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StarCraft II - Protoss Gateway Units In-Depth Stats and Strategy

Posted Fri, May 28, 2010 by Stow

Exerting dominance over the map as a Protoss is easy--all it takes is one Zealot.  One Zealot demands a response, can end a game, and can stop a rush almost singlehandedly.  This proves the might of the Protoss ground forces, and a Zealot is the most basic unit of all!  Whether you're looking to dominate Battle.net as the warriors of Aiur, or figure out a counter to their might, here's what to do (and what not to do!) with Protoss Gateway units!

The front line of Protoss is still tough and dishes it out better than ever!

Zealots


Cost  - 100 Minerals, 2 Psi
Build Time - 33 seconds
Combat Stats - 50 Shields, 100 HP, 1 armor.  Deals 8 damage per hit and strikes twice.  Can only attack ground units, slow move speed and moderate attack speed.  Each attack upgrade raises damage on each hit by 1.  Light/Biological armor types.
 
Early Game - Your decision on whether you make a Zealot immediately determines your path in the early game.
 
Building a Zealot and then immediately going for a second Gateway while continuing probe production can prepare you for any rush, or to commit to a rush of your own.  The more Zealots you have, the more powerful they become.... so long as they're in open territory.  A line of Zealots fighting alongside each other will crush any melee thrown at them, where as Zealots that are singled out, surrounded, or run ahead of the pack will be picked off almost instantly.  Move as one!
 
You have to use the terrain to your advantage with Zealots.  Keep the enemy from getting full surrounds by keeping your units tightly clustered, and using Forcefields and even other units to watch your back.  At the same time, use them defensively with terrain!  Block your ramp from impending hordes of units, and deny your opponent the advantages that come with numbers.
 
Above all else though, don't be afraid to just leave these alone.  Overly controlling them will lead to a lot of missed attacks that could have been landed.  If you want to focus fire, do it with Stalkers and Sentries.  Not Zealots.   They deal some of the highest damage over time of the Protoss army, but they have to be left alone to cut them up!
 
Late Game - If you are going to stick to the ground, and keep using Zealots, you must research Charge.  Mobility is the main problem of Zealots, and this negates.... most of that problem.  Once the Charge is triggered, mobile armies can just run away and let the Zealots return to their rather low run speed, and kite them appropriately.  This is where combined arms come into play--you have to use Sentries with Zealots.  Remove your opponent's ability to run from your blades!
 
The same thing applies as early on--don't overmicro these.  You have many more important units to control in the heat of battle.  Let them charge in, and only pull them out if they're being kited and have no chance.
 

Hit and run specialists, the Stalker loses in direct conflict, but wins in all others.

Stalkers


Cost - 125 Minerals, 50 Gas, 2 Psi
Build Time - 42 seconds
Combat Stats - 80 Shields, 80 HP, 1 armor.  Deals 10 damage per hit with +4 bonus versus armored.  Can attack ground or air, moderately fast movement and attack speed.  Attack upgrades only increase the base damage by 1, not bonus. Armored/Mechanical armor types.
 
Early Game - A fast stalker can stop any kind of harass cold.  If you think your Terran opponent is going for Reapers... you need to beeline for a Stalker.  A Stalker is faster than almost every other unit early on.  Rushing for one will prevent you from being harassed, scouted by Overlords, or scouted by workers.
 
With all of the similarities, they are not Dragoons though.  Stalkers will melt when shot at.  Stalkers have no chance of survival against anti-armored targets, even those that are armored themselves.  The bonus to armored simply doesn't cut it compared to an Immortal or Marauder.  There are a few times you can get away with going straight Stalkers early on, but don't press your luck and do it all of the time.  Very few fights early on take place on even ground or on open territory, so you need support fire, and the Stalker's role early is just that.
 
Late Game - While the Stalker might be your mainline unit against air, you do not want to get these against Light armor-type targets.  Banshees will devastate Stalkers unless you have a 2:1 advantage or more.  Mutalisks will win en masse.  Unless you are going purely ground forces, and getting the correlating upgrades, you need to back these up with other forms of anti-air, be they Phoenixes or Void Rays.
 
Blink isn't essential, but if you're going up against some serious speed or harassment, Blink shuts it down very quickly. Be careful when blinking with large groups of Stalkers up cliffs or terrain--some will inevitably get left behind.  You can get around this by using a second control group of Stalkers, holding Shift, issuing a move command to the point you wish to blink from, then queuing up the blink command to the ledge or terrain.  Difficult to do in the heat of battle, but very useful to know.  Blink can be useful when going against heavy air as well by enabling all of your Stalkers to instantly get in firing range!
 
If your opponent is going massive amounts of heavy air, Stalkers are not the answer.  Go Void Rays instead.

If one ability could win you the game, it's now the Sentry's Forcefield rather than Psi Storm.

Sentries


Cost - 50 Minerals, 100 Gas, 2 Psi
Build Time - 42 seconds
Combat Stats - 40 Shields, 40 HP, 1 armor.  6 damage per hit, gaining +1 damage per upgrade.  Can attack ground or air, moderate move speed and attack speed. Light/Mechanical armor types.
 
Early Game - As soon as you can afford to crank a Sentry instead of a Stalker, you should.  Sentries take the Protoss weaknesses and nullify them very well.
 
Most importantly, Protoss are very vulnerable to focused fire and surrounds.  The Forcefield spell will turn an area into a wall, and give your Zealots some room to maneuver back and only attack those in front of them, giving them an extreme edge against Zerglings and Roaches.  Should the enemy decide to fall back, a quick line of force fields will shut that retreat down and enable a complete rout of your opponent.  If pressured, the Sentry can force field your ramp, enabling you to get in position to mount a defense or score some free hits from the upper ground before the engagement.
 
Forcefield can even be used on offense.  Dropping one on a group of units will split them up, and can cut some off from important abilities such as the Guardian Shield of the Sentry.  If you're raiding and the enemy is mounting a defense at their expansion, charge into their main base and drop forcefields on their ramp!   That will give you free reign to kill off their entire worker line and end the game.
 
These can work in tandem with Stalkers to stop any air harassment.  Mutalisks especially are shut down by the Guardian Shield abililty, which reduces all ranged damage by two.  This applies to each bounce and the initial hit, nullifying a lot of the Mutalisk's potency.  That is, if you can keep your Sentries alive long enough to benefit from it...
 
Late Game - Even with the new patch that made Forcefield vulnerable to Massive units, let's take a look at the viability of that
    Thors - Move too slowly, lose too much damage to do it in the middle of a fight.
    Colossi - Aren't in position to crush them usually, since they're abusing cliffwalking
    Ultralisks - ....these are still worthless.
 
So you'll still find plenty of ways to use Forcefields as armies grow massive and more diverse.  If anything, they become even more effective since you can split off and separate that many more units with a couple of casts. 
 
Hallucination deserve special mention for being able to feint entire strategies.  You can make a clone of anything that isn't massive, and you can even make a clone of something you don't even have the ability to build!  Use cloned Phoenixes to scout, cloned Colossi to scare people into building Vikings and Corruptors, and cloned Zealots to add additional meat to your front line.  If they don't have a detector, the AI will shoot at them normally!


Once you've secured both Gas geysers, you can consider going to the high tech Gateway units.  Highly specialized, highly lethal, and with a huge cost to them, they're not units to be taken lightly by you or your enemy.  Going for them will set you back a plethora of resources and time.  All of these have game-ending potency however!
 

Fragile, yet capable of ripping fragile units to pieces.  Guard and cast well, and win.

High Templar


Cost - 50 Minerals, 150 Gas, 2 Psi
Build Time - 55 Seconds - Requires Templar Archives.
Combat Stats - 40 Shields, 40 HP, 0 Armor.  No physical attack.  Fairly slow movement.  Psi Storm has a 4 second cooldown.  Light/Biological/Psionic armor types.
 
Why go for them? - These are the showstopper of killing clusters of ranged units, or softening up charging Zerg hordes.  Understand that going for High Templar is a commitment.  You are not going for any other high tech units more than likely, as most of your gas will be sucked into making Templar. 
 
These can also be used to devastate Corruptors, Thors, and Medivacs--units with Energy that often have too much sitting around.  Feedback is a powerful skill, and greatly underused.  If you're having trouble with Ghosts, Feedback can help prevent the EMPs.  Turning your opponent's energy against them is oh so satisfying.
 
Uses - First of all, when you're warping in or training one of these, you need to immediately start on researching Psionic Storm.  This means you'll need 350 gas to start a High Templar and the research, and the research takes quite a while.  It's highly recommended that you Chronoboost it so that your Templar are armed upon spawning.
 
As for the other upgrade that increases their energy when trained?  This largely depends on your use of Warp Gates.  If you're using proxy pylons to summon Templar directly to the front lines, you'll need this upgrade to give them the ability to cast on arrival.  They normally spawn with 50 energy, and this will give them 75 for an instant Storm upon arrival.
 
You might think that "oh, my opponent will just move his forces!" Well, guess what.  If they're moving, they're not firing!  And you'll still catch them with a little bit of the damage anyway, so let rip!  It only takes a little over a second to melt a pack of Marines.  Fire and forget.  Unless you're clicking blindly, the worst you'll do is catch your Zealots with a little bit of it.  Remember to aim at the shadows of air units!  The targeting reticule is deceiving.
 

Dark Templar demolish anything in a fair fight.  Unfortunately, there is no such thing to Dark Templar.

Dark Templar


Cost - 125 Minerals, 125 Gas, 2 Psi
Build Time - 55 Seconds - Requires Dark Shrine
Combat Stats - 80 Shields, 40 HP, 1 Armor.  45 damage per hit, +5 damage per upgrade.  Medium attack speed, moderate movement speed.  Can only attack ground units.  Permanently cloaked, even while attacking.  Light/Biological/Psionic armor types.
 
Why go for them? - Dark Templar are a shock troop unit that can make or break a game, along the lines of an early Reaper harass build.  They will one shot Zerglings, Marines with no combat shields, and workers.  Most importantly, they attack fairly quickly for doing such high damage.  Your goal when using these is to cause so much damage that you never lose the advantage from there.
 
A Dark Shrine takes an eternity to warp in--almost 2 minutes!   You must hide it well though, if an overlord or Scanner Sweep picks up that it's building, they will be ready for your stealth warriors by the time they hit the field.  Rushing Dark Templar is pretty much an all-in strategy due to how many resources are taken up by the technology needed for them, and the cost of the units themselves.  This further proves that you, above all else, must prevent it from being scouted.  You can hide it at an expansion on the other side of the map even.
 
If a Dark Templar makes it to the worker line of your opponent and isn't noticed quickly, the game can be over.
 
Uses - Dark Templar rip apart any unit that they can get their hands on.  Once the initial shock and awe of the Dark Templar rush is over, putting a few in your army can catch opponents off guard as they forego mobile detection, or as so many Zergs often do, forget to bring an Overseer with their army entirely.  Be careful about splash damage though, as Hellions, Siege Tanks, and Colossi can melt your Dark Templar without even being able to see them!
 
You can even use Dark Templar as Observers, setting them on patrol routes between the expansions you expect your opponent to go for next.  This will give you sight and force a cancellation, and alert you that your opponent is trying to expand and that you should stop him!
 
If the front door is blocked, a Warp Prism can change that!
 

Power... underwhelming?   Archons are very rarely seen for a reason.

Archons

Cost - 100 Minerals, 300 Gas, 4 Psi or 250 Minerals, 250 Gas, 4 Psi
Build Time - 17 Seconds to merge
Combat Stats - 350 Shields, 10 HP, 0 Armor.  25 damage attack with +10 bonus against any biological units.  Gains 2 attack base, 1 attack versus Biological per upgrade.  Only has the Psionic armor type.
 
Why go for them? - Archons are what you build when your current Templar are no longer worthwhile.  If the enemy is rolling with Missile turrets everywhere and 3 Ravens, you might as well turn Dark Templar into Archons, and the same goes for High Templar with no energy in the heat of battle.  Unlike the other large units of StarCraft II, the Archon has no weaknesses and the only bonus against Biological in the game.
 
Uses - The main use of Archons is in Protoss versus Zerg situations.  Unless they're packing a large concentration of Hydralisks, you can get some good use out of Archons.  Archons have a bonus against all things Zerg, and with their splash damage, make short work of two main weapons of Zerg--Zerglings and Mutalisks.  Much like the first game, their splash damage will devastate the clusters of these tiny units.  Position them carefully with a screen of Zealots to ensure they're not surrounded and taken out before they can turn the ground red with Zerg blood.
 
Unfortunately, their short range and limited mobility in a fight leaves much to be desired when fighting Protoss or Terran.  Terran especially have no problem dropping an Archon before it reaches them.  In these cases, you might as well save your Templar to live and strike another day, rather than throw their souls together, and into the line of Marines and Tanks afterwards.
 
Note that EMP removes stealth from those units hit.  If you're quick, you can reveal Dark Templar and kill them before they can reach you, and pick off Observers as they try to stay with your army or scout your base.
 
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