HeroMarine vs Reynor TSL5 Round 2 Analysis

Analysis of a series where Gabriel "HeroMarine" Segat shows off a low economy mid-game focussed bio style to defeat Riccardo "Reynor" Romiti in a best of five series with a 3-1 score. The match was played on 2020-05-17.

Back in 2012-2014 I used to write a lot of strategy posts on the teamliquid forums, and I’d like to take it up again… 6 years later.

Some examples of my writing:

Starcraft continues to be a hobby I come back to from time to time, so I will do more posts like these. I really admire terrancraft and would like to contribute to Terran strategy knowledge as well.

I’m writing this analysis in the way that I use personally, but if there are some formatting or style differences that you might find better, do let me know!


HeroMarine has provided a first person view of the match against Reynor on his YouTube channel. Subscribe to his channel to encourage him to upload more POV views of his series.

Teamliquid also has the VOD available on twitch.tv.

Should replays become available I will also host them on this website.

Overall Strategy

In each game, the strategy HeroMarine employed is to attack very aggressively on a 3 base economy and play into an extended low-tech mid-game while maintaining about 2.5 mining bases. Due to not attempting to maintain a 3 base economy for the entirety of the game, HeroMarine was able to reduce his attack surface against Reynor’s counterattacks as well as concentrate his forces in higher numbers at earlier times.

The infrastructure build-up played out differently in each game, but converged on a simple pattern: a roughly mid 60 SCV count economy, 8 Barracks (3 Techlabs, 5 Reactors), 2 Factories (1 Techlab, 1 Reactor), and 1 Starport (1 Reactor).

Due to the weak economy nature of the style, there was no late-game transition to air units nor Ghosts.

In the extended mid-game, both players split their forces into relatively evenly sized armies. The interactions between them are mostly to split the opponent’s attention, and rarely to consolidate. Occasionally either player may choose to dedicate between 10 and 20 supply of army as a harassing force, but harassment was not a key feature in these games.

The win condition for the Terran player when playing this type of style is usually to continuously deny bases to the Zerg player, whilst maintaining at least 2.5 mining bases themselves. It might be possible to make a transition to a tech heavy Ghost/Liberator style, but when playing this style it is unlikely that the Terran player will be getting enough resources to do so. And if they were rich enough to afford Ghost/Liberator armies, then they likely are far enough ahead to have won with a dedicated MMMM attack anyway.

Game 1

Tactical Plan

The strategy for each game is the same, but the way to achieve that strategy is different each time.

In this game, HeroMarine will go for an unconventional 2 Reaper opening in order to delay Reynor’s third base.

Afterwards he will get a relatively quick third Command Centre, power up to a three base economy, do a strong timing attack, and build out his infrastructure for an extended mid-game.

Build Order

* 14 Supply Depot
* 16 Barracks // Scout with the SCV that builds this Barracks. The SCV should arrive on most maps around 2:00 into the game at the enemy's natural expansion. If the hatchery is finishing at this time, that means the Zerg player went for a hatch first opening.
* 16 Refinery // Note that he took the "outside" gas of his main base. The gas that is easier for an Overlord to scout. This is actually important, because he wants to hide how many gas geisers he actually takes from Reynor.
* 19 Reaper
* 20 Command Centre // Turn this into an Orbital Command when it is done.
* 20 Supply Depot
* 20 Orbital Command
* @ Reaper 100%, second Reaper
* 23 Bunker // Use the scouting SCV to build this at the opponent's third base
* 24 Factory @ 100 gas
* 26 Barracks Reactor @ 50 gas
* 26 [2:50] Third Command Centre // Turn this into an Orbital Command when it is done.
* @ Barracks Reactor 100%, swap on the Factory and build up to 4 Hellions
  * Barracks Techlab
* 29 Refinery // Note that he took the inside gas of the natural expansion. This is so that if it gets scouted, the Zerg player may be led to believe that both gases have been taken in the main base.
* @ Barracks Techlab 100% research Stim, then Combat Shields, then Concussive Shells as they complete.
* [4:05] @ 4x Hellions, create a new Reactor with the Factory
  * Build 2 new Barracks. 1 on the old Reactor, 1 beside the new Reactor building.
* [4:20] 2x Engineering Bays
* [4:20] Third Refinery // Note that he took the outside gas of the natural expansion. This is to make the Zerg player think that all four gases have been taken.
* 48 Supply Depot // Build Depots as needed from now on
* @ Factory Reactor 100%, create another Reactor, build a Starport, and float the third Barracks onto the previous Reactor.
* [5:00] Float third base onto location
* [5:00] 2x Barracks
* [5:00] 1-1 Infantry Upgrades start
* @ Factory Reactor 100%, swap the Starport onto the Reactor // Build up to 6-8 Medivacs, if Medivacs are lost, replace them.
  * and build another Factory Reactor for Widow Mine production
* [5:35] 4x Missile Turrets // There was no particular tell that Reynor was building Mutalisks, we can assume this is due to player familiarity. Make 1 Missile Turret per mineral line, and 1 to protect addons.
* [6:00] @ Barracks #4/5 100%, Reactors
* [6:10] Refinery
* [6:30] Armoury // We might be able to squeeze this in a few seconds earlier.
* [7:10] Refinery
* [7:30] 2-2 Infantry Upgrades
* [7:40] Factory // Build a Techlab for the Drilling Claws upgrade when this completes.
* [11:40] Fourth Command Centre

Game Notes

  1. HeroMarine sometimes mixes in 1 or 2 Thors into an army against Mutalisk players, but never more.
  2. When splitting infantry against Banelings, the Zerg player isn’t always paying as much attention as the Terran player. Knowing this, the Terran player can leave behind individual Marines in order to distract the AI of the Banelings briefly and let the larger group survive for a bit longer. An example at 11:15
  3. When chasing Mutalisks, only stim some of the army, not all of it. 6:15. This is a consistent pattern. Pay attention for the next few minutes as HeroMarine moves his slower infantry on interception paths towards the Mutalisks. He looks at the direction the Mutalisks are travelling, aims at their destination, and then stims just a small portion of his army to chase them away.
  4. Zerg players will throw Banelings at a group of infantry when they know the Terran player’s attention has been diverted. At 8:30 Reynor distracts HeroMarine with a counterattack at HeroMarine’s third base. As soon as Reynor notices that HeroMarine is beginning to micro at home, he sends his Banelings into the frontline army. Because human attention can only be given in one place at a time, it is extremely important to cycle ones attention between groups of armies the same way one cycles attention between production cycles. That way the window in which the Terran player can be surprised by an attack is reduced significantly. At 9:10 it really pays of for Reynor as a few Baneling connections wipe out the rest of the frontline army.
  5. HeroMarine seems to prefer to position his first Barracks in such a way that it does not require a lift and reposition in order to build an addon. This has an advantage in that it makes all of his openings look identical to any potential scouts.

Game 2

Tactical Plan

In game 2 HeroMarine’s play is to fake a regular Reaper/Hellion opening in order to go for an all-in blue-flame Hellion attack from a second hidden Factory.

If the game isn’t won outright with the attack, the plan is to continue to produce Hellions in order to defend counter aggression, and build up to the same game plan for each game of the series which is the low economy mass bio strategy.

Build Order

* 14 Supply Depot
* 16 Barracks // Produce a Reaper, then a Marine
* 16 Refinery
* 20 Command Centre
* 20 Supply Depot
* 23 Factory
* 23 Refinery
* 24 @ Marine 100%, Barracks Reactor  // This Marine is on Overlord patrolling duty on one side of the base.
* 26 Factory // This Factory is hidden as far away as possible from Overlord scouts in the main base.
* @ Command Centre 100%, Orbital
* @ Barracks Reactor 100%, swap the Factory onto the Reactor to produce Hellions,
  * build a second Marine. // Marine production stops for a while. The second marine is only Overlord patrolling duty on the opposite side of the base as the first Marine.
  * build a Starport. 
* 39 Supply Depot
* @ Starport 100%, Produce 2 Medivacs one at a time.
* @ Marine 100%, build a Techlab on the Barracks
* @ Factory 100%, build a Techlab
* @ Supply Depot 100%, start building Supply Depots 2 at a time from now on. // Hellions are very supply heavy and this build is very aggressive, supply management will vary game to game.
* [4:00] Blue flame research starts
* [4:20] Load up the first Medivac with 4 Hellions // Do NOT lose these unless there is game ending damage to be done.
* [4:30] Armoury
* [5:20] Consolidate all Hellions in the map and 2 Medivacs. Group up for a large Hellbat attack, rally Hellions in.
* [5:25] Liberator
* [5:30] Third Command Centre
* [5:50] Engineering Bays x2
* [6:00] start Stim, then Combat Shields, then Concussive Shells in order. Restart Marine production.
* [6:20] 1-1 Infantry Upgrades
* [6:20] Starport Reactor
* [6:30] Barracks x3 // Each will have a Reactor when completed. // At this point the attack is winding down. Hellion production should be defensive, and no more than 6 out.
* [7:00] Refinery x2.
* [7:00] Third Orbital Command built on location at the third base.
* [8:10] Fourth Command Centre, SCV production stops around here at mid 60's count.
* [8:10] Refinery x2
* [8:20] @ Starport Reactor 100%, start creating Medivacs // Stop at the 6-8 magic number.
* [8:20] Drilling Claws research
* [8:50] 2-2 Infantry Upgrades
* [9:30] float Fourth base and create Planetary Fortress
* [10:30] Finish building up to goal 8 Barracks infrastructure
* [11:00] 3-3 Infantry Upgrades
* [12:00] Fifth Command Centre

Game Notes

  1. Only reveal the first 2 Hellions and 1 Reaper at the front. Load up the next 4 Hellions into a Medivac. All Hellions produced after the 6th are hidden and waiting for the blue flame timing attack.
  2. Especially against Reynor, the tendency is to leave Hellions 3-6 at the natural to defend against Zergling counter attacks. Hiding these Hellions looks totally ordinary.
  3. Hellion production doesn’t stop after the attack because there was no Marine production for a long time. These additional Hellions are critical to holding counters.
  4. HeroMarine often times parks an army just outside of creep and focusses his attention elsewhere on the map. This is a valuable tactic to prevent further creep spread when you cannot necessarily clear it. For example at 14:51 he leaves a small force just off of creep at the 11 o’clock position while he is consolidating an army in the centre of the map. As soon as he is done microing the force in the middle, he jumps in to maintain map control in the north.
  5. HeroMarine only makes 1 Missile Turret per mineral line, and 1-2 to defend his add-ons 11:00. This is because Missile Turrets are quite expensive when massed, and are not actually particularly effective against very high numbers of Mutalisks. The goal of the Missile Turrets is to buy a little bit of time for a defending force to stim in and shoo away the Mutalisks. Examples at: 12:00, 13:50
  6. With spare gas, use the Armoury to research Vehicle armour. This is because Widow Mines do not benefit from attack upgrades.
  7. After the Zerg player has secured 8 gas geisers, it is very feasible for them to make mass Banelings or Ultralisks. It is around this point that Marauder production is emphasized.

Game 3

Tactical Plan

After games 1 and 2, which both featured early aggression, HeroMarine opts for a very greedy fast third Command Centre build.

But, the overarching plan to play an aggressive midgame with 60 SCVs is exactly the same. It’s just that this time he will reach that midgame a lot quicker.

In each game the openings are designed to look similar to a scout, so it is difficult for the Zerg player to know if an attack is coming or not.

Build Order

* 14 Supply Depot
* 16 Barracks // Build a Reaper, then a Marine, then a Reactor.
* 16 Refinery
* 20 Command Centre
* 20 Supply Depot
* 23 Factory
* 27 Third Command Centre
* @ Command Centre 100%, Orbital Command
* @ 100 gas, Starport
* @ Barracks Reactor 100%, swap on the Factory and build up to 6 Hellions
  * Barracks Techlab
* 33 Refinery
* @ Starport 100%, swap the Starport onto the Barracks Techlab and build a Banshee
  * build another Techlab on the Barracks
* [4:00] @ Third Command Centre 100%, Orbital Command
* 53 Supply Depot x2
* [4:30] Research Stim, then Combat Shields, then Concussive Shells
* [4:45] Barracks x 2
* [4:55] Engineering Bays x2
  * Refinery x2
* [5:10] Float the third Command Centre to the third base
* [5:25] Barracks x2
  * 1-1 Infantry Upgrades // Build Reactors on these barracks when they are done.
* [6:30] Barracks x3 // 2 Techlabs, 1 Reactor when they are done.
* [6:50] Armoury
* [8:00] 2-2 Infantry Upgrades
* [10:30] 3-3 Infantry Upgrades

Game Notes

In this game HeroMarine ends up losing, so I will focus on why losing the initial Hellions and Banshee caused a domino effect that made it extremely difficult to get back into the game.

We’ll start the analysis at 5:20. If we look at the status of the game immediately after losing his map control units, HeroMarine is down 30 supply, has no map control, and Reynor has scouted previously that he rushed a third Command Centre. Knowing all of this information, Reynor drones up to 70 workers and gains immense map presence by reaching far into HeroMarine’s half of the map with creep spread. By [7:00] HeroMarine is clearing creep literally just outside of his own third base.

The situation could have been even worse, because Reynor was sprinkling in Zerglings into his production cycles. He could have gotten to his three base economy a full 30 seconds earlier with no threat had he not. It’s not until 9:00 that HeroMarine is able to push the creep back by any meaningful amount. By this time Reynor has already achieved his maximum economy and is only focussing his attention on creating army units. One of the key patterns in TvZ is to slow down the Zerg economy by making them judiciously choose to spend their limited larva on either army units or Drones. Reynor was free to build up his economy as he pleased.

HeroMarine lost his initial map presence, which gave Reynor more confidence to drone harder. And because the Hellions were important for the followup 1-1 timing attack, that timing attack ended up being ineffective.

From this type of position, playing this type of style, the Terran player cannot abuse the expected army advantage with multi-pronged attacks, because no such army advantage exists. When playing a low economy game, the supply that wasn’t put into making SCVs naturally goes into army. But if the army is smaller than expected, then the advantage of the style is lost.

It wasn’t impossible to get back into this game, but it requires risk taking to come back from a deficit. There were some risks taken with Medivac harassment that unfortunately didn’t pay off, and no risk was attempted to take a fourth base on the side of HeroMarine. Once HeroMarine went in for a 2-2 timing attack, that was the last ditch effort and it didn’t end up working.

They key points to take away would be:

  1. When going for Hellions and a single Non-cloaked Banshee, these units are best used to control creep and force a reaction from the Zerg player, not nessarily to do big damage.
  2. Once behind, risks need to be taken, and they need to pay off. HeroMarine made many attempts to harass with dropships: 8:30, 9:50, 10:40 but none of them ended up doing meaningful damage. Because of this HeroMarine couldn’t crawl back into the game. One risk that could have been considered would be to take a fourth base behind the 2-2 attack in order to catch up economically.

Game 4

Tactical Plan

In this game HeroMarine goes for the same opening as in game 1, but this time takes advantage of the map terran to do a Siege Tank timing attack.

Taking advantage of the cliffs around Reynor’s fourth base, HeroMarine was able to create a much more vicious timing attack that forced Reynor to surrender his fourth.

After denying Reynor his fourth, HeroMarine correctly read the game and denied Reynor’s other fourth base location and gained a sizeable lead in the early mid-game.

Once HeroMarine established his own fourth, the focus went towards denying Reynor his fifth base, and Reynor was never able to properly secure a fifth for any meaningful amount of time.

One key difference between this game and the previous games is that HeroMarine built past 70 SCVs for a full 3 base saturation economy. He also focussed a lot more attention on getting his fourth base, immediately securing another fourth after losing his first. HeroMarine still was stuck on roughly a 2.5 base economy anyways because of his main and natural bases mining out, but clearly the economic plan was different for this game than in the previous game.

Build Order

* 14 Supply Depot
* 16 Barracks, build 2 Reapers when this is done // Scout with the SCV that builds this Barracks.
* 16 Gas
* 20 Command Centre, build an Orbital Command when this is done
* 20 Supply Depot
* 23 Bunker at the opponent's third base
* 24 Factory
* 25 Barracks Reactor
* 26 Third Command Centre
* @ Barracks Reactor done, swap on the Factory and build up to 4 Hellions
  * make a Starport
  * make a Barracks Techlab
  * Refinery
* 35 Supply Depot
* [4:00] @ Starport 100%, Viking // Use this just to clear out overlords on the Terran half of the map
* [4:20] @ 100 gas, Stim, then Combat Shields, then Concussive Shells
* [4:30] Techlab Factory
  * Barracks x2 // To be floated onto Reactors
  * Refinery
  * Starport Reactor
* [4:50] @ Factory Techlab 100%, Factory Reactor
  * Engineering Bays x2
  * Refinery
* 65 Supply Depot x2 // This should be about 10 seconds earlier, but keeping it for accuracy to the VOD.
* [5:20] 1-1 Infantry Upgrades
* [5:30] Swap Barracks onto either Factory Reactor or Starport Reactor // actually not super important
  * Start producing Medivacs x2 on one of the reactors
  * Float the Factory back to the Techlab made at [4:30], begin to produce 2 Siege Tanks
* [5:35] Barracks x2 // Build Reactors when these are done
* 75 Supply Depot x2
* [6:30] Refinery x2
* [6:45] Armoury // This shhould be about 20 seconds earlier, but keeping it for accuracy to the VOD.
* [7:30] Factory // build a Reactor when this is done.
  * TIMING ATTACK - Move out with army, hide Siege Tanks in Medivacs. Attack at the centre fourth of the Zerg player where the cliffs make a nice defensive position for the Siege Tanks.
  * 2-2 Infantry Upgrades
* [8:30] Barracks x3 // Complete the 8 Barracks goal
  * Fourth Command Centre
* [10:10] Float Fourth Command Centre

Game Notes

  1. The timing attack at 7:30 is great. HeroMarine uses small groups of Marines to threaten the hatchery, so that if Reynor decides to ever fight back they simply retreat into Siege Tank range. Reynor makes it quite obvious that he is delaying for time, and HeroMarine brilliantly reads the game to know this is a sign that Reynor is taking the other fourth base. Withou any scouting or scanning, at 8:15 HeroMarine loads up two Medivacs to deny the other fourth base from Reynor. After this move, HeroMarine is quite far ahead in the game.
  2. Just like in previous games against Mutalisks, HeroMarine continued to only create small numbers of Missile Turrets, and relied instead on using reserve forces to chase around harassing Mutalisks.
  3. A minor error, but at 9:00 there really isn’t much point to continuing the attack. The damage has been done, this army does not need to be suicided. HeroMarine’s lead is still significant, but blunted after this move.
  4. In games with low Hellion counts, being conservative with the Hellions is the better play as it forces more honest defensive play from the Zerg, and also makes defending Zergling runbys easier.
  5. A very interesting point, when HeroMarine noticed that no Zerglings were defending against the Reaper, he rallied his second Reaper to a defensive position at 2:28. As soon as he saw defending Zerglings, he moved the second Reaper to the frontline. These minor points, while many of them missed in high level analyses like these, are the differentiators that mark a great player.

Series Retrospective

After game 2, HeroMarine says that he is not thinking of the game as a series source, and I think he is only telling half of the truth.

If we look at the series as a whole, not every build was a typical ladder hero strategy. In particular, there wasn’t much focus put on defending potential early 2 base allins from Reynor, as that is not current meta from him. This allowed for some strategies where HeroMarine only had a few Hellions with a fast third Command Centre, or where Marine production was significantly delayed to do a Hellion timing attack.

Another interesting thing to note is that each opening was designed to look fairly similar at the start. Ignoring that most Terran build orders for the past few years have been Reaper expands, there were some minor tricks that HeroMarine did to make it confusing to determine exactly what variation was coming. This included things like taking specific gas geisers in specific orders, building the first Barracks off-centre of the main ramp to make space for an add-on, and using initial marines to deny Overlord scouting. There was definitely a little bit of information hiding from game to game to make Reynor guess at what the next strategy will be.

Finally, there were two distinct moments where the build order was specifically picked for particular maps. The obvious tells are the blind spot in the huge main bases on Ever Dream LE which make drops easier, and the cliffs on Zen LE which make Siege Tanks more powerful.

These minor decisions really make this a great series to study because it points out how a common framework (low economy, 8 Barracks, 2 Factory, 1 Starport, 2.5 mining bases) is adjusted based off of advantages that certain maps can give, and how to hide those minor differences from your opponent until they are too late to react to.

If you would like to encourage me to make more posts like this, let me know on Twitter!