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I have seen many pro players dropping mules after and during battles. Sometimes they use scans instead.

This seems counter-intuitive, I mean they could get a ton of minerals for that.

Why do they do it? MarineKing does that very often.

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5 Answers

up vote 15 down vote accepted

There are three reasons that I've seen mules dropped away from the mineral line in competitive play:

Manner mules

By far the most common reason is that a Terran player has decided that they've won the game, that it's obvious that they've won the game, and the other player should have realized they've lost and gg'd out already.

Throwing down mules away from your base in that situation says "I've won so big, look at me throwing away resources, because I don't even need them to crush you completely."

It's considered impolite or (in the common SC2 phrase) "bad manner", hence the name.

Forcing the enemy to shoot their own units

Facing off against another Terran, it's possible to cause the enemy's tanks to kill each other by landing a mule in the middle of a group of sieged tanks...the tanks target the mule, and kill each other with the splash damage.

Repairing mechanical units

When an important mechanical unit or group of mechanical units (most often a Thor, but sometimes a group of tanks) is severely damaged far from the players base, that player can repair it by sending down a mule, without having to wait for an SCV to cross the map, or retreat the unit(s) back to their home base.

If the unit(s) repaired are important because of their strategic position, repairing them can be more important than the loss of minerals due to dropping a mule away from the mineral line.

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If you spot a group of idle banelings, dropping a few mules in there is one way to thin them out! –  Nick May 21 '12 at 9:37
    
I don't know how accurate your last point is. Enemy units will engage enemy units first and foremost. The only way I can see this having a small effect is if the opponent had his troops on an attack move towards the opposing forces and the units stopped for a brief second to kill the Mule and continue on their way. –  Nick122 May 21 '12 at 13:52
    
How bad mannered is this considered? Is this more impolite than saying gg instead of the opponent? –  ayckoster May 21 '12 at 14:00
    
@Nick122 Repairing units have the same priority as the unit they are repairing. So they will tank some damage if they are repairing other units (in addition to the extra health they repair) –  Nick May 21 '12 at 14:38
    
Hmmm... I've never seen repairing units have the same priority as the attacking. Do you have a source for that? –  Nick122 May 21 '12 at 14:56
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During the game, Mules can be used to repair units in the field and can get to the units in need of repair faster than SCVs if they have to run a long distance. I've used them and have seen other players use them during battle to repair damaged thors and tanks without having to wait for SCVs to run all the way out there.

And, as I've learned from the other answers here, and on subsequent research on http://wiki.teamliquid.net/starcraft2/MULE, they are also used to humiliate or intimidate an opponent.

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Just for clarification: Mules don't repair faster than SCVs. The wording of your answer could easily be understood differently. –  dbemerlin May 20 '12 at 2:26
    
You are completely right. I actually thought they did make repairs faster. Learn something every day. Thanks! I'll edit my answer to adjust now. –  Jed Daniels May 20 '12 at 3:13
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In addition to being able to repair, Mules will sometimes draw enemy fire. For the same reason that sometimes people will send their workers into battle to soak up some of the damage, sometimes Mules can be used for the same purpose.

I am not expert enough to know how effective this is, but a Mule has 60 hit points. If it can soak 60 damage that would otherwise kill unit(s) costing > 200ish minerals, I would think this would be more effective than just having it mine.

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MULEs dropped on the battlefield, especially near the end of the game and nowhere near anything that needs repairing (e.g. a bio ball) after a large victory are known as Manner MULEs, essentially an "in your face!" with units. This meta-gaming is usually to try and fluster the opponent, especially in a series of games where they would play another game minutes later.

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Mules can also be used to perform a terran "force field" and placed on hold position. This can make banlings/lings take a longer path to reach the attacking terran units, or absorb broodings and mess with their pathing.

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