Terran Timing Push vs. Protoss
In the Terran vs Protoss match up there are points at which Terran can punish Protoss with timing attacks. One of these points is the mid game Timing Push in which Terran attempts to break the natural expansion to end the game before it reaches Tier 3 Tech. At this point in the game Protoss has taken their Third Gas Expansion but has not yet reaped the rewards of running 3 bases and thus cannot outproduce a 2 base massed Terran army for a brief time. The Timing Push aims to exploit this temporary weakness.
The timing window for this build begins when the third Nexus has finished building and ends when the Protoss has produced several rounds of units with their extra gateways from their 3rd base. Terran at this point has two full bases running, four or five Factories running and is able to assert themselves against the Dragoon/Zealot army out in the field.
A 2 base timing push can result from either an FD Build or a Siege Expand build. Naturally, the quicker the expansion is down the better off the Terran is for the timing push. The Terran should quickly make their way to 4 factories while continually researching vulture and tank upgrades. Whether they push at 4 or 5 factories and what timing heavily depends on the Protoss expansion timings. In general, if the Protoss double expands, a 4 factory, very early push is in order. At the normal Protoss timing of taking their 3rd a bit after their natural, the 5 factory build is sufficient.
Should the Protoss sit on 2 bases for some time, then the Terran should mass with 6 factories. The 6 factory push, in other words, is not ever planned, but only done if the Protoss refuses to take their 3rd base. In that case, the Terran just masses until the Protoss decides to expand.
The Terran army should be able to push out towards the natural or 3rd expansion with a full group of Tanks with Vultures and SCVs to support. The key to ending the game in this stage is an effective counter to Protoss' push breaking tools: Shuttles with Zealot Bombs or Reavers. Terran must push quick enough to prevent Protoss from finding a weakness in the push but slow enough to prevent getting caught unsieged. However, this push is not merely a contain but a killing or at least damaging blow. Should the Terran just set up a contain, the Protoss will mass with a superior economy and roll over the push no matter how good the position.
Learning the Build
This is a mechanically precise build that demands not only a well executed build order but also a properly microed attack. Unless the Protoss is exceptionally greedy, the timing window is not particularly large. The most important components of the build are setting up properly in preparation for the battle and identifying the specific timings of when the Protoss takes their natural and 3rd base.
Even if you are unable to break the natural and end the game then and there, a Timing push provides a good screen to match Protoss Third Gas Expansion and keep them from getting an economic advantage. After that it's time to hunker down and prepare for Late game play.
However, if the timing push fails to do any real damage despite significant Terran losses, it is often game over. The only way for the Terran to get back in is to solidify their defense while performing successful harass and delaying the Protoss 4th base.
This section will cover some of the basics of the Terran mid and early-late game push with vultures and siege tanks.
1) When zealots are far away from tanks it is okay to use tank fire on them. If a large army with speed zealots is coming at you, this means only the first volley of tank fire should be at zealots.
2) When zealots are close to tanks it is important to target fire on Dragoons. If you do not you will double the power of the zealots by using splash damage against your own tanks and wasting their shots.
3) Tanks should be spread out so that they are exactly far enough away from each other that no two tanks will be caught by a single psi storm. Any further and you are too spread out.
4) Tank formation should be curved toward your opponent in a moon or crescent shape.
1) Vultures are the fastest unit in the game. Use them to your advantage by moving them as far ahead of your tanks as possible and laying mines. The purpose of this is to get as close as possible to your opponent's natural expansion before having to siege. Once you siege you will move slowly, and if you do it too close to your base your push will be too slow.
2) When you push out it is important to send 2-3 vultures to scout and lay mines at every expansion, especially gas expansions. Be sure to send them around the map the long way to avoid being killed by dragoons.
3) When the Protoss attacks your push, keep your vultures behind the line of mines and interspersed with your tanks or just barely in front of your tanks. If they are on the mine line, they will die instantly. If they are too far ahead of tanks, they will die to opponents' fire and splash damage. If they are too far behind tanks they cannot protect tanks from zealots and absorb dragoon fire.
4) Vultures die very quickly and your push will stop if you do not reinforce. Rally your factories to your tank line and constantly produce vultures.
1) Never leave units on top of mines. Either clear them or do not move there.
2) Mines should be placed in front of siege tanks at a special distance. They should be close enough so that siege tanks can protect the mines from dragoon fire, but also far enough away so that zealots cannot drag the mines into the tanks. In more optic terms: optimally mines' line should be placed three to four tank lenghts ahead of your push contain.
3) When starting the push initially, scouting should proceed in this order: Scan, move out vultures and place mines, move out tanks and siege.
4) Mines should be placed ahead of moving siege tanks to prevent attacks while unsieged. They should especially be used to cut off flanking attacks from directions not parallel to the push direction.
5) Always try to have one side of your push to a wall so your units can only be attacked from one side (this avoids flanking).
6) It is critical to place mines and turrets in your main base before you move out if your opponent has arbiters.
7) Interspersing turrets with mines, guarded by siege tanks, is a very difficult combination to attack without incurring losses. Be sure to use this combination in your push.