2 Base Templar (vs. Terran)
Colossus builds have been quite prevalent throughout Heart of the Swarm. Despite this, players like Trap, PartinG, Flying and sOs have been going for High Templar first play with great success. Changes made to Protoss during Heart of the Swarm have impacted this playstyle greatly thanks to the added defensive capabilities of the Mothership Core, the power of faster Warp Prisms, and the lower cost of the Dark Shrine.
The main advantage of not opening with Colossus-tech is that Robotics Facility build-time is freed up, allowing for greater investment in Observers and Warp Prisms. These two tools are extremely valuable in defending a well timed third base, harassing your opponent, and keeping map control for longer. The ability to stress an opponent’s multitasking and force mistakes is very powerful and it’s very rewarding to beat an opponent while forcing and punishing mistake after mistake: Gateway-heavy styles suit this kind of play much better than Colossi.
This style is considered harder to pull off than Colossus openings are, but it's more rewarding and can be just as strong once it has been practiced for long enough.
|1 Gate Fast Expand|
You should be using your initial Probe scout and Stalker to poke around the map and get a read on what your opponent is doing: Clearing any Reapers (or other Terran units) out from Xel’Naga Towers with your Stalker is particularly useful since it keeps your opponent in the dark.
The things you should be worried about are:
- Is he going gasless expand, or did he take a gas?
- Is he doing a 111 harassment opening like a Widow Mine drop, Hellion drop, or Cloaked Banshees, or is he rushing for Medivacs?
- Did they do a greedy 3CC opening?
Be aware of the timings at which any push might come. As a general rule, if they are including a reasonably fast CC (around 4:30), their push/drop will hit between the 8:00 and 8:30 minute mark. If they decide to delay his CC, they will attack at about 6:00 to 7:00.
As you scout, look for:
- Gas vs no gas. If they open gasless, don’t get any defensive Cannons. Be aware that it’s possible to go for a 111 after fast expanding, but you should be able to see this with an Observer.
- Reaper vs no Reaper: If they go for gas and don’t go Reaper, get one Cannon per mineral line.
- Timing on the Command Centre: This is the crucial piece of info. If you don’t see a CC after about the 4:30 mark, get one Cannon per mineral line, as this is the biggest tell of a gas opening if you can't get a Probe in his base.
Your build changes slightly to adapt to what the Terran is doing. If they go for 3 Barracks and Medivacs you should get a Sentry as your fourth Gateway unit and immediately get two extra Gateways. If your opponent attempts harassment, play more carefully. Get defensive Cannons before the extra Gateways as well as a Stalker instead of a second Sentry for some extra DPS. Keep the Mothership Core in the main grouped with an Observer if the Cannons are late, and be ready to use Photon Overcharge in the main while warping in extra reinforcements. Pull Probes away and let the Cannon and Photon Overcharge finish off any dropped Widow Mines/Marines/Hellions. At this stage you should be extremely careful with your forces. Do not pull your entire army in an attempt to snipe the Medivac or clear off the drop unless you know the units dropped are the only ones out on the map. A popular variation on Widow Mine drops is to delay the CC to get four Hellions and go for a run-by into the natural, hoping your army will be busy in the main. A single Cannon cannot take down all the Hellions before they roast half your Probes, which is why you need to play safely. If they kill six or so Probes you should be about even, if they kill fewer you are ahead, and if they kill more you are behind.
Once your natural is well saturated, take the gasses there; normally this is at around the seven minute mark as with most PvT builds. From here, go up to two Sentries and then start teching up to Charge and High Templar whilst making sure to keep your upgrades going. During this time, the Terran will start their midgame pressure as they take their third. Against a Medivac push, follow this build:
|vs. a Medivac Push|
Assuming you are playing against a Medivac timing, rally the Warp Prism across the map. Warp in four Zealots with it and drop them in their main slightly after seeing them move out, when his army is about one third of the way across the map. This move is essential, as it buys time for Storm, +2 Armour and your extra Gateways to kick in.
In Wings of Liberty it was impossible to hold a Medivac timing if you went for Storm, a Robotics Facility, and upgrades at the same time. However, with the added DPS of Photon Overcharge you can be greedier, getting a (slightly) faster Storm and pressuring with the Warp Prism while still being able to defend thanks to Feedback and an Archon.
If they try to commit to their Medivac timing whilst ignoring the Zealots in his main, you should defend with Chargelot/Archon plus the Nexus cannon, trying to Feedback the Medivacs before morphing the Archon. If they do this, they're going to lose add-ons, SCVs, and reinforcements to your dropped Zealots. Zealots are incredibly strong if the Terran doesn’t micro against them, which will be hard for them to do if they're trying to fight on two different fronts. Depending on the map layout, it might be easier or harder to get Zealots into the mineral line. If you can’t hit it easily you can still go after add-ons or key buildings like Armories and Engineering Bays. Taking out the Reactor on his Starport is particularly strong, but Reactors on Barracks and SCVs are good targets as well.
If instead they are going Mech or 3CC, you can be greedy and take your third off three Gates before getting the additional Gateways. If they are playing greedy, try to match their greed: cut units briefly for production facilities and a second Forge instead of making a defensive army that won’t be useful when they aren’t going to push. You still want to get a Warp Prism out eventually, but you don’t need it as fast. Get Observers in position first, increase your Templar count, and start Immortal production if they go Mech.
Your Observer's jobs are the following:
- The first Observer scouts the Terran's base and army.
- The second Observer scouts for a fast Medivac drop in your main while your army defends your natural.
- The third Observer checks for any push at your natural.
- The fourth Observer checks for any drops on your natural, and later on for pushes at your third.
- (Optional) The fifth Observer checks for drops to your third and/or pushes at a key location; this is somewhat map dependent.
- PartinG vs. Flash on Daybreak from WCS KR Season 1. Against Medivac timing.
- sOs vs. TaeJa on Star Station from WCS KR Season 1.Against Marine/Widow Mine drop
- PartinG vs. TY on Naro Station] from Proleague. Delayed Robo vs Medivac timing.
- PartinG vs. TY on Naro Station from Proleague. Delayed Robo vs Medivac timing.
- Alicia vs. Apocalypse on Naro Station from WCS NA Season 1. Against Medivac timing.
- Rain vs. Fantasy on Akilon Wastes from WCS KR Season 2. Against Marine/Hellion push into 3CC.
- Rain vs. Bomber on Anaconda from WCS KR Season 2. Against 3cc into mech.
Robo/Forge/Twilight builds are extremely versatile, and they have various follow-ups they can go into. The most common ones are:
Dark Templar Drop
A popular option is to go for a Dark Templar drop off 2 bases: delaying Storm and Charge in exchange for much more powerful harassment. While this variation can be done against any build, it can be somewhat tricky to hold off a Medivac timing. Depending on how well the Terran defends the DT's you can be severely behind. It is, however, a great choice against harassment builds, and was extremely popular before the Hellbat nerf when Terrans were rushing for a Starport and Armory rather than going for Medivac pushes.
The goal of the DTs is to delay him and punish him for getting caught out of position or for messing up earlier in the game. Going for DTs can allow you to take a normally timed third with a relatively small army. Since DTs are such a big investment, you have to be extremely careful with them. Keep them split up so each DT takes one scan to kill, and be very careful with how many you make. After your first drop of two or so, he will likely save scans and have turrets in position, so only make DTs if you know he is out of position.
As usual, the general rule is to go up to six or seven Gates before taking a third against bio timings. Against 3CC or mech, take your third earlier. To strengthen your army, mix in some (2-4) Immortals after you get the Warp Prism out.
- First vs. Fantasy on Whirlwind from WCS KR Season 2. Against Marine/Hellion push into Hellbat drop.
- Rain vs. Bomber on Newkirk Preecint from WCS KR Season 2. Against Hellbat drop.
- Super vs. Marineking on DMZ from GSTL. Against Medivac timing.
- sOs vs. Marineking on Star Station from WCS KR Season 1. Failed defense against Medivac timing.
- sOs vs. Marineking on Daybreak from WCS KR Season 1. Against Medivac timing.
- sOs vs. Fantasy on Bel'shir Vestige from Proleague. Against Hellbat drop.
- Dear vs. Cure on Fighting Spirit from Proleague. Against Marine/Widow Mine push into Hellbat drop.
- Trap vs. SuperNova on Anaconda from WCS KR Season 2. Against proxy Mine.
- Trap vs. Maru on Akilon Wastes from WCS KR Season 2. Against Marine/Widow Mine push into Hellbat drop.
- Rain vs. Bomber on Star Station from WCS KR Season 2. Against 3CC.
Storm Rush Drop
Similar to the DT drop, this is a build Trap utilized against SuperNova's 15CC into 2-Rax on Akilon Wastes. The idea behind it is fairly similar to the standard Chargelot build: get just enough to hold a straight up push while harassing and killing as many SCVs as possible with a Warp Prism. As a general rule, it is close to impossible to get Storm done together with a Robo and upgrades against a Medivac push. This build delays the Forge, focusing on faster Templar tech and a Robo. Also note that this build skips detection for a long time, which makes Widow Mine based builds much scarier.
|Storm Rush Drop|
- Trap vs. SuperNova on Akilon Wastes from WCS KR Season 2. Against blueflame hellbat drop.
This build was used first by KT Protoss players, and it's the most aggressive variation of two-base Robo/Twilight. It delays storm in favor of a faster second Forge, Archons, and Immortals to go for a powerful mid-game timing that can easily break any unprepared opponent without being an outright all-in build. It is also very strong against mech on maps with a fairly open space in front of the third such as Planet S and Whirlwind. This build is already covered here.
Defending the Third and Transitioning
Defending your third is a matter of correct positioning, good micro, and good scouting. In general, Templar are much stronger defensively than Colossi, despite having less potential for straight up attacks (more on this later).
At this point, you should have four Observers out on the map keeping watch on the Terran. I like to keep three close to my bases-watching for drops and pushes while having one out scouting what he’s doing. The things you are looking for are his third CC as well as its timing; additionally, check for more opportunities to sneak Zealots/DTs in his main and/or third.
As a general rule:
- 3Rax >> CC >> 5Rax means light aggression after the Medivac push and a more passive Terran until his 2/2 completes.
- 3Rax >> 5Rax >> CC means heavy aggression coming your way.
- 5Rax and no 3rd CC means a likely incoming two-base all-in, with an SCV pain-train.
The remaining 3 Observers should be moved in key locations to watch your bases and make sure you know where his army is.
Start a second Forge when you see him taking a third, get ready for the longer game with Colossus/Blink tech or go for a timing if you want to finish the game faster.
Transitioning into Colossus is fairly game dependent. If your opponent is being very aggressive, you'll want to transition more slowly. Get a good Gateway count up first (8-10) and making sure you have good drop defense ready with 1-2 Cannons and a Templar in position. Going double Robo is risky against a very aggressive opponent and many Korean pros prefer sticking to a single Robotics Facility for a while. On the other hand, you can go double Robo before extra gates if he’s playing very passively, your harassment did lots of damage, you are ahead because you killed many of his Medivacs, or you've successfully defended an aggressive frontal push.
At this point it’s vital to buy as much time as possible for your econ and second tech to kick in: remain active with your harassment. It's important to replace the Warp Prism if you lost it earlier on. You can start mixing in Storm drops as well, which are devastating against an unprepared or slow opponent. Get Pylons on the map, especially near his third and fourth, and warp in Zealots from there. Your Robo time isn’t free anymore as you switch to Colossus. Once you move to Colossus, you can’t afford to remake Warp Prisms as easily, especially off a single Robo. If you are having trouble getting Probes out because his units keep sniping them, you can poke out a bit on the map with your main army.
As you get close to maxing out you also want to tech to Blink while trading away a few Zealots for more gas intensive units like Colossi, Archons, extra Templars spread all over the map, and a group of Blink Stalkers: keep up the run-bys and harassment!
A second possibility is to not go for Colossus for a while and stick to pure Gateway units for longer, going up to 11-12 Gates. This is harder to pull off and much more micro intensive, but if you are either ahead from the early/midgame or he’s still two-basing you, it can be a strong option. If you want to finish the game faster, try to use your Warp Prism to draw him out of position while going for a strong three-base, mass Warpgate attack before he can get enough Ghosts or Hellbats to stop your Templar army. With this style you can play more aggressively, harass for longer and deny the Terran’s fourth while taking your own; but do note, your maxed army will be weaker than with a Colossus switch. Eventually you are forced into having both area of effect units: get Colossus tech after taking your fourth at the latest.
A final possible transition- while still very unexplored- is skipping Colossus entirely and going for Tempests on three bases. You should be using the Tempests to siege and zone out Terran units while the High Templar protect them. This style is very new and not nearly close to figured out so I won’t talk about it in depth, but it might be worth playing around with it on some maps. The best maps for Tempest are those where it's easy split the map and it's difficult for opponents to circumvent the Tempests. These maps include Daybreak, Newkirk Precinct, Belshir Vestige, and Gwangalli Beach.
Is this style viable on every map?
Yes it is.
I am in league x, am I ready to do this build or is it too hard for me?
Yeah go for it. It takes practice but it’s really fun, so why not? The worst case scenario is to grab a practice partner or play unranked. If you play this style enough you will even find it easier than Colossus builds. If you aren't confident in your multitasking, try cutting out the Warp Prism harassment at first.
He did a weird push before Medivacs and killed me because I was too greedy. How can I hold it?
You should be able to hold most pushes thanks to the Mothership Core and careful scouting. To make sure you see any kind of push coming before your Observer crosses the map and scouts him, keep the initial Stalker in front of his natural and watch the minimap carefully. This isn’t as important as it was in WoL, but it’s very useful regardless. Cut tech and Chronoboost out units the instant you see him moving out.
Why a single Forge and not double Forge?
Two-base double Forge together with Templar play isn't very popular because of a glaring issue with it: there is a timing when you want to get 3/3 and a bunch of Templar up with it but the gas is never enough, so what usually happens is the 3/3 gets delayed. If you are going to delay 3/3 a bit then you might as well go for the single Forge and maximize the number of units you can get.
Additionally, you can get the single Forge extremely quickly without being punished, which already produces fast upgrades in addition to providing early defense in the form of Cannons.
Is it possible to play aggressively with this build? Are there any timings to hit?
If you try to push across the map with a Chargelot/Templar army and meet him halfway through the map, your Zealots will get kited while the Templar are left behind and unable to land any Storms. On the other hand, if he is attacking into you he will run straight toward the Templar, exposing himself to Storm (and making you feel fucking awesome when you land them). It’s also easier to land Storms when your opponent is bunched up and backed in a corner, for example, at his natural expansion.
Keeping this in mind, while it is possible to play aggressively with this army composition, it’s a lot easier to defend and harass with it, especially because the Terran can’t really micro on two fronts effectively, thus making your Chargelots deadly. With a Colossus army you might be able to A-move across the map and win, but with a Gateway army you need more careful positioning and army movement or you risk missing key storms or losing Zealots for nothing. For example, in one of the linked games Trap loses against SuperNova because he wastes 3-4 Storms trying to break a third that wasn’t even started yet, and as a result he doesn’t have enough to defend SuperNova’s counter attack despite having +3 armor and a superior economy.
That said, the Warp Prisms really help with keeping the Terran back, so it’s possible to push across the map once Storm and a key upgrade (like +2 or +3 armor) is done, especially if you are ahead after defending a timing or harassing him. In other words, do not engage mid map: either play defensively or push when you are sure he is forced to stay in his base.
What do I do against mech?
This kind of opening is arguably superior vs mech compared to Colossus builds. You have more map control, harassment tools, a fast third, and access to Immortals early on, all of which are very strong in that spot. Obviously, you need to add Immortals to your composition to take care of the tanks. Double Robo Immortal after securing the third is a strong transition.
What do I do if he’s doing a 2 base all-in with Thor/Banshee or Tank/Banshee?
Against that kind of all-in you can easily get Storm up in time, so go for it ASAP while getting your Immortal count up. A good sample VOD of such a hold (even though it’s a WoL game) is Hero vs SuperNova on Atlantis Spaceship.
Don't Hellbats counter this?
While Hellbats are very good against this style, it remains very viable, especially since the Hellbat nerf. Now Hellbats are harder to get because they require Blue Flame to be effective and therefore can't be produced as heavily in the mid-game. If your opponent mixes in Hellbats, you have to be very careful in spreading your army out a bit more and keeping him pinned back with Zealot warp-ins until you can get a good Templar/Archon/Colossus count up.