TvP : 2-1-1 Marine-Medivac Timing into Tank push (Terran vs Protoss)
Table of Contents
- 1. Introduction
- 2. Build Order
- +3. Scouting & Adjustments
- 4. Initial Push
- 5. Follow-up Tank Push
- 6. Conclusion
The 2-1-1 is a build which was actually popularised in the Terran vs Zerg match-up, in the first half of 2016. It was a build which quickly became the go-to opener for Bio play in TvZ due to its ability to create early game map control, denying creep and forcing units for the Zerg. The build became very figured out in the match-up, but due to its power it was still successful even if shut down perfectly and was particularly useful due to all of its potential follow-ups.
The build can be applied to the Terran vs Protoss match-up and, in this guide, we will cover a variation with an offensive Siege Tank follow-up, which makes this build a difficulty for Protoss players to hold against, especially punishing very fast third bases. This build works great on maps with a shorter rush distance by ground, mostly due to the power of the follow-up tank push, though the initial Medivac drop can also work well on larger maps, due to the speed of Medivacs and boosting.
2. Build Order
As with all of our build orders, constant worker production is assumed unless mentioned otherwise and so all builds are based on supply count timings. Rough in-game timer points have been added at points of the build.
Start with a standard Reaper Expand:
- 14 — Supply Depot as part of wall (rally first worker made from Command Center to the ramp);
- 16 — Barracks #1;
- 16 — Refinery;
- 17 — worker scout (you are looking to identify a standard Natural Expansion timing of the Protoss, which starts at 1:25 — lack of a Nexus means potential cheese);
- 19 — Orbital Command;
- 19 — Reaper;
- 20 — Command Center (generally built on low ground).
Continuation of 2-1-1:
- 21 — Barracks #2 (keep away from wall, to deny possible scouting by a unit moving up your ramp & in case of early attacks which could force it to move before upgrades complete);
- 21 — Reactor on Barracks #1, reaper goes across map to scout;
- 22 — Supply Depot (completes wall);
- 23 — Refinery;
- 24 — Factory;
- at this stage, Marine production begins on Barracks: constant Marine production from here on;
- 26 — Tech Lab on Barracks #2;
- 31 — Stimpack research on Barracks Tech Lab;
- 35 — Starport (built next to Factory, this should be starting instantly as your Factory finishes);
- 35 — Reactor on Factory
- 40 — Supply Depot (from here supply depots are omitted from the build order, build as required);
- 43 — Engineering Bay;
- 46 — swap Starport onto Reactor built by Factory;
- 49 — 2x Medivacss on Reactored Starport;
- 54 — +1 Attack;
- 56 — Tech Lab on Factory;
- 57 — Refinery;
- 61 — Medivacs complete, lift 15-16 Marines and move across map, in-game time ~4:45
From here the initial build order is completed and you have two full Medivacs on the map to apply pressure.
Significant additions after this time:
- start Research Combat Shield when Research Stimpack finishes;
- prioritise your gas onto constant Siege Tank production, then onto Medivacs;
- as your minerals stack up from full two base saturation you can add on a third Command Center or Barracks #3-5, depending on how aggressive you want to be with your follow-up (see later section);
- start +1 Armour when +1 Attack finishes — if the game does not end with aggression, add one Engineering Bay and an Armory when armour upgrade is half way done, to start +2/+2 at the same time.
3. Scouting & Adjustments
3.1. Initial Worker Scout
The initial worker scout has one extremely important job: to confirm the presence of a Natural Expansion at a standard timing (placed at around 1:25 for a standard Gate-Gas-Nexus expand, slightly later for some forms of double gas expand for faster tech or earlier cybernetics core to apply early gateway pressure (in this case add a bunker.) Upon seeing the Nexus, you can continue with your build without adjustments.
If you see a lack of Nexus, you next check in the main base for two things: gas and Pylon count. If the Protoss has no Nexus and one gas, they are either going for a high number of Gateways and attacking early, or potentially hiding their expansion on the map (95% of the time in this situation, they will have two gases) The second Pylon of a Protoss player goes down at around 1:50 in-game time. If there is not a second pylon in the main base at this time it is probably on the map for a proxy.
In the case of a proxy you want to abandon the 2-1-1 build, as additional Marine production and the fast Stimpack upgrade is not the strongest way to defend early aggression. Your scout timing should allow you to build a faster Engineering Bay instead of the second Barracks (to allow for Missile Turret production against Oracles and Dark Templar). You should add on the Factory as soon as possible as well as a second gas when the factory begins, then a Starport as the Factory finishes. Generally holding on one base will make your life a lot easier than defending on two bases, so bunker up on top of your ramp and lift the natural Command Center to the main when possible.
Try and scout for the proxy as this information can change how you react. In most scenarios a Cyclone will be useful for earlier defense against Oracles, Siege Tanks will be great vs larger pushes, such as a continued one base play (scout with Reaper to confirm). On the Starport, a viking is a good choice vs Stargate pushes and Liberators a good choice against other ground based attacks.
With the scouting worker you can build an Engineering Bay to block the natural of your opponent, as a way to keep a continuous scout and information on when they might try to take the expansion. This can help a lot with knowing how your opponent is aiming to follow up their aggressive opening.
3.2. Reaper Scout
The Reaper scout is your next scout after the initial SCV. Generally what the Reaper sees is not going to change your choice of build. The first Protoss tech building will go down at 2:30-3:00. You are looking for one of three things: Robotics Facility / Twilight Council / Stargate.
Versus Robotics Facility and Twilight Council, the build can continue as normal. An early Twilight Council could mean Dark Templar, which is one thing you should prepare for (consider an earlier Engineering Bay for a Missile Turret or saving energy for an initial scan).
Versus Stargate make sure to position marines well for versus Oracle play. You can even invest in an earlier Engineering Bay as well for a turret to help cover your mineral lines. You will need a Missile Turret in your mineral lines against an oracle when you move out just before 5 minutes anyways, as you do not leave any units at home once the Medivacs leave to push across the map.
4. Initial Push
The initial push with 2 Medivacs and around 16 Marines should leave your base a 4:45-5:00, depending on your execution of the build. This means it arrives at your opponent's base just as Stimpack finishes. The most important part of this push is that you do NOT lose your Medivacs or trade inefficiently. This may seem obvious, but the power of the follow-up push is reliant on maintaining a good unit count initially, unless you were able to deal a large amount of damage.
The beauty is it will generally be a fairly simple retreat in most scenarios to lift up your Marines and boost away. The two things that will shut-down your getaways will be the Blink upgrade on Stalkers, or multiple Phoenix as a follow-up to Stargate play. In the case of an early Twilight Council, Blink will be finished before your push arrives, so approach on the ground with your Medivacs in the back and boost ready so you can Stimpack and boost away. Versus Robotics Facility first into Twilight Council, Blink should finish around 6 minutes, giving you a minute or so to find openings and deal damage safely.
You will generally never want to fight within range of a Shield Battery, as this is the number one way in which a Protoss will be able to create an efficient trade. Your goal with this first push is to create your own map presence and to test that they are not being too greedy and cutting corners by skipping out on units. You can also test their map control, by dropping into the main base (especially if they have a dark area where you can unload freely) or by just poking at the front / third base.
Sometimes you can create a good fight by engaging at the third and forcing units to come and protect it — perhaps they run in with one or two units before the rest arrives, allowing for a free pick off. If they have to cancel the third you should back away, you have already put yourself in a great position from this.
If you are dropping into the main, aim to pick off something quick and easy, which gives you time to then pick-up and leave before units can respond (think Pylons powering important buildings, or probes which you can kill a few of in a couple of seconds). Remember that retaining your units is one of the most important parts of this build and that it is much better to back away from a fight you cannot win or only trade evenly in, than to fight at all.
5. Follow-up Tank Push
If your production and build is on point, at around 6:15 you will have two Siege Tanks and one extra Medivac, allowing you to move across the map for an attack just as Research Combat Shield is finishing. Behind this push you will be adding on either a third Command Center (which you can build in position, due to this build giving you dominant map control) or a third, fourth, and fifth Barracks, if you want to be much more aggressive and keep on attacking with what is essentially a two base all-in (though you can build a delayed third behind it, which means you will generally want to delay the Protoss third or deal some severe economic damage).
The power of this army lies in the Siege Tanks and how great they can be at supporting Marines, especially against a Gateway focused army. As you push, you will probably find yourself dancing with Stalkers, perhaps even having to siege up your Tanks earlier than expected if the Protoss threatens to fight (one thing to be very careful of in this situation is to not allow Stalkers to blink forwards and grab a free Medivac or Tank, keep these important units at the back of your army. If you can push yourself into a position on the third base, you should be in a good position to get a cancel or a kill. The danger really arises when Protoss starts adding some extra tech into their army, such as a Colossus.
This push is still, really, about patience and knowing your fights and positions. If you can get those Tanks sieged and supporting a stim rush into the third, you will find a lot of success. But be aware — if the Protoss can slow you down a lot and stop you from taking a fighting position (maybe you siege out of range of the third base), then you do not want to stick around forever. The more time passes, the more the Protoss is reinforcing instantly while your own units have to traverse across the map to join your main force, creating more chances for the Protoss to win a fight convincingly and gain a lot of momentum.
The game can continue from here into your standard bio play and all the rest of it, or into that big two base push if that is what you were aiming for. Remember to position well, take the fights you can win and most of all to be patient — there is nothing wrong with heading back home and continuing to macro if you do not feel like the opportunity is there to create the fights you want.
This is a really interesting adaptation of the infamous 2-1-1 TvZ build, taking the strengths of the traditional 2-1-1 and intertwining them with the power of typical Siege Tank pushes in the early and early-mid game of TvP. You have two waves of pressure in which you can find openings and chances to slow your opponent down while heading into a strong macro follow-up at home or into a deadly push just minutes later. The build can be quite precise and can take some practice to get right, especially for figuring out when and where is good to fight on each map — but is that not part of the fun in StarCraft?