TvP: All-Rounder Ladder Build

This post discusses an all-rounder build that is suitable for ladder games.

Background

I often see people ask for builds to use on ladder. Some would sometime link my beginner and intermediate builds, while others would link one of the entries from Metagame Build Orders. I think neither is an excellent choice for advanced (Diamond to Master) players on ladder. The intermediate build was designed to help beginners to learn the key aspects of Terran that are generalisable across all three match-ups:

  • One Barracks expand
  • Bio composition
  • Converge to a 3-1-1
  • Move out when Stim is ready

While the build teaches these key aspects well, it does not teach match-up specific adjustments. For example, making a Cyclone and a Viking is not optimum in TvZ. Those who have graduated from the “one build for three match-ups” intermediate build would move on to more advanced options from the Metagame Build Order entries. However, most found those builds a little too difficult and flavorful to use consistently on ladder. To bridge this gap, I’m collaborating with Drift, who makes Terran build videos, to create one all-rounder ladder build for each match up. The first one is a TvP build.

Considerations

Many players love to copy builds used by top pros in tournaments. There is no doubt that these builds are strong, but many of these builds may not necessarily be good options for ladder in Diamond and Master. There are several reasons. First, there is a big gap between pros and Master players, so it is difficult for most to execute and adapt the build in game. Second, ladder is a one-off game format, but tournament is a series format. Pros would use different builds and hide the key information to trick the opponent thinking they are the same builds. Such planning is essentially redundant on the ladder. Third, related to the second point, you cannot plan against specific players on the ladder. You queue on the ladder without knowing your opponent’s preferences, so there are two ways to optimise win rate. One is to know what are the dominant builds, and you pick something that gives you the best odds (i.e., metagame build order). You would have to pick another build when the metagame shifts. The other way is to pick an all-rounder build that allows you to adapt to most if not all builds decently, and this is what I advocate in this article.

Those who seek “good ladder builds” also sometimes explicitly ask for “safe” builds. I believe what they really want is an all-rounder build that doesn’t die to certain stuff because of build choice. The builds we selected focus on standard macro and have access to the tools needed to be safe.

Also, the selected builds use the common setups for other variation builds, so mastering the builds we have selected would help you to learn other builds.

Build order

Opening block – One Barracks expand

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

Build block – 1-1-1 

@100 gas – Factory
@100% Supply Depot – Bunker* (optional)
@100% Marine – Reactor
@75 mineral – Refinery
@100% Factory – Starport, Hellion
@100% Reactor – 2x Marine (constant Marine production)
@100% Hellion – Widow Mine
38 – Supply Depot
@100% Starport – Medivac
@100% Widow Mine – Tech Lab
@100% Tech Lab – Siege Tank, Supply Depot (Build Supply Depot accordingly hereafter)
@100% Medivac – Tech Lab
@100% Tech Lab – Raven

Transition block 3CC and 5-1-1

@400 mineral – Command Centre
@300 mineral – 2x Barracks
@150 mineral – Siege Tank
When you can afford (in this order) – 2x Refinery, 1x Engineering Bay, 2x Barracks
@100% Siege Tank – Siege Tank
@100% Engineering Bay – +1 Infantry attack
@100% 2x Barracks – Lift Starport to build a Reactor, land one Barracks on the Tech Lab previously occupied by the Starport (research Stim), build a Tech Lab with the 3rd Barracks
@100% 2x Barracks – Tech Lab and Reactor

Marine, Marauder, Medivac, Siege Tank production; Get Combat Shield and Concussive Shell.

Explanation

The build order was broken down into three blocks for easier understanding. You should read the article about the concept of build order blocks if you have not.

The Reaper expand into 1-1-1 is one of the most used Terran setups (if not the most). I understand that pros have been using other comparable builds such as Marine fast expand, but that does not mean that Reaper expand is inferior. I won’t go in-depth about the pros and cons, as that goes beyond the scope of this article. The Reaper expand into 1-1-1 setup ticks all the considerations I mentioned earlier.

The scouting path of the Reaper is dependent on the information gathered from the Scv scout earlier. If the buildings in Protoss’ base do not suggest there are proxy buildings, the Reaper could go straight to the opponent’s base. Otherwise, the Reaper should be searching around the map for the proxy buildings. The Reaper could also hunt for the Probe that is hiding at the edge of the map.

A Bunker after the second Supply Depot is optional. I have written about this extensively here. The goal of the first block is to secure the expansion on the low ground.

Hellion is the first Factory unit. The main purpose is to have another scout along with the Reaper to determine the opponent’s build path:

  • The number and type of units
  • The timing of the third Nexus
  • The tech path

Widow Mine is the second Factory unit. It is meant for the Widow Mine drop with the Medivac. This build only gets one Widow Mine, because it wants to keep the Factory unit production cycle to two before adding the Tech Lab. The Tech Lab is for Siege Tank, and it is an important defensive unit in this time frame. If you get a Hellion and two Widow Mines (i.e., three unit production cycle), the delay to the Siege Tank makes you vulnerable to some aggressive builds. The main purpose of the Widow Mine drop is to scout and pin opponent’s units to their side of the map. The second Widow Mine does not add much value to these two goals. The Raven is a good choice unless the opponent goes for Stargate tech. You can read more about the reasoning behind the choices made at this stage and how to adapt the build against Stargate tech in this article.

The next choice is to add the third Command Centre or two more Barracks to reach the next convergent point. In this build, we chose the former, and you can read about the trade off of getting the third Command Centre before Barracks here. It is worth noting that this build stops Siege Tank production after the first one in favor of earlier additional Barracks. If the opponent uses aggressive builds like 4-Gate Blink Stalkers, you should delay the Barracks for continuous Siege Tank production.

The next step is to secure the third base. The last checkpoint is to hit a timing with a big army (with Stim, Combat Shield, Concussive Shell, +1 Infantry attack). The build order already has the standard setup of 5-1-1 and three Command Centre.


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3 thoughts on “TvP: All-Rounder Ladder Build

  1. This is spot on! As a low diamond player I feel stuck between beginner builds and the (professional) meta. A standard build for each matchup looks like a great in between stepping stone. Also the general scouting and reaction tips help a lot.
    Thanks!

  2. This is the article I’ve been waiting for for years!! So true about ladder being it’s own beast and having builds that are too hard to execute when it gets to race specifics. Cant wait to thoroughly digest this and give it a go on ladder. Thank you to the both of you.

  3. Thanks for this. I recently commented on one of Drift’s videos that the build orders were a bit too complex for me. This is the perfect middle ground. As a trainer in real life, I employ the building blocks in my classes with excellent results. Nice work!

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