TvT: Safe Cyclones into Bio Play (Terran vs Terran)

Last updated on May 14, 2018 at 09:52 by Wardi 1 comment

Table of Contents



Terran versus Terran has always had the two major playstyles of mech and bio play as viable choices, each offering their own sets of strengths and weaknesses. The transition into a bio playstyle has become more difficult since the Cyclone Icon Cyclone became such a strong early-game unit in the match-up. Today we are looking at an opening used by INnoVation which will lead you into a typical bio style of play while staying safe against committed Cyclone styles.

By starting with a Cyclone Icon Cyclone openening and bypassing the Starport Icon Starport, the build allows you to set up a defensive position on the natural until your important upgrades such as Use Stimpack Icon Stimpack and Combat Shield Icon Combat Shields are finished, allowing you to move into your mid-game.


VODs / References

INnoVation vs aLive (Link to Replay) INnoVation vs aLive (Kung Fu Cup #3) Games 1 & 3 (Link to VOD)

Build Order

We start with a typical TvT double-gas opening which leads into an expansion. SCV production is assumed to be continuous unless mentioned otherwise.

  • 14Supply Depot Icon Supply Depot;
  • 14Refinery Icon Refinery;
  • 16Barracks Icon Barracks;
  • 17Refinery Icon Refinery;
  • 19Orbital Command Icon Orbital Command;
  • 19Factory Icon Factory;
  • 19Reaper Icon Reaper;
  • 20Supply Depot Icon Supply Depot;
  • 21Reaper Icon Reaper;
  • 23Cyclone Icon Cyclone;
  • 27Command Center Icon Command Center;

The build continues into a Barracks Icon Barracks-focused play-style while continuing to produce Cyclone Icon Cyclones.

  • 28 — Build Reactor Icon Reactor on the Barracks Icon Barracks.
  • 28Supply Depot Icon Supply Depot — further Supply Depots are left out of the build-order for simplicity. Build as required.
  • 28 — Recruit Cyclone Icon Cyclone;
  • 34 — As your second Cyclone Icon Cyclone finishes, lift the Factory Icon Factory and move it onto the Reactor Icon Reactor built previously by the Barracks Icon Barracks.
  • 34 — Recruit 2 x Cyclone Icon Cyclones.
  • 40 — Upgrade your Command Center Icon Command Center to Orbital Command Icon Orbital Command.
  • 40 — Build Tech Lab Icon Tech Lab.
  • 43 — Recruit 2 x Cyclone Icon Cyclones.
  • 52 — Build 2 x Barracks Icon Barracks.
  • 52 — Research Use Stimpack Icon Stimpack.
  • 52Marine Icon Marine production begins and should remain continous from this point onwards.
  • 53 — Build Refinery Icon Refinery #3.
  • 53 — Build Engineering Bay Icon Engineering Bay.
  • 54Factory Icon Factory lifts and builds a new Reactor Icon Reactor.
  • 54 — Build Bunker Icon Bunker at front of natural expansion.
  • 58 — Build Starport Icon Starport.

Now at 5:00 in the game you should have (assuming no losses) 2 x Reaper Icon Reapers, 6 x Cyclone Icon Cyclones, ~36 SCV Icon SCVs and a set of production typical to a two-base Terran. The build continues towards establishing a three-base set-up. At this stage, supply counts may not be exact due to some unit losses, but the order is still correct.

  • 60 — As Barracks Icon Barracks #2 and #3 complete, move one to the free Reactor Icon Reactor and on the other Barracks build either a Tech Lab Icon Tech Lab if your opponent is going to play mech or a Reactor Icon Reactor if they are going to play bio.
  • 60 — Research +1 Infantry Weapons.
  • 60 — Produce purely Marine Icon Marines if playing against bio. If playing against mech, start constant Marauder Icon Marauder production.
  • 70 — As the Factory Icon Factory finishes building the Reactor Icon Reactor, move the Starport Icon Starport onto it and build a Tech Lab Icon Tech Lab.
  • 72Medivac Icon Medivac and Siege Tank Icon Siege Tank production should begin.
  • 76 — Build Refinery Icon Refinery #4.
  • 86 — As Use Stimpack Icon Stimpack completes, start Combat Shield Icon Combat Shields. If you are on double Tech Lab Icon Tech Lab, then you can start this slightly earlier, but you will want to also research Concussive Shells Icon Concussive Shells at around this time.

From 6:30 onwards, you can look toward adding a third Command Center Icon Command Center when minerals allow for it, followed by Barracks Icon Barracks #4 and #5. Your expansion and production comes slower than in other match-ups due to the investment into Cyclone Icon Cyclones earlier in the game.

Make sure to continue into the +1 Armor and to add your Armory Icon Armory and second Engineering Bay Icon Engineering Bay when +1 Armor is halfway completed to start +2 Attack / +2 Armor as soon as possible. As a third base is established, a second Factory Icon Factory will be a natural addition to your production.


The Cyclone Opening

It is very difficult to find a viable build that does not open with Cyclone Icon Cyclones simply because of the power of these units in the early stages of the match-up with low unit counts. This build is aiming to use the Cyclones in a defensive manner to allow you to establish a bio-composition.

With your very first Reaper Icon Reapers and Cyclone Icon Cyclones, the most important idea to keep in the front of your mind is that you need these units to stay alive. It is viable to move across the map and to try and pick up information and damage with them, maybe even punishing an opponent with worse micro or a greedier build, but these moves are going to be made at your own risk. It is simply safer to keep them at home defensively, or on top of a ramp on your side of the map, to hold that defender's advantage if your opponent tries to engage.

Fun Tip: the Reaper Icon Reaper grenade ability can have a large impact in Cyclone Icon Cyclone battles — it can slow a retreat or cause lost damage time if placed correctly!

You are aiming for 6 Cyclone Icon Cyclones, which can then sit behind a bunker on your natural and keep you safe while the bio upgrades and units start to be present in the game. With a bunker in an engagement, your opponent's Cyclones would have to waste a lot of time targeting the bunker first before your own Cyclones, which allows you to off-set the Cyclone disadvantage you would have by switching into Barracks Icon Barracks compared to continuing to build Cyclones.

One benefit of being on the map is that if you do see your opponent cutting Cyclone Icon Cyclones before you do, you can potentially pick up some damage with the Cyclones. It may also become a lot easier to identify if they are playing mech or bio. Until you stop Cyclone production, there is no real reason you should be at a Cyclone disadvantage, so skirmishing is viable if you feel you have good enough control.


Transitioning into Bio

The scariest part of switching to Bio is surviving against continued Cyclone Icon Cyclone production — anything else will not be able to apply pressure until you have enough bio units on the map with upgrades to allow them to fight, hence why the build sets up to deal with the "worst case scenario" of continued Cyclones.

Your composition will differ slightly depending on whether you are playing against bio or mech. Versus bio, you will play the age-old Marine Icon Marine - Siege Tank Icon Siege Tank - Medivac Icon Medivac composition, hence the need for 2 x Reactor Icon Reactors and 1 x Tech Lab Icon Tech Lab on the first 3 Barracks Icon Barracks. Against mech, the double tech lab allows you to add Marauder Icon Marauders to the composition. There will also be more of a fight for air control, which is something which different players focus on at different stages of the game depending on their play styles.

The strength of your bio army is when it is fully kitted with Use Stimpack Icon Stimpack and Medivac Icon Medivacs — at this stage you will actually trade very well against Cyclone Icon Cyclone-only armies, so your opponent will usually be transitioning into Hellbat Icon Hellbats and Siege Tank Icon Siege Tanks. This is the stage at which you break out of your defensive position on the natural and expand while being able to pressure the expansion of your opponent at the same time.


Switching to Air

Liberator Icon Liberators protected by enough Viking Icon Vikings can be a problem for both bio and mech players as it is a great method of pushing back Siege Tank Icon Siege Tank lines and taking over positions that are usually much more difficult to break.

Against mech, it will be slightly more difficult — they will have upgrades already helping them in the sky battles. They also have little use for Medivac Icon Medivacs and so they will usually already have some Viking Icon Vikings in their army. By taking a slightly more passive approach, you can usually add an extra Starport Icon Starport while pressuring with smaller groups of units than usual. This will allow you more of a chance to compete with your opponent's air army.

Against bio, you are on even footing, but take note that committing to the air army will be more punishable by your opponent in this scenario. It is more common to just have a couple of Liberator Icon Liberators supported by Siege Tank Icon Siege Tanks to stop Marine Icon Marines from targeting them down. These smaller Liberator counts will still do the similar job of breaking down defensive positions due to the usual lack of Viking Icon Vikings in a bio player's army. Essentially, you want to stay in slight control of the air, as overcommitting will lead to you just being rolled over.



This is a great build if you are someone that prefers to approach TvT with a bio playstyle instead of with mech. It allows you to safely get through to the mid game, where your army will start to excel, without having to worry about the power of opponent's Cyclone Icon Cyclones. You are also set to have the potential to out-micro your opponent early game with your own Cyclones, or even punishing them if they try to cut Cyclones too early themselves.

Once your upgrades and unit numbers are up, you will be able to take to the map with your highly mobile army to play out the game as you see fit. The build leaves you with the natural follow-up of a third base at a reasonable time as well as continuing with attack and armor upgrades.



  • 14 May 2018: Added a new TvT build, the safe cyclone opening into bio follow-up.
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