Terran Scouting Guide

Scouting in all RTS games is used to gain information on your enemy army – you are looking for army composition, placement, buildings, and trying to figure out their battle strategy. In Starcraft 2, as a Terran, scouting is especially important since without it you are essentially playing blind, and hope isn’t much of a strategy.

Terran Scouting is unique because Terran’s can use their Orbital Command Center and Scanner Sweep – they are the only race that doesn’t need to get some type of unit in the enemy base. When scouting you really want to try to keep the scout alive, so set your SCV unit to patrol waypoints around the map, which will keep it moving and still allow you to focus on your Terran macro strategy as well as scouting.

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Terran Scouting – Early Game

Generally, it’s a good idea to scout with the SCV unit that completed your first Supply Depot. This is a bit later than a Pylon Probe and a little earlier than a Gateway Probe. You can also send SCV 12 or 13 to scout. Similar to Protoss, timing your scouting will depend on what type of game you are playing – Random enemies and 4 player maps mean you need to send scouts out early. Also, don’t forget that your Reaper can also make an excellent scout, since he is fast and has the ability to jump cliffs.

A great Terran trick early in the game is to use a Mule to scout by dropping one in an enemy mineral line or base and taking a peak – but be warned that this is a risky strategy since it can die quickly, you may just waste it (and a loss of 300 minerals early in the game can be catastrophic).

Terran Scouting – Mid-Game

Mid-Game Terran scouting allows for several options, the most obvious being the scanner sweep, which costs 270 minerals. Another strategy is to build a Barracks and fly it over your opponent’s base. You can also use your Factory to do this, but should only use it if you only needed your Factory to get to the Starport (and are not using it for any other reason). The scan is definitely a great technique for beginners, since it will let you know what the enemy is doing. Hellion speed as well as flying your first Viking over the map are both also great techniques to learn about the enemy. A Hellion scout is much cheaper than a Reaper scout since there is no gas cost, and gas is generally accumulated at a much slower rate than minerals.

Terran Scouting – Late Game

Scanning is great late in the game. Viking scouting units can also be very effective for late game play.

Terran Scouting vs. Protoss

If you’re scouting Protoss and find that they seem to have a lot of units, but you only find a few Pylons, then keep searching for hidden tech buildings as a possiblity. Make sure to scout all around their bases, including corners and other hidden areas. If you see a Forge, you will most likely get hit by either a Cannon Rush or Void Ray attack early game. If you find two Gateways you’ll face a Zealot rush or a Robotics Bay. Gas doesn’t help in determining enemy Protoss strategy, since virtually every unit they build (except for Zealots) require a lot of gas.

Terran Scouting vs. Zerg

When facing Zerg opponents, you must watch out for a Spawning Pool. If you find one, expect an early 6-8 Pool rush, which can crush you if you don’t scout it early and defend against it. Also search for a Hatchery and prepare for Mutalisks, Hydras, or even a mass Roach attack. Make sure to check out our Zerg strategy guide to become familiar with common Zerg attacks.

Terran Scouting – Defending Against Enemy Scouts:

The easiest way for a Terran to deny enemy scouts is to use three Supply Depots. One thing you should be careful of as a Terran is not to indicate what you are doing based on your initial build – if you don’t wall off initially, most players will know you are in for a cheese attack. Definitely review the Protoss scouting guide and Zerg scouting guide to check out techniques your opponents may be using to spy on you.

Another great way to defend against enemy scouts as a Terran is to create some bad information as a decoy. While the enemy is scouting, drop a tech lab, and then once the enemy scout is gone, destroy it before it’s complete and switch to a reactor for early Marines.


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