Quantum Computing Applications in Competitive StarCraft

Dr. Qubert Spins1, and Kim Song2

1 Department of Quantum Possibilities, Cranberry-Lemon University, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

2 Undergraduate Student and E-Sports Player, University of California Los Angeles 


The high tech extreme speed and immense computational complexity of Quantum Computing has found modern applications for cybersecurity, previously impossible optimization problems, weather forecasting, and even modeling of the human genome. There could not be a more perfect application than the world of competitive StarCraft 2. No professional eSport has needed an overpriced $25M computer rig for a small advantage over another player more than this Blizzard Entertainment classic. In this paper, the specs and capabilities of a cheap and effective Noisy Intermediate-Scale Quantum (NISQ) Computing rig will be developed that will be ideal for professional StarCraft Zerg players in high stakes tournaments. At an incredibly low build price of $20M, this computer is the world’s best dollar for qubit deal for a video game class quantum computer. Additionally, new StarCraft strategies and user capabilities will be developed. With this new hardware and resulting new strategies, the United States StarCraft team just might finally stand a chance against the Koreans.   

Keywords: Quantum Computing, StarCraft 2, Computer Cooling, Quantum Entanglement

1. Prime Factorization to the Half A Press

    At the cutting edge of technology, Quantum computing (QC) marries the fast paced development of computer science, the physics of quantum mechanics, and really cool lab spaces which are perfect for brochures and managerial power point presentations. It is a fast-growing field of research ever since Shor developed his prime factorization in 1994 [1]. Since that groundbreaking development, every defense contractor has been clamoring at every ivy league institution with a large enough physics and Computer Science department competent enough to throw a proposal together to develop better encryption algorithms and techniques using this revolutionary new paradigm. 

    This focus on cyber security has unfortunately come at the expense of the marginalized gamer community. The professional StarCraft community in particular has been needing a gaming quantum computing StarCraft rig for more than a decade. 

     Common day competitors may play at four to five hundred Actions per Minute (APM) but the professional champions will reach 800 APM at the height of competitive play. Not to mention, the probabilistic nature of the Qubit has been shown to be wildly unpredictable in video gaming applications. While most computer scientists see this as a bad thing, it has shown promise to provide an unexpected advantage in play. 

    In the first ever QC gaming rig for doom classic [2], the testing found player and gun locations popping in and out of existence. At first this was annoying to the players but the more competent ones found ways of taking advantage and were able to break the standing speed run with a blistering speed of 15:32 through a combination of health bar entanglement and making the player untouchable due to the chainsaw super position strategy. The high attack stats of the chainsaw matched with the probabilistic positioning caused the player to be invulnerable to attack. Later that same team was able to use a QC to complete Mario 64 in a full half A button press challenge [3].

     In this paper, we will build a quantum computer on a slim $20M budget, develop QC StarCraft strategies, and test those strategies with the Cranberry-Lemon eSports team online and in an open entry tournament. 

2. Barbasol Cooled Quantum Computing Rig

The low cost QC which ended up propelling our StarCraft team to victory used a common architecture developed by IBM which includes a Quantum amplifier, a Cryoperm shield, a mixing chamber, a cryogenic isolator, an Input-Output Microwave fiber, and a Qubit signal amplifier. This was named the Cranberry-Lemon Quantum Computer (CLQC) or affectionately nicknamed the Kerrigan after the queen of blades and most famous Zerg hivemind. 

Cranberry-Lemon low budget Quantum Computer for StarCraft 2 Zerg Players

Figure 1: Cranberry-Lemon budget Quantum Computer

2.1 Processor Unit

Once encased, the entire QC is cooled to nearly absolute zero. The actual quantum processor sits inside the Cryo shield at the coldest point in the computer where the tiny signals are guarded from environmental electromagnetic radiation. We covered it in aluminum foil to not only stop that but also seal in the refrigerated freshness to prolong the processors life. There a powerful 32 qubits of quantum logic gates are measured in frigid safety. 

2.2 Quantum Amplifiers

Next the quantum amplifiers, also near absolute zero, find those quantum signals and bring them above the noise floor. After doing some rudimentary signal to noise analysis, a literary review determined that these amplifiers would need to be turned up to eleven [4]. There were some amplifiers that looked like they would do the job without going up to eleven, but our purchasing team found some at a local pawn shop and it doesn’t take a math PhD to determine that eleven is more than ten. Once on superconducting coaxial cables guided by toilet paper tubes, the signal could avoid further attenuation. 

2.3 Low-cost Barbasol Cryo Unit

Next, the Cryogenic Isolators and Mixing chamber provided the necessary cooling capability to keep the entire system as cold as possible. Because liquid nitrogen is currently an expensive commodity due to the logistical requirements of transporting COVID vaccines, our team developed a new innovative method which not only kept the amplifiers and processor at or below 0K but made it even easier for free electron movement in one step. 

A recent study by Dr. Todd Sweeney of Seville found a low cost solution [5]. When depressurizing common shaving cream to extreme levels, a cooling effect can achieve such low temperatures as liquid nitrogen. Dr. Sweeney also discovered that tiny hair particles found in most super conductors were smoothed out by high quality shaving creams unclogging the crystal lattice structure and allowing for even better free electron flow. This method was tested across Gillette Foamy, Edge Gel, Barbasol Original, and Dr. Carver’s Easy Shave Butter (*note, Dr. Carver is not a real Doctor like I am). 

Of the different brands, every shaving cream performed well enough to operate with the Cryogenic Isolators. However, the Barbasol original was so effective at cooling and smoothing out the superconductor microhairs into one silky smooth direction that it may have created one of the first real world Nearly Free Electron Model (NFE)

Quantum Computer Low-Cost Barbasol 0Kelvin Near Free Electron Cryo Unit

Figure 2: NFE 0 Kelvin Cryogenic Isolation unit

2.3 Quantum Computing User Layer

Finally, the supercooled coaxial lines end in the input-output microwave lines which protects the lower levels from thermal noise. The individual qubit signals are then amplified once again before leaving the quantum part of the CLQC and into the StarCraft interface computer equipped with a gamer mouse and a rainbow keyboard. 

Through the spectrumized direct feed microwave line rainbow keyboard and mouse directly to the qubit processor pipeline, the StarCraft player will have access to exponentially more commands than a simple boring non-rainbow keyboard. The combination of qubit top and bottom spins in superposition created the coveted 2^32 operations per cycle for the user. At this point, the StarCraft player will only be limited by their own mind.  

3. Quantum Computer StarCraft Gameplay

Once Kerrigan was updated and running on battlenet, our test subject professional Zerg player, Kim Song, got to work learning the quirks and oddities of the fastest paced real time strategy game in the quantum realm. Among adjusting to the increased APM and allowing for faster more adaptive play, there were unexpected effects caused by decoherence issues and a low fault tolerance causing a tremendous cascade of errors.

There were positive effects to include Drone-Mineral Entanglement and strategic Superpositioning. These advantages allowed Kim to, in essence, play multiple games at the same time against one player that could only play one game.   

3.1 Drone-Mineral Entanglement

Due to the repeated calculation of drones bringing back minerals to the hive, the hive and the drones became entangled over time. With each mineral back and forth, the entanglement became more entrenched. This created two distinct advantages for the user. 

First, the entanglement became so strong that even after the drone may have been destroyed in an attack, the hive and the mineral were still entangled making the drone effect impenetrable to early and mid game harassment. 

Second, minerals were gathered 15% faster than a standard non-entangled drone. In between the division of labor and no need to actually travel to and from the hive and mineral every time a few minerals are gathered, efficiency was increased. Each time drones retrieved minerals or gas, the drone became 1-3% more efficient until stabilizing at around 15-18% depending on distance to the hive.

3.2 Creep Decoherence Issue

Because our development team was never able to fully isolate the quantum object in our qubit gates, some map effects were never fully realized by the Zerg units, particularly creep. In a typical mid and late game for a Zerg player, this creep bonus can make or break an attack by allowing units to quickly respond to other players’ attack or reinforce a forward mass of units. 

Due to quantum decoherence in our NISQ system, most units only receive about 80% of the speed bonuses typically received by creep. Unit speeds were measured across a variety of Zerg types to determine the full effects of the quantum mechanics. Creep normally affects unit speeds in different ways and the results can be seen below in table 1.

Table 1: Creep Decoherence stats

Normal Increase in Speed with Decoherence Effect 
All Other Units30%23%

3.3 Strategic Build Superposition

The most powerful strategy enabled by a QC StarCraft rig is the ability to simultaneously use two strategic builds even in early game. Using the exponentially large amount of simultaneous commands, hot keys can be made to purchase upgrades, buildings and units of two different unit builds. The amount of build that is true is determined by the top or bottom spin of each qubit and there is no amount of enemy scouting that can determine what to prepare for.

In one such example Kim Song was able to enact a 20% Zergling Rush build and an 80% Mutalisk build. The opponent Protoss player scouted and expected one or the other and prepared for Zerglings. Little did he know that the Zealots and Sentries to counter those Zerglings would not be effective against the air to ground mutalisks he could have prepared for with more stalkers. Even with such countermeasures, there would not have been a possible effective build without equivalent strategic superposition. 

Unless the qubits wave-like nature being split in two is the exact same way as the other player to create the same quantum coherence and therefore the same level of superposition such a defense is next to impossible unless operating on the same QC. There is no counter even if implemented correctly. We theorize in a QC on QC match, the aggressor will always win because it favors rushing so much.

3.4 Roach Surfacing Quantum Interference

In quantum computing, the proximity and interaction of quantum bits interfere with each other and can create a cascade of errors which create unexpected consequences in gameplay. Typically this is solved by adjusting fault tolerance of the quantum gates because there is only so much you can improve the gate fidelity with today’s technology and shaving cream. 

While most effects of quantum interference are minor enough to be accounted for by adequate fault tolerance, the mass burrowing and surfacing of roaches in a single command at the rate done by professional players pushes those gate fidelity limits well above max tolerance. 

Because of the quantum glitch, burrowing roach builds and early game harassment are not advised. Roach armies are strong but not when some are above ground and the rest are below. 

4. Results

Because of the sheer confusion, the winrate online is vastly superior to a traditional gaming computer. In between the advantage of the drone-mineral entanglement and the strategic superposition, Kim received a ‘gg’ moments into nearly every initial rush. Results below are shown for each strategy vs player race in table 2 showing win rate for each combination. Data was collected over five weekends and eight cases of monster energy eSports drink. 

Superposition BuildsZergTerranProtoss
Zergling / Mutalisk100%100%100%
Roaches / Mutalisk100%100%100%
Zergling / Roaches100%95%100%
Baneling / Mutalisk100%100%100%
Baneling / Roaches100%95%100%

The strategy had a 100% win rate against all but one Terran player EasyBr33zy06. All of the other players capitulated as soon as they were struck simultaneously with the superposition army, but this particular player lifted his buildings and harassed the Zerg hive with a reaper rush. The reaper splash damage appeared to have great effect on the quantum entangled drones. 

In the open StarCraft tournament our team was controversially disqualified. We received plenty of easy ‘gg’s in our early rounds but the players became skeptical of what was going on after three superposition attacks and the unexplained resource advantage. Eventually the remaining rounds were fully played through by the skeptical opponents and the computer reported them as 88-97% victories. The judges determined that using a QC in the tournament this year was cheating until they could investigate further

5. Conclusion

StarCraft 2 has plenty of promise in QC applications but it has a long way to go before it is accepted by the culture. The raw numbers back it up. SC2 on Quantum Computers is the future and soon there will be nothing a closed minded referee can do to stop it! There are many more technical details to improve upon but even now, Cranberry-Lemon’s CLQC Kerrigan paired with Kim Song is nearly unbeatable by not rigged reasonable standards. 

6. Future Work

Because the official SC2 software is not open source our team has begun requesting Blizzard to create a specific QC SC2 build. According to the manager of their customer relations department they are not planning on spending valuable software development resources on one customer so it might be some time before we get that build.

Additionally, we have begun adapting Kerrigan to perform with a Protoss player. Strategically, if we maximize our superposition techniques on builds including teleportation, invisibility and other tricky Protoss special abilities, the judges won’t be able to disqualify us because they won’t be able to prove it was quantum computing. Development is going well so far except we cannot get the machine to stop telling us that we “MUST CONSTRUCT ADDITIONAL PYLONS!”


  1. Shor, Peter W. 1997, Polynomial-Time Algorithms for Prime Factorization and Discrete Logarithms on a Quantum Computer
  2. Bill, Bullet U. 2019, First Person Shooters in Quantum Space :: Annals of Finally Releasing Half Life 3 
  3. Bill, Bullet U. 2019, Completing the Half A Press Challenge with Quantum Computing and Parallel Mario Worlds :: Annals of Finally Releasing Half Life 3
  4.  Reiner, Rob 1984, This is Spinal Tap :: Coming to a Theater or Blockbuster Near You
  5. Sweeney, Todd 2017, Freezing your Meat Pies the Easy Way :: A DIY Blog for Cannibal Barbers on the go

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Published by B McGraw

B McGraw has lived a long and successful professional life as a software developer and researcher. After completing his BS in spaghetti coding at the department of the dark arts at Cranberry Lemon in 2005 he wasted no time in getting a masters in debugging by print statement in 2008 and obtaining his PhD with research in screwing up repos on Github in 2014. That's when he could finally get paid. In 2018 B McGraw finally made the big step of defaulting on his student loans and began advancing his career by adding his name on other people's research papers after finding one grammatical mistake in the Peer Review process.

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