7

Typically there are eight regular mineral fields per normal base, and each harvest yields five units of mineral. Rich mineral bases typically have six rich mineral fields. So once the minerals are saturated, your income per harvest for each base is:

7 * 6 = 42 for rich minerals.

5 * 8 = 40 for normal minerals.

That's a difference of 5%. Plus the rich minerals run out faster, plus these bases are often in weird places that are out of the way or difficult to defend. Yet I've played games against people who blast off their command center at the start and go straight for the rich minerals.

Is it worth the trouble to go for gold? In what situations does it make sense to go for a rich expansion?

10

There are a few different things to think about here:

  • The most significant advantage is that the similar mining rate is done with fewer harvesters. So the '42' for gold also needs an additional '10' for the 4 workers that aren't needed and can be sent to another normal base.

  • Or, another way of looking at that is that you need fewer workers, and thus ramp up to that full harvest rate much more quickly.

  • Even if they were only a 5% improvement, 5% in and of itself is not insignificant. Let's say you've mined enough for 20-25 roaches. 5% extra basically gets you a free upgrade on those roaches in comparison to your opponent.

  • Once you're up to your looking to take a 4th or 5th base, basically all the available bases are going to be difficult to defend or vulnerable to harass so you might as well go for the gold.

Those are the points that come to mind for me. They are in fact quite valuable at any phase of the game. No, holding a gold base is not an insta-win, but it is definitely an advantage.

Basically, if you feel you can hold a gold expansion, you should consider taking it instead of a normal one.

  • Really good points here and comprehensive. – JSideris Dec 23 '15 at 23:12
  • +1 that the 5% can make a big difference. Even having an extra roach can turn the tide at a critical point. Also, the impact of a gold base tends to be the strongest early in the game. If both armies are maxed out, for example, they are often merely taken as an extra source of gas. – Adam Starrh Feb 11 '16 at 13:33
1

The value of gold mainly depends on how well you can defend it. The advantage of mining gold minerals is pretty significant, but most gold patches are in positions that are extremely difficult to defend, usually because they're in large open areas with multiple avenues of approach, and also because they're very far from the starting base positions. However, from what I've seen of pros playing, if you have enough of an advantage to secure a gold base, you should probably just be pushing for the win--but it can certainly help you finish a close game that's stalling out.

If your opponents are trying to grab gold immediately, it probably means they're overestimating its value (especially over early mining and tech) or are expecting you to not be scouting well enough to find it. Either way you can heavily punish that decision by going aggressive with your unit production and attacking them before they can get much built.

1

It should be noted that moving one's first Command Center to a gold base is never worth it.

EDIT: There seems to be some debate about the efficacy of the so-called "Gangnam" strategy of lifting your CC and moving to the gold minerals, especially on Prion Terraces which now features a defensible, natural gold base. It seems that builds designed for this purpose can bring a player to an advantage, if they don't face any early rushes.

Generally, you have to take into account two factors when deciding whether to take a gold base or a regular one.

First, is the map itself. As others have pointed out, they are usually in places that are difficult to get to or defend. In this case, you have to evaluate how likely you are to be attacked at that location before you are able to defend it, and whether the location is more of an asset or a liability.

There is a map in the current map pool, Prion Terraces, that features high-yield minerals at both the third and fourth expansions. Many players opt to grab the high yield as their first expansion, as it isn't that far away from the main base. It is a bit more difficult to defend, but not impossible, and holding the forward position gives a player a little more map control (as it is more difficult to contain players on the low ground) and makes taking the third base (the natural, now safely in your pocket) really easy.

The other thing to take into account is your strategy in the match. The fact is that you will be bringing in minerals noticeably faster, and noticeably faster than you are bringing in gas. Therefore, you are going to want an army composition that features more mineral-heavy units. If you risk something to take a gold base, and end up floating alot of minerals that you can't seem to use, then it was a wasted effort.

However, if taken at the right point in the game it can pay off handsomely. In last year's GSL, a lot of Zerg players were catching Terrans off guard by sneaking an early gold base on Vaani Research station, then quickly pumping out zerglings and roaches and overwhelming their opponent who could not keep up in production. At first, it looked unbeatable, but Terrans soon began to scout it and counter it and the strategy would sometimes fall flat.

A gold base can supercharge your strategy if taken at the right time and leveraged properly. However, bear in mind that it is often a risky move as it can divide both your army and attention at a critical point in the game.

-1

To be honest if something like a mineral grab is going on your opponent wont know how to counter a zerg/zealot/marine all in since they have wasted about 3 min just moving there base to that position.

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