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TAiLS' Dark Templar Drop FE (vs. Terran)

From Liquipedia StarCraft 2 Wiki
[e][h]TAiLS' Dark Templar Drop FE
Strategy Information
Macro Opening


This build aims to exploit the lower cost of the Dark Shrine in Heart of the Swarm, as well as the early-game defensive capabilities of the Mothership Core, to drop Dark Templar into the opponent's base by ~7:30 whilst also taking a fast expansion. The build then techs aggressively behind this harassment, allowing the Protoss player to have a well-upgraded Colossus-based army by the time standard Terran Medivac aggression hits the field.

The reason why this works is because of how standard Terran openings have panned out in Heart of the Swarm. In Wings of Liberty, a 1 Rax FE followed by 2 additional Barracks and a Reactored Starport was by far the most common opening. These builds still exist and remain powerful builds, but they seem to have been eclipsed by builds that focus on hitting a quick Widow Mine drop after expanding. This kind of Widow Mine drop isn't the fastest possible, but it can catch players off-guard, and so forces Protoss to play with such a possibility in mind. More importantly, it gives the Terran plenty of scouting information.

This opening still transitions into 3 Barracks and a Reactored Starport, but a key trade-off is that this build can't hit a Stimpack-upgraded infantry timing as fast as the older 1 Rax FE could. This is because of the delayed natural expansion, a smaller marine count, and later upgrades. Instead of the common 10 minute timing we would see in Wings of Liberty, this timing will now hit closer to 11:30. TAiLS' build is tailored specifically to counteract this modern standard.

Basic Build Order[edit]

TAiLS' Dark Templar Drop FE
  • 9 Pylon[1]
  • 13 Gateway
  • 15 Assimilator x2[2]
  • 16 Pylon[3]
  • 18 Cybernetics Core
  • 20 Zealot[4]
  • @100% Cybernetics Core: Mothership Core, Warpgate Research[5]
  • 23 Nexus[6]
  • 25 Robotics Facility
  • Cut Probes
  • 25 Twilight Council
  • 25 Pylon
  • Resume Probes
  • 26 Stalker
  • 30 Warp Prism[7]
  • 32 Dark Shrine
  • 36 Gateway
  • 36 Observer
  • 38 Pylon
  • 41 Stalker
  • 45 Assimilator x2[8]
  • 47 Dark Templar x2[9]
  1. Chrono boost Nexus twice after completion.
  2. Put 2 Probes into each Assimilator upon completion.
  3. Chrono boost Nexus two more times after placing this down.
  4. This is a fake Zealot. It should be cancelled right before completion. It's only purpose is to disuade the Terran from using an Engineering Bay block.
  5. Chrono boost Nexus a fifth time after building these.
  6. Add an additional Probe to each Assimilator after placing this down.
  7. Chrono boost out this Warp Prism.
  8. At the natural expansion.
  9. TAiLS hits a timing of 7:22, so this is what you should be aiming for.


Going over the build, there should be something that immediately jumps out at you: TAiLS barely makes units. The key point to take from this build is that TAiLS cut units very hard, relying on a combination of his Mothership Core, his knowledge of the way the game is played, and mind-games to defend against all potential early-game aggression. His first Stalker starts at 5:20, almost two minutes after the normal time, and TAiLS makes only two Gateway units before warping in his first Dark Templar. The result is that TAiLS has a Dark Templar drop in the opponent's base at around 7:20, only 10 seconds slower than a one-base Dark Templar build would have accomplished in Wings of Liberty.

Furthermore, TAiLS declines to scout at all, playing totally blind for the early minutes of the game. He banks on his opponent going for a standard Widow Mine opening, allowing him to execute his plan exactly the way he wanted. TAiLS' plan to deal with a possible Widow Mine drop is clear: don't let it happen at all. The Dark Templar drop hits at a timing when the Terran player must have his army at home to defend else take severe damage from the Dark Templar. If the opponent goes for the Widow Mine drop anyway, the fast Observer, the pair of Stalkers, and the Mothership Core would have been enough to defend the push with acceptable losses while his Dark Templar wreaked havok.

Mid-Game Transition[edit]

Mid-Game Transition
  • 7:55 Forge x2
  • 8:40 Gateway x4
  • 9:10 Robotics Support Bay
  • 9:40 Zealot Charge
  • 11:10 First Colossus Finishes
  • 11:50 Charge Finishes

TAiLS' followup to his Dark Templar drop takes advantage of his existing tech and map control very well. He knows that his opponent is contained because of the Dark Templar and, in addition, knew that light aggression could be held off easily with Photon Overcharge. Thus, TAiLS was able to cut units in order to reach two-base Probe saturation very quickly, and then utilised his very solid economy to invest heavily in both tech and production. An example of his solid transition is that instead of rushing directly to Colossi after his drops, TAiLS padded his late-game advantage further by squeezing in two Forges, delaying his Colossi for as long as possible. In fact, both his first Colossi and his Charge upgrade finish around the 11:30 mark, the standard timing for an infantry push after a Widow Mine opening.

Indeed, the game at the 9:30 mark looks quite favorable for the Protoss player: they will have two Forges, 6 Gateways and Colossus tech coming up, whilst their Terran opponent will be stuck with a handful of Marines that have a long time to wait for Stim, Combat Shields and +1 upgrades to complete. More importantly, the Protoss will have two fully saturated based, whereas the Terran will likely have lost SCVs to the Dark Templar harassment.

Replays and VODs[edit]

South Korea Terran Ryung TAiLS vs. Ryung, 2013 GSTL Season One, Team MVP vs. Axiom-Acer (A GSTL subscription may be required to view this content).
South Korea Protoss TAiLS
Date: 2013/03/23
Patch: 2.0.7 VOD