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(Ok, sorry that I had to use 3 posts to fit everything in, was only allowed a 5k character limit)
Looking around, I see so much "TvZ is IMBA towards Z" - why? I'm having no trouble against zerg, I haven't had a zerg take a game off of me (barring absolutely stupid stuff, like an all in baneling bust that I scouted too late, so getting epically cheesed out) in a very long time.
So. A few things:
Zerg almost always FE's. If I can't apply some sort of bunker pressure early, I'll try to disrupt this with an engineering bay, something to delay it, or get really fast banshee's out. He's not attacking anytime soon, I can even grab my expansion relatively quickly, with 1-2 bunkers. I'm not sure how this works at the lower levels, but for the most part, pre-diamond is an exercise in improving mechanics and scouting/countering cheese. I got to Diamond simply by working on my mechanics over and over again.
Ok, so, you've either put a bit of pressure on zerg early, taken your own expansion (leaving you happy- if you're on an even number of bases as zerg, you can relax a little bit, pressure's now on them), you've forced him to build something besides workers, great. Now comes the oh so scary and annoying Mutalisks. (What zerg doesn't go muta? I'll cover that later). You know this. I personally throw down an engineering bay, and place a single missile turret in each mineral line. Those are safe mineral lines. It takes awhile for him to get the critical mass of mutalisks needed to do real damage.
Seeing the muta's come out, I continue marine production, and start thor production. If those mutas do try to snipe something, they'll take terrible, terrible damage from the thor. It has a whooping range of 10- I'll park on in the middle of my base, and most of the time mutalisks never darken my sky after.
While all this fun stuff's going on, I try to apply pressure. The moment I stop applying pressure's the moment I get in trouble. After the muta's are mostly gone, I start thinking about taking my 3rd. It's completely map dependent, but I like my 3rd to be between my main/natural and his main/nat. I'll move my entire army* to there, set my rally points there, and make the curse of every non-terran: The planetary fortress. So much "OMG PF'S ARE IMBA!" rants going around, well, since everyone has such a hard time with them, let's make them. A missile turret or two in the mineral line, and viola. Happiness. Please oh please zerg, attack my 3rd. (If they do, be happy. Get those SCV's repairing everything.)
*Leaving basic defenses behind. A thor at the main, a bunker full of marines at the natural, little things to stop/slowdown runbys
So, we're getting to the late game. I've been making thors and banshees, because I like them. I use hellions and marines as a mineral dump (since thors are banshees are so gas heavy), work on my upgrades (GET THAT ARMOUR.), and see if I can snipe any greedy zerg expansions. (IE they're too far away from his main). Since my 3rd's between my natural and his base, (Or somewhere sneaky and easy to defend, like an island), I'll generally intercept his army if he trys to simply bypass me and go and kill me. (Or crush it between my base and his army) Constant little pokes, see where damage can be done. Control that creep, it's useful. And so annoying towards zerg. Push when you feel happy.
My APM's only ~50 or so, on average- rediculously high APM is not needed to pull this off, and spamming is involved in the APM count.
Edited by Selkie on 11/10/2010 12:14 PM PST
About the push: I like to have my thors in the very front of my army, to attempt to intercept banelings. You do not want those fragile, fragile marines exposed to banelings. Yes, they can try to run around the thors, but they eat so many more shots than they would have otherwise, and more marines survive. At the same time those banelings move in, the rest of zerg's army moves in. Magic boxed mutalisks- Your surviving marines should be stimmed already, and if a zerg player's not careful, there will be clumping. Clumped mutas are dead mutas, and it appears that muta's have the highest priority.
I expand behind my pushes, and I throw down more production buildings. On 3-4 base, I can support a lot, and since my teching's mostly done, researches and infrastructure mostly complete, I can afford more production buildings.
(There's more coming, there's a character limit that keep stopping me)
The huge swarm of incoming zergling is scary, and the hellions (should have blue flame) will go OM NOM NOM. (These are also behind the thors.)
Hydralisks are fun. You run up all your hellions next to them, and watch the great melting. (You can't do this push with 1 control group, I find myself needing at least 3, usually 4).
Mass roaches is a problem- what'll happen then usually is I'll lose ALL my ground forces, but by that time all the mutas are dead. Pray you have enough surviving banshees to mop up. (I almost lost a game once to a stop timing push, lost everything but 4-5 banshees to his 20 roaches in my natural, they barely cleaned up, remassed, push to win)
Ultralisks: I get the thor's 250mm cannon when I have the spare money, 250 cannon eats ultralisks alive. Also, see roaches.
Broodlords: Don't let them get them. You can deal with 4-5 broodlords with the thors, as thors outrange them. If 10-11 broodlords are out, you're basically dead. (How did they manage to get them o_O?) (If a game gets on long enough, and a few major battles have occurred, do start mixing in vikings)
Now, the exact ratio of everything is in a flux, it depends on what your opponent makes, and what you scout. Tweak the ratios. If they're getting LOTS of hydras, maybe skip making some banshees, and make something else out of those starports for a bit, or go send those banshees to deal pressure. Heavy roach, get a few more banshees. LOTS of zerglings, lose a cycle of thors to make hellions instead. Lots of little tweaks.
Now, let's assume that you're up against a creative and innovative zerg player, who decides he's not going to get mutalisks. Great! He's doesn't have amazing map control, he can't expand as much as he wants, and you can drop him. Drops are terrible for zerg- if he can see them coming via overlords, make two vikings and go on an overlord eating spree. Then drop. Punish greediness. (Fast 3rd, too many drones, etc).
Terran's a highly mobile army, and you hear QQing about cliffs and what have you all the time. Abuse them. Abuse them as much as you can. Abuse PF's- there are complaints about them for a reason. Early game, hunt down those scouting zerglings- there's nothing worse than moving out only to immediately kill a zergling that's been there the entire game, meaning your opponent knew he was safe this entire time. Get those upgrades- +2 armor on a thor means damage from mutas goes like this: 7-1/2-1/2. Doing half a damage to something with 400 HP isn't very effective. +2 attack for a thor means it'll two shots mutalisks. (The more clumped, the better). Same with banshees and marines. Upgrades are vital.
Edited by Selkie on 11/10/2010 11:56 AM PST
I'm personally a huge fan of building armor, I feel it's completely underused. Getting it means PF's have 5 armor- almost the same as a maxed ultralisk.
Two bases can support one reactored barracks, three factories, and two starports, each with tech labs. If you're ever low on gas, switch from thor to hellion production. (I find myself mineral starved most games until I take my 3rd).
Keep. Applying. Pressure. Zerg's major weakness is larva management- they can make workers OR fighting units. You can feint pressure, force them to build a lot of stuff to defend, then walk home. You don't need to actually engage to do minor damage.
Back to the mutalisk harassment, let's assume you're massing your army, you've got a decent number of mutalisk-killing stuff, and your opponent seems to have SO MANY MUTAS. They simply will not leave you alone, and the ball gets bigger and bigger, sniping off what it can. How to deal with this, when they just run away from your army when it arrives?
GFKT. (Go ... kill them) - likely hood is, unless you've been playing extremely passively, is that they're heavily invested into mutalisks. If they are, you can waltz into their base, and force a fight with those mutas. (there will be other stuff, clearly- thors in front to tank. Marines behind them)- you want a fight with those mutas. You have all the units to do so, and cost for cost, you're likely to come out ahead, as you're using mutalisk-killers. Big battle goes down, and let's say you barely lose. (But, having good mechanics, you've been making stuff the entire time)- zerg can/does go into panic mode. They've probably lost enough that they can't harass you effectively (4 mutas do so much worse against missile turrets than 20), and not having much of an army, feeling a sense of doom, they quickly remake it. Cool. They're making an army, and not workers. You can also have expanded behind this push, and grabbed another base.
Some map specific notes:
Lost temple: One of the best maps for terran. Cliffs, islands, you name it, it's there to abuse. You're probably playing to win the game, while thor/tank cliff drops can feel lame, THIS IS WAR. WIN IT. Ditto with islands. (I have a tendency to PF my islands anyways, as zerg does love their nydus/drops to kill it. If mutas are bad, I'll also drop off a thor.)
Scrap station: You're unlikely to apply really early pressure, this IS zerg's favorite map after all. When I play on it, I usually open up fast banshees, and see how it goes from there.
Steppes of war: Watch out for one base all ins. The rush distance is so close that it's dangerous for zerg to FE there, and they tend to all in on that map. I'll actually switch to 3 rax bio, simply because of how effective it is. (It's only not worked once due to 8 spine crawlers... I came, I saw the crawlers, I left, knowing the damage had already been done)
Delta quadrant: It's pretty easy to get your 3rd, and abuse the cliff if zerg's taken the in base 3rd. It's also easy to kill their FE, considering how close the distance is. Watch out for all in's.
Metapolis: I'm not good at this map. Basically, I cry on this map, and pray for a mistake from zerg I can capatalize on. Good harassment routes though.
Shakuras: Most people think this is a zerg favored map. If we're cross positions, I'm delighted. Otherwise, not so happy. VERY easy to expand- Abuse those PF's!
Jungle basin: My 3rd's much easier to take than zerg's 3rd. I change my plan a bit here, taking my 3rd and denying zerg a 3rd.
Blistering sands: .......... I die. I have it veto'd, and as such, know very little about it. Apparently, I'm not the only terran that dislikes it.
Xel'Naga: my favorite map to TvZ on. Engineering bay at the natural, banshee harassment, easy hellion harassment, 3rd at the gold, difficult to do run bys- what's not to love?
Now, I'm not claiming this is a silver bullet- mass broodlords, for one, will eat this alive, along with extreme trickery by zerg. It does eat muta-ling nicely though, and is flexible enough to adapt to tech changes, along with half this guide being general good ideas.
Alright, this was originally supposed to be pointing out that the two matchups are mostly even, that there was just a change in playstyle needed, and ended up being my guide to TvZ. Eh.
Replay pack!: http://www.sc2replayed.com/players/77405-selkie#replay - updating as I can, look for the TvZ's.
TL;DR: (Ok, understandable in this case)- The matchup's fine. Be tricky, don't let zerg do whatever the heck they want.
Edited by Selkie on 11/10/2010 12:26 PM PST
I see a lot of Terran players giving up early because they feel overwhelmed by zerg pressure (ie mutas, banelings) when really they don't realize that they have just as good a chance to win as their opponent. Once T players realize this, and stick it out to the end, I'll think they'll realize (and I agree with the OP) that it's actually pretty darn balanced.
I love using banshees vs zerg too :D... I'm dreading the day that more zerg players use infestors as a fungal growth can simply one-shot a group of banshees if they have any anti-air near by.
Edited by Lovenuggets on 11/11/2010 2:56 AM PST
Infestors have their own anti air, infested terran. I generally try to harass where zerg is not. (See metapolis game, gives good examples of harassment, from both sides)
It doesn't feel zerg favored to me, I haven't lost one in quite some time =D
Edited by Selkie on 11/11/2010 3:42 PM PST
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