What is AlphaStar?

AlphaStar is the first Artificial intelligencewhich is the real-time strategy game StarCraft 2 mastered at an outstanding level. For this it uses machine learning and deep neural networks. According to AlphaGo, AlphaZero and AlphaFold AlphaStar is another Google DeepMind success.

What is StarCraft 2?

StarCraft 2 is a real-time strategy game by Blizzard Entertainment and is considered one of the most complex and popular of all e-sports games. There are a few things to keep in mind when playing:

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1. Micro-Managementalso called micro: The player must permanently direct dozens of game pieces on the playing field at the same time and give orders.

2. Macro managementcalled Macro for short: The player must develop a suitable strategy for constructing buildings, researching upgrades and building new game pieces.

3. Incomplete information: Due to the "fog of war", the enemy's actions are usually not visible. Your own units make the fog disappear within a small radius. Therefore, you have to send them into the enemy's areas to get a glimpse of their tactics. This action is called "scouting".

4. the Rock-paper-scissors principle: every attack can be answered with a suitable defence. This in turn gives an advantage to the counter-attack.

5. everything happens in Real-time: Unlike in chess or go, both players must plan and execute their actions simultaneously and without pause.

6. Three different breedsThere are three different alien races to choose from at the beginning of the game: Protoss,Terran and Zerg. All have their own characteristics and allow for different strategies.

Function and playing strength of AlphaStar

For artificial intelligences, this Complexity a major challenge s. AlphaStar has to choose from up to 1026 possible actions each time, with many more moves whose effects can only be seen after a long period of play. To develop successful strategies for victory, AlphaStar had to learn and further research human strategies.

To do this, it uses various general machine learning techniques, including self-play with reinforcement learning and imitation learning, combined with Neural networks. This makes it AlphaStar to earn a Grandmaster level for all three alien races and play better than 99.8 % of StarCraft players on Battle.net.

AlphaStar's strong results provide evidence of how general learning techniques can strengthen AI systems so that they can function in dynamic and complex environments. These results are expected to be applicable in the real world in the future, making AIs safer and more robust.

Online resources


Since 2017, there has been the StarCraft API PySC2 as open source at Github. It is the result of a cooperation between DeepMind and Blizzard Entertainment. Through the API, computers can receive information directly using feature maps without having to evaluate the game graphics. For example, a feature map can consist of a matrix whose cells indicate the type of a character (for example, 0 for "no character"). This data is much easier for computers to process. Various artificial intelligences have since used the PySC2 API and compete against each other as StarCraft bots.


DeepMind has published its research results on AlphaStar in the scientific journal Nature. In it you will find Information on the techniques used by AlphaStar and their benefits.