TvT: All-Rounder Ladder Build

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

Background

This post continues from the previous to discuss a TvT build that is suitable for ladder. You can read more about the motivation and consideration here. In short, the purpose is to bridge the beginner and intermediate builds and those in Metagame Build Orders. The selected build is meant to be flexible against a wide range of builds. This is a collaboration with Drift.

Players who struggle in TvT often broadly either do not understand the build interactions in the early to mid game or the tactical aspects in the mid to late game (or maybe both). The latter is clearly beyond the scope of this article, so I’m going to focus on the former. The main issue in TvT build is that there are no clearly laid out build orders that simply “work” with clear check points. Players instead follow a rough build arrangement and then adapt to opponents’ builds. This is not an easy task as it requires extensive knowledge. With that being said, regardless of all the variations and adaptations, there are still several key common denominators for the “standard” macro builds. 

First, your opening has to pass the proxy Barracks test, whereby you do not just die to proxy Reapers. You can always mix things up with openings that give you an edge against non-proxy Barracks (for example), but it is not recommended for ladder. Second, you expand and get 1-1-1. Third, you figure out if you are the attacker or defender based on the opponent’s build (for reference: outdated but relevant article), and slowly converge to 5-1-1 on three Command Centres based on the concept of convergent points. I will refer to these three points as I explain the build later.

Build order

Opening block – Barracks Refinery Refinery expand

14 – Supply Depot
16 – Barracks
16 – Refinery
17 – Refinery
@100% Barracks – Reaper and Orbital Command
20 – Supply Depot
@100 gas – Factory (then pull 3 Scvs off gas)
@100% Reaper – Reaper
@400 mineral – Command Centre (@100% – Orbital Command)

Build block – 1-1-1 Raven

@100% Factory – Hellion and Tech Lab on Barracks (put Scvs back to gas)
@100 mineral – Supply Depot
@100% Hellion – Swap Factory on Tech Lab for Cyclone; build a Reactor with Barracks
@150 mineral – Starport
@75 mineral – Refinery
@100% Reactor – 2x Marines (continuous production*)
@100% Cyclone – Lift Factory to build a Tech Lab
@100% Starport – Land it on the vacant Tech Lab for a Raven; Supply Depot
Build Supply Depot accordingly hereafter
@100% Tech Lab – Siege Tank

Transition block – Army heavy later third

@100% Raven – Raven
@100% Siege Tank – Siege Tank
@100% Raven – Swap add-ons between Starport and Barracks; build 2x Vikings and research Stim
Continuous production of Vikings, Siege Tanks, and Marines.*
@400 mineral – Command Centre

Make a push as you put down the third Command Centre. Proceed to reach the next convergent point by adding 2x Barracks (then another two) and 2x Engineering Bay.

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.

I picked the double Refinery opening, because its reaction against proxy Reapers is simpler and does not require much divergence from the planned build order. You can read more about this topic here. The main discussion point is whether you go for the contemporary Barracks-Refinery-Refinery or the older Refinery-Barracks-Refinery opening. I had discussed their differences here. In the translated article, 绝迹 pointed out that the contemporary is better for the Siege Tank drop build follow up, but that is not the follow up we are going for here. 

This opening goes for the default two Reapers and one Hellion. There is much to discuss as to whether to make three Reapers and two Hellions, mix in a Widow Mine, or even go straight for a Reactor. I strongly recommend you to read these articles to appreciate the depth of the decision making at this stage:

As mentioned earlier, the next key is to go for 1-1-1 with expansion. You must remember to pull Scvs off the Refinery (and put them back later), or the resource would not line up for an expansion. There are many different ways to get to 1-1-1, and the one used here is more suitable for the two Reapers and one Hellion choice. This build variation gets the earliest Cyclone possible by using the Barracks to build the Tech Lab, so you are less vulnerable to three Reapers and two Hellions attack. This build also by default takes the defender role in the early game, so you do not have to make adjustments in case the opponent also wants to attack. Things can get messy with both sides getting a Medivac for a drop. The early Raven and Cyclone combination is good against potential Banshee. Two Ravens then Viking production is considered standard and versatile for a more long. Thus, this build order requires relatively little decision making, and you can just stick to it and do well against different variations.

You may have noticed that I put two asterisks in the build order where I stated continuous production. The opportunity cost of continuously producing units is the delay of the third Command Centre. Once you cut two rounds of Marine production, you save 200 mineral. Hence, by continuously producing units, this build favors army over economy for that short span of time. The choice here varies according to maps and personal preferences. I would recommend continuous production if you are not sure, because when and what to cut in production for the third Command Centre requires you to understand where you can cut corners based on what the opponent does. Since you have been producing units continuously, you can consider making a push like INnoVation did against SpeCial in the vod above. This also helps to provide a checkpoint if you do not have a clear strategy in TvT.

This is added to the Terran Starter Pack.

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


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