Summary of Apollo’s Protoss Tutorials REVAMPED

As much as I love Zerg, I need to spend more time understanding Protoss, and Apollo’s tutorials REVAMPED from a few months ago provides a solid framework for Protoss. Similar to his Zerg style, he depends on reactive, macro-based play. Given that, it’s harder to summarize the late game, but I did write up his build orders, and they should give you a sense for the different matchups.

Note that these builds are from Wings of Liberty, so they are slightly out of date. Primarily, the Mothership Core should come down somewhere in these builds, but I’m not exactly sure when.

Protoss versus Protoss

Ah, PvP: the most aggressive matchup. Apollo says there are 4 ways to play PvP:

  1. Robo
  2. Stargate
  3. DT
  4. Blink

The safest of the 3 is 1 Gate Robo, so let’s start with that:

Apollo’s PvP 1 Gate Robo

  • 9 Pylon (scout)
  • 11 Chronoboost
  • 13 Gateway
  • 13 Chronoboost
  • 15 Assimilator
  • 17 Pylon
  • 18 Cybernetics Core
  • 19 Zealot
  • 22 Assimilator
  • 23 Warpgate, Stalker
  • 25 Pylon
  • 26 Robotics Facility (after clearing scouting)
  • 27 Sentry (cut Probes)
  • 29 Observer
  • Gateway x2 OR Nexus
  • Immortal

Notes on the build:

  1. Use your first Stalker to kill any scouting Probes before putting down the Robotics Facility
  2. Cut Probes around 28ish supply until you get your 2nd base up. That is pretty good mineral saturation, and you might need the minerals in other places
  3. Depending on what you see, you can go up to 3 Gateways or Nexus at around the 6:00 mark. If you decide to go 3 Gate, the Nexus will come around 8:00
  4. In WoL, Protoss late game was just Colossi with some Archons mixed in to tank damage, so this is what Apollo continues to (Robotics Support Bay coming in before 10:00). Skytoss is much better in HotS, so you probably need a better mix

The only other build he showed off was a Stargate opening, which is perhaps more interesting in HotS:

Apollo’s PvP Stargate Opening

  • 9 Pylon (scout)
  • 11 Chronoboost
  • 13 Gateway
  • 13 Chronoboost
  • 15 Assimilator
  • 16 Pylon
  • 18 Cybernetics Core
  • 19 Assimilator
  • 20 Zealot
  • 23 Warpgate
  • 24 Sentry
  • 25 Pylon
  • 27 4:30 Stargate
  • 29 Robotics Facility, Gateway (cut probes)
  • 29 Phoenix (chrono, attack with 2, get 4 total)
  • 35 6:30 Nexus
  • 39 Observer
  • 7:30 Gateway
  • 8:45 Gateway
  • 10:15 Robotics Support Bay

Notes:

  1. Chronoboost all of your Phoenix. Attack when you have 2 and max out at 4 Phoenix total
  2. Again, Apollo transitions into Robo because Colossi was PvP late game. You can stick with Skytoss if you like.

Protoss versus Zerg

PvZ is the matchup I dislike the most. Protoss is pretty much required to fast expand, and it’s difficult to get aggression going early in the game. Like the other matchups, Apollo likes aiming for Colossi.

There are so many ways to do fast expands, but you can probably get away with 2 variations: Nexus first and Forge Fast Expand (FFE). I’ll present them together, and the notes will apply to both:

Apollo’s PvZ Nexus First

  • 9 Pylon at wall (Scout)
  • 11 Chronoboost
  • 13 Chronoboost
  • 16 Nexus
  • 16 Forge
  • 16 Pylon
  • 20 Cannon
  • 21 Assimliator x2
  • 26 Cybernetics Core
  • 28 Zealot
  • 32 +1 Attack upgrade (with first 100 gas)
  • Warpgate
  • 6:30 Gateway x3
  • 7:10 Assimilator x2
  • Robotics Facility

And then the safer FFE

Apollo’s PvZ Forge Fast Expand (FFE)

  • 9 Pylon at wall (Scout)
  • 11 Chronoboost
  • 13 Chronoboost
  • 14 Forge
  • 16 Nexus
  • 16 Cannon
  • 16 Pylon
  • 17 Gateway
  • 20 Assimilator x 2
  • Cybernetics Core

Some notes on these builds:

  1. If you’re only going to know 1, know the FFE. As you progress, however, you should be flexible in using both builds depending on the scout. If it’s anything earlier than a 14 Pool, go FFE. Otherwise, go Nexus first.
  2. You can send your 8th Probe down to the natural area to build the wall at 9 Supply. Learn how to wall in on all of the maps: it’s subtly different
  3. React if the Zerg pressures early. Don’t be afraid to build an extra Gateway to complete a wall.
  4. The rest of Apollo’s strategy is Colossus Double Forge

Protoss versus Terran

This matchup has also changed as everything new is a bummer for Protoss: Reapers can be annoying if you don’t get your Stalker quickly, Medivac speed boost will tear you apart, and Spider Mines can get a good pop on your slower units. Despite that, Apollo’s guide is still solid. He goes for a “reactive Colossus double Forge” style, using Archons, Zealot, and High Templar in the late game while getting lots of Robotics Facilities up for an easy tech switch. To get there, he uses a 1 Gate Expand into Robo. It’s usually safe enough. He plays the prototypical game at this point in the video, so watch it for almost exactly the build below.

Apollo’s PvT 1 Gate Expand

  • 9 Pylon (scout)
  • 11 Chronoboost
  • 13 Gateway
  • 13 Chronoboost
  • 15 Assimilator
  • 16 Pylon
  • 18 Core
  • 18 Zealot (rallied across the map)
  • 23 Warpgate, Stalker
  • 23 Pylon
  • 25 Stalker
  • 27 4:50 Nexus
  • 31 5:20 Assimilator
  • Pylon
  • 34 6:00 Robo
  • 6:30 Gateway x2
  • 7:00 Assimilator x2
  • Observer
  • 7:30 Robo Bay
  • 60 8:40 Colossus, Double Forge
  • Thermal Lance
  • 9:30 +1/+1 upgrades
  • 10:30 Gateway x3
  • Twilight Council
  • 12:30 3rd Nexus (timed with your opponent’s)
  • 110 13:00 Templar Archives
  • Zealot Charge
  • 15:00 Gateway x6

And the last bunch of notes:

  1. The 9 Scout is key because Terran players will wall off and keep you out of their base. It’s very important to see if they have taken their gas and will 1 Rax gasless expand or whether you should consider anything else coming from them
  2. The Zealot and 2 Stalkers should poke early, so send the slow Zealot across first. This poke is probably replaced with a Zealot/Stalker/MsC poke in HotS, but either way, it’s important for scouting, and you may even do some significant damage.
  3. The Twilight Council may need to be earlier nowadays for Blink to deal with Medivac boost

Conclusion

Like in the Zerg tutorials, Apollo goes for a safe, reactive, macro-oriented style. It appears that he really likes Colossi compositions, so all of his builds move towards that. I’ll likely be going over some Artosis footage soon since he’s so good at commentary during his games, and that will be a good complement to this piece. Still, these builds are pretty standard through about 30 supply, so definitely try them out.

How quantitative analysis could change StarCraft

The community likes to think that eSports is on the cutting edge of competitive play, but we still have much to learn from conventional sports. I don’t know much about the production and marketing side of sports, but I do know some statistics, and StarCraft, at least, is lagging behind conventional sports tremendously in quantitative analysis.

The only significant statistics I see from StarCraft are 1) win percentages in various circumstances and matchups and 2) Actions Per Minute (APM).* Win percentages are very broad metrics and not particularly instructive. APM is generally regarded as misleading at best and irrelevant at worst. Granted, StarCraft is a complicated game: the sides are often asymmetric, and game length varies. Sc2gears tracks many more statistics, but these haven’t become standard for broadcasting and analysis, whereas conventional sports broadcasts almost always feature statistics. Even Fantasy StarCraft discussions are pretty fuzzy, whereas fantasy football and baseball really are sports fans geeking out over numbers. Generally, StarCraft analysis is qualitative.

One of the coolest advances in conventional sports is computational, normative analysis. Today, games are tracked with better equipment, and by combining that data with advanced statistics, we can make predictions about what players should do in various circumstances. Because baseball is basically turn-based, it already has advanced sabermetric analysis (link to a reddit discussion about this). Basketball, however, has also been making strides in this area, according to this recent story from Grantland.

Hopefully you’re familiar with basketball, but if you’re not, it’s a 5 on 5 sport played on a (usually) indoor court. On opposite ends of the court, there are hoops, and each team’s goal is to shoot the basketball into their target hoop. On offense, teams design specific plays, and execution is key. On defense, however, teams have general schemes and react to what the other team is doing. Given that, it’s always been assumed that defensive skill is all about experience, “smarts”, and other intangibles.

Well, new analysis is starting to give us more concrete ways to understand defense. A new camera-tracking system in the NBA called SportVU can track where players are, and that data is turned into X-Y coordinates for clean video footage. And it gets even better. With significant computational analysis, the Toronto Raptors have come up with the “ideal” defense that minimizes the expected point value of a play**. You can watch the videos in the Grantland article where there are 2 sets of defenses super-imposed on the play: the actual defenders on the play, and the “ghost” defenders of where the players should be.

Hopefully you’re beginning to see how this analysis can impact StarCraft. Fortunately, we already all of the relevant data for unit positions in replays. If we can figure out how to parse expected outcomes from a large number of these replays, then we can begin to see general trends. Watching professional play, big deathball fights often come down to positioning. Is it safe to fight in this open area? Can you safely attack this base without getting trapped? How should you position your army to get the best engagement? Which units should be in front? These are similar questions to what the Raptors are answering in basketball.

It’ll be a lot of work to make this work. Specifically, it’s very difficult to parse meaningful actions out of a stream of data. The Raptors managed to recognize a pick and roll (one offensive player stands beside another defender, allowing the ball carrier to run around them. The first offensive player then goes in the opposite direction, hopefully resulting in confusion between the 2 defenders and leaving 2 open players). It may sound simple, but that’s darn hard, and I find that amazing.

Anyways, I think there’s a huge opportunity here for growth in eSports and a way for us to remain at the cutting edge of sports analysis, and even Artificial Intelligence at that. And there’s a tremendous amount of really interesting stuff that I would have to investigate and share, if you guys are interested. So before you head off, let me know in the poll below if you would be interested in me writing any of the following.

Which of the following topics should I elaborate on?

  • Just stick with the build orders, buddy (50%, 4 Votes)
  • Machine learning for event parsing and predictions (38%, 3 Votes)
  • Speculation on useful statistics for StarCraft (25%, 2 Votes)
  • Training AI to play StarCraft (this is tangentially related to this post) (13%, 1 Votes)
  • Advanced statistics and sabermetrics from baseball (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 8

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* If you know of more, please let me know. I’m interested.

** I’m not 100% sure how they do this in basketball, but I can explain how this is done in baseball in another post if you want

 

Dealing with a 3 Hatch opening in PvZ

I’m playing random on HotS right now until I figure out my best race. I’m feeling okay with all of the match ups, except PvZ. Gosh, I just have no idea what’s going on. I know that I need to open with a fast expand as Protoss, but the Zerg just goes up to 3 bases when they see that. And then a few minutes pass, and all of a sudden, an army of arbitrary composition but immense size rolls up and kills me.

The problem is that I don’t know what I’m to do from about 4:00 to 12:00. Pros do Stargate openings, so maybe that? Oh, but I should take a 3rd base at some point. How much army do I need? Maybe I should poke with my 1 Zealot, 1 Stalker, and 1 MsC. It’s pretty disastrous.

Thankfully, I’m currently watching Apollo’s Protoss Tutorials REVAMPED from WoL, and he has an excellent video showing what I think is the prototypical Protoss play against 3 bases. Admittedly, I haven’t watched enough PvZ in HotS to know if things have changed a lot, but I’m inclined to believe that things haven’t changed too much yet.

So check out this game (24:00 into the 2nd Protoss video), with the build order written out below. The keys here are timing attacks. First, he goes in with 4 Zealots and 4 Stalkers with +1 attack around 8:15 (you can even add the Mothership Core too). It doesn’t look big, but I’m certain that the early pressure is very important. At my level, I think Zerg knows to get to 3 bases, but they have difficulty knowing how to time aggressive Droning and enough defense. Second, he goes up to Colossi and attacks around 15:00, which is slightly earlier than classic deathball pushes. This timing might have changed as Zerg are looking to get to Hive sooner with Roach/Hydra/Viper, so let me know if that doesn’t work out as well.

The build order writeup is a little sketchy, but it’s a good outline. Just watch the game: it’s only about 11 minutes of real time.

Apollo’s Prototypical PvZ from WoL (Oct 2012)

  • 9 Pylon
  • 11 Chrono into probes
  • 16 Nexus
  • 16 Forge
  • 16 Pylon (resume Probe production + Chrono)
  • 20 Cannon
  • 21 Assimliator x2
  • 26 Cybernetics Core
  • 28 Zealot
  • 32 +1 Attack upgrade (with first 100 gas)
  • Warpgate
  • (Sees 3 base)
  • 6:30 Gateway x3
  • 7:10 Assimilator x2
  • Robotics Facility
  • 8:15 attack on 3rd with 4 Zealot/4 Stalker
  • +1 Armor upgrade
  • Observer
  • Sentry x4
  • Immortals
  • 9:30 Gateway x2, Twilight (for more upgrades)
  • 10:30 Nexus at 3rd
  • 11:30 Robotics Support Bay(seeing Reach/Ling), Robotics Facility
  • 13:00 Gateway x3
  • Gateway x4 (shooting for 12 total)
  • 15:00 Attack (timing attack before Hive)

Summary of Apollo’s Zerg Tutorials REVAMPED

A year and a half ago, Apollo (AKA dApollo back then) posted the Working up from Bronze League tutorial videos, which I previously covered. A few months ago, he posted an updated version of “Tutorials REVAMPED” for changes in the game over that year. Although the game has changed again with the release of HotS, his style and basic builds are still sound. Since I have been focusing a lot on openings recently, I thought I would post  the build orders he’s using, his thoughts on reacting to various things, and how these might have changed with the release of HotS.

Zerg versus Protoss (or Random)

Let’s start with the basic build:

Apollo’s standard ZvP (Oct 2012)

  • 9 Overlord (to natural)
  • 12th Drone Scout
  • 15 Spawning Pool (for cannon rush)
  • 15 Hatchery (send @ 200 mins)
  • 14 Queen
  • 16 Zergling x2
  • 18 Overlord
  • 4:20 3rd Hatchery
  • 6:00 Extractor x2 (scout for natural gas)
  • 7:00 Roach, Evolution Chamber, Extractor x2
  • +1 Missile Attack, Lair
  • Macro Hatchery

A few notes here:

  1. Your first Overlord goes to scout and should hang out for future scouting.
  2. The Overlord on 9 goes to the natural to watch for a cannon rush.
  3. 12th Drone scouts means that 1 of the 2 Drones you build after your Overlord finishes should scout
  4. Apollo goes Pool first so that he isn’t screwed by a Pylon block, but if you don’t see a Probe scout, you can go Hatch first if you want
  5. If you get Pylon blocked at your natural, build your 3rd Overlord immediately, then move to build your first expansion at your 3rd base instead. Also bring an Overlord in case of a cannon rush there
  6. If you don’t see a fast expand from the Protoss when you scout, then you don’t need to get your third. As usual, stay 1 base ahead of your opponent
  7. If your opponent does cannon rush you, you can delay the 6:00 and 7:00 timings by maybe 30 seconds
  8. At 6:00, send the waiting Overlord in to look for Assimilators at the natural. If any are taken, then they are teching, not all-in.

Overall, this build is still mostly valid against Protoss in HotS as well. A few thoughts on this:

  1. The new, early threat from Protoss in HotS is the Mothership Core. Because it is an air unit, have a Queen at all bases and target it as necessary
  2. Protoss may also be more willing to poke early because the MsC can Recall the units out. As such, be prepared for light pressure, but don’t freak out
  3. There will probably be more Stargate openings from Protoss since that is also now a viable midgame strategy (and because people like new, shiny things).

Zerg versus Terran

Apollo’s ZvT is a little squishier, mainly because he’s much more reactive here, but the basic idea is Hatchery first and 4 Queens:

Apollo’s standard ZvT (Oct 2012)

  • 9 Overlord (to natural)
  • 12th Drone scout
  • 15 Hatchery
  • 15 Spawning Pool
  • 16 Overlord
  • 17 Queen
  • 19 Queen
  • Zerglings if you need them
  • Queen
  • 4:00 Gas
  • Queen
  • 5:30 Zergling Speed
  • 8:00 Evolution Chamber x2, Assimilator x2

Since this one is less-defined, let me explain more:

  1. The Overlord on 9 goes to the natural to watch for Bunker rushes.
  2. The Drone scout looks around for proxy 2 Rax. If you see it in time, go for the Spawning Pool
  3. 4 Queens is important because the primary threats from Terran are Hellions and Banshees, both of which Queens can deal with effectively
  4. If you see Terran go CC first, you can open 3 Hatch (like in ZvP) to stay one base ahead.

The openings here have changed more significantly with HotS. Specifically,

  1. Fear the Reaper! Apollo was worried about 2 Rax; you should worry about Reaper openings. Because Reapers are so dang fast, Terran players are more likely to build the Barracks at their ramp and race the Reaper across, so just scout for that. If you see an early Refinery, you should prepare yourself for Reapers. 
  2. Given the early Reaper play, I’m a fan of earlier gas, similar to what IdrA does. He sandwiches it around 18 supply when you’re waiting on Overlords.
  3. Also be careful of Widow Mines. They’re scary, and Terran players may use them to block your 3rd base. I’m not sure whether this requires a reaction, but just be aware.

Zerg versus Zerg

The build:

Apollo’s Standard, Safe ZvZ (Oct 2012)

  • 9 Overlord (scout)
  • 12th Drone Scout
  • 15 Spawning Pool
  • 15 Hatchery
  • 14 Queen
  • 16 Zergling x2 (can be Drones if you see no threat)
  • 18 Overlord
  • 18 Gas (can delay if they haven’t taken gas)
  • 19 Queen
  • 22 Queen
  • 25 Overlord
  • ~4:40-5:00 Zergling Speed (or @100 gas)
  • Baneling Nest at Natural (or @ next 50 gas)
  • Spine Crawler (if you feel threatened)
  • Lair (when you have the gas)
  • 6:30 – 7:15 rest of your gases
  • Roach Warren
  • Evo Chamber
  • 10:00 3rd base

Again, some notes:

  1. Unlike the other matchups, you can send all of your Overlords out to scout. Specifically, you should form a line of Overlords between your bases since Zerg can’t shoot them down early
  2. After you get your Baneling Nest, the rest is somewhat flexible, and what’s above is a rough guide. Apollo isn’t very aggressive with his Zerglings, but if they are, you should have an Overlord outside their base to see it coming, and you can morph Banelings for defense
  3. Apollo does mention that he himself is willing to go Hatchery first, but probably just because he’s a boss at StarCraft. Pool first is safer since Zergling rushes do happen.

Fortunately, HotS hasn’t really changed ZvZ openings much. The important thing to note is that currently, midgame ZvZ is all about Mutalisks. Now that Mutalisks are faster (and Fungal Growth is a projectile, and therefore harder to land), the midgame is just having a better Mutalisk count and destroying your opponent. As such, you should get gas earlier since that is the limiting factor in your Mutalisk count.

Conclusion

You should watch Apollo because he teaches solid, clean play. I don’t blame you if you don’t want to watch 4 hours of him playing your race (or 12 if you play Random), but at least watch one or two openings so you can see the mechanics and style that he plays. His Zerg play is reactive, not proactive, and he relies on good scouting and clean macro to win games. His thought process explains how pros often seem psychic by just being aware, so don’t shy away from his WoL content. It’s still good.

A few thoughts from the MLG Winter Championship

VODs

It’s been awhile since I have spent all weekend watching StarCraft, but it felt great. The 2013 MLG Winter Championship in Dallas was different in several ways. First, it was the first, major post-release Heart of the Swarm tournament, and many of the players came with their new gadgets. Second, it didn’t have an open bracket, so all of the focus was on the championship bracket. Finally, it was single elimination, so the stakes on each game were higher than ever.

There were a ton of cool builds, but in my mind, the big story was Medivacs, which even IdrA appreciated. All of the Terran players showed very dynamic play, and it seemed like they were constantly attacking in 3 places simultaneously, which left the casters looking in all the wrong places. The best series was Flash (T) v. Innovation (T), the semifinal games between 2 KeSPA players. There’s something all you Terran players out there can aspire to do.

The finals were also awesome as Life (Z) took out Flash using an aggressive Ling-Baneling style. He started the first game with a 10 Pool, and that really set the tone for the rest of the games. I would need to rewatch the games, but I believe he used a 3 base build, with +1/+1 and a quick Lair for Baneling speed to overwhelm Flash. I was pulling for Flash, so forgive me for being defensive, but it really seemed like Life had his number. Flash used a quick Stimpack into +1/+1 Marine/Marauder/Medivac/Mines (M4? Can we call this build the “Carbine”?), and for a guy who often seems psychic, he demonstrated an amazing lack of map vision by moving out at critically bad times. And since both of them kept going back to the same builds (other than that crazy 2 Rax in there), Life came out ahead.

Major props to Life, though: he was aggressive, and it worked. I think the accepted Zerg style has shifted towards this very defensive strategy, obsessed with being 1 base ahead and trying to get to the late game ASAP to bring out the big guns. I personally haven’t seen as much aggressive play as what Life used this series, and he punished Flash for not being ready, again and again.

Given that, would you guys like me to review the games and put together a writeup on Life’s play that series? I have a few other posts I would like to do in the backlog (and I’m also assembling basic guides for each race), but if there’s demand for it, I would be willing to go through the replays again and catch some timings from the finals series. There are already a few posts around the interwebs (post 1, post 2), but if you would like more detail, I can give it a shot.

Should I post on Life's Ling-Bling ZvT?

  • Yes (79%, 11 Votes)
  • No (14%, 2 Votes)
  • Don't Care (7%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 14

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PvT Dark Templar Build Order

VODs

I have to admit: I don’t know how much most advanced buildings cost. They all cost something like 150 Minerals and 100 Gas. Or maybe 150 Gas if they’re really spiffy. So when I heard that the Dark Shrine got cheaper in HotS, I mostly just thought, “Okay, so I don’t have to rapidly hit D for as long to get it out. Assuming I already have enough money anyways since I’m probably floating 2K resources anyways.” It is astoundingly relevant for pros, though, so DT rushes are back.

And they’re not even too much of a commitment anymore. In Sase (P) versus MVP (T) on Cloud Kingdom in Game 4 of the MLG 2013 Winter Championships in Dallas, Sase went for DTs behind a 1 Gate Expand while getting upgrades. Just a few DTs caught Taeja offguard and destroyed 16 SCVs. Not bad.

Sase’s PvT DT Rush

  • Standard Protoss Opening
  • 21 Nexus
  • 21 Mothership Core
  • 23 Assimilator
  • 24 Stalker
  • 26 Pylon
  • 34 5:30 Twilight Council
  • 6:30 Dark Shrine

Remember, a DT rush sets you up nicely for either Blink Stalkers or Zealot-Archon as a follow-up. Sase ended up using mind games and went for Zealot-Archon while actually going double Robo Colossi behind it.

 

Terran HotS Build Orders from MLG Dallas (hint: Medivacs)

VODs

I told you that the big Heart of the Swarm (HotS) changes in Terran were the new Reaper and Widow Mines. For Reapers, removing the Tech Lab requirement, adding the speed upgrade out-of-the-box, and regenerating health would turn it into the harass unit it was always intended to be. For Widow Mines, well, they’re just pretty imba. In the first round of MLG 2013 Winter Championships in Dallas, however, the story seemed to be Medivacs.

The Ignite Afterburners gives the Medivac a short speed boost, which makes drops extremely powerful. Since the boost doesn’t require an upgrade, and you can slap a Reactor onto your first Starport, early drops are scary, especially for Protoss. Almost every map has the 3rd curled around against the main base high ground, and while the Protoss is running a few Zealots back and forth between the bases, Medivac drops can bounce back and forth between the bases and deal damage with almost no cost. Pros will probably figure out how to deal with it and educate us all, but in the meantime, you should abuse it.

In game 1 of Flash (T) versus Bly (Z) on Neo Planet S, Flash opened with a 2 Reaper Bunker rush, which worked, so he added on a 3rd Reaper to keep the harassment up. He then added 4 Hellions, which all looks a lot like qxc’s TvZ. The trick comes next, when instead of Widow Mines, he immediately gets Stimpack, adds on a bunch of Barracks, then builds his Starport onto the Reactor for double Marine drops. Granted, none of us have sick drop micro like Flash, but I like the idea of it.

Flash’s TvZ Reapers into Double Medivac Marine Drop

  • 10 Supply Depot
  • 12 Barracks
  • 12 Refinery (cut SCVs all over the place to get things down on time)
  • 14 Orbital Command
  • 14 Reaper
  • 15 Supply Depot
  • 17 Proxy Bunker
  • 17 Reaper
  • 21 Reaper
  • 22 Command Center (on high ground)
  • 24 Factory, Reactor on Barracks
  • 26 Barracks
  • 27 Hellion, Hellion
  • 31 Tech Lab on Barracks
  • 33 6:40 Stimpack
  • Barracks, Barracks
  • 7:50 Starport
  • Drops!

But maybe you’re not all about the Reaper opening: I know I can’t macro and do Reaper harass simultaneously. In that se, you might like MVP’s (T) opening against Feast (P) on Cloud Kingdom in game 4. A popular opening we’re seeing in TvP is a CC Reactored Marines build. It feels like a 1 rax expand build, except you do get the early gas, which I think is supposed to threaten Reapers when the Protoss scouts and sees the gas. The Reactor is as good as the extra Barracks you would get from a gasless opening, and you can swap it onto your Starport when the time comes.

Note that Taeja (T) does something very similar in Game 1 on Newkirk City against Sase (P)

MVP’s TvP 1 rax expand

  • 10 Supply Depot
  • 12 Barracks
  • 15 Refinery
  • 16 Marine
  • 17 Supply Depot, Orbital Command
  • 19 Reactor
  • 21 Command Center
  • 22 Marine, Marine
  • 24 Factory
  • 25 Supply Depot
  • 28 Bunker (defensive)
  • 5:45 Starport
  • 10:20 Stimpack (this is notably late)

And if you liked being greedy in Wings of Liberty, you can still be greedy. Taeja and Flash were both doing 14 CC builds to mix things up (in both TvP and TvZ), and it appears fine. There’s not a lot to say, but here’s the build from Taeja versus Sase, game 4 on Cloud Kingdom:

TvX 14 CC (HotS)

  • 10 Supply Depot
  • 14 Command Center
  • 15 Barracks
  • 16 Barracks
  • 19 Bunker (at choke into natural)
  • 19 Marine, Marine
  • Double gas around 32 supply

Quick report from the front, and a request

First, thanks everyone who has been reading over the past 3 days. Google Analytics says that site visits have spiked orders of magnitude basically since Heart of the Swarm (HotS) came out. In particular, /r/allthingszerg, /r/allthingsterran, and /r/allthingsprotoss have all been tremendous in referrals and comments to refine the posts as well.

Second, I received my copy of HotS in the mail today! After dinner, I played the first campaign mission, which was very cool. To keep myself honest to practicing, I think I need to restrict myself to one campaign mission a day. After that, I have been playing unranked matches, with tremendous variance in my opponents’ ability. It’s been a mixed bag. I’m 3-2, but the losses were bad. Still, this is the most excited I have been to play StarCraft in awhile.

Third, I’m on a high right now from my readership, so I’m planning on updating this blog regularly with content again. If you would take a moment to fill in the survey below, it would be much appreciated. Sorry for you RSS readers out there (and double-sorry for Google Reader users; I feel your pain): you’ll have to make the jump onto my site.

What sort of content would you like to see?

  • Build Orders (lower level, general builds) (76%, 26 Votes)
  • Build Orders (advanced, refined builds) (59%, 20 Votes)
  • Practice Tips (29%, 10 Votes)
  • Me Rambling about StarCraft (21%, 7 Votes)
  • Pro Gamer Stream/Tournament Analysis (18%, 6 Votes)
  • zerglingdance.com, in the spirit of hamsterdance (9%, 3 Votes)
  • Other (comment) (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 34

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Finally, if you have any other thoughts or feedback for me (stuff you would like to see, pointing out mistakes I made, scolding me for overstepping my 3 days of internet exposure), I would love to hear it. You can comment on this post, or contact me via the half-dozen methods in the sidebar of my homepage, or you can email me on gmail (username kkleung89), or you can friend me on bnet (StoicLoofah#1461) if you want to see how bad I am.

Good luck in HotS! Remember, the best way to improve is to click “Matchmaking” and then “Play”!

qxc/MVP’s Terran bio build orders for HotS

(Update: check out my updated guide for playing Terran for the maintained version of this post)

Having already written up a few Heart of the Swarm (HotS) build orders for Protoss and Zerg, I thought I would also write up a few Terran builds as well while I’m still waiting for my copy of HotS to arrive tomorrow (if Amazon is to be believed). For this batch, I watched qxc’s stream.

Despite not having many big results in tournaments, I am still a big qxc fan. He’s very thoughtful and shows what you can do with excellent control. The caveat is that these builds are probably more specific and advanced than what I wrote up for Zerg or Protoss. Still, they’re pretty cool builds that he is copying from watching MVP and other Terrans at IEM Hanover.

Before I get into all of that, let me write down a standard Wings of Liberty (WoL) Terran opening. I’m guessing this might not be so standard nowadays, but it’s a starting point for newer players.

Standard WoL Terran Build Order

  • 10 Supply Depot at Ramp
  • 12 Barracks at Ramp (scout with the 12th SCV)
  • 14 Refinery
  • 15 Orbital Command
  • 15 Marine
  • 16 Supply Depot to complete wall
  • 16 Marine
  • Factory with the builder SCV
  • Reactor on the Barracks
  • Swap the Reactor onto the Factory for 2 Hellions

Usual rules of reading build orders apply. I don’t write it in, but you should get Orbitals on your Command Centers as soon as they finish. Also, qxc stops SCV production at quite a few times to squeeze buildings out a little sooner. Just follow the supply counts and fill in the gaps, and you should be fine.

Note that all of the builds go into bio (Barracks units, not Factory or Starport units). qxc likes bio. If someone wants me to write up mech builds, I can find someone else to watch and look at that, too.

Terran Versus Protoss

Like in Wings of Liberty (WoL), bio is still viable against Protoss. Widow Mines, however, are a nice addition to the army for extra map control and damage. To take advantage of that, this build uses an early Factory and Starport for Widow Mine drops. One quirk in the build is that the Refinery is delayed slightly. He makes a point of mentioning it in the video, so I trust him.

qxc/MVP’s TvP Widow Mine Drop into Bio

  • 10 Supply Depot
  • 12 Barracks
  • 14 Scout (look for gas and the 3rd Pylon to guess if there’s a proxy)
  • 15 Refinery
  • 15 Orbital Command
  • 15 Marine
  • 17 Supply Depot
  • 19 Reactor (constant Marine production)
  • 20 Command Center (in base)
  • 21 Factory (constant Widow Mine production)
  • 22 Marine, Marine
  • 24 Supply Depot
  • 30 Starport
  • 30 Widow Mine
  • 33 2nd Refinery
  • 43 ~6:20 Medivac (done around 7:00; load with 2 Mines and Marines to either drop or push. Thanks pball4ever)
  • Followup with Bio

Terran Versus Zerg

In TvZ, Reapers seem to be the standard opening. If Zerg gets greedy, or has poor Zergling micro, or doesn’t position their Queens well, you can do some damage. Using Reapers, Hellions, and Widow Mine, you can take map control and go up to 3 bases quite quickly. Note that this assumes your opponent is going up to 3 bases quickly, so if they don’t, you can delay the last CC.

I would explain it more, but qxc actually gives a really good explanation of it at the beginning of this video where it uses the build. I’ll shut up, and you can follow the link.

qxc/MVP TvZ Reaper Hellion into 3 CC

  • 10 Supply Depot
  • 12 Barracks
  • 12 Refinery
  • 15 Orbital
  • 16 Reaper (harass)
  • 16 Supply Depot
  • 18 Reaper (harass)
  • 19 Command Center
  • 20 Factory
  • 21 Reactor on Barracks
  • 22 Supply Depot
  • 24 Command Center
  • 25 Hellion, Hellion with Reactor on Facotry
  • 35 Supply Depot
  • 2 more Hellions for 4 total
  • 2 Widow Mines (placed aggressively)
  • Transition into Bio

Terran Versus Terran

TvT has also been changed by the presence of the Reaper. Similar to TvZ, you can use 2 Reapers to harass for scouting and catching your opponent being lazy. qxc goes for a very similar build to TvZ, except the CC is delayed. I’m not sure how standard this is, but he does this 2 games in a row. Again, watch him for the full effect.

qxc TvT Reaper Hellion (game 1, game 2)

  • 10 Supply Depot
  • 12 Barracks
  • 12 Refinery
  • 15 Scout
  • 15 Orbital Command
  • 15 Reaper (harass)
  • 16 Supply Depot
  • 17 Reaper (harass)
  • 20 Command Center
  • 20 Factory
  • 21 Reactor on Barracks
  • 23 Supply Depot
  • 24 Hellion, Hellion from swapped Reactor
  • Tech Lab on Barracks
  • 29 Starport
  • 30 2nd Refinery
  • 31 Hellions, Hellion (poke with all of the Hellions and Reapers
  • 37 Supply Depot
  • Stuff
  • 8:00 3rd Command Center
  • Transition into bio

I think that’s it for this post. Like the others, let me know if you see any issues, or want me to expand on anything. I’ll note that my knowledge of Terran is far behind that of the other races (which is admittedly still not great), so I’ll need to study more to get you answers.

EG IdrA’s Heart of the Swarm (HotS) Zerg build orders

(Update: check out my updated guide for playing Zerg for the maintained version of this post)

I watched IdrA’s stream from about 1 till 3 last night (my copy of HotS is being shipped). And I saw he was streaming again today while he was at work. Now, I’m home from work, and he’s still streaming. I think he’s pretty excited about the game.

This is great news for Zerg players everywhere, because IdrA is a great person to learn from. He commentates on his stream, generally does the same builds over and over, and plays relatively safely (greedy, but safely). He’s also pretty entertaining as long as you’re not to annoyed by his attitude. As such, I took the opportunity to copy down a few builds he’s doing.

Zerg Versus Protoss

First up are his ZvP builds. I think there are a lot of Protoss players on the ladder right now, at least from the sample I saw him play last night. Grubby and WhiteRa made it look good during the launch party, I guess. Anyways, IdrA uses a pretty normal 3 Hatch gasless build against Protoss (I wrote about Stephano’s ZvP awhile ago with this opening). The big difference in the early game in this matchup is the Mothership Core, and as long as you’re diligent about building Queens (at least for 4 for 3 bases), you should be okay. Or at least IdrA thinks so.

IdrA’s ZvP 3 Hatch

  • 9 Overlord
  • 15 Hatchery
  • 16 Spawning Pool
  • 18 Overlord
  •  Queen, Queen
  • Pair of Zerglings
  • 26 Hatchery (4:30ish)
  • 7:20 Lair, Evolution Chamber, Roach Warren

He also was also using a Speedling opening, which is kind of interesting. The early gas and speed definitely threatens the Protoss, and if they overreact, great. If they don’t react much, so be it: you have Speedlings and can punish them if they’re being too greedy.

IdrA’s ZvP 3 Hatch Speedling

  • 9 Overlord
  • 15 Hatchery
  • 16 Spawning Pool
  • 16 Extractor
  • 17 Overlord
  • 18 Queen
  • 20 Zergling
  • 22 Queen
  • 26ish Zergling Speed (out of gas)
  • 27 3rd Hatchery (4:45 – 5:00)
  • 27 Overlord
  • 3rd Queen
  • 6:00 back in gas, 2nd gas
  • 7:00 3rd gas, Lair, Roach Warren

From this, you have at least the usual options from Wings of Liberty (Infestors, mass Mutalisks, tech to Brood Lords, etc). One new thing is Roach-Hydralisk-Viper. Roach-Hydra-Corruptor was old school ZvP when Zergs though the matchup was impossible but couldn’t think of anything better. Instead of using mass Corruptors, this build goes for a fast Hive to get 3-4 Vipers. The hope is to engage before the Protoss player gets too many Colossi and use abduct to pick off the ones that they do have.

Zerg Versus Terran

In ZvT, the new thing to watch for is Reapers and Widow Mines, both of which can make an appearance early game. To ready yourself for Reapers, you can get early gas for Speedlings and go from there. Sorry this isn’t so detailed.

IdrA’s ZvT gas opening

  • 15 Hatchery
  • 16 Pool
  • 15 Extractor
  • 18 Overlord
  • Queen, Queen
  • 6 Zerglings (somewhere in there)
  • 5:45 2nd and 3rd gas

I’m not entirely sure what the best way to deal with Widow Mines is yet, but I’ll update if I see something good. IdrA was not dealing with them well using Muta Ling, so at least probably not that.

IdrA is also using a 3 Hatch opening against Terran, presumably, if he doesn’t feel threatened early. I might write that up as well.

You can also go Roach-Hydra-Viper in ZvT as well because Blinding Cloud is extremely powerful against Bio and Mech. Abduct single Siege Tanks and Blinding Cloud clumps of them for great effect.

Zerg Versus Zerg

In ZvZ, IdrA asserts that it’s basically all about Mutalisks: whoever has more wins, and to do that, you need your gas before your opponent. I thought, however, that his opening was particularly interesting. Specifically, everything feels late to me, but having watched him defend a 6 Pool with this build, I believe it works.

IdrA’s ZvZ Mutalisks

  • 9 Overlord
  • 15 Hatchery
  • 17 Spawning Pool
  • 17 Extractor
  • 17 Overlord
  • Zergling Speed with the first 100 gas
  • Baneling Nest with the next 50 gas

I’ll be maintaining this post as well as I watch more IdrA and converge on some core builds. It’s possible that things will change quickly as HotS is figured out over the next few weeks. If so, you might see a few updates. Also feel free to give me feedback on anything I got wrong or could clarify.