukov is weak, cuz Stukov is just not op and have slow forces, but can pretty easily decimate alot of strong enemy wave. Mass inf liberator vs air and mass tank + some bunkers vs ground and everything is melt without a chance to win. Horners just can attack they whole map’s ground objects without retaliation (ground waves basically non-existant for this commander) and this is concidered weak? I don’t think so. Horner has problems with air but hey - now we have zero-gas widow mines.

Some commanders has very strong ally buffs, but noone for some reason considers that. Like Swann with his “long” ramp-up time (ofc the fact that his ally will have shortened ramp-up time means nothing, its not co-op after all). To compare commanders in co-op mode only legit comparison is match pairs of commanders, and while some OP commanders would probably win in that test, it only proves that some commanders like zeratul or dehaka needs some nerfs, not their strength.
I mean, most mutations can be beaten by any commanders, it’s just some of com pairs would be alot harder to execute.
Another thing about weak and teamwork - some player consider Alarak weak cuz u know - i don’t know why really. Without ascendants he is pretty less powerful, but i guess ally has no problem to clean up structured after every opposition was smoked. On top of that, i recently tried to play some Alarak co-ops, and decided to blow my 2 gas when i have got enough ascendants and giving ally an opportunity to increase their production that way. Result is pretty impressive. My point is - co-op is co-op and solo measures is just off the discussion here, if someone is going to measure commanders strength, it should be measured is how well he does in pairs.

For me, when i face weekly mutations, the most common my answers to it - Kerrigan, Abathur, Vorazun, Swann. I don’t play zeratul and other after him.

That’s actually similar to saying speedrun is the only measure. None of the co-op maps are endless engagement. By your measure Swann would be up top due to free repairs and crazy strong defense.

It was well said above:

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Strength is stregth speed is speed, mobility is mobility, durability is durability. So when I talk about strength i don’t talk about other things. I guess you use this word as effectivity measure or something like that, probably i get it wrong then.

Time to clear is certainly important, but no way it’s the only way to gauge CO power.

Hypothetically, what if there was a CO that literally could not lose; timers cease working, fail states are disabled. But you only have one unkillable unit to win. Would that be the weakest CO?

On the flip side, let’s think of a CO that starts with a full stack army of Zerglings that is continuously replenished, but you must win in 5 minutes. Setting aside any timed missions that don’t work with the hypothetical, would they really be the strongest CO?

Moreover, would the latter truly be all that much stronger than the former?

Its your owns opinion. Doing something faster is not fun, real-time is not time, it’s real-time method of map progress. I don’t play sc2 to look on number of how fast something is completed, and i think most of people don’t do it either. The game is about action. What action did you get when u have “win” button, or something like that (in this case it’s speedrun strategy). Less blown up enemies - less fun. Counting numbers is not funny, so i don’t think rts is about sitting and counting something.

You are derailing, this is a topic about commanders’ strength. If you want to argue about who is the most fun to play, please make a new thread.

I don’t get your point. Let’s stop talking hypothetically, anything that detaches the commanders from coop game mode is irrelevant.

Also, I think most ppl here don’t even know the current ranking of coop fullclear solo speedrun. Here it is with commander+ average time to full clear on all maps:

Mengsk is removed due to too few records since he’s new!

So, if Vorazun has the slowest speed run times, but she was, as I recall, the first commander to solo the entire original mutation set, including cold is the void… is she still the weakest?

The only commander that actually solo the entire original mutation set is actually Abathur lol.

Also mutation is off topic because most ppl here will not accept mutation as a thing because they are only casual players who think mutation is unfair and not interesting. *prepare to receive bricks from casual players.

You also has a point that commander’s strength can be measured by solo mutation completion by a simple fact that certain mutations will render a commander totally useless. In short, we measure strength of a commander by counting how many weakness a commander has over a set of variety challenges.
Too bad, the data on this one is not as well collected.

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My point is like I said at the start, time to clear isn’t the end all for measuring a CO’s strength. For the hypotheticals I set out two examples; a CO that could take literally anything the game could throw at it and win but would never do it quickly, and a CO that could potentially win very quickly but would struggle in many situations. Depending on one’s point of view one is stronger than the other, but both could be considered very powerful.

I don’t factor Mutation into the equation of strength and balance because it isn’t the base game. It adds on another layer of complication on all fronts, and muddies the water for the majority of players.

Can we get real in-game scenarios instead of setting up hypotheses? Because just for setting a hypothesis, nothing beats an Abathur army with full biomass units. On paper, any 200/200 army looks fine until you factor in the progress to attain that powerful army. Karax army at 200/200 looks fine until you factor in the ridiculous time and investment you have to pour in to get that army. Is his army strong? Yes. Is he a top-tier commander? Probably not.

That’s proving my point though, you’d never get to that full stack army with Abathur or Karax if we’re focusing on simply clear time. There’s far more nuance than that, gauging something purely off one thing is foolish.