14CC is perhaps the most common opening in TvZ. Most of the time, Terran will build the command centre on the high ground to wall off the ramp as it is less vulnerable than having it on the low ground against pool before hatchery builds. However, a 6-pool can still break the wall by forcing a cancel on the barrack. This post is about how building arrangement can minimise the damage against 6-pool.
Before I go into the actual content, I want to state that it is possible to defend against 6-pool with command centre on the low ground. However, you do not want to end up in that position to begin with.
Typically, a 14 CC wall consists of
- Supply Depot
- Command Centre
All four examples above fulfill the purpose of walling off the ramp. As you can tell, they differ in building placement. A and B have the barrack on the left while C and D have the barrack on the right. If you look closely, A and B (C and D) differ marginally as well.
Although they serve the same purpose of walling off, the result can be substantially different if opponent uses a 6-pool build.
The Zerglings and Drones will reach the ramp when the command centre and barrack are still building. They will start attacking the buildings. You can repair the supply depot, but you cannot repair the command centre and the barrack as they are not completed. Eventually, the barrack will be forced to cancel. Once the barrack is cancelled, the Zerglings will swarm in which is obviously not ideal.
What should you do?
First, you cancel the refinery that is building because you need the extra mineral to hold off 6-pool and there is no time to tech. Then, you create another wall behind the barrack. Look at how Polt did against Suppy in the recent MLG.
The engineering bay behind the barrack forms a second wall. It gets completed in time before it is forced to be cancelled, and hence, it can be repaired. This prevents the Zerglings from getting into the base. The game is won if the Zerglings cannot break the wall.
In the above example, the terrain of the map and the building arrangement allows Polt to have the second wall. The terrain may not be in your favor on other maps whereby you cannot wall off with just an engineering bay. It is something that cannot be controlled by the player. However, most of the time, it is the building arrangement, which is within the player’s control, that determines if the second wall can be constructed.
In another recent game, the 14CC on high ground vs. 6-pool situation happened in proleague between TY and Hyvaa.
Based on the above image, the area that TY needed to cover in order to build a second wall was too wide. The barrack was forced to cancel and the Zerglings swarmed in. TY eventually lost the game.
However, if TY’s building arrangement was different, it is possible to form a second wall. Like this,
By building the barrack on the other side of the command centre, it is possible to build the engineering bay wall by making use of the terrain. The result of the game could have been different if the second wall was built and the Zerglings did not swarm in.
If opponent does not do a 6-pool, this detail makes no difference. But if the 6-pool situation arises, the right building arrangement can win you the game.
The number of buildings required to build a second wall is affected by the initial building arrangement. For illustration,
The four print screens on the left are the original wall off and the four print screens on the right are their respective second wall off buildings required.
To sum it up, always build the supply depot on the side where it has a wider area to build a second wall. This allows the barrack (which might be forced to cancel) to be built on the side that requires fewer buildings to form a second wall.
This detail may not make much of a difference on certain maps as both sides could be too wide to form a second wall, or equally narrow.