TvT: Double Refinery Reaper Hellion

Double Refinery Reaper Hellion is one of the most common openings in the Terran mirror match now. It has been discussed a lot recently on forums, and I will share my thoughts on it.

Background

The opening is not new, and it has been discovered at the very beginning of Legacy of the Void. It is actually comparable to the gas first Reaper opening in Heart of the Swarm.

As many of you are aware, I have a habit to differentiate openings from builds, and double Refinery Reaper Hellion is considered an opening. The fact that some think this is a build affects how they understand it, and I will discuss more about this later.

The key defining feature of this opening is to have two Reapers and a Hellion in opening phase, and few other mainstream openings can compete with these units head on at 3:00.

Build order

This is the basic notation for the opening, and the “build order” difference comes from the follow up variations.

14 – Supply Depot
15 – Refinery
16 – Barracks
17 – Refinery
@100% Barracks – Reaper, Orbital Command and Factory
20 – Supply Depot
@100% Reaper – Reaper
@100% – Factory – Hellion and Starport
26 – Supply Depot (build Supply Depot accordingly hereafter)

This is a bit similar to a standard gas first opening with 15 Refinery and 16 Barracks, which should give you 100 gas once the Barracks completes. This allows you either go for a gas first fast tech opening by putting down a Factory immediately (and produce a Marines), or a gas first Reaper expand.

The interesting part comes from the second Refinery at 17, and that gives the name “double Refinery”. The two Refineries give you close to 150 gas when the Barracks completes, so you can put down the Factory immediately and get a Reaper from the Barracks. The opportunity cost is clearly the second Command Centre.

Game plan

If you like to take the initiative in TvT, this is an opening for you. This transits to a standard macro game a lot better than multiple Barracks Reaper openings. Like I have said, no other mainstream opening can fight the two Reapers and one Hellion head on at that time frame. The vod below shows how much you can punish the opponent’s mistakes.

When you play against a Reaper opening, the effectiveness depends on whether the opponent scouted your opening and how well s/he reacted. If opponent puts down a Reactor after the Reaper, there is a very small window at 3:00 that opponent has only a Reaper and you have two Reapers and a Hellion.

When you play against a gas first fast tech, the tech timing is the same for both players. The only difference in units is you have Reapers while opponent has Marines, so you want to gain an upper hand with your Reapers. It is important to remember that a Reaper always beats a Marine without external factors interfering. You want to attack with your first Reaper asap, and you should be met by one to two Marine. You want to ensure the Reaper survives, and the goal is to weaken or kill the Marine. When you have two Reapers and a Hellion, it is a battle of your unit advantage and opponent’s high ground advantage.

As you can see from the comparison with the two mainstream openings, this opening is not that amazing. However, it is one that allows you to take initiative and map control, and the follow up variations can make opponent uncomfortable. In sum, you are almost always the offender in the early game because of the opening choice, so it is a matter of how much you can get done. Subsequently, you will build a Command Centre and play out a macro game.

Playing against proxy multiple Barracks Reaper is probably one of those rare cases that you will be defensive early on with this opening (see vod below).

Generally, you will continue with a 1-1-1 as stated in the basic notation above, and that can branch out to different variations.

Variations

Continue aggression

It is normal to continue being aggressive after this opening, as it lines up well with the plan to snowball down the damage. Also, since you take two early Refineries, you can afford to tech up to gas heavy options. Players often assume that this opening is followed up with a Cloaked Banshee, and this affects how well you react against other variations.

Broadly, there are two mainstream options that allow you to continue the aggression. One is the well known Banshee follow up, and it fits well because of the double Refinery. Cloak Banshee build is always a decent choice in Terran mirror. The notation below continues from the opening above.

@100% (second) Reaper – Tech Lab
@100% Hellion – Hellion
Constant Hellion production
@100% Starport – Swap Starport onto Tech Lab for Cloak Banshee, and Reactor on Barracks
@400 mineral – Command Centre

The vod below shows a mirror match of this opening between ByuN and Ryung, and Ryung uses the Banshee variation.

The other option is not to build any add-on, and continue to get as many Reapers and Hellions possible. This usually follows up with a Liberator when Starport is completed, as that is the best attacking option you can get from the Starport without add-on. If you assume that opponent is going for Banshee and invest too much to counter it, you may get overwhelmed by the Reapers, Hellions and Liberator. The notation below continues from the opening above.

@100% (second) Reaper – Reaper
@100% Hellion – Hellion
@100% Starport – Liberator
@100% Hellion – Hellion (third)
@100% Reaper – Reaper (fourth)
@400 mineral – Command Centre

GuMiho used this against ByuN in the vod below.

Earlier expansion

This opening does not always follow up with aggression. Sometimes players will spend the resource on a Command Centre instead of the aggressive units. The most common way to get an earlier expansion is to pull Scv off the Refineries, and this will allow you to have 400 mineral quicker at the expense of gas. On top of that, a Reactor is built on the Barracks and a Tech Lab built on the Factory. The add-ons basically mean you stop production from those two buildings, and you will bank up mineral quicker to put down a Command Centre. Depending on how many Scvs and when you pull off the Refineries, the Starport timing may be slightly delayed. The general idea is the same. The notation below continues from the opening above.

@100% (second) Reaper – Reactor
@400 mineral – Command Centre
@100% Hellion – Hellion
@100% Hellion – Tech Lab
You should start putting the Scvs back onto the Refineries.

Maru (vs. TY) and Ryung (vs. TaeJa) show how this is done in the vods below. ByuN also did the same thing against Ryung in the vod linked earlier on.

Conclusion

I didn’t intend to write this post, but the number of posts and comments on forums mentioning Banshee follow up to this opening recently motivates me to do so. This opening was strong when people weren’t aware of it, but it is unlikely to happen now as it is quite common. The mainstream openings can deal with it just fine. The key is to figure out the follow up and react accordingly.

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