The Evolution of StarCraft Armies - Early Game Terran
In this continuation of Ten Ton Hammer's exploration of the evolution of Starcraft armies we look at the Terrans. Terran was a versatile race in Starcraft, with the enviable ability to float and repair their structures; Blizzard has improved on this versatility and coupled with their race defining infantry and siege tanks Terrans are a force to be reckoned with.
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Medics & Firebats: Wait, what medics? StarCraft II has removed the StarCraft medic completely, drastically affecting the early game. Firebats are also gone, zerglings rejoice! These changes have completely changed the zerg vs terran game.
Ghost: The ghost has been slightly revamped from its original state. The lockdown ability is gone, but cloak and nuke capabilities remain. The ghost can now use EMP rounds and snipe. Snipe is a low energy ability that attacks an enemy for 45 damage ignoring armor - this is devastating against weak caster type units like high templar.
EMP has been taken from the now obsolete science vessel and been given to the ghost. Rather than completely draining shields it now does 100 damage to shields. It still drains all energy from targeted units. Now EMP also reveals cloaked units for a limited period of time.
Marauder: Terran's new early-game tank. Marauders are heavily armored space marines that deal big damage against other heavily armored units. These are built out of the barracks, but require a tech lab upgrade.
Marauders are mixed in with marines early on to form a deadly ranged force. These units have more armor than marines and can tank fairly effectively against melee units like zealots and zerglings. This unit is similar to the zerg roach, though less agile -- they also can only attack ground units.
Reaper: The reaper is a cliff jumping, rocket pack using, gun toting marine. These units are extremely agile and used for harassment. They also have an upgrade available that allows them to throw a bomb at a ground target that explodes after two seconds for significant damage.
Reapers have the ability to jump up and down cliffs, effectively bypassing choke points which makes them ideal for harassing mining units and structures. This unit requires a barracks with a tech lab to produce and can only attack ground units.
Early Game Tactics
The early strategy of amassing a strong economy and teching has not changed. Terrans, with their ability to burrow their supply depots, can easily block their chokes - unlike in StarCraft where a properly blocked choke required intimate knowledge of each map. The choke block allows terrans to easily defend themselves from enemies with a minimal army while teching, however with banelings' ability to destroy chokepoints in a matter of seconds, and new cliff jumping units that bypass choke points this is a riskier strategy than it used to be.
Terrans now will often amass a small early army even if they are planning to tech, maybe throwing down a bunker near their minerals as a safety precaution, whereas in Starcraft they could tech to factory units without producing a single marine.
- Terran vs. Protoss - Versus protoss, terran will often opt to close off their base then proceed quickly to tier two for siege tanks and their other powerful mechanical units. Terran barracks units do not match up well against stalkers and zealots, and become fodder later into the game against the colossus and psionic storm. For this reason terrans often opt to skip tier one and proceed directly to tier two. They can do this without losing a significant resource advantage because of their ability to build a second command center within their base during tech time, then float it to an expansion when they are ready to fortify the area outside their base.
- Terran vs. Zerg - Against zerg, it is usually necessary for terrans to take a different tack. Zerg have the ability to secure and operate an extremely early expansion and can quickly attain and insurmountable resource advantage if left to their own devices. For this reason, terrans cannot sit back and tech. Their later tech is also not amazingly effective against zerg's weapon of choice when they are flush with resources, mutalisks. Clever terrans will find ways to disrupt zerg's early expansions, be it by bunker rushes, strong micro with marines and scvs, or by using reapers to harass zerg's drones and slow down their economy.
The terran marine & marauder army matches up well against zerg roaches and annihilates zerglings. It also gives terran a strong counter if the zerg decides to go mutalisks. In this sense the dynamic is similar to original Starcraft, however the lack of medics, and the addition of the powerful roaches has made this early matchup in Starcraft II much more of a slugfest than the one sided matchup it was in Starcraft.
- Terran vs. Terran - much different than it used to be! In Starcraft, terran mirror matches tended to center around mech wars, with tanks , vultures, and goliaths dominating the map. The lack of goliaths (yes, they are gone too) has made marines much more of a factor in the matchup because they present the most viable counter to air units. An early game strategy centered around marauders and marines out of a couple barracks is typical and effective. It provides adequate defense with units that don't become obsolete at tier two, while giving the player the ability to severely punish their opponent if they try to tech without defense. This matchup inevitably becomes a war of siege tanks, but getting a strong marine army early on is vital.
The mobility of terran structures also plays a larger role in Starcraft II than it did in Starcraft because of the advent of high yield mineral nodes. Terrans now often have opportunities to float their command center at the beginning of the match to a high yield mineral supply. This leaves them vulnerable for a small window of time, but will provide a devastating advantage if they manage to secure it.