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3 Gate Aggressive Expansion (vs. Terran)

From Liquipedia StarCraft 2 Wiki
This strategy is not used in competetive play anymore.
[e][h] 3 Gate Aggressive Expansion
Strategy Information
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This opening allows you to apply heavy pressure to your Terran opponent while expanding. This can punish any greedy expansion by the Terran, and can also set you up for a Sentry contain. If you are able to confine the Terran opponent to one base whilst taking your own Natural Expansion, you will end up ahead economically going into the mid-game phase. As this is an aggressive opening, how successful you are will come down to your ability to prevent your opponent from scouting what you are up to with your early units, your ability to get down a proxy Pylon without having it scouted, and your ability to micro your early units.

It should be noted that since this is a heavily Sentry-based opening, you may not have the units required to deflect a Thor-based all-in early in the game. Equally, because your Robotics Facility is relatively delayed, you may not have an Observer in time for the standard Cloaked Banshee timing. As a result, if you suspect Factory-based play from the Terran, you should likely attempt a different opening.

Basic Build Order[edit]

Basic Build
  • 9 Pylon
  • 13 Gateway
  • 14 Assimilator
  • 16 Pylon
  • @100% Gateway: Cybernetics Core, Zealot
  • 21 Assimilator (2)
  • 22 Pylon
  • @100% Cybernetics Core: Warpgate Research, Stalker.[1]
  • @300 Minerals: 2x Gateway
  • @100% Warpgate Research: Warp-in 3 Zealots
  • @400 Minerals: Nexus
  • @150 Minerals, 300 Gas: Warp-in 3 Sentries
  • Proxy Pylon[2]
  1. Build 2 Sentries out of this Gateway after the first Stalker.
  2. Push out with your units as your proxy Pylon is being built.


  • When your attack hits you should have 4-5 Zealots, 5 Sentries, and a Stalker (this unit composition can vary by personal reference). This, with follow-up re-inforcements, is oftentimes enough to bust the Terran's natural expansion or deal significant damage when SCVs are pulled from the mineral line to repair Bunkers. Once your Zealots die it's usually a good idea to back off down the ramp and warp-in more units, this is as a large SCV pull will likely be able to kill off your Sentries and Stalkers.
  • The reason you warp-in three Zealots followed by Sentries is two-fold. First off, you will have an accumulation of minerals (about 600-700) that need to be sunk pretty quickly. Three Zealots followed by a Nexus do this wonderfully. The second reason is that it gives you enough time to accumulate the gas needed to warp-in three Sentries all at once. This opening is a highly optimized way to get a lot of units out very quickly and very cleanly, which should allow you to be aggressive at a timing when you have more than your opponent.
  • With this opening you will live or die by your force field usage, so you best be able to utilize them properly. Also, make sure you use Guardian Shield when you engage as it effectively gives your Zealots +2 Armour.
  • Before you lay down your Nexus, be sure to clear away any SCV from your natural expansion location. You should be doing this with a Zealot, Stalker and Sentry.
  • Place the Proxy Pylon before your forces arrive, and be sure to warp-in your Zealots at your natural expansion. This is in case the Terran is doing some form of an aggressive Concussive Shells push.


  • You can scout either after the first Pylon or after the first Gateway. This is completely down to personal preference.
  • If you scout that a Marauder is being built by the Terran player (or you scout a tech-lab attached to a Barracks) then you do not need to fear Factory play from the opponent. If you do not see any Marauders being built and the opponent is not expanding then you should switch to an opening that gets you a faster Robotics Facility as you may need an Observer ready for Cloaked Banshees.


Counter To[edit]

  • 2 Rax Pressure-Builds: You should have more than enough units to prevent the opponent from being able to pressure you in this way.
  • 3 Rax Stim All-In: As above.

Countered By[edit]

  • Cloaked Banshee Openings: It is possible that you will not have an Observer in time if you do not manage to scout what they are up to. This will leave your Probes open to harassment, putting you heavily behind (or even losing you the game).


Pro Features[edit]

  • Short Rush Distances: It will not take as long for your push to get to the opponent's base, making it much stronger. For example, Cloud Kingdom.
  • 2 Player Maps: Makes it easier to scout the opponent's gas-timing (you should always get into their base before it is fully walled off) which makes it easier to scout for Cloaked Banshee play being employed. For example, Cloud Kingdom and Ohana.

Con Features[edit]

  • Long Rush Distances: Your push will hit later due to the extended rush distance. This will likely make it less effective. For example, Daybreak and Tal'Darim Altar.

Replays and VODs[edit]

South Korea  Alicia Alicia demonstrating the build against MVP. A subscription may be required to view this content.
South Korea  MVP
Date: 2011-03-16
Patch: 1.2.2 VOD
United States  CecilSunkure CecilSunkure demonstrating the build against a Marine/Tank all-in.
Date: 2011-03-17
Patch: 1.2.2 Replay
United States  CecilSunkure CecilSunkure demonstrating the build against a fast Banshee build.
Date: 2011-03-14
Patch: 1.2.2 Replay
United States  CecilSunkure CecilSunkure demonstrating the build.
Date: 2011-03-14
Patch: 1.2.2 Replay