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I've had a bit of a discussion about expanding in Starcraft 2. Which race has the easiest and safest expanding? I argue that Zerg has the hardest as they can't add static defense before the creep gets there. Protoss can throw up a pylon and cannons, warping in units to expansions. While Terran can add static defense, and even just fly a Planetary fortress right there.

What is the definite answer?

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Surely you could lay creep with overlords before/as you build the hatchery. Maybe you focus too much on defensive play. The safest time to expand with any race is when you make your initial push. Even if it fails, it's unlikely they'll feel bold enough to counter-attack. –  Lee Sep 10 '10 at 10:51
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planetary fortresses can't fly, thank goodness. –  Peter Recore Sep 10 '10 at 14:15
    
Zerg have one of the best expansion defense because your units are far more mobile on creep. Setting down a massive creep highway is easy and fast to do as Zerg which is essential in defending your expansions. Also, a hatchery costs only 300 minerals while a nexus or command center cost 400. –  Mark Sep 10 '10 at 23:27
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2 Answers

This may sound weird, but I find Protoss the easiest to expand with.

Protoss have a couple of nice things that help expanding:

  • Cheap static defense
  • Warpgates to reinforce anywhere they have power
  • Pylons provide power across building walls and cliffs

While I definitely feel like I must expand when I play Zerg, I feel most comfortable doing it as Protoss. Usually this means I place buildings at a near choke point (usually Warpgates, but I'll use the Forge if I don't have one and I'm walling my Natural). I then augment this with a Photon Cannon behind the wall to deal with light harassment. Finally I place power so it overlaps my wall to outside, that way I can easily reinforce. Now you may ask: what happens if you go Robo? and the answer is, I usually either break the wall in late game, or use Warp Prisms to move Immortals across (Colossus can walk without help), but more often than not, I just don't build Immortals; they aren't a part of my normal builds (I don't like the 1-2 Immortal timing pushes against anything but 1 base Roach).

That said, there are a number of ways in which expanding is very nice and easy for Terran.

  • Fly in Command Centers (which can then be made in to Planetary Fortress)
  • Cheap walls with Bunkers (can salvage)
  • Supply Depots are removable walls
  • Siege Tanks

The largest problem I have with these expansions is light air harassment. Either I have to over invest in Vikings to shut it down, or I have to over invest in Turrets. Ideally I'd like to have a nice Marine/Medivac force to deal with this, but in reality moving large groups of Marines through Supply Depot walls takes a lot of time, and Medivacs don't unload instantaneously. Not that I can't do it, I just feel less safe doing so

As Zerg I don't mind moving Spine Crawlers to my newest expo (which usually means 12 second build time) or even between me and my opponent, but I largely feel like I need to have map control before I can safely expand. Since most Terran/Protoss are willing to give it to me that's not a major problem, but my expansions feel inherently unsafe. So in the case of Zerg I would say: Only expand when you have map control.

This is very much the traditional BW philosophy and it has serve many players well over the years. I would guess (and the meta game evolves and Blizzard balances a few things) that this is going to become the only strategy. While Terran and Protoss players will probably still build structures defensively, the cost/benefit of having to wall is much higher than the cost/benefit of gaining map control. Then again, that's a prediction and is inherently flawed.

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It's hard to tell but the first expansion should be safer for the terran as he can have a tank out in time and can build 1-2 bunkers and he can build the CC in-base and then just fly it to the natural, reducing the risk of the enemy spotting it and attacking it while it's still building up. He can also lift it up again if too many zealots, zerglings, roaches or marauders attack.

The easiest is for the zerg, simply because it's cheaper for them, but at the same time it's hard to keep the expansion when the enemy attacks at the wrong moment (for you, it's a good moment for him).

Anyways, an expansion is never safe as it costs you 400(350 for zerg) minerals that the enemy could use to get more units or better tech than you have, so he gets a short-term advantage but long-term disadvantage because your investment lowers your unit count but increases your mineral gain once it's completed and saturated.

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350 for zerg - drones cost money too –  BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Sep 10 '10 at 14:51
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