TvT: Defending Against Proxy Reaper

Proxy Reaper’s popularity increases after the recent patch. This post is about how to defend against proxy Reaper.

Background

With the Cyclone change, we see more varieties in openings. These three are the most commonly used openings:

I have already discussed in an article last month that proxy Reaper’s return is not directly due to the Cyclone change. This is because Cyclone was never the answer against proxy Reaper, but rather, it is due to an increase in 15 gas Reaper expand and a decrease in double Refinery opening. Generally, there is a soft rock-paper-scissors for these three openings: proxy Reaper > 15 gas Reaper expand > double Refinery > proxy Reaper. A slight advantage exists when one opening is pitched against another, ceteris paribus.

When people discuss about holding proxy Reaper, they often forget to mention what opening they use. The two openings deal with proxy Reaper differently because of their distinct mineral and gas ratio. Thus, I will discuss how to deal with proxy Reaper with the two openings separately in this discussion.

Basics of proxy Reaper

There are three types of proxy Reaper in TvT:

  • One Barracks
  • Two Barracks
  • Three Barracks

One Barracks is basically a fake move to make opponent over-commits in defence. Two Barracks is more common than three Barracks. The latter has little room for transition, and the benefits of having an additional Barracks do not warrant this downside. If the opponent can hold your two Barracks, s/he probably can hold your three Barracks as well. I will limit my discussion to two Barracks.

Proxy Reaper essentially transition to 1-1-1 and a late expansion. Usually, one Barracks goes back to base, and the other is used for scouting. Regardless which of the two openings you use, the goal remains the same. You want to survive the early stage, and go into the mid game with a stronger economy.

If you send a Scv to scout, you should notice that there is no Barracks, one Refinery is taken, and the second Refinery maybe building. Of course, you need to take other proxy options into consideration when you are preparing. Whether you sent a Scv to scout has important implications for both sides. First, the proxy player knows that you know s/he is doing a proxy, and this triggers an immediate attack with the first Reaper. The first Reaper should hit at around 2:00, and the second Reaper will join at around 2:20. If the proxy player does not see your scouting Scv, s/he knows you do not have the information about the proxy specifically. Subsequently, s/he can delay the attack with the first Reaper, and then attack with two Reapers at the same time. Because there is no Reaper attacking at around 2:00, the defending player might deduce that it is not proxy and build order decisions that are not optimised to deal with the proxy Reaper (e.g., make a Reactor or a second Reaper). This minor difference can make a huge difference whether the proxy Reaper player can build up momentum. The vod below shows how TY got caught off guard by Maru’s delay with his first Reaper.

The other implication is the follow up options the defending player has as a subsequent response. I will discuss this later.

Double Refinery

It does not matter whether you plan to expand or tech with this opening when your opponent goes for proxy Reaper. You have to be the defender regardless of your plan when you deal with proxy Reaper.

What do you have at around 2:00? First Reaper is just out and the Factory is about to complete. There is a small one Reaper versus one Reaper skirmish before opponent’s second Reaper joins. You must pull a few Scvs for the battle, and your goal is to buy time for your Barracks and Factory to produce more units. The Barracks should produce Marine, while the Factory should produce Hellion. Reaper takes too long to produce in comparison to Marine, and both units have the same range. You don’t have to worry about unable to chase Reaper with Marine, as they will come to you (pulling a few Scvs make a difference). Hellion moves faster than Reaper, and it does extra damage to light units. The key is to not let the Reaper focus down the Hellion. You can repair the Hellion with Scvs. Once you have a few Hellions, the hold is considered successful. See the first vod below.

In sum,

  • Pull some Scvs
  • Make Marine
  • Make Hellion
  • Micro (and pray he’s not Maru)

The above only covers the immediate response to proxy Reaper, and there is more depth to that. You have two options while you engaging in the battle:

  • Proxy Starport
  • Favor expanding

Proxy Reaper means there is delayed tech and a lack of units in base. The defending player can capitalise on that by building a Starport near opponent’s base, and place a Liberator at the mineral line. Clearly, the effectiveness of this move is contingent on how early the attack is. Once you recognise that it is proxy Reaper, you proxy a Starport immediately after the Factory is done. That means, you need to have a Scv already out there on the map in order for you to make this move, and that Scv should be your scouting Scv. Once your Scv scouted the signs of proxy, you can scout the common area for fake proxy then park the Scv there to prepare for proxy Starport. See vod below.

If you do not have a Scv out on the map, you have to favor expanding and build the Starport in your own base as per normal. Hence, as mentioned earlier, whether you did a Scv scout has implications beyond just deducing if opponent is doing a proxy.

One also needs to consider the amount of gas mined in order to execute these two options well. If you planned to go for the tech build path with this double Refinery opening, you already have sufficient gas to support the proxy Starport and the subsequent Liberator. You can pull Scvs off both Refineries when you are defending the attack. My suggestion is to have one Scv mining gas if you proxy Starport with the tech build path. In contrast, if you planned to go for the expansion build path with this double Refinery opening, you need to ensure you have around three Scvs mining gas. This is because, you started pulling Scv off the Refinery early to have enough mineral early for expanding, so you do not have enough gas saved up when you are certain that you’re facing proxy Reaper. I hasten to add that the number of Scvs effectively mining gas is likely to change as you micro against the Reapers, so the number I stated is just a rough suggestion.

15 gas Reaper expand

15 gas Reaper expand is more vulnerable than double Refinery against proxy Reaper. The timing of the Factory is later than the one with double Refinery opening, so it is difficult to rely on Hellion for defence. With this opening, you are almost certain to have a Scv scout, so that should give you some time to prepare. This opening aims to expand early, so having 400 mineral is a basic characteristic. The key is to use the mineral for defence, so you build Bunkers.

Take a look at the vod below. TaeJa’s Scv scout told him there is high likelihood that it was a proxy opening. Even though KeeN only proxy one Barracks, TaeJa prepared as if it was the usual proxy two Barracks Reaper. He built two Bunkers on top of the ramp and produced Marines. He essentially delayed his expansion for the Bunkers.

Since this opening has later tech, proxy Starport is less effective even if you put down the Starport immediately. Therefore, you should focus on defending then expand as quickly as possible.


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3 thoughts on “TvT: Defending Against Proxy Reaper

    1. The timestamps were included, but WordPress and YouTube no longer work as well as they used to. I just manually embedded the videos again, so they should work now.

      1. Oh my god, you rock! Thanks for the awesome tutorial and for fixing the timestamps!

        That TY vs Maru match was freaking SICK as hell! Crazy games!

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