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I'm very often executing the following build in platinum/diamond league games (EU server):

SCV
Supply Depot
Refinery
Barracks
Saturate the refinery fully
Barracks
Barracks
Reaper
Supply depot
3xReaper
...into...
Command Center or Factory, then Command Center

I can measure the execution by the moment, when the last reaper is queued. If it's around 2:01, it's totally perfect, 2:04-2:06 is OK, 2:11 is accetable, later - it becomes non-efficient.

Note, that I mostly play on 2v2-3v3s, which may be an important thing.

This build is designed to punish greedy players, who start with base-first. 4 reapers are enough to take out a Queen, Stalker and easily a bunch of Marines. They seem enough even to take out a Siege Tank if it has no support or is supported only by SCVs. Marines, low-speed zerglings and no-charge Zealots stand no chance over such a small army. Not to say, that from what I remember, 4 reapers one-shots workers.

The advantage of such an assault is that it may be performed head-on. Even if you don't sneak Reapers in the mineral line by cliffs, you can simply engage forces and very often leave such a battle without losing a single reaper. If you then manage to produce additional reapers to increase your army to 6 or 8 of them, this is ususally a game-over.

Now the interesting thing is counter for such early one-base all-in cheese. Firstly, static defenses totally kills Reapers. One Spine Crawler, Photon Cannon or Bunker built near mineral line ends up this atack and forces me to go to mid-game transition (most likely to bio, having 3 barracks built already). However, static defenses are rarely seen in pro-player matches, because they consume resources and are - well - static, so immobile.

Also, this build is highly effective against Terrans and Protoss, but not-so-much against Zerg, because Queen - though possible to kill with 4 reapers - takes a lot of time, which gives Zerg oportunity to, say, queue a Spine Crawler or two (one is not enough, because it can be killed by those reapers before hatching).

You can take a look at pro-player matches TvX - just check, what their opponents have at around 2:50-3:00. This is the moment when 4 reapers run into the base. Even having 1 reaper some of the pro players manage to kill a Zergling, when Zerg have a Queen and 4 Zerglings - now imagine, what could have happened if there were 4 reapers instead of 1.

It is also not effective against non-greedy players, who stands on one base longer, because at that point they usually already have like 2 Stalkers, a bunch of Zerglings (and Zergling Speed already queued up) or a sieged Tank, which shuts down such an attack completely.

One more thing - this requires enormous amounts of micro to perform properly, because you have to babysit Reapers very carefully. This leaves me - as a definitely non-pro player - often in situation when I have CC, 3 barracks, a lot of money and no defences, when opponents retaliate. I believe though, that on pro-level players are able to micro/macro this scenario properly.

I actually executed this build successfully numerous times on 1v1s as well, though in Gold League.

So the question: why such Reaper-heavy opener is not executed on top-tier matches? We see zergling push every now and then, massing Adepts at the early stages, but Terrans barely ever use full potential of Reapers and their grenades.

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  • 1
    "It is also not effective against non-greedy players" - Didn't you just answer your own question..? Feb 4, 2021 at 9:14
  • @BlueRaja-DannyPflughoeft, most pro-players actually play greedily (eg. base first). The technique I mentioned is quite effective against such strategy. As I said - look, what pro-players have in their bases around 2:50-3:00 and imagine 4 reapers jumping inside.
    – Spook
    Feb 4, 2021 at 9:55
  • From my LoL experience, so IDK if it applies that much: There is strategies that work when you are playing anyone that is below the top 10%. But when you get against those top players, doing such a strategy has an easy counter or makes you super predictable so if they break your first offense, then you are screwed.
    – Fredy31
    May 29, 2021 at 13:54

2 Answers 2

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Heavy reapers opening have been tried especially in the past, but also recently. Check for example Reynor vs Clem

As for other kind of cheeses, they don't work very well at the highest level because players know how to scout, how to read what they find and how to react accordingly.

If a player scout no 2nd CC and 3 rax, the player knows for sure some form of aggression is coming and from rax without a tech lab attached, it can only be either marines or reapers which are easily dealt with in the same way. The player would then change whatever strategy he/she intended to go for to counter this early aggression, possibly dropping bunkers/spine crawlers/cannons/shield batteries, going heavy on marines or stalkers or queens and lings. This rush is pretty easy to defend, no matter the race. I would be surprise this would work from diamond up.

Your fallacy is to take as an example of your thesis random TvX games and comparing their army at the 3 minutes mark with yours, in a totally unrelated game. If a player, after scouting, confirms that the opponent is not going for any kind of aggression and doesn't want to be aggressive from the start himself/herself, the player will invest in the economy and that's why you see few units in the player base.

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  • Notably, in that linked Reynor vs Clem game, Reynor started with the standard four (4) defensive lings, but before Clem's second reaper ever reached Reynor's base, Reynor had already scouted Clem's triple rax, and had eight (8) lings ready. Reynor's first queen from the natural is ready just as Clem's second reaper arrives. And this was on Submarine LE, a map with a short rush distance (arguably longer straight-ish rush distance may favor the Terran here, since Zerg has to overlord scout and overlord is slower, so more distance delays the scouting more than it delays the rush).
    – mtraceur
    Aug 8 at 20:31
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I think two reasons:

  1. 1v1 is very different (and much more "figured out") than 2v2 and above.

    The whole game changes once you have multiple people on a team - in 1v1, there are things you just can't do because a good enough opponent always beats it. In 2v2 some of those things become viable because your opponent can cover for you, especially if you coordinate.

    Example: when 1v1 pros do 2v2 games, we often see the protoss player mass phoenixes to the exclusion of other units, in a way that they couldn't get away with in 1v1, because their teammate covers for the things mass phoenix is weak to.

  2. You almost answered your own question here:

    Firstly, static defenses totally kills Reapers. One Spine Crawler, Photon Cannon or Bunker built near mineral line ends up this atack and forces me to go to mid-game transition (most likely to bio, having 3 barracks built already). However, static defenses are rarely seen in pro-player matches, because they consume resources and are - well - static, so immobile.

    Early static defense happens rarely at the pro level because it's only good for shutting down over-committed rushes, but it's so good at that job that people don't do those rushes, because they know their opponent will just scout it and shut it down.

    The key point is that when you build two extra rax (300 minerals) and three extra reapers (150 minerals and 150 gas), to execute a rush which requires a lot of attention and actions, you turn static defense into a good investment instead of a bad one for your opponent.

    For comparison:

    • a photon cannon only sets them back 150 minerals (plus another 150 if they had to rush their forge out), and only takes about four actions to start and then builds itself, while the player spends the rest of their APM on something that will exploit the fact that your factory, starport, and other upgrades and tech are significantly delayed.

    • a shield battery costs 150 (and doesn't require changing your build to get a forge sooner than you might've otherwise), and reaper wall at the jump-up ledge into the main, on most maps, is free (you were going to build those buildings anyway, unless the jump up ledge is unusually wide). Meanwhile, does four reapers win against a stalker or adept patiently waiting for you by a shield battery placed in the right position?

    • Terran pays 25 minerals for a bunker (since they get back 75 of the 100 when they salvage the bunker later), and if you had two SCVs building two barracks for 150 each, they can afford to lose the mining time of one or two SCVs building one or two bunkers for 100 (with a 75 rebate) each. They can also just build their CC in the safety of the main base and not float it to the natural until they're ready, so maybe they don't even need to bunker the second mineral line, might just be able to wait until they've got the units out to shut it down.

    • Zerg is already building multiple queens as part of their build, and if your reapers get there before the queens pop then first thing a zerg pro thinks is probably "oh nice, my opponent set themselves back significantly to pull this off" so they can afford to just pull back and lose a little bit of mining time, or sacrifice those first four lings (only 100 minerals), or whatever losses you can force out of a great player until the queens come out.

    Bear in mind, at the highest levels your opponent probably saw it coming, or at least saw something aggressive coming. Protoss scouts with their 16th probe or so. Terran does something similarly timed. Zerg sends their first overlord to peak into your main and natural and then pulls it back just enough to not lose it but to still see stuff coming, and might even risk sacrificing that overlord if what you're doing smells really weird (except in your case their gamble would pay off because you don't yet have something to shoot up, so if they take that risk they win a free view of your base). Basically high-level players time their scouting specifically to discriminate if you're doing something they need early defense against - if they see no factory or multiple rax, they immediately know you're up to something that probably justifies a small static defense investment.

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