The strongest opening in Protoss vs Terran is to throw down a nexus at your natural expansion very early on. You don’t generally want to get nexus first because that initial scouting reaper could get a little annoying so try out building a gateway and an assimilator first, but make the expansion before you start warping in your cybernetics core. This is a nice balance between tech and economy and you shouldn’t have to worry too much about any crazy early game all-ins from proxy barracks and the like. There are still some viable aggressive early game openers for terran, like proxy factory cyclone push, so you should try and scout your opponent’s base for anything unusual. There are some more unconventional builds as well, for example throwing down a proxy double robotics facility and then doing a very early immortal push off one base, but we are going to focus on a safer more macro oriented style in this guide. If you want to learn how to cheese as protoss just watch some vods featuring sOs.
After you have thrown down your nexus and cyber core you have a decision to make about what tech path to pursue. Stargate openers are very popular and with the recent changes to chronoboost you can have an oracle in your opponent’s mineral line faster than ever. For maximum speed, you can even proxy the stargate near your opponent’s base. This isn’t quite as risky as it may seem because usually you are going to switch to more of a ground pounder army after the initial oracle pump and a few phoenixes as well, so if you end up losing the stargate it is not really the end of the world. An oracle can just devastate your opponent’s mineral line if they are unprepared, and once you have two the pair can one-shot an scv. Not only do these units have the ability to do game-ending damage very early on, they also continue to have strong utility into the mid and late game because their revelation spell can be used to keep constant tabs on your opponent’s army. Oracles are a great way to maintain map presence and will often detect enemy drops as well. Terrans do have a few ways to deal with these pesky mobile spellcasters, so watch out for widow mines and missile turrets. It is very important to keep your oracles alive for as long as possible and to try get the maximum value that you can out of these units.
You don’t have to open stargate, the other two tech choices of robo or citadel are viable as well. Usually you will see citadel followingly not too long after either stargate or robo anyway. Opening up with a robo is a little bit more of a defensive strategy, as you do get the observers out which can help with keeping an eye on your opponent as well as detecting cloaked units. Another solid opening now is disrupter drop. Before the latest patch this wasn’t as good a strategy because it took a long time for the purification nova to go off after firing, leaving your warp prism and disrupter exposed, but now that the nova detonates on impact with an enemy unit it is a lot easier to get in and get out. The key to disrupter drops is to upgrade warp prism speed so that after the raid you can get out of there safely.
As you approach the mid game you want to keep expanding ahead of your terran opponent and start teching up to more powerful units. Generally you are going to want to start with an army of gateway units, mostly stalkers, sentries and adepts, although zealots can be powerful once their charge ability is upgraded. Sentries on their own are not very strong but in combination with other units are extremely effective. They do need to be microed, so make sure to use guardian shield to give your units some extra armor. Forcefields are a little tricky to use properly but can also be very useful, cutting off a part of the terran’s army so that it can be focused down by your forces and generally disrupting your opponent’s mobility.
Scouting is very important during the mid game. Sentries can hallucinate a pheonix to get check things out on the other side of the map, and you will want to be keeping tabs on your opponent’s army composition and the rate at which they are expanding. You always want to try to stay one base ahead of the terran player as protoss. It is also helpful to know whether they are focusing their production on vikings or liberators so that you can plan your own unit composition accordingly.
You can’t stay on a strict gateway composition indefinitely because over time the terran’s forces become too strong against this, so you will have to add some splash damage. High templars and/or colossi are a great way to beef up your army composition. As the game goes on you want your army composition to become more and more high tech, so immortals and archons should begin to replace stalkers and adepts as you approach the late game.
Another possible late game composition is the golden armada of carriers and mothership. We saw Neeb use this strategy to great effect against one of the strongest player in the world right now, TY, on Acolyte.
The carrier game starts at 45:00.
During the mid-game, warp prisms can be used for harass, not only dropping units off in your opponent’s base but also warping them in there as well. Drops are a great way to pin down your opponent and just generally make their life difficult, and if you can cause some economic damage and get a few scv kills then all the better. Another good strategy in the middle of the game can be a zealot runby. While planetary fortresses will generally stymie this plan pretty well, if you can catch the exposed base while it is still being built you should have a good shot at getting a cancel. Sometimes the terran will also float one of his orbitals from his main or natural to another base if they are low on economy, so those make for tempting targets as well. The great thing about a zealot run by is you are not really risking a lot, so it doesn’t matter if the plan gets shut down.
Engaging the Terran Army
Choosing the right engagements in the middle of the game is a crucial part of winning the game. Terrans generally favor entrenched siege positions and tight chokes, whereas the protoss player wants to establish a favorable arc and try to surround the terran army. If you can hit them from multiple angles that can be beneficial as well. Neither side really wants to try to attack through a choke point and the terran player wants to get a siege position as close as possible to the protoss base so you are going to want to avoid letting that happen. Once the terran player has liberators in defender mode and siege tanks set up it can be almost impossible to attack in to this fortified position. One advantage that protoss has is greater mobility, in that terran does have to siege and unsiege, so you can take advantage of the opportunity presented by the terran moving out to do some drops and warp ins in their main and try to get on top of their mineral line or production facilities. Once the protoss has forces on top of the terran production this is a very bad situation for the terran player.
Guardian shield is very beneficial for larger engagements, so make sure to cast this spell if you have any sentries. You are also going to want to have a warp prism with your army so that your reinforcements can instantly join the battle.
If you have a decent colossi count your opponent will often respond by producing enough vikings to one-shot them. You can battle these vikings with blink stalkers, and often you will want to try a forward blink to pick a few of these off, but be careful because this can expose your vulnerable stalkers to being picked off by terran infantry. Collusi are extremely powerful but only so long as you have a buffer of protoss gateway units to protect them. Clumped up vikings can make an attractive target for storm and be sure to keep your colossi in the back where the rest of your units can protect them. You will also want to make sure that your stalkers focus fire down the vikings.
Late game PvT is all about becoming more cost efficient and creating a more dangerous and compact army. Templars that run out of energy should be morphed into archons, and you are usually going to want a double robo pump of colossi or immortals. Templars are very important as well, and you should try to avoid having them clumped together if your opponent has ghosts, lest he land a money emp.