Terran versus Protoss has taken almost a complete 180 degree turn in roles through the transition between Heart of the Swarm and Legacy of the Void. The match-up used to be focused around the concept that a Terran either has to survive an early Protoss all-in or win with strong momentum-based play during the mid-game to have a realistic chance at victory. Late game was something we very rarely saw from Terran players - but the Liberator has changed all of that, giving the Terran defensive strategies and a strong late-game army, meaning the Protoss is the one who will be looking to deal damage and gain an advantage during the mid-game.
This guide looks at a build which TY used multiple times at the recent DreamHack which has a strong synergy with the current meta-game. By taking fast three command centers but opening with a defensive Cyclone and Siege Tanks, TY is able to comfortably move into the mid-game while swatting away most aggression aimed towards him. Once into the mid-game the Siege Tanks create an extra layer of defense, which you can work with in order to fend off attacks while harassing and moving into your late-game army composition of Liberator-Ghost.
This build order is designed to be used as a guideline of the general order in which you should get things. Each game is different and presents different openings from your opponent which you have to adapt to. Supply depots have been omitted to simplify the build order. Full replay pack of DreamHack where you will find multiple uses of this build from TY.
17 SCV Scout - the main thing you are scouting for is a lack of an early expansion and double gas. In this situation add your engineering bay earlier in order to make turrets against fast Oracle play.
19 Reaper - be very careful scouting with this Reaper. It is very easy to run it into an Adept / Mothership Core and lose it, or to run it to close to a Pylon. The Reaper is better off alive for the first minutes of the game even if it isn't scouting anything important as it acts as strong map control.
19 Orbital Command
20 Command Center @ Natural
21 Reactor on Barracks - begin Marine production when reactor completes.
22 Factory - add a tech lab when Factory completes.
26 Third Command Center in Main (~2:40)
30 Bunker at Natural - not required on Orbital Shipyard / Dusk Towers.
36 Cyclone - when your Cyclone completes begin siege tank production. The Cyclone should be set in a position to deflect drops and oracle play in one of your expansions, with your main army covering the other.
38 Refinery (~3:30)
50 Second & Third Barracks (~4:10) - extra Barracks can be added slightly earlier when bunkers are not needed. Add these as minerals allow.
5:00 2 x Engineering Bays
Around now is a good time to scan to pick up information you don't have. If you can't see the third base scan to see if it is down and whether it is safe to move towards your own third. It is better to scout the third position with a Marine / SCV and to scan in the main to identify the tech.
5:10 Stimpack - or earlier depending when you had the minerals to sneak a Barracks down.
5:30 +1 / +1
From here you should be in a comfortable position with everything you need for the mid-game. Add on extra Barracks as required and a second Reactored Starport. Take both the gases on your third as you will be looking to continue upgrades and add on a lot of gas-heavy Liberators. Try to have a fourth base building so it can be used around the ten minute mark.
Pros & Cons of this Build
- The build fits well into the current TvP meta-game, which involves defending Protoss pressure and attacks and setting up into a strong, mostly defensive mid-game allowing you to reach a higher Liberator count and a late-game composition.
- With good scouting of the early SCV and the Reaper you should be able to prepare for all aggressive situations and re-position your army as required.
- Early Cyclone helps you to negate aggression from one angle, giving you less to cover with the rest of your army.
- Usable on most maps in the current map pool.
- Gives you extra layer of defense with siege tanks so that moving into the mid-game it allows you to play with a central defense and light harassment while you continue to expand and build into a late-game army.
- Scouting and preparation/reacting is key with this build and that can be something which is hard to learn and execute correctly.
- Delayed Medivacs and Stim, so if you prefer a more aggressive style of TvP this isn't going to set you up well for that.
- It can take some time to learn the effectiveness of your defensive set-up. Practice and experience is the only way to fully understand what you need and where you need to be based on what you have scouted from your opponent.
- Protoss players liable to be disappointed in you for surviving long enough to build Liberators.
Let's Talk Mid-Game TvP
As I've mentioned, Terran versus Protoss is a lot different to how it used to be, so let's talk about what we're really aiming for as the games goes on off of this build. Let's skip past all the Protoss nonsense of proxies and Warp Prism Adept's and all of that and just assume we have made it to about the 7 minute mark of the game. Your upgrades are rolling in, Stim and Combat shields completing shortly, your Armory is just coming up to Start +2/+2 and you've been sat on your third base for a good minute or two.
With your defensive set-up of Siege Tanks there is very little the Protoss should be able to do at this point to really break you in an attack at the front, but continued scouting is important. If you see him moving aggressively across the map perhaps you want to add a bunker or two just to make sure you will hold on. Your Cyclone actually acts as great map control at this point of the game and its use defending your Main / Natural will have faded now that you have had time to invest in Turrets to deflect that pesky Warp Prism.
So if you aren't going to die at the front on your third base, what do you want to do? Well, realistically you can't just sit there forever. You need to move towards a fourth base at around the ten minute mark and you want to make sure the Protoss isn't going to be taking complete advantage of your passive play style. Generally nowadays we see Terran making four Medivacs before heading into Liberator production. These initial four Medivacs are your way to continually take map control and to deal damage and keep that Protoss army back, while you get up a second Reactored Starport and your Liberator count really begins to increase.
Your first drop should be when you are comfortable that you still have enough to defend at home should a forward attack come. Two Medivacs of units is 20 supply, which is a lot to be missing in a fight. But if you are sat in a defensive posture then any trade the Protoss will try to make should still turn out fairly evenly - and if your drop is out on the map and they are moving through the center then the chances are you are going to deal some damage across the map and the overall trade heading in your favor.
As the game continues your Liberators start to come into play. These will really help you to hold your central defensive position and allow you to send a few more units out on the map, looking to hit external bases or production structures towards the main and natural. With two sets of drops out you can really start to control the map, seeing where the army is and exploiting where it isn't with your other drop. While back at home you begin to take a fourth base with the additional Liberator defense. You continue to upgrade and add to your production structures. Before you know it you're going to have a good chunk of Liberators and you can start moving offensively around the map with more of your army, using the Liberators to cut off where your opponents army can fight you from, giving you more positional play and punishing the Protoss for being out of position defending drops.
Again this is much different to what we used to see in TvP. Your main game plan should revolve around defense and minimizing damage taken while building up to a very strong late game composition, using your excess APM to gain map control and deal damage with small squads of units in Medivacs which will in turn strengthen your defense by keeping the Protoss too busy to attack into you. Efficient trades and a strong army will bring you the victory.
To round things off I just want to once again state that this build is a fantastic way of taking advantage of the current meta-game of TvP, which is to do everything you can to get to your strong late-game composition, with some harassment on the way to keep the Protoss honest and to continue to buy you more time. More time means more Liberators, which means MORE FREEDOM-- I mean, more chance of victory.
This has by far been my favorite build to experiment with on the ladder lately because it really is just so versatile and it really feels as though you have everything you need to defend attacks and so it comes down to you identifying what is happening and responding correctly. The most fun has to be the mid-game position you end-up in with this build. With a strong economy and a strong defensive line, you can play a much slower-paced TvP than in HotS, using your drops to great effect to pull the Protoss here and there, but always having enough at home to defend and hold down the central attack path on the map.
If you try this build out on the ladder I would love to know! Get in touch in the comments here or on YouTube, or send in the replay to sc2improve (at) gmail (dot) com ! Good luck and have fun!