Command Center First Terran Build Order
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One risky but effective build order you can use as Terran
in Starcraft 2 is the Command Center-first build order. This name refers to getting a second Command Center
first before throwing down a Barracks or Refinery.
This allows the Terran player to get their natural expansion up very early in the game. By the time the Barracks
finishes, so will the second Command Center, so you can 2 Orbital Commands very early on in a match.
Here is how it works:
Expansion-First Build Order
10/11: Supply Depot
14/19: Command Center
19/30: Orbital Command x2 (bank minerals so that you can start this upgrade as soon as the Barracks and second CC
21/30: Move new Orbital Command to natural expansion.
22/30: Reactor (on Barracks)
24/30: Supply Depot (build at entrance to natural, starting the wall-in.
From here, continue to build SCVs. You will want to train some units as well to help defend your base, but the
builds differ depending on strategy. This is the point where you would begin to add on tech and production
facilities based on the tech path you want to use for the next stage of the game. If you want to play mech, you
would add on another Factory and Armory. If you want to play with bio forces, you should invest early in a few
extra Barracks and some Engineering Bays is a good idea.
Regardless of build, you will need to fortify your natural expansion. Build a few Supply Depots and a
Bunker to wall off this entrance. Add on a few Siege Tanks (mech) or Widow Mines (bio) to help defend this base
against Zerg. An extra Bunker with bio units is probably a good idea against Protoss.
When to Use CC First vs Zerg
The expansion first build is popular to use against Zerg players and can actually work on every map. Against
Zerg players, be sure to build the Command Center on the high ground as part of your wall-in. After it has been
converted to an Orbital Command and you are sure it is safe to move out, you can lift it off and move it down to
the natural expansion. This protects you from Zergling rushes, as 1 Command Center, 1 Supply Depot, and 1 Barracks
can wall off the main base.
On the smaller maps, you may want to keep the Orbital Command as part of your wall-in until you can get some
defense on the low ground. This works well if your opponent went for early Zerglings. You can build up 4 Marines
and build a Bunker on the low ground (protecting it with Marines on the high ground). Put the Marines in the Bunker
and then you can safely move your Orbital Command. Meanwhile, the early Orbital Command can be used for pump out
SCVs and MULEs. When it moves, you can transfer over all your extra SCVs and barely be delayed at all by this safe
Sometimes Terran players will build the Command Center on the low ground at the natural expansion. This leaves
it very vulnerable to Zerglings but also saves the 10-15 seconds it takes to move it to the natural expansion. On
large 4 player maps, some players decide this time gain is worth the risk, because by the time the average Zerg
scouts out your build and gets Zerglings over to your base, you theoretically should be able to add some defense on
to that expansion.
When to Use CC First vs Protoss and Terran
Using this build against Protoss or Terran players is only advised on 4 player maps. On 2 player maps, it is far
too easy for the Protoss opponent to scout you out early in the game and far too simple for the Terran opponent to
Either of the situations will result in an instant loss for you as the expanding Terran. Upon scouting out this
build, Protoss players can Chrono Boost off just 1-2 Gateways with a Mothership Core and take you out. Terran
players who use proxy Reapers are going to hard counter this build - their Reapers will hit before you have any
Against either race, you might as well just build the Command Center at its point on the low ground. The
only thing that walling in at the main will offer you against these 2 races is protection from
Zealots. Zealot rushes are very rare on big 4 player maps (at least in the higher leagues) because
it takes too long for the opponent to actually find you.
Protoss cannot proxy effectively with an 8/8/8 Zealot Rush (8 Probes then building 2 Gateways) on big maps
with multiple spawn locations because it can take the first Probe a minute or two to find you to know where to put
the proxy Gateways. You do have to accept that there is a small risk your opponent will proxy Zealot or Reaper
anyway and just hope to go in the right direction with their initial scout (in order to find you quicker). Most
players agree that the 1:100 games you lose to this unfortunate start is worth the advantage you gain in the other
Moving Up to the Macro CC
If you want to play a macro game and are not making a timing attack in the near future, you will want to build a
macro CC at some point. This is an extra Orbital Command inside your base that can be used for MULEs and SCVs.
It takes Terran players a long time to saturate both bases with SCVs, and the macro CC really speeds up the
process. When you are ready to take your third base, you can just lift off this base and fly it to the new
You almost always want to get a macro CC - the question is just when to get it. If you get it early, it is
definitely risky but has a higher payoff if you can defend it. It is much safer to get the macro CC after you have
finished your wall-in and have a few units to help defend.
Against Zerg, I strongly recommend getting down a Supply Depot wall with some defense before getting the macro
CC. A few Widow Mines or Siege Tanks will make your wall-in much safer. If the opponent is being aggressive, you
may even want both! Against Protoss, the safe bet is to get down 2 fully stocked Bunkers at your natural expansion
plus 1 Missile Turret in each mineral line before attempting a macro CC. This will protect you from Oracles in the
back and Gateway units in the front.
Against other Terrans, the macro CC may come very late. Eventually you will find yourself getting gas-starved on
two bases and your mineral count will start increasing. This is when you know it is time to build your macro CC. If
you have map control, you might even consider immediately moving this to the third and not even using it as a
macro CC but rather a third base.
We have included more details about the macro CC build on our Macro CC build order page.
The Command Center First build is the most economical opener for the Terran player in Starcraft 2. While there
is a small chance it can backfire, it is generally safe to use on large maps. If you are comfortable with holding
off Zergling rushes, you can even use it on 2-player maps against Zerg players - just make sure you use the Command
Center as part of your initial wall.