Scouting and dealing with harass in PvP
Wed 3rd Apr 2013 - 5:30pm
In PvP you will have the easiest time to defend any incoming harass to your ecoline, if you are prepared. Protoss units have the potential to destroy a lot of economy before you even noticed the harass, and that's the big point. Once you know about incoming Dark Templars, once you scouted a Stargate or saw air units, you will have an easy time to defend. The units will come in low numbers and are easy to snipe down. After defending the initial harass, you will be in a good spot.
But how to scout it? After the pylon nerf in HotS, which doesn't make it possible anymore to warp anything on high ground, a straight 4 gate pressure became very uncommon. It's still around as a 4 gate together with a Mothership Core as support, but due to the fact that he can't abuse the warp in anymore, it' is way easier to defend with a sentry and good micro. For thus you will mostly see similar openings, with a second gas at the cost of a skipped or delayed initial Zealot. After the first Stalker is on the way, you won't have much time left to see more of his base. If you still feel like you couldn't gather enough information, you have to think out of the box.
Basically you have three options, which allows you a fast scouting without a tech: straight pressure, the Mothership Core, or both together. You can rally your first Stalker straight to the base of your opponent. When arrived, place it at the bottom of the choke, you don't necessarily have to peek up. In most cases it will be attacked by units from his high ground, by this way you are able to scout his Stalker or Sentry count without risking the loss of your unit, and this is all you need. If you spot only a Zealot and a Sentry at this point, he is already preparing for a defensive spot, which is a sign for some kind of tech.
The second way depends heavily on the map design. On maps like Newkirk District, with a short air distance, you can use your Mothership Core to fly carefully into the base of your opponent and get a view on his structures. Turn immediately around after you see the first stalker, and in case your shield is completely gone, cast a Time Warp to escape.
The third way is a mix of both. You can either play a three Stalker opening and peek up his choke together with your mothership core, or you can wait till you chronoboosted your Warpgate research to the end, and apply a two or three gate pressure together with the core, and your starting units. If your opponent decided to expand or tech in a greedy way, it even may be enough to win the game, but most importantly you will get a view on his unit composition.
How to react after scouting Dark Templars or a Stargate?
If you see a Twilight Council, Dark Shrine, scout a suspicious proxy pylon without seeing him moving out with his army, or you see a strange unit mix with less gas heavy units, place immediately down a Robotics Facility and boost out an observer, followed by an Immortal. Position your units with hold position at your choke and warp in a sentry if you skipped it, by this way you can avoid a Dark Templar from sneaking up into your base. In the worst case you earn 14 more seconds by placing a Force Field, which should be enough to get your observer out. If he still manages it to sneak into your base, select all your units and most of your probes, click on your Robotics and then place them on hold position. By this way they will build up a unit shield around it, which he has to destroy manually, because units on hold position have the lowest attack priority. Simple a-moving won't solve the situation for him. It sounds a bit like overreacting when you pull probes for it, but losing the robotics will result in a gg anyways.
A stargate is way harder to scout, since the time span you have to scout it before the first air unit arrives to your mineral line is very short. A proper reaction is more crucial than the scouting. If you see an oracle in your mineral line, it's important to react immediately. It needs only 1,7 seconds to kill a worker, and it's also moving faster than your workers which allows it to harass even if you are pulling your economy away - each second counts! If you cleared it up, leave 2 stalkers in your main mineral line, with additional warp ins it's enough to scare of or clear up any following Oracles. Gather your remaining units at your choke or expansion, because those are the spots you really want to defend if your opponents decides to set you under pressure with gateway units while harassing your economy.
The same applies for small numbers of Phoenix. If he doesn't stop Phoenix production after the initial 3 or 5, keep around 6 - 9 Stalkers in your main mineral line. 6 are needed to three-shot, 9 to two-shot them. When you still feel like you need more, you should consider throwing down one or two cannons. Commiting even more to stalkers at this point makes only sense if you want to follow it up with any kind of blink play/all in, else you won't have enough banked up gas for your tech.
Once you've managed it to get rid of the harass without any significant damage to your economy, you should be ahead of your opponent in terms of tech and lost units value.