Starcraft 2 Protoss vs Terran Strategies

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Click Here to Get The Osiris MethodAs a Protoss player in Starcraft 2, playing against Terran players can be difficult. This Protoss vs Terran strategy section will teach you the most important aspects and timings of PvT so you can dominate your opponents.

With the release of the Heart of the Swarm, Protoss players are now able to make effective attacks at all phases of the game, giving Protoss a newfound ability to control the pace of the game.

Protoss vs Terran matches can be split into three distinct phases: the early game, the mid game, and the late game. All of these phases are very different, so treating them as three separate entities is necessary to accurately describe the best PvT strategies.

PvT in the Early Game

With the release of Heart of the Swarm, there are several viable methods for Protoss players to win the game outright in the early stages of Protoss vs Terran.

The Weakness of Barracks Units

In the early game, the Protoss player is in complete control of the game by default. The reason is that Stalkers completely destroy Marines and Reapers when the Stalkers are properly microed. Stalkers out-range Marines and are faster than Marines, so with good micro, a single Stalker can easily take out a handful of Marines. Stalkers are also great versus Reapers, while the Mothership Core can take out an early Marauder or two without breaking a sweat.

As a result, there is no way for the Terran player to pressure the Protoss player in the first 5 minutes of the game. This leaves it up to the Protoss player whether or not they want to make an attack or instead focus on their economy.

The Widow Mine Rush

The only attack a Protoss player has to worry about in the early game is a Widow Mine rush. Terran players like to build proxy Factories and use them to create Widow Mines. Widow Mines are then run into the Protoss mineral line and then burrowed in order to kill workers and prevent mining.

As a result, you want to work towards detection early in Protoss vs Terran. If you are going for an Oracle rush and do not want to pull the Oracle back for detection, a Photon Cannon in each mineral line can shut down Widow Mine rushes. The Photon Cannon provides detection at a longer range than it can attack enemy units, so you can at least use a Stalker to clear out a Widow Mine once it has been detected.

Gateway Pressure

Gateway Pressure still works against Terran players. However, unlike in Wings of Liberty when 4-Gate pressure worked great against a fast expansion Terran, in Heart of the Swarm Protoss players generally fare better by going for an earlier rush or waiting for detection.

The reason for this is that by the time a 4-Gate hits, a Terran player can easily have out a couple of Widow Mines. With no detection, the 4-Gate will not be very effective against Widow Mines. As a result, Protoss players typically go for very early attacks, often off of just 1 or 2 Gateways, and use Chrono Boost to pump out a Zealot and a couple Stalkers. The Mothership Core can also be used in these early attacks.

Oracle Rush

Terran players are very weak against the Protoss Oracle. The Oracle is good against Marines and destroys SCVs very fast, so a popular strategy is for Protoss players to race to get out an Oracle and use it to kill as many SCVs as possible. If there is not enough defense around to stop the Oracle, the Oracle can quickly rack up 15+ SCV kills in less than a minute.

Protoss players often build their Stargate in a proxy location to speed up the timing of when the Oracle hits. The Oracle can kill a few Marines, but if the Marine count is too high, the Oracle can be taken out.

Combining the Oracle with Gateway Aggression

The best Protoss players that decide to attack in the early game often will combine early Gateway pressure with an Oracle rush rather than picking just one of the other. The Protoss player uses the Mothership Core and the first Stalker(s) to attack the Terran in an effort to pick off Marines.

The idea here is that if you kill enough Marines and slow down Terran tech progression towards the Widow Mine, when the Oracle arrives, there will be no Terran units around to stop it. This works very well when executed properly. 

PvT in the Mid Game

In the mid game, the Terran player suddenly possesses the ability to make game-ending attacks and timings versus the Protoss player.

Bio Units Become Very Strong

In the mid game, bio units become very strong against Protoss forces. While early Marines are weak against the Stalker, this changes by the mid game. Between gaining an extra +10 HP from Combat Shield, increasing their movement speed and attack speed by 50% with Stimpack, and gaining significant healing through Medivacs, the Marine becomes a terror for Protoss Gateway units.

Protoss players typically have to either get up to Colossi, High Templar, or have a significant upgrade advantage in order to stay competitive by the mid game.

Hellbats Torch Zealots

If the Terran player starts mixing in a few Hellbats into their bio army, be careful not to overproduce Zealots. Hellbats are very strong against Zealots. Archons perform much better against Hellbats.

Since Zealots are good versus Marines and Marauders, especially with upgrades, after an initial skirmish, you can warp in a large round of Zealots as reinforcements. Hellbats tend to be the first enemy units to die, so this is one way you can use Zealots effectively in PvT when Hellbats are around.

Upgrade Centric Timing Attacks are Very Strong

It is very easy for the Protoss player to quickly get up to +2 armor and +2 weapons in the mid-game through Chrono Boost and using two Forges. Armor should be your priority as a Protoss player against Terran, as this can cut Marine damage to virtually zero.

Armor upgrades are less important against mech players, since mech units tend to have slower but more powerful attacks that are mitigated less by armor upgrades.

Pick One High Tech Technology Route

To remain effective in the mid-game, you will need. Virtually all Protoss builds will require both the Robotics Bay (for an Observer) and Twilight Council (for tier 2 and 3 upgrades), but you will not have the resources to spare to get both High Templar tech and Colossus tech at the same time in the mid game. High Templar need Psionic Storm to be effective and Colossi need Extended Thermal Lances. Pick one or the other initially, getting both tech routes only when you have a large enough army and economy to support such a large investment.

Beware of Drops

Drop attacks very effective during this phase of game, particularly bio drops. Terrans will often load all their units into Medivacs and drop in the main or the natural expansion. Once the Protoss gets their defensive units in position, the Terran will just scoop their units up and flee, dealing significant damage in the process without risking the loss of any units.

If the Terran is dropping heavily with multiple Medivacs, consider getting Blink. You can use Blink to get underneath Medivacs, focusing them down when they are full of units before they can escape.

Hellbat and Widow Mine drops can be annoying, but adding on a single Photon Cannon in each mineral line can shut these down easy. The m

Dealing with Mech

The vast majority of Terran players will stick to bio-based armies against Protoss, but occasionally you will run into a mech player. Against a full mech player, if you want to stick to ground units, you will want to make heavy use of the Immortal. Immortals can outrange Widow Mines and are very strong against Siege Tanks and Thors.

Immortals alone however will not perform well against large numbers of Hellbats. Supplementing with a few Archons can help quickly take out any Hellbats.

If the mech player is overproducing anti-ground units, sneaking out a few Void Rays is a very effective strategy as well. Siege Tanks in Siege Mode that cannot run away from Void Rays will die very quickly to Prismatic Alignment!

PvT in the Late Game

In the late game versus Terran players, Protoss armies tend to use a large variety of units and often attack as part of a single, large fighting force.

Balancing Act

Protoss vs Terran in the late game is a balancing act for the Protoss player. The most important units here are Colossi, Archons, and High Templar. These units will be supported by a large force of mixed Gateway units. Colossi will counter all Terran bio forces, but lose to Vikings, while Archons and High Templar will counter bio forces but lose to Ghosts.

Your goal here should be able to produce many more Colossi, High Templar, or Archons than your opponent has countering units. For example, if the Terran only has 4 Vikings, and you produce 6 Colossi, you will be in a good spot.

When you do have this advantage, you want to micro appropriately to completely take down the countering Terran units. For example, if the Terran only has a handful of Vikings and you have Colossi, use your Stalkers to focus fire down the Vikings before the Vikings kill all your Colossi. Without any Vikings for support, your Colossi can then roll over the Terran bio army without a problem.

If the Terran starts making very large quantities of Ghosts or Vikings, you may have to cut High Templar or Colossi production. If the Terran builds 10+ Ghosts and you stop making High Templar and Archons, those Ghosts will be a weak point for the Terran with nothing to use Snipe or chain EMP.

Protecting Expansions

The easiest way to lose Protoss vs Terran matches in the late game is to lose to drops. You need to protect your expansions from multi-pronged drops. A good Terran will constantly attack your expansions with 1-2 Medivacs full of Marines and Marauders and often perform several of these attacks at the same time.

You should have a lot of extra minerals late in the game, since Colossi and High Templar will cost a lot of gas. Use this to add on a few Photon Cannons at each expansion. Warp Zealots in as necessary to defend against drops. A High Templar at each expansion to Feedback Medivacs also works well.

Zealots to Destroy Terran Production

Another good option for spending extra minerals in the late game is to warp in Zealots with the Warp Prism and focus on production facilities. Zealots with upgrades will tear through buildings very quickly. Rebuilding structures and Reactors is very painful for the Terran player and takes a surprisingly long time. If you cripple your opponent's ability to re-macro by taking down their production facilities, you can easily win the game if you trade armies and re-macro faster.

Adding in Air Units

If the Terran player heavily favors mech, consider adding in air units to your main Protoss army. Void Rays in particular are strong versus most mech units. Tempests are also good to add to your army in the late game, even against bio-based armies.


Protoss strategy versus Terran players varies depending on the phase of the game. Study and practice these three distinct phases of the game so you know exactly how to play against Terran players all game long.

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