It’s no secret that Protoss players have been pulling out their hair more than usual when we play Terrans. It seems they have SO many options in the early and midgame, and Protoss must walk a knife’s edge not to see the manner mules fall.
Today I’m going to break down a Protoss style that has kept me alive through the entire gambit of known Terran builds. Whether they be stinky cheeses, triple-pronged pressure builds, calculated timing attacks – SCV pulls or macro builds, this build can handle them all.
Here it is:
20: Cybernetics Core (don’t forget the second Pylon)
2 Stalkers Chrono-Boosted!
Send them across the map immediately (a surprising number of Terrans are not prepared for this).
This is a fairly inexpensive poke that can scout, force a defensive response, or sometimes deal huge damage (the greedy Terran will sometimes have to pull SCVs).
If a bunker is completed at the natural base, go home. If there’s no bunker, take a look up the ramp – odds are good that its just a few marines – focus fire them down and start to work on the barracks add-ons or pick off SCVs that come to repair (Careful of Widow Mines or Siege Tanks). Try to delay mining from the natural expansion for as long as possible without losing your Stalkers.
Adept – this is incase a late reaper appears
30: Stargate – Chrono-Boost 8 Phoenix
While Phoenix can be a great harassing tool, for this build we are keeping them at home and in secret. Keep them on the outskirts of your main base to prevent drops from unloading, and be vigilant of your mini map – a successful widow mine drop can be catastrophic – lift or kill them before they burrow.
(Note: If your Stalkers did a lot of damage or are still uncontested, make an oracle first – you could send some adepts and potentially win the game right here!)
Mothership Core – Use Photon overcharge very sparingly in the early game, you may need two or three to hold off a large bio force.
Robotics Facility and Twilight council
Observers and Resonating Glaives
4 more gates + Forge
Make sure your Phoenix and Mothership Core are both bound to control groups for fast response. I have my Nexi bound to 1, ground army to 2, Phoenix to 3, Mothership Core to 4, Observer to 5, Robotics Facility to 6, and Stargate to 7.
So your stalkers got pushed back or you chose to send them home. It’s okay! Your base is now completely locked down.
Phoenix are protecting your main and your Mothership Core and gateway units are at your natural. Make a pylon behind your natural mineral line for Photon Overcharge and your economy is, for now, untouchable.
You are now prepared to handle:
Marine Cyclone pushes
Tank Mine Liberator Bio Pushes (with a little finesse)
3 Barracks pushes:
As soon as you spot the 3 Barracks play, stop Phoenix production immediately. Focus on mostly Adepts and Pylons at your natural, but a Void Ray and a Sentry can be very helpful if you can afford them.
The goal of this build is to use your opponent’s aggression against them. Much like the martial art of Judo, where the aim is to use the opponents own mass and center of gravity against them, your mission is to encourage the enemy into committing completely so that they might fall harder. Feigning weakness can be a lethal trick – consider showing three Phoenix when you really have eight. Maybe you send a scouting shade of 10 adepts when you really have 20 – Anything you can do to make attacking seem more enticing.
Identify pushes early on with observers, and above all crush the army without letting anything retreat. Phoenix are excellent at this. They eliminate Liberators, lift and incapacitate Cyclones, Widow Mines, and Tanks, even chase down speed-boosted Medivacs. On the ground your Adepts will be able to do the same – Psionic Transfer onto the Terran’s reinforcements to ensure nothing survives. Wipe out a few harassment attempts or timing pushes completely and you will have a substantial lead and a very tilted opponent.
3rd Base: With an observer at your opponents natural ramp, take a third base. A few pylons, cannons, and a mothership core can handle up to two medivacs of pressure until the Phoenix in your main and the gateway force at your natural arrive. (Be wary of two-pronged attacks!)
After you’ve locked down your third base, start teching into Colossus. If you see a tank-heavy or mech composition, make a second Robotics and a Forge and crank out Immortals and double upgrades. If you see a a lot of Vikings in response to your Colossus, consider either switching back to Immortals, or throwing down a SECOND Stargate. Winning the air battle decisively with a strong Phoenix fleet will allow your Colossus to “War of the Worlds” to their hearts content.
Weaknesses: The strongest response to this style is to play passively with Marine/Murauder/Widow Mine. Adept/Phoenix does not scale very well if the game goes long, so a Terran that goes up to three bases with pure bio before moving out on the map will be your greatest threat. A critical mass of Marine/Murauder/Medivac can simply melt your army if you take a bad fight – especially if you tank a few Widow Mine hits. Shading on top of the bio is the best way of ensuring that every Adept is shooting, but is also a great way to lose a game in the blink of an eye if the numbers are against you. Note that Adepts are especially weak against Bio balls with healthy Medivac counts, so try to kill or damage them with your Phoenix while the Terran army is marching across the map. This may additionally force out stimpacks and buy time.
Your victories with this style will look one of two ways. Most likely your opponent will lose some harassing forces, forfeit map control, and fall behind on supply. From here you are free to get Double Forge upgrades, 4th and 5th bases, and tier 3 splash damage – what Protoss dreams are made of.
The other option is to launch a very powerful Phoenix/Adept attack to cripple the Terran’s economy. This might be your best bet if the Terran loses a lot of units on the map or is playing overly greedy. A minute’s notice is all that’s needed – throw down 4 more gates and make a warp prism.
Showcased beautifully by Kim “sOs” Yoo Jin in Game 1 against Lee “Bunny” Jae Sun (Sc2links.com => GSL Code S => Match 4) in his GSL games this Friday, this timing can be extremely deadly. At about 7:30, 3 base against 3 base, sOs shaded a huge number of Adepts onto the Terran Army and lifted the tanks – Meanwhile a Warp Prism set up in the Terran main for 8 more glaive adepts.
With some clever adept shades, you should be able to cut your opponents SCV count in half – or even shade right onto the Barracks for the check mate.
Try experimenting with different timings on your 3rd base, different numbers of Phoenix, and different transitions. I think you’ll find yourself happily mining on 4 bases more than you thought possible!