TvZ Build Order: Hellbat Drop Opening into Mech (Terran vs Zerg)

Last updated on Feb 21, 2018 at 21:20 by Wardi 2 comments

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

Hellbat Icon Hellbat openings have been a valid TvZ opening since the unit was first introduced in Heart of the Swarm. Their strength comes from the tendency of Terran players to open with Hellion Icon Hellions in the match-up naturally, to take early map control, for safety against early Zergling attacks and for potential run-bys. With the ability to hide the Armory Icon Armory away behind a mineral line, it can be difficult for a Zerg to identify a Hellbat attack is coming.

There have been endless variations of Hellbat Icon Hellbat builds over the years and this one takes it one step further: by introducing the Medivac Icon Medivac without building Marine Icon Marines you can split your Hellbats into two locations, making it difficult for the Zerg to defend in their usual manner of just bringing all of their Queen Icon Queens together to support their unit production. The multi-pronged aspect of the attack also makes it difficult to kite the Hellbats and hence causes more losses than the straight up frontal attack.

2. Build Order

As with all of our build orders, constant worker production is assumed unless mentioned otherwise and so all builds are based on supply count timings. Rough in-game timer points have been added at points of the build.

We start with a standard gas-first Reaper expansion:

  • 14 — Build Supply Depot Icon Supply Depot as part of wall (rally first worker made from Command Center Icon Command Center to the ramp).
  • 16 — Build Barracks Icon Barracks #1.
  • 16 — Build Refinery Icon Refinery.
  • 17 — Worker scout - this is optional but we suggest scouting to see whether it is a Hatchery Icon Hatchery or Spawning Pool Icon Spawning Pool first build. If it is the latter, you can then keep your Reaper Icon Reaper at home or hunt the early Zergling Icon Zerglings down.
  • 19 — Upgrade your Command Center Icon Command Center to Orbital Command Icon Orbital Command.
  • 19 — Recruit Reaper Icon Reaper.
  • 20 — Build Command Center Icon Command Center (generally on low ground).

The build then continues from this Reaper expansion:

  • 21Supply Depot Icon Supply Depot built to complete the wall off at the ramp.
  • 21 — Recruit Marine Icon Marine.
  • 23 — Build Factory Icon Factory close to Barracks Icon Barracks for add-on swapping.
  • 23 — Build Refinery Icon Refinery.
  • 24 — Build Reactor Icon Reactor on Barracks Icon Barracks.
  • 26 — Upgrade Command Center Icon Command Center to Orbital Command Icon Orbital Command.
  • 26 — Build Starport Icon Starport.
  • 27Factory Icon Factory swaps onto the Reactor Icon Reactor while the Barracks Icon Barracks moves away and is no longer used apart from to build add-ons.
  • 27Hellion Icon Hellion production begins on the Factory Icon Factory.
  • 32Tech Lab Icon Tech Lab built near Starport Icon Starport.
  • 38Supply Depot Icon Supply Depot - further depots should be built as required and are no longer mentioned in the build order.
  • 38Viking Icon Viking which will hunter Overlord Icon Overlords.
  • 50 — Recruit Medivac Icon Medivac.
  • 52 — Build Armory Icon Armory.
  • At this stage (~4:30 game time) you should have 8 Hellion Icon Hellions and a Medivac Icon Medivac (as well as the Viking Icon Viking and ~34 SCV Icon SCVs for reference). Use the Medivac to lift the four Hellions at home and move them across the map. Continue Hellion production on the Factory Icon Factory and rally them across to the third base (discussed later).
  • 62 — Build Command Center Icon Command Center in base to float to third location later.
  • 70 — Start the Terran Vehicle Weapons Level 1 research on the Armory Icon Armory.
  • 70 — Build Armory Icon Armory #2.
  • 70 — Build Refinery Icon Refinery #3 and #4.

You should now be executing your Hellbat Icon Hellbat attack, meaning the initial build order is completed! At this point you can make your choice of how you transition, either into Mech or Bio (the build order assumed a Mech follow-up, hence the Vehicle Weapons research and additional Armory Icon Armory. Most Hellbat attacks can transition into either of the compositions easily, so if you want to play Bio instead you can start to research Use Stimpack Icon Stimpack on the Tech Lab Icon Tech Lab which was built earlier - however, this build in particular works better for a Mech transition as you have skipped all Marine Icon Marine production up until this point. We will continue to explain a Mech follow-up.

Continuing into a double Thor drop (supply numbers omitted as at this point you are expected to be fighting and losing units):

  • You should continue Hellion Icon Hellion production, unless you see the need for Cyclone Icon Cyclones due to Roach Icon Roaches.
  • Add Factory Icon Factory #2 and #3 while building another Tech Lab Icon Tech Lab on the Barracks Icon Barracks. One Factory can build on the already existing Tech Lab, while the other can build next to the Barracks for a quick swap.
  • Add a Reactor Icon Reactor on the Starport Icon Starport.
  • Start the Terran Vehicle And Ship Plating Level 1 research on the second Armory Icon Armory.
  • As the two Factories complete start 2 x Thor Icon Thor and 2 x Medivac Icon Medivacs when the Starport Icon Starport is ready with a Reactor Icon Reactor.
  • As the Thor Icon Thors finish, you can harass with them using the Medivac Icon Medivacs.

This build has now set you up into a solid Mech mid-game where you can add extra production and play as usual. Because you have two Tech Lab Icon Tech Labs you can start Siege Tank Icon Siege Tank production earlier instead of the Thor Icon Thors if your opponent is looking to counter attack with Roach Icon Roaches and Ravager Icon Ravagers.

3. Scouting and Adjustments

There is not a lot of special scouting to be done with this build. The most important thing to be aware of is Roach Icon Roach-based attacks early in the game as when you are making pure Hellion Icon Hellions you do not have any units which can fight effectively. In this scenario you can start Cyclone Icon Cyclone production on the Factory Icon Factory instead of extra Hellions and you can also put the Starport Icon Starport onto the early Tech Lab Icon Tech Lab which otherwise isn't used to rush a Banshee Icon Banshee to help defend.

The best way to identify early aggression is to keep your Hellion Icon Hellions out on the map at the front of the Zerg player's creep spread. By doing this you will see any units leaving the base and moving across the map - but make sure to be careful as you want to keep the Hellions alive for the attack. Losing them will significantly hurt your chances of success, so keep a sharp eye on them.

When you are attacking with the Hellion Icon Hellions you will also get a decent scout of the Zerg base, so you can check for a Lair Icon Lair timing as well as to see what composition of units is going to be used (either through the built structures or the units being used to defend. If a Zerg has a lot of Roach Icon Roaches and your attack starts to be cleaned up quickly, you should look to start Cyclone Icon Cyclone production as soon as possible or a Banshee Icon Banshee - you may even want to produce two Siege Tank Icon Siege Tanks instead of the Thor Icon Thors when the extra factories are finished producing to keep you extra safe.

4. Executing the Hellbat attack.

Early game you should have your first four Hellion Icon Hellions on the map with the Reaper Icon Reaper to slow down creep spread as well as watching for incoming Zerg units early in the game. The 5th-8th Hellions should be kept at home, so that when the Medivac Icon Medivac is finished producing you can instantly lift the Hellions up and move across the map. Generally you want to hit the two bases of the Zerg (assuming they are on three Hatcheries at this stage. If they are only on two, something crazy is happening) which are furthest apart, which on most maps will be the main base and the third base. The idea behind this is that you want to make it difficult for the Zerg player to defend both sets of units effectively, and one of their main defensive units early the Queen Icon Queen is not going to be able to move between bases very fast.

This means you should be sending the four Hellion Icon Hellions on the map towards the third base and dropping the main base with the other four. Make sure to sync the attacks so that they come in at the same time to maximize chaos (this will catch a lot of Zerg players off guard). You will want to run the Hellions as close to third as possible before being seen by units, then morph them into Hellbat Icon Hellbats. With the dropped Hellbats in the main you will want to drop behind a mineral line or on the edge of the base before moving forwards, so that you can either morph them into Hellbats together or position them between mineral lines to reduce surface area while they morph. If your Viking Icon Viking is still around on the map after it has been Overlord Icon Overlord hunting, you can even land it and use it in the engagement!

You can play around and see what works best, you might find that hitting the main first and then running into the third works well as you might be able to get the Hellions at the third all the way into the mineral line before the Zerg responds, allowing for some guaranteed Drone Icon Drone kills before morphing the Hellbats. Try it out and play around and see what the most effective way of using these units is for you! Remember that with the Medivac Icon Medivac in the main base you are able to micro the Hellbats a significant amount - you should be able to lift damaged Hellbat Icon Hellbats and move them to the back for healing or lift them away from full surrounds to keep them alive for longer in general.

As the attack is ongoing the new Hellion Icon Hellions which you are building at home should be rallying across the map towards the third base to reinforce that location (reinforcing into the main base isn't really possible). Against Zergling Icon Zergling-based defenses these continuous rallies can sometimes win the game straight up if the Zerg was caught underprepared. Against Roach Icon Roach defenses you want to be a bit more careful to not throw the units away without finding value - you still need to be able to justify this commitment and sometimes it is better to back away before fighting and to take the fight a later point (losing too many units too quickly is an easy way to die to a follow-up counterattack). Make sure to keep that macro up at home while attacking as well for the same reason!

5. Conclusion

This build is a great way to add a bit more complexity to an early Hellbat Icon Hellbat attack, allowing you to deal some more damage and to reap the rewards from better multi-tasking. It sets you up to deal damage early and to slow down the Zerg economy, while picking up great scouting information about what the Zerg is looking to follow up with. We have covered a mech-based follow-up in this guide, looking towards a Thor Icon Thor drop to open up the mid-game, but the build can definitely be adapted to suit a bio style as well, if that is how you prefer to play.

So don't wait any longer, go give them Zerg players hell on the ladder by putting Hellbat Icon Hellbats all over their bases and mineral lines! Good luck!

6. Changelog

  • 21 Feb. 2018: Another TvZ build, this time looking at a Hellbat opening with a Mech follow-up.
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