This guide lists a general introduction to the Terran vs. Protoss match up.
- To learn more about Terran strategies in general, see also: Terran Strategy
Terran vs. Protoss is one of the more constant match ups in Brood War. Over time only few of the underlying ideas have changed, while the general strategies remained widely the same. It is also considered to be the hardest match up for a Terran to understand and to master at the beginning of his career, mainly due to the fact that the own units appear to be more fragile and more complicated to control in the later stages of the game.
This guide aims to provide a beginner with the basic requirements and tries to teach a general understanding. Every unit, strategy and modern strategies will be explained in the process.
Units and Army Composition
In contrast to the match up against Zerg, Terran will train mainly mechanic units from factories against Protoss. Hence, the terms "mech" or "mechanic" opening / strategy are often used by external sources. Terran is almost always the passive aggressive and slower advancing player.
The following chapter lists all commonly used units. Whenever a unit is left out, it automatically means the unit is not used in standard games.
Marines are only built in the very early stages of a TvP. They mainly defend against early harassment by few units. However, in longer games Marines play a minor role, as almost any Protoss unit can hard counter them. Only few Build Orders, most times categorized as All-Ins, use the Marines as key units in combination with Medics.
Vultures are used throughout the entire game, either to harass or as supporting unit for the mid/late game army. Their Spider Mines are used to block key features of the map and as shield while attacking. Furthermore, Vultures are used to soak up damage and to deny any Zealots attacks on the army.
- Siege Tanks
Siege Tanks are the most important pillar of a Terran army. In great numbers they counter any potential Protoss ground army composition easily and can tear down enemy structures within seconds.
Goliaths are only used towards the end game in few numbers. They are used as defense against Shuttles and more importantly Arbiters. They're only build in larger numbers if Protoss tries to control the game with Carriers.
- Science Vessels
Science Vessels are the only classic Spellcaster a Terran uses in TvP. The EMP is used to neutralize Arbiters and High Templars; the Defense Matrix is sometimes used to shield exposed parts of the army against an incoming attack.
Wraiths are used as direct counter to Carriers and sometimes as replacement for turrets to intercept drops in small numbers. However, they are usually the more uncommon solution to fight Carriers.
In the early game, Terran has no real army to speak of. In modern TvP Terran rushes for Factory units, usually a Siege Tank first. consequently, he has fewer units than Protoss and can not possibly try to engage in fights in the central areas of a map. Instead, the first units (1 Siege Tank, 4-8 Marines, 1 Vulture) are used to clean the own choke and to fake a more committed attack.
Throughout the entire game, Siege Tanks and Vultures make up the army of Terran. Both move relatively slow towards the Protoss bases, constantly (un)sieging and laying Spider Mines. Only in later stages first Goliaths (against Shuttles) and a few Science Vessels (against Arbiters) are added to the mix. The ratio of Siege Tanks to Vultures depends on the game situation. It is pivotal to have enough Vultures to match the opposing Zealot number, as long as not more than two control groups of Siege Tanks are part of the army. Vultures are mainly used as "Meat Shield" to soak up damage and to deny Zealots from running into the Siege Tanks.
- For further information, see also: Push Breaking
Scouting is being done by SCVs in the earliest stages of the game. The initial information obtained is the starting position and the opening of Protoss. Afterwards Vultures are used to scout for possible Expansions, often blocking untaken Mineral Lines with Spider Mines. Vultures can be used to catch glimpses of the Protoss army composition as well.
Once Terran builds an Academy and ComSat Stations, he will use Scan Sweeps to constantly uncover the most important parts of the map. These include
- Expansion Spots
- Protoss Gateway Count
- Protoss Tech Structures (e.g. Arbiter Tribunal, Fleat Beacon)
- Pathway of the Terran army (too determine when an attack is to be expected)
All Upgrades in a Factory's Machine Shop are highly important for the match up. Each of them (Siege Mode, Ion Thrusters, Spider Mines and Goliath Range) double the value of the units produced.
Aside from that the Ground Weapon and Armor Upgrades are researched as well. Unlike in Terran vs. Zerg no upgrade enables a mechanic unit to kill Protoss ground units with one (or more) shots less. However, due to the massive splash damage dealt by Siege Tanks the damage output still matters in the later stages of the game. Furthermore, a potential switch to Carriers by Protoss is less effective, if all defensive upgrades are already researched. A low number of Carriers therefore can not easily clean up a large Tank force, before the Tanks took out a massive amount of units and structures.
The modern Terran vs. Protoss is considered to be hard for beginners to understand and to perform. As stated previously, Protoss has a unit advantage in small to mid-sized battles due to having more healthy units. As a result, Terran beginners tend to be confused with several transitions in between the early to late game. Either expansions are taken slower than possible, or attacks are delayed up to a point at which Protoss can reinforce constantly from more than four bases. Consequently, this paragraph will focus on explaining how the general idea behind a Terran's strategy works.
In the early game both players will chose one out of the many Fast Expansion Build Orders; the details may alter, the underlying idea is the same - boosting the own economy while being safe against early game harassment. The most common opening by Terran is a so-called FD Push with one Siege Tank, one Vulture and up to seven Marines against a Protoss expanding from one Gateway. The few Dragoons will be forced back to the Protoss base by the initial group of units, while the path way will be defended with Spider Mines. This buys time for Terran to raise a Command Center in the own Natural Expansion. However, regardless of the opening, Terran will most likely expand slightly slower than Protoss, yet have about the same economical potential.
From here on out, a great number of potential mid game transitions can be done by both parties. Most commonly Protoss will try to expand a second time (=third base). Terran can now either match the number of expansions by taking a quick third (base) as well or prepare a timing attack. At this point, regardless of the decision, Protoss will have the upper hand in the central parts of the map, due to having a larger amount of Dragoons and a few Observers. Regardless of the chosen transition, Terran will try to bypass the Dragoons with a few Vultures and harass / delay a Protoss third base.
In the most common scenarios Terran tries to set up a timing attack off four to six Factories. The goal is to attack the Protoss Natural Expansion with a slightly bigger and slightly more powerful army than Protoss. Protoss undergoes a small timing window, in which he can produce less units after adding Gateways, Tech Constructions (e.g. the Citadel of Aiur) and a third Expansion. Exactly during this window the first major Terran attack strikes, while Terran tries to expand on his own.
However, since Protoss players learned to adapt, they are most times able to defend the first major attack without suffering crucial losses. Protoss either expands slightly later, focusses on low tier units with Shuttle support and/or stops Probe production temporarily to defend against the incoming attack. Regardless, Terran needs to react. In an ideal case, both players are still on three bases and have similar technological capabilities. Terran will by now have two Armories and the +1 Attack Upgrade, while Protoss will have the first Arbiters ready.
The late mid game and late game itself depends on each player's individual style. Some Terran players tend to launch another major attack wave to end the game whenever Protoss expands too greedily, or try to secure own expansions with the help of an increased unit count. For the latter option, Terran usually places Spider Mines in their own Main Base and at each of their expansions, to render Recalls useless; furthermore, a solid wall of Turrets is constructed.
- Usually one Wraith is sufficient to defend against Shuttle harassment in early stages of a game
- Usual amount for a FD Push are four Marines