IntroductionPBOTW is back! Now that my student teaching is nearing completion I finally have the time to write more Build-of-the-Week guides for all of you!
For those of you who don't know who I am, my name is Gemini and I'm a Grandmaster Protoss player who has been making guides since 2011 on various sites. The Build of the Week is my most popular series of build order guides that I've been making for about three years now on /r/allthingsprotoss. With the help of www.rqwvr.icu and Spawning Tool I'm now bringing my guides over to TL as well!
Each write-up includes build order notes, an explanation/analysis of how the build works, and a VOD section so you can check out the source game and how it should go. I'll also include the Spawning Tool link so that you can practice it in game yourself and download the replay of me doing it. I hope you enjoy and be sure to read the whole write-up before asking any questions as I'm sure some of them will be answered in here!
How to use Spawning Tool
Link to the Spawning Tool Build
Link to /r/allthingsprotoss Guide.
[PvP]Stats' 3-Sentry Expand into Fast ForgeI stayed away from PvP when all that was happening in the meta was Phoenix vs Phoenix, but now there are enough cool things going on that PvP is a good place to resume PBOTW. So much has changed since the end of last year which has made PvP (and the other match-ups as well) much more interesting and fun, so I'm excited to get back into breaking some of these new styles down for you all!
First up, we have an introduction to one of the safest and most solid ways to play in PvP in the recent meta, featuring Stats and his amazing run from IEM Katowice last month. Despite it being a month ago, the styles shown at IEM are still being used heavily today and are a good summary of how the professional meta has developed. After asking both PartinG and PtitDrogo, they testified to the build's solid place in the match-up and the frequency of its use by them and many other Protoss. This specific build that Stats and some other Protoss players used at Katowice is a modernized version of a previous style that is designed to be as safe as possible while still smartly cutting corners to give yourself a strong lead in tech and upgrades while going into the mid-game.
3-Sentry Expand into Fast Forge
|14||Pylon [@100% --> Chrono]|
|16||Gate [Chrono Nexus]|
|17||Gas --> 2 in each, then rally in|
|19||2nd Gate --> Scout|
|@100% Gate --> Cyber|
|22||Pylon (Optional: Proxied with scouting probe)|
|@100% Cyber --> Stalker + Sentry + WG|
|Pause Probes @24|
|@100% Stalker/Sentry --> 2x Sentry (Delay as you wait for 2nd 100 gas)|
|Resume Probe Production|
|33||Pylon on low ground|
|3:00 Hallucination Scout|
|@100% 2x Sentry --> 2x Stalker|
|@100% Low ground pylon --> Shield Battery|
|Extra Shield Battery in main if desired|
|@100% WG --> 2x Adept @Proxied Pylon (Optional) or 2x Stalker|
|3:30-3:45 Forge --> +1 Attack [Constant Chrono]|
|~4:45 Robo + 2x Gas + Twilight Council|
|@100% Robo --> Immortal Production [Chrono]|
|@100% +1 Attack --> +2 Attack [Constant Chrono]|
|@100% Twilight Council --> Charge + Templar Archives|
|Pause Probe Production @2 base saturation|
|5:40 4-6x Gateway (6-8x Total)|
|~6:30 - 7:00 3rd Nexus (Earlier if only 6 Gates)|
|Constant Chargelot + Archon|
|@100% 2x Immortal --> Warp Prism|
|@100% +2 Attack [~7:50-8:00] --> Hit w/~3 Archons, 2 Immortals, bunch of Chargelots|
Build Explanation & Example Games
Stats vs Creator - IEM Katowice 2019 - RO24 Group A (Game 1)
Game 1 Replay
Game 1 Replay
This is the main game/replay I used for reference in the build notes.
I used game two of this series to help map out some of the later tech timings and transitions, as herO went for a Forge transition in a game without many early game disruptions (herO transitions into Blink/Disruptor, which I did not document). Game 1 features an adaptation including a Robotics Facility, upon scouting an opponent's proxy Pylon with a Hallucination scout.
Stats vs Patience - IEM Katowice 2019 - RO24 Group A (Game 1)
Game 1 Replay
Game 1 Replay
Another example of a Robo variation upon scouting a fast 3rd Gateway with the Probe scout.
The concept for this build is by no means new. However, it continues to be a staple of macro play in the match-up, and this updated version had plenty of success at IEM Katowice. The build notes were created by combining aspects of a game from Stats and also a game from herO who did a similar build. Since there were alterations in the early game forcing some delays in the build, I then based the rest of the timings off of uninterrupted standard play to serve as a baseline.
It starts off with nothing too fancy, just a regular 2-gate PvP opening that goes into Stalker/Sentry as many of you should be familiar with. The way in which you saturate your gasses isn't the MOST important thing in the world—however the way I suggest in the build notes is the way to maximize your mineral and gas income to let the build flow as seamlessly as possible. [Putting three Probes in each gas right away could result in too much gas early on and disrupt some of the buildings you'll need to make. On the other hand, waiting too long to rally all of your Probes into the gasses could result in not enough gas to start Stalker/Sentry/Warp Gate when the Cybernetics Core finishes.]
One important development in PvP since the changes earlier this year has been the use of proxied Pylons. With the faster Hallucination scout timing due to the energy cost decrease, it became very easy to scout your opponent's tech before deciding on your own tech route. In response, players started proxying their 2nd Pylon more often, even if it was simply to hide their tech from the fast Hallucination scout. A further development from here was to just proxy/hide the 2nd Pylon without placing a tech structure there. This fakes an aggressive or sneaky play, but in reality you're just putting your 2nd Pylon on the map somewhere random and then expanding like normal.
Stats chose this fake-proxy route in the example game by sending his scouting Probe to the bottom of the map to put a Pylon there, and then sent his Probe to the back of Creator's natural. This made Creator think it was a 'real' proxy (since he didn't see a 2nd Pylon in Stats' base and never saw a scouting Probe) and also allowed Stats to check if Creator had expanded or not. Stats used this same technique vs Patience, and upon seeing no expansion Nexus, sent his Probe up to the main and scouted an aggressive 3rd Gateway in time to prepare his defenses. You can choose to use these little mindgames if you'd like, or just make your 2nd Pylon in your base to keep things simple. It's not as important to try and mindgame in lower leagues since most people don't know what they're supposed to be scouting for anyway.
Anyway, back to the outline of the actual build. After your 2nd Pylon, the Cybernetics Core should be finishing up so that you can make a Stalker and Sentry along with Warp Gate research. You'll pause Probe production at 24 Probes so that you can expand in a timely manner while also making more units out of the Gateway. Put a 28 Pylon down somewhere in your base so that it doesn't get killed by any super-early aggression that might come at you. After the Stalker/Sentry is finished, make TWO more Sentries. There will be a short gap in production as you wait for enough gas to come in for Sentries.
At this point you might be wondering why we're making two extra Sentries this early and what the overall purpose of this build is at all. There's two main reasons that getting so many early Sentries can be beneficial in the early game:
- Scouting potential: Considering how cheap Hallucination is now, you'll be able to spam out Hallucinated Phoenix nonstop to always be on top of scouting what your opponent is building and where their army is.
- Defensive versatility: With so many early Sentries you have access to a lot of early forcefields. This can shutdown any early Gateway unit aggression, whether it's dividing the army up in a fight or cutting off units that poke too recklessly. The additional Sentries mean you can also use a Guardian Shield alongside your forcefields instead of having to choose between the two. Also, having three Sentries means you don't have to worry about banking energy for defense instead of Hallucination scouting.
Since Sentries are so cheap on minerals, you can rush six units out of your Gateway in a very efficient manner for early defense. This build will have a total of three Sentries and three Stalkers and a Shield Battery to defend a fast Nexus. There's very little early aggression that can punch through that type of defense unless it is a very dedicated all-in.
After you have the next two Sentries in production you can throw down a 32 Nexus and resume Probe production, putting down a Pylon on the low ground as well. You'll place a Shield Battery as soon as the Pylon is finished to help defend the low ground. You can also fit a Chronoboost onto Warp Gate sometime in here to help get that finished a little faster in case you need it.
Remember that the NEW TIME to send a Hallucinated Phoenix with a Sentry first opener is 3:00 even. It's been like this since the Hallucination patch, but since this is the first time I'm writing a guide with the updated time, I wanted to make sure everyone was aware of it. This should line up to around when the 33 Pylon goes down.
Afterwards, you'll make two more Stalkers when the extra Sentries complete to round out your early game defense. Get a Shield Battery in your main mineral line if you scout a Stargate, and you can get one even without scouting if you want to be absolutely safe. Then, once Warp Gate finishes, you have a few options:
- Make two Adepts at the proxied Pylon (if you proxied): Other than being a cute mindgame, that early proxied Pylon can be useful at this stage in the game to send out two Adepts to try and sneak-shade into the opponent's base for some suicide Probe kills. This can give yourself a massive early economic advantage as the Adepts will be hitting at a very strange time.
- Make two early Stalkers at home: For extra defense you can warp-in some extra Stalkers at home to be super safe. This is absolutely what you should do if you scout any potential early aggression from the opponent.
- Don't warp-in anything: Save the resources instead to get out faster tech and upgrades and more Probes if you see that the opponent is being defensive as well.
At this point, all you'll have is a fast Nexus and a bunch of Gateway units to help defend it, but no actual tech. With this build, you'll be making a tech transition that goes against all the common sense of PvP's extensive, aggressive history: Fast Forge.
Why Fast Forge?If you've watched any amount of PvP throughout the years you would know that choosing a Forge as your first "Tech" option is a bit of a rarity. It's extremely vulnerable to aggression and doesn't leave you with many offensive options yourself. However, the reasoning for doing it in this build is that it's a great way to cut corners and set yourself up with a strong upgrade timing in the mid-game.
I was able to talk with PtitDrogo, resident European Galaxy-Brain (recently finishing fourth at WCS Europe Winter), and get some of his stellar insights on the strengths, weaknesses, and general tips for using the Forge transition. His responses will be paraphrased within this section of the guide.
1. Why Forge First?
The first question you might be asking is, "Why would you bother going for a Forge so quickly in PvP?" The best answer to this is, "Because you can." With how fast a Hallucination scout can see what your opponent is doing, you can assure yourself that you'll be relatively safe in going for a fast Forge. Drogo mentioned that anytime you see a Nexus with your Hallucination or Probe scout, you can feel safe putting the a Forge down at around 3:30-3:45. If your opponent is expanding, it's very unlikely that you'll be playing against any heavy aggression that could easily break your defensive position while going for a Forge. Your early units (8 in total if you use a defensive warp-in) and Shield Battery is sufficient to defend most early aggression that isn't all-in/heavily-committed to doing damage. In the example game of Stats vs Creator, Stats was able to defend Creator's attempted early Gateway/Stargate pressure and then safely get a Forge knowing that there was nothing else that could threaten him at the time. This fast Forge allows you to start your upgrades much faster than your opponent, which will help you later on. For a long time now, the most influential part of mid-game PvP has been the +2 timing that I've talked about in previous builds. (Check out my statistical breakdown on why +2 is so significant in PvP fights, and why it's a key point in the match-up). Getting a fast Forge the moment you realize the game is going to go long has been a theme for a while, and this style takes the natural, next-step and tries to get it as quickly as (reasonably) possible.
2. Potential Weaknesses
While the fast forge helps you hit a powerful +2 timing before your opponent, this comes at the cost of the rest of your tech being delayed. Around 4:45 is when you'll be getting your Robo and Twilight Council with your extra gasses at the natural, which is much later than any other macro PvP build. This can leave you fairly vulnerable to specific styles of play that are meant to abuse this lack of tech. Drogo reinforced this point by mentioning that Robo expand builds that get out a Warp Prism first to stage Adept harassment is very difficult to deal with when opening fast Forge. Due to the fact that you have no reliable means of shutting the Warp Prism down, (no Phoenix or Blink) you have to rely on your Stalkers being well positioned and the opponent messing up with their Warp Prism. The constant two Adept shades into the mineral lines can really hinder your economy to the point where your fast upgrade lead means nothing compared to the number of units that your opponent can produce with their uninterrupted resource collection.
Additionally, Stalker/Sentry openers are not void of weaknesses either. While they do provide great scouting potential, and the opening build does provide you with plenty of units to defend, certain types of early aggression can still be difficult to hold. Heavy Adept/Oracle pressure—specifically proxy-Oracles—can prove difficult to hold with a Stalker/Sentry opener. Drogo had said that the initial proxied-Oracle is not a problem, since you'll easily have a Battery up in time, however the combination of the Adepts and Oracles is extremely threatening to your early setup. You have to be ON TOP of your reactive wall-ins to keep Adept shades from getting into your main base, and be sure that your Probes aren't getting one-shot once Oracles start travelling in pairs. If you play well, it is definitely still defensible—however it does prove difficult enough that we don't see every single Protoss player opening Stalker/Sentry every game.
Lastly, there are also some situations where you won't want to build an early Forge due to the early aggression being too threatening. I mentioned earlier that Stats had scouted an early 3rd Gateway from Patience in one game which influenced him to stay on one base and make an early Robo instead of a Forge to help defend. This is definitely something you'll want to keep in mind as you're playing your ladder games. Remember that the Hallucination scout is meant to help influence your decisions going into the mid-game. If you see an aggressive one-base play then don't be afraid to deviate from the plan. Drogo even mentioned that notorious builds such as the Warp Prism/3-Gate/Stalker all-in are no match for this style if you react safely with a Robo of your own and some Shield Batteries on the high ground. This build definitely has the flexibility to defend almost any early push, but you need to be aware that it's coming in order to alter your plan accordingly.
4. Transitioning into the mid-game
Regardless of how the early-game goes, the overall goal of this build is to get to your +2 Chargelot, Immortal, Archon (CIA) push as soon as possible. The latter half of the included build notes help to outline how to do that most effectively. As you have the money and as your tech structures finish you want to quickly tech up by going into a Templar Archives and research Charge once the Twilight is finished. You also want to pause Probe production once you reach two base saturation so that you can explode your gateway count. If you want to all-in, then you should be making six extra Gateways for a total of eight. If you are planning on being a little greedier to expand to a 3rd base, then get four for a total of six and then the extra two a little bit later. I personally think it's always safer to go for the eight in total before expanding just because the +2 timings are so popular. You're almost always going to find people trying to make some sort of mid-game push. Then, make sure you have a Warp Prism lining up with your +2 attack (which you should have been dumping ALL of your Chrono into) and hit at around 8:00 with a solid CIA composition.
Thank you all for reading and if you have any questions/comments please leave them below and I'll try to get to all of them!
Brought to you by the TL Strategy Team in collaboration with Overwolf and Spawning Tool.
Brought to you by the TL Strategy Team in collaboration with Overwolf and Spawning Tool.