TvP: TY’s 3CC Defensive Build

TY’s 3CC TvP build in Dreamhack caught my attention, and I think it is a really well thought out build. More interestingly, it is a build that is not based on Heart of the Swarm, but is newly developed in Legacy of the Void.

I was told that this build is also used by Flash on ladder, so I guess this is a KT Rolster Terran build. The build has been used against Lilbow (game 2), puCK (all 3 games) and PartinG (game 1, 3 and 5) several times in Dreamhack.

Build order

14 – Supply Depot
16 – Barracks
16 – Refinery
@100% Barracks – Reaper and Orbital Command
@400 mineral – Command Centre (@100% – Orbital Command)
20 – Supply Depot
@100% Reaper – Reactor (@100% – Marine production)
@100 gas – Factory
@400 mineral – Command Centre
@100% – Factory – Tech Lab
@100% Tech Lab – Cyclone
38 – Supply Depot (build Supply Depot accordingly hereafter)
@100% Command Centre – Refinery
@100% Cyclone – Tank
@300 mineral – 2x Barracks
@100% Tank – Tank
@250 mineral – 2x Engineering Bay (@100% – +1/+1)
@150 mineral – 2x Refinery
@100% Barracks – Swap one Barracks on the Tech Lab and make another Tech Lab (Stim and Combat Shield)
@150 gas – Reactor on Factory, and Starport
@300 mineral – 2x Barracks
@100% Starport – Swap Starport onto Reactor for Medivac

If you are a new reader, please take note that I don’t write build order down based on specific supply count once it goes beyond the opening stage. This is because the supply will change game to game depending on different interactions, and hence, it is easier and better to remember the sequence of buildings. Furthermore, the above notation is the core of the build order, and TY did not follow this strictly every game. This is because of he changes the build order according to the information he gathered, and this results in different Bunker and Missile Turret timing, and other production adjustments.

You have already reached the convergent point with three Command Centre, five Barracks, one Factory , one Starport and two Engineering Bay, and the build order ends there. There is no point remembering what is next, the rest of the follow up buildings like Armory (@50% +1/+1) will be the same with most builds.

Defensive set up

This is a defensive build. It is important to think the right way when you play a certain build. There are two reasons why this build is a defensive build. First, it has an early third Command Centre, which does not allow the player to attack because of the relatively low tech and small army supply. Second, Cyclone and Tank are effective defensive units in the early game, even though they are not included in the key unit composition. The first reason is self-explanatory, so I will discuss more about the second reason.

Let’s start with Tanks. Way back in the early Heart of the Swarm, Tank has already been used against Blink Stalkers. This is because the siege mode upgrade was no longer required in Heart of the Swarm, so it was an innovation at that time. Despite its early game defensive utility and other early pushes potential, Tank was never a key unit in the main TvP composition. The main reason is that Tank is only good against pure Gateway units, so it is no longer effective when Protoss have other tech as the game goes on. While Tank is useful in its own way, Cyclone is the unit that is produced first instead. As I have stated in the build order above, the basic sequence is Cyclone-Tank-Tank. That single Cyclone actually does wonder, as it shuts down almost any early Protoss attack. The current metagame involves a lot of Warp Prism drop with Adepts, so the Cyclone is a good way to kill or simply deny the Warp Prism. The subsequent Tanks make sense because the Stim is delayed.


Attack or defend with Cyclone

TY’s first Cyclone sometimes will attack with the eight Marines (puCK game 1 & 2), while it sometimes just stays in base (Lilbow game2, puCK game 3, and PartinG game 1, 3, 5). Given the chronological order of these games (Lilbow-puCK-PartinG), it is plausible that TY had figured out that it is not wise to trade the Cyclone and eight Marines after the two games. Another plausible reason is the different information gathered in game triggered different reactions. After watching these games again, I notice that TY did not have the information of the first tech of Protoss all the time, so it is less likely the decision is based on the first tech. The most probable reason is the opening used by Protoss, and TY only moved his Cyclone and Marines across the map when TY knew that Protoss went for Nexus first.

Why only attack when it is a Nexus first? I don’t have enough information to be conclusive, but I guess it is due to the fact that Protoss are unlikely to have an offensive move with that opening at around 4:00 to 4:30. The Cyclone is mainly used against Oracle and Warp Prism early on (Lilbow game 2 and PartinG game 1), and it is the Tanks that do the job in defending other actual all-in or attacks. Since TY deduced that there will not be anything flying in, he decided to move out with the Cyclone and Marines to trade and gather information. The fact that he was defending with the Cyclone against PartinG in game 1 because he didn’t see a Nexus is consistent with this rationale.

Number of Cyclone and Tank

The basic sequence is Cyclone-Tank-Tank. Other variations include

  • Cyclone-Cyclone-Tank
  • Cyclone-Tank
  • Cyclone-Tank-Tank-More Tanks

Obviously, the first Factory unit is Cyclone, as I have discussed it earlier. The second Cyclone is usually unwarranted, and it is only used once in the sample of games (puCK game 2). I don’t understand how he makes the decision that he should get the second Cyclone. You can speculate all you want, but it is not going to be conclusive. This is because TY makes the second Cyclone immediately, and there is no additional information that tells him that it is a good choice. All I can say is, the second Cyclone is only produced if you are going to attack with the first Cyclone, but it doesn’t happen in another game that he attacks anyway.

Sometimes he stopped Tank production after one, and I think it is more of rolling the dice. Clearly, if you think that opponent is going to all-in, you just keep making Tanks (puCK game 3). Thus, based on the notion that having more Tanks means being defensive, having just one Tank should only be done if you think opponent is not going to attack. On the contrary to this logic, TY made only one Tank against PartinG (game 5) who actually chose to attack with Blink and Adept early on. This is likely to be down to the fact that TY did not have the information, and he chose to roll the dice. The benefit of not making more Tanks is the relative early bio transition (earlier Medivac). Therefore, I chose two Tanks variation as the core of this build order (it is not random).

Gasless one Barracks expand

Recently, my article on how to learn Terran build orders in blocks has received much attention (and appraisal – I can’t help it, sorry), but I should make use of this post to clarify something. If you have read that article, you will think that you can do this build with a gasless one Barracks expand first simply by replacing the Reaper opening with a another opening. It is not wrong, but there is more depth to it.

In game 2 against PartinG, TY went for a variation of this build with a gasless one Barracks expand, but he made a Starport immediately after Factory. You cannot do this with a Reaper opening, because you only have one gas. The beauty of the build order I listed above is the perfect alignment of gas for Cyclone and Tank with only one gas, and this allows you to have more mineral to put down the early third Command Centre. However, when you open up with gasless one Barracks expand, you need to take two Refineries in order to line up the mineral/gas ratio to put down the Factory at a decent time. Since you took two Refineries, you will have more gas than the Reaper opening. The resources do not line up any more unless you spend the gas somewhere, and this is where the Starport comes in. Nevertheless, the general game plan of the build remains the same.

Other discussion

Previously, I had discussed some of the basics in TvP for Legacy of the Void, these games provide more information about it.

I was saying Reaper opening is an inferior opening in TvP because of Photon Overcharge and Adept. While the statement itself is not wrong when you compare it to Heart of the Swarm, TY has shown that Reaper opening is still doable. If opponent is going for Nexus first, there is more time and room for the Reaper to roam around Protoss’ base because the Mothership Core is rather late. In contrast, it is much harder to do it against one Gateway expand, because the Mothership Core appears at the same time the Reaper enters the base. In game 3 against PartinG, TY did not move the Reaper into Protoss’ base after the Scv scouted that it is a Gateway expand. This has something to do with the map too obviously. Interestingly, in game 1 against PartinG, TY put down a Reactor when the Barracks completes, because the Scv scouted two Gateways. I am sure he will go for Reaper if he didn’t know PartinG’s spawn point or he scouted a more orthodox opening. All in all, it is really down to how much you can get done with the Reaper that deters how you maneuver it.

The mid game composition is Marine, Marauder, Medivac and Liberator, and other units like Vikings are used as counter units. As for Protoss, Blink Stalker and Adept are the core, but it is still not clear whether Disruptor or Colossus takes the main role here.

The first tech timing is almost certain to be at around 2:30.

It seems like the old trick of using the gas in Protoss’ natural as a sign of two base all-in can still be applicable in Legacy of the Void. The timing of the gas in the natural is around 4:00. If they are not taken, you should know something is coming. Watch TY versus Lilbow game 2.

The timing of the third base appears to be at around 5:00 to 5:30 for a macro oriented build. Of course, it depends on many factors, but this seems to be consistent so far. In game 5 against PartinG, TY wanted to get information of the third base at 5:00, but he was constantly denied by PartinG’s units. He later decided to put down a scan after 6:00 to check the third base, because the rather abnormal positioning of the Stalkers and the intention signalled by them. After he did not see a third at that timing, he just retreated his third.

TY has been on the defensive side for most of his TvP games, and I don’t want to use these games as the snapshot of the metagame. I want to see how Maru plays this match up.

Featured image is taken from Daily eSports.

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9 thoughts on “TvP: TY’s 3CC Defensive Build

  1. What do you think of taking 16 gas but building a reactor immediately instead of a reaper? Is this to vulnerable to things like Pylon adept rush or something like this?

    1. Reactor first does fine against Pylon Adept rush, because you have more Marines by the time the timing hits. However, the Reaper will allow you to know that the rush is actually coming.

  2. Thanks for posting this! This build caught my eye also, mainly because it seemed difficult to punish, and was so greedy.

    It seems the protoss on ladder have caught on, and early timing attacks with T are becoming less and less likely.

    1. An economic opening with 3CC is viable, and you can make adjustment based on the metagame. The main reason TY moved away from this at a certain point was that the patch changed the early game, so Terran don’t have to sit back and defend by default. TY simply chose other options.

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