Griffith 4OC (vs. Zerg)
Griffith 4 Orbital Command versus Zerg strategy/build is under revision.
The 4OC build is one of the many possible transitions of the 2 Rax FE. It is an extremely macro-oriented build designed to give Terran players a significant mid-game economic advantage over Zerg without being dangerously vulnerable early-mid game. The build's playstyle feels most similar to BW's 1 Rax FE. The build exploits three particular characteristics of the Terran race:
- Terran has the most cost-efficient defense mechanisms of any race, allowing turtling to be possible.
- Command center can lift-off - allowing safe construction of in-base CCs without investing heavy resources into defending an expo early on.
- Orbital Commands essentially pays back for itself after 2-3 MULE calldowns. Any calldowns afterwards can be considered "free money".
In early game, the goal is to apply significant pressure with the 2 Rax opening. In the early mid-game (7-9) minutes, the goal is to stay alive while you prepare your OCs. In mid-game, using your economic advantage, the goal is to once again continuously pressure Zerg while aggressively expanding yourself.
- Provides an extremely strong solid economic foundation for mid-game (around 2200-2500 income off 2 bases by 11 minutes).
- Versatile build with countless transitions (has equal if not more versatility than BW's 1 Rax FE), fairly safe against contingency events and cheese methods.
- Forces Zerg to be the aggressor between 7 to 10 minutes, else the mid-game pressure is extremely scary.
- Easily shuts down Mutalisk harass due to your high Marine count and turret mineral sink.
- Can be fairly difficult to scout given the large number of roaming Marines in your base to deny Overlord vision.
- Delays unit composition and tech in exchange for economy. This is an advantage in TvZ because Zerg is a reactive race. The earlier Terran decides on a unit composition, the easier it is countered by Zerg. By delaying Tech, you essentially force Zerg to make the first commitment (to Mutalisks, Infestors, or Roaches).
- Defending against 2 Hatch Eco Sling/Bling requires advanced simcity skills.
- Requires strong simultaneous macro and micro ability (ex: being able to split attack aggressively while keeping up production, expansions, etc.)
- Requires very good bio micro. Being able to split Marines comfortably is a MUST.
- Requires precise scouting information to determine when and if to put up the 4th OC.
- Main gets mined out quickly and requires aggressive mid-game expansions.
Basic Build Order
- Once you have made 5-6 Marines, if the Zerg commits to the standard 14-hatch, send the Marines to them and apply pressure. If Zerg is doing 1 base play, keep Marines at your base.
- You can elect to expo with your second CC directly at your natural if the Zerg is playing passive or if you have dealt a significant amount of damage with your 2 rax pressure. Your 3rd and 4th CC should be constructed and kept in your main at all times!
- It is also possible to 2 rax Bunker contain and then transition into 4OC. You would therefore delay constructing subsequent CCs until you can secure your Bunker contain. More information is provided in the adaptations section.
- The timing of your third depot depends on how many Marines you have alive.
- You need to scan the Zerg expo before you throwdown your 4th CC. Look under scouting for additional information.
Proper scouting is essential. You need to check for the following things at the following time/supply, this is not optional.
- (14 ) no hatch at expo, fast Roach Warren/Baneling-bust: double Bunker up at your ramp immediately, delay your 3rd and 4th CCs. Once your 3rd CC goes up, take double gases and tech to Marauders as soon as possible.
- (14 ) standard 14 hatch: commit to the build having at least 3 CCs.
- (28 or 5:55 game-time) scan reveals no Lair and low drone count, Zerg is likely either doing 2 hatch Roach all-in (if you spot Roach Warren) or 2 hatch Baneling bust. Note, you absolutely need to simcity properly.
- (60 or 8:30 game-time) scan to determine Lair/Spire/infestation-pit timing. Spire indicates 2 hatch economic muta, where as Infestation-pit indicates 2 hatch fast Infestors. You can choose a float rax (on certain maps its preferable)
The adaptation section has detailed guides on how to deal with the 3rd and 4th timings.
Like the 1rax FE from BW, this is not a timing push build. It is an adaptive opener with heavy emphasis on strong mechanics. It will take ample practice to become comfortable with it. Your goal between 7–10 minutes is to simply "stay-alive", while past that point, you can choose to transition into macro-fest or an aggressive playstyle.
There are four points to keep in mind:
- Strong simcity is absolutely crucial and plays a significant role against 2 hatch eco Baneling bust. Bunkers can and should be built when you take you natural, as they can refunded at any time. Furthermore, place your OCs as far away from cliffs as possible. You want to deny Overlord scouting of the 4OCs between 6:00-8:30 with a group of 3-4 Marines patrolling the cliffs (you can use shift-P to queue patrols).
- Perfect your macro ability. Keep your money low without excessive queuing and make enough production structures. You can easily support 8 Raxes (4 reactored + 4 Tech Labs) and 2 Facts (pumping out tanks/Thors). When entering mid-late game, always have 2 Starports (1 Tech Lab, 1 reactor) to prepare for the Brood Lord transition. Upgrades can be had very early with this build. You should always double eBay and in some instances, double Armory. As a general timing guide, you should be able to finish 2/2 infantry upgrades by around 16 minutes. The +2 Building Armor upgrade should always be taken as it will help you secure additional expansions and deal with Mutalisk harass.
- Proper scouting techniques will save you time and money. Learn to conserve scans and instead use the energy into MULEs. In mid-game, once your natural has been safely secured, Terran players with good micro should avoid using scans to determine the Zerg's tech path. Instead, they should use a floating Barracks to scout. Ideal timing for your scouting rax should be around 8 minutes. A scan will effectively cost you about 270 , where as a Barracks would cost only 150 and can be re-used up to 3-4 times as well as delay Mutalisk harass. Scans should be saved for aggressively removing Creep Tumors (before you have Ravens) and as a spotter for tanks in a pinch (though again, this can be done by simply floating raxes). You should always have a Marine or an SCV at Zerg's 3rd and 4th expos, this is arguably the most cost-saving measure you can do.
- Your 3rd and 4th expansions should be taken consistently throughout the game. You should always secure your 3rd and 4th by means of a Planetary Fortress despite its cost (550/150). By around 12 minutes, it only takes you less than 18 seconds to gather the need resources for a PF expansion. Your target expansion site should always have one turrets set up before you land your CC (in case of burrowed Banelings), with additional turrets added as you maynard (transfer) SCVs. Typical timings for getting your 3rd is between 12 to 14 minutes, depending on playstyle of the Zerg.
Note that we assume the Zerg player is not doing some kind of esoteric 1-base play, if he is, a standard 2 Rax FE should be used. Your decision to 4OC comes after the Zerg's decision to 1-base.
Bunker Contain into 4OC
For players with strong Marine control, you can ramp up your initial 2 rax pressure by building 2-3 Bunkers outside the Zerg's natural to contain if the Zerg goes 14-hatch. Note this is most feasible on maps with a relatively narrow chokepoint at the expansion (Scrap Station, Lost Temple, etc.). Once you have secured your contain, you can then proceed to 4OC (the supply timing will be off, but the build order is the same).
2 Hatch Baneling Bust
Properly executed eco Baneling busts come knocking between 8 to 9 minutes. It may or may not be all-in. You will not have stim or combat shields ready, but this is still manageable as you are not playing offensively. They key point is to not commit to your 4th CC until you're fairly certain the Zerg is not going for a Baneling bust (refer to the scouting section). It takes 7 Banelings (350 / 175 ) to kill a Bunker and the remaining Marines (300 ). The following techniques can make your life much easier.
- Delay your 4th CC until you have secured your natural with at least 2 Bunkers.
- The raxes you build after you finish your 3rd CC should used as part of the wall at your natural.
- Put up 4-5 Bunkers and spread them out at your natural, the trick is to put only 1-2 Marines in each Bunker. This makes your natural extremely difficult to bust. Once your natural has been secured, salvage the extraneous Bunkers.
- Any remaining Marines should be kept completely isolated from other Marines. IE. They should be spread out completely such that any given Baneling will hit only 1 or 2 Marines. This spreading is done at around 7:00 minutes and before the Banelings come knocking.
- You can use your 3rd CC to simcity and help you wall-off your natural. Only do this if you are certain you are faced with a Baneling bust and not a Roach Baneling bust.
Depending on the amount of pressure exerted by the Zerg, and if he didn't completely all-in, your opponent will likely transition either to sling/bling/muta or sling/bling/Infestor while trying to secure a 3rd. If you survive without losing your expo, Zerg's economy will be significantly behind.
2 Hatch Roach Baneling All-in
This is essentially a 2 base all-in build from Zerg to counter 3/4OC. Fortunately, it tends to mean there are 25% less Banelings to deal with and very little lings - making Marauders highly effective. It also tends to come slightly later than the econ Baneling bust. Upon scanning the RW/Bling all-in, it is best dealt with by:
- Forgo your 4th OC as Zerg is going all-in
- Take 2 gases as soon as possible and attach 3 Tech Labs to your Barracks
- Get at least 6 raxes (3 of them with techlabs) and research concussive shells, stim, and combat shields (in that order and after you have started Marauder production)
- Put up 3-4 Bunkers and spread them out at your natural. In this case, fill them with Marauders. If Banelings bust the raxes, your Marauders will still be alive.
- You do not want to spread Marines ahead of time in this case, as Roaches would just tear apart isolated infantry. You need to spread Marines on an as-needed foxer-style basis when Banelings start rolling in.
Natural transition from this is just a straight tech to Marauders/Medivacs/tanks/Thors, similar to the follow-up of 2 hatch slingbling, but mixed in with more Marauders.
2 Hatch Economic Muta into Sling/Bling/Muta
2 Hatch Economic Muta is very similar to that of BW, except with superior production capabilities. Essentially, Zerg tries to spend as little money as possible on ground forces while building up a strong muta force to harass as well as building up a solid economy. It is key to scan or have a floating rax arrive at around 9 minutes to check for Spire to determine Mutalisk timing.
After you secure 2 gases, make a total of at least 6 Raxes and 2 Engineering Bays.
Dealing with early-game muta harass in TvZ is different from BW. A key difference is that medics are now Medivacs (a relatively high-tech unit). Although you will still have access to early stim, you cannot deal with muta harass by repeatedly stimming your Marines in the center of the map, you need to commit to a push. Transitioning via 4OC means that you will not have Medivacs until ~13 minutes.
Regardless of your play-style, it is highly recommended that you:
- Sim-city with at least 6 turrets (3 per external geyser). If you have 4 gas geysers, two are "internal", 2 are "external", you want to build turrets on the same line as external geysers. Additional turrets should be placed near the exposed cliff. You want turrets to be up before Mutalisks arrive.
- As the game goes on, do not be conservative on your turrets. In fact, VODs of BW's Flash are a great resource to learn proper turret placement.
When transitioning to mid-game for a 15-16 minute pre-Brood Lord timing attack:
- Actively deny creep between 10–15 minutes to the best of your ability; you want to keep creep contained to (at most) half the map.
- Tech to Marines/Tanks/Thors (1 Thor for every 6 mutas), +Ravens/Medivacs.
- If Zerg insists on non-stop muta harass, it is always a good investment to get the +2 Building Armor upgrade. +2 armor on clumped buildings against mutas is really more like a +5 armor due to glaive mechanics. Furthermore, it will greatly help your expansion's Planetary Fortress by bolstering it to 5 armor.
If you have good bio-ball control:
Another advanced method of dealing with 2 Hatch muta is to research fast stim and combat shields and move out with a medium sized group of Marines at around 10 minutes so you can apply non-stop pressure, while slowly teching to tanks. If Zerg chooses to continue harassing your base, you can just go and kill the Zerg's natural as your opponent will likely have very few Banelings to defend. However, this method is not as reliable when compared to the BW equivalent because lack of medics means you will not be able to repeatedly stim. 4OC can help you easily sustain a continuous stream of Marines.
The above method is actually preferred as Zerg often become too confident in their Muta harass, taking their fast 3rd and (sometimes) 4th bases before the 14 minute mark.
Fast 3 Hatch Expand
A fast 3rd for Zerg is typically placed at around 9 minutes (or earlier) either before or immediately after Spire. However, doing so results in the Zerg having a relatively weak ground force and low tech at around 10–11 minutes just as the 3rd is stabilizing. To exploit this weakness, the best counter is to mass Marines and some Marauders as soon as possible. You want to start combat shields and stim pack research as soon as you spot the 3rd going down. It is generally recommended to leave an SCV or Marine at the Zerg's 3rd. You want to exert significant pressure at around 10:30.
- You should be able to easily support 10 Barracks (5 Tech Lab, 5 reactor) with 4OC.
- Be sure to include double Engineering Bays and get those infantry upgrades as soon as possible!
- While pressuring, it is advisable to tech to Siege Tanks and a reactored Starport to allow you multi-pronged attacks.
- Be aware that Mutalisks will often come at around 10 minutes if Zerg goes 3 hatch. Do not forget to place turrets in your main.
The replay below between vVvNGry and EGStrifeCro illustrates proper execution of this transition.
2 Base Fast Infestor + Ling/Bling/Roach
The standard way of dealing with mass Infestors is to get tanks or Medivacs, while getting a fairly fast 3rd. Fast Infestors also means that the Zerg will have little to no Mutalisks, making Tanks a lot stronger. Upon scouting a fast Infestation Pit, you should immediately take all 4 gases and Double Fact (if your opponent hasn't already). This is followed by either a single or double Armory, depending on the player's commitment to mech.
Because of the delayed muta and that Infestors are relatively immobile, you can invest your minerals saved from turrets into another CC->PF to set up your 3rd. If timed properly, you should also be able to muster a strong tank push consisting of at least 8 tanks supported by ~60 Marines that can be mustered by 15–16 minutes, along with 1/1 infantry and 1/0 or 2/0 vehicle upgrades.
Another alternative is to invest in Ghosts as opposed to tanks. However, due to the high cost of Ghosts, Ghost play in TvZ is relatively unseen in competitive play.
Entering late-game via 4OC as Terran is usually favorable as you have an OC backed economy (translating to 500-600 more mineral income on average than other builds). However, 4OC can lead into a late-game stalemate where both you and your opponent are on 4+ more bases. By this stage, most Zergs will opt for a Brood Lord/Corruptor/Infestor combination whereby he forces you to mass Vikings/Thor followed by a quick tech switch to Ultralisk/crackling/Infestor, leaving you with a group of relatively useless Vikings taking up supply. However, there is a strategy utilizing Terran's Planetary Fortress to swing late-game into your favor.
It is critical to observe the following when dealing with the late-game TvZ:
- Be sure to actively deny creep, you must be able to make room for the PFs. Invest in several Planetary Fortresses and place them in key choke-points, preferably near the middle of the map. Think of Planetary fortresses as a static, no-supply tank that costs only 550/150. Furthermore, PFs do their max damage of 40 against all unit types with the same splash radius as the Siege Tank. You can elect to support PFs with Turrets/Supply depots as needed. PFs also have the added benefit of screwing up Ultralisk AI and serving as the primary target in an engagement for any unit that Zerg a-moves against.
- Make sure you have the +2 Building Armor upgrade. Your PF will then have 5 armor, meaning Broodlings will do significantly less damage. It will buy you extra time when Brood Lords come out.
- Make sure you have at least 2 Starports (1 reactor, 1 Tech Lab) so you can to quickly mass Vikings if he double tech-switch back to Brood Lords. 3 Starports would be preferred in very late-game.
- Keep as many tanks alive as possible at all times. Remember to have ~10 SCVs nearby to mass repair.
- Blue flame Hellions can 2-shot an entire Hatchery's Larvae supply. Unlike drones and other units, Larvae cannot escape - making them extremely good targets for Hellions. It is important to approach hatcheries from the side to line-up the flame angle. Late game Zerg tend to stockpile up to 24 Larvae per Hatchery. Thus, it is of absolute importance to consistently deny Larvae before engaging in army trades. Every Larvae killed delays unit production by 10–15 seconds.
- The key to dealing with mass Corruptor to counter your Vikings is thepoint defense drone, Corruptors attack very slowly and hit very hard. A single PDD can nullify up to 280 damage and more.
- You can take advantage of the slow mobility of ultras/blords by consistently multi-dropping, target gas geysers, Infestation Pits, Ultralisk Caverns, and Greater Spires above everything else.
Proceed with your slow-push, constantly reinforcing with Planetary Fortress, Missile Turrets, tanks, and some Thors (in case of mutas). In fact, it is preferable to use buildings (Bunkers, turrets, PFs) as a mineral sink in late-game, as opposed to spamming Marines primarily because buildings require no supply and can soak up significantly more damage.
The Importance of Planetary Fortresses Explained
The utility of PFs deserve special mention. Because 4OC provides an immense surplus of minerals, this build allows Terrans with a unique strategy of constructing PFs to fortify key choke points and create artificial barriers. In fact, it is almost always better to use a PF than Siege Tanks to hold down key positions. The effective DPS of a unit (before upgrades) can be easily calculated:
- PF(no ups): (1500*40*0.5)/(700) = 43
- ST(no ups): (160*42.5*0.3333*2)/(275) = 16
- ST(max ups):(160*54.5*0.3333*2)/(275) = 21
Note that the above does not take into account that PFs also require no supply and that PFs do not deal friendly splash damage. Although anecdotal at base, the 2x multiplier is to account for the fact that tanks have twice the range of a PF. As can be seen, PFs are at least 3 times more cost-effective than a Siege Tank for purposes of permanently holding a choke point position. Realistically, the 2x multiplier is not needed in TvZ because Zerg has no ground units whose range is greater than that of PF - meaning PFs are about 6 times more effective in TvZ than tanks. For this reason, Zergs are usually forced to re-tech back into Brood Lords/muta/Corruptors (which can be dealt with by means of on-demand reactored Vikings, Marines, and Missile Turret support).
Unlike other Terran builds, this one actually favors long rush distances (as it weakens 2-rax Kyrix Baneling busts). Maps with easy to obtain naturals/3rds are also highly favorable (Shakuras Plateau, Scrap Station, Delta Quadrant, Jungle Basin, non close position Lost Temple)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xj1HMVUp-zo&feature=player_embedded (vVvNGry versus EGStrifeCro, Finals of SCLeague)
https://tl.net/forum/viewmessage.php?topic_id=173703 (Original TL post + more replays)
Numerous insights for this article came from the feedback and support of the Team Liquid community. Special thanks to mindflow, NGry, tQdante, RealDJ, Bixs, 30to1, antisocialmunky, NCJazling.