All right, I feel that I have fine tuned ghost mech to the point where
a) it is viable itself as a standard tvp strategy
b) you will be able to have a unit composition all game long that works vs all Protoss unit compositions
c) the strategy is here for the long haul. yep, it has been effective since beta started and will continue to be
d) i've used it against very good players, so it is not just me bullshitting out a theorycraft, but putting it into practice
e) I can add +50 to my ego (^_^) and at the same time make all T stand a better chance vs the Protoss all-in invasion.
So, first off, what is ghost mech? Ghost mech is a play style specifically for Terran Vs Protoss where you will base your army composition on tanks, hellions, vikings, and ghosts. It is the closest style to SC1 TvP that you can play in SC2 (imo) so I think a lot of people will be interested in learning this.
The strategy is fun, effective, and is not looking to be going anywhere. I have used it TvP since I had a beta key, which was around patch 3...up until now. And back then ghosts costed more, and siege tanks took longer to build, so needless to say, the strat itself was buffed in a couple of patches.
It was especially strong pre-patch 10 because a lot of Protosses were still heavily using immortals, which become paper mache versus ghost mech due to EMP and siege tanks. The same strength is there currently in patch 10.
My reasoning for developing this is because I played Terran in Starcraft 1 so...why not play SC2 like SC1? and I do not like spamming marauders because it reminds me of how shallow CnC3/RA3 were. And anything that reminds me of 5000 scorpion tanks or 5000 infantry 1a moving into each other...just...makes...me...not have fun. I digress.
It seems a lot of people are afraid to go mech versus Protoss because of immortals high damage versus tanks as well as their shields but with ghostsin the mix, you really do not have to have those worries. Simply practice your EMPs and immortals are just another unit for your tanks to obliterate.
The theory is you can utilize full mech play with tanks/hellions as your ground army and use ghosts to neutralize any templar and immortals that would normally destroy mech play. The ghosts are pretty much the key unit to this strategy, without them your mech is paper mache, with them, Protoss immortals are now paper mache once you EMP them.
Once you have mech rolling, you can essentially play it like you would TvP SC1 style, establishing a position, and leapfrogging forward as needed. But you also have the use of lots of hellions for probe harrassment. Essentially, you will have a strong main ground army with a lot of opportunity for hellion harrassment in the mid game, as well as using ghosts for nuclear missile harrass as well, which is usually very overlooked by a lot of T players.
Games will go into late game a lot if you are macroing good and are playing a good Protoss player, and the only weakness of ghost mech play is naturally void rays or carriers, but these are both easily countered in the late-game by reactored viking production, as well as turrets when you push.
Another weakness of this style of play is your mobility. Siege tanks are your bread and butter, so you need to have them positioned, only clumped in instances where you are sure you can get EMP's off on templar and immortals. There is a tricky balance of when you will just wanna siege up and go at it, and when you will want to more carefully position tanks. Anyone that played TvP SC1 will have no trouble with this at all.
I also want to point out a main difference in this style of play from bio marauder/MMM styles (besides mobility). With marauder bio or MMM, you are incredibly mobile, and it is quite easy to 1T your marauder army and go go go. With ghost mech, you will never be able to move across the map that fast unless your opponent lets you.
Also, marauder bio is based off of gathering a larger and larger marauder army, and continually adding to that marauder ball and doing damage to your opponent's army count directly, rather than directly his economy. With ghost mech, early and mid-game you will almost never directly be doing damage to your opponent's army count, but you will be doing damage to their economy directly by taking out probes.
So it is pretty interesting in itself how with marauders you are basically brute forceing TvP making your army big, while they are also making their army big. With ghost mech, you are slowly accumulating more tanks while hellion harrassing which indirectly keeps their army around the same size that your army is. So there is no need to worry that you will be massively outproduced, as long as you utilize hellion harrass very well.
And mathematically 4 marauders cost 400/100, 1 dropship and 3 hellions also costs 400/100, so the resource drain is about the same on both strategies. Those 4 marauders are sexy strong versus Protoss units, but that dropship with igniter hellions is just as damn strong versus those frantically running probes
(1/1/1) Raven Opening
This is where a lot of people have been having trouble conceptualizing even attempting ghost mech. They try to go straight into mech play with no solid unit base, and then they wonder why they just died to a 4 gate all-in. You really cannot move straight into ghost mech (usually), that is a downside to this strategy, as you cannot use it right away as you would be able to marauders.
There are a myriad of ways to open versus Protoss. In terms of opening builds, there's the aggressive reaper openings, marauder FE openings, banshee openings, etc. I am just going to cover the opening I have been using that is versatile and I found out works best for me for transitioning into this ghost mech strat.
Here is the build order:
10/11 supply depot (wall off)
12/19 barracks (wall off, leave room for add-on)
13/19 first vespene geyser
15/19 orbital command/marine (building the marine is safest, lets you kill scout probe, but fast geyser is good too).
~16-18/19 second vespene geyser (with no marine first, get it around 16, even 15, then marine after)
~18-19/19 supply depot (at wall)
~18/19 factory with first 100 gas, and reactor your barracks with next 50 gas
from here, immediately when your factory is finished tech lab it, build your starport, and then lift your factory and build another tech lab, using the original one for your starport to build a raven from.
you will constantly be building marines throughout this build order, as well as constant tanks once your factory is finished, and when you land your starport on your add-on, immediately build a raven.
the other supply depots in this build come around
~23/27 supply depot
~32-33/35 supply depot
when you hit 32 supply, you will be producing your raven and first tank, and you should have a group of marines from constantly building them.
after this point, you will want to continously build tanks from your factory, and either banshees or vikings from your starport. This is where the versatility of the build comes in.
The builds strength comes from how you scout and react. You can change the smallest things in this build to hard counter Protoss all-in builds. If your opponent goes for fast voidrays off of two stargates, which is semi-all-inish, you can immediately move your starport to your reactor add-on and pump vikings to hard counter it and then move out and kill the guy with your marine/tank/raven and the vikings will stomp his void rays.
There are also tweaks you can do to get a faster igniter upgrade and hellions + dropship to harrass if you are not being pressured. Also, if your opponent goes sentry/zealots/immortal, then all banshees from your starport work extremely well in adding to your unit composition, and as an added bonus you can harrass with your banshees + raven + PDD later on while using your main army else where.
The key to this build order is the point defense drone of the raven. You must be careful on when you decide to deploy it. Never get suckered into throwing out the PDD, and then just watching your opponent move back his stalkers. You only want to deploy the PDD when you force an engagement, are holding a position (which happens often with ghostmech), or are on defense.
As an added bonus, the Raven opening autowins versus proxy DT tech openings, and oh does it feel good to facestomp a DT techer.
If Protoss are doing an all-in with mass gates/robo or mass gates/stargate, you will want to play defense and continue to produce tanks, banshee or viking, and marines from your barracks, as well as getting up your second command center.
It is also important that you are never afraid to build bunkers. Bunkers in SC2 are free, so if you are unsure what your opponent is doing in a TvP, or if you were unable to scout, build a bunker at your wall. Do not lose a stupid game because you did not build a 100 mineral bunker. Do not get greedy, 100 minerals keeping you in the game is worth not losing to an all-in.
So that is the build order for TvP. You will end up with a barracks, a starport, a factory, and the add-ons are two tech labs and one reactor, so utilize them however you need to to counter what Protoss is doing. You can pressure with your initial marines/tanks/raven, or you can defend if they are being aggressive (most Protoss are so far), and then
you expand behind this build and your push.
Do not get too greedy on your push, or you may get runover, lose vikings and leave tanks vulnerable to void rays, or just lose all your units and then be countered for a gg. Treat this like you would a FD build in SC1, probe at the Protoss, pressure and do damage if possible, but if there is no opening there, then retreat and save your tanks, that is crucial.
The marines are expendable of course, and in general in this build are used to simply ward off fast void rays so you can get out a viking while microing the marines against the first void ray if it comes.
Now, the transition.
Once you are safe, have pressured or defended appropriately versus what the Protoss is doing, you will lift off your barracks, and build a factory on the reactor add-on. This allows for hellion production, and if you did not get igniter you will want to by that point in the game.
The barracks now will be utilized for building only ghosts, and that is it. Your set-up you want to aim for is 4 factories, two tech add-ons, and two reactor add-ons, 1 barracks with tech add-on, and 1 starport with reactor add-on (swapped every now and then with tech lab for a raven if needed).
After the opening, you will be in the mid-late game stages and this is where the hellion harrass comes in. You always, always will be getting dropships with this strategy due to the amount of hellions you can produce you can afford to harrass everywhere, as well as run some hellions around the map like vultures in SC1.
Kill as many probes as possible, and accumulate tanks from your factories. YOu want to weaken the Protosses economy, while accumluating tanks making your own army stronger. Essentially, you are killing his production, while accumluating tanks.
I mentioned that earlier, but I will again as it is so important with this strategy. You need to harrass. This is not marauder bio, you are not going to making your army engage the Protoss every second to weaken his unit count or kill him like that. If you play ghostmech like you play marauder bio, you will lose, and you will lose a lot from not being patient.
Be patient, look for openings to harrass, and establish your army. You will want constant ghost production from your barracks, and all of your ghosts on a seperate hotkey. Practice your EMPs, because without them you will not be able to break templars or immortals from Protoss.
Securing your third base is good with ghost mech because you can hold a position on the map and a lot of times the Protoss will feel like he needs to engage or "do something" to kill you, which is what you want. If they move in, EMP all of the immortals/templar, as many as you can, and micro to throw out the point defense drone, and use vikings to counter collosus, along with your tanks.
Hellions of course cover zealot heavy armies. It is important to keep tabs on if the Protoss is massing zealots/collosus, or has a huge stalker/immortal type of army. EIther way, you will want to EMP as best as you can, but versus collosus you will want to get a lot of vikings as well to kite them.
Late game is where the power of the ghost comes in, through nuclear missile harrass, which I feel right now is heavily overlooked in the game. Since you really are not directly attacking Protoss with this strategy, but slowly being patient and gathering an army, you can get x3 nuclear silos in the mid-late game and use 3 of your ghosts and a dropship to harrass.
Many times when you go ghost mech, due to the immobility of your tanks, Protoss may be 1-2 bases ahead of you. x3 nuclear missile harrass totally nullifies that advantage. Suddenly, you do not have to commit your army and spread thin across the map to take out an expansion (like you would have to many times in SC1 TvP).
Use ghosts to x3 nuke expansions, and use your main army to keep their army occupied. They cannot commit a ton of units to stop a measly three ghosts travelling around the map, if they do, you will roll them over with your army.
The x3 nuclear harrass is also not just used to nuke expansions, but also pylon clusters and their gateways in their main. If you can reach supply limit, and manage to nuclear missile harrass their gateways and pylons, you can win many, many games where you are on one supply limit with one live expansion and they may have 5k/5k in the bank but no way to reproduce their army due to being supply blocked/having no gateways from the nukes.
Suddenly you are in a winning position, even though the Protoss thought he was was Bill Gates for a little while.
Sensor Towers - are your best friend.
I used to think these things sucked, and were useless and no good player would ever build them. I ate my words. Sensor towers are awesome in TvT, but they are just as good, especially with ghost mech in TvP. You might be pretty immobile at times with siege tanks, but when you have sensor towers sometimes spotting half the map and army movements for you, it is very easy to keep your army parallel to the Protosses without having to waste scans
BUILD THESE LATE GAME! Or whenever you are feeling like you do not know where Protosses army is, BUILD THEM!
So that is about it, that's the essential strategy. I do believe it is as viable as other Terran styles right now as long as you do not treat it or try to play it the same as you would mass marauders or airmech.
ah, and as for my own credentials, right now I'm #1 plat, played brood war for the last like 9-10 years (not many tournies tho), and reached B- high iccup but was usually inactive. I also have been active in many cnc games in the past few years as well, and went to WCG for CnC3.
Here are a few replays + replay pack showing ghost mech, enjoy:
oh, and here is one from May 6th, most recent, hour long game, but should help Terran that are having trouble vs void ray openings to get an idea of what to do:
and replay pack (someone tell me if it is not working or not letting ya DL):
gl owning Protosses