Builds for Beginners and Intermediate Players

Some readers asked me for an updated version of the one build for three match-ups I posted previously. There is also an increase in demand for beginner builds on /r/allthingsterran recently. This post covers builds for beginners and intermediate players.


The biggest challenge to create simple builds for so-called “less advance” players is to ensure it is the optimal difficulty for learning. One feedback I had for the last one build for three match-ups build is the difficulty of switching add-ons. Others had also mentioned about the difficulty to understand how different tech units work together. This got me thinking about the premise I had, which was to provide a stepping stone for players to understand the key aspects of Terran builds in general.

Most “standard” builds start with a Reaper expand into 1-1-1. Getting comfortable with this set up was the goal of my previous beginner build, but a 1-1-1 set up inevitably involves switching add-ons and managing tech units. After all, flexibility with add-ons is the main strength of 1-1-1.

My solution is to have two builds; one for beginners and one for intermediate players.


The motivation behind these builds is to allow newer players to start from something simple and then progress to more difficult builds. Newer players can start from the beginner build and move on to the intermediate build.

These builds are designed to be used in all three match-ups. If you can point out the weaknesses of the builds in selective match-ups, then you are not the target audience. Using one build for three match-ups is an effective way to learn for beginners.

The two builds share the following common features:

  • One Barracks expand
  • Bio composition
  • Converge to a 3-1-1
  • Move out when Stim is ready

One Barracks expand is a staple of Terran builds. It is almost impossible to play with one base in Legacy of the Void, so even beginners need to get comfortable with macro-ing on two bases.

Terran can use either bio or mech as the main composition in all match-ups. I believe bio is easier to learn and execute than mech for newer players. Mech production requires decision making. For instance, one needs to decide whether to produce Siege Tank, Cyclone, or Thor with the Factory on Tech Lab. With bio, the production buildings and add-ons automatically decide the unit ratio.

The 3-1-1 convergent point is extremely crucial. Players using this build should keep in mind that this set of structure is the goal of the builds.

Stim upgrade completion is an easy-to-follow check point that signifies to the player it is time to move out and attack. It is an important power spike that every Terran player needs to be familiar with.

I break the build orders into different blocks for easier learning (for reference).

Beginner build

Build order

Opening block – One Barracks expand

14 – Supply Depot
16 – Barracks
16 – Refinery
@100% Barracks – Reactor and Orbital Command
@400 mineral – Command Centre (@100% – Orbital Command)
@100 mineral – Supply Depot

Build block – Three Barracks then Factory and Starport

@150 mineral – Barracks (second)
@100% Reactor – 2x Marine (continuous Marine production)
@100% Supply Depot – Bunker
@150 mineral – Barracks (third)
@100% Barracks (second) – Tech Lab
@100% Tech Lab – Stim
@100% Barracks (third) – Reactor, Supply Depot, and Refinery
Build Supply Depot accordingly hereafter
@150 mineral – Factory
@125 mineral – Engineering Bay (@100% – +1 Infantry Attack)
@100% Factory – Reactor and Starport
@100% Starport – Swap Starport onto Factory’s Reactor for 2x Medivac; 2x Refinery; Tech Lab with Factory


The primary goal of this build is to help players get comfortable macro-ing on two bases. As mentioned at the start of the article, 1-1-1 maybe too difficult for beginners, so this build goes for a simple three Barracks path. After you have executed the opening block, you put down two more Barracks when you can afford. You add add-ons to all three Barracks right when they are completed, so there is no add-on switching. You simply focus on making Scvs and Marines at the start.

The only tricky part of the build is the Factory and Starport. You almost always want to have Medivacs when you move out with Stim. A common way to get that is to have the Factory to build the Reactor for the Starport, so you can produce two Medivacs at the same time later.

You focus on powering up with as many Marines as possible, and you can use Marines to defend before you are ready to move out. You move out when you have two Medivacs and Stim. You can later add a third Command Centre and two more Barracks to converge to the standard 5-1-1 on three bases. The Tech Lab on Factory is designed to allow you to add Siege Tank in the mid game. No decision is required for production. You just keep making Marines, Siege Tanks, and Medivacs.


Build order

Opening block – One Barracks expand

14 – Supply Depot
16 – Barracks
16 – Refinery
@100% Barracks – Reaper and Orbital Command
@400 mineral – Command Centre (@100% – Orbital Command)
@100 mineral – Supply Depot
@100% Reaper – Marine

Build block – 1-1-1 then two more Barracks

@100 gas – Factory
@100% Supply Depot – Bunker
@100% Marine – Reactor
@75 mineral – Refinery
@100% Factory – Starport; Tech Lab on Factory
@100% Reactor – 2x Marine (constant Marine production)
@100% Tech Lab – Cyclone
@100% Starport – Barracks (second), Viking, and Supply Depot
Build Supply Depot accordingly hereafter
@100% Cyclone – Lift Factory to build a Tech Lab
@100% Viking – Reactor and Barracks (third)
@100% Barracks (second) – Place it on the unused Tech Lab and upgrade Stim; Engineering Bay; Refinery
@100% Tech Lab – Siege Tank (constant Siege Tank production whenever you can afford)
@100% Barracks (third) – Lift Starport to build another Reactor; Place Barracks (third) on the unused Reactor
@100% Engineering Bay – +1 Infantry Attack
@100% Reactor – 2x Medivac


This is a step up from the beginner build earlier. The opening uses a Reaper instead of a immediate Reactor. Reaper expand is undoubtedly the opening to learn, so it is a natural progression from the Reaper-less one Barracks expand opening. The default Barracks production sequence for a 16 Refinery Reaper expand is Reaper-Marine-Reactor (learn more here).

The build converges to the same 3-1-1 set up, but this tech up to 1-1-1 before adding more Barracks. There are countless options with a 1-1-1 set up, and I pick Cyclone and Viking for this build. The rationale is to not diverge away from the beginner’s build in regards to the general focus. You still focus on powering up by producing as many units as possible, but you can now use Marines, Cyclone, and Viking to defend. I decide not to include a harassment option (e.g., Widow Mine drop), so you can focus on macro. Just a side note, you can use the Viking to hunt Overlords in TvZ, because you won’t need a Viking to defend in the early game against Zerg.

The relatively complex add-on switching is intentional. Add-on switching is an integral aspect of Terran, so one has to take up the challenge eventually. Nevertheless, you still end up with the same set of structures as the beginner build:

  • 3x Barracks (2x Reactor and 1x Tech Lab)
  • 1x Factory with Tech Lab
  • 1x Starport with Reactor

Similarly, you move out when you’ve Medivacs and Stim, then you put down the same additional buildings for a macro game. You still produce Marines, Siege Tanks, and Medivacs. Once you get comfortable with this, you can move on to learn one dedicated build for each match-up. The monthly Metagame Build Orders is a good place to start.

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23 thoughts on “Builds for Beginners and Intermediate Players

  1. Hi Max, do you think you could do an article or short post on bio control? It is the composition of kings compared to mech but it is really difficult to use for a new player because splash is so strong.

  2. Hi Max!

    Great article again!

    I’ve been reading your site for a good while now. I actually don’t play SC2 that much myself anymore, but I’ve been writing a python SC2 bot that plays terran and I’ve gained a lot of understanding about the game by reading this site :)

    I now became a patron as well to show my appreciation for all the effort you have put here. Thank you. I really hope you can keep on writing these articles as long as possible :)


    1. Thanks so much Jensiii! You are inducted to the Hyperion’s Cantina. I will give you a shout out at the end of MBO articles.
      Good to know that I can be of help. Do you have any game of your bot? I would love to see it.

  3. Here are two games from my bot: this one is against the build-in AI. this one is against a protoss bot called SharpenedEdge from AI Arena, which is a ladder for SC2 bots.
    I chose these game to showcase the main features of the bot. It currently does the 2-1-1 double medivac drop build only, because I wanted to learn how to make the bot do drops, so I can use that logic later in different ways 🙂
    Ofc the bot does a lot of stupid stuff in some of the AI Arena ladder matches, when it faces situations for which I haven’t yet coded a logic for the bot to handle 😀 But I’ll iron them out over time.
    I’m currently working on a new version that will use different builds for different matchups: stim double medivac moveout vs protoss, the popular TvT build where you open with reaper-hellion and then get 2 ravens vs terran and an updated version of the 2-1-1 double medivac drop against zerg 🙂

  4. Got back into the game few days ago and got to Master 3 on EU doing 31W/6L with the intermediary build with some light variations (the first units out of starport and factory) depending on the MU so it is definetly a good standard build to have in its arsenal :)

  5. Good beginner build!! Just tried it out, learning Terran as a Protoss main, so far I’m like 7-0 with it… The article and build work well for teaching the fundamentals of Terran macro, which is really all you need at the platinum level.

  6. Hi Max. Do you have any comments about what is the ideal thing to do doing with your Cyclone and Viking in the early game? For TvZ I overlord hunt, and on the other two match ups I keep my Viking and Cyclone patrolling the drop paths if I am not being pushed at the front. Is this what we generally should be doing with these units?

  7. Hi! I love this concept of working your mechanics with one build for all matchups. I did it with Vibe’s mass Thor A-move build a while ago. When I went back to “normal” builds I instantly shot up to D1 for the first time. Now I don’t have enough time to play and keep three builds fresh though so I would really like to find another TxX mech build that is decent enough to play with up until master league. Any suggestions? Could this intermediate build be adapted for a mech transition without too many glaring weaknesses? I just want to not die, max out and go punch the other guy in the face with huge machines.

  8. Hi Max, I’ve just seen this build and I want to try it out in TvX (I am D3). I just had a few questions for transitioning into mid-late game.
    – Once you’ve taken your third, how many production facilities should I be looking at? It feels like I can support more than 5/1/1 on 3 bases. What should I make more of (if anything)?
    – You specify to stay on marine/tank/medivac after the initial push. I assume in TvT you add in vikings too?
    – Upgrades, I assume I want to upgrade bio as priority and then do vehicle armor to benefit both medivacs and tanks?
    – Any other info about transitioning into late game would be really useful, thanks!

    1. – You can follow the standard convergent points for each match up. If you’re not sure, aim for 8-2-1 or 7-3-1 on four bases. This set up allows you to stay on the same Marine, Tank, and Medivac composition.
      – These builds are designed to allow newer players to learn the foundation. You can add different units to the mix according to the match up. This shows you’re improving!
      – Yes, you should prioritise bio upgrade. If you are going to stay on Marine, Tank, and Medivac, you can consider getting vehicle attack upgrade.
      – That would require match up specific knowledge. Once you get to that stage where you think about how to have a better late game composition, that means you sort of graduated from these builds!

      1. Hi Max, I am struggling to hit the 6:30 move out time (I don’t know how important this is, but ppl on reddit who use this build say this time too). Here is a replay with the closest I’ve come so far (vs AI) –

        Are there any glaring mistakes that I am overlooking? I’ve practised this build 15-20 times vs AI now and I am lucky if I get below 7 mins.

        1. I took a look at the replay.

          1. Use the Scv that built the first depot to build the barracks. Do not scout right after the depot is completed, but scout when the supply reaches 18 or 19.
          2. The second refinery can be slightly earlier (minor – this could happen occasionally)
          3. Two additional Scvs are not placed in the third refinery when it is completed, so you didn’t have enough gas for the 2 medivacs when the reactor is done. This delayed when the 2 medivacs are out and subsequently when you can move out.

  9. Max – so glad to find your site. I’m high Plat 1 right now, and my Vibe build of thors and hellbats is having trouble against a lot of toss – mainly if they go skytoss, so looking for a new toss build. (it works well still against terran and for sure zerg). Should I try this? I’d LOVE somethng simple and macro oriented. Or is it time for something more complex like TYs three pronged harrassment?

    1. I recommend using these two builds first. Once you get comfortable with the intermediate one, you can use more advance builds like the TY one.

  10. Hi Max,
    Just thought I would share my appreciation. I have been a lover of SC for about 20 years since I played with my family in Syria. Some of my fondest memories! Recently got into the ladder and have really appreciated your build orders! Still learning them but now that I am using them regularly I am at G1. Still using the beginner build but hope to graduate to the intermediate soon!
    Thanks again!

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