I have this topic at the back of my mind for quite some time and plan to post it only after the replay pack of Dreamhack Bucharest. Maybe I should not wait any longer.
Scv pull has been a very popular option against Protoss at the top level. Although Scv pull has been effective for a while, it has some mixed results this season.
What is this Scv pull?
Pull 20+ Scvs in the mid game with the main army for a mid game semi all-in.
Why do you pull Scv?
Protoss want to go the late game with their death ball, while Terran wish to end the game when they still have the army advantage in mid game (sounds familiar?). Scv pull allows Terran to exploit the window when Protoss are weaker as they are tech-ing up.
What is the Scv pull build order?
There isn’t one.
Any build can do Scv pull. You can do a 14CC or even TaeJa’s gas first aggression build. The key is to reach the convergent point in the mid game with five barracks and one starport.
When to do it?
Casters always say Scv pull has to hit before Psi Storm. To a certain extent, that’s true. However, the Scv pull timing often hits at the time when Protoss have storm. A better way to look at the timing of Scv pull is to look at the timing of upgrades. There are two main timings.
- +1/+1 Infantry upgrade
- +2/+1 Infantry upgrade and +1 Air upgrade
The exact timings vary slightly according to the build used, but the Scv pull timing is usually in line with the respective upgrade timing. This is the first key to Scv pull timing.
The second key is the right composition. You need to get a certain number of Vikings if opponent has Colossus.
The third key is Ghosts’ energy. When the Ghosts are just out of the barracks, they do not have the energy for EMP. Thus, Terran have to wait for the energy to build up before pulling Scv.
The +1/+1 timing is more common than +2/+1/+1. To the best of my knowledge, only Bomber switches between these two and everyone else including INnoVation only uses +1/+1 timing.
How to set up for the Scv pull?
I will only elaborate on the +1/+1 timing. This is because +2/+1/+1 has some “reactive” elements to it.
Since it’s only +1/+1 upgrade, do not build an armory. With no armory, do not build a second engineering bay. Upgrades for the Scv pull:
– Combat shield
– Concussive shell
– +1/+1 Infantry
You can do whatever build you want (except any extreme builds that do not converge to a 2 base convergent point), but it has to reach the first typical TvP convergent point on two bases.
– 3x Barracks (2x tech lab and 1x reactor)
– 1x Starport (1x reactor)
– 1x Engineering bay
The next convergent point is
– +2x Barracks
– +1x Command centre
– +1x Ghost academy
The first convergent point is straight forward, and hence I won’t explain it. The second convergent point is more tricky than the first. You can get the two barracks before the command centre first, or vice versa. However, in order to set up the Scv pull timing nicely, the sequence should be decided based on your build. If you go for 12/12 Reaper into more barracks before tech, get the barracks first. If you go for 12/12 Reaper into 1-1-1, get the third command centre first. This is because the upgrades are delayed when you tech first, so the additional units from the barracks do not add much value at that time when you need to choose between barracks or command centre. Further, since you will be more passive and rely on your 1-1-1 aggression, an earlier command centre will set up for a bigger army later.
The timing of ghost academy is around 10:40, which is after the two barracks and third command centre. Once the ghost academy is completed, train three Ghosts. By the time the Ghosts have enough energy, the infantry armor upgrade is about to be completed.
How does the set up vary based on Protoss’ tech path?
Probably you have noticed that I never mention what the exact time to pull Scvs is. This is because there is no “exact” timing for it. Scv pull is about setting up for the right composition and hitting at the right time. In short, Protoss’ tech path affects your composition, and that indirectly affects when you pull Scv.
You need Vikings. The number depends on how the game played out and how many Colossus opponent has. But the rule of thumb is 6-8 Vikings. In order to get to that Viking count, you should only produce four Medivacs and start Viking production after that.
In general, you only need one starport to get the Vikings. However, you may need to improvise by adding a second one to catch up with the Viking count if you did not start Viking production early enough. Refer to INnoVation vs. HerO Game 1 at Dreamhack Burcharest.
HerO hid the Colossus from INnoVation, so INnoVation did not start Viking production right after the second round of Medivac production. Upon finding out HerO’s tech path with a scan, he built another starport to catch up on the Viking count.
In short, Viking count is the key to decide when to pull Scv against Colossus build.
You do not need Vikings.
You can spend the resource on more Medivacs. By the time you have your first three Ghosts, the storm should be ready. Thus, it is not a matter of rushing it before the storm is done. You can pull Scv once your first three Ghosts have enough energy for EMP.
The execution of Scv pull against Templar build is harder than Colossus build. The EMP should target the High Templars, but Protoss should still have enough High Templar for storm. There is nothing much to explain as it is really about execution.
INnoVation vs. Elfi in Dreamhack Bercharest is a textbook example of how to do a Scv pull. For both games, INnoVation opened up with 12/12 Reaper. He went for a 1-1-1 follow up in game 1, and more barracks before tech in game 2. Pay attention to the sequence of the two additional barracks and third command centre as I have explained earlier. In the first game, Elfi went for a Colossus build, and INnoVation did the typical set up and pulled Scv when he reached 6-8 Vikings. In the second game, he pulled Scv when his three Ghosts had energy for EMP.
How Protoss react to counter Scv pull?
Bomber, the god of Scv pull in TvP, has been stopped by Super in WCS Ro32 this season. Super’s answer to Scv pull is to keep producing Colossus. Usually, Protoss stop at 3 to 4 Colossus and spend the resources on Templar tech. Scv pull is designed to kill Protoss during this transition. Bomber’s Viking count is not high enough to deal with the unusual amount of Colossus in game 1 and game 3.
INnoVation also failed to kill Panic in GSTL with Scv pull. Panic did some nice storm from high ground. But what really caught my attention was that he reacted by building many photon cannon. The Vikings were destroyed before they could take down the Colossus.
It seems like the survival of Colossus is key.