TvZ: Early 3CC with 1-1-1

INnoVation had not been showing too many games recently as he had been knocked out of tournaments in the early stages. However, his recent TvZ build in GSL Super Tournament caught my and others’ attention.

The build itself is not spectacular, but its implications are worth discussing.

Build order

14 – Supply Depot
16 – Barracks
16 – Refinery
@100% Barracks – Reaper and Orbital Command
@400 mineral – Command Centre (@100% – Orbital Command)
@100 mineral – Supply Depot
@100% Reaper – Marine
@100 gas – Factory
@100% Marine – Reactor
@400 mineral – Command Centre (@100% – Orbital Command)
@100% Factory – Starport and Refinery, swap Factory onto Reactor for 2x Hellion, and build a Tech Lab with Barracks next to the Starport (in this sequence)
Continue Hellion production
@100% Starport – Swap it onto the Tech Lab for Banshee

The build order basically ends here. You can transition into either bio or mech by transitioning into the 3-1-1 or 1-3-1 convergent point. See below vod for the build.


TvZ background

Generally, you can open up with a Reaper expand into 1-1-1 in all three match ups, then you will put down two Barracks (or Factories) and one Command Centre to move toward your 3-1-1 (or 1-3-1) on three bases convergent point for a macro game. The “standard” sequence to put down these buildings varies according to match up. You usually put down two Barracks first for TvT and TvP, but you put down the third Command Centre first for TvZ. This is the well developed norm since Wings of Liberty. Of course, you can always switch them around for strategic reasons, for example, you can put down the third Command Centre first for TvP, or the two Barracks first in TvZ. The point I want to highlight is that by having the third Command Centre down before the additional production build is the norm, and it should not be considered an “early” 3CC build.

Then, what is an early three Command Centre build in TvZ? You either go straight into 3CC after the first Barracks, or you place it down after the Factory (go for standard Reactor Hellion). The latter is the most common one, and it has been the bread and butter of TvZ in Heart of the Swarm. There are two build paths after this. The first, which is arguably the most used, is to put down two Barracks for a 3-1-0 first. This has also been used in Legacy of the Void. The second is what I like to call the defensive Banshee build (part 1 and 2), which goes into a 1-1-1 first. The idea behind the defensive Banshee build is fascinating in my opinion, and the first article about it is one of my favorite articles in Heart of the Swarm. Each build has its pros and cons. The build I am discussing in this post is closely related to the defensive Banshee build back then.

Metagame implications

In Legacy of the Void, the two common builds are the 2-1-1 and the 1-1-1. The 1-1-1 usually involves Reactor Hellion plus “something”, and the “something” is essentially what you want to do with the Starport. The most common variation now is to get a Viking then a Liberator, before you transition to 3-1-1 or 1-3-1 (see vod below).

There are basically too many variations for me to cover. Just to show some examples: Viking into Raven, Hellbat variations, Raven into Banshee etc. The point is no variation is “solid” enough to be the go-to now. The Viking is going to get good value, but a Liberator or Banshee follow up is usually not worth the investment. Essentially, the reason you get the Starport is to get the Viking and to have the insurance of getting Banshee if opponent goes for a Ravager attack or other related all-ins. Thus, the second air unit is made only because you don’t want to idle the Starport.

The recent patch to move Overlord’s Mutate Ventral Sacs upgrade requirement from the Evolution Chamber to the Lair is as good as removing the possible early Zerg drop. This decreases the value of the Viking from the standard 1-1-1 build, whereby the viking is used to indirectly defend against potential drop by hunting the nearby Overlords. In the past, an early Viking was considered an offensive option that sets up for future drop. In Legacy of the Void, however, it is arguably a defensive and control option for the stated reason. Thus, the patch also suggests the current standard 1-1-1 build with Viking is further not optimised in the metagame. Here are the considerations to improve this build:

  • Viking’s value dropped. What Starport unit is better?
  • If nothing is better, then why do I still make the Starport?
  • If I don’t make the Starport, it is better to transition to bio from Reactor Hellion earlier.
  • Then, the classic early three Command Centre build with 3-1-0 follow up is the logical choice.
  • But it is weak against all-in at that time frame.

This is where INnoVation’s build in this post shines. Based on the above reasoning, the “meaning” of this build is essentially the same with the standard 1-1-1, but it is improved due to its much earlier third Command Centre. Before I go further, I want to point out that the notation difference between the early 3CC builds and the standard 1-1-1 builds is whether you take the second Refinery, and this allows you to have the extra mineral for the third Command Centre. In other words, you sacrifice tech (the 1-1-1 variations) for economy (earlier third). The difference is subtle, and it is not a surprise that some mix them up easily. The first pair of Hellions is slightly delayed, but that should not make a notable difference. The beauty of this build is that the second Refinery is not needed early on for the early third, and it lines up well with the rationale that you don’t need cloak since Banshee is for defence (read the old defensive Banshee post for more information).

In my opinion, this build can be further optimised. If you can deduce that the opponent is not going for an all-in, you can skip the Banshee. Then, you can choose to go for a Viking instead, because a Viking is more valuable than a cloak-less Banshee in that situation. Alternatively, you can go for more aggressive option like a Medivac for a Hellion drop.

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4 thoughts on “TvZ: Early 3CC with 1-1-1

  1. Nice article!
    I’m just confused about one thing. The convergence article lists 5-1-1 as the convergence point for 3 base, but this article, you mention 3-1-1 as the convergence point for 3 base. Am I missing something?

    1. Assuming you are going for a standard macro game. You go to a 3-1-1 & 3CC (sequence depends on builds) then add 2 more buildings to become 5-1-1.

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