MMA’s Defensive TvP Opening

mma

MMA’s TvP build against MC in the recent WCS Europe Final is really interesting. It is not completely out of the box, but it is well thought out for the current metagame.


MMA basically opens up 12/12 Reaper expand every game, and that is the standard opening in TvP. Ususally, there are three (arguably two) variations after a Reaper expand.

– 2x Barracks (Bomber and Polt love this)
– Factory then Starport (1-1-1)
1x Barracks, then Factory and Starport

The first two are more common in the current metagame, and the third is rarely seen now. Nevertheless, every variation shapes up to the two-base convergent point that consists of

– 3x Barracks (with add-ons)
– 1 x Factory
– 1x Starport with reactor
– 1x Engineering bay

MMA did the 1-1-1 in game 1 and 3 barracks in game 2 and 6. The build that I want to discuss here is the one that he used in game 3, 4 and 5. In these games, MMA reshuffled the build order before he went back to the above convergent point.

Build order

10 – Supply depot
12 – Barracks
12 – Refinery
@100% Barracks – Reaper and Orbital command
Remove one Scv from the Refinery when there is 50 gas
@100% Reaper – Reactor
@400 mineral – Command centre (@100% orbital command)
@100 mineral – Supply depot
@100 gas – Factory
@100% Reactor – Marine production

Build the first Bunker accordingly

@100% Factory – Widow mine production

At this point, it looks like a typical 1-1-1 variation. But MMA did not build a Starport immediately when the Factory completes. He built two more barracks instead.

35 – Supply depot
@300 mineral – 2x Barracks

Build Supply depot accordingly from here. Constant Marine and Widow mine production

@100% 2x Barracks – 2x Tech lab and Refinery. Then, Starport, Reactor on Factory and Engineering bay.
@100% Tech lab – Stim

The game shapes up to your standard convergent point.

I am unsure of when MMA put the Scv back into the Refinery based on the VOD, but I guess it is after the second and third barracks started.

Execution

Place the first Widow mine at the bottom of the natural’s ramp. There is a good chance to catch a Stalker which tries to poke at the natural. So do not put place the Widow mine too close to the natural, as it will loss the surprise factor.

The second Widow mine is placed accordingly based on what scouting information. If there is a Stargate (game 3), place the Widow mine where you can catch the Oracle. For example, behind the Refinery (basically near the mineral line).

wm1

If a blink is incoming, place the Widow mine accordingly to anticipate the blink (game 4 and 5).

wm2

wm3

Explanation

This is a defensive build.

It does not have the offensive capability of 1-1-1, because you cannot drop the Widow mine without the Starport. Also, it does not give you the high bio count with the standard three barracks to be aggressive. This build is kinda middle of the road between these two. The emphasis is on scouting and defending accordingly. As we all know, Protoss have a number of builds that require completely different reaction from Terran. For example, blink, Oracle and Dark templar. With the first two being the common metagame builds, this build aims to defend against them.

A decent Protoss player will not loss an Oracle to the Marines. The purpose of the Oracle is to scout and pin the Terran player in the base. This is really irritating from a Terran’s perspective. The Widow mine is probably the only way to kill an Oracle in the early game (one shot). Another advantage of the Factory over the Barracks follow up is that Widow mine allows you to cut corner of not building an early Engineering bay. A Widow mine at the mineral line equates to a Turret, if not better. Of course, you can be sneaky and hide the Widow mine behind a building near the mineral line to catch the Oracle.

This build is decent against two-base blink Stalkers. By the time the first blink happens (8:30), you have three Widow mines. A Widow mine shot on the group of Stalkers in the first blink is going to make a big difference. If Widow mine is that good, why isn’t the 1-1-1 build used to counter blink Stalkers? This is exactly where this build shines. With a 1-1-1 build, you find it awkward to decide whether to drop the Widow mines (offensive) or simply burrow them at home (defensive). Based on my observation, you cannot drop the Widow mine and defend blink Stalkers at the same time. The blink Stalkers will overrun the small amount of Marines, and the game ends there no matter how much damage you deal at the other end with a Widow mine drop. Therefore, if you are going to be defensive with a 1-1-1, the Starport adds little defensive value. The healing ability of that single Medivac is never as good as having more bio with three barracks.

Then, what makes this build better than 3 barracks? One obvious difference is the delay in stim upgrade. Stim is always almost but not complete when the first blink strikes. The first exchange will result in the Stalkers waiting for the next warp-in and replenish of shield, while the Terran will loss a decent amount of bio and try to anticipate the next attack. Stim is usually done in the second or third attack, and quite often the amount of bio left after the first exchange cannot make the most out of the stim. Going back to this build, it does not build the Starport immediately after the Factory, but invests in the additional barracks instead. This alone gives it better defensive firepower than 1-1-1. On the other hand, this delays the stim upgrade, but like I’ve said, the standard stim timing is limited in terms of defending against blink Stalkers. With the additional Widow mines, this build stands out against blink Stalkers.

There is another important advantage to this build. It gives you information of where the blink Stalkers are! The uncertainty of where the blink attack is coming from is, in my opinion, the main strength of blink Stalkers build in this match up. Terran are forced to stretch themselves thin to cover the wide area where the potential attack can hit, and this is hugely due to the map design in the previous seasons. This also explains why MMA used this build on the effective-blink-maps. The Widow mines can be placed on the low ground to anticipate blink like how MMA did on Frost. The Widow mine is likely to land a good shot before the opponent even blinks. Protoss do not have detection at that point of time, and hence, Terran can maintain vision of the Stalkers. This makes a huge difference in defending against blink Stalkers. To improve this further, the Widow mines that are not placed at where the attack commenced could be re-positioned to where the battle is at. Place the Widow mines where the blink Stalkers are going to blink out will probably swing the game in Terran’s favor.

With all these being said, the new season has less blink maps. So probably MMA’s innovation is a season too late.

Update on Terrancraft

The last post was exactly a month ago!

I am just too busy to even watch the games, so there is nothing I can write. But I must say some readers tweeted me about topics that they will like me write. I appreciate it very much, as it gives me a direction to do my research. A shout out to Patric Steiger (TonightSC2) who even email me links to some interesting games.

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5 thoughts on “MMA’s Defensive TvP Opening

  1. Thx for this article I will try this variation.
    But TvP builds seem so locked nowadays, the terran has to defend multiple types of early attacks,what forces him to always play the classic 3 rax ebay with blind bunkers and turrets.
    The new maps seem to help a bit, but blink hasnt disapear

    1. That’s the current TvP metagame. Terran have to play defensive until the mid game. And yes, it’s a problem to deduce what Protoss are doing since there are quite a number of possibilities. I’ve not played a game for more than 6 months, so I cannot comment on the new maps.

  2. Still some blink-friendly map. But the worst case is when P fakes blink witth ~4 stalkers and put a stargate instead of twilight council. You put bunkers, prepare for repair when an oracle pops at the back an kill 10+ scvs.

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