HotS Protoss Build Orders

(Update: check out my updated guide for playing Protoss for the maintained version of this post)

I mentioned I was compiling a list of basic Heart of the Swarm (HotS) Protoss builds as a gift, and I think I have a decent set of them. They’re all safe, basic builds to explore how Protoss flows. They’re tested, but they aren’t completely optimized, so take this as a starting point for own play. Feel free to critique as well: I’m happy to maintain and update this post.

So the basic set of builds I think a Protoss player should have, from safest to riskiest, are:

  • 3 Gate Expand
  • 1 Gate Robo
  • 1 Gate Expand
  • Blink Stalker
  • Stargate
  • Forge Fast Expand (FFE)

If you’re unfamiliar with how build orders are usually written out, here’s a quick guide:

  1. Unless noted otherwise, you should be building probes continuously
  2. The numbers before the unit/building is what supply you should be at, not how many of those to build. For example, “9 Pylon” happens when you’re 9th probe is building, and it says “9/10” in the upper right
  3. Earlier pylons are noted in the build. Later pylon timings are left off and should be built maybe 4ish supply before you are supply blocked

Let’s start with a standard Protoss opening that is the starting point for almost builds:

Standard Protoss Opening

  • 9 Pylon (you won’t have enough minerals for your 10th probe immediately, but that’s okay)
  • 11 Chronoboost probes
  • 13 Chronoboost probes
  • 13 Gateway (scout around here)
  • 15 Assimilator (3 in gas)
  • 16 Pylon
  • 17 Cybernetics Core

From here, you can go 3 Gate, 4 Gate, Robo, etc. For example, your 3 Gate expand is the standard safe build, where you start with 3 Gateways, then take your natural expansion. This is maybe more useful for PvP, but in my mind, it’s strictly for team games. Everyone is obsessed with 6-7 minute attacks, so this should get you in a good spot to be ready for that, but also to set you up for the mid game.

3 Gate Expand

  • Standard opening
  • 18 Zealot
  • 21 Assimilator (you don’t have to put 6 probes in gas yet; use your judgment)
  • 23 Warpgate
  • 23 Stalker (Chronoboost)
  • 26 Mothership Core
  • 30 Stalker
  • 31 Gateway Gateway
  • 37ish Nexus

For the 1 Gate Robo, you can build the Robotics Facility just before the Mothership Core (MsC). The MsC builds quickly, especially with a Chronoboost. This build may be outdated because the Observer for scouting can be replaced with the MsC and free hallucinations, but the build is still useful in PvP against Blink Stalkers.

1 Gate Robo

  • Standard opening
  • 18 Zealot
  • 21 Assimilator
  • 22 Warpgate
  • 22 Stalker (Chronoboost)
  • 26 Robotics Facility
  • 28 Mothership Core
  • either another 2 Gateways or a Nexus, depending on the scout
  • 5:20ish Observer when the Robo is done

The 1 Gate Expand is from itsgosu and is used in PvT (and PvZ if you don’t want to FFE). You can 1 Gate Expand out of the same opening as the 3 Gate expand (up to the Msc), but the optimizations here are valuable and demonstrate how to refine a build. Note the very aggressive poke with the first 3 units: it’s a little odd but possibly valuable.

1 Gate Expand

  • Standard opening
  • 18 Zealot (rallied to enemy)
  • 22 Stalker (Chronoboost)
  • Mothership Core
  • 4:20 Nexus
  • Warpgate
  • Second Assimilator
  • Follow the guide (either air or Zealot/Archon)

Now things start to get real. The Blink Stalker and Stargate openings are both 1 base openings and mainly used in PvP. Admittedly, neither of these builds are perfectly optimized, but I wrote them up to be safe and easy. The Blink Stalker build starts out with a 3 Stalker rush and should get you ready for a 8-8:30 attack.

PvP Blink Stalker

  • Standard opening
  • 18 Assimilator (3 in gas)
  • 20 Gateway, Stalker, Warpgate
  • 25 Mothership Core
  • 26 Stalker Stalker (pressure with the Stalkers and MsC. Halt probe production around here if you’re all-in)
  • 30 Twilight Council, Stalker Stalker
  • 34 Gateway
  • 37 Blink

Remember when I said that these builds would be easy? Well, the Stargate build is identical, except you get a Stargate instead of a Twilight Council. From that, you can go into either Phoenix or Oracle. Either way, you can do it off of 1 Stargate and just chronoboost the units out.

PvP Stargate

  • Standard opening
  • 18 Assimilator (3 in gas)
  • 20 Gateway, Stalker, Warpgate
  • 25 Mothership Core
  • 26 Stalker Stalker (you can cut these for an earlier Stargate, too)
  • 30 Stargate

Finally, a Forge Fast Expand (FFE). This is exclusively for PvZ. To see how it works, I recommend you watch Apollo work through a FFE. Really, the only twist with HotS is that the MsC is an amazing defensive unit, so you should get that ASAP if youp’re worried about all-ins. (for a more efficient take on this build, see Gemini_19’s comment)

Forge Fast Expand

  • 9 Pylon at the low ground (after building, send the Probe to scout, then leave at natural to watch for an expo)
  • 11 Chronoboost
  • 13 Chronoboost
  • 14 Forge (wall)
  • 16 Nexus (halt probe production here)
  • 16 Cannon
  • 16 Gateway (wall; finish the wall with a probe on hold position)
  • 17 Pylon
  • 19 Assimilator, Assimilator
  • 20 Cybernetics Core, Zealot (Zealot first if you’re really scared)
  • 28 Mothership Core, Stalker, Warp Gate (when Core completes)

So overall, things should feel very similar to WoL, where we’re just tacking the MsC on after Warpgate and Stalker. Hopefully, this is a good starting point for your own builds, which you can optimize and refine to your own playstyle.

Again, I’m open to any feedback you have. Since this is targeted to newer players, I’m also happy to give more details about the motivations and goals of various builds.

A few EGHuK PvP builds from his stream

I was watching a bit of HuK (go watch and support him!) tonight because I’m putting together a set of Protoss build orders as a gift. I was writing down his builds as they were happening, and though it ultimately wasn’t that useful for me (I’m looking for HotS builds), maybe it’ll be useful for you.

In the first game, he used a sentry drop to block the ramp into the natural, busted the bunker, forced a lift of the CC. I think he ended up winning

Game 1: PvT on Akilon Flats

  • Standard protoss opening
  • 19 Stalker
  • 23 Nexus
  • 24 Assimilator
  • 25 Stalker
  • 27-29 Robo
  • 31 Sentry
  • More sentries in-between
  • 38 Warp prism
  • 40 Gate, Gate
  • 42 Gate
  • 47 Gate Gate
  • Attack

In game 2, he went for a Stalker/Phoenix push. He straight up lost to an expand-DT build

Game 2, PvP on Entombed Valley

  • 16 Assimilator
  • 19 Gateway
  • 19 Stalker
  • 23 Stalker, Stalker
  • 29 Stargate
  • 34 forward Pylon
  • (has 5 Stalkers at this point)
  • 37 Phoenix

In game 3, he goes for a similar build. This time, it works, but mostly on the strength of some good Stalker micro early on while “chat cheating” his opponent.

Game 3, PvP, also Entombed Valley

  • 15 Pylon
  • 17 2nd Assimilator
  • 18 Gateway
  • 19 Stalker
  • 23 Stalker Stalker
  • More stalkers; I’m guessing he cut probe production around here
  • 33 Stargate
  • 35 forward Pylon

Game 4 was a rematch. This time, his opponent goes 1 gate robo expand and manages to defend the Stalker rush. HuK tries for a Sentry drop in the main to block the ramp, but it fails.

Game 4, PvP on Daybreak

  • 14 double Assimilator
  • 16 Pylon
  • 17 Core
  • 19 Gateway
  • 20 Stalker
  • 24 Stalker Stalker (cutting probes?)
  • 28 Stalker
  • 31 Robo (for Warp Prism)
  • 31 Gate

So the 2 strategies for the evening were apparently a Sentry drop (forcefielding the ramp) and a Stalker-Phoenix push. Both are extremely aggressive and depend on HuK controlling better than his opponent.

Let me know if you want more details on the builds. I just kind of figured that the opening and pylon/probe timings should be easy enough to figure out.

Anyways, if you guys have any references on HotS Protoss builds or favorite streamers, feel free to comment. I’ll be playing around with things myself to get a good set of simple, safe HotS builds. I’ll probably post those when I have that figured out because a quick Google search revealed nothing helpful.