The Protoss air units are unique in that they serve a major threat to
those they're not designed to fight as well as demolish those they
are. Sporting both the quickest and slowest units in the
skies, the Protoss fleet is not to be underestimated anymore.
Gone are the Scouts that were laughed at and used as humiliation tools
in the first game. The new Protoss air designs are slick,
stylish, and above all else, lethal. What goes up... is not going
down in one piece if the Phoenix has any say in the matter.
What goes up... is not going down in one piece if the Phoenix has any say in the matter.
Cost - 150 Minerals, 100 Gas, 2 Psi
Build Time - 45 seconds
Combat Stats - 60 Shields, 120 HP, 1 Armor. Light/Mechanical armor types. Can only shoot other air units. Deals 5 damage per shot, +5 damage versus light units, and shoots twice per attack. May attack while moving, and is the fastest air unit in the game. 5 range.
Early Game - A fast Phoenix can scout your opponent with little to no risk whatsoever. Chronoboosting one out can give you all of the intel you need, including if you should stop Phoenix production and switch to another tech path. Since using hallucination to create Phoenixes to scout with is a common tactic, unless your opponent is watching the unit very carefully, they will not be able to tell if it's real or fake.
Once you hit three, you can begin harassing. Scour the map and look for stragglers, scouts, and Overlords. Liberal use of the Graviton Beam to pick up anything that can't shoot back, or pick up the only unit that CAN shoot back in some cases, can give you an advantage. Little by little, focus on picking everything off that is undefended.
Don't forget to build during all of this. Phoenix harassment is very intense on your concentration and micromanagement, but you need to keep production up to ensure that your advantage isn't short lived.
If you get an opportunity with at least 3 Phoenixes, you can go for a Queen at a Zerg base. The loss of a Queen is huge to Zerg production, and can be instrumental to your victory. Once that's done, or if it's another race, pick up workers as fast as you can. Three volleys from one phoenix destroy a worker, so if you have 4 Phoenixes, you can kill about one worker every second. Get in and get out though when the cavalry arrives!
Late Game - These are your Mutalisk slayers. Use your ability to hit and run and out-range them, and try to get in free shots while retreating and circling your foes. So long as you're not outdone in upgrades, Phoenixes will dominate any light units in the skies effortlessly. Should you see Corruptors on the field, unless you're ahead on weapon upgrades you'll need to switch it up to Void Rays to do effective damage--the Phoenix attack suffers greatly against armor since it hits twice.
For that reason, never use these to fight any capital ships. Void Rays get a huge bonus against armored units, which all of them are. Your Phoenixes are your fly swatters, and your Void Rays the hammer of justice against the big boys.
If the skies are clear and the fight rages on, pick up anything and everything you can. Remember that a unit in the sky isn't shooting anyone, even if you have no Phoenixes nearby to take advantage of it!
An uncharged Void Ray is pathetic. A charged Void Ray means retreat.
Cost - 250 Minerals, 150 Gas, 3 Psi
Build Time - 60 Seconds
Combat Stats - 100 Shields, 150 HP, 0 armor. Armored/Mechanical armor types. Can shoot ground or air. 6 Range.
Unfocused Beam - 5 damage per hit, +1 per upgrade. If it stays focused on a target, it charges up.
Charged Beam - 10 damage per hit, +15 vs. armored, +1 per upgrade. Retains charge when switching targets so long as it doesn't stop firing for more than a couple seconds.
Early Game - The Zerg in particular can have trouble with a fast Void Ray. A Void Ray will kill a Queen 1v1, and the Zerg have no other weapons against Air until the Lair units. Rushing for one can end the game in short order. If there are two Queens and two Void Rays, the Queens can heal each other if they have spare energy, and defeat the Rays.
These are highly effective at sniping buildings near cliffs. Most anti-air shares the same range, and as such, cannot group up for an effective counter attack. Harass enemy Refineries and supply units/structures if you get the chance. If you want to kill workers, you should have went for Phoenixes.
If you can charge up on a nearby unit or structure, you can tear apart anti-air defenses in seconds. If you have to charge up on the structure itself, the anti-air will win. Keep this in mind when you're raiding.
Late Game - These are the main anti-air units you have. If it's Armored it will melt to your beams once they charge up--the key is making sure they charge. You may have to spread out your firing between targets or by using an attack move command to get them all to focus on separate targets while they charge. Once charged, focusing capital ships will make them burn in literally 1-2 seconds. The main problem you have to be wary of at this point is how frail the Ray itself is. Sporting no armor, it can be dropped quickly by Marines or Carrier interceptors as a result.
The speed upgrade is a luxury upgrade. If you're going to go Rays all game and possibly throw in something requiring a Fleet Beacon, go for it. Otherwise, the normal speed of the Ray isn't half bad.
You know you have enough
Carriers when people start lagging out when you attack.
CarriersCost - 350 Minerals, 250 Gas, 6 Psi
Build Time - 120 Seconds
Combat Stats - 150 Shields, 300 HP, 2 armor. Armored/Mechanical/Massive armor types. Can shoot ground or air. 8 Range.
Deploys interceptors -- starts with 4, maximum 8. Costs 25 minerals per extra interceptor built. Each interceptor does 5 damage per hit in a 2 shot barrage.
Late Game - The Carrier is an extremely vulnerable game-ender of a unit. You have to play these, and then go on to win in only a minute or two. The counters to these are very, very strong.
Keeping up with your weapon and armor upgrades is imperative if you plan on going to Carriers. Even shields could prove useful. The less often an interceptor has to return for repairs, the more often it's shooting your opponents! If the upgrade gap favors your opponent, especially with Marine mobs, your interceptors could all be shot down before they do any real damage. You might keep the carrier, but you'll have to blow 200 minerals to restock it with attackers!
Hit and run tactics are very effective with these. Make use of the terrain and keep the Carrier out of harm's way. Once the interceptors are deployed, the Carrier is free to move about. Keep them mobile and hidden when possible to increase their survivability. Carriers are much like Colossi in that they are powerhouses that are easily countered, but can win you the game in short order if not countered.
Be very, very careful of Infestors. They can mind control your Carrier before you can get into acquisition range for your interceptors. Quickly dispatch of the Infestor if this happens, before your forces end up killing each other!