PvT Series - The Midgame
Mon 10th Sep 2012 - 5:26pm: Starcraft II
In a previous article I gave a brief analysis of the Protoss vs. Terran opening in terms of how you, as a Protoss player, can take more control of the game by having a more economic centered opening rather than an all-out aggressive one. As I explained, the reasoning for doing this is that Protoss armies tend to be slow and expensive but extremely powerful so it takes time to build to the proper army composition you might be looking for.
The midgame is where a lot of things happen in this matchup and where a lot of decisions need to be made. If you went for a more economic fast expansion then you now need to decide which tech path you are going to head down, but in order to do that you need to effectively scout your opponent. Sending a Probe might provide some useful information, however, you will tend to have much more luck and acquire more intelligence with an Observer. For this reason, I tend to build an early Robotics Facility once I have both of my bases saturated.
So what are you looking for? A few things really. What kind of army does your opponent have? Is it a really large Marine ball? Are there Marauders? Hellions? Medivacs? Vikings? Ghosts? You could see a whole lot of things, even a third expansion being built in his main or even on the low ground.
This is something Protoss players need to be aware of. Because Terran players can build extra Orbital Commands in their main base and use it to saturate their mineral supply with additional SCVs and MULEs it is extremely easy for a Terran player to leap to an early economic advantage that you never even knew about! Be sure to scour their base for hidden expansions with your Observer, it can prove to be incredibly effective!
When you’re looking at the army composition though, you can see a lot of different things. Large bio forces can be created relatively quickly with not all that much of an investment. It is important to see if your opponent is not interested in playing a longer macro game and much more interested in killing you right now. If you send an Observer and scout a large bio force, odds are he is going to try and go for some intense aggression to hopefully knock you out of the game! You need to be able to prepare for this! You do have a few options though!
Firstly, if you have the time, that is your opponent is taking a little too long to come and attack you try and tech up to Colossus as quickly as possible. If you scout that they only have a few Vikings or even none, these Colossus will literally save your life, they mow through bio armies like nothing else! Going down this path is obviously a little bit riskier but can have a very large payoff.
It will allow you to dispense of the army with relatively little ease and probably leave you in a very advantageous spot. Something of extreme importance is that you should never let your Colossus fight alone! While they do a fantastic job of annihilating bio forces, if they have no extra ground support they can easily be sniped by stimmed units. So, having a bit of a Gateway army to back up your Colossus will be crucial to holding it in this manner.
Your other real option is heavy Gateway units. Some might argue that this won’t work but I’ve seen it work quite well. Quickly going up to 6 or even 7 Gates should provide you with enough forces to dispatch of the early forces. The key to doing this effectively is seeing what they have in their army composition. If there are a few Marauders, build an Immortal or two. It will be extremely helpful in fending off this push!
If you see no Marauders, don’t waste your money on Immortals, they are really ineffective at dealing with Marines. The second key to this hold is Sentries! Sentries are such a fantastic unit and one that is definitely under used by people in lower leagues. Using their force field to trap a few units for easy killing or even just locking their entire army out can give you the few extra seconds you need to get out Colossus or a few extra Stalkers and Zealots.
The question of whether to build Stalkers or Zealots is another tricky one. Completely un-microed Marines will get crushed by Zealots, but the problem is that it’s pretty unlikely to see a totally un-microed Marine. A good balance is definitely required because Stalkers can actually deal with Marines relatively well. So having Zealots chasing Marines back will allow your Stalkers to some essentially “free” damage.
If you don’t see some kind of crazy early push you can safely assume that you are going to transition into the late game. The only questions is how exactly you get there. You have a few options but should always try and base them off of what your opponent is doing!
Or… ya know…
I’m a big fan of getting a few extra Gateways, maybe going to 5 or 6 and going double Forge to just pump out upgrades. Upgrades can be extremely underrated but will have such a significant effect on a huge battle. Having 3-3 by the time your opponent hits 1-1 is a massive difference, one that can even make up for a supply disparity! Make sure to Chrono Boost your upgrades and also, when playing Terran, prioritize your Armor upgrade, it is actually more effective in this matchup. I tend to leave Plasma Shields for after I’m already 3-3.
Your opponent’s army matters when picking yours! If you see early Ghosts don’t rush for High Templar or Archons because they will be effectively useless initially. Try and get out a strong Gateway force with Colossus and Immortals! And remember to keep an Observer with your army! You need to spot those Ghosts if you’re going to have any chance at dealing with those EMPs.
Suffice it to say the midgame is largely about making army decisions based on your opponent. Thinking about expanding to a third should occur around this time as well, maybe a little more toward to late game phase though. The biggest key to success in the midgame is knowing where your opponent is at and what they are doing. This will allow you to have greater success in the late game.