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Countdown is the eighth and final protoss mission of Episode IV of StarCraft: Brood War.



With the Uraj and Khalis secure on Shakuras, Matriarch Raszagal ordered the two crystals taken to the xel'naga temple. With the two crystals, the protoss could activate the temple and tap into its energies to scour the zerg from Shakuras. Zeratul carried the Khalis, while Artanis carried the Uraj.

The protoss pushed the zerg defenders back and secured the two crystals in the temple. While Artanis and Zeratul worked to channel the temple's energies, the Executor was tasked with defending it from the zerg. Though the zerg assault was heavy, the temple held long enough for Artanis and Zeratul to succeed in their task.[1] The temple released a massive blast of energy across Shakuras, destroying all zerg but leaving the protoss unharmed. For a brief moment in the planet's history, the clouds parted and the dark templar beheld a sunrise.[2]


The player starts with two bases, one headed by Artanis and the other by Zeratul. Note that only Artanis' base has a vespene geyser, so the player should begin mining it immediately. Zeratul's base will primarily be attacked by air drops from the north, so the player should build several photon cannons here and wall them off to hold off the zerg. Artanis' bases will mostly be attacked over the bridge, though zerg may also come from the east. A medium force of upgraded zealots and dragoons can destroy a zerg base north-west of Artanis' starting position. Here and throughout the mission the player will find lurkers, so observers will be needed.

The player should expand to this site and use the same army to fight their way to Zeratul's base. With the zerg cleared out the player can move between bases freely. Once the player takes the temple grounds, they should establish new bases there to take advantage of the substantial mineral fields and two vespene geysers. A larger zerg base exists to the south, and the player should build a larger ground army and destroy it once they are able, to eliminate this third force.

Once the player brings Zeratul and Artanis to the temple, the orange and brown zerg forces become much more aggressive for the rest of the mission. (The red force would as well if you didn't destroy it -- which is why you should do so. Mind-control a red drone to make the job easier; see below.) The player must plan accordingly - ring the edges of the temple grounds with photon cannons, have several corsairs ready with disruption web, dark archons with maelstrom, high templar with psionic storm, and whatever other forces the player can muster. All units should be upgraded as highly as possible. The zerg will likely destroy the player's other bases; the temple grounds will supply enough resources to allow their loss, and the player can rebuild their base at the temple.

When the two protoss commanders enter the temple, the countdown begins to defend it. The zerg will send large numbers of air units and masses of overlords to drop ground-based zerg on the temple. The player's corsairs can quickly destroy the aerial zerg and nullify the ability of the ground-based zerg to attack, and when fighting over photon cannons they will be able to hold off the zerg. If the player is being overwhelmed, the dark archon can use maelstrom to freeze them in place, and a high templar's psionic storm will do heavy damage to them while they are stunned. When the player's defense holds until the timer ends, the mission is won.

A time-consuming but very effective strategy is to use a dark archon's mind control to take command of a zerg drone at one of the two red bases. Note that after one of the bases is wiped out, the other red base will continually try to re-establish it by sending a drone over to the other base's old location, which provides the easiest way to collect a drone. This will allow them to build their own zerg force with access to the entire zerg tech tree. Zerg forces make an excellent compliment to the player's defenses - lurkers can shred large numbers of smaller zerg, devourers greatly weaken enemy flyers and let corsairs destroy them faster, and queens can use ensnare to slow down enemies. In general, the increased army size from having a whole second species to command also allows for more defenders. If the player has a chance to seize a drone and pursue this strategy, they are advised to do so.

It is also possible, though very time-consuming, to eliminate all the zerg. If the player wants to do this, guardians will prove invaluable against enemy anti-air defense, and hallucinated carriers can lure scourges. However, elimination of all enemies does not immediately trigger victory, and the player still has to wait for 15 minutes after Artanis and Zeratul enter the temple.


Starcraft Brood War - Protoss Mission 8 Countdown + Ending


  1. Blizzard Entertainment. StarCraft. Vivendi Games. Mission: Countdown (in English). 1998.
  2. Blizzard Entertainment. StarCraft. Vivendi Games. Cinematic: Fury of the Xel'Naga. (in English). 1998.