TvZ: All-Rounder Ladder Build

This post discusses an all-rounder TvZ build that is suitable for ladder games.

Background

This post continues from the last to discuss a TvZ build that is suitable for ladder. You can read more about the motivation and consideration here. In short, the purpose is to bridge the beginner and intermediate builds and those in Metagame Build Orders. The selected build is meant to be flexible against a wide range of builds. This is a collaboration with Drift.

The bread and butter of TvZ has been one Barracks expand into Reactor Hellions since Wings of Liberty. The Hellions are good against Zerglings and Banelings in early game, and they provide map control and threaten Zerg with potential run-bys. In Legacy of the Void, the standard set up is to have Reactor Hellions with 1-1-1, and this allows Terran to choose the Starport unit(s) that fits their strategies. All five Starport units can be used with Reactor Hellions. The build arguably has no real weakness, as you always have the tools to deal with any threat. Despite its merits, many players in Platinum and Diamond do not feel comfortable with this build and would opt for alternatives like 2-1-1. This is because 1-1-1 Reactor Hellions builds have many variations and do not have clear check points like 2-1-1. Thus, the variation introduced here has check points to provide guidance, and I will also mention the key areas where Terran may need to diverge from the stated build order based on Zerg’s choices.

Similar to the two previous posts, the build order is broken down into blocks based on the concept of build order blocks.

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 

@100 gas – Factory
@100% Marine – Reactor
@75 mineral – Refinery
@100% Factory – Starport; swap Factory on Reactor and produce 2x Hellion (constant production until 6x Hellion); build Tech Lab with Barracks
@100 mineral – Supply Depot
@100% Starport – Liberator
@100% Supply Depot – Supply Depot
Build Supply Depot accordingly hereafter

Transition block – 3CC and bio

@100 mineral – Stim
@400 mineral – Command Centre (@100% – Orbital Command)
@300 mineral – Lift Factory to build a Tech Lab; 2x Barracks (one on the vacant Reactor and another next to Starport); build Reactor with Starport
@250 mineral – 2x Engineering Bay
@100% Tech Lab – Siege Tank
@150 mineral – 2x Refinery
@100% 2x Engineering Bay – +1/+1 Infantry upgrade
@100% 2x Barracks – Swap Barracks with no add-on onto Starport’s Reactor; build Reactor with Starport; constant Marine production
@100 mineral – Combat Shield
@100% Siege Tank – Siege Tank
@100% Reactor – 2x Medivac
@150 mineral – Armory

Attack Zerg’s 4th base with bio, 2x Siege Tank, and 2x Medivac when the units are ready. Then, based on the concept of convergent points, build 2x Barracks, 1x Factory, 2x Refinery, 4th Command Centre, 3x Barracks (in this sequence when you can afford them) to transition to a macro game.

Explanation

The 16 Barracks 16 Refinery Reaper expand opening is the same as the one used in the TvP all-rounder build. The build order starts to diverge a little when you have to switch the Factory onto the Reactor, but the general set up is still 1-1-1 with a Reactor and a Tech Lab. It is a set up that every Terran player needs to be very familiar with.

The main purposes of the Hellions are to control the map. Hellions beat Zerglings with speed off creep, so try to stay at the edge of the creep. The other reason to stay at the edge is to deny or delay creep spread. The Hellions are also the best option to defend against early mass Zerglings attack and Baneling burst. Thus, the Hellions should be used for controlling instead of attacking. There are times when Zerg are vulnerable to run-by because they do not have enough Zerglings or they are out of position, and it is a judgment call to do a run-by and trade Hellions for Drones.

Liberator is the Starport unit choice for this build. Its purpose is to kill Drones and force Queens to position certain places. Keep it alive and park at the dead air space if possible. The Liberator also creates an opportunity for the Hellions to attack at another location. Overall, the use of Liberator is relatively straightforward compared to other Starport units. However, the weakness of Liberator is Roaches. Hellions and a Liberator cannot hold against a Roach attack, so the Reaper needs to figure out whether Roaches are coming. If you think Roaches are coming, you should swap the Starport onto the Tech Lab for Banshee. This is a key timing when you need to decide whether to continue with the planned build order.

Building only one Starport unit is intentional for this build, because the build aims to hit a timing at Zerg’s fourth base with bio (with upgrades), Siege Tanks, and Medivacs. Hence, if you get 8x Hellions, 1x Viking, and 1x Liberator (i.e., one additional production cycle) instead, the timing would be delayed by the later transition to 3-1-1. The two Siege Tanks are key to this timing, and they are also vital if Zerg want to go for a later Roach timing attack. Thus, even if you want to use Widow Mines instead of Siege Tanks as the main aoe cover for your bio, it is still a good idea to get two Siege Tanks first. I had explained the utility of having two Siege Tanks before transitioning to Widow Mine in this article. Just an additional note, if the Liberator is still alive when you execute this timing, you can siege it at one of Zerg’s mineral lines to create a multi-pronged attack.

The second Factory and later transition is the standard for macro game. You can always do something else like 7-1-1 all-in on three bases.


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