1-1-1 versus 2-1-1

1-1-1 and 2-1-1 are the most common builds used, and it is only normal that these two get compared often (for example). However, how exactly are they different? Our thoughts on the distinctions affect how we apply the builds.

The three numbers basically refers to the number of product buildings for Barracks, Factory, and Starport. For instance, 2-1-1 refers to two Barracks, one Factory, and one Starport. I believe most readers are familiar with this.

Interestingly, when you ask someone to name the differences between 1-1-1 and 2-1-1, the production building distinction is not brought up. Indeed, it is rather meaningless to suggest the difference lies in the additional Barracks. When I look up on the threads discussing about 2-1-1 and/or 1-1-1 on /r/AllThingsTerran, it occurs to me that people have an idea that 2-1-1 is a specific build while 1-1-1 is not. If you have been following the build order and metagame of Legacy of the Void, this makes sense intuitively. However, this presumption of what these builds are limits our way of understanding the variations of these builds, and this is the main purpose of this post. I will list the build order of both builds using Reaper expand before I discuss further.

Build order

2-1-1

14 – Supply Depot
16 – Barracks
16 – Refinery
@100% Barracks – Reaper and Orbital Command
@400 mineral – Command Centre (@100% – Orbital Command)
@150 mineral – Barracks
@100% Reaper – Reactor
@100 mineral – Supply Depot
@100 gas – Factory
@75 mineral – Refinery
@100% Barracks – Tech Lab (@100% Stim)
@100% Factory – Reactor and Starport
Constant Marine production and build Supply Depot accordingly hereafter
@100% Starport – Swap it onto the Reactor of the Factory and produce 2x Medivac

1-1-1

14 – Supply Depot
15 – Refinery
16 – Barracks
@100% Barracks – Reaper and Orbital Command
@400 mineral – Command Centre (@100% – Orbital Command)
@100 gas – Factory
@50 gas – Reactor
@75 mineral – Refinery
@100 mineral – Supply Depot
@100% Factory – Starport and a Factory unit*

Just to be clear. This post discusses builds that are based on a fast expand opening, and hence, a tech heavy with delayed Command Centre 1-1-1 build is not considered in this post. The double Reaper and Cyclone build is an example.

Differences

Bio- versus tech-oriented

In my opinion, the best way to differentiate 1-1-1 and 2-1-1 is the focus of production in the early game. 2-1-1 focuses on bio production, while 1-1-1 focuses on tech production. I had made a post last year about these two builds in TvP based on this distinction. Although I label both as “2-1-1”, the tech-oriented build is clearly a 1-1-1. The reason I call it 2-1-1 is that, a second Barracks is added later to create a production of 2-1-1. However, the second and third Barracks are usually put down at the same time for 1-1-1, and the third Barracks is cut from that build order for Siege Tank production.

When you look closely at the production of the 2-1-1 build I listed above, the Factory is simply built to tech to Starport for Medivac. No Factory unit is produced. This is essentially the Legacy of the Void version of the classic one Barracks expand into three Barracks build in Heart of the Swarm and Wings of Liberty. Thus, the production is only bio units, and then two additional Medivacs are produced.

In contrast, the 1-1-1 produces units from the Factory. It is difficult to say what units are being produced exactly in 1-1-1, because it emphasizes on flexibility. This leads to the next difference.

Timing versus flexibility

2-1-1 is arguably easier to learn than 1-1-1, because it has a clearly defined build order and timing. There is no decision making in the production, because you just keep making Marines under most situations. You can choose to make Marauders when you know opponent is going for a Roach or Stalker timing, but it is still fairly straightforward. There is little room for you to make adjustments even when you want to. The only thing you can reasonably change is to not build a Reactor with the Factory, and build units from it instead. In the vod below, ByuN cancelled the Reactor for to build Tech Lab for Siege Tank, because Dark was going for a Roach Ravager all-in.

In contrast, 1-1-1 is so flexible that it is hard to even write a build order for it. You can ask several people to give you the build order for 1-1-1, and they either ask you to be more specific or each of them simply gives you different build orders. The stated build order above is merely the core of 1-1-1, and you can do countless variations from it. For example, in TvP, you can go for a Widow Mine drop, and follow up with a Siege Tank Stim timing (see first vod below). You can also play more defensively against a Stargate opening by getting a Viking first, and I have discussed this in the June MBO post (see second vod below).

In TvZ, you can go for Reactor Hellion by swapping the Factory onto the Reactor built by the Barracks, and this is the bread and butter of the match up (see vod below). You can read more about it in the July MBO post.

Things get even more interesting in TvT, because you can choose to delay the Starport to get an early Cyclone (see vod below). This is a reaction against the double Reaper Cyclone build. Alternatively, you can go for a more conventional 1-1-1 build, and you have to be familiar with all sort of different variations. On top of that, you have to consider about the offender versus defender issue when you decide what to produce. It can be overwhelming for many players in the learning process, and it is not surprising that some rather just use a well structured 2-1-1 in all match ups for practical reasons.

Match up

2-1-1 is generally considered not suitable for all three match ups, it was designed primarily against Zerg anyway. The build was so influential in the match up that I wrote four articles about it (Part 1Part 2Part 3 and Part 4). It is occasionally used in TvP (see vod below), and almost never used in TvT. I have seen a variation in TvP few months ago whereby the Factory produces two Widow Mines when the Reactor is completed, and the Starport just produces one Medivac. The timing is still the same.

Why is 2-1-1 not as popular in TvP and TvT? The main reason is the weakness in the time frame before Stim and Medivacs are available. In TvP, you can defend against various threats with the Marines, but it is difficult for you to execute the timing. Let say, opponent is doing a Stargate opening, and you position the Marines at the mineral lines accordingly. Then, when your Medivacs have just popped up, do you load the Marines up for the usual attack and leave the mineral lines unprotected against the Oracle? You basically get pinned in the base. In the vod below, Bunny squeezed in the Engineering Bay and Missile Turrets, and it is difficult to leave the base still. In TvT, any other unit except Marauder is good against Marine in the early game. A simple Cyclone poke at the front can be problematic, and cloaked Banshee is deadly against just Marines.

2-1-1 variations

What if I say 2-1-1 is actually doable in TvT? Just think about it for a second before you go on.

Your train of thoughts will probably start from your fundamental understanding of the build order per se, but did you challenge your assumption that there are different 2-1-1 builds that can actually work? Once I mention 2-1-1, you immediately fix your mind onto the familiar TvZ build that you know.

Now, go back to my earlier discussion about the differences between 1-1-1 and 2-1-1. The two defining points of 2-1-1 are (a) bio-oriented and (b) timing. The above 2-1-1 build order is arguably the most efficient way to reach a bio-oriented timing with Medivac and Stim, but some adjustments can be done to attenuate the weakness for it to be playable in TvT. The two builds below are 2-1-1 variations that you can use in TvT.

Two Barracks Reaper

14 – Supply Depot
16 – Barracks
16 – Refinery
17 – Barracks
@100% first Barracks – Reaper and Orbital Command
@100% second Barracks – Reaper
21 – Supply Depot
@100% first Reaper – Reaper
@400 mineral – Command Centre (@100% – Orbital Command)
@75 mineral – Refinery
@100% second Reaper – Tech Lab
@100% third Reaper – Marine
Stop Reaper production at three – Constant Marine production
@100% Tech Lab – Stim
Build Supply Depot accordingly hereafter
@100 gas – Factory and Engineering Bay
@100% Factory – Starport, and 2x Reactor on Factory and Barracks
@100 gas – +1 Infantry attack
Build Missile Turrets accordingly if needed
@100% Starport – Swap it onto the Reactor of the Factory and produce 2x Medivac

The timing hits at around 5:30, which is 30 seconds later than the default build order. ByuN used this build in the vod below. The three Reapers are meant to let you be aggressive and buy time to cover the weakness of not making Factory units in TvT early game. The timing of the first two Reapers is clear to the opponent that this is a multiple Barracks Reaper opening, but opponent does not know if this is a more cheesy three Barracks or not. Given that it was used on Whirlwind, INnoVation may even suspect ByuN had two or three proxy Barracks in the middle of the map (like this). He would play it out more cautiously, and this allows ByuN to get away with his build.

Standard Factory timing

14 – Supply Depot
15 – Refinery
16 – Barracks
@100% Barracks – Reaper and Orbital Command
@400 mineral – Command Centre (@100% – Orbital Command)
@100 gas – Factory
@50 gas – Reaper
@75 mineral – Refinery
@100 mineral – Supply Depot
@100% Factory – Cyclone and Barracks
@50 gas – Reactor on Barracks
@125 mineral – Engineering Bay
@100% Cyclone – Cyclone
@100% Barracks – Tech Lab
@100% Engineering Bay – +1 Infantry attack
Build Missile Turrets accordingly if needed
41 – Supply Depot
Constant Marine production and build Supply Depot accordingly hereafter
@100% Tech Lab – Stim
@150 gas – Starport and Reactor on Factory
@100% Starport – Swap it onto the Reactor of the Factory and produce 2x Medivac

The timing hits at around 5:45. The Reapers, Cyclones, and Marines are enough to hold Cyclone attacks from the front in the early game. This build could be used on most maps. In the vod below, INnoVation scouted this build, and reacted by getting a Liberator after the Medivac. The Liberator is a good choice, because ByuN would not have a Viking with this build.  The execution could be better though.

Ending thoughts

The main point I want to get across in this post is that our presumption of what 2-1-1 is limits our application of the build. Although 2-1-1 is not as flexible as 1-1-1, the resource can still be adjusted for a viable bio-oriented timing build.

I know many posts on reddit have discussed that the default 2-1-1 is not viable in TvZ anymore (for example). If by “viable”, you mean opponent does not know how to play against it and just loses the third Hatchery, then yes it is not viable. If not, it is still a solid build in the match up.

As mentioned earlier, some players use the default 2-1-1 for all three match ups due to the difficulty of 1-1-1, I suggest trying out the second variation 2-1-1 build for TvT.

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2 thoughts on “1-1-1 versus 2-1-1

  1. Thanks again for this nice post, so now we know the difference between the 2-1-1 and the 1-1-1 but what about the 3 rax before facto we dont hear a lot about it,i dont talk about the 3 rax reaper but the old 3 rax with a timing push with lot of bio marine maraudeur stim/shield/+1 and concussive. Canyou make some articles of the advantage of the 3 rax versus the 1/1/1 and some variation plz ? Thanks in advance and sorry for my english i hope i dont make bleed your eyes too much

    1. The three barracks build is relatively weak. You rather use the 2-1-1 if you want to do 3 rax. The only positive thing about it is that you use command centre first opening, and then put down 3 rax. By the time you have stim ready, you actually have medivac anyway. So it’s uncommon to use that old school build.

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