For those experienced on the Starcraft 2 ladder, Antiga Shipyard is perhaps one of the most familiar maps in the ladder rotation. Since Season 3, players have played millions of games on the map, and it has stood the trials of time where other maps have failed. Pro tournament groups such as GSL, MLG, and IPL have all utilized this map in their play, and I suspect it is one that will continue to be seen in play for time to come. Antiga Shipyard is historically a strong map for Terran players based off of a few key features that make the map unique, but every race has a solid way to play. As a Terran, there are a few key things to think about when you spawn on this map against any opponent. Conscious awareness of the map will help you take advantage of the matchup and net you more games.
1. Your opponent’s spawn location changes the game.
Forced cross positions are standard in professional tournaments with good reason: several strategies benefit significantly from spawn locations. The opponent placed clockwise not only will have to face an extremely short distance time for air attacks from the opponent’s main, but also has a higher risk of the third base being destroyed by ground forces having closer access to the destructible rocks. This is especially notable when the Protoss gains the advantage: With a pylon placed in the corner of their main, a Protoss player can easily warp in an army but a few meters away from the destructible rocks, and additionally reinforce by walking down Colossi through the double jump path connecting the main to the center of the map. The good news is, Terran have several ways to answer this concern, even in a macro game, as long as they are adequately prepared. When you get the positional advantage, a solid medivac drop or cloaked banshee is all it takes to destroy an ill-defended third and net a solid economic edge towards the end game.
2. Antiga Shipyard provides one of the most defensive main and natural base locations.
One of the reasons Antiga Shipyard has stayed in the rotation for as long as it has is its natural tendency to promote long-game play, even in ladder play when competitors will be tempted to all-in for quick games. Home base starts on a third-level height on the map with only two easily defendable entrances, and as such it is incredibly difficult to access the main by land. Early aggression to the main will only take place at the small ramp extending to your natural, or by reapers through the jump point near the center of the map. The top of this section is hidden by steam vents, so make sure to place an early supply depot or your first marine within the shrouded area if you suspect an early reaper scout or harass. With a little bit of vision and a scout to make sure you won’t be cheesed, it may be safe to perform a strategy as greedy as 1 Barracks to expansion. The natural also provides a ramp (albeit wider), and it is a comfortable place to build a supply depot wall to defend against zergling counters throughout the game. Especially in TvZ, the terran player does extremely well to get the second command center up as soon as possible and builds units with a larger midgame economy in mind.
3. Antiga’s third base is easy to protect as well, with a few caveats.
Early thirds in Antiga Shipyard are also not uncommon, and can create a very strong advantage when handled appropriately. The third is deceptively difficult to defend with your army: You’ll want to defend your natural with your army, and your ramp is a safe place to hold your units. However, when the destructible rocks break near the third, an unprepared player will have to go into damage control mode. However, placing the army on the ground between the natural and third is not ideal either, as you lose the vision advantage of the ramp. There is no ideal way to resolve this, but one solution is to build your third set of buildings to choke off the position between the rocks and your command center. At that point, your opponent must either decide to rip through the barracks and risk a well-prepared army positioned properly to defend the third, or attempt a break-in through the ramps. Additionally, a couple of well-placed siege tanks can effectively protect attacks to your main and third simultaneously.
If you’re at a positional disadvantage, know that your opponent will be tempted to use air units to attack your main; don’t let them get the pleasure. Preempt with a missile tower, and if you have a strong feeling the air attack will be more than a simple harassment, prepare with plenty of marines waiting for them on the third – it’s easy enough to transfer them to the natural later, and the third will almost always be the location of choice.
4. Terran gain all power in the game when they have control of the Xel’Naga tower.
In any map, awareness is key, and Xel’Naga tower is the most cost-effective way to gain the requisite vision to make your opponent’s attacks look silly. Antiga Shipyard takes it a step further for Terran by giving them a perfect location to house their army and secure and easy fourth base. With control of Xel’Naga, there is no way a ground army can walk past your own – it’s practically impossible in the game for an army to walk around the center effectively enough to avoid vision. Additionally, because the tower is placed at the top of a ramp, siege tanks may be redeployed on top of the ramp for an easily secured fourth base. Find yourself in a terribly long game? By having the Xel’Naga tower, you can also very easily expand to any of the other locations on the map and continue even after your third has been mined out – With any luck, you won’t ever have to get to that point, though! Just remember to provide additional anti-air protection to your main and third when the fourth is secured… the last thing you want is a good drop tearing apart your hard work from the inside.
Overall, this is definitely a great map for Terrans and Protoss to keep in their ladder pool season after season. Zerg have enough disadvantages in the location to consider a ban, but given its longevity, it may be better to learn it and save the ban for newer maps that may give a harder time to our insectoid friends. Have a stategy for this map that you use in your ladder play? Please let us know in the comments!