So, I've been thinking a lot about my build order, and watching a lot of Terran replays, and what I've seen is that there are lots of different ways to play terran. Cloud, for example, relies on mainly infantry and vikings. He doesn't seem to build tanks - marines and marauders form the backbone of his armies - and he's aggressive about expanding early. Sjow, on the other hand, seems to love hellion play, particularly with the weapons upgrades, and drops. I think it's important to pick a style that you are comfortable with, and to have in mind an overall plan. With that in mind, I have the following general plan and I'll try to stick to it in future games:
To keep opponent on one base for as long as possible. On maps where that is difficult (Delta Quadrant or Jungle Basin) to attack with a strong tank/viking push and try to break the front.
Rough build order
- Build 2 barracks, 1 with a tech lab and 1 with a reactor
- Build marines and marauders
- Research stim
- Build a factory with a techlab and a starport with a reactor
- Move out at around the 5:30 mark with whatever I have and push gently at the front of his ramp
- While pushing out save up for an expansion
- Build another 2 barracks, another factory with techlab and an armory
- Try a drop at around the 8 minute mark
- Mass troops for a big push at about 14 minutes
- It's important that before the first push engages I have some idea of whether I'm being rushed, so I'll scan the top of his ramp before I get there. I'll try to snipe off a couple of units with stim, or take a supply depot. The important thing is that he thinks I'm going to be aggressive.
- Leave a couple of units near his natural expansion if possible, so that if he expands blindly I can kill off his worker. Again, this should worry and discourage him from moving.
- It's important that for the early push and the drop I try to save my units wherever possible. The purpose of these attacks is not to win the game or even kill workers, it's to worry him and encourage him to turtle.
- For the big push I'll siege my tanks up near the front of his base and use my vikings to try to get vision up the cliff to allow me to shell any buildings near the edge. I'll build missile turrets at my contain and near my base.
- On large maps I might take a third once the contain is up.
If my opponent tries a big attack early such as a roach rush or a 4-gate then I'll need to shelve the expansion and play defensively. I'll need to scout that if possible.
On Delta Quadrant against Terran I might go for something completely different like a 4 barracks marine-only attack. I've tried that before and it usually works if I have about 8 or 10 marines at 5:30. Otherwise it can be brutal to try to break the frontal base defences.
I'm not trying to say this is some kind of uber strategy or that this is how you should play Terran. This is how I'm going to try playing for a bit though - hopefully being more rigorous and trying for consistency will help me improve.