Terran vs. Protoss Guide
- 1 Overview
- 2 Branch I:One Factory Fast Expand
- 3 Branch II:Two Factory Pressure
- 4 Branch III: Cheeses
The Mech Terran vs Protoss is defined as Terran Factory units supported by Science Vessels versus Protoss Zealots and Dragoons supported by High Templar, Arbiters, or Carrier Tech. This article spans the entire match up of TvP provided that it arrives at these two late games.
Almost all Terran vs. Protoss build orders can be categorized by the early commitment in strategy by the Terran. This commitment can be an opening by any the following: 1 Factory, an aggressive 2 Factory, a catch-with-pants-down Bionic play or an economic fast expansion.
Branch I:One Factory Fast Expand
This build allows Terran to expand quickly and safely while still allowing for some early game pressure
- Maps with longer rush distances where Protoss cannot pressure as well
Initial Build Order
The initial build order listed here is the most common 1 Factory FE
- 9/10 Supply Depot
- 12/18 Barracks
- 12/18 Refinery
- 15/18 Supply Depot
- 16/18 Factory (remove 1 SCV from gas, leaving 2 remaining)
- 16/18 Marine
- 22/26 Supply Depot
- 24/26 Siege Tank and Siege Mode upgrade
- 29/34 Command Center (in base unless completely sure placing it on location is safe)
Another greedier variant that can be used if you have scouted your Protoss opponent playing off of only one Gateway early on, or if he goes Nexus first:
- 9/10 Supply Depot (at choke to start wall-in, expansion choke if possible)
- 11/18 Barracks (at wall-in, with the same SCV)
- 12/18 Refinery
- 14-15/18 Supply Depot (to complete wall, on most maps)
- 16/18 Factory (take 2 scvs off gas, put back on at completion of Factory)
- 19/26 Command Center (behind wall-in)
- @Factory 100% (around 19-20 supply) - Machine Shop
- @Machine Shop 100% - Siege Tank
- 22-23/26 Supply Depot
- @150 minerals/gas - Siege Mode
- @Completion of 1st Tank - 2nd Tank
Your Command Center will finish while your 2nd Tank and Siege Mode are building. If you walled off your expansion, you can guard the wall as necessary and build the Command Center on-site. If you walled your main base, wait for the 2nd Tank + Siege Mode to finish before you start floating the CC out while sieging one tank behind the wall as close to the expo as possible, then lift your Barracks and Siege your 2nd Tank outside the wall, close to the 1st Tank, usually with a cliff or water in between. Proceed with a relatively early Engineering Bay for Turrets, and branch off into whatever build you have planned after expanding.
Early game goals in a One Factory FE revolve around fending off aggressive play until Siege Tanks are up and running.
Scout Your Opponent
This build is focused on getting your macro game up unscathed, hopefully against an aggressive build such as a Two Gate Dragoon variant, such as Two Gate Range, Two Gate Powergoon (or obs) or an early Reaver build. As such, after the Command Center has started building, the Engineering Bay is the next priority for Turrets for detection, and a second Factory is needed for Vultures and Mines to help protect against a surprise Three Gate Break or something of the like. Against Two Gate Powergoon, more than one Marine may be necessary, and as a rule of thumb, three Marines on the ramp should be able to deflect two Dragoons until the first Tank is out. These Marines may go in a Bunker at the natural once the Command Center is up. This build does not leave an opportunity for early aggression, but you may push at three Factories if you notice the Protoss taking their third extremely quickly (while still at one Gate). Note that if the Protoss is using Dark Templar as a defense to safely take their third, you will need two Comsats to push at all early on. This build can be nicely followed by a timing push build or a Dual Armory Three Base build.
Transition I: Timing Push
In the Terran vs Protoss match up there are points at which Terran can punish Protoss with timing attacks. The most common point is the mid game Timing Push in which Terran attempts to punish the Protoss for taking their 3rd base too quickly. At this point in the game Protoss has taken their Third Gas Expansion but has not yet reaped the rewards of running three bases and thus cannot afford enough production to overcome the Terran push. The Timing Push aims to exploit this temporary weakness.
The timing window for this build begins when the third Nexus starts and ends when the Protoss is able to constantly produce off 8 or 9 gateways. Terran at this point has two full bases running, four, five, or six Factories running, and is able to assert themselves against the Dragoon/Zealot army out in the field.
While it is difficult to give supply counts for builds in middle and late game, there are some rules of thumb that help align the Timing Push:
- Terran should have beaten back Protoss' contain and spotted the Third Expansion going down.
- Terran should be able to pump units from 4 to 6 Factories, dependant on the timing, and push quickly towards either the Protoss natural or 3rd base.
The Terran army should be able to push out towards the Natural expansion with a full group of tanks with Vultures and SCVs to support. The key to ending the game in this stage is an effective counter to Protoss' push breaking tools: Shuttles with Zealot Bombs or Reavers. Terran must push quick enough to prevent Protoss from finding a weakness in the push but slow enough to prevent getting caught unsieged.
Even if you are unable to break the natural and end the game then and there a Timing push provides a good screen to match Protoss Third Gas Expansion and keep them from getting an economic advantage. After that it's time to hunker down and prepare for late game play.
Transition II: Fast Third
Branch II:Two Factory Pressure
The two factory build is a somewhat risky, semi-allin that can decide the game at the start. The key is to make sure the Protoss does not see it coming, and if possible trick them into thinking that the Terran is just doing a 1 factory expansion build. This build aims to overcome the lowered dragoon count either caused by a fast tech build or an early nexus. If however, the Protoss sees this coming and does not tech or expand prematurely, the Terran will be at a strong disadvantage.
Also note that there are many different forms of two factory builds. They all attempt to exploit the same weakness, but certain ones are stronger than others against what the Protoss does. For example, two fact vult/mines is the strongest counter to a Protoss going for a DT Fast Expand. At the same time, this build has great difficulty against a fast observer build or even a 2 Gate Goon Range build.
The most common 2 factory build is the joyo rush. This aims to have a strong tank force while being able to quickly reinforce with vultures.
Sample Build Order
- 9 - Supply Depot
- 11 - Barracks - build as many Marines as the money allows.
- 11 - Refinery
- 16 - Factory - Machine Shop as soon as it is complete.
- 16 - Supply Depot (if following the 11 rax 12 gas build, this can come before Factory)
- 18 - Factory - Machine Shop as soon as it is complete.
- 22/23 - Supply Depot
- Research Ion Thrusters when the first Machine Shop is done and Mine upgrade when the second Machine Shop is done.
- Pump Vultures as soon as Machine Shops complete.
- 28 - Supply Depot
This build requires you to lay many Mines quickly.
If your opponent has not yet expanded, lay Mines to prevent a Nexus from being easily built.
If your opponent expanded, lay Mines to distract Dragoon fire, allowing you to kill Probes or force them to run away, and possibly get Dragoon kills. Do not sacrifice Vultures needlessly in an attempt to lay mines to kill Dragoons if it is clear that he has too many Dragoons for it to work. Conserving Vultures will be important for the transition into mid-game.
It is important to start SCV production fully again after moving out with your attacking force, as your expansion is later than with a fast expansion build. Build an expansion at your natural (there is no need to build it in your base then float) when the money allows. Mines provide you with map control until your opponent gets Observers, at which point he can move out, clear Mines, and threaten you. Research Siege Mode as soon as possible and build some Tanks in order to defend against this. Meanwhile, with any Vultures and Mines you have remaining, keep tabs on the expansions that your opponent will probably try to take as a third base. Also, if you have enough Vultures you can threaten to do a run-by into his natural or main base if he decides to move out with his Dragoons.
Transition I: Timing Push
In the Terran vs Protoss match up there are points at which Terran can punish Protoss with timing attacks. one of these points is the mid game Timing Push in which Terran attempts to break the natural expansion to end the game before it reaches Tier Three Tech. At this point in the game Protoss has taken their Third Gas Expansion but has not yet reaped the rewards of running three Assimilators and thus cannot afford Tier Three units. The Timing Push aims to exploit this temporary weakness.
The timing window for this build begins when the third Nexus pops and ends when Protoss reaches Arbiters. Terran at this point has two full bases running, four or five Factories running and is able to assert themselves against the Dragoon/Zealot army out in the field.
While it is difficult to give supply counts for builds in middle and late game, there are some rules of thumb that help align the Timing Push: Terran should have beaten back Protoss' contain and spotted the Third Expansion going down. There are three main choices in the midgame push:
- Five Factory: The Terran has a constant pump from one factory producing tanks, and the remaining four creating vultures. This is the most aggressive build and will easily punish a greedy Protoss. The Terran will remain on one refinery for the duration of this push, cutting scvs until the flow of resources out paces the production of units. Due to the sheer amount of resources required to quickly add factories, the Terran will not have sufficient resource for turrets. This is the least common build due to the need for turrets early game, pushing the five factory push into too late a timing. However, a five factory will hard counter a Protoss who double expands off of two or three gateways without tech.
- Four Factory: This build incorporates two factories producing tanks until reaching about six or eight tanks, adding two more factories for vultures. The Terran will move out once the two new factories complete, with scvs, and a few vultures, and six to eight tanks, while producing rounds of vultures at home. This build is meant to punish the Protoss for being greedy before the Protoss pumps his round of zealots with speed.
- Six factory: This is the latest mid-game push. This requires the Terran to produce tanks from two factories, and vultures from the rest. The Terran will move out with about twelve tanks, and twenty-four vultures. This build is used to as a counter to a four or five gate expand. It is extremely powerful, and easily transitions into double upgrades with excess gas. However, six factory builds have largely been outdated in lieu of the more popular four factory push (or defend and expand) that transitions into early upgrades Flash style. Especially on large maps, Terrans will prefer a 3/3 upgrade advantage in late game.
The Terran army should be able to push out towards the Natural expansion with a full group of tanks with vultures and SCVs to support. The key to ending the game in this stage is an effective counter to Protoss' push breaking tools: Shuttles with Zealot Bombs or Reavers. Terran must push quick enough to prevent Protoss from finding a weakness in the push but slow enough to prevent getting caught unsieged. Once Terran reaches the natural the layout of most maps makes it incredibly difficult to counter, allowing Terran to take the game
Even if you are unable to break the natural and end the game then and there a Timing push provides a good screen to match Protoss Third Gas Expansion and keep them from getting an economic advantage. After that it's time to hunker down and prepare for Late game play.