TvZ Pioneer Style

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Australia Rostered Member for Proxiteam March 28 2011 20:06Posts: 274
Disclaimer: Pretty much all opinion, so don't get upset :P Also I make no claim to inventing this style, or this mix (its basically biomech), its just my take on it.


Firstly the reason why I decided to share my take on TvZ is because I have a lot of success with it, and I wanted to throw it out there because fight was a little bit unimpressed with my style on the weekend. I wanted to just clarify why it works for me, and why I went the way I did.

The fundamental basis of this build, and my reasoning behind it is to eliminate the three greats strengths of zerg in TvZ, and highlight the greatest strengths of terran. My intentions were to minimise zerg ability to play the way they most prefer, and to minimise the inherent weaknesses in my own play in regards to how I play terran.

Zerg Strengths and Weaknesses:

Through my own analysis of my play and zerg I am often matched against, I decided I wanted to minimise the effects of banelings, muta harassment, the expansions rates of zerg, and most importantly their overwhelming mobility. These things were always a challenge for me in my early sc2 days, and I didn't manage them as effectively as I wanted to, most importantly for me, I found I wanted consistency in how I played the matchup.

What I wanted to accentuate was the inherent weakness of zerg armies, the fragility of using so many banelings, and I wanted to match their quick transitions with my own. I also really wanted to make the zerg have multiple areas of focus as well as sections of the map that were not viable to engage on. I find Xel'Naga caverns is ideal for this style, because the angles of attack tend to generally all go in one way for most of the game.

Strengths and Weaknesses of Terran Play in Regards to my Own Play:

I am too fragile with my tank usage, impatience and aggression get the better of me, so I tend to get into engagements with unsieged tanks (not so good), and often times I play a little too slowly to manage both my macro as well as tank placement (the way I want it to be anyway). As this jeopardizes my marine+tank play, I get a feeling of fragility, esp when zerg is gaining momentum. I also am not very fond of the immobility of tanks, I don't like that 1 extra step of un-siegeing if I need to retreat.

My strengths are pretty good control, and my macro is very strong (at the moment its fucking terrible, but I haven't been playing as much as I would like to). I also tend to play fairly safely and expand often, since I prefer an expanding, macro style of play, with prodes and good angled approaches.

What Came Next:

At this point I decided I wanted to incorporate anti-air to deter the transition into mutas (by making its not viable), but I also wanted to use that deterrent as a mainstay of my army, this is where the thor comes in. My idea was based around the colo usage, I wanted to use the thor in a comparable way, but with differing dynamics. I wanted to use it as primarily the anti-muta force, so that I was safe to move out and could defend well. I also wanted to use them as baneling sponges to protect the marines, which were the primary damage dealers.

So I decided a bio mech mix, thor and marine early would be very suitable, allows for a fast transition into marauders (swapping buildings around), allows for protection from mutas, allows for a fast(ish) expo, and most importantly allows for all the late tech units I want to use in TvZ (for example tanks, hellions, and vikings for when they inevitably go broodlords.) This mix was mainly to allow me to have the strength and positional power of a terran army, as well as a moderate level of mobility (key consideration is when must I incorporate medivacs and harassment.)

The Build

Effectively I always try to fast expo when playing vs Zerg, as I like to be on par with them expansion wise, but I expand in a reactionary fashion. If I don't fast expo I go blue flame hellion into the usual build, hellion because I don't want to get too far behind in workers.

I am not going to write a food list as its pretty flexible, but I usually open 12rax 13gas orbital at 15. So usually if I see zerg fast expoing I'll pull workers from gas and 1rax expand, I try to have 100 gas saved to drop a factory as soon as CC is started. At this point I generally go factory, rax, factory. So its 2 rax 2 fact. I take both gases when I expand (because upgrades are expensive and so are thors). Once I get enough saturation I add more production, and here is where its completely open to what you see. If I don't see a chance of aggression I'll get fast medivacs and try take a fast third (can be very flimsy).

Timing of harass (generally drops or blue flame) and when you get medivacs is SUPER important, as they can cost you the game if zerg pushes when you are adding this, but I find bunkers can help you hold for a very long time if you tech hard. +1 thor damage is critical to get fast, and +1/1 on marines is also needed fairly quickly. Secure all far away sections of your base with turrets, and transition into tanks once third is up.

The Tactics

Like I mentioned harassment timing is important, so is when you go for those units, I always make hellions early while waiting for armoury, so that is handy for making zerg make a few extra zerglings or whatever they choose. Roaches aren't really a concern, for this style, they have to get so many to match up and that way it becomes pretty hard for them to drone.

Anyway engagement tactics basically require good spread of marines and thors. You don't want to expose your thors completely, but you don't want them stuck behind either, can cost you ALOT of resources. Engagement should be always focussed down the same path, and reinforcing should happening down this line, try not to have a line of units when moving out as well.

ITS critical to stay on par with zerg on expansions, or more importantly income. Harass if they are ahead in expansions, expand aggressively if they are on par. Also expanding on your attack path is very key to the success of your labours, you don't want to get runby as often.

I generally try to out upgrade zerg, and most importantly i get +1 attack first on thors, then only armour, until I am at 3.

Positionally I try to bounce between my natural and my third, more so because of runbys, but in a map like Tal-Darim Altar, there are a few spots you can leave your who army, and a few turrets, and you will find you are safe.

Basically you have to force zerg to engage you as often as possible, so scout often and throw up some sensor towers if you have the $$$. You can have great success from hitting the same spot over and over again, and just driving the same line. Thats how I play it anyway.

Strengths and Weaknesses of the Build

Its pretty damn flimsy for alot of timings, and you need to be very aware of when you should attack, so scouting becomes mega important. Its pretty bad vs broodlords, if you miss the transition, you get screwed, and can say bye bye pretty quickly, fortunately if you get the timing, you can do ALOT of damage before they get broodlords out and you get vikings out. Finally I think the biggest problem is, the tank is a far better damage dealer than the thor, and thors offer you less control of terrain, so positioning and decision making becomes more important as game progresses, also importantly have a far away third makes this build pretty fragile.

To me the most important strength is it allows for really fast transitions. You get this delicious taste of mech and bio, and it allows you to flip between the two really efficiently if you need to focus on 1 aspect more than the other, also allows for transitions into air, and for me, the best feature is the lack of mobility with tanks, gets minimised (not removed though, thors are so slow).

Final Thoughts

Its something different to try, and you can get pretty creative with it, so I hope you enjoy this wall of text and if you have any criticism or questions, by all means go right ahead, I would love to discuss how to improve it. Also just as a side note, this gets me about a 90% winrate vs zerg, and has worked for me at all levels, but I again make no claim its amazing. Why does it work so well for me? I am not top tier, and neither are my opponents. When they lost the bulk of their banelings I can reinforce quickly with marines and hellions. It just makes sense for me to try and expose what I think the weaknesses of bling, ling , muta are.
Anyways enjoy ^^
Australia March 28 2011 20:15Posts: 305
Am i incorrect in saying that this strategy sums up basically to the same style of play as marine tank, except with thors rather than tanks? and you get tanks in the late game anyway?

I would have thought that bling/muta/ling would be fine to handle this, unless you had phenomenal marine micro?

Im just trying to understand the differences better, maybe some reps would be good?
Im also not sure how tvz has changed in the recent patch, as i haven't laddered much yet (waiting for next season).
Australia Rostered Member for Proxiteam March 28 2011 20:27Posts: 274
Ill get some decent replays up when I get home, currently at work (being productive lol).

Basically almost identical except you get hellions in the mix and you gain a bit more mobility. For me the most important thing is minimising the threat of mutas. Because they go heavy on mutas, you WILL win, its inevitable, too many thors and marines, make mutas very fucking shit.

Like I said my control is good, but I wouldnt say phenomenal. Good spread and a few hellions up the front, and you will see very 1 sided battles, esp if you repair your thors (I keep scvs back when engaging to save them effectively. I always found myself around 2-3 thors left after big fights, and nothing for zerg, so fast marine reinforce is really critical if you want to continue pushing. Ideally you will remove a shit tonne of blings from the field in your first major engagement.
Australia Rostered Member for Proxiteam March 28 2011 22:48Posts: 1000
Wow, kudos on the effort! I will have to read this one when I get a bit of time :)

aka swAMi. Melbourne! ADMIN
Australia Rostered Member for Proxiteam March 28 2011 23:31Posts: 274
My pleasure, I am gonna do some drawings later to demonstrate my attack path choices, and will clarify ideal timings for pushes and drops, but for the moment I r busy
Australia Rostered Member for Proxiteam March 29 2011 00:18Posts: 1000
I read it. Enjoyed it. Sounds appealing to me since my main problem ATM with tvz is unit composition. Thanks for the quality post :D
aka swAMi. Melbourne! ADMIN
Australia March 29 2011 00:22Posts: 393
Time to think up some counters =D

Baneling busts seem pretty strong against it if u can hide the aggression ie: not having someone on teamspeak going "Are you going to baneling all in him?!?!?!?" quote fight.
Australia Rostered Member for Proxiteam March 29 2011 15:49Posts: 274
Haha well the defense is pretty much the same as all baneling busts, hold out that first one with whatever you have, use fact for wall, and just bunker behind supply depot if you use it. I am quite sure every T is smart enough to wall against a Z anyways. Just hope you have a bunker up for marines is the main thing, protect the poor buggars.

Funny thing about the baneling bust, if you watch the replay I heard fight saying are you going to BB him? and managed to see them coming with the XNtower just as he was coming over. But yeah, I still voicechat cheated bahaha ;)

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