Early game aggression in PvT

I have been watching Apollo and Artosis for Protoss recently, and they both play a defensive, reactive style. They open with a 1 Gate Expand, maybe do some Oracle harass, then transition into a Colossus-focused army for a fight in the 10 to 15 minute range.

I think Terran players have been getting greedy in the meantime. Specifically, Terran can go for a 1 Rax Expand and get whatever they want. Maybe that’s really fast Stim and Starport for Marine drops, or maybe there are Widow Mine drops. Behind this, they’re getting +1/+1 because they feel safe behind one bunker and the knowledge that as long as there’s a Missile Turret to prevent DTs, they will be okay.

Okay, maybe not all Terran players play like this, but I certainly do. And as Protoss, I would like to apply some pressure. My current favorites to watch aren’t doing it, but there is one guy who will: EGHuK. I have watched a few of his games, and it’s a mixed bag. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but he’s willing to march up a ramp early and punish Terran players who just have Marines. Here are 2 builds I wrote down. As a disclaimer, he fizzled and lost both of these games.

EGHuK PvT on Whirlwind, laddering

  • 9 Pylon (no scout)
  • 13 Gateway
  • 15 Assimilator (2 in gas)
  • 16 Assimilator (2 in gas)
  • 16 Pylon
  • 17 Cybernetics Core
  • 20 Warpgate, Stalker (chrono)
  • 24 Pylon
  • 24 Nexus (3 in each gas)
  • 24 Mothership Core
  • 27 Stalker
  • 29 Robo
  • 31 Gateway x2
  • 3 Observers, constants Stalkers
  • 36 lots of Obs, Stalkers
  • 61 Assimilator x2
  • Stalker pressure
  • transition into immortal
  • tries to punish terran greediness

Here’s the 2nd game.

EGHuK PvT on Neoplanet, Laddering

  • 9 Pylon
  • 12 Gateway
  • 15 Assimilator x2 (none in gas yet)
  • 16 Pylon
  • 17 Cybernetics Core (2 in each gas)
  • 20 Warpgate, Gateway
  • 23 Pylon
  • 23 Nexus (3 in gas)
  • 26 Mothership Core
  • Stalker
  • 34 5:40 Gateway x3
  • 6:40 Robotoics
  • 10:00 Stalker Heavy push (fail), 4 Zealots, 2 Sentry
  • 11:30 Gateway x2, Twilight Council

A few things to note here.

First, HuK does a slightly different opening to get to his Nexus. Specifically, he builds the Assimilators early so he’s gas-ready for Stalker/Warpgate/Mothership Core, but he doesn’t get all of his workers in there so he can get the Nexus out faster. It probably also helps that it isn’t really a tell for what sort of build he’s doing based on his gas timings.

Second, he can pressure off of 3 or 4 Gateways. As Terran, I was always worried about the 6-7 Gateway attacks, and scouting that would immediately trigger my defensive instincts. If you stay on top of your macro, though, you can give a good scare with a lot of Stalkers from 3 or 4 Gateways. You don’t have to wait for Robo.

Third, I admit that this isn’t as good as it used to be. Since Siege Tanks no longer require the upgrade, there isn’t that same pre-siege window for attack. Tanks on the high ground raining upon the natural can be brutal.

So consider it. It’s tempting to wait for Colossi, but I think things just get more exciting with early aggression. And if things go poorly, you can always Recall out.

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