Hey guys, 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 TeamLiquid.net 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.
[PvZ]Classic's Modern Stargate into Archon drop
While I've already written an oracle into archon drop BotW, it was very shortly after patch 4.0 came out. There have been some slight modifications to how the build is executed. I will be labeling the previous BotW as 'outdated' but it's still definitely 'usable' (since it is technically safer).
The version of the build I'm presenting this week has been widely used throughout the Korean and foreign scenes. This specific version I've seen Classic do as early as IEM Katowice. I cribbed the build for myself back then and found that he's still using it mostly unchanged, as recently as his GSL RO16 match vs Dark. Despite Roach openers still being prevalent in the meta, Archon drops can still find ways to do damage and can be used as a great time buying mechanism to help you get into the mid-game vs Zerg. Due to this, they still remain very popular.
Stargate into Archon drop
|14||Pylon [@100% --> Chrono]|
|16||Gate [Chrono Nexus]|
|17||Gas --> Rally in|
|@100% Cyber --> Adept [Chrono]|
|@50 Gas --> WG|
|@100% Adept --> 2nd Adept|
|@100% Stargate --> Phoenix [Chrono] --> Oracle|
|3:30 2x Gas|
|46||3rd Adept (Optional)|
|4:00 Twilight Council|
|4:25 2x Gate|
|@100% Robo --> Warp Prism [Chrono] --> Obs|
|@100% Twilight --> Charge + Templar Archives|
|5:00 3rd Nexus|
|4x HT Warp In --> 2x Archon|
|5:40 2x Gate|
|@100% Obs --> Constant Immortal production|
|If vs ling/bane (and or hydra) opener:|
|6:20 2x Gate|
|7:00 2x Gate|
|If vs roach opener:|
|6:00 2nd Robo|
|6:40 2x Gate|
Build Explanation & Example Game
Classic vs Dark - GSL Code S S2 Ro16: Here we see the faster Robo to deal with the roach opening.
Since I mentioned that this is the modern version of this build, I'll compare it to the old version and explain how the new version is better.
One of the main developments that has come up over the last few months has been the increase of Phoenix-first openers in PvZ. As I've mentioned in a lot of recent guides, you open Phoenix to kill deny early Overlord scouting while following up with a Oracle. Stargate unit production stops right there as you don't really need anything else. Earlier builds went for Oracle first, often followed by double-Oracle to try and deal more Drone damage (that went out of fashion as Zergs became so good at dealing with early Oracles, so players just got their Archon drop tech faster instead). Also, back then, Protoss players were less refined in dealing with early Zerg pressure, so there was a greater need to play safer. An extra Pylon and extra Gateway were made so that there would be three Gateways when Warp Gate research finished. That second Oracle, Gateway, and Pylon from previous versions of this build made it so that Archon drop-tech was 30 seconds slower than in the modern version.
Now that Protoss players are better at scouting with the first Adept and dealing with any subsequent all-ins, they are allowed to cut more corners to get things out faster. The expansion gasses now go down at 3:30 instead of 4:00. The Robotics facility is warped in at 3:50 instead of 4:15, and the Twilight Council is started at 4:00 instead of 4:30. Instead of having you first pair of Archons warp in at 6:00, you can have them at 5:30.
The third Nexus ends up being warped-in at around the same time as before, but the modern version of the build gets faster Zealot Charge research right after the Twilight Council is done (instead of the much later 5:30). The Forge can also can be made slightly earlier at 5:15 instead of 5:30 here.
So basically, you get everything earlier in a much more efficient manner all because you rearrange some things and cut out one Oracle. That's a pretty good deal if you ask me. The follow up also becomes easier since with faster gasses, Storm research is started much quicker while Immortal production can be sustained for much longer. With Charge finishing so quickly it's much easier to hold off early busts at your third base, and the faster Archon drop can keep Zerg pinned back for a longer period of time.
As explained in the previous [urlhttp://www.teamliquid.net/forum/sc2-strategy/534460-pbotw-zests-double-stargate-phoenix]Double-Stargate Phoenix BotW[/url], there are new developments to the Zerg mid-game that make your tech follow-ups depend on what you scout. Usually, you would get Storm ASAP after the Archon drop to defend against any Hydra-Ling or Hydra-Bane attacks. But with Roaches continuing to be so popular, many Protoss have altered the follow-up slightly to go into an earlier 2nd Robotics Facility while delaying Storm. This allows you to get a substantially larger number of Immortals out to defend vs any early Roach-Ravager or Roach-Hydra attacks, while still getting Storm at a relatively reasonable timing. Since Immortals are so resource intensive, they'll cut into your Gateway count and force you to play more defensively in general (moving out without storm can be quite risky). Instead, you can put some extra resources into some cannons and/or shield batteries to really make sure you stay alive vs any Zerg busts and propel yourself hard into the late game. As I mentioned in the previous BotW, if the opponent did go for a more Hydra focused style then having more Templars and Archons is a higher priority.
In addition, here are some rough benchmarks to go by when trying this build out:
- If vs ling/bane (and or Hydra) opener: Storm done @7:00 w/4 High Templars, 1 Immortal w/1 in production, other supporting units, 2 Archons, 64 Probes, 6 Gates w/2 in production, +1 75% done
- If vs Roach opener: Storm done @8:00 w/4 HT, 5-7 Immortals, other supporting units, 67 Probes, 6-8 Gates, +2 started
When I was learning this build, I found my transition to 3-base wasn't smooth and that I losing a lot at that stage. I figured out that I wasn't prioritizing Storm and High Templars enough, as I would usually get a Sentry or two for defense, and then even morph some Archons before properly going into Storm. This delayed my tech far too much, so I suggest you keep that in mind. You really don't need to worry so much about early-game defense that you delay the rest of your tech. The Archon drop should do well enough to keep the Zerg back, and the Zealots, Adepts, and single Oracle you have will usually be a strong enough early force.
On that note, it's also important that I explain the nuances of the Archon drop itself and to emphasize how important the concept of simplification is when it comes to players in lower leagues.
Archon Drops and Keeping Things Simple
The reason why Archon drops are so strong is because they are the most efficient way to put on pressure, dissuade the Zerg from attacking you, and setting up your tech. Going for Archon drop means you already have the tech in place to follow-up with Psionic Storm and Charge. The fast Robotics Facility makes it so you can get Immortals out quickly to deal with early pressure. The drop itself can do some decent damage if the Zerg is not paying attention or is sloppy in their defense. Unless they are doing some sort of 50-drones-or-less all-in, they must commit some amount of their forces and attention to defense so that the Archon drop doesn't kill every Queen and Drone. In combination with an Observer, it's also a great creep clearing mechanism since two Archons one shot a creep tumor. On top of all of that, Archons are also extremely Tanky. They have 350 shields each (which do not take any bonus damage), so the drop is naturally sustainable since they will be recharging all of those shields.
Despite all these wonderful benefits, not every person who plays StarCraft II has the multitasking and APM to properly pull off Archon drops while macroing well back home. This is where an important reminder needs to be stated for the vast majority of the player base.
If you CANNOT do something properly while macroing behind it then it is OK to NOT do it.
If trying to juggle the Archon drop with getting your Storm transition right and not getting supply blocked and keeping up with Probe production, then DON'T try to do it. Be as active as you reasonably can, at your current level of multi-tasking. It's important to remember that simply macroing better will win you the game far more often than some cute tricks will, at nearly every level of play.
For some players, it might be better to just use Archons defensively, if it means making sure you expand on time and continue building up your infrastructure without delay. If you are more comfortable keeping the Archons at home and macroing twice as well as you would while dropping, then focus on that instead. It's much more important that you allow yourself to scale up and spend your resources than it is trying your hardest to kill off Creep tumors and snipe a Queen. If you just macro better and the Zerg tries to do some attack then you will simply hold it off by having the defensive set up and a better managed economy.
Just because I say that the pros do all these things in the build doesn't mean you need to do them as well. As I mention in the link posted up top, builds should be treated as guidelines. They are meant to give you a path to follow that makes sense and keep you out of the scary unknown forest of limitless strategical possibilities.
Regardless, once the Archon drop stops finding windows to pressure, it's better to send the Archons home and leave the Prism for chargelot warp-ins later on in the game. Once there's a sizable army out for the Zerg that can easily contest the Archon drop wherever it goes, it's more valuable to join the Archons with the main army (against skilled Zergs, the most significant direct damage Archon drops will get a chance to do is denying creep anyway).
Variations and Example Games
The build that I've shown only includes four gateways: Just enough for two Archons to warp in in an efficient manner. However, there is also a Six gate version of this build as well. Classic showed this variation at the very beginning of the GSL season and its incredible aggressive potential. The build is exactly the same but you get four extra Gateways instead of two and halt Probe production at 46 instead of keeping it consistent. The 3rd base is still taken (albeit slightly later) and some extra Zealots are warped in before the Archons that can be sent around to the 3rd base as the Archon drop hits. This leads to a very strong double pronged attack that the Zerg needs to be paying close attention to. If they don't assess the threats correctly and split their army accordingly, you can do a lot of damage that snowballs extremely quickly.
Trap also showed that you can do a defensive six gate version as well. On the same day as Classic using this four gate version, Trap played against Dark as well and simply got the Nexus 30 seconds later, but had the potential two extra gateways. These could have been used aggressively if Trap noticed Dark was under prepared and they could have also been used defensively if Dark had been going for a much more aggressive option. So if you still feel unsafe taking that 3rd base with so little units, perhaps the six gate version could be beneficial to you so that you can expand with some stress lifted off your mind as you know you have a larger production potential vs early attacks.
Classic vs Elazer - GSL Code S S2 Ro32: This is the 6 gate version that kills Elazer early.
Trap vs Dark - GSL Code S S2 Ro16: This is Trap doing the defensive 6 gate version. His mid game follow up is a bit different though as he skips storm entirely to get a much faster Mothership and Carrier transition while being extra defensive with archon/immortal.
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.