Starcraft 2 Terran Macro CC Build and Strategy
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The "macro Command Center" build (often shortened to macro
CC) is one of the most powerful yet underutilized build orders available to Terran players in Starcraft 2.
While now a very popular build on the pro circuit and in the top leagues, the average player does not take
advantage of it nearly often enough.
In the last year or so, it has become wildly popular in the top levels of play, but has not yet filtered down
and become a mainstream build. I suspect that this is the case because it is not a very intuitive build and is
unlikely many players will stumble upon this through experimentation.
Regardless, despite its non-existence in the bottom 3 leagues, it is incredibly effective. Below, you will
find a strategy overview and a sample build order that you can reproduce for yourself. I will start with the
strategy overview before covering the specific build order just because the build is very unorthodox and requires a
bit of explaining.
The Macro CC: Strategy Overview
The Terran Orbital Command is truly the defining aspect of the Terran race. Simply by summoning a supply-free
MULE, players are able to earn an extra 270 minerals over 90 seconds without any additional supply or resource
Given that a single Orbital Command costs a grand total of 550 minerals, as soon as two MULEs complete their
life-cycle, this initial investment is almost repaid. A profit is made by the third MULE. In other words, an
Orbital Command pays for itself and starts generating a profit in just 3 minutes, and that is not even including
the income the extra SCVs it can produce.
It takes awhile for Terran players to build enough SCVs to fully saturate both the main and the natural, so you
can use this macro CC to build SCVs that are used in the main and natural. The end result is that Terran players
can "expand" inside their own base. Simply by investing in one (or more) extra Orbital Commands, players can summon
MULEs to their expansions around the map to increase their income.
With the numbers in front of you, and knowing that an Orbital Command starts generating a profit in just a few
minutes, it makes a lot of sense to build extra Command Centers. That is where the Macro CC build comes in.
When to Build the Macro CC
There are several ways you can pursue this build. The earlier you build your macro CC, the better the economic
advantage you gain from the build, but the more risk you take in the build in losing to a rush or timing
Towards the risky but economic end of the spectrum, this would involve starting the macro CC before the CC
at your natural expansion even finishes (2 Command Centers constructing at the same time), getting the macro CC
before the Factory. Towards the safe but slow end of the spectrum, you might get out a couple Widow Mines and
a Siege Tank or two before macro CC.
Economic Macro CC Build Order (Economic, vs Zerg)
Here is a macro CC build order for Terran players to use specifically against Zerg if the Terran wants a very
10/11 - Supply Depot
12/19 - Barracks
15/19 - Orbital Command
16/19 - Marine
16/19 - Command Center (at natural expansion)
17/19 - Supply Depot
18/19 - Marine
21/27 - Marine
21/27 - Command Center (hidden in main - this is the macro CC)
22/27 - Refinery
23/27 - Marine
23/27 - Refinery
24/38 - Orbital Command (upgrading the newly-finished CC at natural expansion)
26/38 - Marine
27/38 - Bunker
29/38 - Marine
29/38 - Factory
30/38 - Supply Depot x3 (used to wall off natural expansion in conjunction with the Bunker).
32/38 - Marine
32/38 - Bunker
This is about when the macro CC will finish up. This of course can be converted into an Orbital Command and you
can start making SCVs off of all three Orbital Commands and saturating both bases. If you want to mech, this
is the time to throw down extra Factories and an Armory. If you want to play bio, this is the time to start adding
on Barracks, Engineering Bays, and getting out Infantry tech.
It can be useful to try to get a Reaper out of the Barracks to scout out your opponent as soon as you get the
extra gas after building your Factory. This tells you how many resources you need to divert towards defense. If
your Zerg opponent is adding on Roaches and Banelings, you need to start throwing down Bunkers and pumping out
Widow Mines, while if the Zerg seems to be macroing up as well and focusing on Drones and expansions, you can
divert your extra resources to tech and upgrades.
Macro CC vs Protoss and Terran
The macro CC is a strategy you can and should employ against both Protoss and Terran players, but it should come
later in the match. The reason getting a very early macro CC works against Zerg is because you can hold off early
Zerg attacks with Supply Depots, Marines, and Bunkers quite easily. This cheap defense does not work against
Protoss or Terran.
You cannot hold off Gateway units with just Marines. Terran players will just ignore your Bunker, using Reapers
in the very early game to avoid it and then Medivacs or Banshees to fly around your defenses.
Against Protoss players, you need to think about two things: Oracles and Gateway attacks at the front door.
Generally two Bunkers full of Marines and 1 Missile Turret in each mineral line is sufficient for defense. Once you
have these, you can safely add on the macro CC as long as you do not scout anything unusual. You may need to add on
more defense or get more units out though if the opponent goes for a 6-Gate all-in attack, but this is a good
start. Once you have a few Widow Mines or Siege Tanks out, you are very safe against gateway units.
Against Terran players, it is generally not safe to go for a macro CC until you get up to Starport and get out a
couple Vikings. Going up to Vikings delays the macro CC significantly, but this is the nature of TvT.
Terran attacks are so common early in the game that you are asking to lose to a drop if you do not get out a quick
Starport and some early units.
The Vikings are key because they can protect against both Medivacs and Banshee rushes. If you can shut down
these two air units, the Terran opponent can only attack you from the front. Between the high ground, a bunker or
two, and Siege Tanks, this is an impossible position to assault efficiently.
Best Maps for the Macro CC
Using a macro CC is something you can do in all games versus all races on any map. The map dictates the timing
of the macro CC rather than when it is to be constructed. There are three factors to consider: the number of spawn
locations, map size, and ramp size.
The number of spawn locations is the most important factor. On four player maps, it can take a long time for
your opponent to find you, so it is typically safer to go for an early macro CC on these maps. The earlier the
opponent finds you, the faster they can switch into an aggressive early attack upon spotting your macro CC. As a
result, do not expect your macro CC to remain undetected on 2-player maps and get more defense as a result.
Map size is similar to number of spawn locations: the bigger the map, the earlier the macro CC can safely be
built. Small two player maps need a solid amount of defense before you can risk investing a lot of resources into a
Finally, consider the ramp size. Some maps have a really wide entrance to the natural. This means you will need
more structures to wall of this entrance. This is particularly important against Zerg, where you will need a tight
wall to prevent Zerglings from running into your base. The macro CC is safe to come down earlier on maps with more
narrow entrances to the natural and may need to be delayed 15-20 seconds to finish building a wall-in on maps with
big ramps up to the natural expansion.
Strategy - Making the Macro CC Work and Transitions
The first thing you will want to do before opting for the macro CC is to scout out your opponent to check for
any sort of air rush (for any race) or an all-in build (4-Gate, Baneling Bust, etc) and build appropriate defense.
If you cannot see what your opponent is doing, you can always build defense preemptively (i.e. Missile Turrets to
ward off Oracles).
If you survive the rush, the rest is easy. Just throw down a ton of Barracks and a Starport if you want to go
for MMM, or more Factories if you want to go for mech. Throw down some of each if you are using a mix. You can
really produce any sort of unit composition you want; the build listed here is designed to get your economy rolling
as fast as possible while still being somewhat safe from pressure.
Once you get out more units (particularly a few Siege Tanks), you can then lift off the macro CC and fly it to
the next closest mineral patch. This becomes your new third expansion. Just make sure you have enough units to
defend this position (the third is much more vulnerable than the natural or main) before taking it with the macro
Give it a test run, and I am sure you will find it works a lot better in games then it looks on paper. Even if
you do not adopt this exact build order, always remember that having an Orbital Command in your base can be a great
way to increase your income via MULEs if you are in a position where you cannot expand.