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I'm a noob, so when I play I build marines and more marines and maybe tanks etc, and then all of a sudden my opponent is flying in and shooting me from the air, and dropping off giant dudes out of his airship.

I want to figure out how to get to the air faster.

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5 Answers

up vote 9 down vote accepted

So there are a couple of units available to terran to do what you are describing. All of which are constructed from the Starport. To build a Starport you must first build a Barracks and then a Factory (it sounds like you know how to do both). Once you have a Factory you can build a Starport from the advanced buildings menu on any SCV (or by pressing the V key followed by the S key).

From the Starport there are several units which fit the description you provided:

  • Viking, these units can directly be built from the Starport. By default they only attack other Air units, but can be "transformed" into a ground unit which can attack ground. (ITS MORPHIN' TIME)
  • Medivac, this unit cannot attack itself but can carry other units into battle. Additionally it can also "Heal" infantry units. The number of units it can carry is inversely proportional to the size of the units (8 marines or 1 Thor)
  • Banshee, this is a simple air unit which attacks ground. It requires you build an Techlab either from your Starport or from another building and then lift that building and the Starport and land the Starport next to the building
  • Raven, this also requires a Techlab. Like the medivac Ravens cannot attack ground, but instead has a number of "spells" it can cast
  • Battle Cruiser, sometimes called the Cattle Bruiser or BC, BC can attack both air and ground. In addition to requiring a Techlab, BC also require that you another building called the Fusion Core which can only be built after the Starport is complete
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+1 for IT'S MORPHIN TIME –  sjohnston Aug 30 '10 at 18:23
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I don't think the questioner was specifically asking how to build air units or what air units are available, but rather for strategies that will get him airborne earlier in the game. –  LessPop_MoreFizz Aug 30 '10 at 18:24
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@LessPop the question started "I'm a noob," so I provided a very low level explanation. I believe Robb provided a more high level explanation. Both are good answers, but only the Asker can decide which correctly answers his question. As people might find this question while searching for either, its is not necessarily bad that we have both here. –  tzenes Aug 30 '10 at 18:27
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Learn the tech tree of Terran to get to a starport. Adjust your build and economy to handle the change.

A common fast air build for Terran is 1/1/1 (1 barracks, 1 factory, 1 starport). Youtube has a lot of videos employing this strategy.

I felt HDStarcraft gave a good demo of 1/1/1 in this video

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@Michael - part of your problem with your turrets is that I had Battlecruisers with Yamato, so I was able to one-shot your turrets before moving in with banshees. You needed an AA unit, e.g., vikings, to counter. [this would have been better as a comment, but I can't comment, so I probably am breaking a rule with an answer/ comment -- oops!]

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If the enemy (in this case maybe you) gets to battlecruisers then it's usually a scouting failure if a player doesn't have enough air defense. Cruisers are expensive and easily taken out by vikings (which is the main role for vikings). Additionally getting to cruisers and building them takes a lot of time while building vikings is very fast since you usually have a starport+reactor for medvacs anyways. In short: Defense vs Battle Cruisers: Scan, Scout and Scout more. –  dbemerlin Aug 31 '10 at 10:45
    
@donniegoat, +1- this needn't be a comment. While your response appears specific to an interaction you had with the OP, this is an appropriate answer, as it addresses how to solve the problem he has. –  Jaydles Sep 1 '10 at 3:00
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You say you want to get airborne quicker, but it sounds like you're having trouble dealing with enemy air in general. In this case, bear in mind there are additional things you can do to help:

  • Build Missle Turrets to deter enemy air units (requires an Engineering Bay)
  • Always keep marines around in case you need to swat some flies
  • If your economy supports it, a few Thors from your Factory can also help.

I think it's important to know how to deal with enemy air even if you don't have a large air force yourself. This way, you can handle surprise void rays or mutalisks even if you are not pursuing an air-based strategy in a given match.

Another reason to consider learning how to counter air from the ground is that Terran air units can require some finesse. Terran air units aren't like marines, who can do anything; each has a specialty and can be very vulnerable outside that niche. Specifically:

  • Vikings are primarily an air-superiority fighter. Their ground mode is weaker and vulnerable.
  • Banshees are a fantastic base attacker, but can't hit aircraft.
  • Ravens have great abilities, but no attack. They require lots of attention.
  • Battlecruisers are powerhouses, but are very expensive and require some support.

So, to answer the original question, how to get airborne, I would say try experimenting with Starports after your Factory, and building some Vikings. Use them for base defense and as an air escort for your marines and tanks, but don't try to use them as a primary attack force until you learn their strengths and weaknesses. And don't forget to invest in marines and missle turrets.

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You're right, I'm having trouble countering air. I had a bunch of turrets but they seemed ineffective. Do I need to actively manage them or are they good to go on their own without my help? –  Michael Pryor Aug 30 '10 at 21:56
    
Turrets don't need to be managed; I don't think you can even control their attack. I find them useful mainly to discourage early air unit harassment, to discourage sneaky transport drops, and as detectors. I feel it's ineffective to build "turret walls" for defense against a full air force. Against this I'd try to be ready with marines, Thors, Vikings, my teammates' Stalkers, or better yet, an attack on their base. –  Wikwocket Aug 30 '10 at 22:26
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@Michael turrets are very effective vs air if they're placed right. Usually a good spot is 2 or 3 by your workers. If they have more air units than that can handle that's a good sign you need to be more aggressive and try to take the fight to their base. The advantage of that is that you can see what they're building and prepare for it. –  Davy8 Aug 30 '10 at 23:27
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  1. on 9/11 supply build Supply Depot
  2. while building Supply Depot, build 1 Refinery
  3. Build another refinery
  4. Build Barracks
  5. Remember to block off entrance (with barracks and supply depot)
  6. Have 2 SCVs for each Refinery
  7. Build Factory
  8. Build Starport
  9. Attach Reactor
  10. Pump in 2 or more Vikings

Now you have air troops and aerial defenses maybe at around 4-5 mins of the game

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And then get killed by 5 marauders and a few marines. One thing those Build Orders rarely mention is scouting, get an scv in his base and check if he built both his refineries, check if he builds a factory after the barracks and scan regularly or get some unit into his base (medvacs, vikings, ravens or even just reapers running through, but try not to lose anything) –  dbemerlin Aug 31 '10 at 10:50
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