Starcraft 2 Mass Reapers (TvZ)
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One fun alternative strategy that players can use in TvZ is the mass Reaper strategy. This involves getting out
an early Reaper or two and using it whittle down the Zerg's Drone count and early Queens and Zerglings while you
continue to reinforce with more Reapers.
While 1-2 Reapers is not enough to take down your opponent, if you can keep the enemy down to 1-2 Queens, by the
time you get 3-4 Reapers, you can start to cause serious damage to your opponent. If you can manage to keep all
your Reapers alive via their Combat Drugs healing trait, you can eventually build up to an overwhelming number of
Reapers to win the game, or at least follow up with an attack that can take down your opponent.
Warning about Mass Reapers in TvZ
The Heart of the Swarm mass Reaper build is not the old 5-Rax Reaper build of Wings of Liberty. In early Wings
of Liberty, players were able to mass Reapers and take down Zerg players outright with great micro with virtually
nothing the Zerg player could do about it.
In Heart of the Swarm, there are certainly strategies and options available to the Zerg to shut this down.
Top-level players will likely not be surprised by this style of play and need to make a mistake in order to be
taken down by this build. The most common mistake is confusing mass Reapers for simply a single Reaper opener and
as a result not building enough defensive units to stop the Reapers and then getting surprised when the 3rd+ Reaper
In the lower leagues however, the mass Reaper strategy can be very effective. However, a well-executed standard
build is likely to be more effective. If you are willing to accept the reality that this build might not result in
the highest win rate but want to try it out for fun, read on, because when it does work it really is quite exciting
TvZ Mass Reaper Build Order
Here is a sample build order that you can use as part of the TvZ mass Reaper strategy:
10/11: Supply Depot
12/19: Refinery (SCV production temporarily halted to do this)
15/19: Barracks #2
16/19: Supply Depot
18/19: Orbital Command
..continue to produce Reapers and rally them to the Zerg's base. The build can be tweaked to proxy the first
Reaper and go for a fast Bunker or delayed to be even more economical (Orbital Command before 2nd Barracks),
depending on your interest, map, and playstyle.
Mass Reaper Strategy
The problem with this build is that it can be shut down quickly enough by several means: excess Queens, large
amounts of Zerglings with Metabolic Boost, and a few Roaches. You can try and prevent Roaches from being
produced by putting on heavy pressure early, forcing the Zerg to focus on Queens and Zerglings. These
units can be overwhelmed with enough Reapers.
Regardless, if the Zerg player sees your early Reapers and goes right into Roaches, your Reaper attack might be
dead on arrival. If you wish to continue with Reapers here, you will need to try to get up a Bunker. If you can
construct a Bunker within range of the natural expansion, you can put your Reapers inside of it. This can be very
expensive and difficult for the Zerg player to try to break down: it will take several Roaches to kill a Bunker
with just 2 Reapers inside.
With the first Reaper, you goal should be to kill off as many Zerglings as possible so that the Zerg's number of
Zerglings is not too high when Metabolic Boost finishes. With a standard Reaper opener, you might focus on Drones,
but we are playing for the fast win here, not the long game. If there are no Zerglings left alive, try to pick off
Drones. While you do not want to sacrifice your Reapers to do so, go for the ones on gas. Gas is needed to make
Roaches, so if you can delay the harvesting of gas, you can delay Roaches.
Try to avoid Queens until you get up to 3 Reapers. Once you get up to 3 Reapers, you can engage an enemy Queen.
Pull away weakened Reapers, take the Queen to about half health, then retreat fully. Heal up and go in again. Three
Reapers can take down a Queen in this manner with just 1 healing period. Once you can kill Queens you can really
start to snowball the mass Reapers into a victory. One Queen is worth about 2 Reapers; it is very hard to engage 2
Queens with 3 or less Reapers.
If there are no Queens left alive and no Zerglings, start going for the Drones. Once again, focus on the ones
with gas. Keep making Reapers off or your two Barracks. You should have extra minerals building up - invest these
in additional Barracks if your attack is going well. Get up to a second Refinery and keep pumping SCVs. You can use
the extra Barracks for Marine production and reinforce your attack if you are in control of the Zerg's base.
If a Roach Warren goes down but you are in control, build a Bunker or two up on the edge of the creep near
the enemy's mineral line. You can use your Reapers to attack the enemy's Drones, and when the Roaches try to hit
your Reapers, you can jump in the Bunkers. The Reapers will heal in the Bunkers and the Roaches will have to
move out of range if they do not want to get taken out. Eventually you can chip away at the Drone count and the
Roaches' health until you get superior firepower.
Keep producing Reapers until you overwhelm the enemy. Reinforce with other bio units once you have the
Zerg locked down.
Possible Transitions for the Terran Player
If you fail to win outright with Reapers, there are two possible transitions for the Terran player: fall back
and start macroing up, or switch into regular bio units for a quick attack.
If the Zerg player does not delay in getting out Roaches, your mass Reaper attack may not have done much damage.
If you followed the mass Reaper build recommended in the beginning, even if you failed with your opener, you can
still transition and do okay. However, since you forced the Zerg to go up to Roaches to deflect Reapers, and
the Zerg was successful, a good Zerg will often follow up with a Roach attack.
You should have some extra minerals built up which can be used to get your natural expansion going. Get down a
Factory as soon as possible as well. Use your excess minerals to get up a Bunker or two at the entrance to your
natural and fill it with Marines.
Make Supply Depots in a wall to protect the Bunkers from Zerglings and Banelings. When your Factory is done, get
out a quick Widow Mine or two for defense. You should be able to finish your Supply Depot wall, a Bunker or two,
and get a Widow Mine in position before the Zerg can follow up with any major Roach push. You can then macro off
two bases and even get up a macro CC when you are secure enough, allowing you to safely transition into macro
If your Reapers get pushed away by a few Roaches but you were able to inflict significant damage with your
Reapers, you may not want to fall back. This may not be to your advantage if the Zerg has up their natural
expansion already and you have not started your own - even if you killed a lot of Drones, their worker count will
climb much faster than yours will off a single base.
An alternative solution is to switch into bio or bio mech forces. Throw down a Reactor on your first Barracks
and a Tech Lab on the second Barracks and start working on a Factory. As soon as the Factory is finished, swap it
with the Barracks that had a Reactor and pump out Hellions. Get a Tech Lab on the second Barracks and pump out
Marauders out of both Barracks.
Marauders and Hellions will do very well against a Zerg who is only on Tier 1 with access to just Zerglings,
Roaches, Queens, and Spine Crawlers. Hellions are superior here to just pumping out Marines, as Marines will not
have Stimpack or Combat Shield, making them quite vulnerable to Zerglings and Roaches. Hellbat/Marauder stacks up
You do not want to give the Zerg too much time to recover. The Zerg will typically focus on saturating both
expansions before going up to tier 2 tech, relying on Queens and the Roaches they used to clear out your Reapers
for defense. Once you get up to ~4-6 Marauders and ~4-6 Hellions, you should be able to push in and take down the
Zerg with ease.
While mass Reapers can be stopped by a great Zerg who does not hesitate to go quickly up to Roaches, this
strategy can work in the hands of a skilled player. While it may not be as effective as a more standard opener, it
is something you can use for fun in unranked matches if you are looking to liven up TvZ!