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TvZ Build Order: uThermals Fast 3CC into Bio (Terran vs Zerg)

Last updated on Feb 15, 2018 at 21:00 by Wardi 4 comments

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

Terran vs Zerg (TvZ) has always been a match-up famed for its insane mechanical requirements and back-and-forth macro game play. Playing a biological (Marine Icon Marine, Medivac Icon Medivac, Marauder Icon Marauder) composition as Terran against Zerg has always had a unique dynamic, where the Terran is consistently trying to keep the Zerg player on a manageable economy and away from higher tech units. This has become more difficult with the recent playstyle of Zergling Icon ZerglingBaneling Icon BanelingHydralisk Icon Hydralisk which Zergs use for its mid game strength, allowing an easier transition to the late game than Mutalisk Icon Mutalisk-focused compositions of old.

Terran players have always had a large variety of ways in which they can slow down the Zerg economy early in the game such as aggressive attacks or run-bys, but one method popularized in Wings of Liberty by Bomber was the Fast 3 Command Center Icon Command Center play, where having the fast three bases allows for strong SCV production to keep up with the Zerg. This guide is based on uThermal’s recent variation of this which sees him using a slightly different follow-up to the cookie cutter 3CC builds we see.

This build order will initially assume you are going against the very common Ling-Bane-Hydra composition and will talk about adjustments for other compositions in a later section.

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.

Start with a standard Reaper Expand:

  • 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 (uThermal does NOT worker scout when doing this build as an optimization. We recommend scouting as it will minimise the amount of improvisation when an attack hits. You are looking to scout Hatchery Icon Hatchery first, which would finish at 2:05, from the Zerg. This is discussed more in a later section).
  • 19 — Upgrade Command Center Icon Command Center to Orbital Command Icon Orbital Command.
  • 19 — Recruit Reaper Icon Reaper.
  • 20 — Build another Command Center Icon Command Center (generally on low ground).

Continuation of the 3CC Build:

  • 20 — Build Supply Depot Icon Supply Depot (completing wall at Main to Natural ramp).
  • 21 — Recruit Reaper Icon Reaper, first Reaper moves across map to scout (see scouting section).
  • 24 — Build Factory Icon Factory (next to Barracks so you can swap add-ons later).
  • 26 — Build Command Center Icon Command Center (in main base, there is no need for it to be in location this early).
  • 26 — Build Reactor Icon Reactor on Barracks Icon Barracks (both Reapers should be across the map at this stage looking for information).
  • 26 — Build Refinery Icon Refinery.
  • 27 — Upgrade to Orbital Command Icon Orbital Command on Natural Command Center Icon Command Center.
  • 29Factory Icon Factory swaps onto the Reactor Icon Reactor the Barracks Icon Barracks was building, beginning Hellion production (2 at a time).
  • 30 — Build Starport Icon Starport (again near where the Barracks Icon Barracks will land, to swap add-ons easily).
  • 30 — Build Tech Lab Icon Tech Lab on Barracks Icon Barracks, at completion move swap barracks for a Tech Lab Icon Tech Lab on the Starport.
  • 43 — Upgrade the third Command Center Icon Command Center to Orbital Command Icon Orbital Command.
  • 46 — Recruit Viking Icon Viking.
  • 46 — Research Cloaking Field Icon Cloaking Field on the Starport Tech Lab.
  • 51 — Build Tech Lab Icon Tech Lab on Barracks Icon Barracks.
  • 54 — Build another Supply Depot Icon Supply Depot (start walling at entrance to Natural. Further supply depots are omitted from this build order, build as required).
  • 56 — Build Tech Lab Icon Tech Lab on Barracks (also start Marine production).
  • At this point you should be 4:30 into the game, with 36 SCV Icon SCV, 6 Hellion Icon Hellion and a Viking Icon Viking.
  • 58 — Move Factory Icon Factory off of Reactor Icon Reactor and build a new Reactor with it. Add 2 x Barracks Icon Barracks, one on the Reactor the Factory moved away from and the other next to the Factory building a new Reactor (ready to swap later).
  • At 4:45 lift Third Command Center Icon Command Center and move it into location while starting a Banshee Icon Banshee.
  • 64 — Build 2x Engineering Bay Icon Engineering Bay. When they are built research +1 Infantry Weapons and +1 Infantry Armor.
  • 64 — Build 2x Refinery Icon Refinery.
  • At 5:30 after your Banshee Icon Banshee finishes, move Starport Icon Starport to make its own Reactor Icon Reactor. Factory Icon Factory goes to empty tech lab, Barracks Icon Barracks #3 goes to Reactor left by Factory. You should have 3 x Barracks Icon Barracks (2 Reactor Icon Reactor, 1 Tech Lab Icon Tech Lab), 1 Factory Icon Factory with a Tech Lab Icon Tech Lab and a Starport Icon Starport building a Reactor Icon Reactor on around 50 SCV Icon SCV.
  • You will be producing Marine Icon Marine-Siege Tank Icon Siege Tank-Medivac Icon Medivac from this stage while mining from your Third Base.

Significant additions from this point:

  • When your minerals allow for it, add your Barracks Icon Barracks #4 & #5, which you will add Reactor Icon Reactors to.
  • Remember to add your Armory Icon Armory when +1/+1 is halfway done, so that you can start +2/+2 on time.
  • As you add the Armory Icon Armory, you will want to get your Refineries at the third base and add a second Factory Icon Factory for increased Siege Tank Icon Siege Tank production.
  • Add Combat Shield Icon Combat Shield as Use Stimpack Icon Stimpack finishes.
  • As +2/+2 starts you will add a fourth Command Center Icon Command Center behind your push with two Medivac Icon Medivacs, which is discussed later. After this you add Barracks Icon Barracks #6, #7 & #8 for late game production.

3. Scouting & Adjustments

3.1. Initial Worker Scout

As talked about in the build order, uThermal typically chooses not to SCV Icon SCV scout at 17 with this build. For the purposes of learning and to help create an understanding for what is happening in the game as well as to prepare for attacks more easily, we advise to use this initial scout. One reason uThermal does not scout is because this build uses a double Reaper Icon Reaper opening, which is somewhat uncommon in modern TvZ.

The second Reaper Icon Reaper means that it does not matter if the first reaper goes across the map to scout even if it is a Spawning Pool first build order, because the second Reaper Icon Reaper will be available in good time to come out and shut down any Zergling Icon Zerglings which try to run around the map and slow down the Command Center Icon Command Center, a common move by Zerg players who open Spawning Pool Icon Spawning Pool first.

The initial SCV Icon SCV scout can still help, firstly with being aware of the possibility of early Zergling Icon Zerglings (the last thing you want is to suddenly find yourself panicked because 6 lings arrived at your Natural and you have a few seconds until your Reaper Icon Reaper is out!) A Hatchery Icon Hatchery first will finish at 2:05, meaning anything later should leave you wary of those pesky lings. You should check for the gas as well – Metabolic Boost Icon Metabolic Boost will finish 80 seconds after the Zerg has 100 gas, which will give you a rough timing of possible Zergling Icon Zergling-flood builds (which your Hellion Icon Hellion follow-up will deal with as long as the Hellions are not caught off-guard.)

3.2. Reaper Scout

Early gas can also suggest Roach Icon Roach pushes, which will be confirmed by your Reaper Icon Reaper scout. With this double Reaper opening you should always have information on what the Zerg is trying to do. You will be able to see Roaches coming out of the base and across the map while trying to delay creep at the front. You can also sacrifice a Reaper into the main base for further information, specifically to see a faster Lair Icon Lair (3 minutes or earlier) and hence to prepare for a fast Spire Icon Spire or Nydus Network Icon Nydus Network attack.

In general this Build Order is fairly safe against early aggression which involves Roach Icon Roaches. Most importantly you should be aiming to get the Banshee Icon Banshee out ASAP (instead of the Viking Icon Viking) when a Roach attack is coming as well as building a Cyclone Icon Cyclone or a Siege Tank Icon Siege Tank (depending on the speed of the Roach Rush) instead of Hellion Icon Hellions. You can also add a Bunker Icon Bunker to help buy time for your units to lower the Roach count before they begin to run rampant in your mineral lines.

The final scout you are looking for with the Reaper Icon Reapers will be the third hatchery. In general with 2 Reapers it should be difficult for the Zerg to take a third Hatchery before Metabolic Boost Icon Metabolic Boost finishes at ~3:30 with a standard Hatch-Gas-Pool build order, as your Reapers can deny the Drone Icon Drone from making its way to the location of the third to build the Hatchery Icon Hatchery. The later the Hatchery the more important it will be to keep tabs on what the Zerg is doing instead inside of their base, as it could very easily be a build up towards an all-in instead.

3.3. Compositional Adjustments

Beyond the early game adjustments in case of aggression, there are some composition-focused adjustments based on the units the Zerg is using through the mid-game. The initial build order discussed building Marine Icon Marine-Medivac Icon Medivac-Siege Tank Icon Siege Tank, assuming it was a Zergling Icon ZerglingBaneling Icon BanelingHydralisk Icon Hydralisk composition. The Siege Tank count is very important against a composition like this, or one which makes use of Roach Icon Roaches as the Siege Tanks will act as the spine of the Terran army, their heavy splash damage being a major way to deal with the swarm-like nature of Hydralisk Icon Hydralisk and Roach Icon Roach armies.

If Roach Icon Roaches do come into play, you can add an extra Tech Lab Icon Tech Lab to one of the Barracks Icon Barracks #4/#5 and start Marauder Icon Marauder production instead of just focusing on Marine Icon Marines from the Barracks. The Marauders do bonus damage to Roaches and can also split ahead of your army to tank Baneling Icon Baneling damage. One thing to be careful of here, however, is that Ravager Icon Ravagers do not have an armored tag, meaning if it is mostly Ravagers, you would probably be better with the Marines.

Mutalisk Icon Mutalisks are the other major tech choice that is commonly seen in a mid-game Zerg army, even if they are not as popular as they used to be. Against Mutalisks you will want to move away from Siege Tank Icon Siege Tank production as they are immobile and hence easily picked off. Widow Mine Icon Widow Mines are the general go-to here, and when you add a second Factory Icon Factory later, you can also add a Thor Icon Thor or two to your army, which will make it even more difficult for the Zerg to engage.

4. How to use Your Units

As you are building up your strong economy with the three Command Center Icon Command Centers, it is important to use all of your units correctly to ensure you are in as good a position as possible. This build is a fairly unique 3CC build, which allows you to harass while building up your economy rather than other 3CC builds which focus on a faster marine-based follow-up and no attacks for multiple minutes.

4.1. Hellions

uThermal tends not to use his initial Hellion Icon Hellions across the map to poke or run by, instead leaving them at home. This has the positives of being able to deal with a large number of Zergling Icon Zerglings easily and not having to worry so much about multi-tasking with the Hellions, however, it does mean that they will not be on the map to help against creep spread, which can get out of hand if you don’t control it with the Reapers. Keeping the Hellions means that when you attack with +1/+1 you can use them in the engagement as Hellbat Icon Hellbats.

4.2. Viking

The Viking Icon Viking is plain and simple as it is there to shut down Overlord Icon Overlords on the map which denies scouting as well as general map vision for drops. Each map has common locations to rally your Viking around based on where the Overlords usually hang around (think where you would usually send your Medivac Icon Medivac drops!) Even if you don’t find Overlords, you gain information on where you can send drops without being scouted.

4.3. Banshee

While you only make a single Banshee Icon Banshee, it is still a great addition to the build because of the general map control it gives you. Especially as you are looking to keep your Hellion Icon Hellions at home, the Banshee gives you some further chances to scout around the bases. It forces Spore Crawler Icon Spore Crawlers and should at least find a few Drone Icon Drones from the sides of a base here and there. Get the Banshee onto the map as soon as you can because it will help to spot aggression and the sooner it is on the map the sooner you are picking away at drones.

4.4. +1/+1 Timing

One of the important features of TvZ is that you can never just sit back and macro forever or the Zerg will get ahead. You need to force out units and slow down creep spread as much as possible. While this build allows you to keep up for longer without truly moving out on the map, there comes a point where it just makes sense to.

At around 7 minutes you will have your first Medivac Icon Medivacs, a couple of Siege Tank Icon Siege Tanks and a good chunk of Marine Icon Marines (plus the Hellion Icon Hellions from earlier). Together this set of units can get a lot of damage done; most importantly it will punish any Zerg who is trying to be too greedy by investing in research and higher tech units (e.g. if they are looking for a fast Hive Icon Hive). At the very least you will force out more mid-game units, which the Zerg would like to ideally skip.

By having the Siege Tank Icon Siege Tanks in the back-line to target fire some Baneling Icon Banelings and the Hellbat Icon Hellbats in front to be able to tank some of the damage you should be able to trade efficiently against any Ling-Bane based composition, while your double Siege Tank Icon Siege Tank production and more really begins to kick in at home so you can continue the aggression beyond this first attack (or build up towards a +2/+2 timing). If things do begin to get a bit scary, you also still have the Medivac Icon Medivacs to evacuate some of your army and to threaten a drop with if you need to buy time. Do be careful of Roach Icon Roach-based compositions, which are naturally slightly better at dealing with early attacks like this.

Using this attack to clean out creep, pressure a fourth base and to force units and combined with your strong economy you are now in a prime position to play out the macro game.

5. Conclusion

This is a great build order to have in your arsenal to crack out against a Zerg. As someone who personally struggles sometimes with the usual TvZ builds where you have to be attacking from early in the game while continuing to macro, this build gives you a bit more time to get comfortable in the game first, while also keeping you safe and secure from early attacks.

It’s a unique take on a classic way to play bio-focused TvZ, building up early game with light harassment and then going into the typical Terran pressure once Medivac Icon Medivacs get onto the field, even if they are later than usual.

6. ChangeLog

  • 15 Feb. 2018: Added our second build order: TvZ uThermals Fast 3 Command Center Variation.
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