Terran Colossus Counter

Starcraft 2 Strategy Guide --> SC2 Replays --> Terran Colossus Counter (you are here)

The Colossus can be one of the toughest units to face in Starcraft 2 for Terran players. In this article, I will be revealing perhaps the most effective Terran Colossus counter without resorting to yet another boring Siege Tank stalemate.

In the replay below, the Terran player demonstrates the effectiveness of the Thor + Banshee build for stopping mass Colossi.

In this build, the Terran player starts off with a typical Marine + Marauder (bio) in order to secure his natural expansion. As soon as he spots the Protoss player's Colossi, he throws down two Starports and starts with the Thor + Banshee build.

Basically, the player uses Thors and Banshees in order to stop virtually any Protoss ground force. The way this works is that the Terran player scans for Observers and then kills them with his Thors. Thors kill Observers in two hits; so with several Thors you can pick off a few Observers in a single scan.

Banshees are strong versus ground units in general, and Thors are at worst decent versus virtually all Protoss units. The 250mm Strike Cannon really levels the playing field versus Immortals (which traditionally counter armored units).

The Terran player supports his army with Marines and Marauders. Mass Marines are very cheap and perfect for hurting Void Rays (which perhaps could counter Thor + Banshee early in the game).

Here is the replay; check below for the finer points of the strategy as well as relevant times in the video as well as how the Protoss player could have countered the Terran player's moves:

Terran Colossus Counter Build Order

Technically, you cannot give a build order for the best Terran Colossus counter because you do not know if the player is going for Colossi until you scout for them.

You really have to know what the opponent is building before you can focus on countering them. With that said, the Terran player in this video does a "2 rax FE" build: that is building 2 Barracks and then picking up a fast expansion.

10/11: Supply Depot
12/19: Barracks
~14/19: Refinery
16/19: Orbital Command
16/19: Barracks
17/19: Tech Lab on the first Barracks
-Builds Marines, Marauders, and SCVs up to 31 supplies for a bit of defense
31/35: Command Center

Relevant Game Times (time in the Video)

@4:18 - The Terran player gets a full view of the Protoss player's base from the Reaper. The Reaper is what lets the Terran player know that the Protoss players has picked up a Robotics Bay (meaning High Templar are very unlikely).

However, I would have liked to scout a second time in order to see if an Immortal or if a Robotics Bay was next - the Terran player is unable to see this he is not sure whether to build Ghosts or go for Thor Banshee. The Terran player assumed Immortal, which almost lost him the game.

@6:15 - Note all the Bunkers - this is just to stop a push of Zealots, Stalkers, Sentries, and an early Immortal or two. This is a very effective army and is a common push from Protoss players.

@7:18 - The Terran player sees the Colossus and immediately builds two Starports. It helped that the Terran player was already building a Factory. Even if you are going Bio, you should grab a Factory early in the game in case you need tech such as in this situation.

@8:39 - If the Protoss player would have countered at this point, he would have won the game. The Terran player has no way of dealing with those three Colossi this early in the game.

@10:23 - Look how fast cloaked Banshees take out the Protoss player's force. Given how slow heavy Protoss ground units are, there was no retreat for the Protoss player at this point.

@14:30 - The Observer gets taken out quickly and the Banshees easily wipe out the Protoss player's army.

Appropriate Protoss Counter to Banshee + Thor

There are many ways the Protoss player could have stopped this, but given the current game situation, I would have added a group of Phoenix and produced a few more Observers. High Templar also work, but it is not my preferred solution in this situation.

One Observer is simply not enough; ideally, the Protoss player would have had several spread out and one or two in reserves. It may seem like a lot of resources invested in Observers, but consider that Thors which are attacking Observers are not attacking Phoenix or any of your other units for that matter. Also, each scanner sweep is equivalent to losing a MULE.

I prefer Phoenix in this situation because the only resource investment that would be required is 1-2 Starports. Also, the micro required is limited since Phoenix only attack air units, the only responsibility you would have is making sure they are spaced out.

Remember that the Phoenix does 20 damage per hit @ 1.1 attack speed to unarmored light air units (i.e. the Banshee), allowing 1 Phoenix to take out a Banshee in 7.7 game seconds (about 7 seconds real-time on Fastest).

Compare the damage of the Phoenix that to the Stalker - 10 damage per hit @ 1.44 attack speed and you end up with it taking 20.16 game seconds to kill a Banshee. The Phoenix takes out Banshees over 2.5 times as fast as a Stalker!

The only thing you have to worry about in this situation is that Thors kill Phoenix quickly. In the video above, the Terran player was heavy on Marauders and Banshees and light on Thors, making Phoenix the perfect choice.

It the Terran player had many more Thors and less Banshees, adding High Templar, Immortals, and Observers to the Protoss player's army would have been a good choice. A few High Templar could have taken out that entire army of Banshees via Feedback. Feedback drains all energy and deals a large amount of damage. The Stalker/Zealot/Immortal army could have then cleaned up the Banshees.

The only downside to the High Templar build is it takes awhile to throw down a Twilight Council, Templar Archives, and then produce High Templar and allow them to get enough energy to be useful (and perhaps even research Psionic Storm). It is a large time and resource investment, which is why I think the Phoenix is a much simpler and more effective solution.

How to Use This Build

Consider using this build as a tech switch in late game. Notice how in the replay the Terran player starts off with a typical Marine/Marauder build and only switches to Banshees and Thors once the enemy player starts massing Colossi.

You cannot go straight for Thors and Banshees before grabbing an expansion and some initial infantry.

Why Not Vikings?

While Vikings normally make a great counter to Colossi, the Banshee is what makes this build as these units not only destroy Colossi but also stand toe-to-toe with Stalkers and Sentries.

If you massed Thors, Tanks, and Vikings, the player could easily use Chrono Boost to warp in a dozen or more Zealots and a few Immortals, which would then do very well against your mech army.

Once you have caught the Protoss player with Banshees and Thors, he cannot quickly tech out of it. Banshees will destroy the entire Protoss ground force while your Thors will take out any Phoenix that might enter the match.


Regardless, the Thor + Banshee build is very effective method of stopping traditional Colossus + 3-4 Gate play from Protoss players. Be sure to take out the Observers quick and secure an early expansion to get enough Vespene and you will be just fine.