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DeMusliM's Marine Hellion Timing

By FvRCrank - 9th May 2012 - 21:02 PM

I take pride in playing a standard macro Terran style as I think it takes so much more understanding, skill, patience and dedication than learning one or two timing attacks that either win or they don't. Unfortunately this has resulted in me picking up "standard" and "macro player" labels - when I enter a tournament, specifically within my local SEA scene, people recognise me and know that I'm going to focus upon my macro so they metagame me - specifically in TvZ.

In order to deal with this I have begun exploring different playstyles. One playstyle that I have been focusing on of late is this wonderful early pressure build by EG's DeMusliM which has the potential to do insane amounts of damage to a Zerg who elects to take a fast third and/or skip Banelings.

The Idea

The Idea behind this build is to push out with a powerful timing in order to kill a greedy Zerg's third while starting your own. By only taking 1 gas DeMusliM is able to create a very large army and push out from his base as 3 key upgrades finish simultaneously - Stim, Combat Shiled and +1 Infantry Weapons.

The Build

10 Depot
12 Barracks - produce 3 Marines
16 Orbital
16 Refinery
Expand when 400 minerals
Factory when 100 gas
Reactor on Barracks when 50 gas - don't switch this onto Factory
2 more Barracks as money permits (somewhere around 24 food) - Tech Labs when finished
~6:30 Engineering Bay
@100 gas Stim
@100 gas +1 infantry
@100 gas Combat Shields
9:00 CC inbase
Push at around 9:30 when all critical upgrades are finished.

As DeMusliM pushes he adds on his refineries, extra Barracks and a Starport and heads toward standard Marine-Tank-Medivac play.

Early Game

Delaying gas till 16 allows us to start a Command Centre much earlier which is very important for this build as it is so mineral-centric. You really want your expansion up as fast as possible in order to get out more workers and have them more optimally saturated in order to make the timing that much stronger. Delaying gas till 16 can also confuse your opponent into thinking you are going for a gasless FE this can be either good or bad.

The good half of it is that some Zergs will realise that you are going to be in a defensive posture momentarily while you secure your natural so they may cut a few more corners. This is good because you are doing a build designed to punish greed.

The bad is that there are also Zergs out there that see a gasless FE and see this as an invitation to do some form of Baneling bust or DRG-esque Roach all in. I will talk about how to scout for and deal with this later.

Pressuring your Zerg Opponent

DeMusliM chooses to move out with his first 3 Marines and an SCV in order to pressure his opponent. He explained on his stream that this is because most Zergs only make 4 Zerglings this early in the game which you can easily kill with stutter step micro. This then forces the Zerg to either make more Zerglings or allows you to kill a couple of Drones. Personally I don't like the 3 Marine pressure, I much prefer to do fake Bunker pressure but this is purely personal preference. I feel that the fake Bunker pressure is easier to execute and can cause a far greater reaction in your opponent than trying to micro 3 Marines to perfection and possibly missing a Depot or starting a Tech Lab a few seconds too late. Whatever you choose to do it's up to you but you really should consider doing something - even if it's as small as walking around the map with your Marines hunting for Overlords until speed timing approaches.

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I like to place a Bunker In the mineral line like this. By using the stop building command you can path the SCV through the Bunker so that either the Bunker definitely finishes or the Zerg player has to pull more Drones to kill the SCV. You are also forcing the Zerg to split up his Drones to kill a Marine and an SCV if you rally your first Marine straight to their natural. By running the Marine around and using stop building command you can usually get this Bunker up with a Marine in it and cause some slight damage.

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In this game DeMusliM goes for a 3 Marine poke and there are no Zerglings out at the time so he uses the SCVto build a Bunker. I don't think he realistically expects it to finish, I think it's more just to make the Zerg player panic, but he does force extra Zerglings and the Zerg player cannot mine from his natural until the Marines are dealt with.

Scouting and Creep

The obvious weaknesses of this build is it's lack of map control due to not going for the standard super fast Reactor Hellions. This can lead to Baneling bust or DRG-esque Roach all in's being very powerful so it is extremely important to learn how to scout for these.

With your scouting SCV it is important to get as much information about your opponents gas as possible. If the Zerg goes for a fast gas and doesn't pull out after the initial 100 gas then this is an indication that you may be facing fast Roaches. There is always the possibility that they are meta-gaming you but I won't get into that - the important thing to note is that this is an indication that this pressure might be coming. You wan't to cross things off of a list of possibilities rather than add to a list of certainties. Another indication that pressure might be headed your way is that the Zerg player doesn't build a Spine Crawler at his natural - most Roach/Zergling all ins skip this.

When your first Hellion pops you want to send it across the map asap because you need to tell if any of the aforementioned aggression is incoming. You should reach the Zerg players base as he is gearing up to leave if he intends to do super fast Roach pressure or some kind of Baneling bust which gives you plenty of time to produce some Marauders and throw up Bunkers. You might have to delay one of your upgrades momentarily in order to have the gas to produce a couple of Marauders but this isn't an issue - if you hold this kind of aggression without losing too much you come out ahead and can transition into standard play.

If the Zerg is sitting back and playing the standard defensive macro style then you want to skirt around the edges of his base to see anything you can and deny Creep spread. Because we are forgoing the reactor on the Factory the Zerg might have already pushed out their Creep spread a little. you can choose to burn a scan if you deem that it is necessary. Keep in mind that unless they made a 3rd Queen that every active creep tumour is one less Inject so if the Zerg tried to get out as many as they could before your Hellions arrived then they have less Drones, and every Tumour they have to replace because you kill it with your Hellions has the same effect. You have to be very careful at this stage as it is really important to babysit the Hellion as it can be easily caught off guard by a handful of Zerglings. Continue to rally out Hellions as they finish until you have the standard 4 and then hide the rest - you don't want to reveal your hand too early. It is very important that you don't lose these Hellions because that will drastically weaken your push. Pull the Hellions back just before the 9:00 mark so that you don't lose them (This is when a zerg player hits saturation on 2 bases and starts to pump out a few rounds of units in order to secure a 3rd).

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As tempting as it is sometimes to want to dart in and scream "LINE EM UP" do not, do not, do not do this. A good player isn't going to just sit back and let you roast all their Drones. They will have Queens in place to defend, will split Drones and surround your Hellions and you will lose them. The one exception to this is if you see the zerg player uproot their Spine Crawler to push it forward. If this happens and the Zerg doesn't have any units you can dart forward and kill a single Drone, maybe two and then run back out to safety.

The Push

You want to time your move our so that you are encroaching upon Zerg territory just as your upgrades finish. As soon as your upgrades finish your army becomes the strongest it will ever be and this is the exact point where you can trade the most cost efficiently. The longer you wait the more time you are giving to the Zerg to player to catch-up. Conversely, if you move out too soon and the Zerg manages to catch you off guard you can be in a world of trouble - especially if Stim hasn't quite finished yet.

Just before I move out I like to clear the towers one more time with Hellions so that my opponent might miss my army moving across the map. A good player will send out another Zergling or some other method of scouting as soon as you make them blind like this but you can still catch the occasional player off guard even at the highest levels. If you chose to do this you have to babysit the Hellions though because, as I explained earlier, your push will be significantly weaker.

The Idea of this build is to punish a fast third so that is where this push is headed. There are a few possibilities as to what can happen here (at least in my experience so far):

1) Fast third with lots of +1 Zerglings

In my experience if this is what you are up against this is the best possible scenario you could wish for. Hellions and Marines with +1 attack, Stim and Combat Shield will cleave through a mass of Zerglings like they are practically nothing. Just be careful not to overstim, only Stim once the Zerglings are well and truly on top of you or you are in a position where the Zerg is forced to engage you (such as the Hatchery is just about to fall). Depending upon how well the engagements went for you it is possible to continue the push into the Zerg's natural. Be mindful of how you engage as you do this, don't have Hellions wasting their time shooting at Queens or Spine Crawlers if there is something more useful they could be shooting at.

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This Zerg player thought that he would be able to hold any early pressure with his large number of 1/1 Zerglings. He was wrong.

2) Fast third with Roaches

Depending upon how many Roaches you are facing this can still be okay. +1 stim Marines can make pretty short work of Roaches if the engagement is right. If you feel like there are too many Roaches then it's possible to fall back and secure your own third while getting out Medivacs and Tanks. I find Roach play particularly easy to drop against so the one time I was up against a mass Roach build I decided to fall back and wait for Medivacs while securing my third.

3) Fast third with Banelings

If this is what you see then the outcome is going to come down to who's control is better. If there are only a couple of Banelings then try and focus fire them and you should be fine. If there are more than a few then you have to pull off some pretty incredible splits. Such as these:

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4) No Third

In this situation the Zerg is most likely going for 2 base Mutalisk. It is possible to push into a Zergs natural with this build depending upon the map. If a Zerg is going for 2 base Muta then either you are going to reduce their Muta numbers because you are forcing them to spend gas on Banelings or you are going to kill them because they have just spent all their gas on Mutalisks but they haven't popped yet. It can be okay against 2 base Mutalisks depending upon your control but If they are going for a massive Roach, Baneling, Zergling mid game timing attack then put your tail between your legs and run. Pusing into a 2 basing Zerg can be dangerous with this build and I would only recomend it if you have good game sense and can really identify what the Zerg is doing. In the third game against Violet I have linked to below you can see this situation happen to DeMusliM in a game and he decides not to do the push and instead get slightly faster tanks out.

As you push out you want to be adding on on your refineries, extra Barracks and a Starport in order to head towards standard Marine-Tank-Medivac play. The strength of this build lies in the fact that you aren't just using a timing push to deny a Zerg's fast third but that you are also using this timing to distract the Zerg in order to secure a third of your own and to tech up to Tank/Medivac. It can be very difficult to babysit your army as you move out while adding on extra production facilities and staying on top of your macro but if you are able to keep track of everything then this really is a powerful build.