Starcraft 2 Protoss Strategy

Home --> Protoss Guide --> Protoss Strategy (you are here)

Click Here to Get The Osiris MethodIn Starcraft 2, the Protoss are a playable race of futuristic aliens. They rely on advanced technology and large, powerful units to defeat their enemies.

I have put together page on Starcraft 2 Protoss strategy so you can do well as a Protoss player. Below you will find all the information you need in order to master the Protoss race.

To prevent clutter on the navigation bar, this section on Protoss strategy has been broken down into the following five sections:

General Protoss Strategies
Protoss vs Protoss Strategies
Protoss vs Terran Strategies
Protoss vs Zerg Strategies
Additional Protoss Strategies

Click any of the links above to jump to the section on the particular strategy you are looking to learn more about.

General Starcraft 2 Protoss Strategies

Below, you will discover 5 great Protoss strategies that you can use against any of the races in Starcraft 2. These tactics emphasize the strengths of the Protoss race, so make sure you incorporate them into your gameplay if you want to win more games.

Timing Attacks

The Protoss race excels at timing attacks that hit in the early portion of the mid-game. While different builds use different timings, the general idea here is that the Protoss player can build a powerful army off of just two bases by the 8:00-11:00 mark. The three minute window depends on the level of upgrades, size of the army, and number of production facilities.

The idea is behind these timing attacks is that the Protoss can hit the opponent with a superior force before the opponent is able to get any return on their initial investment in tier 2 or tier 3 technology, upgrades, or their third expansion.

When practiced and perfected, these timing attacks are deadly. They even work at the professional level, where pro-level Protoss players have used repeated timing attacks to win even at the big money tournaments. Different builds work best for different race match-ups, so head over to our section on Protoss build orders if you are not sure which timing attack works best versus each race.

Fast Upgrades

Another good general Protoss strategy is getting out fast upgrades. Thanks to the Nexus' Chrono Boost ability, Protoss players can get out their upgrades up to 50% faster than their opponents if the Protoss player is diligent about using Chrono Boost. By getting a +1 or even +2 upgrade advantage, the Protoss army becomes quite formidable, even if it is only composed of Gateway units.

It is particularly easy for Protoss players to upgrade their ground armor and weapons. Both of these upgrades are on the lower end for cost, and the Twilight Council (a very popular Protoss tech structure) unlocks tier 2 and 3 upgrades. It is much more difficult for Protoss players to pursue fast air upgrades, since levels 2 and 3 require a Fleet Beacon, an expensive tier 3 structure.

Oracle Harass

Another popular Protoss strategy (particularly against Terran players) is the Oracle harass. The Oracle's Pulsar Beam is very effective at killing enemy workers. A single Oracle can quickly clear out an entire enemy mineral line if left unchecked. Since the Oracle is a flying unit, it has become a common strategy to fly 1-2 Oracles into an enemy's mineral line, activate Pulsar Beam, and proceed to destroy as many workers as possible before the enemy can counter.

You can increase the effectiveness of this strategy by using multiple Oracles at the same time and splitting them up so that one is attacking each enemy mineral line simultaneously. It is easy to respond to and stop a single attack, but handling multiple attacks at the same time is difficult. Even better, keep an Oracle hidden nearby each enemy expansion, then during major battles send them in to the closest mineral line to attack while the enemy is distracted by the major battle.

This strategy tends to be least effective versus Zerg players, as Queens fair well versus Oracles and provide anti-air at each expansion.

Warp Prism Play

An alternative strategy you can use for harassing the enemy with the Oracle is harassing the opponent with the Warp Prism. Later in the game when large numbers of Warp Gates are under your control, a great way to cause serious damage is to warp in a round of Zealots with a Warp Prism inside the enemy main. Zealots are cheap and deal solid DPS, so they can often rush down enough buildings before the enemy can counter in order to make the attack worthwhile.

This works great if the enemy has built automated defense or if you are tight on gas. Oracles cost a lot of vespene and are easily chased away by Missile Turrets, Photon Cannons, and Spore Crawlers. Zealots on the other hand warped in via Warp Prisms cost no gas and do not fear automated defense. Zealots can trade efficiently even with Spine Crawlers and Photon Cannons and then can go on to destroy workers, Queens, and tech structures until they are countered.

Proxy Pylons

The use of proxy Pylons is a key Protoss strategy. Mastering this mechanic is essential to your success as a Protoss player in Starcraft 2. Failure to use proxy Pylons appropriately will result in your rankings being ever suppressed as proper usage of these Pylons is necessary to be competitive as a Protoss player.

Whenever you go out to make an attack, you always want to bring a Probe with you. This Probe can be used to build Pylons at strategic points around the map so you can constantly warp in reinforcements when needed. You do not want just a single proxy Pylon but rather should build a number of Pylons. This way your attack does not end if the opponent takes down the Pylon.

It is a good idea to place Pylons in a straight line. If you are making a big attack, they do not even have to be hidden. They just serve as reinforcement points. As you push across the map, keep dropping Pylons. The Pylons in the back will allow you to warp in reinforcements if you need to retreat, while the Pylons in the front can reinforce your attack if you are having a lot of success.

While these five general strategies are a great place to start versus any of the races, some strategies work best (or even work at all) versus specific races. In the sections below, you will discover additional strategies and tactics specific to each match-up.

Protoss vs Protoss Strategies

Full Guide: Protoss vs Protoss Strategy

Protoss vs Protoss is definitely the most volatile of all the Protoss vs Protoss matches. On two player maps, you are asking for a quick loss is you try to expand early in the game. Even on large four player maps, economic builds can be risky. The Mothership Core helps defend the early expansion in PvP, but only if the map is designed such that the natural expansion cannot be avoided on the way to the main base. Most Protoss players open with 1-base builds and only grab their natural expansion after getting some production facilities and units going to defend against the possibility of attack.

Early Gateway rushes are as common (and as effective) as ever in PvP in Heart of the Swarm. Now, the rushes typically use a number of Stalkers and Zealots with support from the Mothership Core. The Mothership Core is able to take down Sentries and provide vision of the high ground, preventing defensive Protoss players from keeping out Protoss Gateway attacks with just repeated Force Fields.

Dark Templar rushes are very popular in PvP, especially in Heart of the Swarm. Many Protoss players delay their Observer a little later than usual in order to get out a Mothership Core, which makes the timing for Dark Templar rushes more effective than ever. When you consider extra DTs can be converted into Archons and Archons are great against Zealots and Sentries, the Dark Templar rush is a low risk strategy.

In the mid game, Void Rays are an excellent Protoss vs Protoss unit. With Prismatic Alignment, they can take out Stalkers and Robotics tech units with ease. Adding on Stargates in the mid game also makes the transition into Tempests in the late game easier.

Heart of the Swarm has significantly reduced the effectiveness of the Colossus with the introduction of the Tempest. The Tempest is the strongest counter to the Colossus in all of Starcraft 2, so as soon as one Protoss player gets a few Tempests, there is no point in the opposing Protoss player to get Colossi. However, until Tempests are built, Colossi are great versus Gateway units, allowing for a several minute window of weakness if one Protoss player can surprise another with Colossi before the surprised player can get out a Fleet Beacon and Tempests.

Protoss vs Terran Strategy

Full Guide: Protoss vs Terran Strategy

Protoss vs Terran can be very aggressive in the early game. Protoss players in particular are capable of putting out a lot of pressure within the first few minutes of a game. The Protoss is at no real threat of attack from the Terran early in the game unless the Protoss does not get any units or does not get out detection. A single Stalker is able to outmicro a large number of unupgraded Marines, so all you need is a Stalker to protect yourself from Terran rushes. This of course assumes excellent micro. A bit later in the early game the Protoss can be vulnerable to Widow Mine rushes, so be sure to add on detection early.

The mid game features viable timing attacks from both races. Protoss players can make great Gateway and Robotics-based timing attacks if the Terran player tries to play too economical (i.e. a macro CC build). Terran players on the other hand are particularly strong at this phase in the game when they perform large drops in the enemy's natural expansion or main base. Before Blink, these drops can inflict crippling damage and by the time reinforcing units arrive, the Medivacs scoop of the units and Ignite Afterburners back to safety.

The late game of Protoss vs Terran is a war over army balance. Typically, Protoss armies consist of a Gateway backbone backed up by High Templar, Archons, and Colossi. Terran armies consist of bio units backed up by Vikings and Ghosts. Ghosts are good versus High Templar and Archons, while Vikings are good versus Colossi. As a Protoss player, you need to alter your unit production based on your opponent's army composition. If the Terran gets a lot of Vikings, cut back on the Viking production and focus on ground units. If the Terran gets too many Ghosts, increase your Colossi production. The late game of PvT is a balancing act.

Protoss vs Zerg Strategies

Full Guide: Protoss vs Zerg Strategy

Most Protoss players report being the most confident with their Protoss vs Zerg strategies. The Forge Fast Expand build provides a safe opener for Protoss players to use against Zerg on literally any map, giving Protoss players an initial gameplan whenever they see a Zerg opponent.

Protoss players rarely act aggressively towards Zerg in the early game. The reason is that Zergling run-bys can cause a Protoss player to lose the game. Zerglings can ignore Zealots and focus on Probes. They also can stand up to Stalker fire easily when it is just one Stalker trying to take down a Zergling due to the Stalker's low DPS, especially against light units. Pushing out early leaves the Protoss vulnerable to these Zergling attacks.

There are many timing attacks available for Protoss in PvZ. Zerg players that focus heavily on economy are weak against Gateway and upgrade-centric timing attacks. However, once the Zerg's gas intake increases significantly and the Zerg moves to layer tech, pure Gateway army compositions lose their effectiveness. Hydralisks, Swarm Hosts, and even Mutalisks in large numbers will destroy Gateway-based armies.

Defeating Hydralisks is all about the Colossus with Extended Thermal Lances. When time permits, High Templar with Psionic Storm is a great counter to Hydralisks as well. Mutalisks can be shut down by Phoenix, Archons, and Stalkers.

Zerg players have the hardest time stopping full Protoss air armies. Void Rays, Phoenix, Tempest, and Carriers with a few High Templar on the ground for Psionic Storm is a virtually unstoppable combination for the Protoss. It is very hard to gather all the resources and survive the initial onslaught to get up to this unit combination though. Some Protoss players like to open with Phoenix in order to gain map control in the early game, allowing the Protoss to take multiple expansions as well as invest in the production facilities to produce air units.

Additional Protoss Strategies

Over time, we will be adding links to specific guides for more Starcraft 2 Protoss strategies. Bookmark this page and check back regularly for future Protoss updates and strategies that will be added to this section of our site.

Click Here to Get The Osiris Method