TvZ Hellion/Banshee

General Overview

This fast expand focus on economy early on, while teching up to Hellions and Cloaked Banshees for scouting and early game harass/pressure.  It relies on 3 Marines in a Bunker and Hellions to keep you safe from early Zerg pressure until you’ve transitioned into the midgame.

Build Order

  • 10 – Supply Depot
  • 12 – Barracks
  • 15 – Marine (only 1)
  • 16 – Orbital Command
  • 16 – @400 Mins, start 2nd Command Center
    • Cut SCV production and Marine production until 2 Refineries are started
  • 16 – 2 Refineries (Resume SCV production)
  • 17 – Supply Depot (Resume Marine production)
  • 21 – @100 Gas, start Factory and Bunker
  • 22 – @50 Gas and 100% 3rd Marine, start Reactor on Barracks
  • @100% Reactor, swap off to start Reactored Hellion production (6-8)
  • ————Above is 1rax FE into Reactored Hellion
  • @100% Factory, start Starport and Techlab on Barracks nearby
  • @100% Starport, swap onto Techlab and start Banshee Cloaking Field + Banshees
  • @400 Mins, start 3rd Command Center

Scouting

You cannot afford the minerals to scout your opponent early (before 15 supply), to make sure you are not getting cheesed, so if any 6-9 pools occur, you must hold with your SCVs in your main.  With your first SCV scout, just confirm that your opponent has a natural expansion started – if not, finish your CC on the low ground and lift it up into your main for safety, while you build your bunker at your wall in order to make a roach-proof depot/bunker/depot wall.

Other early pressure (2base roach/ling or ling/bling or mass ling) must be scouted by with your hellions.  Vs mass ling or ling/bling, be sure that you’re kiting with your hellions.  Vs roach/ling or roach/bane, be sure that your banshee is target firing the banes first, roaches second, and lings last.  An emergency marauder or two will really come in handy against roach busts.  Repair the bunker with SCVs, and you should be in good shape.  Remember, later all-ins should be easy to deal with because you’ll have banshees and all hatchery tech army units cannot shoot up.

Transitions

The usual followup to this build is a very fast 3rd CC while your opponent is trying to deal with both hellions on the ground and banshees in the air. Then, once you’ve started your 3 bases, you can either transition into bio, marine/tank, or mech easily enough.

Bio: Research Stim as soon as that techlab finishes.  Double upgrade immediately: in order to get spores to deal with your banshees, zergs must have an evo chamber.  Thus, most zergs will use that evo chamber (or 2) to start upgrades very quickly.  Bio is most effective when ahead on upgrades, so in order to deal with fast zerg upgrades, you have to double upgrade as soon as you can as well.  After laying down your 2 engibays, get to 3base infrastructure ASAP by laying down 6-8 total barracks and swapping your starport onto the factory’s reactor for medivacs.

Marine/Tank: Just as in the bio transition, start Stim and double upgrades after that third is down.  However, as soon as you get those upgrades started, grab all 4 gas geysers, swap off your factory onto the starport’s techlab and start tank production.  You should be able to afford several more barracks as soon as you have the minerals for them, but getting a healthy tank count is paramount.

Mech: Keep making hellions from that reactor, and use your banshees to stay safe against roach busts.  MVP opts to make a lot more banshees than 2-4 in order to also stay safe against roach drops in the mid game and keep harassing a zerg player trying to establish a quick 3rd, 4th and hive army.  After getting your 3rd CC established, start 4 more factories (you may choose to make a medivac from your naked starport now for hellion drops), and either make thors (for mutas) or siege tanks (for roaches) depending on what tech you scout your opponent going.  Timing a big mech attack before hive tech is out is very important, so scanning your opponent’s lair to see when it’s morphing into hive is a great way to see when you should be moving out.  Against roaches, sit back and max out on 3 bases, using your hellions and banshees for map control.  Against mutas, you should be making thors and +1 vehicle plating; note that doing a strong 4thor+hellion/banshee push with +1 armor is surprisingly effective.

Tips

  • You cannot lose your Banshees.
    • Most Zergs make a lot of Queens in order to start creep spread and defend against Hellions/Banshees – however, there are very often holes in their defense where there is no detection or Hellions can run in and kill Drones.  Your job with your first several Banshees should be to find these holes and exploit them.
    • Their third base might be vulnerable as well.
  • Your Banshees/Hellions can very easily stop creep spread in one area with a well placed scan.
  • Do not lose your Hellions to Roaches, merely run them away as your Banshees do work against all Hatchery units that are out of range of an Overseer or Spore Crawler.

Favorable Maps

This build is an all-around good build for most maps.  However, it is much stronger on maps where the third base of Zerg is farther away from the natural, so your Hellions and Banshees can force your opponent’s Queens off creep more often.

  • Cloud Kingdom
  • Daybreak
  • Newkirk District
  • Condemned Ridge
  • Akilon Flats

Replays

ForGG performing this build 8 out of every 10 of his TvZ games from March 2012 till the end of WoL.  Check out his stream VODs for first person replays of this build.

MVP performing this build into Mech vs Nerchio at IEM Cologne

Hellion/Banshee Tutorial Replay vs a Very Easy AI – Note: I sacrifice 1 marine for 1 SCV before 19 supply in this tutorial.  This is merely personal preference.