StarCraft® II

To Masters: Ep1 - Detailed Guide to Cheese

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♤Table of Contents♤

A) Prologue
- Road to Masters
- Learning by Repetition

B) Ep1 - Terran Cheese
- Power of Terran Cheese
- What's a Cheese
- Recipe for Cheese

C) Build Orders, Execution guide:
- 3Rax Supply-drop SCV + Marine cheese
- 6minute 3Rax Stim push
- 4 PRaxy Cheese
- Proxy Thor rush
- 4 Hellion Cloackshee tech rush
- Proxy 2 Portcheese

D) Epilogue
- Master of Cheese? Better player?
- Author's note
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♤Road to Masters

I remember when I was a Silver noob, Terran discussion boards helped me become a better player. And now, as a top 200 NA player, I hope to return the favor back to the community. Starting with this episode, I'll be covering wide variety of tips and know hows that I've learned through my experience in series of posts.

♤ Learning by Repetition

Sometimes, repeating and doing things without even knowing why it works is more efficient way to learn than contemplating on game theories.

I remember myself spending hours and hours watching day9, trying to become a better player, contemplating on the perfect build orders, yet when I actually sit down and play the game, all of that just leaves my brain, and I'm sitting there zombified, trying to keep up with the information the game throws at me.

As much as day9 enlightens us with mind boggling analysis and theories, I find that the 'nike approach of just doing it' sometimes works better when you have no idea where to start. Watching day9 dailies and watching pros stream might give you a solid foundation in theory, but if you can't turn theories into practical use, one cannot actually become a better player (that is not to say I hate D9. Other than the fact that D9 has the best immortal impersonation, he has taught many nublets like me to become a better player).

I myself love to cheese. In fact, cooking cheese was all I ever did till 3k diamonds back in the days (when top players were like 3.5k Diamonds). I use to cheese, and if it failed, I would quickly move on to the next game. Cheese will definitely help you become better in terms of mechanical gameplay, but do note that it won't make you a better player (and there is a limit to how far you can go with cheese).
The following thread will cover in very detailed manner, how to cheese. I've noted some of the important highlights, tips and tricks that might help you when cheesing. But, enough with the chit chat for now, and let's get this cheese cookin'.
Edited by tGPrax on 3/13/2011 2:40 PM PDT
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♤The Power of Terran Cheese

If there's one thing that Blizzard ever gifted us Terrans, it's our ability to open up with multiple cheese builds. Compared to rather linear and step-based tech paths of other races, Terrans have very dynamic tech paths, allowing us to adjust our timings and pick which ever tech path we choose to use in early game openings. This also makes Terran openings very unpredictable, and often times can grant us the benefit of element of surprise (Not to mention the strength in early game Terran units).

By coming up with the most optimal and efficient build orders via experiments, I've had much success with these well constructed build orders. Whenever your timings land perfectly, and money is kept as low as possible, it's a proof of a very powerful opening that will give you the slight edge against your opponent. And specially in early game, where 5-10seconds can decide the game, these small things add up.

Not all cheese builds focus on the timing of getting a certain unit out as soon as possible. Some builds abuse the metagame itself, and are specifically designed to counter a certain build, or limitations of a certain openings.

And since these builds are so optimally designed, by simply memorizing the numbers and practicing/mastering the execution of the build can be, and from my experience, the Fastest way to climb ladder (at least 'till mid-high diamonds).

♤What's a Cheese?.

Before we start, I want to state that opening builds like Blue flame hellion drops, or cloaking banshee openings are not considered as an all-in cheese. All-in cheeses that we'll be covering today are builds that you cannot come back from (assuming players are both equally skilled), if it fails. Such builds include cutting SCV production, bringing SCVs, not taking gas, etc.

♤ Recipe for Cheese: Bleu cheese, Goat cheese, Cheddar, Swiss, Feta, Mozzarella...

Here are some of the common cheeses that I've developed/adjusted to my liking.
These are generalized builds designed to work on most circumstances, but are subject to certain counter builds. It is important! (I cannot emphasize this enough) to try to conceal you're doing a cheese build. Once the opponent sees exactly what you're doing, it's very easy to deflect a cheese. Deny any scouting and hold watch towers as much as you can.
I've also attached pseudo BO replays, as well as Ladder (3.5k+ masters) replays.
Edited by tGPrax on 3/10/2011 1:38 AM PST
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1) 3Rax Supply-drop SCV + Marine cheese: Definition of an all-in cheese. There is no coming back once you decide to prepare this cheese for your main dish. If you thought 2 rax SCV was an all-in, wait till you see 3Rax all in. Using the supply drop instead of a mule, you gain precious 20~25seconds when executing the all in.

♤BO:
10- Supply (bottom of the ramp)
12- Rax (wall off bottom of the ramp)
14- Rax
14- Rrax
15- OC
17- (drop supply on the supply depot at the bottom of the ramp)

By lifting your 2nd and 3rd rax from above the ramp to below ramp, you can shave off 3-10 seconds on rush distance depending on the map. Generally, push commences around 4:00, and you want to keep the marines alive as long as possible. You only need to leave 2-3SCVs mining back at home. Bring as many SCVs as you can. Don't even bother setting SCVs on auto repair. Just form a nice cover wall in front of marines. Specifically designed to snipe 14 hat FE Zergs. On close positions, ultimate 14 Hat killer.
The reason why we get the OC instead of just throwing down another depot, is because:
i) your marine count will still be the same, as you're still producing off 3rax non-stop.
ii) you will only have ~2 more SCVs and ~130minerals short to support your reinforcements than when you build a OC, and you need the 2nd mule to support reinforcements in case of heavy resistance from your opponent.
iii) if you do severe damage to enemy (I.E take out his hatchery), it gives you to option to pull back, as I did in my replay #2)
But, if you know he won't be able to block your initial rush (16hat on steppes), building the 2nd depot instead of OC and bringing all your SCVs is risky, but faster way to end the game.

Pseudo BO:
http://www.sc2replayed.com/replays/148307-2v2-terran-zerg-delta-quadrant
Ladder:
http://www.sc2replayed.com/replays/148308-1v1-terran-zerg-metalopolis
http://www.sc2replayed.com/replays/148309-1v1-terran-zerg-metalopolis
Edited by tGPrax on 3/10/2011 12:39 PM PST
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2) 6minute 3Rax Stim push: Not all 3rax cheeses have to pull SCVs. Depending on number of SCVs you pull, this build can be an extreme all-in to soft contain FE build. 4Gate? No problem. This build crushes 4gate.

♤BO:
10- Supply
12- Rax
13- Gas
15- OC (Standard Terran opening up to this point)
16- 2nd Rax (2nd rax goes up as soon as you have 150 minerals, before the 2nd supply)
17- 2nd Supply
18- Tech lab (Tech lab goes up right after you produce 2 marines off first rax)
*As soon as tech lab finishes, make marauder and research stim pack
22- 3rd Rax (Build the 3rd rax as soon as the SCV building the 2nd Rax finishes)
22- Reactor on 2nd Rax
23- 3rd supply *(Stop SCV production at 19 SCVs, just enough to optimally saturate 1gas, 8minerals)
30- Tech lab on 3rd Rax
30- 4th Supply
*As soon as 2nd tech lab finishes, research Concussive shell

Pump 2 marines off reactor rax, and 2 marauders off tech lab rax. Push out around 6:00, depending on the map, so you arrive at enemy ramp right around 6:20. Your stim and shell should finish around 6:15. Save a scan for the timing push, so you can scan ramp before pushing up. Rally all units to enemy ramp, and bring scvs if you feel like they're necessary. Good against Protoss who sticks to heavy warpgate tech specially on close rush distances.

Pseudo BO:
http://www.sc2replayed.com/replays/148303-1v1-terran-protoss-steppes-of-war
Ladder:
http://www.sc2replayed.com/replays/148304-1v1-terran-steppes-of-war
http://www.sc2replayed.com/replays/148305-1v1-terran-protoss-xelnaga-caverns
http://www.sc2replayed.com/replays/148306-1v1-terran-delta-quadrant
Edited by tGPrax on 3/9/2011 10:22 PM PST
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3) 4 PRaxy Cheese: By walling off early and skipping orbital command, you can support 4 nake barracks. Also, by proxying the 3rax outside, reinforcements arrive much sooner.

♤BO:
10- Supply at ramp (As soon as SCV is done building supply depot, send scout-1 to scout, and position it for idle Proxy location)
12- Rax at ramp
14- Build 2nd Rax (proxy) with scouting SCV near enemy base
16- Wall off with 2nd Supply (as soon as the SCV building the first Rax is done, send scout-2 out to proxy location)
18- 3rd Rax (proxy) with the 2nd SCV sent out
20- 4th Rax (proxy) (build it as soon as the SCV building the 2nd Rax (proxy) is done)
24- 3rd Supply

Constantly pump marines non-stop. It's crucial to not have your proxies scouted. The key to this build is to hide what you're doing. Stay outside of watch tower range, and bring all but couple of SCVs mining back in base. Depending on timing of enemy build, push happens around 4:50~ 5:15. There is no turning back from this. This 4proxy rax rush is even more of an all-in than the 3Rax supply drop rush, as you have no mules to fall back on.

Pseudo BO:
http://www.sc2replayed.com/replays/148310-2v2-terran-shakuras-plateau
Ladder:
http://www.sc2replayed.com/replays/148313-1v1-terran-zerg-shakuras-plateau
http://www.sc2replayed.com/replays/148315-1v1-terran-xelnaga-caverns
Edited by tGPrax on 3/10/2011 12:44 PM PST
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4) Proxy Thor rush: By putting the factory at a proxy location, we can compensate for the thor's slow mobility. In synergy with the SCV mass repair, thors can tank huge damage, not to mention how effective thors are in early game small numbers.

♤BO:

-10 Supply
-11 Gas
-13 Rax
*Depending on the map, send a scouting SCV around 1:45~2:20
-15 Factory (proxy) with the scouting SCV
-15 OC
-17 Supply
-18 2nd Rax
-20 Armory as soon as factory finishes, make 1 hellion from factory
-23 Tech lab on factory (proxy)
-24 Supply
-26 Gas (as soon as 2nd Rax finishes)

Constantly pump marines non stop from 2 rax. You can squeeze in a hellion while the armory is going up. Make thor as soon as armory is done. Pull 10-12 SCVs when the thor is 75% done. Use the mineral stacking glitch for SCVs to stack them when pushing up the ramp to bypass the thor and press S (stop command) to get a nice surround repair on the thor. Rally/move command everything to the thor, and focus on keeping the thor alive.

Pseudo BO:
http://www.sc2replayed.com/replays/148317-1v1-terran-protoss-xelnaga-caverns
Ladder:
http://www.sc2replayed.com/replays/148318-1v1-terran-protoss-shakuras-plateau
http://www.sc2replayed.com/replays/148319-1v1-terran-protoss-shakuras-plateau
*In the replay, i don't get a hellion out, and that's because against Protoss, hellions aren't that good. I only squeeze a hellion out vZ.
Edited by tGPrax on 3/9/2011 10:21 PM PST
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5) 4 Hellion Cloackshee tech rush: By always standing 1 tier ahead of your opponent, the hellion harass into cloakshee rush deals heavy damage to opponent's economy. Rather than calling this a cheese, this opening is a very solid harassment oriented opening. You can transition smoothly into mid-game, as having both reactor and tech lab, along with all 3 production facilities gives you the freedom to adapt and transition. Meanwhile, opening up with very fast 4hellions and transitioning into banshees, this double combo attack constantly puts your opponent under heavy harassment, and force him to tech in multiple tech trees in order counter both hellions and banshees. If executed well, you can safely expand and tech while harassing the opponent.

♤BO:
-10 Supply at ramp
-11 Gas
-13 Rax at ramp
-15 Wall off with Factory at ramp as soon as barracks is done
-15 Make reactor with Rax as soon as you have 50gas
-16 Supply
-16 Gas (right after OC finish)
*Swap Factory with Reactor on Rax and pump 2 hellions right away
-22 Starport (right after you que 2 hellions on reactor)
-23 Tech lab on Barracks
*Make sure you pause SCV production at 19 SCVs (23/27 supply with 2 hellions). Leave room for 2 more hellions (27/27)
-27 Supply depot
*Swap Starport with Techlab on Rax and research Cloak and Banshee

Taking a normal 4hellion opening, and adding on the Cloaking banshee as a 2nd raid, you can deal significant damage to enemy's economy. Both Hellions and Banshees excel at killing workers, and with the proper micro, can be very cost effective. Against Terran, use hellions to lower marine count, so the banshees can go unchecked. Against zerg, force as many lings / spine crawler as possible to slow down Queen/Spore crawler timing. Not so effective against Protoss.

Pseudo BO:
http://www.sc2replayed.com/replays/148321-2v2-terran-zerg-metalopolis
Ladder:
http://www.sc2replayed.com/replays/148322-1v1-terran-zerg-metalopolis
http://www.sc2replayed.com/replays/148323-1v1-terran-zerg-xelnaga-caverns
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6) Proxy 2 Portcheese: Skipping straight to banshees, Banshee timing is extremely fast, opponent has very little time to prepare. Even if one does manage to deflect it, he is still tied up and cannot push out, allowing you to transition safely.

♤BO:
-10 Supply at ramp (Send scouting SCV right after done building depot)
-11 Gas
-13 Rax at ramp
-15 Factory (proxy) at close air distance to enemy with the scouting SCV
-16 Gas (as soon as OC finish)
*Do not build supply depot at 17/19. Cut SCV production at 16 SCVs. You will be capped at 19/19 for ~10 seconds, but 2 Starports should go up before putting the supply down
-18 Starport (proxy) at close air distance to enemy with the scouting SCV as soon as factory is done
-18 2nd Starport in base.
-19 Supply depot
-19 Tech lab on Factory (proxy)
-19 Tech lab on Rax
*Swap 2 Starports with Techlabs and pump 2 banshees ASAP

Make sure the proxy isn't spotted. Patrol marines at close air position against Zerg overlords. Against Protoss, float the factory (proxy) after done making tech lab, and send it around in a nice angle (do not give away proxy location) to check for robotics. If no robotics, get Cloaking ASAP, if robotics bay is already up and observers are out, skip Cloak, and pump Banshee #3,4 immediately (cloaking will be useless anyways). Against Terran, use factory to scout for turret positions, or even use it to draw enemy marines as a retard magnet. Invest minimum into defence (1-4marines depending on opponent's build), as it will slow down your banshee timing, but do not neglect to put up a bunker to defend if necessary.

Pseudo BO:
http://www.sc2replayed.com/replays/148324-2v2-terran-protoss-lost-temple
Ladder:
http://www.sc2replayed.com/replays/148325-1v1-terran-xelnaga-caverns
Edited by tGPrax on 3/9/2011 8:54 AM PST
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♤Master of Cheese? Better player?

Although I've given you the recipe on how to become the iron cheesef, knowing which cheese to choose to suit the appetite of the critics will still take some thinking. For example, the 3Rax supply drop marine + SCV all-in was specifically designed against Fast expanding Zergs (14hat, 16hat,etc). The 6minute 3rax stim push works well against Protoss, but not so well against Zerg. Thor rush works well against current metagame style of Protoss, but might not so be in certain cases. Some builds work well in certain maps, while others not so well. Knowing which trick to pull out is gonna take some time, and will require some thinking. But as I've said, the purpose of this thread was to enlighten you on the applicational aspect. I'll leave the second part to you- that is, only through trial and error, can one truly understand the theory behind why these cheeses are so effective. Once you fully understand why certain units are so effective in certain maps, at certain period of time, you can adjust the builds to your own likings to make them even more optimal and powerful.

Looking back, this kinda feels like if I'm promoting you to cheese. But I'm not worried.
In all honesty, do I think this post will help you climb ladder? Yes. Do I think this post will help you become a better player? Maybe.

I remember when I first started this game. Before the barracks nerf, I use to proxy 8 rax all the time (thus my name Prax). But soon, I realized that no matter how powerful a certain build can be, memorizing build orders without the theory behind it will not help you improve as a player. You lose your ability to make better decisions, and cannot respond to certain cases. One may know how to drive a car through experience, but without knowing how the car drives, he cannot make a best car.
Only once you have both theory and practice, will you become the ultimate master.
And besides, sorry to disappoint you guys, but once you hit diamond/masters, there will be more creative people who better understand the mechanics of the game, and there will come a time when cheese won't help you.
But I post my thread in hopes to make you a better player in terms of practice, and execution aspect of the gameplay.

This turned out to be much time consuming than I expected, but I hope this post can at least guide you in the right direction (or at least help u climb in ladder XD).

"There are three basic activities of man: theoria, poiesis, and praxis" - Aristotle.
Edited by tGPrax on 3/13/2011 2:42 PM PDT
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P.S:
This is should be a MUST read for any new/Gold/Plat players. Even if you don't try out these strategies on a regular bases, it is worth it to try it out once. You'll get a feeling of starting different builds and know the strengths and weaknesses of each unit. You'll play around with lots of units, Hellions, Banshees, Medivacs, Thors, Tanks, only Marines. You can see where each goes and how to transition out of each. Basically, you'll find out where you fit best. You'll find which opening is the best for you, and which one fits your playstyle the best. You can transform ANY one of these builds into a Tech/Macro build just by switching a few things around.
(Example: 2 port banshee/1 port banshee cloak into 1-1-1 with regular banshees.)
(Example 2: 3 Rax stim push into 2 Rax stim/CS FE)


As empire mentioned,

I just want to point out that I've covered these problems with cheese in my "♤Master of Cheese? Better player?" section.

I know it's too long to read, but I hope you realize that I admit that cheese will only get you so far. You cannot become a masters player through just cheesing. And I myself think cheese won't help you get past that wall (Even though macro isn't my forte, I think my macro is still better than most people. I have more than enough apm to keep my money low). I hope there won't be anymore of these comments regarding how cheese = noob.

However, what I wanted people to appreciate about cheese was the fact that: one can learn through experience of practice, why these builds are powerful, and learn how to execute things better (If both players do the same build, the one who had more practice who makes better decisions and better execution in general will win). Make stupid mistakes. Next time, you won't be making that stupid mistake. Experience CAN make a better player.

Also, it is no doubt that cheese BOs are very solid openings (money is low, timings are right on time, etc). By taking a cheese step farther, one can create his own opening builds (I.E: Huk has his openings memorized down to milliseconds, his replays for first 5minutes of the game look identical). This can give you a slight edge in keeping your money low, and timings landing right on time.

Reason why I wanted to start off with simple build orders like cheese, is because you can learn to appreciate how much powerful "solid openings" can be, and I wanted to make things as simple as possible (build order up to 20-25supply shouldn't be a problem). If you can take the idea of cheese (keeping money low, timings on time, simply put, keep the gameplay optimal and as efficient as possible), and stretch for the entire game, you can actually transform what you've learned in cheese to help out in your macro play.
Don't worry, I'll be covering more of a analytical / theoretical topic next time.

And besides, it's good to mix up a cheese play here and there. Specially in Bo5/Bo7 tournaments, these things can throw your opponent away. And knowing these multiple builds also help you defend against these cheese as well.
Edited by tGPrax on 3/9/2011 9:10 PM PST
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Posts: 435
Bravo mate, thanks for taking the time to type all of this out.
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Posts: 336
i really wouldn't consider a stim push as a cheese. you still can comeback from it ifyou don't pull scv's.
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Posts: 1,270
Nice to have these in the 'toolbox' if needed. ;) Thanks for putting in so much time to write such a comprehensive guide. Everyone should know and be able to execute these but I hope people understand that if you want to improve and be able to play past the 10 minute mark, you can't do these in 100% of your games.
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Posts: 38
I just wanna say that I find this very helpful and I am grateful that you posted this.
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Posts: 328
Cool posts. Thank you.
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Posts: 568
03/09/2011 8:54 AMPosted by BeRandom
i really wouldn't consider a stim push as a cheese. you still can comeback from it ifyou don't pull scv's.


With the current metagame shifting towards faster Colossus timing, once 6minute stim push doesn't do much damage, you can't come back. you cut SCV count after 19, so it's a tough call. You would have to damage the opponent severely.
Against terran, 1 base infantry play isn't scary. It's when you FE and go infantry that scares most terrans. Either way, cutting SCVs hard means hard to come back.
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03/09/2011 9:06 AMPosted by Dully
Yeah these will help you -- help you climb the ladder until other races adapt to these, and then you're some silver player in masters league QQing how OP P and Z are.


...or a top200 NA player. Either one.
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Posts: 328
Yeah these will help you -- help you climb the ladder until other races adapt to these, and then you're some silver player in masters league QQing how OP P and Z are.


...or a top200 NA player. Either one.


No, you're wrong. The poster here knows strategies beyond the cheese which is how he got to Top 200. If someone who is pure bronze solely learned these strategies (even if he perfected them) he would, in fact, hit a big wall before Top 200 or even Masters league IMHO.
Edited by DrRichKimble on 3/9/2011 9:48 AM PST
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Posts: 796
Great post!!!! I respect someone who is honest with his games.
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