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StarCraft II - Terran Air Units In-Depth Stats and Strategy

Posted Mon, May 24, 2010 by Stow

Everything that flies in the Terran skies sacrifices everything for one thing--firepower.  The Terran Air Force is frighteningly strong, but has pathetic speed and lackluster durability.  They're also incredibly specialized--there is no one unit that you can mass that will win you the game (well, most of the time!).  Often times Terran Air is a response to something your opponent does, and typically they excel at countering the units they're designed to destroy.  The Raven is the only flying spellcaster in the game, and its unique abilities can turn any battle from a lost cause, to an overwhelming victory.

The Overlord Exterminator.

Hide them carefully, Zerg players!

Vikings


Cost - 150 Minerals, 75 Gas, 2 supply
Build Time - 42 Seconds
Combat Stats - 125 HP, 0 Armor, Armored/Mechanical Armor types in both forms.
    Air to Air Flying Mode - 10 damage, +4 vs. armored, fires two shots per attack.  9 range (!).  Each attack upgrade increases both types of damage by 1.  Can only shoot other air units.  Moderate move speed.
    Ground Assault Mode - 14 damage, +1 per attack upgrade.  6 range.  Can only shoot ground units.
 
Early Game -  Vikings are your go-to against any kind of early signs of total Air strategies.  The moment you see early Stargates, Starports, or a Spire, your next step is to make a Starport with a Reactor to crank out Vikings unless you're planning a Marine-centric counter attack.
 
Keep in mind that while these control the skies, they do not control the skies in small numbers.  A Void Ray will drop a lone viking very easily, but when a cluster of vikings fights a cluster of Void Rays, and you see the Void Rays dying in single volleys, that's when the Vikings are in control.  But against players that know this weakness, they will try to harass anything that comes out of your Starport and prevent you from achieving that level of air superiority.  You may need to backup your Vikings with a Missile Turret or two while you get a good number of them up and running.
 
This strategy emphasizes the main power of the Viking--the ability to strike opposing air units, while remaining under the cover of ground forces/buildings.  The viking is a powerful air to air fighter, but combined with the fact that it can remain over the safety of your ground support while you pick away at the enemy air or Colossi, make the Viking the powerful unit that it is. 
 
Late Game - If capital ships are in the game, Vikings need to be.  A combination of superior range, and a bonus against Armored (which all heavy air is) gives Vikings the punch needed to drop a battleship in only a few volleys.  You can employ these against anything in the skies, but be careful.  When issuing attack commands, Vikings love to cluster up as they approach a target, and leaves them very vulnerable to splash damage such as Thors, Fungal Growth, and Psi Storm.  None of these can outright ruin your Viking force alone, but a couple in quick succession can.  Be careful.
 
Don't even bother with the ground form of these.  The transformation sequence is too long and leaves you too vulnerable, and for the cost, you can just purchase a Marauder and a Marine and get the same level of performance and damage while saving on gas.  If you want to harass from the skies, you should be using....
 

A whole lot of firepower, in a little package.

Just pray you don't get shot back.

Banshees


Cost - 150 Minerals, 100 Gas, 2 Supply
Build Time - 60 seconds
Combat Stats - 140 HP, 0 Armor, Light/Mechanical armor types.  12 damage per attack with +1 damage per upgrade, attacks twice per barrage.  6 range.  Can only shoot ground units.
 
Early Game - The banshee is just a terror to come up against.  Units with a bonus against Light rarely attack air.  Those that do, you probably won't have early on to counter these.  Scout, scout, scout.  Know that you are more than capable of rushing to these and dominating a Zerg early if you can prevent them from seeing it coming.  One banshee will kill a queen.  One banshee will kill a stalker.  One banshee kills a Marine in two volleys (three with Combat Shield).  In short, these are a game changer if you go for one very very early.  To do so, you'll need to sacrifice virtually all gas-type production and go for a heavy wall-in.  Start your factory as soon as possible, and have it build a tech lab as you start your Starport.  When the Starport finishes, lift both the Factory and Starport off and have them exchange places so you can immediately begin Banshee production.
 
Scout early, and see if you can get away with going for an all-in strategy.  The most important aspect of this is preventing a scout from getting into your base.  The moment they see something out of the ordinary -- no tech lab on a barracks, fast Starport, they'll realize something is up.  Once you get 1-2 out, go for broke.  Set your rally point to their base and continue building Banshees, but also construct Marines and prepare for the counter attack should it happen.  From there, it's all in your micromanagement skills.
 
Late Game  - Cloak is a mixed bag.  It is a very expensive upgrade at 200 minerals and 200 gas.   It's also very easily negated, as Overseers build incredibly quickly, Observers are almost always in the field at this point, and Comsat Scans are a dime a dozen once your opponent has an expansion up.  Really, the value of this depends on your ability to make the most of it.  If you get caught going for your opponent's anti-air units and they reveal you, you're likely going to lose them all.  Banshees are frail, frail things.  You need to be especially careful of Thors and Phoenixes at this point.  Both of these will demolish your Banshees in short order.  Phoenixes can be handled by a pack of Vikings, but Thors will just force a retreat if more than one are present.
 
Pick your targets well when using these.  They are great assassins of high value structures and units.  Demolish enemy Ghosts and Templar before they can unleash hell on you.  Raid your opponent's economy if it rests on an edge that you can retreat to.  Don't just have these wail on Warp Gates or units that can't shoot back though--the time you're wasting blasting non-essential structures will turn into time they have to prepare a counter!
 

Somehow, it just isn't the same without the Science Vessel voice.

Ravens


Cost - 100 Minerals, 200 Gas, 2 Supply
Build Time - 60 seconds
Combat Stats - 140 HP, 1 Armor, Light/Mechanical armor types.  No attack, but is a detector. 
 
Auto Turrets - The most basic ability is only useful when harassing.  Dropping 2 of these behind the minerals of your opponent can serve as a great distraction and requires a response.  While not terribly strong, the turrets do have a very high rate of fire and will gun down workers quickly.  The most frustrating part of using these in the heat of battle is placement--they are placed just like a building, so you need a flat, clear piece of land to place this, and multiple turrets must be placed in the same fashion.  It's a difficult ability to spam, so save your energy for the other two fantastic spells.   If your opponent is going for a purely melee force that is coming at you, you may be able to buy some time and put up a better defense by placing a wall of these down ahead of time.  Auto Turrets have 150 HP, 1 Armor, and do a normal damage attack of 8 damage at 6 range.  They last 3 minutes, or 4 with the Durable Materials upgrade (don't bother).
 
Point Defense Drones - Similar to the Defensive Matrix ability from the first game, this deploys a defensive drone that diverts all enemy projectiles in the area to it.  If the projectile can be seen flying through the air, generally it will be diverted to the Drone.  The drone has a limited duration and can only absorb so much punishment before it powers down and projectiles resume normal flight, after about 20 shots.
 
This is an extremely good ability to use in Terran vs. Terran, or Terran vs. Zerg air wars.  All projectiles shot by their respective air units will be destroyed by the drone.  While 20 shots may not seem like much when 20 Mutalisks are in play, by the time the drone is done absorbing the shots, it will be 18 Mutalisks if you have Vikings on the scene.  Generally, using this will force an immediate retreat by your opponent, giving you free shots.  Capitalize, capitalize, and keep in mind these do have a good duration much like the Turret.  If they're not destroyed, they will regenerate their energy slowly over time and provide you with a defensive point to return to if you're overwhelmed.
 
Hunter Seeker Missile -  Blasts the target into tiny pieces, dealing 100 splash damage.  Unfortunately the Missile now has to be launched from a rather low 6 range, meaning your Raven is going to be targeted by any anti-air in the game.  This is especially true when you need to fire these into the middle of clusters of units to get the most damage out of it.  Meaning, you'll now have to sacrifice your Raven more than likely to get off the sexy, 10 Hydralisks killing shot.  What a shame, right?
 
The missile can be avoided.  After it is launched, there is a little red painted target line on the targeted unit, and if it flees for 15 seconds and the missile never reaches it, nothing happens.  The missile runs out of gas and falls to the ground.  This rarely happens in fights, since things get so chaotic and units bump into each other as they try to flee.  You have to be careful when firing this off against mobile air units.  The splash damage does not discriminate between friend or foe, and smart players may try and manipulate it into your units!
 
Generally, Ravens are used in Zerg matchups to spot for burrowed traps and go for Hunter Seeker kills on the inevitable pack of Hydralisks or Mutalisks.  You can put them to good use in any matchup, but it all rides on your ability to use the spells properly and when they matter most.  200 Gas is a lot to spend, and that's not even counting the research necessary to fire off Hunter Seekers.  Could you better use this on more combat units, like a pair of tanks?  This is a decision you have to make yourself!
 

If it's on the ground, the Battlecruiser will beat it.  If it's in the skies, the Battlecruiser will likely still beat it.

Battlecruisers


Cost - 400 Minerals, 300 Gas, 6 Supply
Build Time - 90 Seconds
Combat Stats - 550 HP, 3 Armor, Armored/Massive/Mechanical armor types. 6 range, gains +1 attack on both attack types per upgrade.
    Air to Ground - 10 damage per hit
    Air to Air - 6 damage per hit
 
Early Game, yeah right, let's just skip to Late Game -  The flying masters of the skies, the Battlecruiser returns with a vastly different attack style.  Rather than emptying out everything into one big laser hit, it now fires incredibly fast and incinerates all it hits.  It does damage faster than even a Banshee, without the glaring weakness against air units. Hordes of ground based anti-air, such as Marines or Hydras, will melt much faster under the new machine gun of lasers.
 
I may say 'without a glaring weakness against air', but you have to support these with actual anti air.  Their damage output just doesn't cut it against their heavy air counters-- Void Rays, Vikings and Corruptors will tear apart Battlecruisers at an alarming rate.  However, two of those three are durable, semi-expensive anti air... that dies instantly to our old friend : The Yamato Cannon.
 
The Yamato Cannon has received a slight upgrade, and now does a whopping 300 damage to the target.  This will annihilate any anti air unit instantly, and two will take down anything in the skies.  Properly targeting and getting off the Yamato Cannon before Void Rays can charge up their lasers on your hulls is essential to their survival.  If you're going to go all-in with Battlecruisers and little else, you'd be a fool not to research the big gun.  The moment you reveal these, you need to go for the kill though.  It's very cheap to mass up the counter to these, compared to what it costs you to get them on the field.
 
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