Apollo’s HotS Terran TvP

You all know how much I love Apollo’s tutorials, where he plays 4 hours with each race starting from bronze. He usually shows 1 or 2 builds for each race and focuses on safe, reactive, macro play. Well, he’s back with HotS tutorials, and he’s started with Terran.

The games are unfortunately wacky, so there’s not too much to learn from them. I’ll probably post again when he finishes the series, but I’m excited to share.

Terran versus Terran

In TvT, he starts with a Reaper-Expand opening. The early Reaper is mostly for scouting, but you can kill SCVs if the Terran player reacts slowly. Notably, there is no longer a SCV scout, so you should focus on scouting with that Reaper. In the early game, the big dangers are 1) Proxy 2 Rax (where they build 2 Barracks near your base and attack in the first few minutes) and 2) drops (Hellion, Hellbats, Widow Mines). If you can get through that, then you can focus on a normal Marine/Tank army.

He didn’t get through his build without disruption, but here’s the start:

  • 10 Supply Depot
  • 12 Barracks (at ramp)
  • 12 Refinery (delay next SCV slightly)
  • 15 Orbital Command, Supply Depot (at ramp), Reaper (scout)
  • 18 Reactor (Marine x2 when ready)
  • 19 Command Center (in-base)
  • 20 Factory
  • 21 Marine x2
  • 24 Marine x2
  • 27 Starport, Hellion x2, Swap, Orbital Command

Actually, he kind of got through the build the first time, but I disliked it so much, I assumed that he did something wrong.

Terran versus Zerg

In TvZ, he again uses a Reaper-Expand opening. Scouting is more critical since Zerg all-ins can come at any time. By walling at your ramp, you should be able to block any early Zergling aggression, especially since Reapers can outrun Zerglings. With a quick Factory and Reactor, you can get out 4 Hellions for harassing and scouting, then switch into Widow Mines for defense.

We have another abbreviated build for this matchup, though it should look identical to TvT

  • 10 Supply Depot
  • 12 Barracks (at ramp)
  • 12 Refinery (delay next SCV slightly)
  • 15 Orbital Command, Supply Depot (at ramp), Reaper (scout)
  • 18 Reactor (Marine x2 when ready)
  • 19 Command Center (in-base)
  • 20 Factory

Terran versus Protoss

TvP is also a Reaper-Expand, except he follows up with more Barracks instead of the Factory. I would explain more, but he actually through his build, and it should be pretty self-explanatory.

Apollo’s standard HotS TvP

  • 10 Supply Depot (at ramp)
  • 12 Barracks (at ramp)
  • 12 Refinery (delay next SCV slightly)
  • 15 Orbital Command, Supply Depot (at ramp), Reaper (scout)
  • 18 Reactor (Marine x2 when ready)
  • 19 Command Center (in-base)
  • (sees wall at ramp, cannon)
  • 24 Barracks x2
  • 27 Bunker (at natural)
  • 30 Orbital Command
  • 30 Supply Depot
  • 33 Tech Lab x2
  • 35 Stimpack, Marauder x2 (continuous)
  • 53 7:30 Refinery x2, Factory (reactor), Engineering Bay
  • 8:00 Combat Shields
  • 8:30 +1 attack
  • sees Twilight Council
  • 9:00 Turret at front, Starport
  • 9:45 Concussive Shells
  • 10:00 Swap Factory Reactor, Medivac x2 (continuous)
  • 10:15 Refinery
  • 10:30 Command Center (in-base)
  • 11:30 Barracks x3
  • 12:30 Engineering Bay, Armory, Attack


Since I actually play (and get crushed as) Terran nowadays, I have stronger opinions and totally plan on writing that guide later this week. To be honest, though, most of my StarCraft attention is currently focused on spawningtool, which continues to go well. Currently, it’s really focused on build orders, and a cursory glance at this blog should explain that obsession. Keep an eye out for development there!

Summary of Apollo’s Protoss Tutorials REVAMPED

As much as I love Zerg, I need to spend more time understanding Protoss, and Apollo’s tutorials REVAMPED from a few months ago provides a solid framework for Protoss. Similar to his Zerg style, he depends on reactive, macro-based play. Given that, it’s harder to summarize the late game, but I did write up his build orders, and they should give you a sense for the different matchups.

Note that these builds are from Wings of Liberty, so they are slightly out of date. Primarily, the Mothership Core should come down somewhere in these builds, but I’m not exactly sure when.

Protoss versus Protoss

Ah, PvP: the most aggressive matchup. Apollo says there are 4 ways to play PvP:

  1. Robo
  2. Stargate
  3. DT
  4. Blink

The safest of the 3 is 1 Gate Robo, so let’s start with that:

Apollo’s PvP 1 Gate Robo

  • 9 Pylon (scout)
  • 11 Chronoboost
  • 13 Gateway
  • 13 Chronoboost
  • 15 Assimilator
  • 17 Pylon
  • 18 Cybernetics Core
  • 19 Zealot
  • 22 Assimilator
  • 23 Warpgate, Stalker
  • 25 Pylon
  • 26 Robotics Facility (after clearing scouting)
  • 27 Sentry (cut Probes)
  • 29 Observer
  • Gateway x2 OR Nexus
  • Immortal

Notes on the build:

  1. Use your first Stalker to kill any scouting Probes before putting down the Robotics Facility
  2. Cut Probes around 28ish supply until you get your 2nd base up. That is pretty good mineral saturation, and you might need the minerals in other places
  3. Depending on what you see, you can go up to 3 Gateways or Nexus at around the 6:00 mark. If you decide to go 3 Gate, the Nexus will come around 8:00
  4. In WoL, Protoss late game was just Colossi with some Archons mixed in to tank damage, so this is what Apollo continues to (Robotics Support Bay coming in before 10:00). Skytoss is much better in HotS, so you probably need a better mix

The only other build he showed off was a Stargate opening, which is perhaps more interesting in HotS:

Apollo’s PvP Stargate Opening

  • 9 Pylon (scout)
  • 11 Chronoboost
  • 13 Gateway
  • 13 Chronoboost
  • 15 Assimilator
  • 16 Pylon
  • 18 Cybernetics Core
  • 19 Assimilator
  • 20 Zealot
  • 23 Warpgate
  • 24 Sentry
  • 25 Pylon
  • 27 4:30 Stargate
  • 29 Robotics Facility, Gateway (cut probes)
  • 29 Phoenix (chrono, attack with 2, get 4 total)
  • 35 6:30 Nexus
  • 39 Observer
  • 7:30 Gateway
  • 8:45 Gateway
  • 10:15 Robotics Support Bay


  1. Chronoboost all of your Phoenix. Attack when you have 2 and max out at 4 Phoenix total
  2. Again, Apollo transitions into Robo because Colossi was PvP late game. You can stick with Skytoss if you like.

Protoss versus Zerg

PvZ is the matchup I dislike the most. Protoss is pretty much required to fast expand, and it’s difficult to get aggression going early in the game. Like the other matchups, Apollo likes aiming for Colossi.

There are so many ways to do fast expands, but you can probably get away with 2 variations: Nexus first and Forge Fast Expand (FFE). I’ll present them together, and the notes will apply to both:

Apollo’s PvZ Nexus First

  • 9 Pylon at wall (Scout)
  • 11 Chronoboost
  • 13 Chronoboost
  • 16 Nexus
  • 16 Forge
  • 16 Pylon
  • 20 Cannon
  • 21 Assimliator x2
  • 26 Cybernetics Core
  • 28 Zealot
  • 32 +1 Attack upgrade (with first 100 gas)
  • Warpgate
  • 6:30 Gateway x3
  • 7:10 Assimilator x2
  • Robotics Facility

And then the safer FFE

Apollo’s PvZ Forge Fast Expand (FFE)

  • 9 Pylon at wall (Scout)
  • 11 Chronoboost
  • 13 Chronoboost
  • 14 Forge
  • 16 Nexus
  • 16 Cannon
  • 16 Pylon
  • 17 Gateway
  • 20 Assimilator x 2
  • Cybernetics Core

Some notes on these builds:

  1. If you’re only going to know 1, know the FFE. As you progress, however, you should be flexible in using both builds depending on the scout. If it’s anything earlier than a 14 Pool, go FFE. Otherwise, go Nexus first.
  2. You can send your 8th Probe down to the natural area to build the wall at 9 Supply. Learn how to wall in on all of the maps: it’s subtly different
  3. React if the Zerg pressures early. Don’t be afraid to build an extra Gateway to complete a wall.
  4. The rest of Apollo’s strategy is Colossus Double Forge

Protoss versus Terran

This matchup has also changed as everything new is a bummer for Protoss: Reapers can be annoying if you don’t get your Stalker quickly, Medivac speed boost will tear you apart, and Spider Mines can get a good pop on your slower units. Despite that, Apollo’s guide is still solid. He goes for a “reactive Colossus double Forge” style, using Archons, Zealot, and High Templar in the late game while getting lots of Robotics Facilities up for an easy tech switch. To get there, he uses a 1 Gate Expand into Robo. It’s usually safe enough. He plays the prototypical game at this point in the video, so watch it for almost exactly the build below.

Apollo’s PvT 1 Gate Expand

  • 9 Pylon (scout)
  • 11 Chronoboost
  • 13 Gateway
  • 13 Chronoboost
  • 15 Assimilator
  • 16 Pylon
  • 18 Core
  • 18 Zealot (rallied across the map)
  • 23 Warpgate, Stalker
  • 23 Pylon
  • 25 Stalker
  • 27 4:50 Nexus
  • 31 5:20 Assimilator
  • Pylon
  • 34 6:00 Robo
  • 6:30 Gateway x2
  • 7:00 Assimilator x2
  • Observer
  • 7:30 Robo Bay
  • 60 8:40 Colossus, Double Forge
  • Thermal Lance
  • 9:30 +1/+1 upgrades
  • 10:30 Gateway x3
  • Twilight Council
  • 12:30 3rd Nexus (timed with your opponent’s)
  • 110 13:00 Templar Archives
  • Zealot Charge
  • 15:00 Gateway x6

And the last bunch of notes:

  1. The 9 Scout is key because Terran players will wall off and keep you out of their base. It’s very important to see if they have taken their gas and will 1 Rax gasless expand or whether you should consider anything else coming from them
  2. The Zealot and 2 Stalkers should poke early, so send the slow Zealot across first. This poke is probably replaced with a Zealot/Stalker/MsC poke in HotS, but either way, it’s important for scouting, and you may even do some significant damage.
  3. The Twilight Council may need to be earlier nowadays for Blink to deal with Medivac boost


Like in the Zerg tutorials, Apollo goes for a safe, reactive, macro-oriented style. It appears that he really likes Colossi compositions, so all of his builds move towards that. I’ll likely be going over some Artosis footage soon since he’s so good at commentary during his games, and that will be a good complement to this piece. Still, these builds are pretty standard through about 30 supply, so definitely try them out.

Summary of Apollo’s Zerg Tutorials REVAMPED

A year and a half ago, Apollo (AKA dApollo back then) posted the Working up from Bronze League tutorial videos, which I previously covered. A few months ago, he posted an updated version of “Tutorials REVAMPED” for changes in the game over that year. Although the game has changed again with the release of HotS, his style and basic builds are still sound. Since I have been focusing a lot on openings recently, I thought I would post  the build orders he’s using, his thoughts on reacting to various things, and how these might have changed with the release of HotS.

Zerg versus Protoss (or Random)

Let’s start with the basic build:

Apollo’s standard ZvP (Oct 2012)

  • 9 Overlord (to natural)
  • 12th Drone Scout
  • 15 Spawning Pool (for cannon rush)
  • 15 Hatchery (send @ 200 mins)
  • 14 Queen
  • 16 Zergling x2
  • 18 Overlord
  • 4:20 3rd Hatchery
  • 6:00 Extractor x2 (scout for natural gas)
  • 7:00 Roach, Evolution Chamber, Extractor x2
  • +1 Missile Attack, Lair
  • Macro Hatchery

A few notes here:

  1. Your first Overlord goes to scout and should hang out for future scouting.
  2. The Overlord on 9 goes to the natural to watch for a cannon rush.
  3. 12th Drone scouts means that 1 of the 2 Drones you build after your Overlord finishes should scout
  4. Apollo goes Pool first so that he isn’t screwed by a Pylon block, but if you don’t see a Probe scout, you can go Hatch first if you want
  5. If you get Pylon blocked at your natural, build your 3rd Overlord immediately, then move to build your first expansion at your 3rd base instead. Also bring an Overlord in case of a cannon rush there
  6. If you don’t see a fast expand from the Protoss when you scout, then you don’t need to get your third. As usual, stay 1 base ahead of your opponent
  7. If your opponent does cannon rush you, you can delay the 6:00 and 7:00 timings by maybe 30 seconds
  8. At 6:00, send the waiting Overlord in to look for Assimilators at the natural. If any are taken, then they are teching, not all-in.

Overall, this build is still mostly valid against Protoss in HotS as well. A few thoughts on this:

  1. The new, early threat from Protoss in HotS is the Mothership Core. Because it is an air unit, have a Queen at all bases and target it as necessary
  2. Protoss may also be more willing to poke early because the MsC can Recall the units out. As such, be prepared for light pressure, but don’t freak out
  3. There will probably be more Stargate openings from Protoss since that is also now a viable midgame strategy (and because people like new, shiny things).

Zerg versus Terran

Apollo’s ZvT is a little squishier, mainly because he’s much more reactive here, but the basic idea is Hatchery first and 4 Queens:

Apollo’s standard ZvT (Oct 2012)

  • 9 Overlord (to natural)
  • 12th Drone scout
  • 15 Hatchery
  • 15 Spawning Pool
  • 16 Overlord
  • 17 Queen
  • 19 Queen
  • Zerglings if you need them
  • Queen
  • 4:00 Gas
  • Queen
  • 5:30 Zergling Speed
  • 8:00 Evolution Chamber x2, Assimilator x2

Since this one is less-defined, let me explain more:

  1. The Overlord on 9 goes to the natural to watch for Bunker rushes.
  2. The Drone scout looks around for proxy 2 Rax. If you see it in time, go for the Spawning Pool
  3. 4 Queens is important because the primary threats from Terran are Hellions and Banshees, both of which Queens can deal with effectively
  4. If you see Terran go CC first, you can open 3 Hatch (like in ZvP) to stay one base ahead.

The openings here have changed more significantly with HotS. Specifically,

  1. Fear the Reaper! Apollo was worried about 2 Rax; you should worry about Reaper openings. Because Reapers are so dang fast, Terran players are more likely to build the Barracks at their ramp and race the Reaper across, so just scout for that. If you see an early Refinery, you should prepare yourself for Reapers. 
  2. Given the early Reaper play, I’m a fan of earlier gas, similar to what IdrA does. He sandwiches it around 18 supply when you’re waiting on Overlords.
  3. Also be careful of Widow Mines. They’re scary, and Terran players may use them to block your 3rd base. I’m not sure whether this requires a reaction, but just be aware.

Zerg versus Zerg

The build:

Apollo’s Standard, Safe ZvZ (Oct 2012)

  • 9 Overlord (scout)
  • 12th Drone Scout
  • 15 Spawning Pool
  • 15 Hatchery
  • 14 Queen
  • 16 Zergling x2 (can be Drones if you see no threat)
  • 18 Overlord
  • 18 Gas (can delay if they haven’t taken gas)
  • 19 Queen
  • 22 Queen
  • 25 Overlord
  • ~4:40-5:00 Zergling Speed (or @100 gas)
  • Baneling Nest at Natural (or @ next 50 gas)
  • Spine Crawler (if you feel threatened)
  • Lair (when you have the gas)
  • 6:30 – 7:15 rest of your gases
  • Roach Warren
  • Evo Chamber
  • 10:00 3rd base

Again, some notes:

  1. Unlike the other matchups, you can send all of your Overlords out to scout. Specifically, you should form a line of Overlords between your bases since Zerg can’t shoot them down early
  2. After you get your Baneling Nest, the rest is somewhat flexible, and what’s above is a rough guide. Apollo isn’t very aggressive with his Zerglings, but if they are, you should have an Overlord outside their base to see it coming, and you can morph Banelings for defense
  3. Apollo does mention that he himself is willing to go Hatchery first, but probably just because he’s a boss at StarCraft. Pool first is safer since Zergling rushes do happen.

Fortunately, HotS hasn’t really changed ZvZ openings much. The important thing to note is that currently, midgame ZvZ is all about Mutalisks. Now that Mutalisks are faster (and Fungal Growth is a projectile, and therefore harder to land), the midgame is just having a better Mutalisk count and destroying your opponent. As such, you should get gas earlier since that is the limiting factor in your Mutalisk count.


You should watch Apollo because he teaches solid, clean play. I don’t blame you if you don’t want to watch 4 hours of him playing your race (or 12 if you play Random), but at least watch one or two openings so you can see the mechanics and style that he plays. His Zerg play is reactive, not proactive, and he relies on good scouting and clean macro to win games. His thought process explains how pros often seem psychic by just being aware, so don’t shy away from his WoL content. It’s still good.

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.