This build was used by Morrow in the finale of biggest SC2 contest to date - IEM. How do I stop it? Do I use some all-in counter?

  • Haven't seen the replay yet, but do those work well against mass roaches?
    – Jonn
    Commented Aug 24, 2010 at 23:31
  • @Jonn: Very easy for the Terran player to just start getting mass marauders in anticipation of the roaches coming out.
    – jshu
    Commented Aug 25, 2010 at 0:39
  • Just wondering, will this work in 3v3?
    – Jonn
    Commented Aug 25, 2010 at 0:50
  • @Jonn yes but it dies pretty badly to a half way decent Terran. That said, its great vs Zerg and Protoss.
    – tzenes
    Commented Aug 25, 2010 at 1:43
  • 1
    Also, for those interested, some words on TvZ, including a bit about mass reapers, from Morrow himself: teamliquid.net/forum/… Commented Aug 25, 2010 at 5:52

3 Answers 3


For those of you who didn't see the IEM finals they are worth watching.

I've moved the recap down below my explanation

When faced with an early Reaper harass, usually Speedlings plus the occasional Spine Crawler and Queen are sufficient. However, mass Reapers are a very different story.

Mass Reapers usually have speed upgrade putting them at Speedling speed off creep. As a result you need to either get a good surround or engage on creep to win. The natural response to Reapers is Roaches, but without a Speed Upgrade or creep, Reapers are just too fast. Once you have Roach Speed (and can use Overlords to spread creep as Reapers only attack ground) you can usually shut down this mass Reaper play.

Edit: MarroW also suggests throwing down extra Queens, which I think is sound advice. Though the Queens won't help with pursuit, they will help with extra Creep, Transfuse, and longer range if he makes a solid Reaper push. Likewise a Creep Crawler couldn't hurt, but won't help much as once he has 12 Reapers he can almost 1 shot it.

What made it so effect vs Idra was the follow up with Marauders. Based on this its important to prepare for the follow up:

  1. Have lots of Creep
  2. Banelings, as Marines do too much damage
  3. Baneling speed (a lesson Idra learns in Game 1)

Since the ideal build for Marine/Marauder is Banelings followed by Speedlings (or Hydra), as long as you get your Baneling nest out and upgrade speed, you should be in good position to deal with this switch and push on to victory.

There is a good break down of game 3 by Day9 if you want to skip ahead to it.

As for the IEM finals, allow me to give you some context. Marrow (who originally wasn't to be part of the IEM championship but was brought in after BradOK was denied a Visa), plays a very aggressive 5 tech lab vs Idra. Idra is well known as a very passive, very good, zerg player who prefers to fight late game battles with a superior macro style.

In this context, early harassment is a very good strategy against such a passive player as it denies him his economic advantage. In earlier rounds we saw Sarans use harassment effectively vs Idra and pushed him to Game 5 (its a best of 5). So its not unlikely that Marrow studied those matches when he decided on this build.

I want to lay the ground work here so you can see that this was very much designed with Idra in mind.

The build itself revolves around 5 techlabs to push mass Reapers and force Idra to build a lot of Roaches. Ultimately Roaches with speed (or on creep) beat this early Reaper play, but the goal here isn't to win with Reapers, but rather to force Roach production and follow up with a heavy Marauder force (which also require Tech Lab, so your infrastructure is in place).

In game 1, Idra adapts to this change and pushes with a heavy Baneling/Roach/Speedling force, and almost wins. Its worth noting that as Marrow's eventual strategy is MMM, forcing a large number of Roaches gives a very tiny window for victory. What's more, if Idra had Baneling speed upgrade at the time (which he was researching) he would have easily taken out the remaining Marines and pushed on to win Game 1.

In game 2, we see the same strategy again, but with very different results. Idra gets an early Roach speed to shut down Reaper play, and then follows up with Mutalisks to shut down the Marauder push. Marrow makes a good last ditch effort with Ghosts, but ultimately doesn't have the force. Idra decides this fight with Banelings (speed upgraded now).

In Game 3, we see a much more confident Idra who counters the early Reapers with just Roach/Speedling. He'll go on to lose this game much later after a disastrous assault at 12:30, and ultimately get steam rolled by BioMech before he can get more than 2 Ultralisks up.

As Idra strongly believes BioMech is imbalanced vs Zerg, its not hard to imagine a very defeated Idra in Game 4, not playing up to his potential.

  • And how do you suggest surviving until roach speed is researched? Mass reaper is very clearly shut down by roaches with speed...the trick is getting there without being horribly behind economically. And to get there while also getting banelings + speed seems like a fairly tall order... Commented Aug 25, 2010 at 2:24
  • @en1gmatic325 while Roach+speed does require a bit of tech, you have to remember, Mass Reaper is 5 Barracks + the Reapers slow build time. Don't discount how long it takes your opponent to get to Mass Reaper. I do, however, suggest zergling speed for early Reaper harass (maybe 14 gas, 14 pool, expand on 18-20ish).
    – tzenes
    Commented Aug 25, 2010 at 3:52
  • @tzenes If done properly, 5 rax reapers produces 6 by the 7 minute mark, and 12 reapers by the 8 minute. Pool = 65 seconds, although I doubt you'll have it much before the 3 minute mark especially on 14 gas 14 pool, lair = 80, roach speed = 110. This gives you 2 minutes of time not progressing this tech tree to get roach speed before they have an impressive 12 reapers. Gas gathers at about 110/minute/extractor. This leaves you with either having to face a lot of reapers without speed roaches, or practically no roaches early on, let alone baneling tech. Commented Aug 25, 2010 at 4:44
  • @en1gmatic325 I'm not sure where you're pulling these numbers from, but I rewatched game 2 and Idra has 3 Roaches by minute 5, and 7 Speed Roaches by 6:30 (and that's not including the 2 that died). Now maybe you're build is some how different? Marrow certainly has more than 6 Reapers by 7 Minutes.
    – tzenes
    Commented Aug 25, 2010 at 5:27
  • @tzenes Are you looking at game time, or real time? I am speaking in terms of game time. Faster (which all ladder and tourneys are played on) is actually more than one game second per real second. 6:30 in real time is about 9 minutes in game time. Commented Aug 25, 2010 at 5:29

Here is the Morrow's recap of the build order and (in his second post below) his answer to the question of best counter.

  • His ultimate advice was Mass Roach into lair, although I do like the 4 queens part of his answer. Most of his answer is criticizing using speedlings here. Of course the best quote here is: "if u ask me [MarroW] it would help if they got nerfed for the early stages"
    – tzenes
    Commented Aug 25, 2010 at 14:26
  • As a caveat to his advice though, he adds: "but the thing is terran see this and switch to 5rax marauders get stim and shells and can just destroy u, i think more zergs should try to put overlords on the map so they can see what terran is making in a healthy time" Commented Aug 25, 2010 at 14:38

The best effort in those finals was the second match, which was basically a result of spreading creep tumors, using zerglings/queens to survive, getting lair tech early, using overlords to generate creep everywhere, and getting mutalisks asap to return the favor. Not sure how well this would work for the average player, because controlling a mass of reapers is pretty straightforward; but it seemed to work alright for IdrA. If your opponent is only investing in reapers and marauders, then using air units against them will work wonders.

Try it and let us know? I imagine every man and his dog is doing 5 rax reapers online at the moment :(

  • 1
    I don't have a dog, but you can bet I was part of those jumping the bandwagon. XD
    – Jonn
    Commented Aug 26, 2010 at 23:06

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