TvP: TY’s Three-Pronged Attack

TY used a very good build against Stats in the recent GSL series.

Build order

Opening

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 (build a Bunker if you want)

Build

@75 mineral – Refinery
@100% Marine – Reactor
@100% Factory – Widow Mine and Starport
@100% Reactor – 2x Marine (continuous production)
@100% Widow Mine – Widow Mine
@100% Starport – Medivac and Supply Depot
Build Supply Depot accordingly hereafter
@100% Widow Mine – Tech Lab
@100% Tech Lab – Siege Tank
@150 mineral – Liberator
@100% Siege Tank – Siege Tank
@400 mineral – Command Centre

Transition

@300 mineral – 2x Barracks
@150 mineral – 2x Refinery
@250 mineral – 2x Engineering Bay

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Discussion

Build ambiguity

The defining feature of this build is the three-pronged attack:

  • Marines and Siege Tanks (and Scvs) attack the third base.
  • Liberator sieges up at one mineral line.
  • Widow Mine drop at the other mineral line.

While the build seems demanding, it is in fact just a variation of the standard builds. Up until getting the Medivac, it looks like a pretty normal Widow Mine drop build, which is the most common option in the current metagame. One of the most common TvP builds pros and casuals use is the Widow Mine drop into a 3-1-1 push. Protoss players expect the Widow Mine drop even if they cannot confirm that is what you are doing. It is the same as Terran players assume Protoss go for Twilight Council then Robotic Facility with Blink. When Protoss players defend the Widow Mine drop, they expect the next attack to be the Stim timing.

However, this build does not follow up with the standard bio heavy attack, but it instead does a three-pronged attack. The attack does not require any specific “building” (e.g., Armory or Fusion Core) apart from the standard 1-1-1 structures. Thus, the ambiguity of the available information is a key strength of this build.

Attention and execution asymmetry

The other strength is the benefit of attention asymmetry. We cannot pay attention to multiple places on the map at the same time, so it becomes a battle in the attention economy. Generally, the attacker has advantage over the defender in terms of where to pay attention. This is because when the attacker attempts a multi-pronged attack, the attacker decides where and when the battles happen. This build uses a three-pronged attack to maximise this advantage.

Each of these three attacks is easy to defend if they are executed individually. If you were to siege a Liberator at mineral line without another attack to draw the opponent’s attention, the Liberator is as good as a donation. If you were to only push with Marines and Siege Tanks, Protoss would intercept the attack with Stalkers and buy time for more units to defend. However, when these attacks happen simultaneously, the difficulty to defend the multi-pronged attack is higher than to execute the attack. TY is an expert in this, and I had written an article about attention based harassment execution using mainly his games.

Execution

Before I get into the three-pronged attack, it is worth mentioning the first Widow Mine drop at 4:30. There is no three-pronged attack if you lost the Medivac, so it is very important that you do not risk the Medivac for the drop. As mentioned earlier, Protoss expects the Widow Mine drop, so you can just show the Medivac and then move it to the air space near the mineral line. Protoss would keep a few Stalkers at the edge in case you attempt to move the Medivac back. Terran usually drops the Widow Mines again when the 3-1-1 bio push is reaching the third Nexus, as this creates a two-pronged attack. Hence, Protoss would leave a few Stalkers at the edge of the mineral line to anticipate the drop.

If you want to drop the Widow Mines at 4:30 because the Stalkers are out of position, you should drop them at the edge. Although this does not maximise the damage, it is less risky when you try to pick them up again. Parking the Medivac at the air space behind the natural mineral line is a set up for the later three-pronged attack.

The three-pronged attack starts when the second Siege Tank appears. You first A-move your Marines and Siege Tanks to the third Nexus. It is a good idea to pull a few Scvs with this push, as it gives you the option to build Bunkers. The other reason is it looks like you are doing a common early Marines and Siege Tanks attack. The Liberator is out around the time you start moving Marines and Siege Tanks across the map, and it should move along the edge of the map to opponent’s main base. You queue up shift commands to siege the Liberator in the main base, and it is not a game breaker if you forget about it after you have executed the command.

When Protoss scouted your push, they know you are going to drop the Widow Mine when the push is near the third Nexus. This is when the Liberator shine, as no unit will be stationed in the main base due to your army positioning at two other places.

Although you want all three to hit at the same time, the Liberator probably takes a longer travel time than the push. That is okay, as the push itself forces Protoss to position most of their units at the third Nexus. The Liberator will do damage when it reaches the main base. The Medivac should drop the Widow Mines when Protoss engages the push.

Protoss’ tech choice

This build works well against the common Twilight Council tech path. Does it still work against Stargate? I think it is doable with some adjustments. As mentioned previously, the normal reaction against Stargate is Cyclone and Viking. I believe you can use this as the base for a three-pronged attack later. You can produce more Cyclones and a Liberator. The push later would consist of Marines and Cyclones. The Viking can land at the natural to replace the Widow Mine drop, and the Liberator can do the same thing. TY popularised this back in 2017-2018.

Macro transition

This build lines up better with having the third Command Centre before two Barracks. Having the third Command Centre first is a more suitable macro transition for harassment oriented builds. In contrast, having the two Barracks first aims to hit a timing with key research (e.g., Stim), so it is wise to not trade your units before the timing hits. Since the build expends the units for a multi-pronged harassment, putting down the third Command Centre first is a better choice. You can read more about this here.

I initially wanted to simply mention this build in the next Metagame Build Orders post, but it is a good build that deserves a bit more attention.

This article is translated and posted on scboy.com by 绝迹.


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9 thoughts on “TvP: TY’s Three-Pronged Attack

  1. Come on, this is Maru’s build! Our god and savior should get the credit he deserves, do not make him angry, or you will pay the ultimate price! (500 mmr loss your next ladder session)

    Ofc such a brilliant build was conceived in the mind of the wise and magnificent terran messiah.

    Here he does it vs Stats: https://youtu.be/HqWobbOx03w?t=1443
    Here is a video made about, was posted on reddit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D54eiRWQqJE

  2. What do you think is the best reaction when the Protoss stays on 2 bases? For example vs a heavy blink pressure, do you stay at home and add 2 rax before the third cc?

    1. Just keep making Siege Tanks and Marines, and do not send them out for a push. Defend with these units. Everything else can remain the same.

  3. Hi Max, I posted this comment on Spawning Tool, but figured it would be better posted here. Thanks for the write up!

    Thanks for sharing the build and replay Max. Couple of questions:
    – Do you think you could go tanks before mines to make this build a bit safer vs aggressive builds? As the mines seem to sit in the medivac for a while before they’re dropped anyway
    – Do you think this build would be viable in TvX at plat/diamond level to push masters? I have been learning your intermediate build but I enjoy builds like this which are multi-pronged aswell

    Thanks!

    1. 1. Generally, you don’t get a Siege Tank before Widow Mine in TvP, but there are two situations when you do. First is you plan to do a Tank push, but that’s as good as saying you’re doing a different build. The other is a reaction to what you’ve scouted, whereby you don’t have the luxury for a Widow Mine drop (you need to survive now).

      2. There are better multi-prong attack builds for other match ups. This is not a good build in TvT, because Widow Mine drop is bad in TvT (the splash can’t kill scvs). Not ideal for TvZ, but it should work better than in TvT.

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