TvZ Build Order: uThermals Fast 3CC into Bio (Terran vs Zerg)
Table of Contents
- 1. Introduction
- 2. Build Order
- +3. Scouting & Adjustments
- +4. How to use Your Units
- 5. Conclusion
- 6. ChangeLog
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 ( , , ) 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 — — which Zergs use for its mid game strength, allowing an easier transition to the late game than -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 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 as part of wall (rally first worker made from to the ramp).
- 16 — Build #1.
- 16 — Build .
- 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 first, which would finish at 2:05, from the Zerg. This is discussed more in a later section).
- 19 — Upgrade to .
- 19 — Recruit .
- 20 — Build another (generally on low ground).
Continuation of the 3CC Build:
- 20 — Build (completing wall at Main to Natural ramp).
- 21 — Recruit , first Reaper moves across map to scout (see scouting section).
- 24 — Build (next to Barracks so you can swap add-ons later).
- 26 — Build (in main base, there is no need for it to be in location this early).
- 26 — Build on (both Reapers should be across the map at this stage looking for information).
- 26 — Build .
- 27 — Upgrade to on Natural .
- 29 — swaps onto the the was building, beginning Hellion production (2 at a time).
- 30 — Build (again near where the will land, to swap add-ons easily).
- 30 — Build on , at completion move swap barracks for a on the Starport.
- 43 — Upgrade the third to .
- 46 — Recruit .
- 46 — Research on the Starport Tech Lab.
- 51 — Build on .
- 54 — Build another (start walling at entrance to Natural. Further supply depots are omitted from this build order, build as required).
- 56 — Build on Barracks (also start Marine production).
- At this point you should be 4:30 into the game, with 36 , 6 and a .
- 58 — Move off of and build a new Reactor with it. Add 2 x , 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 and move it into location while starting a .
- 64 — Build 2x . When they are built research +1 Infantry Weapons and +1 Infantry Armor.
- 64 — Build 2x .
- At 5:30 after your finishes, move to make its own . goes to empty tech lab, #3 goes to Reactor left by Factory. You should have 3 x (2 , 1 ), 1 with a and a building a on around 50 .
- You will be producing - - from this stage while mining from your Third Base.
Significant additions from this point:
- When your minerals allow for it, add your #4 & #5, which you will add s to.
- Remember to add your when +1/+1 is halfway done, so that you can start +2/+2 on time.
- As you add the , you will want to get your Refineries at the third base and add a second for increased production.
- Add as finishes.
- As +2/+2 starts you will add a fourth behind your push with two s, which is discussed later. After this you add #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 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 opening, which is somewhat uncommon in modern TvZ.
The second 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 will be available in good time to come out and shut down any s which try to run around the map and slow down the , a common move by Zerg players who open first.
The initial scout can still help, firstly with being aware of the possibility of early s (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 is out!) A 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 – will finish 80 seconds after the Zerg has 100 gas, which will give you a rough timing of possible -flood builds (which your follow-up will deal with as long as the Hellions are not caught off-guard.)
3.2. Reaper Scout
Early gas can also suggest pushes, which will be confirmed by your 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 (3 minutes or earlier) and hence to prepare for a fast or attack.
In general this Build Order is fairly safe against early aggression which involves es. Most importantly you should be aiming to get the out ASAP (instead of the ) when a Roach attack is coming as well as building a or a (depending on the speed of the Roach Rush) instead of s. You can also add a 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 s will be the third hatchery. In general with 2 Reapers it should be difficult for the Zerg to take a third Hatchery before finishes at ~3:30 with a standard Hatch-Gas-Pool build order, as your Reapers can deny the from making its way to the location of the third to build the . 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 - - , assuming it was a — — composition. The Siege Tank count is very important against a composition like this, or one which makes use of es 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 and armies.
If es do come into play, you can add an extra to one of the #4/#5 and start production instead of just focusing on s from the Barracks. The Marauders do bonus damage to Roaches and can also split ahead of your army to tank damage. One thing to be careful of here, however, is that s do not have an armored tag, meaning if it is mostly Ravagers, you would probably be better with the Marines.
s 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 production as they are immobile and hence easily picked off. s are the general go-to here, and when you add a second later, you can also add a 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 s, 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.
uThermal tends not to use his initial s 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 s 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 s.
The is plain and simple as it is there to shut down s 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 drops!) Even if you don’t find Overlords, you gain information on where you can send drops without being scouted.
While you only make a single , 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 s at home, the Banshee gives you some further chances to scout around the bases. It forces s and should at least find a few s 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 s, a couple of s and a good chunk of s (plus the s 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 ). At the very least you will force out more mid-game units, which the Zerg would like to ideally skip.
By having the s in the back-line to target fire some s and the s 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 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 s to evacuate some of your army and to threaten a drop with if you need to buy time. Do be careful of -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.
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 s get onto the field, even if they are later than usual.
- 15 Feb. 2018: Added our second build order: TvZ uThermals Fast 3 Command Center Variation.
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