Starcraft 2 TvT Strategy - Now Updated for HotS

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

Click Here to Get The Osiris MethodThe Terran mirror match-up is arguably the most exciting mirror match-up in Starcraft 2 due the large number of viable openers. Top-level players have used everything from a fast proxy Barracks to Command Center-first builds, all with great success.

In this guide on Starcraft 2 TvT strategy, we will cover all portions of TvT strategy, including the strengths and weaknesses of particular openers as well as how to execute or defend against common strategies in TvT.

In this section, you will also discover the most effective strategies and tactics for the mid-game and late game for matches that actually go behind the early aggression that often typifies TvT.

TvT Strategy Table of Contents

Terran vs Terran in the Early Game

- Proxy Reapers
1/1/1 Play
- Expansion First

Terran vs Terran in the Mid Game

- Optimal Viking Numbers
- Using Ravens for Support
- How to Engage Siege Tanks

Late Game Transitions into Air

- Video Demonstration

Terran vs Terran in the Early Game

In Terran vs Terran, players have many possible openers that they can successfully perform. Everything from building proxy Barracks outside the enemy's base and pumping out Reapers to dropping a Command Center first all work as viable tactics.

If you are unsure of which strategies to use, note that the smallest maps favor aggression, where the largest maps favor economic builds. After all, proxy Reapers on a smaller 2 person map where you know where your opponent has spawned will be much more effective than on a larger 4 person map where your SCV has to not only travel more distance to the opponent's base but also scout out your opponent in the first place.

Proxy Reaper: Pros

While it may seem a bit cheesy at first, the proxy Reaper build can be a viable opener. While it is cheesy to go for a Barracks at 7 supplies (which some players do), opening with early Reapers is a legitimate strategy in TvT in Starcraft 2. Going for a slightly more economic Reaper opener provides players with a legitimate counter to other players who opt for fast Reapers. The fast Reaper build also hard counters early expansion builds, occasionally providing an instant win.

If you sense weakness in your opponent's build, your goal should be to bring down 1-2 SCVs with your Reaper (s) and build a Bunker in range of the opponent's mineral line. If your opponent uses their SCVs to try and kill your Bunker, attack their SCVs with your Reaper(s). If the opponent uses their SCVs to try and kill your Reaper(s), kite the enemy's SCVs while your own SCV continues construction on a Bunker. If the Bunker goes up, you can hop inside with your Reapers. Gettings Reapers inside an established Bunker in range of the opponent's mineral line results in a fast win for the player who built the Bunker.

Even if the Terran opponent opts for for a more typical 1/1/1 build and is able to stop the proxy Reapers, disruptions to mining time, any SCV kills, and forcing the opponent to invest resources in early Marines and Hellions can slow down their macro.

Proxy Reaper: Cons

The biggest problem with opening with proxy Reapers is that if you do not inflict any damage, you are very behind in the game. The enemy player who does not produce Reapers generally has a larger economy, better tech, and more production capabilities.

If the proxy Reaper attacks fail, the Barracks is in a forward position. It must be lifted off and returned home. During this time, there is little to no production capacity at the Terran main. This sets up two possible scenarios:

  • The Terran who deflected the Reapers will grab an early expansion. Since the opponent has limited economy and production facilities, there is nothing the Reaper Terran can do to stop the successful defender's new expansion. The Terran who opted for Reapers also will not have enough resources to grab their own expansion right away, allowing the more economical Terran to increase their advantage.
  • The Terran who deflected the Reapers will go 1/1/1 and hit with a Marine/Hellion drop or even a fast Banshee. Due to a smaller economy and temporarily not having enough production facilities, the Terran who proxies Reapers will be weak versus this timing attack.

Both scenarios do not typically end well for the Terran player who goes for the proxy Reaper.

Stopping the Proxy Reaper

When you see very early Proxy Reapers as Terran, you must use SCVs for defense. You cannot just sit there and hope to get out a Marine or two while the enemy's Reaper slowly picks off your SCVs and the enemy's SCV builds a Bunker inside your main.

Do not be reluctant to pull SCVs. You generally want to use 4 SCVs per enemy Reaper. Remember that in order to get very early Reapers, the Terran opponent may have stopped SCV production very early. If you have 14 SCVs, you can afford to pull off 4 for defense, as your opponent likely only has ~5-7 SCVs back at home harvesting.

Not only do you need to use SCVs, but you need to micro them as well. If your enemy is halfway decent at controlling their Reaper, they will run away from your SCVs, stopping to shoot every second or so when a safe range has been established. However, it now takes 6 shots for a Reaper to kill one SCV. This is a lot of kiting! What you can do is have 4 SCVs chase after a Reaper, and once a single SCV takes 4 or 5 hits, manually select that single SCV and run it back to the mineral line in the opposite direction that the Reaper and the rest of your SCVs are headed.

f the Reaper wants to try and chase down the weakened SCV, you can intercept it with your 3 SCVs that are still chasing it. You can also pull off a few more SCVs and attempt to sandwich the enemy's Reaper. Normally, SCVs cannot hit Reapers, but that only applies if you do not know where the enemy wants to go. If the enemy is chasing down your weakened SCV, you can direct it to exactly where you want it. Make sure you replace weakened SCVs with fresh ones so that you always have about 4 SCVs chasing one Reaper.

Keep this up until you can get a Marine or two out. Do not send your pulled SCVs back to work until you have taken down the Reaper threat. While a single Reaper can kill 1-2 Marinse if microed properly, a Reaper does not well against Marines when the Reaper is also being chased by 4 SCVs.

1/1/1 Play

Perhaps the most common strategy used in TvT is opening with 1 Barracks, 1 Factory, and 1 Starport. This gives Terran players access to all key technology routes, gives the Terran options for defending against early attacks while they take an expansion, and offers the opportunity for effective early game attacks.

Being Aggressive with 1/1/1 in TvT

For those looking to be aggressive, the 1/1/1 is a great opener. The Barracks is used to pump out Marines, the Factory is used to pump out Hellions, and the Starport is able to provide a quick Medivac. An early Medivac is necessary because otherwise the Terran could hold their ramp with smaller force while they get out countering tech like Siege Tanks. You need the Medivac to drop units in the main, avoiding choke points entirely.

When dropping the units in your opponent's base, you only need 1 Medivac if you want your attack to hit early. Hellions are very fast, so you can simply run them across the map, moving these units to a hidden position on the outskirts of the enemy's main. You can send in your Marines, drop them, turn around and pick up your Hellions with that same Medivac, then drop those into the main, and only once all your units are safely inside the Terran's base do you actually attack with your dropped units.

For your army composition, most players end up just using Marines and Hellions. This is not necessarily due to the strength of these units (which is decent) but rather that these units do not require any gas and can be produced off your existing production facilities. You need to use your gas to get down the fast Factory, Starport, and ultimately on the Medivac, so building gas-free units like the Marine and Hellion is only natural. Balancing the army composition is not considered - just get out as many of each as you can by the time your Medivac appears on the field.

There are also variations that use Hellbats instead of Hellions as well. Hellbats tend to be stronger but also take longer to get. If the enemy Terran gets out Vikings or Banshees, a Hellbat attack is useless. One good way for deciding whether to use Hellbats or Hellions is whether or not your opponent has expanded. If your opponent takes a fast expansion, the enemy's tech may be delayed long enough allowing you to throw up an Armory and race for Hellbats, getting them out before the Terran gets air units.

Expanding and Defending with 1/1/1 in TvT

For Terrans who are looking to expand relatively early and successfully defend their expansion, the 1/1/1 makes for a good opener as well. In the early game, as soon as you get a Hellion out, Reapers are no longer effective.

Getting out your own Marines and Hellions to defend your expansion is not enough against a Terran player who is opting for a very early 1/1/1 attack. After all, you will have 550 resources tied up in a Command Center and an Orbital Command, which could have been 11 additional Marines or 5 additional Hellions (which your opponent's forces will include).

Instead, you must get air units. The Viking in particular is key to stopping all forms of 1/1/1 aggression. If you can kill off the enemy's Medivac, no more reinforcements can be ferried into your base. Additionally, any Marines or Hellbats that are part of the drop will lose their healing from the Medivac. Furthermore, it is really annoying when you have two bases and the enemy is scooping up their Hellions or Hellbats, boosting back and forth from your main to your natural, and ping-ponging their units. The Viking shuts this down quickly. Adding a Missile Turret in each mineral line helps with this if the attacks continue.

The key thing to remember about early 1/1/1 aggression is that without their Medivac, Marines are weak. Marines will not have Stimpack or Combat Shields this early in the game. They can be killed very easily by Hellions. Once the Medivac is down, you can even land your Viking to help clean up the enemy's units. In Assault Mode, the Viking is actually decent against Hellions and unupgraded Marines with no Medivac support. A single Marauder can help clear things up as well.

It may be tempting to get out a Banshee because Banshees are strong versus Hellions, Hellbats, and unupgraded Marines. However, getting out the Banshee takes a lot longer. Also, the Medivac is the real problem, as if there is no anti-air, the Medivac can just scoop up your ground units and outrun the Banshee with Ignite Afterburners, dropping on whichever mineral line is undefended. It is very easy for the enemy to reinforce with a Viking (and they often do), which can then be used to take out your Banshee.

Scouting 1/1/1 Intentions

Since 1/1/1 can be used for early attacks as well as just to defend an early expansion, so figuring out what your opponent is up to can help decide what strategy you want to puruse in TvT.

If the enemy is producing off their Barracks, Factory, and Starport, and there are no add-ons on any structure, expect an imminent attack. If the player does not want to take the time to throw down a Reactor or Tech Lab, they are gearing up to attack in the very near future. It may be wise to build a quick Viking or a few Missile Turrets in response.

If Tech Labs or multiple Reactors appear, the Terran is investing in infrastructure and tech, and their attack will be unable to hit as early (if they attack at all - they could just expand). A single Reactor may be used as part of early 1/1/1 builds, but these attacks tend to be a little larger. Getting out a fast Reactor means that the Terran is typically going to delay their attack slightly and use 2 Medivacs instead of just one.

If your opponent opts for this delayed route, you have time to take an expansion or go for early aggression of your own, depending on your current map and the build you are most comfortable with using.

Going Expansion First in TvT

One effective but risky option on the opposite end of the spectrum from fast Reapers is going for an expansion first. Rather than building a Barracks, some Terran players prefer to go right up to 14-15 SCVs and then drop down their second Command Center. This strategy has pros and cons.

The main downside to this approach is that if your enemy discovers what you are doing and attacks or if the enemy player just happens to go for an aggressive build, you can lose the game. The major upside to this approach is that if your enemy does not scout out your early expansion and make an attack, you come into the mid-game with a very large lead. Your booming economy can be rolled over into many Siege Tanks and Vikings, placing you in a great position in the late game.

As a result, you typically only want to take this risk if you are playing on large, 4-player maps. You are not likely to see proxy Reapers on these maps, and by the time the enemy scouts you, it might be too late for your opponent to take advantage of the early weakness of this build.

Widow Mines in Drop Lanes

One strategy that can be used against all Terran players in the early game is placing two Widow Mines in the "Drop Lanes". When going for a fast 1/1/1, players rarely go around the outskirts of the map with their drop. This is because every second counts and the enemy would rather have you scout out their drop and have the drop arrive earlier rather than hide the drop but have the drop hit later.

For a small resource investment, you can plant 2 Widow Mines in 1-2 spots of the map where the opponent may be likely to fly over with Medivacs. Sometimes you can take down a Medivac full of troops, wildly shifting the game in your favor. Even if the Widow Mines do not pay off, you can always move them back for defense once you finally secure your third base. You need two Widow Mines to destroy 1 Medivac - one will just deal a lot of damage.

Terran vs Terran in the Mid-Game

By the mid-game, things settle down significantly and strategies become more consistent. From seeing the results of many pro games, there seems to be no unit composition superior mass Siege Tanks supported by Vikings.

The Siege Tank takes down literally every Terran unit on the ground in large enough quantities. The Terran does not have an anti-Siege ground unit, as there is no fast melee unit like the Zergling, Zealot, or Ultralisk, and no real anti-armor unit like the Immortal. Thors can do okay versus 1-2 Siege Tanks, but once the Siege Tank numbers climb to 10+, no Terran ground unit can engage Siege Tanks head-on, aside from opposing Siege Tanks.

Vikings provide air support and vision. The Viking is the unit of choice for air support, as it has a long range and is a flying unit (so it cannot be hit by enemy Siege Tanks and spot the high ground). The Viking can take down Banshees and Medivacs, chase away Ravens, destroy enemy Vikings, and even stop a surprise enemy Battlecruiser.

One of the key things the Viking provides for the Siege Tank is vision. Siege Tanks have a range of 13, but only a sight of 11. Siege Tanks can only hit units that they can see. If you and your enemy both have a line of Siege Tanks within range of one another (13), but not within sight of one another (11), the tanks will not shoot. As soon as you fly a Viking over to provide your tanks with sight, your tanks will shoot the enemy tanks in range and the enemy tanks will not be able to fire back. The enemy may use Scanner Sweep or floating buildings to gain vision, but eventually Scanner Sweep energy will wear off and the Vikings will destroy the buildings, allowing you to attack the Terran's tanks from a safe position.

Air superiority not only denies vision for the opponent, but also allows for the opportunity of adding 1-2 Banshees to your army. You can use these to pick off the enemy's forward tanks. Your Vikings will take down, whereas if ground units like the . This only works well if the enemy has no Thors. Thors can safely hit Banshees from a long range. You can micro around a few Thors but you have to be careful.

Do Not Overproduce Vikings

If you get too many Vikings. You do not really need more than 6 Vikings over your opponent's total (if your opponent has 10 Vikings, you will cap out at 16). This is enough to take down your opponent's Vikings and handle other air units like Medivacs or Banshees.

If you build too many Vikings, your opponent may completely give up air superiority and try to break your contain just by investing all their resources into Siege Tanks, Thors, or even Marauders. If you have 30 supplies tied up in Vikings, your opponent may simply rebuild tanks or Thors with those extra supplies. If the opponent has an additional 10 Siege Tanks or 5 Thors (both 30 supplies of units), they might not need air superiority to destroy your army.

Ravens for Support

Once you have healthy Siege Tank and Viking numbers, consider adding on a few Ravens to your army. The Raven's Point Defense Drone (PDD) helps protect your Siege Tanks against Marauders and Banshees. Since the PDD lasts 3 minutes and Siege Tanks do not move much once in an entrenched position, it is possible to always keep a PDD active to protect your tanks from sneak attacks.

The PDD also protects your Vikings and air units from enemy Viking hits. PDDs are flying structures, so you do not have to worry about them being taken down by Siege Tanks. You can throw down a PDD in front of the enemy's Siege Tank line and then fly in with your own Banshees or Vikings and start harassing the opponent. This will absorb enemy Viking shots.

Seeker Missile also works great against enemy tanks. Siege Tanks are too slow to run from Seeker Missiles. If you have 4 Ravens and can fire off 4 Seeker Missile's at once on your enemy's forward-most 4 Siege Tanks, you can completely ruin their defensive position.

Finally, Auto Turrets work well when you are looking to attack your opponent. You can throw down a few Auto Turrets (they only cost 50 energy), which will then proceed to absorb multiple Siege Tank shots from the enemy thanks to their 150 HP total. You can then unsiege all of your Tanks and push them into range of your enemy's Siege Tanks long before the enemy is able to finish off the last Auto Turret.

How to Attack Your Opponent in TvT

Even if you have a superior number of Siege Tanks and Vikings, it may not be wise to attack a fortified Terran position in head-on combat. The enemy's tanks will get off too many free shots, which can quickly shift the battle in their favor. Instead, there are three primary methods that you can use to attack the Terran's forces.

Two methods have been discussed in the previous section. The first involves using Vikings to gain air superiority and then using the extra vision to allow your attacks to hit in the safe zone. This works best earlier in the match when the opponent does not have multiple Orbital Commands for Scanner Sweep energy. The other method involves using Ravens to use Auto Turrets and Seeker Missiles to distract or bust up the enemy's tank line before moving in. This requires Ravens, which cost a lot of gas.

In situations where things are relatively even but you want to be aggressive, the easiest way to "attack" an enemy is to set up your units in a fortified position in between the enemy's third and fourth base. Typically, a Terran who is turtling will have the bulk of their forces protecting their third base. All you have to do is place your forces in between the enemy's third and fourth base (or fifth base, depending on the map). If the enemy wants to take their fourth base, they will have to be the ones to attack you, which is an advantage for your army.

If they already have a fourth base up and running, putting a Siege Tank in range of the fourth base, forcing the enemy to come to you or lose their base. The idea here is to consistently deny the enemy their fourth expansion and force them to attack you to defend against it. More often than not, your enemy will rush into an engagement with your forces, and with appropriate micro, you should come out ahead.

The opponent may try to sneak off a drop to make you want to pull back your forces and defend. Use Sensor Towers and Xel'Naga Watch Towers to spot this before it happens.

If your opponent simply allows you to destroy their fourth base and continues to turtle, expand the map and use the extra gas to switch into SkyTerran. Use your extra minerals on Hellions or Hellbats and perform constant harass attacks or drops to try to further expand your economic advantage.

SkyTerran in the TvT Late Game

In the late game, if you can afford it, it is ideal to switch into an army composition of Battlecruisers, Ravens, and Vikings. Battlecruisers are like the Siege Tanks of the air in TvT: they are strong against everything! Well-microed Vikings are the only thing that can take down Battlecruisers. Ravens and your own Vikings are used to protect your Battlecruisers against other Vikings.

SkyTerran Video Guide in TvT

Here is a video guide demonstrating how to use the SkyTerran build in TvT - particularly how to use the Raven and your own Vikings and Battlecruisers to take down enemy Vikings:

There are two ways to use SkyTerran in the late game. One, the more common way, is to surprise your opponent by adding on 4 total Starports, producing 1 round of Battlecruisers, adding them to your pre-existing Siege Tank, Viking, and Raven army. This only requires you to bank up around 2000 gas (which is still significant) and it does not take very long to produce just 1 round of Battlecruisers.

If your enemy is being very defensive, you can expand the map and work your way up to mass air. This is more likely to be scouted by your opponent since it takes so long to get out several rounds of Ravens and Battlecruisers, but once you build the army, there is little your opponent can to do stop your attack. Mass Vikings in a defensive position do not work well against a large wave of Battlecruisers backed up by 10 PDDs, Seeker Missiles, and your own Vikings.

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