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Why Is Terran Mech so Weak?

Updated on September 5, 2013

Terran Mech IS Weaker than Bio Play

Yes, playing pure Mech by itself is much weaker as a gameplay strategy than bio play - but that doesn't mean that the game is unbalanced. Not at all.

There are many factors that make Mech justifiably weaker than bio and this article will be an attempt at covering all of them. I do this, because many people (including a good friend) feel that Blizzard is failing Terran players by making Mech unviable.

The Thor has the same very slow movement speed as a Battle Cruiser (1.875) which is also not seen very often for the same reason.
The Thor has the same very slow movement speed as a Battle Cruiser (1.875) which is also not seen very often for the same reason.

Equal Players Deserve an Equal Chance

What I mean by that is, players with the same APM, understanding of the game and lightning fast reaction times should have an equal chance of winning when they play against each other.

Now, consider that mech units are notably slower: the Thor has only 1.875 which is the same as the trundling Battle Cruiser or Carrier and the Tank only has 2.25!

Compare that with the 3.375 of Marines and Marauders and you see can the difference clearly.

Yeah, So?

Now consider that with the slower mech units you cannot: kite enemies, split, stim or cast abilities like EMP.

The question that has to be posed then is:

"Would it be fair for a player with 200 apm who perfectly microes his Marines and Maraiders all game to succeed at the same level as a player who sets up tanks and masses Thors/Hellbats?"

The simple answer has to be: no

There must always be a way to out-micro these units otherwise they would by definition always win and therefore make the game by definition: unbalanced.

Trying to argue that "Blizzard should make it so Mech wins 50% of the time vs well microed Bio to make the game fair" not only is an impossible demand but would only result in everyone playing mass Mech in the Platinum and under leagues win and all the players in the higher leagues (who have learned to micro better): lose.

To some extent, this is indeed actually the case at the moment and as a result lower leagues do see more Tank/Thor play - Sieging outside of the enemy's base with some Thors and SCV's (on auto-repair of course).

"But APM isn't Everything"

That's right, it isn't. There are many things every good starcraft II player needs to have and there's no denying that - it wouldn't be a strategy game if it was just the speed of your fingers that mattered.

And yes, of course, there are many pro players who typically score less apm than the others (like WhiteRa) but still manage to win a lot - a lot of this is to do with some players not spamming buttons to look like they have high apm.

Yes, knowing the game mechanic & its timings back-to-front is really important and so is knowing the most efficient build orders.

But, if each player is roughly equal in both of these respects, it will be the highest APM x Efficiency of each move that = win.

Imagine a scenario where each player scouts perfectly, reacts perfectly and engages every time he's in the best position to - what's going to decide how well each player does? How fast and how well he executes his informed decisions.

Now imagine the Red Bull is a Thor.
Now imagine the Red Bull is a Thor.

The problem is though, that not every unit gives as much micro-potential as others: the zealot for instance cannot be micro'd as well as a Marine or a Zergling (because it's slow and its charge un-controllable) and as such you can't expect mass Zealots to win against Mass lings or Marines in a real match - the Lings will surround your Zealots and the Marines will kite them.

Similarly, the Thor and Tank cannot prevent being out-concaved, surrounded or run from many of its counters (Lings, mass zealot).

Mech Counters are too Inherently Powerful.

Mech is the 'trade speed for power' strategy and as such has the following weaknesses:

  1. Easily Scouted & Prepared For
    It's so easy to scout a Terran player going mech: the instant you see a Tank, Thor or two Factories is the moment you'll know your opponent is committing to Mech-tech.
    - Then it takes around 1 minute 30 for your opponent to actually reach you.
    - What this means is you have more than enough time to prepare for Mech even if you were expecting Bio-play. It's just too slow to surprise anyone.

  2. Grinding Halts from Siegetank Frustration
    - After spotting my enemy Terran is going Mech, I simply take a Xel Naga Tower or leave a unit/observer outside of my opponent's base so I know exactly when they move out.
    - At the same time, I keep my army at the front of my base (knowing now that strong bio 'doomdrops' won't happen) so if he does come out, I can push forward and force him to set up his tanks (stopping his push).
    - This gives me more time for more Immortals + gateways for when he does finally leap frog into my base by which point I am more than ready.
  3. Base Trades
    -As a Protoss player, my biggest answer to Terran Mech-play is to wait until his army out and then immediately move mine in. I then can reign terror on his production structures until I see him near my base, at which point I can recall my army and battle his.
    - Similarly, for Zerg players, running in with masses of Lings, Mutalisks or even just Roach/Hydra will mean destroying all of his juicy unprotected production structures and economy and then retreating (via Nydus worm or not) back to your base.
    - Although not as effective as with the Protoss, it still works very well with Zerg since it comes naturally to the race to have one or two more bases than your Terran opponent (meaning even if he kills one you'll have destroyed his production and be doing great.

The Infamous Widow Mine

Down but not Out!

Okay, so Mech by itself sucks a big one and there are rarely any good times to use effectively.

The important thing is that there are some good times: e.g. when you see your opponent is going HT Zealot you can slay him with Thor/Hellbat, and Thors are an obviously strong counter to Mutalisks (but again, apm - matchboxing - diminishes this fact).

The best decision you'll make is incorporating other units into your gameplay - don't just go Bio when you can use Widow Mines, Hellions and Banshee play too.

And, there is always the chance of surprising your opponent by switching into harass options like Widow Mine + Tank drops, late game. Drops in general, should be considered as an option to use more tech (see video), especially now with the new Medivac boost ability.

Possible Changes?

Possible changes might include:

  • Purchasable speed boosting abilities with very large cooldowns that allow Mech armies some more flexibility.
  • General casting abilities like damage boosts (like Bloodlust or Frenzy in other games) in order to reward Mech armies for using APM like the other strategies.
  • Give a weapon speed bonus to Thors when they drop out of medivacs (with a name like 'fully-fueled') to make them more powerful as harassers against SCVs and possibly even in battles - allowing players to mass pick up and drop different Thors for bonus damage.

All of these changes would allow players to use Mech in different ways rather than just having perfect map control, scouting and positioning at the moment - this is important to achieve if you want Mech to be useful but like I firmly believe: there is no need to change Mech because it is not necessary for it to be viable on its own - incorporating other units into the fray makes for a better game!

After all, we don't complain that Protoss always has to use Gateway Units or that Zerg have to use Roaches or Lings...

Thanks for taking the time to read,


Dennis Kurtin (GrimReaper)

Thor Drops to Victory!

© 2013 StarCraft 2 HOTS


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    • profile image

      SC2 player 

      4 years ago

      Sorry, I meant to say "Why are carriers and tempest allowed to dominate the sky....."

    • profile image

      SC2 player 

      4 years ago

      What I got out of this is "Zerg and Protoss end game units should be able to crush terran end game units in all circumstances and Terran players should continue to play as if they're only chance to win is to take out the enemy in the first 18 minutes of gameplay."

      FYI, zerg and protoss have incredibly useful tech'd up units, especially since HoTS launched, and Zerg/Protoss endgame units are incredibly overpowered when compared to Terran. Sorry, I shouldn't even call it overpowered. It's just that Terran mech is gimped and that's pathetic.

      Why does your logic not apply to Ultralisk? The freaking best ground unit with a cleave in the entire game moves like what...1.5 times faster than siege tanks? lol it's ridiculous.

      How about Protoss it's so ridiculously powerful when put up against anything that is Terran. It is downright unfair. Why are battlecruisers and tempest allowed to dominate the sky with no micro necessary whatsoever $6? Where is your logic of "more powerful should be weaker"?

      Sorry, maybe terran bio play was overpowered (actually Z and P were just too lazy to counter) in SC2 pre expansion, but Blizzard has more than made up for any reign Terran had with Heart of the Swarm release. Z & P dominate terran now and its ridiculous how bad mech play is.


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