This article discusses an all-rounder response against the Spawning Pool before Hatchery opening.
This post is motivated by some questions I got after posting an article about early Roach Ravagers. In it, I discussed the ideal way to react against Spawning Pool before Hatchery with Roach Warren follow up build. While the article addresses the problem regarding early Roaches well, it assumes building a Roach Warren is the natural sequence of the Spawning Pool before Hatchery opening. It is plausible that Zerg does not put down a Roach Warren and simply makes Drones and Zerglings. Then, the response I discussed in that article is a less than ideal reaction to the opening.
This leads to the question asking, what is a good response against Spawning Pool before Hatchery in general? If we commit our defense against Roaches, we may put ourselves behind unnecessarily. However, if we assume there is no Roach Warren, we may put ourselves at risk against Roaches. Some recent games shed light on this issue.
Terran usually goes for the 16 Refinery Reaper expand opening, and this article assumes you use this opening. Since the opening is decided before you have the game starts, you cannot realistically change your opening to counter Spawning Pool before Hatchery. You should know that Zerg uses this opening with a Scv scout, as the Hatchery at the natural is delayed compared to the usual Hatchery before Spawning Pool opening.
You can attempt to move the Scv into Zerg’s main base to scout for the Roach Warren. However, if you sent the Scv over early (e.g., at 18 supply), Zerg will not put down the Roach Warren until the Scv has left or is killed. If you sent the Scv later (e.g., 20 supply), the two Zerglings should kill the Scv before you can scout for a Roach Warren. That means, you usually do not have enough scouting information to deduce whether there is a Roach follow up.
Since Zerg did not go for a one base opening (for reference), you can put the Command Centre on the low ground. The first threat is the first pair of Zerglings trying to kill the Scv building the Command Centre. This is a counter move against a Reaper expand opening, whereby the Reaper is sent across the map and there is nothing to defend the natural. A common response is to leave the Reaper at the natural against this attack. When the Reaper does not travel to the other side of the map, Terran does not get to scout whether there is a Roach Warren. This goes back to the original problem of playing blind at this stage.
Recently, I have seen a decent all-rounder response against Spawning Pool before Hatchery opening (see vods above). A Bunker is built next to the Command Centre on the low ground. The timing of the Bunker varies in the two vods. One places it down before the second Refinery, and the other places it down after the second Refinery.
The main takeaway is the idea of defending the low ground against potential Roaches and Ravagers. This is drastically different to the notion of building a Bunker on top of the main ramp, as these two distinct reactions are stemmed from two different fundamental assumptions regarding the point of contention.
You can send the Reaper across the map once the Bunker is about to be done. A Marine in the Bunker is enough to defend against the early Zerglings. The Reaper needs to confirm if Roaches are heading your way.
Similar to previously discussed reaction, the Reactor should stay on the Barracks for more Marines. Producing Hellions with Reactor is gambling on that the opponent does not have Roaches, so it is not an all-rounder response.
The next interesting choice is to continue with 1-1-1. In the previous article, I stated that you should skip the Starport in order to have enough gas for the Cyclone (or Siege Tank). This all-rounder response instead builds a Tech Lab with the Factory, and this then allows you to get Cloaked Banshee. Banshee is strong against Roaches and Ravagers, but the challenge is the time required to access the tech.
The first vod above shows it plays out when the opponent does not go for Roaches, and the second vod above shows the subsequent reaction against Roaches and Ravagers. You can swap the Factory onto the Reactor for Hellions (i.e., go back to the standard) when you know there are no Roaches. You have to pull some Scvs to repair the Bunker against Roaches, and the key is to buy time for the Banshee. Subsequently, you just converge back to the standard set up by putting down the necessary buildings.
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