Protoss Tactics – StarCraft II
When it comes to units, the Protoss have one that stands above the rest. Stalkers are the bread and butter of any army similar to how the Marine is for the Terran. It is a rare occasion where a Protoss player will skip building Stalkers. They cover so many aspects of an army that they are often considered over powered. With reasonable health, long range, heavy damage and the ability to blink, it is tough to see their downside.
The other units are all quite powerful also, but a little more situational. Due to the expensive nature of their units, it is important to have constant knowledge of your enemy. Observers are invaluable in this regard. Any Protoss player looking to succeed in life should constantly have vision either in their enemies base, or at least on the pathways in and out. New to the mix, the Mothership Core can be a real game changer early on. For nearly the same cost as a Stalker, you can get a powerful flying vessel that has some extraordinary abilities. No starting army is complete without one.
Early Game Tactics
Starting out a match, it is important to wall off your entrance. Unlike the Terran, you can not make a complete wall without blocking yourself in but you can make the entrance so small that units have to funnel in 1 at a time. A Pylon and Gateway are all that is needed for that. After your Gateway is done, you have a few choices. For newer players, it is usually best to build your Forge next. This will allow you to plop down Photon Cannons. These can be invaluable for fending off your enemies in the early game. If instead you desire some early game aggression, you can place a second and third Gateway, or another Gateway and a Cybernetic Core to still get some more units going while allowing you to tech further. Whatever your choice, make sure to constantly be building Probes and using Chrono Boost as often as possible, you will need that money. Below are a few early game army builds to give players some ideas on what they could try.
The Zealot & Stalker Combo
The one thing the Protoss have above the other races is that their units are powerful even without upgrades. This can be used to your advantage when building up in the early minutes of a match. If you want to apply some early aggression, build up your Probes heavily and get 3 Gateways and a Cybernetic Core. Only build 1 Assimilator and try to limit your Pylon production to only what is necessary. As your Gateways finish, begin pumping out Zealots first, then once the Cybernetic Core completes, start having 1 Gateway build Stalkers while the others do Zealots. It will only take a few minutes and you should have an army of 15+ units. If you are facing another Protoss or Zerg, this is likely to be more than enough to contain them and possibly kill them. If you are facing Terran, you may need to get 2 Sentries so you have access to Guardian Shield. Regardless, this force will be enough to put your enemy in his place and give you time to expand, or crush him entirely if he is not prepared.
The Cannon Rush
This is considered less than kind and often referred to as a cheese technique due to the general dislike of such underhanded tactics. However it is a viable option, so we will cover it. This is a simple build to work towards. Your goal is to get as many Probes as possible so you maximize your mineral income. Build a Pylon then Gateway then a Forge. While the Forge is building you send your Probe over to the enemies base. Now this is the tricky part. You need to place down your Pylons in the Fog of War so your enemy won’t see you building. This usually means building in the corners of his base, or building on the ledges beneath it then moving into his base and building up higher. As soon as the Pylon finishes, place 2 Cannons down in the field. Once those are done, you build a Pylon directly in front of them, and repeat the process, slowly pushing forward until the cannons are destroying the enemies buildings. Sometimes this can be done off a single well placed Pylon, other times due to map size it takes a bit longer. This is usually a crippling blow to your enemy if they don’t see it coming. If they do however, be prepared for the consequences. This strategy leaves you wide open to attack as you have invested much of your money to this attack and will have little to defend with.
Dark Templar Rush
The Protoss are unique in that they have a permanently cloaked unit. This can be used to their advantage early in the game when detection is hard to come by. This build is a tough one to pull off in the early stages of a match as it requires vast amounts of gas to tech to and then build the Dark Templar. The build order is fairly straight forward. You will start with the usual Pylon then Gateway. As the Gateway builds, start on your first Assimilator. During this time, make sure to constantly be building Probes but don’t queue up so many that you have no minerals left for buildings. Once the Gateway finishes, start on your Cybernetics Core and at this point you likely need a second Pylon. After the Cyber Core finishes, the build can splinter a few different ways. The most basic version now requires you to build a Twilight Council then a Dark Shrine. Also during this time, begin researching Warp Gate within the Cybernetics Core. As the Dark Shrine builds, take this time to build 1-2 more Gateways. By the time the Gateways and Dark Shrine are done, Warp Gate should be ready. Turn each Gateway in to a Warpgate and begin warping in your Dark Templar. It only takes a few to wipe out an entire base, so don’t worry about building up a dozen.
A few other variations exist for this build. Some players like to use a Proxy Pylon so they can warp the Dark Templar right beside the enemies base. The same thing can be done with a Warp Prism unit which can be built out of a Robotics Bay. Each build has it’s merits and can be used effectively in any situation. It should be noted that if this build fails, you will have spent so much time and money that it can be tough to come back from this. Thankfully you will have enough Warpgates that you can warp in emergency Stalkers and hope to turn it back around.
The Proxy Pylon is an aggressive form of play that involves building your Gateway near the enemies base so that you can constantly produce units right at their doorstep. To do this, you simply build a Pylon and Gateway just outside their front door. Far enough away so they can’t see it from their base, but close enough that it takes only 2-3 seconds to walk from the Gateway to their base. This kind of play can be costly if your enemy counters you but if you catch them unprepared it is likely the match will be over almost instantly. Although this can be done using a single Gateway, having two will allow for faster production of Zealots, ensuring you apply maximum pressure to your enemy.
Mid Game Tactics
As a Protoss player approaches the 15 minute mark and beyond, the game has passed the time where simple rush tactics will still work. From this point on players need to concentrate on expanding, keeping the enemy contained and away from your forces until you can deliver a crushing blow. One of the most basic things any player can do at this point involves upgrades. The Protoss above all races values upgrades for their units. Whether it is the powerful abilities like Blink or Psionic Storm, or the damage and armor increases that cause your already powerful soldiers to rip through the enemies even quicker. A Protoss player should always have their Forge spinning and should be Chrono Boosting it as often as possible. Some more advanced strategies can be found before to get people through this middle game section of a match.
The Kill Ball
This is what most people think of when they imagine the Protoss. The Kill Ball usually consists of Stalkers, Colossus and Sentries. Depending on the situation, Zealots and Immortals will sometimes join the mix. This army gets its name because it travels in a compact ball in order to maximize the use of Guardian Shield and keep the Colossus alive. The Kill Ball can strike at any target although it excels most at destroying land armies. The downside is that this army has a large weakness to air and also travels very slowly. The Kill Ball is the perfect counter for players relying heavily on large masses of light units like Marines, Roaches, Hydralisks or even other Protoss who are using mostly Zealots and Stalkers. For this army to truly excel, ensure that you have have the range upgrade for Colossus and that your weapons are as upgraded as possible.
Oracles are a new unit added in with Heart of the Swarm. They are very powerful harassment unit that can decimate worker units. The great thing about using Oracles, they are quite easy to tech towards and require only a few extra resources. If your match has lasted long enough to reach this mid game stage, it is likely you have a Cybernetics Core down. In order to build Oracles, all you need now is a Stargate. This is great as you can continue with your previous build without having to deviate very far. For optimal harassment, build 2-3 Oracles. Now remember, their main weapon must be toggled on and requires energy so give them a few seconds to charge up before rushing into battle. The best way to use them is to send them along the outside of the map and attack worker units. These units are the weakest and often times are left unprotected. With 2 Oracles you will kill workers in less than a second, quickly mounting up kills. Killing worker units may not seem like the wisest tactical choice, but with no workers your enemy can’t mine resources and will have to spend resources just to get them back, crippling them financially.
If your game has lasted over 25 minutes, it is time to entertain some late game ideas. As a Protoss player, you have an advantage in the late game. Your units are powerful even in the beginning, but once they have 3/3 upgrades, Protoss units shine above all others. At this point in the game, Protoss armies become nearly unstoppable, even if your enemy has the proper counters. With that said, there are still some things to watch out for and tactics that should be used.
The Airtoss is an army consisting of, you guessed it, air units. Although it is rarely seen, the Protoss posses a mighty air fleet that rivals that of the Terran. A Protoss player who has had time to get a Mothership, Voidrays and Carriers can tear through nearly anything it comes across. An Airtoss army is easy to build, it just requires a lot of time. The units are expensive, the upgrades require time to research and simply getting that far along in the tech tree will eat up half the match. The two key things to make this build work, Vespene Gas and upgrades. The upgrades are the easy part. Constantly be upgrading your air, Chrono Boosting the Cybernetics Core as often as possible. Don’t forget about the shields, which are done from the Forge. The gas can be trickier. This build can not be funded off of one base and will require expansions. Holding onto multiple bases can sometimes be tough as a Protoss player due to the slow speed of their armies. If you can make it work though, the mighty Airtoss army will serve you well. The Mothership will cloak all your units, which gives them valuable time to fire on the enemy without worry of being seen. Should the Mothership go down, it is likely that you will have already heavily crippled their army leaving them with little to actually deal with your no uncloaked fleet. From here on in, you can simply fly your way across the map, obliterating your enemy.
The Ultimate Kill Ball
This is one of the more common builds and just expands on the Kill Ball build that you have built towards. As you reach the late game stages of a match, your upgrades should be done or quickly approaching it. An army of Stalkers, Colossus and Sentries with 3/3/3 upgrades is a force to be reckoned with. Even with proper counters, your army will output so much damage that they tear through anything that is thrown at them. This build also has the benefit of not requiring vast amounts of any one resource, allowing you to produce at a good pace without having to wait for Vespene which is so common among Protoss builds.
The Sneak Attack
When games reach this late stage, it is common for players to fall in a routine of building, battling and rebuilding the same units. This can easily be used to your advantage as a Protoss player. Your units are so powerful, that even a couple units can wreak crazy havoc on an enemy who is unprepared. A great example of this is an enemy who has very little anti-air. Since most Protoss players rely on their land armies, your enemy will rarely build any form of anti-air unless they are trying to snipe down your Colossus. Knowing this, you can build up 3-4 Phoenix and terrorize the enemy worker line. They are so fast that they can zip around with little concern for being caught. Another great sneaky tactic is to use Dark Templar suddenly, surprising your enemy with cloaked units they can’t easily detect. This works best against the Zerg and Protoss. Terran have the Scan ability, which is far more convenient and easy to spam when they notice what is happening.
Original article: https://www.ign.com/wikis/starcraft-2/Protoss_Tactics