I want to remedy this by injecting an easy, friendly at all levels of skill, Fast Expand opener into the minds of Terrans that promotes a longer, macro style of play, similar to kcdc's 1 Gate FE vs Terran.
2 Barracks. 3 Bunkers. Millions of options to explore. Lets go.
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The opener is very simple, and can transition into almost any style of play you prefer (albeit super fast rushes, derp). The build order can be tweaked to your own personal preference, but the one I've found to be most effective is this:
14 Barracks (2)
15 Orbital Command
~22-24 Command Center -> Orbital when finished
25 Refinery x2
25 Depot (cut marines at ~24-25 until depot is finished. Should have 7 at this point.)
27 Bunker x3
And that's it. On maps with small chokes at the natural, you can place all three bunkers to completely wall yourself off from any run-bys or worker scouts. On maps with open naturals, I like to place the bunkers close to the expansion, to cover the mineral line from any attacks.
Proper bunker placement for the FE
Strengths and Weaknesses:
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By far, the most obvious advantage to this build is the macro advantage you gain by fast expanding. This allows you can keep up in worker counts with a Zerg and Protoss, who both have viable fast expand options against Terrans. If Zerg gets a free FE, why can't we? 1 Gate FE is also very, very powerful, so being able to keep up with their macro helps significantly going into the mid and late game.
Many of you are probably very skeptical that you can effectively defend any early timing pushes with such an opener. Well, this opener CRUSHES 7 Roach Rush, Baneling Bust, 4 Gate, 3 Gate Robo and Stim Push with SCVs. I have the replays to back it up (check the end of the post.)
Double barracks pumping out marines allows you to fill those 3 bunkers very very quickly, at 6:30, you have a 2nd Orbital Command finished with 12 marines in those bunkers and a few more behind that. This timing matches the timing of most of those timing pushes. As soon as the expansion finishes, make sure at least 8 workers are maynarded over to the natural. Make a separate control group for them and set auto repair on. Be ready to instantly pull your SCVs to repair the bunkers as soon as a push hits. This is absolutely key in holding off any rushes, but if done correctly you can hold the push off without letting a single bunker go down.
The flexibility of this opener is amazing. If you opt for the double gas while the CC is building, you can transition into almost any style of play you'd like, whether it be Marine/Raven against Zerg, Mass Banshee/Marine against Protoss, or the good old Tank Viking
The weakness is the lack of tech at the start that can make it difficult to deal with certain pushes, such as a DT rush or cloaked banshees. You need to be diligent with your scouting as always to know when you need to get an Engineering Bay down to put up key turrets. This also gives the enemy a chance to macro up to what they'd like to build, a prime example is Zerg freely teching to Mutas quicker than you'd like.
Against a Protoss:
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When playing against Protoss, there are a few key things you want to be aware of. The topics I will be discussing are:
A. Chronoboosted Zealot on short rush distances
B. 4 Warpgate Push
C. 1 Gate Fast Expand
D. Blink Stalker Rush
E. DT Rush
F. 3 Gate Robo Push
G. 3 Gate Stargate Push
If you are a Terran that opts to not wall off you ramp against Protoss, like myself, you know that a couple Chronoboosted zealots can give you a hell of a hard time. With two barracks, you will be able to make the marines you need to deal with this, but not without good micro. What I like to do is kite the marine that is being chased by the zealot around in a circle so that the other marines can get free shots off without taking any damage. Do note that the AI of the zealot will change to a different marine if the marine you're controlling is farther away than another shooting marine, so be prepared to switch off. An emergency bunker at your ramp can help deal with this also, just salvage it after the zealots stop coming in and expand. Mismicros can lead to a lot of SCV deaths.
The first zealot arrives just as you have 2-3 marines and your second barracks in 75% of the way done. I recommend walling off to hard counter this, just because your going to be expanding and walling off elsewhere anyways, so a secondary wall off is nice to have.
4 Gates are countered almost passively by this build. There is nothing you need to do differently to defend against it. Just be aware of the timing of it and be extremely quick to pull your SCVs to repair your bunkers against this. It is also very easy to scout, so you'll have a lot of heads up about it. Just keep your scouting worker in they Protoss' base as long as possible, and if you see they are saving lots of Chrono boosts, then you know some kind of timing push is ahead.
The timing of the push arrives anywhere between ~6:15 and 7:30, depending on how good your opponent is. Keep your SCVs handy, because your opponent may just pull away instantly from the bunkers and warp in another round of units to try and break you.
In the case of a 1 Gate FE by your opponent, it means you are going toe to toe for the better macro. Like this opener, the 1 Gate FE has tons and tons of options to tech into once they've got that second Nexus running. You have to be good about your scouting, as you know they will be with a fast observer. Never stop making SCVs and gear yourself up for a long game by getting upgrades and looking for windows of opportunity to grab a third.
Some of the transitions you can expect from the Protoss are 6 Gate Pushes, fast templar tech with Gateway support, 2 Robo 4 Gate with a heavy focus on Colossi, or heavy Stargate play with Phoenix harass into Void Ray/Chargelot.
Blink stalkers are a bitch to deal with. They negate the fact that you even have a wall in by blinking right past your bunkers and getting into the mineral line of your natural to pick off SCVs. With a double wall in though, you do have the stalkers trapped inside the natural. If you picked MMM tech, then you may have marauders to deal with a push like this just fine. But if you went mass marine into banshees, then the stalkers will be able to kite your marines and blink away from any incoming damage. The best way I've found to deal with it is to have SCVs surround from the back and have your marines do as much damage as they can from the front. You will most likely hold the push off this way, but there is a high chance you will lose many SCVs and your natural also.
Blink Stalker timing is around the 7 minute mark and revolves around a 3 Gate build on double gas. Use your third set of energy to scan for this if you expect something is up.
There is a chance that the Twilight Council you scanned for turns out to only be there so that the Protoss can get a Dark Shrine. Unscouted, a DT Rush can really, really hurt if you don't have scans saved up. Luckily with two orbitals and a couple walls, you should have enough energy generating to pop scans when you need to while the DTs are trying to break through the bunkers. SCVs repairing those bunkers will really help stall in the mean time.
The best thing to do is to pool energy around the 7 minute mark in preperation for DTs that arrive around the 8-9 minute mark, and to prep an engineering bay for turrets. If you dealt with the DTs without many losses, I highly recommend getting a Raven before you push out again for the PDD and for the detection against any stray DTs along the rush distance that want to delay you as long as possible. Be wary that the Protoss may only send 1 DT at a time into your base to force as many scans as possible. Getting permanent detection will make your life that much easier.
3 Gate Robo can be a little tricky depending on how many Immortals are brought along with the push. Either way, your top priority is to focus fire those Immortals down ASAP with the marines in your bunkers. Bunker focus firing is a little different than usual, you have to actually press A and then click the target you want for the bunkered units to focus that target. The problem with this push is that the immortals make very quick work of the bunkers if you aren't prepared. Hopefully the tech path you chose will help take care of this. Units on high ground, such as the ledge in your base on LT can help you get free shots without those units taking damage.
The timing on this push is around 8-9 minutes I believe. If your opponent did go 3 Gate Robo, then expect Colossi in the near future.
Terran's worst nightmare against Protoss right now is a Gateway push with 2-3 Void Rays. Luckily, marines in bunkers get +1 range, so with that in mind, you can focus fire the void rays down while they are attacking the bunkers. This push is usually accompanied with a Zealot heavy force, since they spent most their gas on Void Rays. As long as you get the Void rays quickly, and are quick on the repair, your bunker line shouldn't be broken unless the VRs came in precharged =X
Against a Zerg
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One of the great aspects of this opener is that to an unsuspecting Zerg, this may look like a 2 Rax All-in when initially scouted, and they may over-invest in lings or spines instead of droning up in preparation for a push that never happens, helping you eke out a macro advantage even earlier into the game. Zerg openers are a little more straight forward, so you can have a better idea of what to expect. The topics I will discuss are:
A. 7 Roach Rush
B. Baneling Bust
C. Fast Third
D. Hatch 14 Pool into Muta Harass
On maps with short rush distance, some Zergs like to do a Roach rush to try and end the game quickly. It is extremely important to scout this. Easy giveaway signs are an early gas being mined, no expansion at 15 and no ling speed being researched (you can tell by seeing if the Spawning Pool is jiggling to see if an upgrade is being researched).
If this is the case, you will scout this before you start your expansion. Instead of expanding first, simply build the three bunkers first, and then expand. This nullifies any kind of roach rush, whether its 3, 5 or 7. It's a good idea to have SCVs nearby the bunkers around the 6-7 minute mark, even if they're idling. You know the Zerg is 1 basing, so all you need to do is hold off the push and then macro ahead, even if it costs you a little bit of economy early. A Roach Rush is much easier to hold off than a 4 Gate, so if you can do 4 Gate, you can do 7RR no problem.
This can come in two forms, 1 base or 2 base.
With the 1 base baneling bust, the Zerg will only have enough banelings to break 1-2 bunkers down, and thats before your marines get the first few shots off to pick of them off. By the time the bunkers are broken, the number of lings trying to flood through into your natural will be very manageable with the amount of marines you have. And then you have your second wall :D
This push comes around 5-7 minutes into the game, and can be scouted in a similar fashion to the 7RR, except that speed will be researching and there will be a few more lings than usual off one base.
A 2 Base baneling bust is defended in a very similar manner, except that this time, your natural can be threatened to the point of destruction, and there may be enough banelings left over after taking the bunker wall down to breach your supply depot/barracks wall. Having a few hellions will nullify the majority of the force if you chose to go mech, which I favor in TvZ. In the case of a 2 Base BB, lift your natural up and try to use the SCVs mining there to block the ramp as much as possible so that the units behind it can snipe off as many speedlings and banelings as possible. Tanks are also your friend here.
You can expect to see a push like this around the 10-11 minute mark, and be wary of more than one wave if they did some good damage with the first.
If a Zerg sees that you've bunkered up heavily and expanded, they may feel the pressure or the obligation to take a third. A general rule of thumb for Zergs is to try and stay one base ahead of a Terran. If this happens, you have a few timing windows available to you. You can prep for a massive two base timing push and hope to punish the Zerg for being greedy or droning too heavily, or you can play the shark and dip in and out of the Zerg's creep vision to scare them into making more units instead of drones to saturate the third while expanding behind your feigns. Keeping the macro advantage is extremely important against Zerg, because we know that going into a late game against a 300/200 Zerg army is not fun to deal with, especially if you can't support the units to deal with the dread Brood Lord to Ultralisk tech switch.
A Zerg planning on taking a quick third will do so around the 8-9 minute mark, soon after Lair timing. Use an air unit to scout around for expos, or place marines at expansion locations early to get a heads up of when they may expand.
One of the most common strategies for ZvT is to 15 Hatch 14 Pool and tech for Muta/Speedling/Baneling. This usually means that when the Zerg's Spire finishes, 6-7 Mutas will begin morphing and you can expect to see those trying to pick off what they can in your base shortly after. Because of the fast expansion, you will be a little crunched for money at first to get the necessary air defences because of low saturation and paying the expo off.
Muta timing can come anywhere between 7-10 minutes depending on how fast the Zerg wanted his Mutas, so keep an eye out on Lair timing and dont be afraid to cut a few units/SCVs to get the Ebay+Turrets or an Armory + Thor out, depending on your weapon of choice. Of course, you will have a decent amount of marines floating around as well, so use those. Be smart about stimming and be aware of Muta mobility to fly between your unprotected bases with ease.
Against a Terran
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Warning: This opener is flimsiest against Terran. While it works against early Bio pushes, it may not hold up as well against other openers. Take my advice with a grain of salt
TvT is one of the trickiest matchups out there. There are so many different openers and dynamics to it that makes matchup so extremely volatile. That being said, I feel like this opener can at least give you a decent economy early on with enough to defense to deal with most early pushes. A big mistake I've come across from players that play TvT are that they OVERVALUE positioning and micro. While it is extremely important to have good positioning, this matchup is all about the macro. If you manage to fast expand, come midgame, you will be a solid 40 supply ahead if you macro well. No amount of positioning will help you if I can make more vikings than you can.
The topics I will discuss here are:
A. 3 Rax Stim Timing Push
B. Marine Tank Push
C. 1-1-1 Hellion into Cloaked Banshee
D. Fast Tank Viking
E. 2 Factory 2 Port (iEchoic style)
On short rush distances, some players prefer to do a quick Stim push, before too many tanks with Siege are there to wreck Bio. If you opt to go factory with your 100 gas out of the two refineries, you will be able to just eke out a tank with siege nearly done when this push hits. The three bunkers will do tons of damage to the bio, and with repairs being made, you can stop the push right there if you're quick enough. If the push is a little later, but a little bigger, you should have a couple tanks with siege that will stop the push in its tracks.
If you opt for bio instead of tanks, you will have home field advantage in terms of unit placement and bunkers being repaired. Micro well here, with a few SCVs pulled if the situation calls for it, and you should be able to out macro the opponent with ease. This push hits anywhere between 6-8 minutes, depending on how large the opponent feels his force should be.
One of the most standard openings in TvT is to get a large ball of marines and a few tanks with siege, and then move out to contain your opponent. With this build, the map you play on is very dependent on how a push like this could turn out. Siege has superior range to your bunkers, so they can be picked away at from afar. However, when this push hits, if you went tanks, you will have at least one tank with siege. If you're on say, Lost Temple, you can actually place this tank on your ledge far out enough that you can hit the enemy's tanks that are hitting your bunkers, nullifying a lot of the force from this push.
However, on maps like Xel'naga Caverns, it is much easier for your opponent to tank out bunkers without being contested. You need to get starport tech out as soon as possible for either a viking or cloaked banshee to clean this up. The viking can spot for your tanks, while the banshee can fly in cloaked and hope to pick some tanks off. The problem is, you will most likely have to lift your CC off and try to break the contain off 1 base.
This timing hit around 7-8 minutes and can give you the hardest time if you don't have the tech already started to deal with it quickly.
1-1-1 is probably the single most popular opening in TvT. This allows the player access to almost all of the units in the tree and can push with a diverse mix of units. Hellions into cloaked banshee is fairly popular from this build. Your bunkers should be up before the first couple hellions arrive denying them access into your base and your mineral lines. The follow up can be scary if you don't prepare though.
You'll want to start an engineering bay around 6 minutes and make a few turrets around your base as soon as it's done so that you can take care of any cloaked banshees. You want to stay ahead of your opponent in macro in any way possible, so dumping 400 minerals into turrets won't hurt you as much as it'll hurt the 1 basing opponent who lost a banshee or two.
I personally don't know why people do this, but some players like to open 1-1-1 with a tank and viking as soon as possible. I just don't see this as a strong opener at all, as that viking is going to do nothing in the early game, and it's money that should be spend towards ground units to defend against any early bio pushes. Anyways, a fast tank viking build is going to get spotting more quickly, but their army will be crunched in numbers. You should be able to out macro a player who opens this way quite easily as they won't be able to do any damage to you with the small army they have.
The one thing I suppose this build has going for it, is that you can start a very early contain with 4 marines and a tank. They can rally one viking over to the contained area and do some spotting to pick off any stray units. You may be in trouble for a short amount of time if they pull this off correctly, but your macro should catch up very quickly and you can overpower the viking number and break the contain.
The first tank and marines usually siege in front to contain around the 6-7 minute mark.
2 Fact 2 Port is a very versatile opening that focuses on harass, and therefore will most likely bypass your bunkers, rather than try to do a bust. If you scout this build, I recommend you cut bunkers down to having either one or two to prevent drive-bys, depending on how comfortable you are.
The advantage you have with this opening against this build is that you have a much larger economic advantage. The 2 Fact 2 Port build relies on economic damage in order to stay even in terms of economy. Once scouted, you'll want to prepare for drops and have a mobile defensive force. Sim city + a couple turrets at your mineral lines will help mitigate damage. If the hellions only have a small avenue to attack your workers, it makes it much harder for them to do damage and for you to clean it up.
The best unit composition I've found to deal with Hellion + Air is Marauders with Concussive shells with a couple of Thors mixed in. Beware that you aren't quite as mobile and will take a little while for you to get Thors, so you need to rely on turrets as your AA, and marauders to clean up drops.
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http://www.mediafire.com/?i79h3z24t2vi1c3 (Demonstrates the flow of this build, better examples on my Anti-colossi thread)
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As always, I can be reached on battle.net at Synystyr.193. I also stream during most evenings at http://www.livestream.com/Synystyr. Check it out!
Also, if you liked the opener and want a more in depth guide on how to use it against Protoss, please take a look at http://www.teamliquid.net/forum/viewmessage.php?topic_id=172190
All comments and feedback are welcomed! Hope you guys enjoy this and start to diversify your builds away from all-ins ^.-