How To Create A StarCraft 2 Custom Unit

It’s no secret that the best thing to come out of the StarCraft II Beta Test was the steady stream of incredible mods; Inevitably, you’re going to want to get your hands dirty and make one (or more) of your own.

Before we go any further, understand that the StarCraft 2 Galaxy Editor isn’t easy. Believe us, we wish it weren’t true, but it’s been a source of ton of complaining in the Blizzard community. Recent Blizzard games have had GUI-heavy, code-free editors that were super simple, especially for casual players. Get that out of your mind, because StarCraft 2′s editor basically splits the difference between GUI and the command line, getting as close as possible to actual coding without requiring you to learn XML.

The result, honestly, is a convoluted mish-mash that can be quite daunting, and you’re probably going to spend a lot of frustrated hours getting the hang of things before you’ll be doing your own SCII Rick-Roll. We hope, however, that this how-to will demystify the process somewhat, and today we’re going to show you how to get started with your very own custom unit.

Difficulty: Beginner

Table Of Contents

Step One: Tools

Step two: Getting Started

Step Three: Choosing Your Unit

Step Four: Modifying The Unit Part One

Step Five: Modifying The Unit Part Two

Step Six: Modifying The Unit Part Three

Step Seven: Your Weapon

Step Eight: Weapon Effects

Step Nine: Equip Weapon

Step Ten: Map Setting

Step Eleven: Test Your Unit

Additional Resources


A copy of StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty

Be warned: there have been credible reports that StarCraft 2 causes overheating. So, get a computer that can handle it:

Microsoft Windows
• 2.6 GHz Pentium IV or equivalent AMD Athlon processor
• 1 GB RAM (1.5 GB required for Windows Vista/Windows 7 users)
• 12 GB hard disk space
• 128 MB NVIDIA GeForce 6600 GT or ATI Radeon 9800 PRO video card or better
• Windows XP/Windows Vista/Windows 7 (With the latest Service Packs) and DirectX 9.0c.

• Intel Processor
• 2 GB RAM
• DVD drive
• 12 GB hard disk space
• NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT or ATI Radeon X1600 or better
• Mac OS X 10.5.8, 10.6.2 or newer

We assume your computer’s up to scratch. So let’s get started.

Getting Started

In our previous How-To, we showed you the very basics on making a Custom Map. So start by bringing up your map in the StarCraft 2 editor. (Once again, you’ll most likely find the editor at C:Program FilesStarcraft). Now that you’ve opened your map, bring up the Data Editor by selecting “Data” from the Modules list (or F7).

Choosing Your Unit

Now, you’ve brought the Data Editor window up. Here, make sure that you’ve selected “Data Type: Units” and “Data Source: All Data”, and in the object list below the Data Source drop down, choose the unit you intend to modify. If you follow these instructions, you’ll be able to do a basic customization of any available unit, but we chose the Marauder.

Modifying The Unit Part One

Now that you’ve selected the unit you’re going to customize, you’ll need to create a space for the final version. Right click anywhere in the Object field, and select add new object:

This will generate the following window:

Now, make sure to take the following actions:

* Name your object to distinguish it from the original – we went with Custommarauder.
* Click the “suggest button to generate “Custommarauder” as the object ID.
* Leave “Based On” at default setting.
* Change Object Family to “unit”.
* Change Race to “Terran”.
* Under Field Values, copy from Marauder.

All done? Click OK! Now, if you’ve done everything right, you should be able to Select Your new Custom Unit from the Units field on your map. Minimize the Data Editor and bring up your map again. Select the Units layer, and to make it easy, choose the race you’ve selected for your unit to narrow your choices. In addition to the standard SC2 unit icons, you should see a new, static, bright green, generic creature icon. Hover over it to be sure. If you see your new unit, you know you’ve succeeded.

Modifying The Unit Part Two

Not so fast though; we’re not finished yet. You still have some work to do before you’ll be able to drop him onto the battlefield. Leave your map and once again, bring up the Data Editor. Choose the “Actors” Data type, and search for the unit you customized – NOT your custom unit, mind you, just the unit you based it on, the Marauder. Right click on the unit and select “Duplicate”.

This will bring up another window, “Duplicate Objects”, like so:

Check every single box in the window, and click OK. Now you’ll see “Marauder Copy” in the Objects list. Click it once to highlight it, and then look to the right hand side of the screen. Next to “Unit Name”, you’ll see the object’s name, “Marauder Copy”. We’ll need to change that, so right click over “Marauder Copy”, and select “Modify Value”.

You’ll be able to scroll through a drop down. Find your custom unit, Custommarauder, and choose it. You’ve now associated your duplicate Marauder with your Custom Unit.

Modifying The Unit Part Three

NOTE: It is absolutely vital that take the following steps exactly. If you do not follow these instructions, when you try to add your Custom Unit you’ll see nothing but an annoying black blob.

First, make sure you’re still under “Data Type: Actors”. Your copied unit – Marauder Copy – should still be highlighted. Look to the right and, under the “Field” heading, you’ll see four different selections you will need to chage:

* Art – Model
* Art – Model (Build)
* Art – Model (placement)
* Art – Model (Portrait)

Since you associated your Marauder Copy with your Custom Unit, they should all say either Custommarauder, or Marauder Copy. It doesn’t matter which, because all four need to be re-associated with the original unit. Right click on each one, and choose “Modify Value”.

You’re going to change each value to “Marauder”, so that when you’re done, it’ll look like this:

Congratulations! Not only will your unit will now appear in your map normally, you’ve saved yourself hours of WHAT THE HELL headaches trying to figure out why you see nothing but a black blob.

Your Weapon

Hold up hero, you’re not done yet. Sure, you’ve managed to create a custom unit, but aside from the name, you haven’t actually customized anything yet. We’ll keep it simple and practical, and focus on the weapon. Still in the Data Editor? Good. Choose Data Type: Weapons. Depending on the unit you chose, you’ll see one or more weapons. The Marauder is easy with only one, his trusty Punisher Grenades.

Right click anywhere in the objects field, and select to create a new object. In the window that pops up, do the following:

* Give it a name you can remember. We went with “Custommarauderweapon”.
* Choose Race: Terran.
* Under “Field Values”, copy from the weapon you want to Modify. Theoretically, you can use this to give your unit any weapon in the game, but we’ll stick with what his momma gave him; if you selected Marauder, copy from “Marauder Punisher Grenades”, and click OK. You should now see this:

Now you’ll want to highlight your new weapon, and look under the “Fields” to your right. See the “Period” slot? Right click on whatever that number is, and modify the value to something lower – half of whatever you see is a good rule of thumb. Click OK.

Now we’re ready to give the weapon some (visual) oomph.

Weapon Effects

Now, it’s time to muck about with the Effects. Start by changing the Data Type to “effects”.

Now, in the object list do what you’ve already done several times before, and right click to create a new object. You’ll need to take the following action:

* Name the object after your custom weapon (“Custommarauderweapon”).
* Set the ID to the name of the custom unit to keep things straight (“Custommarauder”)
* Effect Type: Damage
* Race: Terran

Just like this:

Now click ok, ok?

At this moment, you’ll want to change two of the values under the “Fields” tab. The number is arbitrary – we’re going by advice gleaned from other players – so you’ll probably want to experiment to see what the other values can do. (See the additional resources below for more on that.) For now, ignore them and concentrate on “Combat – Amount”, and “Effect – Kind”.

“Kind” refers to the type of weapon you want. They’re all self explanatory; if you’ve selected Marauder, then the Punisher Grenades are your weapon. Select “Ranged”. Amount, of course, refers to HOW AWESOME POWERFUL your weapon will be. Go ahead; go crazy. Pick a number. Any number.

Now, leave “Effects”,and go back to “Weapon”. Now, Select Custommarauderweapon, and look over to your right, to the “Field” section. You’re going to change two values – for “Effect”, and for “Damage Display Effect”. Change both to your customized weapon’s name (“custommarauderweapon”).

We’re not finished yet. We have to take one more step to set this up the bomb.

Equip Weapon

Go back to “Data Type – Unit”, and look over to your right, to where it says “Combat – Weapons” -click the assigned value.

In the window that pops up, from the drop-down menu, select your customized weapon’s name (“custommarauderweapon”) and click OK.

Voila! Your new weapon is equipped. There’s just one more step before you can test your unit out.

Map Setting

Go back to your map and select the Triggers module.

In the window that pops up, highlight the only option you’ll see: “Melee Initialization”. This will bring up a couple of menu fields on your right hand side. You’re only going to make one change. Highlight “Set default melee options for all players”, and delete it (you may need to manually select “Cut” from the edit menu).

If you don’t take this step, you’re going to see message informing you that you “no longer [have] any units” the second you launch your test map. TEST FAIL, in other words. But that little issue has been handily averted, and it’s time to see what your new custom unit can do.

Test Your Unit

Finally, time for some carnage. Head back to your map, and if you did everything correctly, you’ll be able to place some of your custom units into the map with no problem. Go ahead and put a few in. And give them some enemies to kill while you’re at it.

Ready? Then hit the test map button to begin finding out how carnagey your new carnage delivery system is.

And now? Murder.

So innocent. So unaware of what’s coming.



Now it’s time for some slow singing and flower bringing.

Additional Resources:

Garden of Auir has posted a nice run-down of how-tos; We found this page in particular to be very, very helpful.

There’s also a vast array of Youtube guides.

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25 Comments on How To Create A StarCraft 2 Custom Unit

That Kid

On August 30, 2010 at 1:15 pm

Why dont my dudes make sounds or have weapons shoot?

Ross Lincoln

On August 30, 2010 at 1:23 pm

Hmmm. I’d need to know what you did, which unit, etc, before I could answer the question. A little more deets?

That Kid

On August 31, 2010 at 2:31 pm

well ive done it on a lot of units. i did the marauder last and then i realized no missile came out. i followed the instuctions right. it see at the part were you say Now, leave “Effects”,and go back to “Weapon”. Now, Select Custommarauderweapon, and look over to your right, to the “Field” section. You’re going to change two values – for “Effect”, and for “Damage Display Effect”. Change both to your customized weapon’s name (“custommarauderweapon”). it leaves nothing under the effects. i hope this is enough to explain.

That Kid

On September 16, 2010 at 6:16 pm

Umm. I went over this about 5 times exactly and the unit still doesn’t: say anything, shoot a projectile, make a sound. when you tell us to change the 2 fields damage display effect and effect it get rids of all the effects. but if you don’t change those, it acts as if a normal marauder attack


On October 6, 2010 at 12:47 pm

Yeah I’m having the same problem. I have this huge marine set up to use the hellion’s flamethrower as well as the marine’s gauss rifle but when I attack it makes no sound and there is no projectile.

I’m gonna keep messing around with it and see what needs to change. If I somehow manage to figure it out then I’ll post on it on here for sure.


On October 6, 2010 at 1:09 pm

I gave up on the flamethrower thing… it just wasn’t working, but I replaced it with the marauder’s grenade launcher attack and it was working perfectly.

When you are creating the weapon effect for whatever weapon you choose, it’s a lot easier to select “Copy From: example” rather than “Set to parent value” because all you have to do if you copy is just change those few basic things like combat amount, armor reduction, etc. without having to worry about the effects not being there.


On October 7, 2010 at 9:42 am

I made my Custom Marauder with a flamethrower. Its not in effects. after following the directions shown go back to weapons, modify the object, then copy stats from the hellion. It looks great.


On October 7, 2010 at 9:44 am

sorry, not stats…field values, copy from Hellion flame thrower


On November 15, 2010 at 12:48 am

Ok, here is one for you, Can I import characters from other games in to the editor IE like spiderman and give them the same stats as a marine?


On November 19, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Ok can any1 help me plz i’ve done everything any1 has told me and every time i make a custom unit it doesn’t appear AND when i test it THERES FREAKIN CIRCLES EVERYWHERE PLZ HELP ME


On February 9, 2011 at 4:34 pm

yeah, this would have been more reliable if the got who made this tut wasnt on a mac


On February 12, 2011 at 2:15 pm

Modifying wep speed and steps to link the marauder to a building so you can build the unit would have been nice additions.


On February 28, 2011 at 2:06 pm

Ok i used your thing to make a zealot called GAURDIAN with a mothership weapon but i tested it out and each gaurdian only attacks 1 time!
the attack button is lit up and he follows what hes sopposed to be attacking when it moves but HE WONT ATTCK it.what do i do to fix this


On February 28, 2011 at 3:47 pm

also how do i make a trigger to make a unit move when the trigger is triggerd?


On February 28, 2011 at 8:17 pm

And another thing im trying to make this really awsome map but need another unit that does not exist i need to make an hydralisk with spikes and alot of model stuff but i dont know how to Freaking change the appearence of a hydralisk i know how to make his tint different and how to make his size different but not THE REAL ANIMATION OF THE F****** THING!!!!


On February 28, 2011 at 8:22 pm

posted by anonymoose -Modifying wep speed and steps to link the marauder to a building so you can build the unit would have been nice additions.-

Why dont you just make a trigger like i did i made a trigger that makes it to where if any unit steps in this circle then it pops a Guardian( giant zealot with mothership attack i created using this tutoriol) over here.


On March 11, 2011 at 10:21 pm



On March 26, 2011 at 8:41 am

i need to know how to make a unit have a dif appearence like make a marine look like a missile turret and stuff and to be able to build it from a building. i need this info cause im making a DALEK mod


On May 7, 2011 at 3:59 pm

i have made 1 unit before but then when i went to make another unit it wouldn’t let me set the base on default settings. what do i do to fix this?


On August 7, 2011 at 8:00 am

i keep geting white and black dots.
please help?

KING of blades

On September 5, 2011 at 5:28 pm

i wish u would give more details on “change data type to actors and search for the unit that you modify.(all these “not doodad” things!) >=o


On October 3, 2011 at 1:46 am

Wow!!!!!! I’ve just brought Tassadar and his ship Gantrithor back from the dead!!!!!!! :D

the man

On January 5, 2012 at 3:01 pm



On January 13, 2012 at 2:44 am

Ok I made a custom marine with a stronger gauss-rifle, and at first it didn’t make any sound when it fired. Then i went to data -> actor and saw that there was an actor called “marine attack”. I duplicated it and changed the effect to my custom effect. That solved the problem, at least for that case.


On March 7, 2012 at 5:37 pm

OK so heres how to get your unit to shoot. there are two ways one more easier than the other. the first way is to directly link it to the original zealot weapon. so when he/she says equip your weapon change it to the original zealot not zealot copy. of course then you have to change the feilds again to whatever you like. this way is only if dont want to zealots attacking each other with different attack damage. the other way is that you go to actors. find your weapon and modify each value of your person to the orginal zealot. this will take a long time.