Download the Liquipedia app here!Download the Liquipedia app to follow Brood War!Want personalized updates on Brood War esports? Download the Liquipedia app on iOS or Android to never miss your favorite tournaments and matches!
Liquipedia app match pages updated! Liquipedia app match pages are overhauled! Download on Android or iOS! Liquipedia app's match pages got completely revamped with game data, standings, VODs and more! Download the the latest version on iOS or Android and read our update blog here.

Protoss Counter to 3 Hatchery Hydralisks

From Liquipedia StarCraft Brood War Wiki
[e][h]ProtossProtoss Counter To Three Hatchery Hydralisk
Counter Information
Starcraft: Broodwar

This article discusses possible counters to the Zerg Three Hatchery Hydralisk. For the article about performing this opening build see Three Hatchery Hydralisk


Three Hatchery Hydralisk openings are mostly chosen against either a Forge Fast Expanding Protoss, or as reaction to a Protoss trying to rush with 2 Gateway Zealots. Since this discussion focusses on soft countering the Zerg's chosen strategy, the scenario of an early Hydralisk attack against a Fast Expansion is discussed.

The underlying motive of the Hydralisk production off three Hatcheries is to put threaten the Protoss' Natural Expansion. This threat can either be performed to enable Zerg to destroy the expansion, or to force Protoss to play overly defensive. In the latter case, Zerg will first try to trick Protoss into overreacting and then transition into a macro oriented mid game, so that he can ultimatively build up a large economical advantage.

For either variation of the Hydralisk opening scouting is key to determine potential defensive reactions.


Initial Scout
  • Timing of Zerg's Extractor
  • Drone count
  • Timing of Zergling Speed
  • Timing of Hydralisk Den
Corsair Scout
  • Drone count
  • Expansion behaviour

Scouting is pivotal for Protoss in order to plan ahead. As a consequence, the first warning signs described in the box above should be checked. If Zerg starts to gather Gas early on and doesn't stop, the Protoss usually prepares for an early attack. Futhermore, if only three Hatcheries are built, opposed to four or more a strong hint for an attack with Hydralisks is given. The last indicator for a Hydralisk opening is a low Drone count by Zerg.

If Zerg goes ahead with his plan, the initial Probe should be kept alive as long as possible. However, this is a very difficult task, due to the increasing amount of Zerg units being morphed early on. Usually Protoss therefore tries to maintain vision on the Zerg bases and nearby Expansion spots via Corsairs.


There are several reactions to defend against a Hydralisk attack. The highest priority of all is to ensure that the Natural Expansion is kept alive, while Protoss tries to buy time in order to throw his increasing economical power into play.

Building Placement

In many scenarios Zerg will try to force Protoss to spend as much minerals as possible on defensive structures. As a consequence a Speed Zergling runby is a possible option to raise the pressure from the start. To counter this a tight wall-in is key. If the first Zergling runby can be deflected without significant losses any upcoming attack is severly weakened.

First Zealots

The first Zealots Protoss trains are useless in the moment the Hydralisk attack starts, as they will be outmicroed with ease by the opponent. Against low level opponents it might be possible to bait the Hydralisks into the own Photon Cannon range one by one. However, a good Zerg will anticipate these tricks.

Instead the first Zealots can be used to exploit Zergs own defensive weaknesses. The very first Zealot could therefore be sent towars the Zerg's main base and try to snipe Drones. The longer this Zealot stalls an incoming attack, the more time Protoss has left to plan ahead. Similar, a second Zealot could try to harass a third base by Zerg.

Photon Cannons

The easiest way to defend against a Hydralisk attack is to match the Zerg's units via Photon Cannons. However, it is key to only build as much as needed and as little as possible. Photon Cannons should only be placed down if Zerg keeps massing Hydralisks; the minute Zerg switches to Drone production, upgrades or expansions, the production of Photon Cannons should be stopped and resources should be spent elsewhere. Additionally, Protoss should always have an eye on his Pylons. If all Cannons are powered by one Pylon, the entire defense structure might be very weak if it is sniped.

Counter Attack

If everything is done correctly, Protoss can move out as soon as he has sufficient Speed Zealots and High Templars with Psi Storm. The entire unit production should be the focus of Protoss plans, an immediate response via own expansion rarely works well. It is key for Protoss to kill a large number of the opponent's army and therefore force Zerg to spend resources and Larvae on re-inforcements. The underlying idea is to turn the Zerg's strategic motive upside down, or in other words, to bind Zerg's entire economy on unit production he can't afford.


An entirely different approach is to go for Corsairs and Reavers early on. Reavers make a Hydralisk attack nearly impossible to perform, and do not require Protoss to worry about Photon Cannons. However, this kind of strategy needs a very good mechanical control in the long run and is therefore not recommended for weaker players.

External Links[edit]