PvT Series - The Opening
Wed 22nd Aug 2012 - 8:22pm: Starcraft II
As a Protoss player, I know how the Protoss vs. Terran matchup can feel virtually impossible. If you aren’t being stretched apart by drops and Banshees you are getting rolled by Marines and Marauders and every time you start a new game and see you’re playing against Terran, your heart sinks just a little bit.
I know the feeling; it’s crushing and feels like no matter how hard you try, Terran always has the answer to your units. Well, with this article I want to try and put a little bit of focus on your opening in PvT to hopefully allow an easier transition into the midgame and give my fellow Protoss players a fighting chance against the seemingly unbeatable Terran race.
I will start off by saying that this article is in no way a balance whine. I personally feel the matchup to be well balanced in terms of units, it’s just minor control issues, improper scouting and builds that cause losses in this matchup.
Now, let’s not kid ourselves. Everyone in lower leagues, when playing a Terran, always aims for really fast 4 Gate all-in and when it ultimately gets crushed – by a bunker – they complain “Terran imba” etc…. The thing is, regardless of whether you win or lose the game, you’re not going to get any better this way. The fact of the matter is that there is actually an appropriate time to execute a 4 Gate: say your opponent goes Command Center first and has not had the opportunity to put up a bunker, in most cases, a 4 Gate will absolutely crush that. Regardless, what I’m getting at is that lower level Protoss players should be shying away from those “cheesy” all-ins and try and play a more macro kind of game. There’s a few good reasons for it too!
Protoss is much stronger in the late game. Think about it: your top tier units are slow to build, slow to move, expensive but do an incredible amount of damage. There’s a reason why so many Protoss’s play the “death ball style”. So, what you should be trying to do is execute builds that allow you to get into the late game and obliterate your opponent.
Another reason to move away from all-ins is that while they may work in Bronze or Silver, when you start moving up the ladder these strategies will completely fall apart and leave you with little knowledge of how to play a “real” game.
So let’s look at the matchup.
Terran players are getting greedy, and when I say greedy, I mean really greedy. A fast expansion followed by an in-main 3rd CC for MULE saturation is not only relatively common but is becoming the norm and the fact is a Protoss player will have a next to impossible time dealing with that on one base. It’s this reason why 1 Gate Expands were really popular a few months ago and why their popularity is increasing.
Starting your Warp Gate research on 1 Gateway and dropping your Nexus at roughly 21 supply can be a pretty solid build. The build I use a lot is:
9 – Pylon
13 – Gateway
15 – Gas
16 – Pylon
18 – Cyber
19 – Zealot
21 – Nexus, Gateway, Gateway, Stalker, Pylon
As you can see the build is relatively standard until the 21 supply mark where there is an influx in building to occur. Another thing worth mentioning is that at least your first 4 Chrono Boosts will be spent on your Nexus just cranking out probes. Economy is the focus of this build. Shockingly, it does remain pretty safe. While it may struggle against Marine/Marauder rushes, you should be scouting for those anyway, and it is shockingly capable of even defending early Terran pressure with decent micro.
Of course, this isn’t to say that this is the only alternative build to a 4 Gate. However, what is generally true among these openings is that they are much more economically and macro focused rather than pressure oriented.
Going Nexus first can actually be extremely beneficial based on proper scouting information. If you see your Terran opponent taking an early expansion, it doesn’t hurt to throw yours down immediately. Keeping up with the Terran economy is crucial to surviving in the long term because keeping up with the harvest rate of MULEs is pretty much impossible so it is important to do anything you can to keep your income coming in at a steady and high rate.
Another interesting variant of this build which is actually gaining popularity is the 2 Gate expand. While it is slightly less economical than a 1 Gate expand, it allows for a much different kind of opening. A 2 Gate Expand actually allows the Protoss player to put on some early pressure, not necessarily game-ending pressure, but enough to make the Terran player sweat a bit, all the while you’re expanding back at home. Picking off things like SCVs during construction of a building or killing an early Marine, shockingly, go a really long way to establishing whatever lead you can manage to muster.
The important thing to remember is to not get too carried away with this early pressure, because it is just that, pressure! If you warp in new units every Warpgate cycle, your economy will actually suffer. The point is to do minor harassment, make him waste a few minerals. All you’re looking to build are a few Zealots and Stalkers, nothing more.
At the end of the day though all this is really just things you need to think about as a player. Maybe you are the kind of guy who likes to go all-in every single game… and hey, that’s your call. The point of this article was to perhaps enlighten players to different styles of gameplay and lead to situations where you, as a Protoss player, won’t necessarily feel underpowered or uneasy.
In follow up articles I will be dealing with the PvT matchup in the Mid and the Late game.