TvT: Double Refinery Reaper Expand

There is a TvT opening which many use, but I don’t see people talk about it. This arguably the safest and most versatile expansion opening.

Basic opening

14 – Supply Depot
15 – Refinery
16 – Barracks
17 – Refinery
@100% Barracks – Reaper, Orbital Command and Factory
20 – Supply Depot (pull 2-3 Scvs out of Refinery)
@100% Reaper – Reaper
@400 mineral – Command Centre (put the Scvs back in to saturate both geysers)

You can do whatever you want after that.


The two most orthodox openings for more than a year are 15 gas Reaper expand (standard or defensive) and double Refinery Reaper tech (first unit: hellion or cyclone). The former is an early expand build, and the latter is more of an aggressive build into expansion. They fall nicely on the two sides of the offender versus defender spectrum of the match up.

The aggressive opening takes two Refinery, and it allows you to get two Reapers plus an early Factory unit. This opening gives you the best unit composition possible in the short time frame of the early game. You can defend against proxy multiple Barracks Reaper relatively easy. It has a nice Cyclone plus two Reaper timing that is likely to do some damage and requires opponent to react correctly. The potential to follow up with Banshee further makes you the player with priority in the early game. While it has many advantages, it has a rather delayed expansion. In other words, if an early expand build player knows how to play against it, you are likely to be behind in the mid game.

Conversely, the early expand opening is versatile and has a good momentum for the mid game. You must know how to play against a wide range of builds with good scouting skill, and you will be the defender against most openings. It is relatively weak against proxy Reapers. You may still lose to it even if you know the opponent is doing a proxy Reaper opening, as it is an uphill micro battle.

Hybrid opening

The opening I’m discussing here mix these two openings. It takes the opening of the double Refinery tech, so it has a strong early game. It also takes a relatively early expansion compared to the default double Refinery tech opening, so its mid game is stronger in comparison.

The key is to remove two to three Scvs off gas (the number depends on your build). The early double Refinery is to allow you to have Reaper and Factory immediately when the Barracks completes. If you are not going to keep making gas heavy units and tech up to Starport simultaneously, you do not need six workers mining gas. With fewer workers mining gas and more workers mining mineral, the resource ratio allows you to put down a Command Centre earlier than the default opening.

It is worth pointing out that this is not a novel opening. ByuN had been mixing in this opening with the default aggressive one for a long time, but no one talks about. I noticed this variation back then, so I always keep in mind to sneak a Scv back in to check for expansion when I scouted double Refinery. However, to my surprise, I have never come across anyone uses the expansion variation.

I must stress that this is an opening that can shape up into almost any TvT build. That is why I prefer to call this an opening rather than a build. You can read more about the rationale in my building block concept article (based on Heart of the Swarm – but the logic still applies).

Recently, this opening has become more and more common. The vod below shows both MMA and uthermal use this in a mirror match in the recent Nation War finals. uthermal went for a Reactor Factory for Cyclones, while MMA went for a more typical 1-1-1.

Direct link if twitch player does not work:

To further highlight it is an opening that you can applyany build, I will show you the same build that INnoVation did with this opening recently versus a 15 gas Reaper opening last year. In the first vod below, INnoVation basically went get a Hellion, and then multiple Cyclones from the Factory without add-on. Then, he gets a Medivac as the first air unit from Starport, and drop four Marines and a Cyclone. The rest of the units stay at home to defend. He did the same thing in the second vod below with a 15 gas Reaper expand a year ago.

INnoVation had been doing the 15 gas Reaper expand into this variation for a long time last year, and it is in my opinion the best follow up option from the opening. There are many minor adjustments you could make based on opponent’s build, and I was very impressed how well ironed out his details were. I thought about making a post about this last year, but I was too busy.

Many players back then just moved out with everything (Marines, 2x Cyclones, Medivac, Hellion) to attack when they use the same build. INnoVation’s choice to send a Medivac with one Cyclone and four Marines catered for this scenario, as he could hold with the left over units using his defender advantage (i.e., high ground, reinforcement distance, and opponent’s travel time). At the same time, the opponent has nothing on the other side to defend INnoVation’s drop. He did the same thing in the first vod below, and the casters were calling him crazy. This is well calculated and he has been doing that for a long time.

If any of the tournament observers and/or casters is reading this, it will be nice to point out whether the Terran players take workers off gas when they go for double Refinery opening. This definitely improves audience experience, and you can also show off your knowledge to talk about the differences.

Direct link if twitch player does not work:

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