Friday, August 12, 2011

PvZ 3 Gate Expand

With the amount of openings available in PvZ it can be hard to decide what's best to do in every situation. What map is it? What are the positions? Have I played this map before? Etc etc. These are all questions that play important roles in determining your build. Luckily, even if you are in completely unknown territory there's a standard build that will work on all maps/positions (ladder/tournament maps): The 3-Gate + expo.

The 3-Gate + expo is solid, standard play that allows for a safe and relatively quick expansion with a standing army. Your early army opens up opportunities for pressure and scouting. It is also strong against any all-ins Zergs have.

A few words of caution: With any openings Protoss has against Zerg, early Spawning Pool timings must be accounted for, so make sure to scout and not get caught off guard by playing blind! More on this later.

So for starters, here's the basic build order:

9 Pylon
Chrono Boost → Nexus
12 Gateway
13 Assimilator
16 Pylon
17 Cybernetics Core
18 Assimilator
19 Zealot
Chrono Boost → Gateway
23 Sentry
Chrono Boost → Warp Gate Technology(x3)
25 Pylon
27 Sentry
30 Gateway(x2)
31 Pylon
31 Sentry
34 Nexus
34 Sentry(x3)
34 Pylon

Important Build Order notes:

Keep Probe production as constant as possible

9 Pylon: Scout at this time

16 (and 25) Pylon: Should spread these out for more difficult Overlord scouting

19 Zealot: Chrono Boost is on Gateway so the Sentry can start immediately afterward

27 Sentry: Use your two Sentries to kill incoming Overlords

30 Gateway(x2): Spread your Gateways along your multiple Pylons - keeps Zerg in the dark

31 Pylon: Build this at the bottom of your natural ramp - Helps create a wall with your Nexus

34 Pylon: Place this down in your natural for additional Sim-city

Initial building placement with this build is somewhat preference (unlike FFE builds). There's both pros and cons to the different wall-offs but you're eventually going to want the wall-off to deal with any run-by attempts. I'd suggest, if you're going for standard play, to just do the standard wall off (Gateway + Cybernetics Core).

Once you reach the Zerg's base with your scouting Probe, there's a few builds to take note of. First off, we've got the 6 (or just early timed) Pool. Your build will have to change in order to not allow lings in your base, or be able to defend them once inside if they do come, sometimes pulling Probes is a must.

Next there's more macro-oriented play (there are normal supplies for these, but they can change):

Expo → Pool

Pool → Expo

Gas → Pool → (Possible) Expo

Expo → Pool: A greedy expansion by the Zerg. A way to punish this includes skipping your first sentry for a Stalker and pressuring them with Zealot + Stalker combination. Your build should be able to stay near the same and forces more Zerglings and less drones (Try not to lose the Stalker).

Pool → Expo: Just a safe way for Zergs to get a quick expo (without worrying about cheese). No Zergling speed will be done anytime soon so if you need more information, a Probe can probably find out. Early 2 base pushes can still come so keep up scouting.

Gas → Pool → Expo: the chance of an all-in is greater, and your ability to scout with Probes gets shut down sooner. Whenever they get gas early, check to see if they take workers off after 100 just for Zergling speed. One worker might be left, but if they continue mining with three, be wary of a Baneling bust or Roach rush. Stick around to see if they put up an expo, or hide your Probe to come back for later scouting once their lings head to your base. If you can't get any information then play safe.

1 base pushes generally come before you go the make an Expansion, so correct Forcefields will keep you safe. Two base pushes are easier to hold if you make a wall from your ramp to your nexus with a Pylon/Forge(and whatever else needs to be added) - throwing down a cannon or two + good Forcefields holds these pushes.

If they make a large number of Speed Zerglins to deny your expansion just warp in your first round of Sentries (two Warp-in rounds if there's too many zerglings to handle or you have bad Forcefields. Make sure to stay on 6 sentries), then Expand. Good building placement/Forcefields shuts this play down nicely. Be sure to stay safe and make sure your follow-up build allows you to scout what they are doing next - greedy play can lose you games!

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