TvT TaeJa’s HotS Banshee Build

General Overview

This aggressive build used by Liquid`TaeJa and many other top level Korean Terrans opens with a very standard Banshee build adapted to Heart of the Swarm and the cheaper Banshee Cloak upgrade.  The Banshees are used to stay safe against early attacks as well as harass your opponent.

This build is VERY closely related to Polt’s Gas First Banshee Build – TaeJa’s version is just a Barracks first variant of Polt’s build.

Build Order

  • 10 – Supply Depot
  • 12 – Barracks
  • 13 – Refinery
  • 16 – @100% Barracks, start constant Marine production
  • 17 – Orbital Command
  • 17 – Supply Depot
  • 18 – @100 Gas, start Factory
  • @50% Factory, start 2nd Refinery
  • @100% Factory, start Starport, Tech lab on Factory, and Reactor on Barracks
  • @100% Starport, swap Starport onto Factory’s Tech lab and start Banshee Cloak and Banshee production
  • Harass your opponent when your first Banshee pops (@6:30ish).  You should have 8 Marines, 1 Banshee, and 25 SCVs.

Scouting

SCV scout after you start your 1st Refinery to check whether or not your opponent is opening with Reapers.  Against an opponent opening Reapers, be sure to position your Marines on the high ground where your opponent’s Reaper(s) are most likely to hop up.  Against a non-Reaper player, feel more safe; thus, you should try to deny your opponent vision of whether you have taken gasses in your main or expanded at your natural with your first few Marines.

Your next scout will come with your Banshee.  With this Banshee, you can check what your opponent’s opener is.  Against another Banshee player, follow-up your first Banshee with a Raven (and then potentially Viking if extra anti-air is needed).  Against a Hellbat dropping player, make a few Widow Mines to burrow defensively against any incoming drop, as you use several Banshees to out-harass him.  Against a player going for a Widow Mine Drop, position your Marines defensively at home and be sure to have enough scans to deal with his Widow Mines.  Building a Raven might be useful, but not until after you have 2 Banshees with which to harass your opponent.

Finally, be sure to keep an eye out on what midgame transition your opponent is doing.  Look for multiple Factories (signalling Mech play) or a researching Barracks Tech lab (signalling Bio play).  Also be sure to keep tabs on your opponent’s base count: if he has not started a natural expansion before your Banshee has finished its harass, start Siege Tanks of your own as soon as possible to defend a 1 base all-in incoming your way.

Transitions

Because this build opens with every tech building, this build transitions quite strongly into either all-in, macro Marine/Tank, or macro Mech play quite easily.

For an all-in transition, start a Tech lab on your Factory and start Siege Tank production instantly.  When you hit 2 or 3 Siege Tanks, grab all of your Marines (>20), your Banshees/Vikings, and attempt to break your opponent’s front with a slow siege push.

It is possible to go into Marine/Tank or Mech after a 3 Command Center follow-up if you are sure your opponent will not be going for any more early game pressure.  Start a Raven in order to save enough minerals to afford 2 Command Centers and then transition into either Marine/Tank or Mech just as below.

When transitioning into macro Marine/Tank play be sure to start your Siege Tank production after you start a 2nd Command Center.  That way you have enough defense early and later can have a strong army going into the midgame.  When you can afford it, start 2 more Barracks with Tech labs for Stimpack and Combat Shields and an Engineering Bay to start your Infantry upgrades.  If you see your opponent playing Mech, then you can go for either a Marauder/Tank build like Polt is famous for or going for a pure Bio play style with 8+ Barracks pumping out as many Marauders as you can afford.

When transitioning into Mech play, the most standard follow-up is starting your Siege Tank count while you take a quick in-base 3rd Command Center.  Then, starting 2 Factories and an Armory to start your Mech upgrades will take you into the mid game.  Be sure to take all your Refineries before you need the gas, and try to safely secure your 3rd base with a healthy Siege Tank count in order to mine from the 6 gas geysers you need to fund a strong Mech army.

Tips

  • If you scout your opponent going for early Reapers, be sure to position your Marines on the high ground above a hop-up ledge that your opponent is most likely going to use.
  • Watch for any burrowed Widow Mines your opponent might be using defensively to stop your Banshee as you enter your opponent’s base.  Cloak your Banshee as soon as you see any potential for burrowed Widow Mines.
  • Use your Banshee to pick off any enemy SCVs that are undefended by a Turret.  If you are transitioning to a 1/1/1 all-in, then be sure to target-fire Marines as well.
  • Always favor keeping your Banshee(s) alive over doing a little bit more damage.
    • The promise of continued harass is a lot more useful than an extra SCV kill or two.
    • You can also repair a weakened Banshee at home with SCVs if you can keep it alive.
  • If during your harass you scout your opponent going for a 1 base all-in, then start Siege Tank production as soon as possible in order to hold your natural.  You can also use your Banshee(s) to delay the attack for quite some time unless your opponent created a Raven.
  • Do NOT produce more than 4 Banshees.  Each Banshee you produce takes a considerable amount of gas that could otherwise be spent on beefing up your midgame army such as by getting Stimpack, Siege Tanks, or upgrades.

Pros and Cons

This build is a standard, aggressive opener in TvT that both scouts and stays safe in the early game.  Also, this build is quite versatile when it comes to transitions, for you are able to transition into an all-in, 3 Command Center play, macro Marine/Tank, or macro Mech play.  Also, this build requires a lot less APM than other TvT builds, so it can be very useful for lower league players.

However, this build is not quite as effective at killing workers as a Widow Mine Drop into Banshee build.  Also, this build sacrifices upgrades in favor of tech, as you will often be behind your opponent in the Stimpack research or Engibay/Armory upgrades, especially if they open with a fast expansion.  Finally, if your opponent defends this build with a 1rax FE without taking any damage, then you will have a tough time trying to deal with midgame bio timings and drops unless you position your Siege Tanks quite defensively.

Favorable Maps

This build is very strong on maps with smaller cliff ranges that Reapers can jump up, encouraging non-Reaper builds and 1rax FEs.  Also it is stronger on maps with lots of air space for Banshees to sneak around in.

  • King Sejong Station
  • Overgrowth
  • Catallena
  • Foxtrot Labs
  • Nimbus

Replays

TaeJa performing this build against Polt in WCS AM Season 2

Innovation performing this build against FanTaSy in Proleague

TaeJa’s HotS Banshee Build Tutorial Replay vs a Very Easy AI