Gateway Pressure Into Fast Third Base (vs. Terran)
|This strategy is for a previous expansion of the game.|
The standard 1 Gate FE popularised by MC is a safe opening that gives the Protoss player an economic advantage when used against a Terran opponent who goes for a gas opening. However, against a Terran gasless expansion it is possible that the Protoss player will fall behind economically. This build allows the Protoss player to pressure the Terran opponent with 4 Gateways whilst taking a relatively fast third base, thus allowing them to take an economic lead in the mid-game.
It should only be used against a Terran opponent who does not take gas - if you cannot confirm a gasless expansion from the Terran, you should continue following MC's 1 Gate FE build instead.
Basic Build Order
The build opens as if you were opening with MC's 1 Gate FE, which expands on 30 supply. You should be familiar with that build before attempting to use this one as you will be following that build order until you are able to confirm a gasless expansion from the Terran player. Below is an outline for MC's 1 Gate FE up to the 30 supply Nexus..
|Gateway Pressure into Fast Third Base (vs. Terran)|
Initial Probe Scout
- You can scout after your first Pylon or after your first Gateway. Scouting later gives a small economic advantage, but makes it less likely that you'll scout the Terran's gas timing.
- If you confirm gas then you switch to MC's 1 Gate FE. You cannot play this build against a gas opening because it does not get a Robotics Facility out in time for a Cloaked Banshee timing.
- On four-player maps, if you didn’t scout your opponent on the first try then you probably won’t see anything important by the time you find them. In this case, figure out the Terran’s starting position and run your Probe away the instant you see a Marine. You must not lose the scouting Probe, so babysit it whenever it’s about to approach a starting location.
Remember: If you haven't confirmed gas/no gas at this point, you should still be following MC's 1 Gate FE.
If you weren't able to confirm gas/no gas with your Probe scout then you will have to do a Zealot/Stalker poke to try and determine what the Terran is up to. What you are looking for is whether or not they've expanded. You cannot simply assume that a Bunker at the natural expansion means that the Terran has expanded as they may be using a forward Bunker to trick you, so at this point you need to attack into their natural expansion with your Zealot/Stalker/Scouting Probe. The Stalker should be ahead of the Zealot and Probe because it has the most shields, and is thus least likely to take hull damage.
Right click the Probe past the Bunker and check for a low ground expansion (if they immediately target the probe, run the Zealot past instead. A Zealot and a Bunker are both 100 minerals so it’s okay to trade the Zealot for scouting information). Try to retreat the Zealot and Stalker before taking hull damage if possible.
- If you don’t see a Command Center, or lose the Probe/Zealot without getting far enough to see it, switch to MC's 1 Gate FE (usually the 30 Gate, 30 Gate, 30 Robo variation as it is possible they are going for a sneaky 1/1/1 all-in).
- If you do see the Command Center, make a Pylon, Sentry, and add 3 more Gateways whilst also building a proxy Pylon. Take your second gas and get ready to pressure!
The 7:30 Poke
If you're still following this build (i.e. you confirmed a gasless expansion) then at around 7:30 you should have around 9 or 10 Gateway units at the proxy Pylon. Walk onto the ramp, but don’t use Guardian Shield or Forcefields yet - this is not an attack, you just want to see what the Terran has because what you see will influence the rest of the build heavily:
- 1 or 2 Bunkers, 8 Marines or fewer, no Marauders: This is likely 2 Base Cloaked Banshees followed by either the 2 Base “1/1/1” with Banshee/Tank or Sage/jjakji’s Banshee/Thor build. Make a Robotics Facility as soon as possible and try to do as much damage as you can with your units. Meanwhile, at home, switch your strategy to whatever you normally do against the 2 Base 1/1/1.
- There are already 3 Bunkers: This is probably the fast 3 Orbital Command build. You can either continue with this build or, if you’re super paranoid, you can get detection. This is a bit tricky because fast Cloaked Banshees don’t actually have enough Marines to fill all 3 Bunkers yet so they usually stick with 2. But they could build 3 to trick you.
- Mass Marines with no Marauders, or you got attacked by mass Marines before you poked: This is a gasless FE into 4 or 5 Rax Marine pressure. Continue with this build because Zealots under a Guardian Shield will always trade effectively against non-upgraded Marines. You could also add 3/4 more Gateways and go for a 7/8 Gate all-in because their Stimpack Research is so late.
- Marauders: This is most likely the standard build (1 Rax FE -> 3 Rax -> Starport -> Medivacs). Continue with this build.
Pre-Stim Gateway Pressure
At this point you should still be following the guide only if you’ve confirmed a gasless FE and also confirmed that there are no 2 Base Cloaked Banshees heading in your direction (you saw mass Marines or saw a Marauder). You should build a Twilight Council immediately and depending on how many Bunkers you think the Terran is building, you can either attack after warping in a round of Zealots (13-14 total units) or attack after warping in 2 more rounds of Zealots (16-18 units depending on whether you lost the first Zealot and how hard you Chrono Boosted Probes). Your attack should begin no later than 8:40 and retreat no later than 8:55, the time when Stim usually finishes if they skipped Concussive Shells.
What happens during this attack is very important! Spread your units into an arc with Zealots in front, Guardian Shield, and attack. There are a few different situations that can happen:
- Terran has 3 Bunkers and SCVs ready to repair: You’re not going to break this with anything short of a 6/7/8 Gate all-in so don’t even try. Your job here is done. By forcing the Terran to spend his minerals on Bunkers and to pull SCVs, you’ve already done enough damage to delay his mid-game push.
- 0 or 1 Bunker: With Guardian Shield, your Zealots basically have +2 Armor already and the Terran units can’t have Stim, +1, etc. yet so you can trade cost-effectively. Kill as many units as you can and retreat. This is the best case scenario because not only did you kill units, you probably forced the Terran to go up to 3 Bunkers anyways in case you were doing a 6 Gate.
- 2 Bunkers: This is the hardest situation to decide what to do. You can trade cost-effectively if there aren’t repairing SCVs, or force a third Bunker if SCVs are already there.
- Terran moves out before you attack: You should pretty much slaughter their army since he has no SCVs or Bunkers to protect it.
Now you might be wondering, why is it good to force 3 Bunkers? This strategy revolves around getting a very early third Nexus, which costs 300 minerals when you consider that it also doubles as a Pylon. 3 Bunkers are also 300 minerals, greatly nullifying any attacker’s advantage your opponent gained from you expanding so early. If Terran spends those 300 minerals on 2 more Barracks instead, then the midgame Medivac pressure can be hard to deal with.
At this point you should’ve either forced multiple Bunkers or gotten good trades when killing Marines and Marauders. Build the third Nexus at 9 minutes (if you don’t already have it from making a read earlier), go up to 8 Gateways, and start Chrono Boosting Blink. At this point you should start warping in more Stalkers.
If you’re still following this guide, then here’s what happened in the game so far: You went 1 Gate FE against a gasless FE. You poked with units twice and either traded well, forced extra Bunkers, or both. Upon pulling ahead with the poke, you took a third base and got Blink. Now you have a group of Blink Stalkers and you’re beginning to saturate your third base. The situation might seem very game specific, but every Terran and their mother starts pressuring once they have Medivacs so you can take the following steps to prepare for it.
First, you need to start getting Charge and additional Gateways the instant Blink finishes, and then Chrono Boost Charge as much as possible while using the extras on Probes. Poke with the Stalkers as soon as you have Blink and see what the Terran has. If he still doesn’t have Medivacs, it’s probably a double Engineering Bay build so build 2 Forges immediately. If he does have Medivacs and is trying to push with them, it’s safer to go up to 8 Gateways, get a Templar Archives, take your fifth and sixth Assimilators, and start massing Chargelots. You should already have Probes/Pylons in position to see drops so this push is the Terran’s only way to attack! Slow it down as much as you can with your Stalkers by picking off units and Blinking away. If the Terran gets to your base in time to win the game, you probably need more practice with the build. Either manage the pre-Stim poke better, control the Blink Stalkers better, Chrono Boost Blink and Charge better, remember to add more Gateways, or all of the above! The moment Terran lets off the pressure (or you crush it with Chargelots) and retreats to secure his own third, you have complete control over the game.
The specific steps listed give you the safest way to play the fast third base style, but if you want to take risks to strengthen your position, there are many ways to change it up. Here are some examples:
- You can play this way with a Nexus first build as well, which gives you some extra resources to do other stuff while pressuring.
- If you see no gas and guess that your opponent is opening gasless FE, you can build the Nexus earlier than 30 Supply. This is good against the way people expect the game to normally play out because no gas almost always means a fast expansion on current maps, but if they do go for a Marine/SCV cheese instead, you really need the 2 Stalkers!
- Any FE vs FE scenario – while the guide is aimed specifically at playing safe vs gasless FE, you can play the same style against other Terran builds as long as they involve Marauders and expanding. The only problem is that it is difficult to tell whether gas openings will expand or stay on 1 Base.
- MC’s style – instead of getting fast Blink, MC likes to do the pre-stim poke and then decide whether he wants a Robotics Facility (to Tech towards Colossi faster) or a Twilight Council first. By delaying the Twilight Council, he squeezes out 1-2 more units.
- You can take a faster third, possibly even before 8 minutes, if you're fairly sure about what is going on. This is risky because your pressure is weaker so you rely on Terran over-reacting to the threat. The upside is that you’re obviously in a better situation economically, which helps against fast 3 CC and double Engineering Bay builds. If you see 3 Bunkers early then this is usually a good option.
- You can get Psionic Storm in addition to, or instead of, Archons. This makes it harder for Terran to defend against your 3 Base aggression, but it can be less safe against the Terran's 2 Base aggression.
- If you make more Sentries earlier in the game, you can be more liberal with FF/GS usage. If you feel comfortable cutting the Stalkers, then it is easy to get more Sentries.