TvZ Reaper Opening: Early 1x Tank Defense

vs zerg

12/12 Reaper opening is the current metagame build in TvZ. Despite that the build gives the Terran player decent map control in the early game, especially with Reactor Hellion follow up, it is vulnerable to early aggression timings. This post is about how a minor build order change could help against such timings.

For the purpose of better illustration of what I want to talk about, here is the basic build order for 12/12 Reaper opening in TvZ.

Build order (before change)

10 – Supply Depot
12 – Barrack
12 – Refinery
15 – Orbital Command
@100% Barrack – Reaper and Supply Depot (complete wall off)
@100% Reaper – 2nd Reaper
@400 Mineral – Command Centre
@100 Gas – Factory
@50 Gas – Reactor on Barrack
@400 Mineral – Command Centre (third)
@100% Reactor – Swap Factory onto Reactor and produce 2x Hellion (continuous production till you have 3 pairs)
Build Tech Lab on Barrack (@100% – Stim)
Constant Marine production
Build Supply Depot when fit from here on

I will not go further in terms of build order here. Leave a comment below if you want a more complete build order.

The in game time at this point should be close to 7:00.

Your army should consist of
– 2x Reapers (if none died)
– 6x Hellions
– 2x Marines

YoDa vs. DongRaeGu (Tech Lab timing slightly different)

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General overview

This is an economical build with three early Command Centre. In the early game, the 2x Reapers and 6x Hellions should provide adequate map control. Often, this also means that it is almost impossible for Zerg to take an early third Hatchery. Sometimes Zerg might get a big group of Zerglings when the Speed upgrade is done at around 5:45 to try to force the Reapers and Hellions back in order to take the third. However, many Zergs opt to do an aggressive push to force Terran back. It can be a Roach timing, or Baneling timing, or even both. Thus, scouting the gas is crucial as you will know if an aggressive timing is coming.

The problem is that even if you have scouted it, the push will still do damage. Reapers cannot not defend. Hellions are weak against Roach. Just two Marines. Reactive Widow Mines could help but they are still limited in this situation.

Build order (after change)

10 – Supply Depot
12 – Barrack
12 – Refinery
15 – Orbital Command
@100% Barrack – Reaper and Supply Depot (complete wall off)
@100% Reaper – 2nd Reaper
@400 Mineral – Command Centre
@100 Gas – Factory
@50 Gas – Reactor on Barrack
@400 Mineral – Command Centre (third)

@100% Reactor – Marine production
@100% Factory – Tech Lab (@100% – Tank)
@100% Tank – Swap Barrack on Tech Lab and Factory on Reactor
Siege the Tank at the ramp in the main
Constant Marine and Hellion production. Research Stim (Same as before change)

Explanation

The one Tank makes a difference against possible aggressive push. Furthermore, six Marines are produced from the Reactor Barrack before switching add-on with the Factory, which are more effective in the bunker than 2x Reapers and 2x Marines. Although the trade off is the delayed Hellions, the change is much better in defending early aggressive push than using just Hellions and Reapers. You can produce Marauders after the swap if the push involves Roaches.

In today’s GSL, both Taeja and FanTaSy used this updated Reaper Opening for their TvZ. The impact is obvious for FanTaSy’s game against TRUE, whereby TRUE used a  Baneling all-in and a Nydus Roach in two different games.

Personally, I have problem with such early aggressive timing when I go for 12/12 Reaper in TvZ. Seems like this is a good answer.

FanTaSy vs. TRUE (Baneling)

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FanTaSy vs. TRUE (Roach)

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5 thoughts on “TvZ Reaper Opening: Early 1x Tank Defense

  1. but this lets zerg get very early 3base, and then he can easely defend your delayed reaper helion pressure with some roaches? Why not then if you delay your hellions so much, go straight to hellbat drop, as the time used for building a tank + techlab would be enough for armory to finish, then u swap with reactor and proceed with hellbat drops.

    1. By getting Hellion right away, which is standard play, doesn’t really delay the third. The speedlings are ready by 5:45 – 6:00, the Reapers will get pushed back. Two Reapers and the first pair of Hellions are not capable to practically delay a third. The third should be down by 6:00 – 6:30. This is not exactly early, but rather a standard timing in the current metagame.

      Doing a Hellbat drop while getting a 3rd Command Centre is extremely greedy. I consider Hellbat drop timing as some kind of cheese overall.

  2. Thanks a lot for your post and your blog in general. This change also works well with the raw min-max 3 CC reactor hellion opening used by a lot of terrans at MLG.

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