Starcraft 2 Dark Templar Rush Build Order
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One of the easiest ways for Protoss to win games is via a
Starcraft 2 Dark Templar rush (also known as a DT rush).
Dark Templar are a Protoss ground unit that is permanently cloaked. Players will have to get detectors to be
able to see and attack the Dark Templar.
While it is easy for Terran and Zerg players to get out detectors in the early game, it is not such an easy task
for the Protoss player. As a result, this build is primarily reserved for Protoss vs Protoss mirror matches.
Dark Templar can work against Terran and Zerg, but they are usually added in as a secondary attack rather than
being the main build order. Dark Templar are easier to use against Terran and Zerg by sneaking a few into the
enemy's base while they are distracted by a larger attack or movement of troops. Strategies for using Dark Templar
against Terran and Zerg are provided in the later sections of this page.
Dark Templar Rush Build Order
Here is a standard method for executing the Dark Templar rush:
15/18: Assimilator (max out gas as soon as you can afford a Cybernetics Core)
16/18: Cybernetics Core
20/26: Warp Gate Research (Chrono Boost this exactly two times during its research. This will make
sure Warp Gate tech has finished and all Gateways have morphed into Warp Gates as soon
as the Dark Shrine has finished).
20/26: Twilight Council
23/26: Gateway x3
24/34: Dark Shrine
Executing the Build
Send out a Probe after building your Dark Shrine and use it to place a few proxy Pylons in close (but hidden)
proximity to the Protoss opponent's base. You will want to use several in case the Protoss finds and destroys one
(or a few) of them. It never hurts to have back up. Try to prevent the Protoss opponent from scouting out your
Probe heading out for proxy Pylons. Go the "long way" around the map if necessary.
Once the Dark Shrine finishes, warp in as many Dark Templar as you can afford and send them into the
Protoss opponent's base. If the Protoss player has no detection, focus on taking down their ability to produce
detectors rather than focusing on economic destruction. Killing Probes is tempting, but you can win the game
outright if you destroy the Pylons powering any would-be Robotics Facilities or destroy any Photon Cannons before
If the Protoss opponent has detection, you have three options: continuing with the attack anyway, going for an
all-in attack with Archons, or falling back and expanding.
The first option is to continue with your attack as planned. Even if the Protoss player has an Observer out, it
cannot be everywhere at once. It also likely has to be pulled back from its scouting duties. Split your Dark
Templar up and attack all portions of the Protoss base at once such that the Protoss opponent cannot attack all
your Dark Templar at the same time. The first one will get taken out right away but it will take your opponent a
little while to take them all out. This works best when the Protoss opponent has an expansion, since you can split
your Dark Templar up between two bases.
The second option is to transition into an all-in attack with Gateway units. Save your Dark Templar and convert
them into Archons. Archons are great versus Gateway units and can crush Force Fields, allowing you to run into a
Protoss opponent's base without being blocked. This can work regardless of whether the Protoss opponent is on one
or two bases.
The third option is to fall back and take your own expansion. You may be a little behind at this point if your
opponent expanded earlier than you, but you are not out of the game. Add on a Mothership Core for Photon Overcharge
to help defend your expansion, and use Force Fields to prevent a counter attack while you get the expansion up and
The Dark Templar Expansion - A Safer Alternative
One interesting alternative to the Dark Templar rush is racing to Dark Templar in an effort to secure an
expansion. You can hold off a variety of 1-base timing attacks just by getting out a Dark Templar. This will force
the Protoss opponent to get out detection before committing to an attack, giving you the time you need to set up
and secure your natural expansion.
It particularly protects you from early Gateway attacks. You might need to warp in a Sentry or two for Force
Fields to block the ramp while your Dark Shrine finishes, however, once you finish your Dark Shrine you will be
able to take out any Gateway forces that may be amassing outside your main base. You can also safely secure your
natural expansion this way, giving you a relatively early, safe expansion in Protoss vs Protoss.
Early Dark Templar Into Expansion Build Order
Here is how the build works:
18/18: Cybernetics Core
24/26: Warp Gate Research
26/34: Mothership Core
27/34: Twilight Council
27/34: Gateway x2 (Probe production halted temporarily to get these going)
30/34: Dark Shrine
34/42: Robotics Facility (needed for Observer to be safe against enemy DT rushes)
Once the Dark Shrine finishes, you can warp in a Dark Templar, head down to the low ground, and claim your
expansion. You may want to abort expanding and instead attack if your opponent went for a fast expansion.
Chrono Boost is used heavily on Probes with this build. Minerals will be needed for the Nexus and the
Mothership Core will be needed to help defend it. As a result, this build focuses a bit more on Probe
production plus a Mothership Core more than it does focusing on getting the Dark Templar a few seconds earlier
like with the standard Dark Templar rush.
The two major weaknesses of this opener are fast expanding opponents as well as Dark Templar rushes from your
opponent. Counter the fast expansion by actually rushing with your Dark Templar should you scout it out. Counter
enemy DT rushes by warping in a round of Sentries and chaining Force Fields to prevent Dark Templar from running
into the main base. This will buy you time to get out an Observer, at which point you can confront the Dark Templar
directly with your own Gateway units. Archons are great against Dark Templar if you are at a numbers
A Note on Dark Templar vs Terran
Most players mistakenly think that Dark Templar are completely worthless against Terran players because
Terran players can kill them with a Scanner Sweep.
While all Terran players are likely to have a Scanner Sweep, note that this doesn't necessarily mean Dark
Templar are worthless.
Scanner Sweep costs energy and is limited in amount. Also, note that players have to choice between the MULE and
the Scanner Sweep. Considering the MULE is worth 270 minerals to the Terran player (each one is!) simply
having them scan can wreck a Terran player's economy.
Of course, the true value of a MULE is not quite 270 minerals. The reason for this is that it takes 90
seconds for a MULE to actually gather those 270 minerals and the MULE mines out the Terran's base faster. However,
given that pro-level Terran's rarely use the Extra Supplies feature (1 instant free Supply Depot), it is safe to
say that the value of a MULE is higher than that of a Supply Depot.
If you have 4 Dark Templar, you can send them in one at a time, costing the Terran player a scan each time. Good
players actually keep less energy on tap as they use it for MULEs, so you can quickly exhaust their reserves. At
this point, your Dark Templar are free to "wreck shop".
Even bad players are unlikely to have energy for more than a couple scans, so the 4th Dark Templar
will start causing some serious damage. At this point, keep warping in Dark Templar and wrecking the opponent.
Dark Templar do very well versus Marines and can kill a Marine in 2 hits (less if the Dark Templar have
upgrades). Siege Tanks are also great targets since they won't run away and are very expensive. Siege-mode Tanks
are immobile and will die in seconds to an undetected Dark Templar.
Using Dark Templar to force a scan alone is not a good trade for the Protoss player. However, if you can kill a
similar cost unit like a Siege Tank plus force a scan, the advantage goes the Protoss.
Make sure to keep the DTs somewhat separated so they do not get taken out by a single scan. Also, be sure to
look out for the construction of Missile Turrets as these are a detector.
Finally, you can kill Tech Labs, particularly ones that are researching things. Tech Labs have very low HP but
often have very long upgrade timers. If you can kill off a Tech Lab researching Stimpack or Combat Shields, you can
significantly delay the Terran's ability to get out a strong bio army.
The best thing to remember about using a Starcraft 2 DT rush on Terran players is that even if you are
unsuccessful, each scanner sweep costs them 270 minerals over 90 seconds. Keep sending in DTs one at a time and try
to snipe their units and SCVs.
If you can kill just one Siege Tank and cost the Terran player a Scanner Sweep, you have dealt a
significant blow to their economy.
Look for high cost units like Tanks and Ghosts to snipe. Killing a Siege Tank only takes a few swings and many
players will not see this coming and scan fast enough, allowing you to kill one (or more) tanks.
Siege tanks are great to kill as most players keep these in "Siege Mode" which means they won't automatically
run when you attack them. They will be stuck in place long enough for you to kill one, and often the splash damage
from the tanks will hurt their other units in the process.
Just do the math: 1 Dark Templar costs 125 minerals and 125 vespene gas. One Siege Tank costs 150 minerals and
125 vespene gas, and the scanner sweep costs 270 minerals! Losing 125 minerals and vespene is a lot less painful
than the 420 minerals and 125 vespene the Terran loses in this situation. By using multiple Dark Templar, this adds
up very quickly!
Ghosts can expose DTs temporarily with the EMP ability, so keep an eye out for them and never clump your Dark
Templar. Focus these down, as an EMPed Dark Templar that is killed is a waste of money. Use your Dark Templar to
focus Ghosts down.
Note that Dark Templar can also be used to defend your own base from Terran counter attacks. If they spent all
their scans on your Dark Templar, they won't be able to see the Dark Templar in your base. You can use Stalkers or
Phoenix to focus down any Ravens in the area.
Dark Templar vs Zerg Players
The role of the Dark Templar versus the Zerg player is a bit different than the other races. Namely, the Dark
Templar rush itself is not very good against Zerg, but harassing with Dark Templar late in the game is an effective
Rushes do not really work at all - Zerg can get detection via Overseers and Spore Crawlers very easily,
especially now that the Spore Crawler does not require the Evolution Chamber to get. If you want to go for early
aggression, it is easier to use Phoenix or an Immortal/Sentry/Zealot timing as both of these builds are much more
difficult for the Zerg to stop, even when the Zerg knows the attack is coming.
However, Zerg players love to expand the map. They need a lot of minerals and hatcheries to be competitive in
the late game. They rarely invest heavily in automated defense and instead rely on spreading the creep and map
control for defense. This makes the Zerg's satellite bases very vulnerable to a multi-pronged Dark Templar
Zerg players do not typically have more than a few Overseers, and these Overseers are almost always sitting with
the main army or scouting the opponent. Zerg players do not make an effort to plop Overseers at each expansion, as
Overseers cost gas.
What you can do to take advantage of this is when the Zerg is on 3+ bases, you can make 1-2 Dark Templar for
each Zerg hatchery, and split them up to attack all 3+ at the same time. Let these Dark Templar go in on their own.
Meanwhile, while they are running into position, act like you are about to attack with your main army. The Zerg
player will be focusing their attention on your main force if you are threatening them with an attack.
When the Dark Templar hit, the Zerg will be too distracted to quickly respond to all of the attacks happening at
once. The pretending to attack with your main army is key to making this work. It is much easier to react to Dark
Templar harass of this sort when there are no distractions or threat of imminent attack.
This strategy also relies on the Zerg not having too much automated defense at their expansions. One Spore
Crawler and two Spine Crawlers at each Hatchery will shut this down. If the Zerg uses a lot of automated defense,
you can still harass with Zealots. They can attack automated defense without wasting a bunch of vespene gas.
The Starcraft 2 DT rush is most effective when used against Protoss players, mostly because Protoss players
typically lack early detection. This strategy is often enough to completely finish off Protoss players who get
surprised by the assault.
Against Terran players, use multiple Dark Templar attacking just one at a time in order to waste Orbital Command
energy. Once the Terran player taps out on Scanner Sweep, Dark Templar can wreck havoc. Meanwhile, against Zerg
players, stick to multi-pronged attacks against Zerg who lack detection and automated defense at their satellite
expansions. Hitting them all at the same time is a nightmare for Zerg players to try to counter.