Terran 101: A Guide To Improve With

You want to start playing Terran, you already play them and you want to improve? Get your tips here!

Terran 101: How To start out with Terran in Legacy of The Void

Legacy of the void has brought about some very big changes to the Starcraft 2 landscape. New units for each race, new tactics and changes on build orders all due to the new expansion. For those players coming from Heart of the Swarm or even Wings of Liberty, the game has become unrecognizable. This guide will focus on the Terran race and how they have been affected. This beginner’s guide aims to provide new or older players with a basic knowledge of how to improve and some of the key concepts they should learn. I’ll also provide a build order for what I consider an easy to follow build that should help out all lower league players regardless of the match up. I would suggest this guide to players between Bronze and Platinum league. What follows is what got me into Diamond league in both Heart of the Swarm and Legacy of the Void.

Constant production

This is the very basic and most common piece of advice on forums, streams and other guides around. In lower leagues it often comes down to producing more units than
your opponent. This comes down to constantly making SCV’s and making sure your production buildings, i.e. Barracks, Factory and Starports, are producing. Even at the higher levels of play you’ll see players not producing during attacks, while dropping Marines, etc. Improving in this aspect will make sure you are never out of units and you’ll be able to support your production with a decent economy.

Expand early and at a faster rate

One of the biggest changes in Legacy of the Void is that you’ll start out with 12 workers. This makes the beginning of each game quicker, but also implies that you’ll need to expand earlier compared to Heart of The Swarm. Minerals are also mined out earlier, forcing you to keep up a steady pace of expanding throughout the game to ensure you can afford to put down production buildings and constantly produce units. To give you an idea of the rate of expanding, some greedy players will be aiming to add their 3rd around the 4 to 5 minute mark. Compared to Wings of Liberty and Heart of The Swarm this is crazy, but in Legacy of The Void it has rapidly become the standard.


Scouting is an essential part of Starcraft 2 and you’ll have to learn it in depth to excel at higher levels. Personally I find it extremely rewarding to scout and to make a good decision based on it, which in turn helps me to either get an advantage or to outright win the game. I’ll be going over the most basic scouting tips against the different races. When playing against Protoss you must always scout the number of gasses they have taken. Usually they’ll play standard and take one gas. If you scout 2 gasses I suggest you prepare for aggression. This aggression could be several things, but I would always watch out for proxy Oracle. Keep at least 6 Marines in your mineral line until you have been able to confirm what’s coming your way or until you get your engineering bay and turrets. A second thing you need to scout for against Protoss is their expansion. If you do not see an expansion by 2 minutes, you can expect an all-in.

I suggest scouting in the main base and if they deny it, use a scan. It could be a lot of things such as Blink-Stalkers, Dark Templar, mass Adepts etc. So you need to have a good idea of what is headed your way. To cover yourself on most bases get a bunker at the front, turrets in the mineral lines and Marines at the ready in your base. Getting a Marauder or 2 also really helps against Stalkers. The third thing to scout for is a dead giveaway, the Protoss plans to do a cannon rush. If you scout early and see a Forge building, make a bunker and get Marauders. A nice little video about scouting versus Protoss is this one by Nathanias. Don’t mind the build order he does, but try to take away what he scouts for.

Nathanias: Terran versus Protoss scouting

Playing against a Zerg opponent changes things up. Your first scout is usually a reaper, but in this build we’ll be using a scouting SCV. You’ll use it to scout on how they use their gasses. If they take exactly 100 gas out of the extractor, you can assume the Zerg is only getting it for Zergling speed and will then expand/drone. If you see them take 2 gasses early however, they might be banking up gas for tech. I suggest keeping a scouting SCV at the front of the Zerg base to check for troops coming over. When expanding I would always put a bunker at the natural and wall off as soon as possible to secure the natural more easily. Something to also be aware of is when the Zerg takes his lair. The lair provides more tech and also provides the upgrade to allow overlords to transport units. Zergling drops and Baneling drops are also a thing in Legacy of the Void, so you better be prepared for it. Zerg as a race usually plays more reactively, but I would use a scan around the 4 minute mark to scan for something like heavy Roach Ravager, the 5 minute Muta timing and from then on I’d play a more standard game. This video from Lowko, a well known Dutch game content producer, explains some of the basics in terms of micro and macro in the Terran versus Zerg match-up. Be sure to check it out.

LowkoTV: learning micro and macro in TvZ

Terran opponents are also pretty tricky. You’ll be aware of the possibilities of the race, but Terran is extremely versatile. The most common cheese to defend against is proxy Reapers or 3 Barracks Reapers. Against Terran I usually send my SCV out around 14 supply and scout the most prevalent proxy locations and then instantly go to the enemy base. You can’t miss it if they go for Reapers, seeing as you’ll see multiple Barracks and 2 gasses being built. The build I’ll be showing you should be able to hold it, you’ll have defender’s advantage and enough marines to stop it. Don’t be afraid to pull 5-6 SCV’s to buffer for your army. The opponent is already sacrificing economy for the aggression, so you should be fine afterwards. Beyond that you should spread marines out across the map, to gain map awareness and to stop things like a tank push. If you see 12 marines and 2-3 tanks coming across the map, you should gather all your marines and meet them on the map. You should be able to kill it. If you feel you need more, pull SCV’s with the marines. These two things were the most common for me as a lower level player and were both easily stopped if scouted in time.

Hotkeys and Control Groups

Next up would be the use of hotkeys and control groups. Whereas this becomes increasingly important as you go to the higher levels of play, I’ll be talking about using location hotkeys and basic control groups for your production buildings, army and possibly workers. In terms of using the mini-map, a lot of players out there are constantly scrolling their way across the map. This is considered easy, but it is actually not efficient at all. Using location hotkeys, personally I use the F1 to F5 keys for bases 1 to 5 respectively, will cut down on the time spent scrolling. It will also increase your reaction times because you’ll be able to select units and immediately jump back to defend a base, adjust rally points and so on. For my control groups I’ll use the 1 to 8 buttons on my keyboard and I’ll hotkey several units on them. For example, I’ll hotkey my army to 1, 2 and 3. I have my command centers hotkey’ed to 5 and a drop usually on 4. I use spacebar to put all my production on and I use the Tab-key to tab through them to go to whichever building I need. Another way to hotkey production would be to use the 6 to 8 buttons and for example hotkey the Barracks to 6, Factory to 7 and Starports to 8. I suggest you try those out and see what feels most comfortable to you. There are some great guides out on YouTube to learn how to set up hotkeys and they’ll also go over the benefits and drawbacks of that certain setup. If you look up Nathanias, a well known caster and streamer, on YouTube you’ll be able to find some very nice tutorials. I’ll share the hotkey guide here.

Nathanias: Hotkey Guide

Build Orders

In Bronze/Silver and Gold league I see a lot of players trying to emulate the professionals. I would never suggest this to lower level players, because the meta at that level isn’t even close. Timings are always off, production cycles and macro aren’t where they are supposed to be. I’ll be adding a build order in the article below that has worked for me all the way up to diamond league. I’ll go over its strengths and weaknesses and after that you can give it a go. My suggestion is to focus on stronger macro and production to make sure you outplay the opponent at lower leagues. Once you hit Platinum or Diamond league, you can choose to try out one build order per match-up. This will allow you to focus on 1 thing at a time, while you have the macro and production to back it up.

How I got into Diamond league

I’ll be writing out the build order that got me to Diamond league here. There are some things that you’ll need to know and accept before doing this build. First things first, this build isn’t aiming at getting you into Master league or to shape you into a top notch Starcraft 2 player. This build is made for you to learn how to prioritize SCV’s, expand at a good pace and to get a feeling of how and when to add production. These should lay a strong foundation for you to build upon and should make the transition into new builds easier. Secondly this build order has some inherent weaknesses. An early tech opener could be some trouble, especially once you hit Platinum/Diamond. In lower leagues you might lose bunch of SCV’s, but because you’ll be producing them steadily you can afford to lose some and not be bothered. To avoid being surprised with tech or a strong tank push, it’s essential to position marines on the map to gain map awareness. Finally it’s important for you to realize you’ll be getting an early upgrade advantage and you should exploit that. The build is oriented to make it so you can and should take engagements, seeing as you’ll almost always will be ahead in upgrades.

The Build

14 Depot
16 Rax
17 Rax
19 Orbital
20 Depot
25 CC
26 Depot
31 Rax
-> This concludes the first phase of the build. You have expanded successfully with 3
barracks and should be able to start saturating your natural.
33 Depot
34 Refinery 1 and Refinery 2 in the main base
40 Techlab on Rax with the first 25 gas
-> you can cancel a building marine if it is under 50% completion. The tech lab takes
priority for the Stim-upgrade
46 Stim-Upgrade
-> As soon as Stimpack finishes, upgrade Combat Shields.
50 Double Engi Bay
-> once these are completed, start 1/1 as soon as possible. You will need the upgrade
56 Depot
58 Factory
58 Refinery in Natural
70 Depot
-> Saturate the Refinery you just built in the natural
76 Armory
-> once the Armory is finished, you should also finish 1/1 upgrades. Immediately start 2/2
76 Reactor on Factory
76 Starport
-> As soon as Starport finishes, hotswap with Factory and start producing Medivacs. I
suggest going up to 6 and then switching into Liberator production.
84 3rd CC (around the 6 minute mark)

The Gameplan

After reviewing replays and gaining experience with the build, you’ll want to start adding more aggression to go with the macro. You need this aggression to force units vs Zerg and to gauge the Terran and Protoss players. When playing versus Terran and Protoss you should make a push once you have Medivacs and another push when 2/2 hits. Add a 5-Marine push out to pressure the Terran and Protoss into producing units. This also allows you to defend versus and early Reaper against Terran players. If you scout a Stargate, keep marines at home to ensure you’ll be safe against Oracles. After going 2-2 use your game sense and think about using drops when needed, however do not over-micro them. Against Zerg add a third push, which heads out once Combat Shields are finished. The pressure is very much needed against Zerg, seeing as they will snowball out of control otherwise. Be aggressive!

What Terran comes down to

When learning Terran the basics are to keep your macro up, meaning you spend your minerals on units, buildings and expanding. If you combine that with a steady pace of upgrades, you should be able to push out of the lower leagues. After that, scouting becomes more important and you’ll have to start reacting more to certain strategies you see based on your scouting. Once you get to the next stage you’ll see you have to build your skill set piece by piece, until you complete the puzzle and are able to adapt and overcome. This build is quite unorthodox, but I have tried and coached people into Platinum league with this. Give the build a try and let me know in the comments how things worked out or contact me on my social media.

Twitter: @BelgianSC2
Facebook: BelgianSC2
Gmail: BelgianSC2@gmail.com

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