One Build for Three Match ups

I have been asked a lot for a build that you can use for all three match ups on ladder. Here it is.


Those who want to use one build for three match ups are aware that it is not an ideal approach, but it is useful to manage learning by minimising variance in the build order. This is not a bad approach, because it is easier to practice one build as much as possible to improve mechanics to a certain level. Thus, the purpose of this one build is for learning, which means the design of this build should allow you to apply other builds better.


Based on the rationale above, I have these several considerations in mind when I design this build.


I like to learn build orders in blocks. The first block is always the opening, which can be used for different build orders. Hence, the opening I use here is one that is the most versatile and a must learn for Terran players of all levels.

I picked the 15 gas Reaper expand opening, because Reaper expand is arguably the best opening even at the highest level. If you are not comfortable micro-ing the Reaper and macro-ing at base, you can just park your Reaper near your opponent’s base. You can spend more time on the Reaper as you get more comfortable with the build. An expand build also forces you to macro on two bases, and this helps you learn other builds quicker and easier.


Reaper expand into 1-1-1 is the bread and butter of Terran macro build, so it is selected here. However, while 1-1-1’s flexibility is one of its biggest strengths, it is not something that is of focus here. Since it is a build for three match ups, we will stick to the same 1-1-1 build no matter what. Subsequently, based on the most common convergent point of 3-1-1, two more Barracks will be added accordingly. Then, the production will focus on working toward the composition we want to have.


Bio is picked over mech for several reasons.

  • Bio can be used in all three match ups at any level.
  • Bio is less map dependent.
  • Bio is easier to learn.

The core of a bio composition is Marine and Medivac. Marauder is arguably a support unit that may or may not be needed based on the match up and situation, for example, Marauder is not used in TvT bio mirror. In all three match ups, there are always support units for Marine and Medivac, and Siege Tank is arguably the best if you can only pick one for all three match ups. Therefore, the composition for this build is Marine, Medivac, and Siege Tank.

Game plan

Most Terran (bio) builds aim to do a certain harassment early on, while you macro up behind it. Then, it transitions to the mid game by putting down more structures to move toward the 3-1-1 convergent point. The key mid game check point is to move out when Stim and Medivac are ready. This is what we are going to do in this build. The image below illustrates the general game plan.

The harassment of choice is a Widow Mine drop with one Widow Mine and six Marines. It is arguably the most versatile early game harassment option with 1-1-1.

I will discuss the transition phase later.

Build order

Phase 1: Reaper expand and 1-1-1

14 – Supply Depot
15 – Refinery
16 – Barracks
@100% Barracks – Reaper and Orbital Command
@400 mineral – Command Centre (@100% – Orbital Command)
@100 gas – Factory
@50 gas – Reactor
@100 mineral – Supply Depot
@75 mineral – Refinery
@100% Reactor – Marine (constant Marine production)
@100% Factory – Starport and Widow Mine

Phase 2: Harassment

@100% Widow Mine – Cyclone
@100% Starport – Medivac, then Supply Depot
Build Supply Depot accordingly hereafter.
Tip: Use the Starport Scv to continuously build Supply Depots.
@100% Cyclone – Tech Lab on Factory
@100% Medivac – Load up one Widow Mine and six Marines for a drop.

Phase 3: Transition

After your Medivac leaves your base – Lift Barracks up to build a Tech Lab. Build 2x Barracks, one on the Reactor, the other next to the Starport. Use Starport to build a Reactor
@100% Factory Tech Lab – Siege Tank. Then, 3rd Refinery and Engineering Bay
@100% Barracks Tech Lab – Stim (constant Marine production)
@100% Siege Tank – Siege Tank
@100% Reactor – Lift Starport to build another Reactor, swap 3rd Barracks onto the vacant Reactor
@100% gas – +1 Infantry upgrade
@100% Reactor – 2x Medivac
@125 gas – Siege Tank
@400 mineral – Command Centre

Move out with Marine, Siege Tank, and Medivac. Stim will be completed before you reach the other side of the map.

Download the replay here.


The build transitions by adding more Barracks, and starts to build up on the Siege Tank count. A 1-1-1 after expand build usually stops tech unit production during the transition phase, and you can use the Factory and/or Starport to build add-ons for the second and third Barracks. In this build, I only use Starport to build add-ons for the Barracks.

If you start Stim with either the second or third Barracks, your move out timing is delayed drastically (an example replay of delayed Stim upgrade). Thus, you lift the first Barracks to build a Tech Lab for an earlier Stim. More importantly, the first Reactor built by the Starport is used by the Barracks to build up the Marine count before the move out, and the two Medivacs produced with the second Reactor built by the Starport are aligned nicely for the Stim timing. INnoVation did the same transition in the vod below (time stamped).

The Cyclone is the best defensive option when the Medivac is on the other side of the map.


EDIT: Addressing some queries about this build

Many have asked me about the impact of patch 4.0 on this build, and what changes should be made. I want to address this here.

The purpose of this build is to provide a stepping stone for players to understand some basics about Terran builds in general.

This build is not optimal for three match ups even before the recent changes. My thought process behind the design is less about emphasising on mechanics, but more about introducing several important things that are common to Terran builds. The main takeaway is to learn the followings.

  • Basic one barracks expand. Most Terran builds are based on reaper expand. This teaches macro on two bases.
  • How to move to a 1-1-1, which is the most common build variation for Terran.
  • Most 1-1-1 will aim for some form of harassment early on. A widow mine drop teaches how to balance between spending your attention on the harassment and macro. That’s why I didn’t use Liberator, which is a lot more newbie friendly.
  • Transition into a 3-1-1, which is the most important convergent point.
  • A timing mid game push with Stim. Stim upgrade move out is one of the most important aspect of Terran.

You have graduated from this once you start to feel the build is not optimised in different match ups, and it is time to pick builds that are more tailored to the different match ups. I recommend moving on to learn a 1-1-1 variation for each of the match ups, because standard 1-1-1 is a direct step-ups from this build.

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35 thoughts on “One Build for Three Match ups

  1. There seems to be a Techlab too much. I think there is a mistake in the following line:
    “@100% Medivac – Tech Lab.”

    Btw thanks for this site xD

  2. Is the Cyclone there to serve as safety vs specific all-ins? To help with anti-air? I’d like to understand better what I should be doing with it. Are the circumstances in which I would get an immediate tech lab and switch to tank production? Or does that throw off the timing too much.

    Sorry for the question spam – I really like the 6 Marine/WM drop, and am trying to understand more about the follow-up/transitions. I feel like I could really come to depend on this build so thank you for taking the time.

    1. The Cyclone is mainly for safety. You are a little vulnerable when you move out your drop, because you have just a few Marines in base. It can be problematic just to have two to three Adepts coming in, so the Cyclone is a good option for defend at that specific time frame. It requires relatively less micro, so you can focus on your drop more.

      You can go straight to Tank as a reaction, but I don’t want to get into that discussion given the purpose of this post. If you really want to be safe, you can use the build from the second replay. It delays the Stim for Tank.

      Let me know how it works out for you!

  3. Hi Max, I’m new to your website. It’s really entertaining, well-written and very informative. So this is my 1st article, which article do you recommend next after reading this 1 build per matchup? Thanks, keep up the good work.

    1. The build is rather linear, and the only timings you really care are the stim and double medivac. The replay should be a good gauge.

  4. So is there any specific time i should add on extra rax, or are you just supposed to kinda free ball it after this.
    Thanks for the build btw :D

  5. Hi Max,

    Big thanks for this build. I use it in tvz and tvt. Long time I used it in tvp as well but changed recently.

    And just today I promoted to dia 2 from dia 3.

    If it weren’t for your build I think I couldn’t have made it.

    Have a nice day!

  6. i just start to play sc2, i really appreaciate your guides maybe this is a little too advanced for me now but keep doing this great Job

    1. Welcome to the best game! There are many contents recently targeted at beginners, so you should check those out. My site is more of me writing what I want, and I don’t see myself as being good enough to teach people.

      I have created a series (still ongoing) that explains some fundamental concepts. You should check that out.

  7. I started playing SC and I like this guide, because I am winning games against weak humans from the start.
    Just one thing with the Widow Mines => I do the drop with WM and 6 Marines, but quite often the WM kills my Marines because it damages friendly units. => How to prevent that from happening? Some simple move? I am noob and I need to build, so I can’t micro much. Thanks for help!
    Basically if I put 2 more Marines instead of WM, I think it would be better. Change my mind.

    1. The potential of a WM in that situation is much better than two Marines.

      As for the execution, you can drop the units while the Medivac is moving by clicking “D” (drop command hotkey) on the Medivac itself, so the units are more spread apart. This will reduce friendly fire without specific manual micro.

  8. I’m a low-APM plat player, and even after practicing this build a lot I have a tough time with the big switch where I lift the rax – add tech lab, build a new rax where the old one was, and then build a new rax near the starport. All of these moves happen really quickly in your replay, and for me it takes 5-10 seconds. I probably need to have the locations of the buildings planned in my head for each map…that would help. Often the rax has to travel a long way off to what seems like a good spot to land. Grabbing the SCVs to make the new buildings is far slower than it should be, too.

    I don’t have a question… I’m just commenting. That part of the build order is a big obstacle for me, and I find in real games I just take shortcuts or do something quite different.

      1. Well…. if there was a way to get through that transition that was a little less efficient and had less building swaps, that would be cool. I will keep practicing this one…. some day I’ll get it figured out!

  9. Thank you very much for this useful build! I really feel comfortable with it! Now with the 4.7.1 patch, do you think that, instead of making a Cyclone right after the Widow Mine, could the Cyclone be substituted by a Hellion and save the gas? Or will it be better to build a Tech lab and then make a Cyclone and then produce Tanks? What are your thoughts?

  10. First off, I’m really glad I found this site. Amazing amount of content and resources, excellent articles. I have a question about using this build in 2020. I’m pretty new to SC2 so I’m guessing at the time this was written you could make a Cyclone without a tech lab? Currently though you need a tech lab on the factory for a clone, and unless I’m reading it wrong, with the build as it is there isn’t a tech lab on the factory until after the cyclone? How would you do this build nowadays? Earlier tech lab or just more widow mines instead of a cyclone?

  11. It’s been a while since you posted this, but am running this build now. I used the intermediate build order you linked first. That worked as well. What I like about this one is that it teaches to make a drop right at the start, and after that there’s a Stim timing. I noticed its hard to win games where you let your opponent amass. In this build my opponent needs to react or he’s dead. Its hectic getting the micro done, though.
    Diamond 3 here and loving this. Thanks!
    (It doesnt really flow that nice, btw, as I am holding back the 16th SCV until I can build the barracks. If there’s an update or pointer how this specific build translates to patch 5 I would be much abliged.)

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