TvP Thorzain’s 1rax FE Variant

General Overview

This variant of the standard 1rax FE build sacrifices early infrastructure for early Marauders, map control, and a faster Medivac timing.

Build Order

  • 10 – Supply Depot
  • 12 – Barracks
  • 16 – Marine (only 1)
  • 17 – Orbital Command
  • 17 – 2nd Command Center
  • 17 – Supply Depot (Resume Marine Production)
  • 21 – 2 more Barracks
  • 21 – 2 Refineries
  • 23 – Bunker at Natural
  • 25 – 2nd Orbital Command
  • 26 – @75 Gas, start Tech lab and Reactor
  • @100% Tech lab, start Stimpack Research (start constant Marauder production)
  • @100 Gas, start Factory
  • @50% Factory, start Engineering Bay
  • @100% Factory, start Reactor on Factory and Starport, +1 Infantry Attack, and 3rd Refinery
  • @100% Starport, swap off Starport onto Reactor (start double Medivac production)
  • @100% Stim, start Combat Shields
  • Push out when your first 2 Medivacs pop (@9:15ish) with Stimpack, around 6 Marauders, around 16 Marines, and 2 Medivacs.

Scouting

When you send your scouting SCV, look for the number of gasses your opponent has, their Nexus energy, and also the units they are producing out of the Gateway.  If he only has 1 gas before his stalker pops, check to see whether your opponent gets his natural at around 5:15 (You can hide your SCV nearby and then run it in around 5:30 to check for an expansion later if need be).  If he has 2 gas or is not spending his chronoboost, then be wary of any sort of early attack.  The different common responses to standard Protoss builds are:

Nexus First: Abandon this build.  Either Bunker rush with 4 Barracks instead of getting your 2nd CC OR Stop making marines at 3, get your 3rd CC and go straight into double upgrades to get a leg up in the macro game.

Double Gas, No Expansion by 6:00:  Get 3 bunkers (and a missile turret if you haven’t ruled out DTs).  Pull SCVs to repair and provide a meat shield as necessary.

1 Gate Expand: Play normal.  Use your initial Marauder to push back Protoss’ initial Stalker and take your own Xel’Naga Watchtower.

Tips

  • To confirm that your opponent is not all-inning you, have an SCV (or scan) go to his natural just before the 6 minute mark.  A 4gate will hit before this timing, but 2 bunkers and repair should be able to hold a 4gate easily enough; all other all-ins hit much later and this scout will give you enough time to mount an appropriate defense.
  • Against a 1gate FE, take control of your side of the map with your initial Marauder.
    • Use it to push back your opponent’s first Stalker from your side of the map, check around your third/fourth base for proxy Pylons, and give you enough time to put up more Bunkers if you see any early 2 base attack coming.
  • A major strength of this build is the very fast Medivacs.  Take advantage of this by attacking as soon as those first 2 Medivacs pop.
  • When you get to your opponent’s base, be sure to scan your opponent’s natural in order to determine how many Sentries he has waiting for you.
    • If your opponent has too many units, then double drop the main instead of attacking directly into the natural.  Do NOT engage in chokes against sentries.
    • Favor keeping units alive over sacrificing them for a Nexus or Robotics Facililty snipe.  With such low infrastructure, you cannot afford to replace lost units quickly.  Until you have all 5 Barracks completed with appropriate add-ons, your ability to replenish your army is much smaller than other 1rax FEs (especially Bomber’s variation).

Transitions

As you’re pushing out, you will need to place down your 3rd CC, 2nd Engineering Bay and Armory, 3 more Barracks, and a Ghost Academy or 2nd Starport to counter your opponent’s HTs or Colossi.  In almost all situations, try to place down the 3rd CC and upgrades first.  However, if you lose a lot of units due to Protoss pressure or a failed drop, then build those 3 extra Barracks earlier (possibly even adding on your Ghost Academy or 2nd Starport before your 3rd base if your opponent seems to be going for a Colossi or HT all-in).  Transition into 3 base Bio with Ghosts/Vikings for support when you can afford it.

Pros and Cons

This 1rax FE variant focuses on being more aggressive earlier on in the game than the standard 1rax FE.  Thorzain’s build gets faster Marauders for map control, a faster Stimpack Research, and a faster Medivac timing – all with the purpose of being more aggressive against Protoss faster.

However, in order to afford this aggression, this 1rax FE variant only can afford 2 Barracks before Medivacs and is very susceptible to 1 base all-ins such as Void Ray all-ins and 4gate Blink+Obs all-ins.  Even 1gate FE into 3gate pressure is hard to deal with because of the low Barracks count and the fast add-ons.  Also, once you push out with your initial Medivac timing, you don’t have the standard 5 Barracks to fall back on in case you lose your army or a drop goes awry.  Those extra 3 Barracks have to be added on a lot later than a normal 1rax FE because of the earlier Medivac and Marauder production, so losing your army to a good Blink, a nice force field, or unexpected Colossi will result in a quick loss to any counter attack at all – up until all 5 Barracks and their appropriate add-ons are established.

Favorable Maps

Because this build gets faster map control, you are often out on the map much before your opponent’s third is even started.  Thus, the only base design that favors this build is an easy-to-defend natural.  However, because basically every map in the ladder map pool has an easy-to-defend natural, this build is a good general build.

Note: This build is not very effective vs a Nexus first, so don’t do this build on maps that are big enough for a Nexus first to be more viable than it normally is.

  • Cloud Kingdom
  • Daybreak
  • Ohana
  • Antiga Shipyard
  • Akilon Flats

Replays

Relevant Day9 Daily

Thorzain performing this build throughout his series vs HasuObs in TSL4

Thorzain’s 1rax FE Variant Tutorial Replay vs a Very Easy AI

Thorzain’s 1rax FE Variant YouTube Tutorial