Starcraft 2 Terran Strategy

Starcraft 2 Guide --> Starcraft 2 Terran Guide --> Terran Strategy (you are here)

Click Here to Get The Osiris MethodIn this section on Terran strategy, we will cover the most common and most effective Terran tactics used versus each race in Starcraft 2.

In addition to specifics, this strategy page will also reveal general Terran strategies that can be used successfully against all races.

Terran players tend to have a bit more control over the course of the game than other races, as Terrans use their defensive nature to secure their expansions, building up until the precise moment they are ready to push out and attack.

Table of Contents

Terran vs Protoss Strategy
Terran vs Terran Strategy
Terran vs Zerg Strategy
General Terran Strategies
Additional Terran Strategies

Below, you will find an overview of the strategies that Terrans use for each race match-up. Additionally, each match-up has its own page where more detail is provided, which is linked to in its corresponding section. In the Additional Terran Strategies section, you will find links to articles on general Terran strategies that have their own guide but do not belong specifically to a certain race match-up.

Terran vs Protoss Strategy

Full Guide: Terran vs Protoss Strategy

Terran vs Protoss is not an impossible match-up for Terran players when you understand the basic strategies and dynamic behind the match-up.

The early game can be quite hectic on smaller maps.  If the Terran tries to play economically, Protoss players often go for early aggression with Stalkers and the Mothership Core or for a fast Oracle (or even both). These attacks can be very difficult to defend. One option is for Terran players to take matters into their own hands and use a proxy Factory with Widow Mines to take advantage of the length of time it takes for Protoss players to get out detection. Another option is to get out early defensive Widow Mines, Marines, and a Bunker or two to help secure the natural expansion from early attack.

Once you succesfully make it out of the hectic early game, things look a lot brighter for the Terran player. The key thing you have to understand is that the upgraded Marine, Marauder, and Medivac combination (heavy on the Marines) is strong versus nearly all Protoss unit combinations. Marine/Marauder/Medivac does well against any combination of Zealots, Sentries, Stalkers, Immortals, Void Rays, Oracles, Dark Templar (assuming detection is present) and Phoenix.

There are only 4 units which represent a threat to Terran bio: the Archon, the High Templar, the Colossus, and the Carrier. All you have to do as a Terran player is to kill these dangerous units first without letting them deal too much damage to your bio army. Once these powerful units are destroyed, your bio army can easily clean up any remaining units the enemy has left.

Archons and High Templar can be crushed by Ghosts thanks to EMP and Snipe. The Colossus can be handled with Vikings. Carriers are weak against well-microed Vikings. Since Carriers are so expensive and take so long to build, it is extremely rare to see more than a few of them at a time, so you may not even need to switch out of bio but instead just add on a few Vikings.

Most Terran players that lose to the dreaded "Protoss Deathball" do so because they fail to get Ghosts to counter enemy Archons and High Templar. If the enemy is using Archons and High Templar and you are using bio, you must get Ghosts or you are going to be fighting an uphill battle.

Terran vs Terran Strategy

Full Guide: Terran vs Terran Strategy

Terran vs Terran is similar to TvP in that the early game has a lot of viable strategies in the early game, but the match typically settles by the mid to late game. Terran players can open with fast expansions or early aggression. Early aggression may include proxy Reapers, drops, or even a Banshee rush.

The most popular form of early aggression is opening with 1 Barracks, 1 Factory, and 1 Starport (known as the 1/1/1 opener), getting out a fast Medivac, and filling that Medivac with some combination of Marines, Hellions, and Hellbats.

Many times a single Medivac is responsible for liting multiple trips worth of units into the enemy base. For example, 8 Marines, 4 Hellions, and 1 Medivac may run across the map (the Marines carried inside the Medivac, the Hellions on the ground following along) to right outside the enemy's base. The Marines are dropped inside the enemy's base in a hidden location on the outskirts. The Hellions are then picked up and dropped off next to the Marines. The units do not actually reveal themselves until they are all unloaded inside the enemy's base.

While some players stick to bio all-game long, Mech and Air-based play is superior in the mid to late game. All other factors aside, you can often predict who will win a game of Starcraft 2 solely based on the number of Siege Tanks and Vikings owned by each player. The player with more Siege Tanks and Vikings wins much more often than not, even if the other player has a larger army that uses other units like Marines.

Siege Tanks are so strong because Terran has no ground-based counter for them. Hellbats are sort of melee units but are too slow to get in range of a large number of Siege Tanks. Some players load up Medivacs with Hellbats and try to drop them on tank lines. If you have a superior number of Vikings, this strategy is easily stopped, as Vikings will target enemy Medivacs.

In the late game, full Terran air armies of Battlecruisers, Vikings, and Ravens can trump a Tank/Viking build, but it takes a long time and a lot of resources to get out such an army.

Terran vs Zerg Strategy

Full Guide: Terran vs Zerg Strategy

Terran vs Zerg is the most iconic match-up in the Starcraft series and perhaps the most varied. While Zerg players often stick to the Zergling, Baneling, and Mutalisk combination for the bulk of the early to mid game, Terran players can successfully opt for a variety of builds and strategies.

Terran players that want to be very aggressive can pump out early Marines or Reapers out of 2 Barracks and attempt to build a Bunker at the opponent's natural expansion before the inevitable Hatchery spreads its creep. Even if this attack fails, the Terran is hardly in a bad position, and can fall back to their own expansion that they could have secured during the attack.

Terran players can opt for a variety of builds in TvZ and do well with all of them. Full bio builds, Bio-Mech Builds, full mech builds, and even transitions into air in the late game have all been successfully used by pros and top amateurs alike to win games against Zerg.

One of the best strategies used by top level Terran players to secure wins reliably against Zerg is to play the "deny game". Once the Zerg begins to try to take their 4th and 5th expansion, the Terran player can constantly attack the new Hatchery within its first few minutes of life. Just 2 Medivacs full of Marines and Marauders can use Stimpack, quickly run in and burst down the Hatchery, then run out before the Zerg can do anything about it.

It is very hard for the Zerg player to secure their fifth base. Usually the fourth and fifth base are located very far apart from one another. If the Zerg's forces are at the fourth base and the fifth base is being constructed, the Terran may attack the base under construction and stop it from going up. If the Zerg's forces move to the fifth base, then the fourth base is vulnerable to attack. If the Zerg splits their army between the two bases, the Terran can attack with their full forces, easily defeating half of the Zerg army and taking out one of the expansions in the process.

General Terran Strategies

Terran players have a variety of strategies that can be used against all race match-ups in Starcraft 2. Below, you will find five great tactics that you can use in any match-up.

The Macro CC

One of the top Terran strategies that separates the top-ranked amateurs and pros from the bulk of the Terran playing population is the use of the "macro CC" (or macro Orbital Command - but if you read the term "macro CC" on a forum you can safely assume they mean Orbital Command. This involves building a very quick third Orbital Command (with one already at the main and natural expansion) and using it for SCV and MULE production.

The trick is that the macro CC is built inside the main base, not at the third expansion. It will take several minutes of production to fully saturate the main and the natural with SCVs and the macro CC can contribute SCVs and MULEs to both bases during this time.

The reason this works so well is that it is like getting a fast third base from an income perspective without actually having to risk the Orbital Command and SCVs getting attacked by the opponent. The third base is much more vulnerable to attack than the natural expansion or main base. By keeping the Orbital Command inside your main, it is protected from enemy assault.

As soon as both the main and natural expansions are saturated and you have enough resources to defend it, you can lift of the macro CC and land it at the third base. You can then transfer some workers over from the main and the natural and focus on dropping MULEs at the new base, giving you an instant third expansion.

This same tactic also works when it comes to taking any expansion. You can build the CC in your base and lift it off and move it to the expansion of your choice whenever you are ready.

Even though your Orbital Command is relatively safe in the early game being inside your main base, investing those extra minerals in a third Orbital Command takes about 2 minutes to pay off. During that 2 minute window, you may be a bit vulnerable to attack. A few well-placed Siege Tanks and Widow Mines (discussed below) can help protect you from a larger enemy force.

Siege Tank & Widow Mine Placement

The positioning of your Siege Tanks and Widow Mines is very important in Starcraft 2. There are several things to consider when positioning these units.

Siege Tanks should be spread out by at least a couple of "units" of range when possible. Three Siege Tanks that are all clustered together are more vulnerable than those that are more spread out. If the tanks are all on top of one another, they will be easier for units with shorter ranges to kill. This is especially the case for melee units like Zealots - by reducing the run distance between each target and allowing the Zealot to get in minimum range, the Siege Tanks are more vulnerable. Additionally, spreading out your Siege Tanks prevents a single Blinding Cloud from hitting multiple tanks.

Widow Mines on the other hand do not need to be spread out. They can be spread out, but it is okay if they are not spread out as well. Spreading out the mines means that they will cover more area, but the strength of their attack will be lessened. Sometimes you might want to keep ~4 Widow Mines clustered if you are trying to bait an enemy army into the mines. The splash damage from 4 mines is 160 damage, which is enough to kill off most 1-3 supply units in Starcraft 2.

Note that Widow Mines do not deal friendly splash damage to one another, so you do not have to worry about that if you are clustering your mines. However, you do have to worry about clustering your mines if you are using them inside your base for the defense of your mineral lines. Do not put one Widow Mine within range of another, as the splash damage from two Widow Mines is enough to kill an SCV. Spread out your defensive mines if you are protecting against drops or air harass so you do not destroy your own SCVs unintentionally.

On defense, due to its long range, the Siege Tank can be placed far in the back or even on the high ground. A good strategy when trying to protect yourself from an early attack when you go for a macro CC is to place a Siege Tank or two on the high ground of your main base near your natural expansion. This Siege Tank will be able to hit units attacking the front door of your natural expansion, but due to the fact it is on the high ground, the tank will be protected from enemy attacks at the natural. A single tank on the high ground can ward off 10+ Roaches.

When used defensively, Widow Mines should be placed out in front or directly behind your Supply Depot wall. They only have a range of 5, so if they are much further back, they will not proc while the enemy is breaking down your Supply Depots. Using Widow Mines much further back on defense is a risky proposition, as Widow Mines can deal significant splash damage to your own units. It is best to let them proc first by sticking them in front of your base.

On offense, the positioning situations reverse between these two units. Your Siege Tanks need to be kept close to your main army. Siege Tanks in the open field are very vulnerable to being flanked by melee units like Zerglings and Zealots as well as air units like Mutalisks or Banshees.

Widow Mines on the other hand do great when positioned far behind your army, particularly if you are using bio forces. The splash damage from Widow Mines can deal massive damage to your bio army, so it is best to keep some distance between the two when possible. When you are ready, you can use Stimpack to run away from your enemy's forces, running over top of your Widow Mines, and completely passing them before stopping. If your opponent bites, their army will walk right over top of your mine field!

The Early Reaper

A very popular Terran strategy in Heart of the Swarm is to open with a fast Reaper. Unlike the Reapers of Wings of Liberty, players do not get out a Reaper in HotS merely to kill enemy workers. You may kill a few enemy workers with a fast Reaper if you have good micro, particularly at the low level, but among top players, getting more than 1-2 Drone kills with a Reaper opener is rare.

Instead, the early Reaper serves to provide scouting information and map control for the Terran. Reapers are very fast, and when microed, can defeat a Marine, a Zealot, any worker, or several Zerglings in combat. This allows the Reaper to pick off all early scouting units that your enemy could possibly produce.

The Reaper is also very fast and can jump up and down cliffs. Once you take down your enemy's scout, you can get a full scout of your opponent by jumping up into their base and then using your Reaper to scout every nook and cranny of the opponent's base, ignoring their units that are inevitably trying to chase down your Reaper as you scout. You can then pull the Reaper back to the Xel'Naga Tower and continue to pick off any scouting units that pop into your vision on the mini-map.

The Hellbat Drop

With the release of Heart of the Swarm, Hellbat drops have become very common, and for good reason. Hellbats deal splash damage and can two-shot workers thanks to their bonus damage to light units. A mineral line can be cleared out by two Hellbats in less than 10 seconds, resulting in a devastating blow for the opponent.

Most players ranked in the Gold league or higher have seen Hellbat drops so many times now that Hellbat drops are easily defended if you just perform a single drop during downtime. Instead, you need some sort of distraction to attract the enemy's attention so that your Hellbats get more uptime before the enemy pulls his workers away.

The easiest way to engineer a distraction is to just use multiple drops at the same time. This is called a "dual-prong" or "multi-prong" drop. If the opponent has a main base and a natural expansion, send 1 Medivac to the main to unload 2 Hellbats and send 1 Medivac to the natural expansion and unload 2 Hellbats.

You ideally want there to be a couple seconds of lag between the two drops. This gives your opponent a few seconds to shift his attention to the main, making it easier for him to miss the second drop. If you perform the drops at the same time, both events will appear on the mini-map at the same time, and your opponent will be more likely to realize what is really happening. Regardless of the timing, it does take time for your opponent to send units to both bases to clean up the attack as well as micro both sets of workers away, so a dual-pronged drop is always more effective than just a single drop!

Another way to distract your opponent is to move out with your main army. If you move your primary forces to the center of the map and start edging your Siege Tanks forward like you are ready to attack, your opponent's attention will be focused on responding to your advances. They will arrange their troops to counter your movements, pulling out all their forces from their deep bases and moving their units to the front lines. This makes the main and natural very vulnerable to drops.

If you actually attack in the center, the opponent's attention will certainly not be focused on your drop. If you trade armies or even get away with small losses in the center of the map, oftentimes you can come out way ahead if you executed a dual-pronged drop during the chaos of battle. Killing off 30+ workers in this manner can lead to a victory for the Terran player.

The reason Hellbat drops are so effective though is that they are so cheap to pull off. Hellbats only cost 100 minerals a piece. Two Hellbats and a Medivac only runs 300 minerals and 100 gas total. For two drops, this is 600 minerals and 200 gas.

Given that you can typically save the Medivacs even if the Hellbats die, you are only risking 200 minerals per drop. You only need to kill a few workers to make this worthwhile, particularly due to the fact that Terrans have extra minerals to spend thanks to the MULE. You can literally drop a dozen times in a game with 10 of those drops failing and still come out ahead by performing those drops.

It only takes 1 really effective Hellbat drop to turn the tide of a game. Even if your first 5 drops fail, if the 6th drop is a big success, the opponent can lose the game. Even if none of your drops work out, you lose so little resources with each drop that you do not fall far behind that far behind in a game.

Learn to Love the Raven

The Raven is an excellent spellcaster that Terran players can use against all opponents. Great players make frequent use of the Raven, whereas lower-ranked players are not able to get much use out of this powerful unit. Since this unit was buffed in Heart of the Swarm, it has become stronger than ever. If you have not been using it, it is about time to learn the basic strategies behind using this unit effectively in battle.

The Raven has three abilities: Point Defense Drone, Seeker Missile, and Build Auto Turret.

Point Defense Drone (PDD) is a ridiculously powerful and underused ability. This ability builds a tiny flying "structure" that is capable of absorbing 20+ missile attacks. Missile attacks are attacks which have a flying projectile that has a travel time. For example, it does not absorb Marine attacks (you cannot see Marine bullets being fired and Marine attacks hit instantly), but it does absorb the shells fired by the Marauder (which have a very short travel time before the attacks actually hit their target). Lasers with no travel time like possessed by the Void Ray and Colossus are not affected by PDD.

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A single PDD spawns with 50 HP and 200 energy. For the cost of 10 energy, it can absorb one attack (the "2 attacks" of the Phoenix will drain 20 energy total). This means that 1 PDD can absorb 20 Marauder shots, 10 Viking attacks, 20 Mutalisk attacks, 20 Hydralisk attacks, 20 Corruptor attacks, or 20 Stalker attacks. This is a huge amount of damage, making the PDD a great choice any time the enemy makes use of units that use missile attacks.

The PDD will also regenerate energy over time like any spellcaster. If it burns off all its energy but is not destroyed, it will slowly recovery its energy. The structure lasts for 3 minutes, so the PDD can theoretically block 30+ attacks in its lifespan.

The PDD only has 50 HP, but killing it is not easy. It is classified as flying, so it cannot actually be hit by melee attacks. Most attacks that can hit air units are considered missile attacks, meaning the PDD absorbs them for just 10 energy a piece rather than taking damage. The PDD does have a few weaknesses though, namely laser attacks that hit air (Void Ray, Archon) as well as Feedback or Psionic Storm.

Seeker Missile spawns a very powerful missile that hones in on the enemy target. It is hard to avoid, especially when used on a slow unit. Many units are unable to easily escape from this attack. At the cost of just 75 energy, even if the enemy successfully pulls away most of their units from the targeted enemy, even just getting 1 kill off on the target is often worth it.

Seeker Missiles are great versus clustered flying units as well as ranged ground-based armies like Roaches, Hydralisks, Stalkers, Sentries, and the like. Be careful about using Seeker Missile on melee units - Seeker Missile deals heavy splash damage, and you would not want it to explode on your own forces.

Build Auto Turret spawns an automated turret on the ground which has a decent amount of HP and DPS. For the cost, it is quite a strong unit. There are a lot of great uses for this ability if you can actually use it. Unlike the Seeker Missile which can be fired from range, the Auto Turret itself can only be built 3 range units away from the Raven. You have to expose the Raven to attack if you want to drop one on the enemy's forces. Since it is stationary, if the enemy simple avoids it, the turret is not doing any good either.

This ability is frequently used in TvT when one Terran wants to break a tank line. Auto Turrets can be built in the dead space between your Siege Tanks and your enemy's Siege Tanks when you want to make an attack. The Auto Turrets will soak up the initial volleys from the enemy's Siege Tanks, allowing you to move into contested space without letting your opponent get 1-2 Siege Tank volleys off before you even attack.

Auto Turrets also do well if you can place them on top of the enemy's tanks. Not only will the turret attack the Siege Tanks, but other enemy tanks will attack the Auto Turret, dealing friendly fire splash damage to their own Siege Tanks in the process. Of course, this only works when you have air superiority - if the enemy has Vikings, they will shoot down your Raven before it gets close enough to the tanks to drop an auto turret.

Additional Terran Strategies

Below, you will find links to guides on specific strategies that you can use against each race. These guides may cover everything from certain rushes or openers to late game strategies. I plan to add to this section over time, so bookmark this page and regularly for additional strategies.

MMM - "MMM" is the common abbreviation for Marines, Medivacs, and Marauders. A common Terran army composition, this guide discusses how to balance this army composition, which units to add on as support, and how to effectively control this army in battle.

Banshee Rush - While not as popular as it was in Wings of Liberty, the Banshee rush is still an effective strategy in Starcraft 2. It is most commonly used against Zerg and Terran players, as Widow Mines are now the preferred early cloaked unit to use against Protoss.

Reaper Rush (TvT) - Whether you decide to proxy the Barracks or build it in your base, getting very fast Reapers in TvT is one of the more reliable fast rushes in Starcraft 2. Rushing to a Reaper allows you to get out a Reaper at around the time the first enemy Marine is finished, and 1 Reaper beats 1 Marine. From there, it is a micro war as the rusher tries to get out enough Reapers to overrun the enemy before the enemy can get up to Hellions.

Mass Reapers (TvZ) - Updated for HotS! Mass Reapers can once again work in TvZ, at least against average players. While good Zerg players still stop this build, it is really fun to use in unranked matches if you are looking for something new and exciting.

Formerly Effective Terran Strategies

I have moved Terran strategies and guides that were once effective to the section below. For example, years ago I wrote a guide for the Viking rush, which was a great strategy to use in the early Wings of Liberty. However, some time after I wrote the guide, Viking ground damage was noticeably reduced, rending this tactic much less effective. While it is no longer a strong tactic, I will leave these former guides up for players looking for something fun tactics to test out in unranked matches. These outdated Terran strategies are listed below. The previous sections all contain up to date strategies, so you do not have to worry about which guides are up to date and which ones are not.

Viking Rush - The Viking Rush was another early Wings of Libery strategy that was eventually nerfed. When in Assault Mode, the Viking's attack against ground units used to be quite powerful. Flying Vikings into the enemy's expansion, landing them, and destroying a bunch of workers was a common strategy. Due to the damage nerf, this build lost effectiveness and as a result fell out of favor amongst Terran players.

Terran Strategy - Summary

No matter whether you consider yourself a bio or a mech Terran player, there are a lot of great strategies and unit combinations that you can successfully use as as Terran player in Starcraft 2. I will be adding more strategies to this section over time, so be sure to check back regularly for updates!

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