TvP: Early Wall off

There is a trend in walling off the main ramp early in TvP, and it develops into a strategy of its own.

Let me start this post with an email exchange that I had with a reader today.

Mike said he plans to write a post about INnoVation’s recent one base 2-1-1 build in GSL. He asked if I’m interested in expanding on his post.

I recalled INnoVation using a one base all-in against Trap in GSL (see vod below), but I didn’t think the build is interesting enough for me write about it. I replied it does not seem like there is an interesting angle in analysing the build.

I still stand by the statement that the build itself is not really interesting. One can argue that it is a one-off thing that just worked in his favor. However, after watching TY’s games against PartinG in GSL semifinal, it suddenly dawns on me that INnoVation’s build is part of a greater strategy. Once I don’t look at it as a singular build but rather one of many options within a strategy, my perspective changed.

It all comes down to walling off the main ramp early with a Barracks and two Supply Depots. Every Terran walls off the main ramp with these three buildings, but rarely we see done before the Barracks completes. This is because it is an inefficient way to spend the 100 mineral on a Supply Depot that you do not need. Contrary to this intuition, the main purpose of the early second Supply Depot is not to provide supply, but it is to deny the Probe from scouting your base. The idea is very old, and we can trace this back to Wings of Liberty.

Since it is inefficient to build that second Supply Depot that early, is it worth denying the Probe scout? The benefit is not obvious from Terran’s view, but not seeing only the wall is troubling from Protoss’ perspective. Protoss knows Terran is hiding something, but there is no way to know what that is quickly. All you know is there is a Barracks and two Supply Depots. You do not know how many gas geysers are taken, and you do not know what other buildings are in the base. For all you know, there is Command Centre or two more Barracks.

This creates information gap in Protoss’ decision making, and it reminds me of the proxy strategy in 2018. The key aspect of the old proxy strategy is to create information gap for Protoss and then take advantage of that with a wide range of plausible attacks. Walling off the main ramp early can achieve the effect of creating information gap, but it is definitely less cut throat than the old proxy strategy.

INnoVation’s build mentioned above is only effective because of the early wall off. The vod above is another example of the same build by TY. Now compare this one base all-in build with the one in below vod. The below vod shows the same wall off strategy and a Reaper, but it is a fast expand instead of an all-in. From Protoss’ perspective, they only see a Barracks getting a Reaper, and it is difficult to deduce Terran’s build.

There must be an option of immediate threat for such information based strategy to work. For the old proxy strategy, Reactor Cyclone was the immediate threat, and Protoss could just lose if they did not prepare for it. The main reason the proxy strategy no longer exists is that patch 4.7.1 redesigned the Cyclone, as Protoss now have enough time to deduce the threat and react accordingly. Similarly, there has to be an immediate threat for this wall off strategy to function, and TY showed us one example today in GSL (see vod below). He proxy another Barracks for Marauders, and PartinG didn’t know what is coming.

After using this strategy with proxy Marauders in game, TY followed it up with an one base Hellion drop to take advantage of the blind spot in Golden Wall (see vod below). Again, from Protoss’ perspective, it is unclear what is Terran’s build. This Hellion drop build looks like the proxy Marauder build from PartinG’s perspective. PartinG reacted by building a second Gateway early and a preemptive Shield Battery, and that is not the best move against a Hellion drop.

I am surprised this old school wall off strategy works this well, but I don’t think it is close to being as strong as the previous proxy strategy. I doubt this strategy is going to be the main stream option. Nevertheless, it is interesting to see old moves making a comeback.

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


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4 thoughts on “TvP: Early Wall off

  1. Hello Max ! Great article !

    I just wanted to mention a little typo you made :

    “It all comes down to walling off the main ramp early with a Barracks and two Supply Depots. Every Terran walls off the main ramp with these three buildings, but rarely we see — donet — before” just below trap vs innovation VOD.

    Thank you for your work !

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