Phoenix (Wings of Liberty)
- This article is for the Wings of Liberty multiplayer version. For the Legacy of the Void version, see Phoenix (Legacy of the Void). For the Heart of the Swarm version, see Phoenix (Heart of the Swarm).
- For the player, see PhoeNix.
The Phoenix is a speedy Protoss air-to-air fighter, which warps in at the Stargate. Phoenixes can attack other air units while moving, granting an upper hand against enemy air units that rely on mobility or range. Light units like Mutalisks and Banshees take bonus damage from the Phoenix, further increasing its effectiveness. However, Phoenixes don't do very well against powerful armoured flyers like Battlecruisers and Corruptors. Their unique ability, Graviton Beam, can lift a ground unit into the air, disabling it, and making it vulnerable to attack by air.
The Phoenix is a great hit-and-run unit, a group of several Phoenixes can easily move into an undefended worker line and cause big economic damage.
The Phoenix is fairly effective at disabling caster units or destroying them outright. Most casters have light armor, and lack abilities that are very effective against Phoenix. Phoenixes can also support your main army by lifting up other high threat units like Siege Tanks.
Graviton Beam is very handy for asserting a defensive advantage. The Phoenix can whittle down retreating forces by lifting units, trapping them for your main army to destroy. Graviton Beam can freeze high power harass units like Hellions or casters, giving more time for your defenses to respond. Phoenix can also help with defense by trapping units foolish enough to get in range of Photon Cannons, making them easy kills.
Until Patch 1.4, Phoenix were not a safe opening against a 4 Warpgate Rush. However, Patch 1.4 allows force fields to essentially negate a 4 gate rush, so Phoenix are now a viable opening in PvP. Once the threat of a 4 gate ends, Phoenix, or Stargate builds in general, are a good counter to Robotics tech. Most Protoss tend to tech Robotics Facility units to get detection in case of Dark Templar, which leads to compositions featuring Immortals and Colossi. In these armies, Protoss spend the vast majority of their gas building Robo units and sink their minerals into Zealots. The Phoenix is an excellent counter to this combination as:
- Phoenix can lift Immortals to neutralize their attack and kill them in relative safety.
- Phoenix can attack Colossi directly.
- Phoenix cannot be attacked by Zealots, Colossi nor Immortals.
- A Phoenix has 180 effective hp and counts as light, thereby able to take 18 Stalker hits before dying, 20 with +1 Air Armor.
- The Phoenix is one of the fastest units in StarCraft II, giving it the ability to enter and escape battles quickly.
These advantages make the Phoenix a surprisingly viable option in the match-up. However, Phoenix have very little stopping power on their own. They cannot stop your opponent from expanding, and they offer little threat in punishing your opponent. Top level players prefer to spend the initial energy of phoenix to kill at least 1 probe per phoenix before save up energy for big battle. This economic harassment allows a player to close the income gap when opening Phoenix against a quicker expansion.
Against an opponent who opens up with Robotics tech, Phoenixes will easily shut that play down. Immortals are utterly useless against Phoenixes due to lack of anti-air capabilities. Should the opponent try for a 3Gate Robo Immortal All-in play, Phoenixes can also snipe Sentries à grâce the bonus damage to light units and resistance to Stalkers' anti-armor attacks.
A common use for the Phoenix is to get 5 or 6 and constantly harass the opponent's mineral line. 5 Phoenix generate an average of 50 energy (enough for one use of Graviton Beam) for every 17.7 seconds (roughly 14 seconds with 6). Taking into account that Probe build time is 17 seconds (without Chronoboost), means 6 Phoenix allows the effective shut down of one base's Probe production.
Phoenix will usually force a large anti-air response from the opponent. Most of the time, this means Stalkers (with or without Blink). As a result, progamers such as TT1 or DdoRo often build Immortals when opening with Phoenix.
Another use of phoenix is to get 2-3 to disable key enemy units and/or gain high ground vision for a timing attack. Since most anti-4 gate builds involve 1-2 Sentries or an Immortal, such a strategy usually matches up well with a 4 gate.
The primary downside to Phoenix play is the lack of mobile detection from Robo tech, rendering a player vulnerable to Dark Templar unless he invests in a Robotics Facility. Phoenix are also weak against a powerful mass gateway timing attack with/without Blink support. Fortunately, the excellent scouting that a Phoenix force can provide allows a player to see most of this threats early enough to react and tech switch in time.
The tensest situation for Phoenixes, other than dealing with DTs, is dealing with other Phoenixes. It is extremely tricky to micro Phoenixes so that one's Phoenixes are focus-firing on one of the opponent's Phoenixes on the move. Many players will invest in Air upgrades for Phoenix vs. Phoenix battles. Air Attack upgrades look very pleasing, but it does absolutely nothing. Phoenixes with +1 Air will still require 9 hits, the same amount that a normal Phoenix needs, to kill an opposing Phoenix. It is much better to invest in the Armor upgrade as the extra +1 Armor will enable a Phoenix to not only survive one extra hit from an enemy Phoenix but two extra hits from a Stalker.
The primary use of Phoenixes in PvT, currently, is to protect Colossi from Vikings as Phoenixes, with their Light attribute and 180 total HP, can sustain 9 volleys from a Viking and 11 with a +1 armor. Production of Phoenixes is usually started after 3 bases are secured. 2 Stargate Phoenixes can force the Terran to either overcommit to Vikings, in which his ground army will suffer, or give up on attempting to kill your Colossi, which will severely weaken MMM. Unlike Vikings, Phoenixes can be useful against ground as they can lift up powerful units, such as Marauders and Siege Tanks, so winning an air battle is a big victory for Protoss. On the other hand, if Vikings win an air battle, they're essentially useless once they take out the Colossi, which means that if Terran makes too many Vikings, their ground army may be too weak to deal with your ground army.
Phoenixes effectively counter Banshees due to their speed and the Banshee's inability to hit air units, as well as the Phoenix's bonus damage to light armor. Proactive scouting can easily reveal if a Terran player attempts to get early Banshees, which is often denoted by the presence of a Starport with attached Tech Lab. By quickly building a Stargate and using Chrono Boost to produce Phoenixes a Protoss player can effectively counter this build.
A Phoenix opening can deal significant damage to a Terran player who opts to Marauder-expand, as Marauder-expand is an increasingly popular build against Protoss. Phoenixes have also seen use as an effective counter to Siege Tank / Infantry combinations: Using Graviton Beam on the Tanks strips the Marines of their support units, making them easy to kill.
Graviton Beam is exceptionally useful for defending against Ghosts. A rushing Phoenix fleet can pick up the Ghosts, and render them helpless while you cast Feedback or pick them off. This can be critical to remove the threat of EMP, but will likely involve sacrificing the Phoenix. Graviton Beam will also interrupt a nuclear launch, completely wasting the nuke. The simple threat of Phoenix can scare Ghosts into prematurely firing EMP in self-defense, making hallucinated Phoenix just as dangerous if your opponent lacks detection.
Phoenixes are a very common followup after expanding in PvZ, or even as an opening. Generally, Phoenixes are far more effective when waiting for 4 or more before showing them to your opponent because 4 Phoenixes can kill a Queen in one gravitation beam. Phoenixes can be used to bully Overlords off the map to deny scouting, and can even kill them to supply cap the Zerg and potentially deal significant damage. Phoenixes are great in combination with Void Rays, as Phoenixes can lift units, such as Queens, and Void Rays can deal the damage without being attacked. Phoenixes are very deadly to small groups of Zerg units. Even Hydralisks are vulnerable to a few Phoenixes if there are not enough of them. Considering a Hydralisk's slow movement speed, Phoenixes are very hard to deal with for Zerg. Infestors can also be picked off, but great care must be taken when the Infestor has enough energy to Fungal Growth because that could potentially get an entire group of Phoenixes killed. Phoenixes also discourage Mutalisk play, and may force your opponent to make Hydralisks, thus, Colossi are the most common transition after Phoenixes. This also easily sets the Protoss up for the deadly Colossus/Void Ray composition.
Phoenix's quotes (video and sound) - YouTube video.
|Patch 11 (version 0.13.0.15250)|