StarCraft 2 Terran Beginner Strategies and Build Orders

Before I get going with the pile of information, I'll give you all a brief history of my background with StarCraft: Brood War and StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty. I've been a viewer of the Korean Brood War proleague scene for about two years. I hadn't been as much of a player as I had been a viewer, but I had picked up many things from watching the pros play including tactics, builds, and unit management. In addition to watching the pro-scene, I have watched a large amount of information StarCraft II information videos and hundreds of VODs from the StarCraft II Beta. I got into the SC2 beta right after patch 9 had been released and played a large amount of games, mainly 1v1 ladder and 1v1 custom games. I originally was a Zerg player, but after a large amount of frustration and balance issues (which I still believe are present today) I decided to switch to Terran during Phase 2 of the beta.

In the retail version of StarCraft II, I am a platinum player working up the ranks of the ladder to diamond. It frustrates me how little people know about the game and how to be good and effective at playing. What I never realized was that when it comes down to it, the race you are playing doesn't matter, it is your basic foundation as a RTS player and your overall understanding and game sense. Obviously, Picking your race does matter, so I will be giving an overview of strategies, builds, and tactics for each race. I will do Terran, then Zerg, then Protoss, but even though my offrace is Zerg and Protoss. If you are confused by any term that I use in the explanation, look at the Almanac at the bottom or send me a private message and I'll add your inquiry to the bottom. This guide is not just for Terran players, but for all to gain an understanding of the game and how your mind should work when looking at things.

If someone were to ask me how to improve their basic play in StarCraft II in general, I would give them a list of three things to do.
          - Never get food/supply/psy locked: Always be building pylons. The key to winning is a good army, the key to a good army is constant production, the key to constant production is always producing.
          - Have a general idea of what you are going to do: Whenever you play a game, have a general idea of your build order, when you're going to push out of your base, and when you will be expanding.
          - Watch your own replays: Winning or losing shouldn't be the end to your learning, go over a replay to see what you did wrong/right and how you could improve your play even more next time.

The first bulletin is very self explanatory, make it a habit to be watching your food constantly. Over time you will learn how to not get psy locked and it will go away over time. NEVER RESORT TO THROWING DOWN TONS OF FOOD WHEN YOU GET PSY LOCKED, YOU WILL LEARN NOTHING.
The second bulletin is the main focus of this guide, which I will elaborate more upon down below.
The third bulletin requires that you know what to get out of your build orders, if you have no clue what you should be extracting from your replays, watch this video to get a general understanding: http://blip.tv/file/3991475

How to decipher a build order:
      - All numbers are in relation to food at the time of beginning production.
      - Worker production should be continuous unless stated otherwise or if you hit saturation (30 workers at 1 base or 60 workers total)
      - Supply depots should always be constructed to avoid food locking yourself

Build Orders:

TvX: Three Rax Marine Marauder

Summary: This is the easiest and perhaps the strongest build to pull off. It requires no expansions until much later game and is very strong against defending 4 warp gate pushes (which we will elaborate on in our   Protoss section) and punishing Zergs who go mass roach. It is best used against Protoss but can be conformed to fit vs Zerg.
Basic Build Order:
      - 10 Supply Depot
      - 12 Barracks
      - 13 Gas
      - 15 Orbital Command
      - 15 Marine
      - 16 Supply Depot
      - 16 Tech Lab (on Barracks)
      - 19 Barracks (Reactor addon after completion)
      - 20 Barracks (Tech Lab addon after completion)
Notes: Continue constant Marauder production from Tech Lab'd Barracks and Marine production from your Reactor Barracks. Research Stim or Combat shield depending on your preference, I personally go for combat shield. Push out of your base ~50 supply or after your Stim/Combat Shield finishes researching. If your push fails to kill your opponent, make your 2nd gas and build a ghost academy; begin production of ghosts as your gas permits. Expanding at that point is a smart idea too, don't stay on 1 base for too long, or expand in reaction to your opponent.
Replays: http://www.sc2replayed.com/replays/69379-1v1-terran-protoss-lost-temple

TvZ: Mech

Summary: Mech a very strong build which emphasizes the strength of siege tanks, thors, and blue flame hellions. A mech army can never be attacked directly by a Zerg if done correctly. Its one flaw is immobility due to the slow movement of thors and the inability of siege tanks to move while in siege mode. Most build timings are up to debate; most of it is up to discretion and feel.
Basic Build Order:
      - 10 Supply Depot
      - 12 Barracks
      - 13 Gas
      - 15 Orbital Command
      - 15 Marine
      - 16 Supply Depot
      - 17 Factory (Tech Lab after completion)
      - 18 Gas
      - 19 Factory
      - ~23 Begin Hellion production and Infernal Pre-igniter upgrade
      - ~27 Armory
Notes: At 40 Supply push out of your base and you should arrive at the Zerg base right after blue flame finishes. If he went only zergling and made no spine crawlers you get an auto win. Harass the drone line and split your hellions up to each of his bases. Back at your base, after you pushed out of your base, you should add on a second tech lab to your second factory and build a Thor from the first factory. Add on a second factory and begin siege tank production along with more thors and hellions for supply for the siege tanks. Expand with your mech army as defense. Later on the game, make many plantary fortresses to protect your bases due to your army's immobility.
Replays:

TvT: 3 Rax Marauder Stim Push

Summary: This build should only be used if you want to avoid Tank/Viking builds employed by so many players. This build takes advantage of the weakness of siege tanks and vikings. It is countered easily by Banshees if scouted, so denying scouts is very necessary.
Basic Build Order:
      - 10 Supply Depot
      - 12 Barracks
      - 13 Gas
      - 15 Orbital Command
      - 15 Marine
      - 16 Supply Depot
      - 16 Tech Lab (on Barracks)
      - 19 Barracks (Tech Lab addon after completion)
      - 20 Barracks (Tech Lab addon after completion)
      - 27 Stim
Notes: Your push should come right after stim completes. If you fail to defeat your opponent off your first push, start teching to medivacs and start doing drops on your opponents expansions and don't be afraid to rush siege lines with stimmed marauders. Expand and take advantage of your highly mobile bio army.
Replays:

iWINuFAIL's picture

I always have trouble vs. Zerg, so I used this strategy aginst a Hard AI and it worked wondefully.  I kicked it up to Very Hard and came close, the only reason I lost was my late-game macro fell apart and I forgot to produce untis.  I'm going to practice a bit with the others, and then go into some Quick Matches and try them out.

If you could post a Protoss Guide as well that would be great.  Against Terran and Pross I'm fine but against Zerg I can never keep up and either get destroyed by a rush or simply can't keep up my army size.

Thanks a lot and keep up the good work!

John Tarr's picture

You didn't mention Concussive Shell research for any of the builds involving Marauders, is this just an oversight?

I've begun to use bunkers more aggressively recently, putting up 2-3 to defend an expansion and salvaging the original bunker at my starting base, and sometimes upgrading bunker capacity & Terran building armor. Maybe I don't need to build so many to defend expansions if I build a Planetary Fortress and a few turrets. Is the range on a Planetary Fortress big enough to kill units attacking SCVs from behind a mineral line?

Anyways, thanks for the great post, I'm going to try out your build orders. I'm really looking forward to the next posts on the other races even though Terran is my best class.

iWINuFAIL's picture

Sorry I didn't notice you'd said you would do posts for each race, rendering my previous comment unnecessary.  More importantly, what are the balance issues you are talking about?  I know I have seen problems with the Zerg but I don't know if it is due to lack of balance in the game or lack of skill from me.

Also, since I typically expand either too early or too late, is there a general rule of thumb for what point I should expand?  I usually try to around 30 SCVs (so all my minerals and gas is saturated, but then I don't have any for my expansion, or worse I don't have enough of an army to protect it (my macro is terrible).  IS there a specific time to expand, or do I just go when I have a large enough army to defend it?

Finally, this may sound dumb, but could you post some more of your games on SC2replayed?  I learn mostly by watching others, and if I could see YOU putting these strategies to work, it would help ME figure out how to.

Thank you again very much and I look forward to your next post(s).

intrinsc's picture

What do you mean by Food?

iWINuFAIL's picture

Food is the amount of supply.  Each unit costs anywhere from 1-6 food.  As you get close to being capped, called "supply-blocked" you build another depot, overlord, or pylon.

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