TvT: Double Refinery Reaper Cyclone – Auto Turret Tank Drop

The double Refinery Reaper Cyclone opening is arguably the most common opening in TvT now. I have seen different follow up build orders, and I came up with a Auto Turret Tank drop before 6:00.

Maybe others have already been using something very similar and better, but I want to share mine. The motivation behind this variation is to get ahead when both sides are using the same opening.

Build order

14 – Supply Depot
15 – Refinery
16 – Barracks
17 – Refinery
@100% Barracks – Reaper, Orbital Command and Factory
20 – Supply Depot
@100% Reaper – Reaper
@100% – Factory – Cyclone and Starport
27 – Supply Depot
@100% Reaper – Tech Lab
@100% Starport – Command Centre (@100% – Orbital Command), and swap Starport onto Tech Lab
@200 mineral – Raven
@50 mineral – Reactor on Barracks
@100 mineral – Hellion
35 – Supply Depot
@100% Hellion – Tech Lab (@100% – Tank) and Refinery
@100% Reactor – 2x Marine
@100% Raven – Viking
@100% 2x Marine – 2x Marine
@100% Viking – Swap Starport on Reactor for Medivac, and swap Barracks on Tech Lab
@100% Tank – Tank
57 – Supply Depot
@100 gas – Stim

You can download a replay of the build here. It is against AI, as I only want to show the build order. The point is merely to show the general build order.

You can transition to a standard macro game by putting down two Barracks and a third Command Centre.


First of all, this is just me playing around with build order, and it is not a progamer level build. Just to get this clear.

The opening is the double Refinery Reaper Cyclone that is popularised by INnoVation, and I will not drill into it as I have already covered that in another post. In that post, I highlighted INnoVation’s variation of continuously getting Vikings, and how that may shape into a timing attack if opponent threw away units against your defensive set up. As the metagame evolves, both players usually will reach a transition stalemate whereby both sides are just macro-ing up defensively. Being defensive with Viking and Tank allows you to be a bit greedy in the transition, and this is one of the key TvT trends I have discussed previously. Thus, based on this scenario, the goal of this build is to force a trade in your favor and also to disrupt opponent’s mining. Consequently, you should get ahead in the mid game.

Since there is already a Reactor on the Starport early on, I thought of combining the once famous Auto Turret Tank drop build in Heart of the Swarm into this opening.


The goal is to drop two Tanks, four Marines and a Cyclone and throw down Auto Turrets in opponent’s main base to set up nice position that forces the opponent to trade ineffectively.  The recent buff to the Auto Turret is a plus to this build. There are a few details that can make a difference in the drop.

First, just before you commence the drop, you should use your other units to draw opponent’s attention away from the drop based on the concept of attention based harassment. This can be done by running the two Reapers and a Hellion into opponent’s natural mineral line.

Second, the Raven and the Viking do not move as quickly as the Medivac, so you should move them out earlier than the actual move out. However, you don’t want to go too far out on opponent’s side of the map and have them got picked off by opponent’s Vikings.

Third, the two Tanks should be loaded into two different Medivacs, and they should be the first to be loaded into the Medivacs. This is because of the first-in-first-out mechanism of Medivac, and you want the Tank to be siege up as quickly as possible.

If you can, set up in range of opponent’s mineral line, as it disrupts mining. More importantly, the longer the opponent wants to gather more units before breaking your set up, the more you get ahead economically.

Build detail

If you have used this opening before, you will notice that you have to make a choice to build either the Command Centre or the Raven first. I think it is better to put down the Command Centre first, as the slight delay in Raven does not affect your ability to defend against Banshee anyway.

Recently, players replaced the Hellion with a Widow Mine, which works better in the mirror match up against Cyclone. I opt for a Hellion as it works better with the Reaper in terms of moving toward the opponent’s natural mineral line to draw attention.

The third Refinery is placed down before the Command Centre at the natural is completed, and it is an extremely important detail for this build. If you don’t, you do not have 200 gas when the Starport is swapped onto the Reactor for two Medivacs. I line it up with the completion of the Hellion, so it is easier to remember.

Build interaction

This may end horribly if opponent continues to make Viking with Reactor like INnoVation did, and position them at the right place right time. You have 50 energy on the Command Centre (the main one) just before the two Medivacs appear, you can save that for a scan when you move out. Ideally, you want to scan the main base and the edge of it to deduce where the Vikings can be, and whether there is a Tank in the main base. The scan should also give you information on whether the Starport is on the Reactor, and you should not hesitate to drop if opponent is potentially only making one Viking at a time.

The opening itself works well against Banshee in general based on how the timing of your Raven and Viking lines up against the earliest Banshee possible. However, you should consider not continuing with this specific build order, because it is difficult to deal with Banshee if you move out with your Raven. Also, this build is tight with mineral, so Engineering Bay and Missile Turret is not an answer. Hence, you should just make Vikings from the Reactor Starport instead of Medivac. Simply shutting down the Banshee and gathering a high Viking count (opponent cannot match your Viking – opportunity cost of Banshee), you can have a mid game timing. All these considerations are aligned with the goal I have for this build, which is to exploit a potential defensive economic macro build mirror match, so you should not insist on this build if opponent is investing in attacking options like Banshees.


4 thoughts on “TvT: Double Refinery Reaper Cyclone – Auto Turret Tank Drop

  1. Very good opener indeed. All around safe with good potential of aggression and macro follow up. Thanks for sharing, Max. As a personal request, please give us builds or trends on the mech games you see nowadays. Thank you very much.

    1. Let me know how this build goes for you. I don’t use mech (rarely play anyway), and I need to rely on proplayers’ vods to analyse mech. But it seems like bio is still favored.

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