StarCraft® II

PVZ OPENING DISCUSSION: DIA or HIGHER PLZ

Ok, so lately i've eschewed going FFE for going 13 gate, then 17 nexus at natrual, then gas then expo.

My question is, does going FFE really make THAT much of a difference in the early game that losing map control and not having the opening zelot/stalker combo to poke with is worth it?

As a insurance reason, i prefer going RAX EXPO over FFE because i reason if i mess up my wallin or if i mess up, then a 6pool will absolutely punish me, whereas if i go rax first, and see the 6pool, even if i mess up terribad, the most that i will lose is a few seconds mining time and 2~3, maybe 4 probes b/c no matter how fast he rushes, calculating run time from his base to mine, i will have that zealot up at the very latest, a few seconds after the first 6 lings run into my base, pulling probes and rally zealot completely negates any type of early 6-10pool pressure with ease. i have lost enough FFE's to know that to me, gate first is preferred, because i know that i will survive a 6pool if i have 1 zealot and probes, whereas if i mess up the wall-in catastrophic things can, and have, happened.

Now a master league player told me that FFE is better to hold those early ling rushes, not 6-11pool, but like a 5 minute 24 speedling runby, or even a 4 minute 12 ling runby. However, to my experience, since i always scout the zerg base repeatedly, (if my inital scout probe dies, ill always send another one to scout with the one that builds my cyber core, if the initial probe is still alive then i scout his base around core as the 4 minute mark is a great indication of what exact tech choices he is going) and if i see a speedling rush, i always have ample time to prepare for it. And since im always spamming sentries early game anyway, with my initial zealot/stalker, ill at least have 4 sentries, so i can FF and micro, and chrono boost out 3 more stalkers to hold. Depending on how bad of an all-in it is, i have to pull probes or i dont.

Also, if with my initial scout i see that he is going to go some sort of all-in or early speedling pressure, (gas before 2nd, spawningpool dancing, double gas before 3) then i'll delay my natrual and basically go for a delayed 4gate expand followed by immortals. I can always expand after my first immortal/sentry push after all.

So i guess i'm asking if FFE really gives you THAT MUCH of an early econ boost, to the point where you take such a bigger risk in the early game, and have it equalize at the end?

Again, i have seen great FFE holds, one zealot plugging that hole and maxxing behind that, and granted most immortal/stentry pushes start with a FFE, not to mention PARTING goes FFE most games, but my goal in the opening is to have the safest transition possible, which means always scouting for proxies, esp vs. toss, not building the core until i scout the opponent to make sure he isn't going double gateway outside my base(if you scout and he doesn't have a pylon by his choke or main, chances are he's going 2gate proxy), but i've always maintained that gate expand, or even gate - core - expand is the safer alternative to FFE, and without THAT much of an economic difference. Also, going gate expo allows you to be a LOT more reactive, being able to transition into just about any build or even being able to out-play cheese oriented players.

So, any high level protoss players want to discuess the pros/cons of FFE vs zerg?

Thanks in advance.

Also, no trolls or idjits QQ'ing about balance. This is JUST A DISCUSSION ON OPENINGS!
Edited by bwTerran on 1/16/2013 12:26 AM PST
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You shouldn't be trying to complete a wall against a 6pool anyway.. you can't unless they are really bad. If you open with gate at the natural, then you are killing yourself against a 6pool if they have any sense of micro or decision-making. You really need to open gateway at your main base, so if he 6 pools you don't have to protect two very far points, but rather just one. You're automatically dead if he 6pools and just pulls drones.

FFE is standard because it's safe against literally everything. If they 6pool, you just give up the forge, make 1 cannon in the main and then take your definite worker advantage into the midgame. It's better for holding 1base cheese because you can easily expand behind your wall and still hold the cheese easy peasy, meaning you've already won. If you open gateway first, then you need to battle through a long and awkward game rather than just auto-winning. Same goes for holding 2-base cheese, too.

Also, technically you should not be posting in your own thread because of the stipulations in the title. I mean, every professional player out there forge expands in at least 19/20 of their PvZs. It's standard for a reason... it's not like you are gonna figure something out that they don't already know.

FFE is also just an easier build.. a lot less room to make game-losing mistakes. Some people use it and like it, and if you do, then that's great. But overall FFE is a superior build until you start getting into discussions like meta and Zergs not being used to gateway openers, but that's really just gimmicky and preying on bad players.
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FFE is standard because it's safe against literally everything. If they 6pool, you just give up the forge, make 1 cannon in the main and then take your definite worker advantage into the midgame


i feel like losing a forge and making a cannon in the main is less productive than making gateway first. Instead of spending 300 on a forge and cannon, and depending on how fast you nex up, losing 400 on a nexus, you make a zealot, hold any 6pools, and be better prepared to pop out sentries. It basically seems that you get a higher sentry energy count by going rax first.. to the point where it really is comprable to a 4gate in terms of enough sentries out before the 8 minute mark. It really makes immortal/sentry pushes THAT much more powerful, becaus on avg you have 2~3 more sentries, and they all have at least 1 extra FF or GS saved up.
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First, please stop saying "rax" instead of gate or something, it throws me off xD

On the whole, I think FFE can be summed up to be superior because
A) Compared to gateway first, it's easier to hold 1/2 base rushes (while losing your forge to a 6pool, you will still survive and have a lead on the zerg)
B) If you face no aggression, you will have a stronger economy because you don't need to make a bunch of units early on to prevent runbys.

The point you made about having more sentry energy would become minute without a wall off because you might need to burn some FF to prevent lings getting in. The only other reasoning you seem to have is because it holds out against a 6 pool better, but in the majority of games you won't face a 6 pool, so that advantage is also gone. (BTW you physically can't have a nexus done by the time a 6 pool is scouted... unless you like, you expand on 6 or some crazy stuff)

Also, just had to also point out

01/16/2013 12:43 AMPosted by Sidewinder
technically you should not be posting in your own thread because of the stipulations in the title.
Edited by Phalanx on 1/16/2013 1:32 AM PST
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Figure out what works for you.

I'm a big fan of going gateway first, if only because it puts your opponent a little off his game compared to the ubiquitous FFE. I also agree with your other points, going gate first puts your opponent on the defence as they can't quite as easily go for a fast 3rd as compared to when you're going FFE.

Zerg > Toss, so do what you need to do to win. My best success against Zerg has been unusual builds, gateway first gives you a wide variety of options.
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well, i put in the provoso in the title b/c i prefer advice from people that i know are better than i am.., seeing as how im 3-2 vs plat this season, and 1-2 vs diamond, i figure i would need advice from higher level players. I think i dropped 3 games in the past 20 vs protoss, lost 1 vs terran, and lost to 7 zergs so yeah thats why i was wondering if my vs zerg would be that much better off going FFE.

From the reps i've been watching, MC like opens FFE every game, and rain always opts for stargate play.., i dont like watching NA protoss b/c i feel like i would learn more watching koreans.

Thanks to all who've responded thus far... still leaning twards going gate expand instead of FE, just seems safer early game for not THAT much gain comparatively.

Plus the concept of being able to switch to 4gate from gate expand is welcomming, consitering once you FFE you have no choice but to continue on with the FE.
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I know you said diamond or higher but I thought I'd give some input as well. If you'd like, ask me to delete it and i will in a heartbeat.

Anyways, I think the reason one gate expo isn't as popular is (especially in lower leagues, where the micro and reaction time needed to hold off early pressure isn't there.), with just a bit of research, zergs should know that if they scout 1 gate expo, they should be able to kill you with a huge ling run by, depending on your wall off. if you wall at your natural, I don't think you can close the gap enough to prevent mass lings, running in and getting a surround on everything. If you wall at your main, the can just contain you and not let you expand. If you go 4 gate expo like you were talking about, I think they can just roach all-in and win (because I believe roaches are the correct response to a protoss who's staying on one base).

I've seen this happen in multiple master league games, and tons of CSL matches.

I'm not saying it doesn't work, just that FFE is more flexible and safer.

Though I am curious as to how you deal with roaches when doing a 4gate expo.
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honestly, as long as i have 4 sentries or so i can handle any type of early roach pressure, such as a 7 roach 5 min rush as long as i have prior vision. Thats why my initial sscouting probe always stays around his choke, so i can see when he moves out. Also, if the guy isnt paying attention and just rallys to close to my base, sometimes i can run the probe around n the roaches chase it b/4 the zerg realizes and micros units away. Worst case senario, i pull probes and lose a few supply, but since he did such an all-in roach push, i end up econ-ahead.

if its like a 7 minute ling/roach all-in, usually the timing works out so my immortal pops out or is popping out right around the 7 minute mark. I guess the main thing is to recognize the zerg timings, and just be aware of whats going on. FF and immortal micro can handle most roach pushes, and if he goes burrow, you already have the ability to make observers straight away.
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FFE is an ECO opener.

Gateway first, is an aggressive opener (even if only zealot+stalker)

FFE is designed to allow a protoss to safely macro up on 2 base, while also keeping up w/ a zerg player in terms of worker production+eco.

Gateway first, is designed to disrupt a greedy macro zerg, force lings, and slow down the zergs economy.

They both accomplish the same thing essentially. Gateway first attempts to slow down a zergs eco to allow the protoss to keep up, while FFE attempts to simply macro as hard/fast as they are and keep up that way.

A couple main reasons people prefer FFE...

1)You do not have to do any damage to keep up w/ a zergs eco.

2)You are safe, from any form of early agression a zerg can throw at you (assuming you scout properly)

3)A GOOD zerg, will be capable of defending Gateway first pressure, while also droning, thus putting the Protoss player behind moving into the mid game.

FFE is just safe. MUCH safer than gateway first.
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i guess the loss of map control doesn't really matter if you're FFE anyway.. i guess i prefer playing more reactionary than stationary.. but after a few FFE games i can see the advantage... i think my problem was i was still playing random when i was going FFE, and i have gotten a LOT better since then. (this isn't hyperbole, i jumped from bronze to top8 gold in one season after deciding on protoss as my race).

If you're trying to transition into star gate play, is FFE better? Is it possible to safely go stargate off a 3 gate 1 base?
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You shouldn't be trying to complete a wall against a 6pool anyway.. you can't unless they are really bad.


I agree with this in almost all cases. However, on maps like Shakuras plateau with a small ramp that can be blocked with 3 buildings, I recommend cutting probes at 12 and building the wall off at your natural. You will have ample time to get a cannon up to beat the rush. This will allow you to FFE like normal with an enormous lead, though your economy will be slow to get started.
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01/16/2013 01:17 AMPosted by bwTerran
i feel like losing a forge and making a cannon in the main is less productive than making gateway first. Instead of spending 300 on a forge and cannon, and depending on how fast you nex up, losing 400 on a nexus, you make a zealot, hold any 6pools, and be better prepared to pop out sentries.


Going gate first technically is better against a traditional 6 pool, but ultimately worse against gas openers, 1-base, drone pull all-ins, etc. If you are using a build because it's better in one very specific circumstance, yet worse in many others.. then I don't really see what you are gaining overall.

It basically seems that you get a higher sentry energy count by going rax first.. to the point where it really is comprable to a 4gate in terms of enough sentries out before the 8 minute mark. It really makes immortal/sentry pushes THAT much more powerful, becaus on avg you have 2~3 more sentries, and they all have at least 1 extra FF or GS saved up.


So your only goal is to Immortal/Sentry all-in? You should be more worried about safety to assure that you can get to that stage of the game, if that is your goal. Really, the only way gateway openers are outright better is if the Zerg does a standard 6pool-9pool opener without pulling drones, or if the Zerg is just bad and doesn't understand how to fight gateway-first builds. The normal way to fight gateway openers is to take gas before an expand, and use Zergling speed to try to deny a Nexus. Most of the time, it's very effective. If the Zerg plays blind and doesn't adjust like they are supposed to, they will get into trouble, but that's a bad thing to base your play around.
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01/16/2013 10:42 AMPosted by IIIIIIIIIIII
You shouldn't be trying to complete a wall against a 6pool anyway.. you can't unless they are really bad.


I agree with this in almost all cases. However, on maps like Shakuras plateau with a small ramp that can be blocked with 3 buildings, I recommend cutting probes at 12 and building the wall off at your natural. You will have ample time to get a cannon up to beat the rush. This will allow you to FFE like normal with an enormous lead, though your economy will be slow to get started.


Eh... then the Zerg is only behind by maybe 1 worker by the time both of your expansions are started, and you have very little ability to get out on the map. Yeah, you don't lose workers but you're essentially spending 5 workers to take no damage from the 6 pool. I think blocking Zerg's natural with a pylon, opening like 2 Zealots and a Stalker, then making certain attack timing decisions based on their reaction is a better way to fight a 6 pool because then you are dictating the Zerg's reactions rather than letting them do whatever they want.
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If you want to watch a pro that usually opens 1G FE in PvZ, my favorite is BabyKnight (there are others, such as LiquidTyler for a 2G-expand into aggression). There's a style of Protoss that's really more comfortable using superior micro and multi-tasking to gain an advantage in the early game and mid-game through constant aggression. There's also a style of Protoss that prefers to turtle up until the appropriate tech and then come down like a hammer with maybe a bit of harass to keep the other guy honest. The latter is definitely easier to play, but some players just aren't happy on the defensive.

For players with excellent multi-tasking and micro that prefer aggression or hitting with unusual timings, a gateway opening is attractive option, and with the MS-core it's even more viable in HOTS. But it's a harder style to play, because your micro must be better than your opponent's, you must be able to keep up you macro while engaging, you have to have sufficient map awareness to attack and handle counterattacks and runbys, and you have to do damage against someone with a defender's advantage (or sufficiently distract to cover an otherwise relatively bare expansion) because you're not teching as quickly.
This doesn't invalidate the advice of the others in the thread: FFE is safer and provides better tech opportunities. But if you want to play aggressively, other options exist.

And yes, I'm only high Plat (when I use my bonus pool), but... I'm still right :)
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I'd suggest practicing gateway openings until HotS, simply because they are so much safer (and fun) in that expansion.
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01/16/2013 11:54 AMPosted by Artisian
I'd suggest practicing gateway openings until HotS, simply because they are so much safer (and fun) in that expansion.

Actually, I've been doing that, and I'm currently rocking Gold league in HOTS .:) It is fun, but you still have to watch out against mass speedling.
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01/16/2013 12:25 AMPosted by bwTerran
Ok, so lately i've eschewed going FFE for going 13 gate, then 17 nexus at natrual, then gas then expo.
To be blunt, at your level in Gold (no offense), you probably should stick to Forge Fast Expand and master it completely, as well as improve your mechanics...

1 Gate expand involves a lot of extra apm and multitasking micro that you probably don't have yet.

Stick to the standard FFE, then once you've actually reached High Diamond or Masters, you can start branching out and start experimenting with 1 gate Nexus.

That said, however,

01/16/2013 11:40 AMPosted by BlackAdder
If you want to watch a pro that usually opens 1G FE in PvZ, my favorite is BabyKnight (there are others, such as LiquidTyler for a 2G-expand into aggression). There's a style of Protoss that's really more comfortable using superior micro and multi-tasking to gain an advantage in the early game and mid-game through constant aggression. There's also a style of Protoss that prefers to turtle up until the appropriate tech and then come down like a hammer with maybe a bit of harass to keep the other guy honest. The latter is definitely easier to play, but some players just aren't happy on the defensive.
This is good advice, and you can TRY to follow this, but do not expect a lot of success, and expect a LOT of frustration as you encounter situations where you are unable to multitask fast enough. But, it will be a fun learning process, so go for it.

because i reason if i mess up my wallin or if i mess up, then a 6pool will absolutely punish me, whereas if i go rax first, and see the 6pool, even if i mess up terribad, the most that i will lose is a few seconds mining time and 2~3, maybe 4 probes b/c no matter how fast he rushes, calculating run time from his base to mine, i will have that zealot up at the very latest, a few seconds after the first 6 lings run into my base, pulling probes and rally zealot completely negates any type of early 6-10pool pressure with ease. i have lost enough FFE's to know that to me, gate first is preferred, because i know that i will survive a 6pool if i have 1 zealot and probes, whereas if i mess up the wall-in catastrophic things can, and have, happened.
Unless you have really good control, you'll lose a lot more than 4 probes... And the follow up is still going to put you on a minimum of even terms with the Zerg, unless you do what Sidewinder says:

Eh... then the Zerg is only behind by maybe 1 worker by the time both of your expansions are started, and you have very little ability to get out on the map. Yeah, you don't lose workers but you're essentially spending 5 workers to take no damage from the 6 pool. I think blocking Zerg's natural with a pylon, opening like 2 Zealots and a Stalker, then making certain attack timing decisions based on their reaction is a better way to fight a 6 pool because then you are dictating the Zerg's reactions rather than letting them do whatever they want.
This is VERY good advice against a 6 pool. You WANT to control the Zerg rather than them controlling you from the moment he 6 pools.

01/16/2013 12:25 AMPosted by bwTerran
Now a master league player told me that FFE is better to hold those early ling rushes, not 6-11pool, but like a 5 minute 24 speedling runby, or even a 4 minute 12 ling runby.
Actually, FFE is STILL a better option to hold off 6-11 pools. You need to learn how to do it. And to be honest, us telling you will not help you. You have to play against someone who is 6-9 pooling you a lot for you understand the differences in timing, and how you should react. Grab a Zerg buddy and have him/her do this to you for 15-20 games then analyze your replays. Improve your reactions that way before the next game.

1 Gate Expand is a lot riskier against a 9-11 pool because they actually have more income to keep pinning you on 1 base, and you won't have enough to hold off the Zerglings until Zerg has a 2nd base and queens, which places you behind, unless you do some timing attacks and keep up the pressure on them - extremely hard when you're under pressure too.

FFE is more stable and flexible against those.

Going gate first technically is better against a traditional 6 pool, but ultimately worse against gas openers, 1-base, drone pull all-ins, etc. If you are using a build because it's better in one very specific circumstance, yet worse in many others.. then I don't really see what you are gaining overall.
And this is a reality of Gate expands. Between 6-9 pools, you're good and are on even footing with Zerg, but beyond that and if you include gas or even standard gas openings, 1 gate Nexus openings are bad... You fall quite a bit behind and you actually cannot physically catch up unless you deal a HUGE amount of damage (which is impossible against a Zerg that wasn't droning but making units early).

Erpman also makes good points.
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honestly, as long as i have 4 sentries or so i can handle any type of early roach pressure, such as a 7 roach 5 min rush as long as i have prior vision. Thats why my initial sscouting probe always stays around his choke, so i can see when he moves out. Also, if the guy isnt paying attention and just rallys to close to my base, sometimes i can run the probe around n the roaches chase it b/4 the zerg realizes and micros units away. Worst case senario, i pull probes and lose a few supply, but since he did such an all-in roach push, i end up econ-ahead.

if its like a 7 minute ling/roach all-in, usually the timing works out so my immortal pops out or is popping out right around the 7 minute mark. I guess the main thing is to recognize the zerg timings, and just be aware of whats going on. FF and immortal micro can handle most roach pushes, and if he goes burrow, you already have the ability to make observers straight away.


7rr isn't considered an all-in. I thought it was until i read tons of zerg forums saying that it is actually an econ build as you should be able to drone heavily off that. (I'm guessing it's like a 2 gate expo)

Defending against the 7 roaches isn't my main concern. MY main concern was that after those roaches are out and they have a contain, zerg can have an expo at least 3 minutes before you do if you go 4 sentry and then immortals.
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01/16/2013 04:46 PMPosted by ninjasith
7rr isn't considered an all-in. I thought it was until i read tons of zerg forums saying that it is actually an econ build as you should be able to drone heavily off that. (I'm guessing it's like a 2 gate expo)

I've played >2k games of Zerg and that's the first I've heard of that. You can come back, but you're way behind, so it seems pretty all-innish to me.
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but just having 4 sentrys to hold any roach pressure and keep your main is just fine but what happens when he just roach pushes and holds you on one base and mass expos then proceeedes to crush you under wave after wave of troops, all the while your slowly mining out your main.
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