TvZ: Quick Three Command Centre

While the different 1-1-1 variations are the metagame choice in the TvZ match up, INnoVation had brought back the old school quick three Command Centre back in his recent games.

Let’s get something very clear. When I suggest quick three Command Centre as an alternate build to the 1-1-1 variations, I am not saying the third Command Centre of the 1-1-1 builds is very late. In fact, the Legacy of the Void resource changes allow you to take a the third earlier than you can in Heart of the Swarm. When I say quick three Command Centre, I am basically referring it to a build that prioritises putting down a third Command Centre before other structures, and hence, the timing of the third Command Centre is relatively early compared to most builds. Unless you chose not to take gas before you put down the third Command Centre, this build arguably has the quickest third Command Centre.

Build order

14 – Supply Depot
16 – Barracks
16 – Refinery
@100% Barracks – Reaper and Orbital Command
@400 mineral – Command Centre (@100% Orbital Command)
21 – Supply Depot
@100% Reaper – Marine
@100 gas – Factory
@100% Marine – Reactor
@400 mineral – Command Centre  (@100% Orbital Command)
@100% Factory – Swap Factory onto Reactor for Hellions. Tech Lab on Barracks (@100% – Stim)

The above build order uses a standard TvZ Reaper opening, and you can do the same thing with Command Centre first. INnoVation used the Reaper opening against Solar and Command Centre first opening against Departure in the vods below. The build and game plan do not change.

When you compare this build to the 1-1-1 variations, the obvious difference is the lack of a Starport right after the Factory. The key difference is to not take the second Refinery, and this allows you to have more mineral to put down the third Command Centre earlier. You actually just have just enough gas to put down the Starport right after the Factory completes if you only take one Refinery (a bit of a hiccup with the production), but the lack of second Refinery restricts what you can do with the Starport.

In line with the shuffling of resource to not take the second Refinery, it is better to put down buildings that can spend mineral. Thus, more Barracks are added after the third Command Centre instead of the Starport. This is essentially a 3-1-0 classic set up with an early third.

Continue from the above notation,

@100% first pair of Hellions – Lift Factory and build a Reactor
@300 mineral – 2x Barracks (one on the empty Reactor, the other next to Factory)
When you have enough mineral get the following in such order – Refinery, 2x Engineering Bay, 2x Refinery

Subsequently, you just do the standard transition to the next convergent point by getting the Starport and additional Barracks.



This build defines the TvZ match up in the early days of Heart of the Swarm, and INnoVation is the best representative of this build. The build slowly gets less popular as Zerg gets more familiar with the timing, and how to play against the 4M pushes. But more importantly, Zerg have strong reactionary all-ins after they scouted the build.

The current metagame has sort of gone a full cycle. Previously, Zerg are doing all-ins with Roach and Ravager (they still happen, but less popular than they were), and Terran have to adjust builds against that. Now, Zerg tend to be more economical, while Terran flex with different options with the 1-1-1 variations. This early three Command Centre is even more economical than Zerg’s, and I think it is simply greedy. The metagame cycle may turn again if this gets more popular.

Execution and unit composition

The general play style and timing are similar to the ones in Heart of the Swarm. The early game is about not dying to all-in, but you probably cannot hold by reacting to it anyway because you simply have two Hellions and two to three Marines. The first timing is when you have two Medivac and +1/+1, and it is to clear creep. Subsequently, you just keep clearing creep and rally units across to attack the nearest or newest Zerg base. It is all about trading as favorably as possible by engaging off creep. The constant rally push and trades indirectly make it hard for Zerg to tech to Ultralisk, if you have good mechanics to back up the pushes consistently.

It is much harder than you think to constantly rally push like how INnoVation did it. It does not only require the mechanics, but it also requires you to know when and where to engage with the units. Sometimes you see INnoVation just circle around to control the map by taking the watch towers and clearing creep, it is because his upgrade (for example, +2/+2) is not ready.

Consistent with the game plan, the unit composition was mainly 4Ms, and no Liberators were produced. INnoVation only made Liberators because Solar had Ultralisks, and he had no choice but to be more passive until he had readjusted his composition by adding more Starport. Therefore, you can argue that the rally push with 4Ms has a timer on it, and it also pushes back the timing of Zerg’s tier three tech.

Build details

If there is one thing that is different to the Heart of the Swarm version and is worth discussing, it has to be the number of Hellions produced. INnoVation only made a pair of Hellions. The usual number of Hellions in Heart of the Swarm for TvZ early game is six and occasionally eight, while the number in Legacy of the Void is four. The main reason for the number to drop to four is the resource in Legacy of the Void allows you to have an earlier transition to bio. The reason to produce only two Hellions in this build is that it lines up better with the resource to put down the two Barracks. If you make another pair of Hellions, the banked up mineral doesn’t align well with the bio transition as well. I initially thought that this may be due to the scout on the timing of the third Hatchery, but I noticed this transition before INnoVation had more information. Thus, it should not be a reaction.

Another way to get around this dilemma is to put down the second Refinery and two Engineering Bays with the mineral, while you get the second pair of Hellions. You can still put down the two additional Barracks with the second pair of Hellions, but the Reactor build timing with the Factory does not line up that well with the building time of the Barracks. Therefore, after testing with various ways to transit to bio production by putting down additional Barracks in Heart of the Swarm, there is a consensus that it is best to stop Hellion production and build additional Barracks at the same time. Since the second Refinery and two Engineering Bay are independent to the transition, you can spend the mineral (which would have otherwise spent on Barracks) on these structures and continue Hellion production.

You can read more about the logic behind this, here.

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6 thoughts on “TvZ: Quick Three Command Centre

  1. Hi, outstanding content as always, what are your thoughts about this build in TvP matchup ? The only example I’m thinking of is TY’s 3CC build that gets a quick cyclone but I haven’t seen it in a while. Are the build dynamics the same versus Protoss ?

    1. It is possible to get an early third Command Centre for TvP, but there is no need to get Reactor Hellions for that match up. Overall, TY’s 3CC build is still one of the best 3CC build for the match up.

  2. I think the problem with this build is when zerg scout and transition to a nydus all in. Nydus become a hard counter of build with a lot hellion or very gredy, you think is possible terran win nydus all in with that build? Maybe can because just do 2 hellions and do a fast trasition to bio

What do you think?

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