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- High cost per unit produced
- High unit power
- High unit health
- High supply consumption per unit
- Very powerful special abilities (the Psionic Storm is often referred to as the "most powerful special ability in the game")
- The only race with plasma shields
- The only race with defense buildings that can attack both ground and air by themselves
All protoss military units (including buildings) have shields; when damaged, shields regenerate over time, even faster than zerg units heal. Shields, however, always take full damage (see damage types). Shields are instantly drained by the terran science vessel's EMP ability. Shields on all units can be regenerated almost instantly by the protoss shield battery structure. However, they are unable to heal damage sustained when their shields have been depleted.
- Protoss structures, like their units, cannot be repaired of damage sustained while the shields were down (exception to this is a terran medic healing a non-mechanical protoss unit)
- Fastest building method, moderate building location restrictions (pylons)
Protoss structures and units, to a lesser extent, draw their energy from a great psionic energy matrix that emanates from Aiur. While the nexus provides a link to this matrix, khaydarin crystal-based pylons are needed to actually tap into the energy required to provide psionic energy to new colonies. Each pylon generates a short-ranged aura of energy, which can provide the power needed by structures and warp gates. If a protoss building loses its connection to the Psionic Matrix, it will shut down until it is reconnected, and new units cannot be gated in if there is insufficient psionic energy to provide them with power.
The most technologically advanced race in the game, the protoss field relatively small but very powerful armies. Their units cost much more than those of the terran or zerg, and require more supply ("psi"), but are far more powerful than the equivalent units of those races. Their shields also serve as a replaceable buffer of health. The protoss builder unit, the probe, does not actually build structures but instead warps them in from Aiur; once the probe has finished opening the warp gate, it can walk off and begin mining, or even warp in more buildings as the first building warps in.
The protoss's major downfall is their high cost; a protoss player without a strong economy is essentially doomed, and it is a small economic disaster if they lose even one unit (as opposed to, say, the zerg, who throw away their soldiers with impunity). The protoss also have a weakness no other race has, in the form of their pylons. Pylons are specialized buildings that project an energy field, symbolized onscreen as a transparent blue circle; all protoss buildings require this field to function. That means production buildings can't create units, any research or upgrade a building is doing will halt, and photon cannons won't be able to fire. Pylons are relatively durable (300 shield points and 300 Hit Points), but they are still the easiest thing in a protoss base to destroy, with the added effect of 'unplugging' all the protoss's home appliances and factories. A concentrated assault on pylons, in other words, can bring protoss production to a halt; and, since pylons also provide psi, those buildings that remain 'plugged in' still may not be able to produce more units until the psi limit is restored.
Units and Buildings
- Probe – builder unit. It is the most efficient builder unit as it is not consumed or occupied while building a structure, unlike zerg drones or terran SCVs. It is tiny and, therefore, is maneuverable and can take up small spaces. Attack power is not upgraded.
- Zealot – melee attack ground unit, strongest of the basic ground units, but very expensive, wielding a pair of psionic blades. Can be upgraded for faster movement speed. It is incapable of attacking air units.
- Dragoon – ranged attack ground unit that deals moderate damage that is most effective against large targets. Dragoons are especially vulnerable to zerg players, as the Spawn Broodling special ability and swarms of zerglings can take them out easily. The dragoon can be upgraded for longer range. It also has the capability to attack air units.
- Reaver – siege unit. It is both the slowest siege unit and the most powerful. Unlike most other units, it does not have unlimited ammunition. Instead, it constructs "Scarabs". It has an initial capacity of 5, but can be upgraded to 10. Each shot uses up one Scarab. Note that the Scarabs move along the ground toward their targets; while they will circumnavigate obstacles if possible, they need a relatively clear path. If a target is within range but directly blocked by a wide obstacle such as several lined mineral fields, the Scarab will detonate regardless after approximately five seconds of high-speed attempted circumnavigation. The reliance on scarabs and its slow speed are the reaver's main weaknesses. However, the high damage, splash effect and normal damage type makes it very powerful against groups of weak units such as zerglings or marines, and the long range can be used to take out defensive structures without fear of retaliation, although it lacks the range of the terran siege tank. The reaver can be upgraded for higher Scarab capacity and higher Scarab damage. The slow speed of reavers is also often compensated for by pairing them closely with shuttles, particularly with the speed upgrade, keeping the shuttles close to the reavers during combat operations and repeatedly unloading and reboarding the reavers in response to enemy action.
- High templar – primary caster. High Templars cannot attack and are rather slow and weak. However, their special abilities make them powerful support units.
- Hallucination – Creates two copies of a target unit. Enemies cannot distinguish hallucinations from real units directly. However, hallucinations do no damage when they attack, cannot use special abilities, and take double damage. Hallucinations disappear if they are "killed" or once their energy runs out. This can be used for decoys or for intimidation. Hallucinations also immediately disappear when special abilities (target specific or area effect such as Stasis Field or EMP) hit them for some sort of effect or damage, even when the units are at full health. Must be researched at the templar archives.
- Psionic Storm – considered by many to be the most powerful special ability in the game. Psionic Storm covers an area with crackling electricity. Any units in the area, both friendly and enemy, take damage for each second that they stay in the field. This is extremely effective against slow-moving units like the reaver or siege tank or against large groups of small units like zerglings. Psionic Storm does not stack; that is, multiple storms cast over the same area at the same time do not combine effects. Must be researched at the templar archives. Psionic Storm has, since Starcraft's initial release, been downgraded in power several times via patches to the game.
- Archon Warp – only available when two or more High Templar are selected at one time. The Templar merge in pairs to create Archons. This does not consume any mana; however, the merging takes some time during which the High Templar are vulnerable. The meld is irreversible, so the High Templar and their abilities are irretrievably lost.
- Archon – Archons are created when two High Templar merge. They have a powerful short ranged attack that deals splash damage, and have a powerful shield that can withstand a large amount of damage. However, they have very few hit points, so a terran EMP will bring them to near-death. Archons are immune to both Irradiate and terran vultures' spider mines, and are almost unaffected by Plague (it lowers their HP to 1 without damaging their shields).
- Dark templar – stealth unit with permanent cloaking ability (no cloaking special ability or energy points required), opponent requires units with detector ability (e.g. terran science vessel) to see it. It has powerful attack but relatively low hit points and shields. They are an extremely effective harassment and assault units but cannot attack air units (Brood War only).
- Dark archon – caster, no non-special ability attack, formed from two Dark Templar. Its abilities include "Mind Control", which allows you to take control of an enemy unit at cost of energy. This can even be used to take control of another race's worker unit, allowing you to build that race's tech tree. Of course, this is expensive and not always cost-effective. You can also mind control an enemy shuttle unit and take control of not only the shuttle but all units inside of it as well. The other two abilities are "Feedback" and "Maelstrom". Maelstrom freezes all biological units in the radius of attack for a short period of time. Feedback is used to kill other energy using units by draining their energy and then using it as a physical assault to damage or kill the target unit (this may even be used on battlecruisers because they use energy to power the Yamato Cannon). The Dark Archon does not have a physical attack (Brood War only).
- Shuttle – flying transport unit. After its speed is upgraded it is the fastest transport unit in the game. It can carry up to eight unit slots. Each unit takes up a different number of slots; probes take up 1, zealots, dark templar, and high templar take up 2, and dragoons, archons, dark archons, and reavers take up 4. Given the huge amount of space most protoss units take up in a shuttle, this makes mass drops harder to perform compared to that of the terran dropship.
- Scout – Heavy fighter craft. Speed and sight range upgrade at fleet beacon. A fleet of Scouts can even defeat the heaviest of air units, making them extremely deadly units. However, Scouts can be quickly dispatched if they are hit with EMP. Scouts are generally ineffective against ground units though in groups of 8-12, can make extremely big threats against small groups of any unit below 100 HP by hit-and-running. Good dispatch against groups of overlords, science vessels, guardians and dropships.
- Arbiter – caster; all nearby units belonging to the player with the Arbiter except other Arbiters become cloaked without cost. Can cast stasis field that freezes all units for a set amount of time. No health or energy points can be lost or gained during stasis. No other abilities can affect units, including the undoing of the stasis field. Can also cast Recall, which transports a player's units to the vicinity of the Arbiter almost instantaneously. They can recall locked down units but cannot recall units in stasis. Special ability and energy point upgrades at Arbiter Tribunal. They have their own attack but have an awful low rate of fire, making them useless as attack units. Arbiters are fairly durable however, having 150 shields and 200 hitpoints and can survive a Yamato gun blast.
- Carrier – heavy air unit. The carrier attacks by launching Interceptors, each of which built at the cost of 25 minerals. Carriers start the game able to hold four interceptors, but an upgrade at the fleet beacon increases the capacity to eight. The Interceptors give the carrier the longest range of any protoss unit, comparable with the terran siege tank and the zerg guardian. Carriers are most vulnerable to the zerg scourge and devourers (their acid spores don't effect them as much at least), terran battlecruisers, goliaths and in some cases, cloaked wraiths and protoss scouts and groups of dragoons. They are one of the most powerful units in the game though can be easily taken down by a skilled player with proper defense.
- Observer – flying scouting unit. Detector unit. Observers are permanently cloaked and thus visible only to other detectors. Observers have no attacks or abilities, and have few hit points. The speed and sight range of observers can be upgraded at the observatory.
- Corsair – caster and light fighter with a rapid-fire low damage splash attack usable against air targets only. The corsair can cast Disruption Web, which prevents all land units (friendly and otherwise) and defensive buildings within the web from firing or operating. Units and buildings in the Disruption Web can be targeted for attacks and special abilities. The disruption field cannot be undone until the spell wears out. Corsair upgrades to abilities and energy points are available at the fleet beacon. It has no anti-ground attack, leaving it vulnerable to ground units that can attack it. Its attack is especially effective against groups of mutalisks, overlords, guardians and terran wraiths to some extent. Transport ships also are under risk of heavy fire from corsairs.
- The original Corsair, appearing on an original edition Brood War CD, has a disruption web with a very long persistence. The first patch (and later patches) for Brood War, incorporated in later edition CDs and a required download for play on the Battle.net, dramatically reduces the persistence time of the disruption web from that original setting. This was done in response to original edition Brood War games on Battle.net in which it quickly became apparent that the protoss enjoyed a brutal advantage if they accumulated mass corsairs, with which they could essentially douse an enemy base with disruption webs that - at least when a second round of webs were deployed - stayed in place typically until everything under them was destroyed. This was most striking in the case of an all-aerial assault of corsairs and carriers; when done right, the carriers could simply come in and park over a screen full of disruption webs, with any opposing air units quickly dispensed with, and with the enemy base in utter ruins, if not completely destroyed, by the time the disruption webs finally wore off.
- The Corsair was developed by Dark Templar during their wandering exile from Aiur in order to protect their xel'naga freighter, and has since been adapted as an anti-zerg weapon.
All buildings must be built in the vicinity of a pylon except for the nexus, assimilator and other pylons. All buildings that do not have an completed pylon required for operation will cease all operations, including upgrades, unit training, magic point restoration, and attack.
- Nexus – provides 9 psi, resource depot, starting point of technology tree, produces probes
- Assimilator – collects vespene gas
- Pylon – creates 8 psi each, powers buildings
- Gateway – summons infantry units
- Forge – upgrades ground weapons and armor, as well as plasma shields which applies to all units and buildings
- Shield battery – rapidly recharges shields at the cost of 1 energy per 2 shield point, does not work on buildings
- Cybernetics core – upgrades dragoons range and spacecraft weapons and armour
- Photon cannon – all-purpose detector defensive structure effective against ground and air units
- Robotics facility – used to warp in the protoss robotic units
- Stargate – used to warp in the protoss air units
- Citadel of Adun – required for the templar archives, and contains a zealot movement upgrade
- Robotics support bay – required for the reaver, and contains upgrades for the shuttle and reaver
- Fleet beacon – required for carriers, and contains upgrades for the carrier, Scout, and corsair
- Templar archives – required for warping in the Arbiter, High and Dark Templar, and both types of Archon. Also contains upgrades for the High Templar and Dark Archon
- Observatory – required for, and upgrades the observer
- Arbiter tribunal – required for, and upgrades the Arbiter
There are many different strategies for protoss, highly dependent on the stage of the game:
- Zealot rush — during the initial stage of the game (1 min or so into the game), rush into the enemy's base with at least 4 zealots. If your forces have an obvious superiority over the enemy, destroy their base as a whole. If not, try disrupting their mining operation as much as possible to cripple your enemies' abilities to retaliate in the long run. This is often done by setting the zealots to move straight to the resource collection area to attack the resource gatherers, after running by and typically taking nominal damage from enemy forces concentrated in a front area of the base. A common mistake of amateurs is to try to run the zealots through in attack-response mode, so that any engagement by a frontal defense at the base distracts the zealots into battling the defending units, leaving the resource gatherers to continue their work unimpeded.
- Dark Templar rush — This tactic involves a rush of Dark Templar, typically 1-3 for an early game edge. Works very well against terran; also works very well against protoss if the enemy does not yet have any cannons, though even a single cannon, allowing other combat troops to attack, often effectively neutralizes a dark templar rush; and is not likely be successful against the zerg. This strategy is high-risk because it requires the user to ignore defense and early game units, and tech straight towards Dark Templar, if there is to be a realistic chance of catching a protoss or terran opponent before they have detection capabilities. Because of this, the dark templar rush, like other high-risk opening strategies, is only safely done by coordinating with at least one teammate who agrees to pursue a more fundamental opening strategy of high-volume, low-tech troop production sufficient to defend both bases. Otherwise, any competent opponent who manages to deflect the dark templar rush and find your base quickly should have a decisive advantage. Dark Templar are permanently cloaked and deal a high amount of damage. Just a couple of these can easily wipe out an entire mineral line or take out a single turret or comsat station to further avoid detection without loss.
- Early cannon rush — This strategy takes a lot of speed and luck. In some Starcraft maps, such as the popular Big Game Hunters, the mineral fields of certain starting positions contain a pocketed area behind the mineral field with a single tiny entrance, small enough that a probe may seal itself in by constructing a pylon at the entrance of the pocket. It may then warp in one or two photon cannons as a forge is completed back at the base. The cannons' positions make them impossible to reach without first destroying the pylon, which has a combined total of 600 points in shields and structure. This usually occurs in the first three minutes of the game, so the aggressor is almost always left completely defenseless at home. Most of the time, however, the defender has not had enough time to set up proper unit production, and if the cannons are warped in without the pylon being destroyed quickly, the nexus of the defender is at risk of being destroyed, which may prevent the player from mining any more minerals (if they do not have the 400 minerals required for a second nexus), essentially taking them permanently out of the game. Counters to this include the construction of sunken colonies or bunkers near the mining areas.
- Standard cannon rush — This tactic involves building photon cannons just near the enemy's base, so that (if properly positioned) they can attack the foe's soldiers and factories. Because the zerg factory is its Hatchery, this tactic doesn't work on them (the creep also gets in the way), but against terrans or the protoss itself, just two or three properly-positioned photon cannons will end the game, destroying factories and allowing you to build another row of cannons with which to further advance. Zerg cannot use this tactic, as their defensive structures require creep; terrans can, but 100-mineral bunkers are useless without another 200 minerals' worth of marines, whereas with only 250 minerals (100 for the pylon and 150 for the cannon) the protoss are ready to go. Finally, do not attempt this tactic unless your teammates are willing to defend your base, which will be essentially unprotected.
Second Round / Post-Opening Strategies
- Dragoon charge — Similar to the zealot rush, but requiring more time, a group of 4-12 dragoons can wreak havoc in the early-middle stages of a game. In addition to the zealot strategies, the long (upgraded) range of dragoons often enables them to hit key targets with impunity, especially if the enemy is overly reliant on static defense. This is particularly useful versus terran, if the opponent's refinery can be taken out before siege tank production starts. Counters to this include the wall-in, strategic bunker placement, Stim Packs, and U-238 Shells.
- Dragoon army — When playing against experienced players on Battle.net, many protoss forces build a massive army of dragoons. Usually what's done is being able to build Arbiters, observers, and quite obviously dragoons. They vary in purpose, from defending to destroying to acting as a supportive unit. The dragoons would be massed together, usually to block the entrances, while the observers come in to detect anything nearby. However, this could sometimes be overpowered if faced by a more potent army. To maximize the full potential of this, Arbiters must be brought in. If put as far out as possible without being in range of being hit, all dragoons would be under a cloaked blanket. This way, even if an overlord, science vessel, or any other detectors are brought in, you could move about a dozen dragoons to take them out. This strategy could be used for being offensive or defensive. However, for the whole strategy to be absolutely effective and to minimize losses, the amount of supply the Arbiters, observers, and even probes must be minimized. Bringing out as many dragoons as possible will greatly increase your firepower and rate. These are often used as a barricaded defense: a powerful and semi-cheap, and also big, bulky unit.
- Mass zealots — This strategy is immediately applicable in the low tech early game. As tech progresses it is necessary to acquire upgrades from the forge, especially improved attack, and the citadel of Adun. Supporting units for the zealot horde focus on providing anti-air and ranged support. Each zealot wave attempts inflict severe damage before being overcome, buying enough time to assemble and deploy the next wave.
A zealot horde may be met by zerg by a commensurate investment in sunken colonies supported by other low tech units.
- Reaver Drop — This requires a substantial investment in tech, up to the robotics facility and robotics support bay, which can't realistically be done without dividing one's focus on more standard base defense; but once prepared, if the enemy has not developed comprehensive defenses, can still wreak havoc, even with a small-scale expedition. At least one shuttle and typically at least two reavers are produced; as soon as the reavers are ready, scarab production is begun, the reavers are set on a control group and loaded into the shuttle(s). A safe route has preferably been scouted out, along which the shuttles are flown, away from the attention of any enemy forces, around to the back of an enemy base; the reavers are then dropped on the enemy base, typically beginning near the production pile, behind the minerals or even between the minerals and base, directly among the resource gatherers. Additional scarab production is begun as soon as the reavers are out. The reavers fire their scarabs at the resource gatherers, which are typically tightly congregated and particularly vulnerable to the scarabs' splash damage. A dramatic number of the resource gatherers can be wiped out in a surprisingly short time in this manner, crippling the enemy's economy. The inexperienced often have their defensive forces heavily concentrated in a forward position in anticipation of a land attack, although this becomes less typical as the game advances. The enemy then tries to summon the defending combat units back from the forward position to the production pile area. Even then, however, it is often surprisingly effective to load the reavers back onto their shuttles (giving the command to the reaver control group, rather than the shuttle, for a speedier upload), fly the shuttle to the opposite rear corner of the base, and unload them again; any ground units that have been gathered toward the reavers' original location have to traverse the typically very densely packed central base to approach the reavers again. Because of the reaver's significant investment, it is also often worthwhile to pack up the reavers and fly them off in retreat if they sustain significant damage, rather than let them fight to the death, then use them again a moment later when their shields have restored (and hopefully, scarab upgrades and ground armor/shield upgrades have been completed).
- A reaver drop can be effectively defended against by providing defensive capabilities surrounding all sides of a base, and maintained in close proximity to the production pile itself, so an airborne attack force will not be clear of the defenses upon penetrating to the core of the base. Photon cannons or sunken colonies placed in immediate proximity to the mineral pile is often an effective defense.
- A reaver drop can be paired with complementary units, at the expense of additional time and production prior to deploying the reaver drop expedition. Zealots, dragoons, and dark templar are all useful in helping defend the reaver while it provides the brunt of offense, particularly by keeping them close to the reavers. Keeping the reavers well-positioned is also very important; they can be fairly idiotic if left to move around on their own; often it works well to keep them stopped in a particular spot and just let the scarabs fly. An observer is often an indispensable companion for the reavers. High templar can be very effective when dropped together with reavers, although this operation requires an intense level of rapid micromanagement. Corsairs are a favorite pairing with a reaverdrop; not only can they help keep the skies clear above the reavers, and defend the shuttles in flight, but their disruption webs and the reavers' scarabs are a perfect complement for a devastating attack. This is particularly true when facing siege tanks, one of the reaver's deadliest foes, but which suffers horribly under the influence of both a disruption web and an angry reaver.
- The reaver drop was popularized in tournament games in 1998 by the player known on Battle.net as Zileas, then an underclassman at MIT, whose quickness with coordinating the reavers and shuttles were described as "like a shuttle that fires scarabs".
- Photon Cannon Placement — A common error of amateurs is to rely too heavily on photon cannons. They place too many of them close together in "cannon farms", and concentrate them in bottlenecks of anticipated attacks. The opponent's solution to any or all of these tendencies is likely to involve the investment needed to launch either an airborne attack that bypasses the cannon farms, or develop an antidote to the cannons, such as defilers, who are probably the cannons' worst enemy. Either way, your heavy investment in stationary artillery is neutralized, and the enemy's superior investment in mobile units is likely to pay off. Instead, cannons should be scattered in front of passageways and bottlenecks in small numbers, and scattered judiciously around one's production pile, perimeters, and other assets, leaving the bulk of resources available for units they can complement. A good guide is to keep cannons just far apart and scattered widely enough that their range of cloak detection covers the broadest possible area.
- High Templars On the Home Front — Keeping several high templars close in around one's base often proves an invaluable component of homeland defense, particularly in combination with photon cannons and dragoons. Using high templars close to a bottleneck the enemy is trying to pass in a tightly packed crowd, can have brutal effects on the would-be attackers. Keeping a few high templars wandering around the core and back areas of the base can provide an immediate and effective counterattack against an aerial invasion. If an invasion is still going strong when the high templars run out of energy, it is worthwhile to merge them into archons as they can't produce any more storm. Waiting for them to power back up again while an enemy is actively advancing is typically just a recipe for letting the templars die uselessly. The archon meld, while it also takes some time, has a really high shield strength and is likely to be able to finish into a substantial new combatant in time to contribute effectively.
- Defensive Reavers — A few reavers buried deep behind the zealots, dragoons, and cannons that form the front and secondary lines, can plop scarabs way out in front to shower splash damage on tightly bunched invaders. This can be very difficult for the enemy to come up with any effective counter.
- Defensive Carriers — Carriers are an exciting late-game unit for attack, though they are typically not the most effective option. For defense, however, they can be parked right above a shield battery or two. While the shield batteries are typically not very useful, and always require micromanagement, their use is maximized the larger the investment, and when power is concentrated in a single unit. Shield batteries with carriers that can be parked above them, are more useful together than either one could be in any other context. The interceptors and cannons complement other units against an invasion force. A carrier tucked unmoving behind the bulk of the defense, with repeatedly recharging shields to boot, can turn into an almost invincible protector of the base.
Protoss must deal with the typical zerg numerical superiority. For example, while a zealot may be a match for two or three zerglings, it is possible for more than three zerglings to attack a zealot at once, quickly dispatching the zealot in addition to preventing the zealot from fleeing. Protoss should fight in choke-points or in tight groups to prevent any single unit from being swarmed and pinned down.
Zerg can quickly counter a carrier offensive with scourges. However, nearby photon cannons can eliminate any scourges, usually before they can reach the carriers, making them still useful for defense, or when your opponent does not expect an air offensive.
An alternative to rushing into the fray without any plans besides overwhelming the opponent is to attack from different flanks, to maximize damage output from all units. This is a must when using melee units, and makes the bulky dragoons more effective. Keep in mind that units such as arbiters can be quickly rendered useless as protoss players tend to have a good amount of photon cannons scattered around their base, which detect cloaked units.
When facing a terran player, most of the matches you can expect a really long fight, as the Terran and Protoss in Later game can take more than an hour in playing.
Early game is one very very important in the game against a Terran, as normally terran players wall themselves with their first barracks and two or one supply depots. When doing this you can expect only one thing, Vulture harassment.
The Vulture harassment is very effective when you are not prepared (assuming you are playing as a protoss), a group of 3-5 vultures can be quickly deployed and sent to your base, the best counter you have in this occasions are two: Either you block your base entrance with a couple of zealots set to "hold" and dragoons or cannons in the rear, the vultures will try to by pass it by firing the zealots. Vultures are really fast and can outrun zealots and dragoons. So the best counter to vulture rush is walling your entrance with zealots being covered by dragoons or cannons.
Mid game is where things start to get hot in the match, as a good terran player will start building tanks, goliaths and vultures. It is imperative that you speed upgrade your zealots and your dragoons receive the large range upgrade before facing the terran army, which believe me, will happen.
Terran armies can be really scary when moving, a good terran player will make vultures absorb most of the hits while placing some spider mines right in front of you, being followed by tanks. When your army faces a mine field, you can do two things: make one of your zealots pass by (with the speed upgrade) the place, mines will pump up and follow your zealot until they reach him and eventually destroy it, don't worry if this is successful then you will have a safe passage through there. The second one is the most easy way, build observers either in early game or mid game to spot mines and allow your dragoons to shot to kill at safe distance.
When your army finally meet the terran army, you will probably finding the units mentioned above and some missile turrets to spot your observers. When facing this, a good Terran player will not cluster all his siege tanks, as two well placed psi storms can finish them quickly, they will separate their tanks across a well portion of a map, with vultures and spider mines in the front and missile turrets in the middle. You, playing as a protoss, must not cluster your forces as well, the mines if exploding will take out your army in no time. In order to win this huge battle you will have to normally place your units like this: zealots on the front, spotting all spider mines, absorb hits and maybe take some enemy units with you, dragoons on the rear along with observers in order to spot remaining mines, the High templars and dark on the rear, place psi storms on the tanks destroying them, use your dragoons and DT (dark templars) to destroy any missile turrets, with some good micro you will be able to wipe out the Terran army.
Forge fast expand and Carriers + Corsairs: This is practically a turtle build. This strategy works well against all 3 races and is fairly safe and easy to execute. This strategy is NOT for new players; it requires a basic understanding of StarCraft strategies, such as utilizing choke points, and A LOT of micromanagement of units (Carriers cost a lot and it's a waste even if only one gets killed; Corsairs's Disruption Web sucks in the hands of newbs).
Early Game: Get a Forge right after the first Pylon finishes instead of a Gateway and make sure you put these structures somewhere near a choke, not in the middle of your base; build 2 Cannons. For maps with a nearby expansion, such as Lost Temple, it's a good idea to make the first Pylon and Forge next to the expansion AND in such a way that the Cannons can cover both the entrance to your main as well as your expansion. If you're constantly getting rushed, make more Cannons. If not, make a Gateway after the second Cannon and then another Pylon. Pump out a couple Zealots just in case your opponent somehow run through the Cannons and just in case your opponent decides to go for early drops at your main. Typically, people WILL go for drops if they see you cannoning up the front; BE PREPARED FOR THIS!! You will want to get a couple Cannons up next to your mineral patches, but Zealots will do for now. Get more Cannons at the choke/expansion, about 3 more. Get an Assimilator and when you have about 16 Probes, start putting up a Nexus at your expansion and then a Cybernetics Core right away; if you are on a map with no nearby expansions, then get a Cybernetics Core after that Assimilator. Get more Probes, Pylons and maybe Zealots depending on the situation. Build a Stargate ASAP right after the Cybernetics Core finishes. Your Nexus should be finished and you should have moved about 6-8 probes from your main to your expansion; start building the new Assimilator at the expansion as well.
- Short Version:
- Get a Pylon and then a Forge right after the Pylon finishes. Build these structures somewhere near a choke or in front of an expansion that will also cover the entrance into your main base.
- Get a couple Cannons after the Forge finishes.
- Get a Gateway and then another Pylon.
- Pump out a couple Zealots.
- Get about 3 more Cannons next to the pre-existing Cannons, for a total of 5 Cannons.
- Get an Assimilator and put 3 Probes into it...obviously.
- At 16 Probes, save up 400 minerals for a Nexus at your expansion. Then get a Cybernetics Core with the next 200 minerals.
- If on a map with no nearby expansions, get a Cybernetics Core.
- Build more Pylons and more Cannons to your likings.
- Get a Stargate ASAP after the Cybernetics Core is done warping in.
- Move Probes to expansion when it's done and build an Assimilator.
Mid Game: Build a Fleet Beacon after the Stargate warps in. Continue to build about 2 more Stargates as the Fleet Beacon warps in. Also, build a couple Corsairs out of the first Stargate as well. Start on the first Carrier ASAP right after the Fleet Beacon finishes warping in. Upgrade Disruption Web first and then upgrade extra Interceptors, also upgrade Air Weapon right about now too. You will have a bunch of minerals and little gas, SPAM more Cannons at your choke as well as several next to the mineral patches. Your opponent will probably hit you right about now. If he's going for your Cannons head-on, put some Disruption Web on top of his ranged units and let the Cannons do their things, DO NOT move that 1 Carrier in, it WONT help and it will alarm your opponent into getting units to counter your Carriers. Save up until you have about 3-4 Carriers WITH 6-8 Interceptors AND 4-5 Corsairs. Move out to your opponent's main directly, with the Corsairs. If there are Turrets/Spore Colonies/Cannons, just put Disruption Web on them. MAKE SURE you don't select ALL of your Corsairs and put all your Disruption Webs on a single location.
At this point, it's up to you as the player to micro and keep the Carriers ALIVE! Your opponent will probably send everything he's got at those Carriers. Disruption Web will be invaluable at this stage, therefore try not to lose any Corsairs and Web effectively. Also, move damaged Carriers in the back of the line so that they can stay in the fight. Remember to continually pump out more Corsairs and Carriers as well as building more Stargates if you have a lot of minerals/gas. Keep up the Air Upgrades and possibly get the upgrade for +max Corsair energy. Expand to another location if possible, since your opponent will be busy trying to fight off your Carrier assault. Again, I am POSITIVE that you will have a lot more minerals than gas, SPAM more Cannons at your new expansion.
And so on...: There should NOT be anything that can counter Carriers + Corsairs combo with good micro skills. Of course, if your opponent is better, in the sense that he can mass up more units faster than you, then of course there is nothing you can do but up your skills. If you think about it, there are only so many anti-air units: Scourge, Devours, Wraiths, Valkyries, Carriers, Scouts and Corsairs. Scourges, Wraiths and Scouts can be easily taken care of by your Corsairs, especially if they have to target your Carrier individually and can't attack the Corsairs. Valkyries and Corsairs cannot target individual units so just make sure your Corsairs stay alive, your Carriers should be able to survive Valkyries and Corsairs. Devours, however, can be effective; just split your Corsairs away from the Carriers and start attacking the Devours as they target your Carriers individually; good microing is key here.
As for ground to air units, your Corsair's Disruption Web should help out a ton.
Watch out for: High Templar's Storm, Arbiter's Stasis Field, Science Vessel's EMP and Defiler's Plague.
Units you will probably want to get aside from Carriers + Corsairs:
- Arbiters: Stasis Field is epic. You can either Stasis Field your opponent's entire army and destroy their structures OR you can Stasis Field part of your opponent's army and destroy the left over units. Stasis Field is also great for instantly trapping Templars, Vessels, Defilers and other Arbiters. You can also use them to Stasis your own units to either block a ramp or save key units from being destroyed.
- High Templars: Storm is vastly helpful against masses of units. Against a Zerg, Storm is priceless. A bunch of hydras with Defiler's Dark Swarm can destroy your Carriers and practically waste your Disruption Web. Just Storm them. Hallucination is usually useless but EXTREMELY USEFUL if you Hallucinate Carriers. The only effective way to take out Carriers is to target them 1 by 1. One Hallucination creates 2 Carriers. Several Hallucinations will provide your Carriers with the ultimate defense. Not to mention attacking with Hallucinations to buy time or draw your opponent's force in the wrong direction while you hit them with your actual Carriers.
- Dark Archons: Maelstrom is of course great against Zerg's massive army. Mind Control is questionable but has its uses, especially if you can Mind Control other "casting" units, such as Defilers, High Templars, Science Vessels etc...
Finally: Carriers will be your main offensive units while Corsairs are great anti-air as well as great anti-ground with their Disruption Web. Don't waste resources in getting other offensive unit, rather, get other "casters," such as High Templars, Arbiters and Dark Archons. I know, I know, you practically have to get every single Protoss buildings for those caster-units, but that is the best way to spend your extra resources, more bang for your buck really.
Be sure to get some Observers up against Terran, cloaked Wraiths will be a nightmare if you don't have Observers. Also, don't get more than 12-15 Carriers. If your opponent can still counter 12 Carriers effectively, then you either need to use your Corsairs more effectively or start getting Arbiters/High Templars ASAP. Watch out for Ghosts, they are the only unit that can effectively disable Carriers with their extremely long-range Lockdowns.
Have fun! This Carriers + Corsair strategy is just a foundation. You should mix things up and use your own creativity depending on how the game goes. Never EVER have a set build in mind, losing versatility will make you a bad player.