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Ok I'm admittedly still a bit of a noob at this game, but I'm fairly experienced in RTS games in general, and feel that I have a decent grasp of early game strategy in SC2. However, I can't seem to beat one friend of mine (I play Terran). Here's usually what happens:

I'll start a couple racks pretty early, and get a group of maybe 8-10 marines & marauders. I'll try to hit him early, but what usually happens is he is protected by a couple well placed photon cannons, which will do a decent amount of damage before I can get in his base. At that point, the couple of units he does have will usually finish me off. I'll try to keep pushing, but it's usually never enough (even more turrets now), and then eventually he'll get Carriers. At that point I usually just stop playing because even if I built up a bunch of Vikings, they are never enough for all the Carriers.

Any good strategies for taking him out early? I realized I could probably expand a bunch and eventually beat him in the resource wars, but that frankly just seems boring and a waste of time.

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Is he turtling on one base? If so, you beat him early by not losing to him early- if he chooses not to expand he's putting all of his eggs in one basket. As for it being boring, it's more a necessary step towards understanding how the real strategy in the game works. –  Decency Mar 19 '13 at 23:45
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And if you're focus firing/microing your Vikings properly, there's just no way you should lose to carriers. –  Decency Mar 19 '13 at 23:45
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Drops, Drops, Drops. If you spread him thin and drop a decent amount you can slow/kill his teching. –  Falcon165o Mar 20 '13 at 11:29
    
Yes, drops would be a great sollution. Force him into spending minerals on Zealots and cannons. Cheese him to death, widowmine drops and hellbat drop together with bio drops. –  AtlasEU Jul 19 '13 at 9:02
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6 Answers 6

Remember: if your opponent is turtling, you should expand fast. If you're getting more resources, you can put together a 200 supply army before he can.

Siege Tanks

Siege Tanks have longer range than Photon Cannons. Build some Siege Tanks, set them up in siege mode just out of range of his Photon Cannons, and then use a flying unit (ideally a Raven, for detection) to ensure your Siege Tanks can see his Photon Cannons. A couple shots later the Photon Cannon should be toast.

Widow Mines

Set up a bunch of Widow Mines outside his base. If his Carriers aren't in combat, they won't have any interceptors out, so the mines will hit the Carriers rather than interceptors. When he tries to bring his Carriers to come get you, they'll fly right over a minefield. That should soften them up enough to be easy targets for Vikings.

Battlecruisers

If you think he's rushing to Carriers, go to Battlecruisers. You won't need a huge fleet of them; their Yamato Cannon ability will let you take out the Photon Cannons from a safe distance, so you can make a hole to get in and engage. This is probably the worst solution, though, since rushing to Battlecruisers isn't much faster than rushing to Carriers.

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Siege Tanks would probably be good, although by the time I got a couple of them, he would probably already have a couple carriers to destroy them. I'll play around with that tactic though. And I forgot all about Widow Mines! In the end I may have to suck it up and just keep expanding until I hit 200 units. But god damn, those carriers hurt a lot, even with a large army. –  deek Mar 19 '13 at 23:49
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if he has carriers by the time you have siege tanks, there is something wrong with your build order. If he turtles on 2 or 3 bases (less than that and it will take him 30 minutes to get a decent amount of carriers), you should be able to get siege tanks quite fast. –  Hugo Trudel Mar 20 '13 at 14:14
    
@deek Important thing is that you focus fire down his carriers. If you leave your units alone they'll aim at the little fighters the carriers send out instead. With focus fire you can easily take down an entire fleet of carriers with just marines. –  jon2512chua Apr 3 at 9:03
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In situations where your opponent sits in 1 base and techs up you really have two options

  1. Go for a strong push with lower tech units and try to take him out before they get a tehnological advantage.
  2. Expand to a second or possibly even third base and gain an economic advantage. The disadvantage of this approach is that it leaves you vulnerable to a counter attack after you have expanded until your economic advantage kicks in, however if you can see that your opponent isn't likely to attack for a short while this leaves you in a strong position.

The key to option 1 is timing - obviously if you push too late then your opponent will have teched up and you will be at a technological advantage, however if you push too soon then your forces won't have reached the critical mass required to get past the initial defenses. From the sounds of things you are simply pushing too soon - if you can see that your opponent has enough forces to hold back your attack then rather than sending your forces to their deaths wait until you have stuiable reinforcements, e.g. Medivacs to move your forces around their static defenses, or simply more units!

If you are having problems with option 1 then give option 2 a try - if you can keep your opponent contained in one base while you expand to a second or possibly third base then you can slowly wear him down until they have no more resources left. This is a good approach to use when you see your opponent is very heavy on photon cannons as it essentially nullifies all of the minerals he has invested in his cannons.

I'm not sure what level of play you are at, however for either of the above its important to realise that at the lower levels Starcraft 2 is mostly about having more stuff than your opponent. Proper micromanagement helps and a good unit mix helps even more, however the vast majority of Bronze league games are won because one player built a lot more stuff than their opponent. With this in mind you need to focus on the core Macro essentials

  • Constantly build workers
  • Don't let your resources build up - make sure you have a suitable number of production buildings for your economy
  • Try not to get supply capped at much as possible

Both of the above tactics work because purely because you end up having more stuff than your opponent (either in the early game because your opponent has invested in higher tech, or in the later game because you have expanded and have a stronger economy to support a larger army).

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Rush 2-3 Reapers with your first attack and use their mobility to harass probes. It is a safe opening - you will always do some harm to your enemy this way. Use this to fast expand owing to the damage dealt to your enemy. Continue to harass and win.

I saw a few days ago that somehow, INnoVation played with this tactic and outplayed several gamers. The commentators were speechless as to how good this tactic was.

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Thanks for the tip. I have attempted this once, but he had a couple cannons ready for it. Maybe I'll try to hit somewhere less obvious. Link to the Innovation replay? –  deek Mar 19 '13 at 23:47
    
First from 2 or 3 rounds youtube.com/watch?v=hzeUr_0Omd0 that was vs Zerg match but still I think that Reapers are awesome unused unit when you are Terran. reddit.com/r/AllThingsTerran/comments/1ah2rv/… reddit thread about this tactic. –  iber Mar 19 '13 at 23:54
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Get 3 Medivacs full of Marines behind those cannons, in the heart of the base. You can attack with the Medivacs before the first Carrier even finishes if you are fast. Even if there is a Carrier by the time you arrive, just let them attack-move; the Interceptors will melt like butter. Get stim if you can, but it's not even necessary. Don't even target the Carrier itself, just empty it and then focus on the other units he has. Stay away from the cannons. Vikings are a very soft counter especially with Stalkers and other things shooting them: don't make Vikings.

Marines are the answer. Besides being good against any non-AoE Protoss unit, Marines can also lay immediate waste to his Probes and entire base afterwards. On one base, he will not have both Carriers AND AoE units (Colossi or High Templar); there is no way to mine that much gas and get those units in any quantity off of one base.

Make sure to expand while doing this of course. That's always good RTS sense. Good luck :)

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Next time you play him, try not to crack his defenses early, instead go for the most economical opening possible. I suggest a 1 barracks fast expand. While you don't waste any units, he will waste quite some money by building a lot of cannons.

From your description it's not clear if your opponent did a fast-expand build as well. If he does a fast-expand build, you should try to expand to 3 bases as fast as possible... since you know that he will go for carriers, you could do an economical-cheese, which would be 3 command-centers on 1 barracks.

Try to hit a stim-timing with Medivacs as described in the build above. Before you go in (should be around 10:00), scan his main-base to see where you could drop (it's really unlikely that he has cannons everywhere). If your scan reveals carriers, start building Vikings and make sure he doesn't take a third base.

Make sure you get a healthy economy and build a lot of production facilities, so that you can pump out units fast. Since your opponent is going for air units, build 2-3 starports to pump out a lot of vikings.

Dealing with the cannons and carriers

Stimmed Marauders with Medivac support will melt Cannons really fast. There's no need for tanks to do this. Marines, Vikings and Medivacs can be used to deal with the Carriers.

The main problem with carriers is, that they are very slow. You can use this to your advantage. Create a Marauder-Medivac ball that you keep close to his base (but out of his vision). The Marines and Vikings and some Medivacs stay close to your base. Once he closes in on your base with his carriers, attack his base with the marauders. Use your Marines and Vikings to deal with the carriers. You could even place some Widow-Mines around your base to give you increased firepower. If he's really rushing for carriers, he won't have detection to deal with the mines.

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I can't say how many times this has happened where a Toss turtles till Carriers but the stat I am about to explain ALWAYS works a treat for me. If he's turtling, there's the big "E" word: Expand! If you scout Carriers, start pumping Vikings from at least 3 ports. Remember that Vikings are much quicker and cheaper to produce than Carriers, which means you can easily outproduce him. Make sure to constantly upgrade them too. You can also easily outupgrade the Toss. Also make a bunch of Thors to crack the front door. Now, when you move out, send your Thors first to crack the cannon line. This will force him to bring his Carriers forward to defend. When he does this, strike with your Vikings! You can then land your Vikings and use your remaining Thors to ransack his base and it's GG for the Toss guy and you will leave him crying for mercy and screaming "Terran OP!" hehehe. Good luck and I hope I helped.

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