Terran Starter Pack

The purpose of this post is to help players to pick up Terran quickly. If you are new to StarCraft II, I recommend you to start from the Elementary Series, which explains some general concepts.


First, you should get familiar with these two fundamental concepts:

These two concepts break down seemingly complex builds and unlimited ways of transitions into simple generalisable ideas. I recommend sticking to bio for all match-ups, even though some would argue that mech is less mechanically demanding. It is easier to learn various Terran specific stuff with bio than with mech.

If you are not sure, I recommend this control group set up.


Most Terran builds aim to have 1-1-1 (Barracks + Factory + Starport) with a Tech Lab and a Reactor on two bases. They vary in the sequence of getting these buildings and the units produced, but they still converge to the same core production set up (i.e., convergent points). I recommend to start with the beginner or intermediate build. These two builds teach several key Terran mechanics (e.g., linear production and add-on switching). They also focus on getting Marines, Siege Tanks, and Medivacs for the main composition. Many tactical options Terran have revolve around Siege Tanks, and this article explains this topic in details.

Once you get comfortable with the intermediate build, you should proceed to the all-rounder builds for each match-up:

Composition and plan

A simple way to think about composition is to have three different compositions for early, mid, and late game. These vary according to match-ups. I will cover the early and mid game composition for each match-up briefly. Late game composition depends on too many factors, so I lam not going to cover that.

Generally, Terran would have a power spike when Stim research is completed, and that is the time for Terran to be active on the map. A simple rule of thumb is to consider before Stim as early game and after Stim as mid game. Broadly in the early game, you can choose to either be aggressive or defensive. The composition should align with the game plan. When you want to be aggressive, you produce attacking units (e.g., Medivac). The goal is to get ahead as you transition to bio in the mid game. In contrast, when you want to be defensive, you want to have an early third Command Centre or maximise the army size you have for the Stim power spike. The units you produce would aim to minimise the damage you take from opponent’s attacking choices (e.g., Cyclone against Oracle). The composition in the mid game is relatively fixed in each match up.

Importantly, given that Terran production is linear (i.e., constant production at a fixed rate), the composition is largely determined by the number and type of production buildings and their add-ons. For instance, the ratio of Tech Labs to Reactors for Barracks denotes the Marauders to Marines ratio. Thus, focus on getting the buildings and add-ons right, and the composition ratio would be sorted out naturally.

Vs. Protoss

Unless you want to use relatively unorthodox openings (for example), the common aggressive (or simple harassment) options on two bases with 1-1-1 are:

  • Widow Mine drop
  • Hellion run-by or drop
  • Cloak Banshee

There are nuances to each of these options. For example, there are different kinds of Widow Mine drop. I would recommend you to simply stick to a build and use the game plan that the build provides. You produce the units for the attack you want and then transition to bio.

The units for a defensive early game is mainly Marines plus specific counter to opponent’s tech choice. Without going into specific, the common key decisions you would make is:

  • Do I need Viking and/or Cyclone? (e.g., vs. Stargate)
  • Do I have to make [more] Siege Tanks? (e.g., vs. mass Blink Stalkers)
  • If the build does not have Raven, do I need detection? (e.g., vs. Dark Templar)

Your transition goal from early to mid game is to have 3-1-1 and research Stim. The add-ons should look like this by default:

  • 3x Barracks (2x Tech Lab and 1x Reactor)
  • 1x Factory (Tech Lab or Reactor= The tactical choice between Siege Tank and Widow Mine)
  • 1x Starport (Reactor)

Add two more Barracks (1x Tech Lab and 1x Reactor) to reach the 5-1-1 convergent point. Your main composition is Marines, Marauders, and Medivacs. You can mix in Vikings (vs. Colossus) and Ghosts; Liberators are optional. Mass Siege Tanks is an option, but I don’t recommend it for starters.

Vs. Terran

The early game composition mainly involves Reapers, Hellions, Cyclones, Siege Tanks, and Ravens. Marines usually take the back seat. The early game in TvT is very complex, but the default plan is to get two Ravens and constantly produce Siege Tanks after the first or second Cyclone.

In the transition phase, you should figure out opponent’s composition. You only make Marauders when the opponent goes for mech; Marines are much better in bio mirror (this is a common mistake). Against bio:

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

Add two more Barracks (2x Reactor) to reach the 5-1-1 convergent point. The normal mid game convergent point in TvT is 5-2-1, as you want to have a certain Siege Tank count. The subsequent production varies according to game plan (for reference). The main composition is Marines, Siege Tanks, Medivacs, Vikings, and Ravens.

Against mech:

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

Add two more Barracks (1x Tech Lab and 1x Reactor) to reach the 5-1-1 convergent point. The Tech Labs are meant for Marauder production. The second Factory is optional against mech at this point (for reference). The main composition is Marines, Marauders, and Medivacs. Siege Tanks and Vikings are useful, and there are other factors to consider how many and when to produce them.

Vs. Zerg

Generally, you should get Reactor Hellions in TvZ regardless of whether you want to be aggressive or defensive. There are many aggressive options in TvZ, and I won’t name them all. A simple way to think about the various options is to decide what air units to produce from the Starport. Banshees are good against Roaches, Liberators are low investment harassment tools, Vikings deny Overlords, Medivacs for various aggressive builds, and Battlecruisers can be strong for mech. Whichever you choose, you normally put down the third Command Centre and then transition by putting down two more Barracks.

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

Add two more Barracks (2x Reactor) to reach the 5-1-1 convergent point. The typical next step is to add a second Factory for 5-2-1. Get two Tech Labs on the Factory for Siege Tanks if the opponent is Roach heavy, or get one Tech Lab and one Reactor for Widow Mines against Zergling and Banelings. The one Tech Lab Factory is useful for Thors against Mutalisks. The main composition is Marines, Medivacs, and a supporting aoe unit type (Widow Mine or Siege Tank). Marauders can be mixed in against Zerglings and Banelings, and this is best done with two Tech Labs and six Reactors when you add more Barracks later. Liberators and Ghosts can be added in late game.