Reactor Hellion into Banshee against Zerg in patch

It is common to open with one barrack expand without taking gas against Zerg.

The standard metagame before and after the patch is reactor hellion after getting a quick command centre. This opening branches out to various of strategies. There was a period of time when cloaked banshee is the popular follow up. However, after the patch, this may change.

There are two changes that affect TvZ match up.

1. Overlord movement speed increased from 0.4687 to 0.586, that is 25% faster
2. Queen anti-ground weapon attack range increased from 3 to 5

Let’s start with the overlord change. Like I had mentioned earlier, there are various builds that Terran can transit into after reactor hellion. Terran can go into standard marine tank or mech play in general. More specifically, Terran can go into three barracks + one factory, two factory blue flame hellion, cloaked banshee etc. Therefore, it’s crucial for Zerg to sneak an overlord in to scout Terran’s next move. The increased movement speed of overlord will certainly help Zerg to scout the follow up variations. Going back to the topic, this reduces the effectiveness of cloaked banshee follow up build. Although Zerg players will try to be ready against possible cloaked banshee play, but it’s a totally different story when you actually scouted a starport with a tech lab researching something.

The second change is the queen’s anti-ground weapon attack range. As stated by Blizzard, its intention is to help Zerg in TvZ match up in the early game. With reactor hellion being the standard opening, many argued that this may shift the metagame. I won’t argue that this patch helps Zerg to play against hellion opening, but it is not that much of a radical change than many said it is. The purpose of hellion at that point is to control creep spread and deny scouting in general. With the new queen attack range, it is easier to spread the creep, but reactor hellion is still viable. To put it in another way, there hasn’t been any better strategy out there now.

After the patch, I see quite a number of Zerg players rely on queen for early game defense and reduce the production of zerglings. This certainly has economic benefit. Roach is an option for Zerg if Terran is going for a reactor hellion opening. However, the main reason why some Zerg players don’t like getting a roach warren is that roach isn’t useful after the early stage of the game in TvZ match up in general, unless Terran is going mech. To sum it up, the improved queen attack range certainly moved the metagame in the sense that Zerg can defend without considering getting a roach warren, unless he or she wants to do a counter roach push.

Getting back to the topic, it is much less effective to get cloaked banshee against Zerg now. As mentioned earlier, Zerg players get more queens as a defensive measure against hellion. Queen is a good anti air unit. Against banshee, Zerg players will get more queen in response, and plant spore crawlers in the mineral lines. When the first banshee gets to the Zerg’s base, it won’t have cloaked. With two to four queens, the first banshee basically can’t do much. By the time, the second banshee arrives and cloak is upgrade. The Zerg has spore crawlers and queens ready. It is less effective than before.

There are probably two options with banshee follow up play. One is to wait for two banshees with cloaked before going into Zerg’s base. However, the overlord’s increased speed may just nullify this play. Another option is to play a mind game, by attacking with one banshee and do not research cloak. The Zerg player may over react. Even if there’s an over reaction, there will just be two spore crawler which is a more or less equal trade with the opportunity cost of getting a banshee.

Recently Ryung used this build in Antiga Shipyard against Line in Up and Down match. Ryung was going for mech in that game, so it was normal for Line to get roaches throughout the game, even though he likes to get roach in ZvT anyway. Interestingly, Ryung kept making banshee throughout the game and mix into his mech. Roach can’t hit air, so Line has to get mutalisk to kill the banshee. This makes larva management difficult. The numbers of thor also makes it harder to use mutalisk. Pretty interesting way to pin your opponent’s unit composition.

In sum, although reactor hellion opening is still the main stream opening in TvZ, the cloaked banshee variation may get cycle out sooner than later. Personally, I like to use two barracks pressure against Zerg on certain maps, and the queen’s increased range certainly doesn’t help me at all.

2 thoughts on “Reactor Hellion into Banshee against Zerg in patch

  1. I think the best follow up to the 1 rax FE is the one done by Polt against DRG on entombed in MLG Spring Arena II:

    Fast 3CC into 6 hellions for scouting and map control with fast double ebay into a 2-2 maxed timing attack at 14:30 while establishing a 4th.

    I say this because with the new queens allowing for amazing creep spread and early defence the Zerg players are taking 3rd bases really early. By taking 3 fast bases yourself (Though I think building your third AT the third like Polt did is extraordinarily risky) allows you to both keep up with the zerg economically AND hit an amazingly strong timing before Hive comes out.

    The only other option in my eyes is going for some kind of build like DeMusliM’s marine hellion timing that is designed to kill a fast 3rd – although this build is prepatch and the extra creep spread will definitely aid the zerg in defending it.

    I personally greatly dislike going Banshees against the new era of queen openings. Making Banshees against Zergs who by default make 4 queens at the start of the game seems silly – they already have what they need to deal with it.

    I dunno. it will be interesting to see how much things change with the new patch. It’s been a while since a patch has affected a matchup this drastically I think.

  2. In terms of taking a 3rd early to catch up on econ against zerg, MKP actually did that with this reactor hellion in banshee build. He used the banshee and hellion to pin opponent in base, and secure a third with 2x Ebay as well. But well, that’s MKP, I may probably loss my banshees and hellions which leave myself vulnerable.

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