The Shokz Guide, Starcraft 2 Guide

How to use Reapers Effectively Guide

As I’ve shown in a number of builds (and consistently in my own play), Reapers are the premiere Terran starting strategy. Since you’re going to build a Barracks with a tech lab at some point in the game anyway, why not skip the relatively weak Marine early in the game and go for a gas-intensive early-game rush? In no way does an effective Reaper build affect your economy. This is not an all-in rush. There are two parts to the Reaper build, the build order, and the micro. If you need to learn the build order, check out this article.

If you’ve already got your build order down, now it’s important to learn where and how to utilize your Reapers to their full potential. As you should already be aware (if you’re not, check out the Shokz Guide’s unit guides) Reapers are incredibly strong against tier 1 units (Zerglings, Marines, Zealots) to a point. There are some situations where you’ll need to avoid a conflict. Here’s some of the do’s and don’ts of deciding what units to engage:

Against Other Units

VS Marines – Marines are very weak against Reapers by themselves. A single Reaper can kill a Marine in three shots, making Reapers a great way to eliminate Marines, but only in small groups. For instance, you don’t want a Reaper going up against three Marines by himself, it’s just not going to work. With a 50/50 cost versus the Marine’s 50 mineral cost, you can’t afford to lose Reapers to Marines. So generally, in a contest against Marines make sure you at least outnumber your opponent’s forces by 1. Therefore, if he’s coming at you with 5 Marines, make sure you have at least 6 Reapers, or you should head for the hills. Keep in mind, this means PER conflict. So if he sends his Marines in 1 at a time, you only need two Reapers to be effective.

VS Marauders – You never want to go up against Marauders with Reapers. Avoid these units and harass. One Marauder can kill up to four Reapers before it dies. Stay away. But since they move slowly you can usually dodge your opponent’s first one or two Marauders and do damage to his outlying buildings while you switch into your own Marauder and/or Tank build.

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VS Reapers – It’s likely that a Terran opponent might go for Reapers. This is why it’s important to scout early and often. If you see a tech lab and a gas, he’s either ready for your Reaper rush or he’s going Reapers himself. If he goes Reapers you’ll need at least one more Reaper than your opponent. There really isn’t much you can do to micro against Reapers, it’s much more about positioning. Getting one volley off from the top of a cliff that he’s coming off can mean the difference in the game. Try to position yourself where he’s going to be. Control the Xel’Naga towers and anticipate his path of travel. If you can catch him by surprise and get a lead on him in Reapers, he’ll be in real trouble. Then go directly for his tech lab and skip the workers. You’ll win the game easily. But trust me, Reapers vs. Reapers comes down to experience, intelligence, and timing more than anything. If you lose a Reaper fight, immediately switch to Marauders.

VS SCVs – These are your primary targets. If you kill two SCVs with each Reaper then you’ve justified your expense. So you can sacrifice units as long as you take out a couple of SCVs. Be careful though, if your opponent turns his entire mining force on your Reapers who don’t have the speed upgrade, you’ll have to micro a LOT to take any down. Don’t let him get a surround!

Siege Tanks – This is more a mid-game deal, but I often have 4 or 5 Reapers hanging around after I’ve killed a player in a 2v2 or 3v3, or even in a 1v1 if my rush didn’t cripple him all that badly. If you even suspect that your opponent has Siege Tanks, approach with caution. They’ll kill your all your Reapers in the splash zone with one sieged shot. So his base is effectively a death trap.

VS Zealots – Reapers do very well against Zealots even without the speed upgrade. In general, if your Protoss opponent doesn’t go Stalkers early in the game, he’s going to have a real problem. You can simply dance around the Zealots (Move -> Hold -> Move -> Hold) keeping a decent distance between your pursuers and doing a lot of damage. Be aware of your surroundings, don’t let his probes catch you from another angle and box you in. Also don’t get stuck in a corner of the map.

VS Stalkers – AVOID STALKERS. If your opponent has only 1 or 2 usually you can just avoid them like Marauders and do peripheral damage, but you definitely don’t want to fight in open combat with Stalkers. Run for it and find another angle.

VS Probes – I find probes to be the most annoying worker to take out with a Reaper. For some reason their attack pathing is just a little bit better than SCVs or Drones, so they somehow hit your Reapers a little bit easier. If you don’t have speed upgrade you’re hardly immune to Probes. They can chip away at your health while they chase you, so engage with caution if his entire worker force comes after you. But you’re still doing damage by preventing him from mining, so bring it on!

VS Zerglings – Zerg is by far the toughest race to harass with Reapers. Because of their 30% speed increase on Creep, their units have a huge advantage. So as a general rule stay off of Creep at all times. But rules are meant to be broken. Assess your situation before progressing onto Creep against a Zerg player. Zerglings are generally easy targets for Reapers up until they get their speed upgrade. Once that happens (speedlings) your Reapers are in trouble. You’ll have to abuse the cliffs just to stay alive. If a Zerg opponent gets speedlings, you should switch to another unit. Reapers have lost their usefulness. Zerglings are also different from Zealots or Marines because your micro tactic against them should be different (see “The Run Around” below).

VS Roaches – Avoid Roaches at all costs. If a Zerg player switches to Roaches, do what damage you can and run away. It’s especially tough because of their speed increase on Creep. Although if they are off creep your able to kite them easily if you have the Reaper speed upgrade.

VS Queens – Queens are a conundrum for Reapers. They’re a valuable target but are also a Zerg player’s best line of defense early on against Reapers. As a rule you need at least four Reapers to kill a Queen. And even then you’re going to need good micro. Focus fire on her and pull back the Reaper she’s currently targeting. She won’t go down all that quickly so keep your eyes peeled for attacking workers or Zerglings as well. Don’t get surrounded.

VS Banelings – Reapers are actually quite effective against Banelings (because they’re considered Light units). Just don’t let them get hit by them. If you micro effectively you can really put the hurt on a Zerg player who is using Banelings. This is often what I do against a Zerg player who has teched to speedlings. Instead of sacrificing my Reapers I will leave them at my walled-in choke and harass any forces his sends from behind. Often this is where he builds his Banelings and you can take them out before they even hatch! He’ll really get PO’ed about that one. Just one example of how Reapers can help you later.

VS Drones – As usual Drones are your primary target. Two dead drones will pay for your Reaper, so you want to focus on them heavily. But don’t go on a suicide mission onto Creep, Drones can easily catch you on Creep so they’ll be doing some damage.

Reaper Movement and Micro

You want to consider all options when you’re using your Reapers. I normally scout my opponent well and then send my first Reaper to assess and harass while waiting for the second to come out and reinforce him. You’ll want to hotkey your Barracks (I use 2) and your first Reaper (I use 3) and you want to make sure your first Reaper doesn’t die because you’ll be starting from scratch all over. Set your Barracks rally point to a close but safe distance from your target’s base. I usually pick the edge of a cliff where he can hop up and support the original Reaper while he’s being chased. I call this maneuver the Snatch and Grab because your first Reaper will likely be dancing around an assortment of tier one or worker units. As your second Reaper arrives you can maneuver your first Reaper toward him, and as they come together your second Reaper will open fire on the foes chasing your first, and then you can grab them both and begin a unison movement away from the pursuers. This effectively doubles your firepower, and will increase every time you add a Reaper. This is my standard technique for using Reapers in micro.

An alternate technique that I find very useful against Zerglings (and against Zealots too, but snatch and grab is just as effective against them) is The Run Around. In this scenario, you’re being chased by Zerglings off of Creep without their speed upgrade. Your Reaper is only as fast as his pursuers so it’s difficult to have him get off a shot. You can still do it but there’s less room for error. The only way to gain on your pursuers is to kill the first chaser. To use your Reapers in a more effective manner you’ll have to out-micro your opponent. Here’s where this technique comes into play. You’ll need two Reapers minimum for this technique. During the chase, select your last Reaper and send him on a different course. This is likely the Reaper being chased. Stop your remaining Reapers with the hold command once he’s a good distance away. The Zerglings will continue chasing your diverted Reaper for a few moments while your other Reapers open fire. This is a very tricky technique (as are all Reaper maneuvers) and will take a lot of practice before you get it right. But it can really chew up your opponent’s Zerglings and make him feel the pain. This works to some extent against speedlings, but not very well.

When you’re using Reapers you always want to maximize their ability to abuse the cliffs. Depending on the map there are varying amounts of areas where you can use cliffs to your advantage. There are also a lot of maps where there are backdoor rocks, which Reapers are perfect for destroying very early (very useful in a 2v2 with a Zerg partner), your Terran opponent will never see it coming. Cliffs are very important for Reapers because they offer yet another way to escape and punish tier one melee units (cliffs are your only hope of escaping speedlings) and can also give you enough of an advantage over untouchable units like Stalkers or Marauders that you may be able to kill a couple and continue your harassment even more effectively. Cliffs can also be a safe way to take out important structures. Which leads into my next section of prioritizing targets.

First and foremost, you always want to target workers as priority one. If you have a clear path, hit the workers immediately. But workers aren’t always vulnerable, or they might have run to a safer area, and now you’ve got to deal with other extenuating circumstances that make taking out workers a little harder. In these cases, there are other areas you can hit that will cripple your opponent just as effectively. For Protoss, you want to go for pylons, assimilators, cyber cores, nexus, and gateways, in that order. You want to hit the pylons first because they can immediately stop all production as well as supply capping your enemy. If he has no pylons up and no Stalkers, you’ve basically already won. Your next target (if you can’t hit all his pylons for some reason) should be his assimilators and then cybernetics core. This will delay his Stalkers (gas deprivation/tech deprivation) which will allow you some extra time to harass. In addition, if you’re under duress while harassing, you can specifically target his gas-mining probes. This will force him to micro more than you (resulting in mistakes) and will slow his production of Stalkers. If you’re lucky you might even take out the Stalkers he still has out. Following that option, you want to go for the Nexus. This can often send a player into panic mode. If his Nexus is under attack your opponent will likely make an even more costly mistake, like forgetting to build a Stalker, or he might rush his probes back at you out of desperation.

Against a Terran player, after the workers the first building I suggest is hitting his tech lab. Sometimes you want to hit his tech lab before you go for his workers. This can stop any and all attempts to produce either Reapers or Marauders for a period of time, and will make it much harder for him to counter your rush. In order from there are supply depots, then reactor cores, then his Command Center. Refineries really aren’t a target unless you’ve got nothing else to hit. Since Marauders aren’t gas intensive anyway you’re better off setting him behind in minerals rather than gas.

Against Zerg (remember, use Reapers against Zerg with caution), gas is much more of a priority. If he gets the speedling upgrade you’re really in trouble. This can also hamper his ability to go for Roaches, and will slow him in his ability to get to Mutalisks which is the main threat against Terran. Gas is important for Zerg. So depending on how your opponent reacts (or if he has a spine crawler up) you should go for his Extractors or gas mining Drones first. This will slow his response ability and force him to out-micro you to keep up. Trying to keep three Drones mining on Extractors that are constantly under attack is incredibly difficult. In addition, he might not even notice if you kill one of his three gas-miners, resulting in a severe disadvantage for the rest of the game. If you can’t take the gas or hit his workers, your next priority should be his Spawning Pool and then his Queen. I place the Queen later because she’s much harder to kill. The Spawning Pool is stationary so you can simply hit it, run, and come back. In a 2v2 it’s also very important for you to be the primary damage provider against Spine Crawlers. While your opponent keeps his forces busy, punish his Spine Crawler and take it out much more quickly than your partner can.

When to Upgrade Reaper Movement Speed

The Reaper movement speed upgrade is a bit of a tipping point in the Reaper rush. If you commit to it too early and your opponent counters the rush well you’re going to be at a disadvantage because you didn’t research concussive shells early enough. So it’s very important to practice situations in which you’ll want to upgrade speed and when you’ll want to use the Reapers solely for harass and switch early into Marauders to finish your opponent off. If your initial Reaper encounters heavy resistance and you feel like switching, it’s time to start ramping up production of Marauders instead. But if your opponent is Protoss, or a Terran whom you suspect of getting Reapers, or the map is very large, you should bite the bullet and go for the speed upgrade.

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