This strategy is best described as Tank-less TvZ. It focuses on the mobility of large squads of Marines and Medics and an ever increasing number of Science Vessels used for Irradiate and Defensive Matrix. Quick marine upgrades and well-executed micro, macro, and multitasking are also essential to this strategy.
The name 'SK Terran' comes from a player known as Soul Key, who was one of the first to use it regularly. The build gained popularity as the general ability of Pro Gamers to micro and multitask increased. Players such as NaDa helped to popularize the build and today it is extremely popular.
Openings fit for transition into SK
SK Terran is a highly aggressive style that is intended to pressure the Zerg with a large number of MnM and Science Vessels. The ideal scenario is to split apart a big MnM ball and engage in guerrilla tactics around the map while irradiating key Zerg units such as Defilers, Ultras, and Lurkers.
When you move out you should have at least 2 groups of M&M and at least one Science Vessel. Mutalisks shouldn't be a serious threat anymore, and the Zerg player has probably switched to Lurker/Ling. When fighting Lurker/Ling there are a few things that are very important.
General micro tips
- Remember to keep your units hotkeyed. Otherwise you have no chance of running away with all Marines fast enough, or stimming them all at once. Use hotkeys that you are most comfortable with. The following is a popular hotkey setup:
- Don't attack burrowed Lurkers unless there are only a few. Instead, try to keep mobile; move around and try to find other targets, like other groups of units or expansions. Eventually the Zerg will have to unburrow to defend or attack you. Keep the pressure up.
- It is important to be prepared for any Lurker/Ling attacks from the Zerg player. If you are caught off-guard there is a good chance you will lose a number of Marines. Successful execution of the SK Terran strategy often depends upon knowing when to fight and when you should be retreating.
- Try to get your Marines well-spread. The goal is to prevent multiple Marines from being hit by a single Lurker spine.
- Play aggressive and patrol the center of the map. This allows you to prevent the Zerg from securing extra gas expansions, and makes it easier for you to surround Lurkers from multiple sides.
- When facing a Lurker-first opening you should be aggressive. Getting caught in your own narrow choke against incoming Lurkers makes it harder to micro and can easily lose you the game. Against Mutas you need to stay in your base until you build up enough units and/or Turrets to safely move out.
- Don't lose Vessels to Scourge. When the Scourge are coming move your Vessel group back to the safety of your Marines, and avoid the Scourge until your Marines have taken them all out.
- Practice quickly cloning your Vessels to Irradiate multiple Lurkers.
- Defensive Matrix can also be put to good use when fighting Lurkers. Matrixing a Marine or Firebat and running him across the Lurker field during a fight will make all the Lurker spines go in the wrong direction, unless your opponent actively tells his Lurkers to attack your main army.
- Try to keep up the pressure on your opponent by attacking multiple locations. Constantly raiding expansions, sending out multiple drops, Irradiating and other 'annoying' tactics will force the Zerg to play defensively. As he is expending more resources on Sunken Colonies he will have less Drones and therefore a weaker economy. This is merely utilizing the strength of the SK Terran build over a Tank build: mobility.
Micro against Defiler/Lurker
- Focus the Irradiates on the Defilers.
- Try to avoid getting your Vessels Plagued.
- Move away from and around Dark Swarms. Don't focus too much on the units, but try to take out the Zerg's expansions, forcing him to move and defend.
- When you see a Swarm about to be cast, you can often react quickly and attempt to run up and kill the Lurkers before they enter the Swarm.
- Dropships are great for harassing and killing expansions
- Splitting armies to hit multiple locations at once is very powerful due to the efficiency of marines and can be really frustrating for a Zerg.
- Playing near the Zerg's base will make Defiler sniping more effective, as you have more places to move to, more space to fall back to, and the Zerg will have to wait for new Defilers to slowly reinforce in order to attack your base with Swarm. Be sure to never let the Zerg reach your base, as SK Terran has no way to fight units under a cast Swarm effectively.
Micro against Ultralisks
Once a Zerg can afford it, he will add Ultralisks to his army.
- Trying to cast as many Irradiates as possible on the Ultralisks is essential as this forces Zerg to split up his units, making it harder for him to control.
- If you know the Zerg doesn't have too many Scourge it is often worth sending your Vessels to fly around the map, looking for Ultras or Defilers to Irradiate. Try to cast Irradiate on units BEFORE they are about to engage your army.
- Irradiating Ultras that are very close to your army might be dangerous, as the spell also will do damage to your Marines.
- Often times, key Defense Matrixes on certain Marines that are the target of the Ultralisk's attacks can turn the tide of battle.
SK is especially powerful on maps that have large open areas or many paths between the expansions.
SK is also strong on maps that are low on gas, as you won't need gas for both Vessels and Tanks.