Gate Nexus YufFE (vs. Zerg)
This build is intended for PvZ. It is an opening designed to set the Protoss up on solid economic footing, similar to the Forge Fast Expansion (vs. Zerg), it does not include nor require a particular follow-up, but allows a transition into any PvZ style.
The YufFE heavily depends on scouting and reacting to the actions of your opponent. Scouting timings in PvZ with this build have been thoroughly analyzed, but they are still some map dependencies. Scouting early (after Pylon or Gateway) is no longer necessary to be safe against a 6/7 pool, especially on four-player maps.
This article will highlight the differences between the very common FFE and the YufFE. In general however, it provides the same advantages and faces the same dangers, so an understanding of the FFE will help understand this build.
The goal of the YufFE is to get an economic advantage or at least keep up with a Zerg droning heavily. While FFE is a solid opening, it relies on cutting Probes at 17 supply. This is not necessary here. Further, this build may be viable on maps where it is not possible to FFE.
The second goal is to react to any Zerg threat and build countermeasures in time. This can only be accomplished with appropriate scouting information, obtained as often as possible. This opening allows stronger reactive play than Forge FE, since Forge or cannon that early is not necessary against many Zerg openers.
Changes in "Heart of the Swarm"
YufFE is an opening. Zerg cannot build any new units, until Lair is finished. Of course Protoss has to scout for new All-Ins (e.g. Swarmhost-All-In), but Ling Flood, 6 Pool and other Cheese is equally dangerous in HotS as it was in WoL.
Note: the build depends on proper building placement.
On some maps, it is possible to Gate expand with a comparable wall like FFE, building your first Pylon below the ramp. It will still be possible to defend a 6 pool, by buying some time with complete wall, or by just microing some probes and your first Zealot. Your first Gateway has to be powered by two Pylons for that reason. Good micro is important to pull this off, so if you are in the lower leagues try to play safe; a "Noob-Wall" is advised (see below).
To defend a 6 Pool it is possible to scout for Zerglings between 2:50 and 3:05. You train a Zealot right after gateway finish at 17 supply around that time. If you do not scout a 6-10 Pool, you can cancel this Zealot and get a quicker 17 Nexus, building the Zealot at 18 supply . This way, you can Tech faster and skip the 3. Pylon for a while.
Variant A - Gate Nexus Core
If your opponent is playing Hatchery First or the Stephano Opening 15 pool 16 hatch (late gas ~ later 3:20) for Zerg, you can easily build a fast Assimilator and a Cybernetics Core. Gate-Nexus-Core has become more popular in PvZ. Earlier tech and Mothership Core are important reasons.
Variant B - Gate Nexus Forge
This is the first and safest version, created to work against Zerg's Gas Pool opening (fast Speedlings, possible Roach rushes, Banelings and so on). If scouting indicates a one base play (like 7RR), build a Forge after the Nexus. Especially in lower leagues, players may lack adequate Micro skill to defend an early Nexus against an early attack. It is easier to defend a Nexus with Cannons instead of units. The cannon should be up around 5:00 minute mark against most Zerg openings, to keep Speedlings away from your mineral line. The concept is similar to defending a FFE.
You might want to attack/scout with 2 Zealots when sentry is ready or blindly prepare against zergs 2 base all-in with 4 gates and chronos on Cybernetics Core. If you want to Tech even faster or Zerg builds a third Hatch in under 5 minutes (gasless), check out Variant A.
As the replays posted below show, it is possible to stay economically ahead with both openings. You have to be willing to stay flexible, as enemy Cheese will need the correct response.
Another (aggressive) build that evolved out of yufFE is Adonminus' adaptation.
Variant Y - Focus on economy
This version delays the second Pylon to build the Nexus more early. You need good reflexes, mechanics and micro or at least some training against early pressure (6 Pool). FFE and similar openigs scout after the first Pylon. With "Variant Y" you do not scout until your Nexus (or second Pylon) is built. A scouting probe costs about 150 minerals or at least 45 minerals per minute.
How to defend 6/7 Pool? The scouting probe will see Zerglings running towards your base. Cancel probe #17 and the Pylon (low ground). Build a Zealot (use Chrono Boost!) and build a second Pylon near your Gate. Most zerg players will not attack your Nexus under construction. If he does, it will buy you time and you are free to cancel it, while having enough probes and at least one zealot waiting in your main. So the only option for Zerg is to go for your Probes. You will find a replay below, where Yuffie defends against 6/7/8 Pool. Again your building placement is important.
Scout your opponent and react to his play or choose the followup you want. Like FFE it's possible to play this style with just two Probes in every Assimilator to maximize income and stay low on gas and tech.
- Do not 9 scout as this build is safe against 6 Pool (see "Scouting" below). Scouting is very important, but we scout as soon as we need information about the enemy, not earlier.
- Always scout for Zerg player's third base (3:55 to 4:30). If it is missing, aggression might come.
- Building placement is important. If the Core is placed on the low ground it should protect Pylon and Cannon.
- It is difficult to defend Core or Nexus against Roaches (see screenshot below). Add a few Cannons and Stalkers to protect both buildings.
For beginners, it is easier to keep Zerglings out of your main base by starting with a wall. The quickest way to do that is to use "Pylon-Gate-Pylon". An other version adding more life to the wall is "Gate-Forge or Gate-Core". See replays for more information on building placement.
In PvZ, it is normal to 9 scout to check for 6 Pool and other Early Pool Builds. However, the 6 Pool is only a serious threat if the Pylon is destroyed. This build includes two quick Pylons, so proper Protoss Micro will prevent the Zerg from unpowering the Gateway.
The first real threat to this build is a Roach push, as even small number of Roaches can harass (or even destroy) the Nexus. Scouting after the second Pylon or Nexus will be at an appropriate time to see an expansion at the Zerg's base. If not, it is likely that the Zerg is using a one base all-in. The standard Hatchery-first builds start the expansion around the 2-3 minute mark.
It is best to build your Nexus and go scout afterwards. This is around the 3 minute mark and would be early enough to see a 6-7 pool running towards your base. This is good and most economical on four-player maps like Tal'darim Altar, since even Pylon scouting does not always find Zerg's base in time to scout 6 pools. On maps like Shakuras Plateau or Ohana you can scout after your second Pylon, because you will see all Zerglings running to your base.
If you feel uncomfortable with late scouting, you can scout earlier. But keep in mind that scouting after your opponent provides a small economic advantage. Further, late scouting also reveals first Tech choices the Zerg has made.
Pro-Wall vs. Noob-Wall
A wall is always advised against Zerg. Early Pools (6 Pool, 10 Pool, etc.) are hard to deal with in lower leagues. Therefore you should build a Noob-Wall if you are Gold or below. Try to use a Pro-Wall if you are Platinum or higher. On maps like Akilon Wastes or Entombed Valley a Pro-Wall is strongly suggested, because your main ramp is open a long time or even the whole game.
If Zerg would attack a Noob-Wall instead of the Natural, he would be able to enter the main base. A Pro-Wall would force the Zerg to build more Banelings. Why? A Pylon has "200/200" and is killed more easily than a Core with "550/550".
This screenshot (Alterzim) shows to Master players (ZvP). Protoss forgot to place his Zealot right, so Zerg makes a run-by with Speedlings. It's almost impossible to make that mistake with a Noob-Wall. A good building placement will help you, to prevent such mistakes and death by All-In. But without Scouting you will probably die anyway.
This opening is not easy when it comes to scouting and game decisions. It is vital to scout or harass your opponent almost constantly so the decision about unit composition can be appropriate.
Keep in mind:
- This build looks like playing blindlind, but all important scouting timing are still included
- Harassment, or simply feinted pressure, is crucial to keep the Zerg from focusing freely on his economy
- This build should hold an economic advantage for a while, maintain it with harassment
Try to place Cannons near your Nexus and your mineral line. Your building placement should always protect your cannons from Banelings and Speedlings. Cannons have a longer range than Roaches, so it is usually possible to place them in a way that they can attack Roaches. It is more important, however, to scout and react to Roaches than blindly prepare for them.
There are two common Zerg reactions to a fast expansion build like this one: an aggressive push or heavy economic focus. If scouting shows the Zerg staying on one base, expect an early push and build countermeasures, like Cannons, Zealots for Speedlings and Stalkers counter Roaches. Just stay alive, you have a better income.
"All-ins" from a 2-Base-Zerg are dangerous, too. E. g. Roach-Speedling-All-In around the 7:30-minute-mark. You want to have either:
- at least two Sentries, a Void Ray out and 3-4 Gateways (wall) plus at least three Cannons
- at least two Sentries, Immortal out and some 3-4 Gateways (wall) plus at least three Cannons
- at least one Sentry out, six Gateways and a "warp-in" ready (chronoboosted a lot) plus at least three Cannons
Priority is to stay alive and lose as few Probes as possible. It's okay to build more Cannons for that purpose. To hit this timings, Zerg has to skip drones and stay on Tier 1 for a very long time, so you are ahead after his attack.
Attacking with two Zealots is advised, if you scout an early expansion Hatchery. E. g. a Zerg plays "Hatch First". Often he builds a lot of Drones and less troops. If you attack early with two Zealots you force him to build Zerglings or Spine Crawler or both. In lower leagues you often can kill Drones or even a Queen.
Most Zergs expand again, with a third hatch within five minutes. You have to scout for expansions, Tech, and unit compositions to react properly. If the Zerg player takes a third Hatchery before the 5 minute mark your 2 Zealots can be used to harass the third Hatchery. This forces reactive Zerglings or the loss of the expansion.
In either case, the most important piece of scouting information is the expansion Hatchery.
Zerg has many options in the beginning. You have to scout and react according to all the intel you get.
- 5 Roach Rush or 7RR
- A 7RR is easy to scout. At around 3:00, there is no expansion and the Zerg is morphing a Roach Warren. Zerg has no offensive units, but the Queen might attack your probe. In lower leagues: Build enough Cannons, Stalkers, and a Robo for an Immortal. In higher leagues: Build a Robo or a Stargate. 5RR is defended the same way, but your Probe might get killed by two Zerglings, so you probably won't see the Roach Warren. Yuffie looses his Cybernetics Core against Roaches against Safa (see Replays below). But he has his Stargate ready and Void Rays can kill some Roaches. So it is a strategic sacrifice. His replay shows how threatening Roaches can be for your Core or your Nexus. If you are in the lower leagues and you scout Roaches, keep a probe in front of his base, count his Roaches when they move out and build just enough cannons. Too many Cannons are bad (Zerg can just pull back and drone up), but losing your Nexus because you were too greedy (spending on economy and Tech instead of 3-5 Cannons) might cost you the game.
- Baneling Bust
- A Zerg with this strategy will attack between 5:15 and 5:45. This is not a particularly common ZvP strategy, but the exposed Pylons may encourage an opponent to try it. Gateway units, particularly Sentries with force fields, will be sufficient to defend. Good building placement, with high HP "big" buildings (Gateways, Core) can shield the Cannons. See the "Yuffie vs. Revolver" replay for an example of this situation. Most Zergs will try to kill Probes at your natural with Banelings or key Pylons. Note: It's important to protect your ramp with additional buildings (see screenshot on the right). Banelings should not destroy your wall at the high ground.
- Early-Pool or Speedling All-In
- With this build, Zerg builds just 10 Drones, gets an early Spawning Pool, early speed and attacks with 16-20 Speedlings between 4:45 and 5:00. Your Nexus will be destroyed, so it is better to cancel it. It is important to count his drones, because Drone count is the scouting difference between this aggressive build and the defensive Speedling Expand. If you scout this all-in, cancel the Nexus and place a probe near the Zerg ramp to confirm that there is no expansion, which would indicate that the attack is not coming. Included below are replays against early Pool play and even more aggressive openings.
- 6 Pool
- A common lower league build, the 6 Pool is a serious foe of the Protoss fast expand. A wall completed by the first Zealot will keep the main safe. Depending on the rush distance, 6 Zerglings will enter your base between 2:45 and 3:15. If you scout with your probe after Nexus or after your second Pylon, you can see the Zerglings coming. Cancel the Nexus, and forgo the early Nexus entirely. Protoss will still be ahead economically. YufFE is very safe against a 6 Pool, if your wall is ready.
You can either wall off completely with a second Gateway and a Pylon, until your Zealot (chronoboost) is out, or you defend with Zealots and Probes. Since you could have built your second Pylon also next to the 1. Gateway, there is no way Zerg can stop your Zealot production. About 8-10 probes should be pulled, with all but 4 sent back after the Zealot arrives. Continue chronoboosting Zealots.
The YufFE build is viable on almost any map. You can choose between a
- "Noob-Wall" or
on any map. Your choice is not depending on the map, it depends on your skill. Every Blizzard map (1v1) has a narrow ramp. Building a "Pro-Wall" is more difficult, especially against 6 Pool. If you are unsure about your building placement, test it on different maps with a friend. Almost every player should be able to execute a 6 Pool.
The following maps have narrow enough chokes and are particularly favorable for YufFE:
Akilon Wastes has a short distance from ramp to Nexus. It favours YufFE not FFE, because the second ramp is very large and you have Zealots more early with YufFE. Build a Wall-In like Entombed Valley and your ramp stays open, so you need less buildings on the low ground to protect your natural. Warp in a Zealot on the high ground if you scout many speedlings.
Yeonsu completes the wall with almost two buildings and protects the ramp. To close the large ramp would take more buildings. Frost is similar, but two buildings will suffice.
See Replays below, especially Yuffie defending against SaFa's speedlings on Shattered Temple to get an impression, how to defend a large ramp.
Maps with wide ramps favor an attack on your natural expansion. Since wide ramps make it more difficult to prevent Banelings and Speedlings from entering your base or natural, you need more buildings and Cannons to protect it.
These and other maps sometimes have large distances between Choke and Nexus. In this case as well, more buildings are needed to protect that line of defense.
Even on maps with secondary access to the natural like Arid Plateau and Xel'Naga Caverns, the Nexus is safe with good building placement. Still, it may not be the wisest build on these maps, primarily due to the ease with which a Zerg player can run-by with Zerglings. On these maps it is essential to build two Cannons (three in lower leagues), if you scout Speedlings.
Wall-In Examples On Popular Maps
Keep in mind, that FFE can create a wall faster than YufFE (on the low ground). There are some exceptions to this rule, like Akilon Wastes and other maps with big ramps. You should wall to your Nexus, which is done with 2 or 3 buildings on almost every map. Since all your troops are able to walk through the mineral line, you can make a full wall-off. Most screenshots are showing two Cannons. You do not need them, if Zerg is playing Hatchery First or "Triple-Hatch-Before-Pool" and builds a lot of Drones.
If you play "Variant B" your Core is on the low ground, not the Forge. If you play the Noob-Wall, both buildings are on the low ground. See Frost for more informations. Most screenshots show Forge and Core on the low ground, because these Replays were created using the Noob-Wall on the high ground. If you want to play a Pro-Wall, replace one of the buildings with a Gateway.
Terraform supports a "YufFE-Wall" and a "normal" wall as well. Like Frost (see below) you can wall off with two buildings. The third has no protection for workers, so if a mineral patch is outmined, Zerglings can flood this mineral line.
On some spawning positions are destructible rocks like on Yeonsu. FFE and YufFE are both possible on Foxtrot Labs. Two buildings and a Cannon are sufficient, to close the wall. If you scout a baneling bust, you should put a Gateway in front of the Cannon. Adding additional Cannons is strongly advised in lower leagues (see below).
King Sejong Station
Unlike any other map you can use your gas to wall with three buildings. A Zealot completes the wall.
Two buildings complete the wall to your Nexus. You can place a cannon on the high ground, if you scout 7RR. Try to protect cannons on the low ground with it.
Three buildings complete the wall to your Nexus. A Pylon is always a target for Banelings (Baneling-Bust). So you should scout and add additional cannons.
The following are replays from PvZ ladder games. Each opponent is a (Grand)Master:
- Yuffie defends early pool (at 6 an 8 supply) with micro
- Variant B: lowground wall, fast 3 base transition
- Variant A: lowground wall and Robo followup
- Variant A: lowground wall and Stargate followup
- Variant B: No quick third Hatch (Tech/transition)
- Variant B: Punishing fast third Hatch
- Some YufFE replays from ladder
- Variant B against 2 base Roach Rush 7:00
- If you want to play TheStaircase with YufFE: 68 Probes at the 10-minute-mark
The following replays are not up to date, but should give a good impression:
- Shattered Temple - Safa vs Yuffie: Hatch First, Pool at 2:35, Speed ready at 6:11, 18 Speedlings attacking at 6:37
- Shakuras Plateau - Safa vs Yuffie: 2Base, Roach Warren at 4:02, 6 Roaches attacking at 6:31
- ESL Metalopolis - Safa vs Yuffie: 3Base (2:12, 3:49), Harass with 6 Zerglings at 6:53, Speed ready at 7:00
- Metalopolis - Revolver vs Yuffie: Hatch First, Speed ready at 6:05, Baneling Nest at 5:53, big attack at 8:02 (8 Banies, 30 Speedlings)
- ESL Shakuras Plateau - Gera vs Yuffie: 10 Pool at 1:24, Hatch at 3:14, 3 Zerglings attacking at 3:51
- ESL Tal'darim Altar LE - Yuffie vs DaNa: Macro-Game, 15-Pool-14-Hatch (2:41), Protoss attacks at 6:01 (2 Zealots vs 3 Zerglings)
- ESL-Shakuras Plateau - Yuffie vs syriuszonito: Macro-Game, 15-Pool-15-Hatch (2:46), Third at 6:02, Roach Warren at 6:37, Speed ready at 6:48
- Entombed Valley - Yuffie vs prOpJonas: Speedling Expand, Pool at 1:58, Speed ready at 3:48, Hatch at 4:08, 4 Zerglings attacking at 4:26
- Metalopolis - Yuffie vs fedme: Macro-Game, early third (4:24) at Rich Mineral Field expansion, Speed started at 4:01
- Daybreak - Yuffie vs uPǂHyDrA: 15-Pool-16-Hatch (2:50), Harass with 12 (later on 20) Mutalisks
- Socke vs. DRG: Christopher Messer (TeamDignitas) writes an article about the "German 6-gate: Socke's crushing PvZ opener" using YufFE.
- ByuL vs Classic: 8Pool vs NexusFirst (15 Nexus, 15 Gate)
- 1Base-Roach-Rush - Yuffie vs embah. Follow up if Nexus is destroyed.
- Day commentates a replay on Metalopolis between Ret and MC in his "Daily #231: Ret vs oGsMC PvZ". MC builds his Forge on the high ground. MC builds three Cannons before the 7 minute mark. He protects his mineral line using Pylons and Gates.
- VOD with German caster Mort and Yuffie
- "Protoss-Okko-Style" VOD with German Okko (Ex-Grandmaster) and NeoBlade (Playlist)
- "YufFE in lower leagues" VOD with German NeoBlade (Playlist)
- VOD with German caster NeoBlade about Pro-Wall and Noob-Wall
- VOD with German caster Okko: A Protoss has an open Pro-Wall allowing a run-by
The last video provided a screenshot used in this article. Members of Teamliquid posted a guide named "Protoss versus Zerg". You will find a chapter named "GATEWAY NEXUS OPENINGS" describing the YufFE. Since it contains various openings, Replays and screenshots, reading it is strongly recommended for all Protoss players.