TvP metagame shift in November-December 2014

widow mine

Merry Christmas! I’ve been travelling around, so the update is slow.

There is a metagame shift in the TvP match up recently. Terran is changing its opening and its early game plan.

Background

The standard builds for Terran in this match up were mainly 14CC expand into three Barracks (mainly used in Nimbus) and 12/12 Reaper expand into more Barracks. There are two main variations for Reaper expand into more Barracks. One is the standard three Barracks, and the other is more upgrade focus. Of course, there will be other relatively more unorthodox builds mixed around. For example, Reaper expand into 1-1-1 or Hellion run-by (usually used in Nimbus or King Sejong Station).

The standard builds for Protoss were more diverse than Terran. There was a short period of time after the Blizzcon that Protoss prefer one-base all-in (watch the series of MarineKing vs. PartinG in Hot6 Cup). Still, the general standard builds revolve around an one gate expand. It is usually either early Mothership Core expand (4 Probes mining gas) or one gate one gas expand. Subsequently, there are three main paths: Stargate (Oracle), Robo (Colossus) or Twilight (Blink).

Current trend

The recent metagame shift from the Terran perspective is more obvious than from the Protoss perspective. This may be down to my relatively lack of knowledge of Protoss though. Anyway, based on what I’ve mentioned above, the “default” build for Terran is expand into bio-oriented set up. This lines up for the standard 9:30-10:00 2x Medivac move out timing with bio. The current trend is moving towards a 1-1-1 aggressive set up with Marine, Widow Mine and Medivac instead. Here is a basic build order for this 1-1-1 set up,

10 – Supply Depot
12 – Barracks
12 – Refinery
15 – Orbital Command and Reaper
@400 – Command Centre (@100% – Orbital Command)
@100% Reaper – Reactor
@100 mineral – Supply Depot (Build Supply Depot accordingly hereafter)
@100 gas – Factory
@100% Reactor – Constant Marine production
@100% Factory – Starport and Widow Mine
@100% Starport – Medivac

The timing hits when the first Medivac is out. You should have two Widow Mines and some Marines. The attack is usually a two-pronged attack with a drop in the main and  a frontal attack at the natural. For instance, dropping the Widow Mines in the main while distracting the Protoss with Marines in the natural.

The current trend does not follow this strictly. The recent Starleague and Proleague games showed different variations even though they all tech to a Factory before adding more Barracks later.

Variations

What I mentioned above sets the base for this type of less early bio-oriented build in TvP. In fact, the early TvP build in Heart of Swarm uses something very similar. The standard build back then was a 15 gas expand into 1-1-1. The current 12/12 Reaper version trades the early Marine count for a Reaper. The general core idea of the build is the same. Interestingly, TaeJa brought this 15 gas build back recently in Starleague.

Another interesting build is the 12/12 Reaper into two Hellions. Similar to those I’ve already mentioned, it’s not new. The main purpose is to use the Hellions to scout Protoss’ main. The build order is to swap the Factory onto the Reactor of the Barracks when the Factory is completed. Personally, I am not a fan to spend that resources (and opportunity cost) for such “no damage” scouting.

The 12 gas opening has a nice metagame twist to it too. A 12 gas is almost certain to be a Reaper opening, or a Reactor into double Reaper (something quite popular a year ago in TvP). Recently, I’ve seen Terran take a 12 gas, and build Marines instead of Reaper. The early gas is used to construct proxy Factory and Starport for Widow Mine drop. The standard Probe scout would have seen the 12 gas, and let the Protoss thinks that it’s a Reaper. S/he will go on to play out his build as any Protoss build should have a 12 gas Reaper opening in mind. It does give a wrong sense of security. Maru showed how this build could catch the best Protoss off guard in Proleague. Cure used it against Classic in Starleague too.

Even Siege Tank has become more common in the match up. If you go for a 1-1-1 set up in this match up, you usually react to Blink by building Tanks. Interestingly, the players have gone to create Tank timing builds (watch MarineKing’s Hotsix games).

Perhaps the most unique of all is what the CJ Terran (Bbyong and sKyHigh) did in the Hotsix cup. They did what I called the core build with 12/12 Reaper into 1-1-1 Widow Mine drop. What made their approach unique is how they do not converge back to the three Barracks set up on two bases. Usually, after you have your first Medivac for the attack, you build two Barracks and use the Factory and Starport to build Tech Lab. Subsequently, you swap the Barracks on the Tech Lab for Stim and Combat Shield for the standard game. Another words, your Medivac attack does not have a follow up immediately. What the CJ Terran did was that they continued to produce Marines, Widow Mines and Medivacs to drop and attack. Behind this pressure, they get the third Command Centre. Yes, the Stim is very late. It requires your constant aggression to buy time for the standard transition.

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