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Starcraft 2 Strategy Guide: Protoss Units

by: M.S. Smith ; edited by: Michael Hartman ; updated: 4/17/2012 • Leave a comment

Starcraft 2's beta has allowed for strategies to be formed even before the full game is released. This strategy guide covers Protoss units and provides tips on how to best use them in competitive play.This is the definitive guide for players new to the Protoss.

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    Starcraft 2: Protoss Units

    The Protoss are a race which focuses on stronger individual units rather than swarms of smaller, less effective units. This guide will help you determine how to best use the Protoss forces while in competitive play online.

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    • Cost: N/AStarcraft 2 Archon 
    • Supply: 4
    • Build Time: 17
    • HP: 10
    • Shields: 350
    • Attack: Ground/Air 25 +10 Vs. Bio
    • Type: Light

    The Archon is formed by combining two Templars into one form. Once created, the Archon becomes a radically different and deadly unit.

    As you can tell from the +10 vs. Bio, the Archon is primarily good against biological units. Given the Archon's incredible shields, this makes the Archon a perfect response to an opponent who is trying to overwhelm a Protoss player with sheer numbers. Terran players going heavy into Marines or Zerg players sticking with masses of Roaches and Zerglings are good examples. The Archon isn't terrible against armored units, however. An attack of 25 isn't bad, and armored units like Siege Tanks and Immortals don't gain an attack bonus against an Archon. The Archon can attack air units, but the very short range makes this rarely useful.

    While Archons are very powerful, their are hard countered by EMP. This is because they only have 10 hitpoints, so when their shield goes down they die almost instantly. Ghosts are the number one enemy of the Archon, and a Terran player using Ghosts will be able to demolish a Protoss player using Archons just about every time. Be careful against Terran and scout frequently to make sure they're not building a Ghost Academy.

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    • Cost: 350 Minerals / 250 Gas Starcraft 2 Carrier 
    • Supply: 6
    • Build Time: 120
    • HP: 300
    • Shields: 150
    • Attack: Ground/Air 2x5 per Interceptor max 8 = 80 Damage.
    • Type: Armoed - Mechanical - Massive

    The Carrier is a gigantic, hugely powerful late-game air unit which has been a signature Protoss unit since the original Starcraft came out. The Carrier has no offenses on its own, but it has the ability to build Interceptors, light attack craft which can hit both ground and air targets. Fully loaded with eight Interceptor the Carrier will do 80 damage with each pass.

    The main strength of the Carrier is the fact that Interceptors have excellent range. The Interceptors are somewhat disposable, so a Carrier can stand back from the battle while the Interceptors tear units to shreds. The enemy won't be able to respond to this at all unless they have airborne anti-air units or a mobile ground-to-air unit (like Stalkers with Blink). A common strategy is to simply place a Carrier in an open space near an enemy's base and have it tear the enemy's production line to shreds while the main thrust of a ground attack hits the front of the opponent's base. Anyone who hasn't built airborne anti-air units will be virtually defenseless against the Carrier.

    Carriers are countered pretty hard by mobile anti-air, however, so be careful. The Carrier is an expensive unit and takes a long time to build. It can't be lost casually and should be micro-manged as much as possible.

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    • Cost: 300 Minerals / 200 VespeneStarcraft 2 Protoss Units: Colossus 
    • Supply: 6
    • Build Time: 75
    • HP: 200
    • Shields: 150
    • Attack: Ground 15x2 Linear Splash
    • Type: Armored - Mechanical - Massive

    The huge Colossus is a very nasty Protoss mid to late game unit which is great at assaults against enemy units and also can be used for harassment in some situations. The Colossus has the ability to cliff walk as well, which means that the Colossus is not halted by cliffs when moving.

    In direct combat, the Colossus performs well against most enemy units in the game. While the heavy initial damage gives the Colossus a significant ability to impact heavier units, the linear arc of damage which is caused by the Colossus also makes this unit very effective against lines of enemy ranged units. Terran hoards of Marines and Marauders are one example, as are Roaches and Hydralisks. The Colossus tends to be weakest against melee units, where its large size is actually a big disadvantage. It is surprisingly easy for mass Zealots or Zerglings to surround a Colossus and bring it down, particularly if it is microed poorly. Of course, with no anti-air, the Colossus is also a big fat target for enemy air units.

    Against the Zerg and the Protoss the Colossus can be very effective as a harassment unit. The beam weapons on the Colossus will quickly kill Drones or Probes, while the linear splash has a good chance of catching multiple other units on the production line before the production line retreats. This tactic is somewhat less effective against the Terran simply because SCVs are a bit tougher, with 5 extra hitpoints. The Colossus can sneak behind an enemy using cliff walk on some maps, and on other maps can be transported to the correct position by a Warp Prism.

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    Dark Templar

    • Cost: 125 Minerals / 125 VespeneStarcraft 2 Units: Dark Templar 
    • Supply: 2
    • Build Time: 55
    • HP: 40
    • Shields: 80
    • Attack: Ground 45
    • Type: Light

    The Dark Templar is probably the best harassment unit which the Protoss have access to. This cloaked melee warrior's claim to fame is the tremendous melee damage the unit can do. Sneaking a few Dark Templars into an enemy's resource line can kill half of their workers before your opponent has a chance to select his workers and send them running. Even when those workers have left, the Dark Templars do so much damage that a force of three or four can kill several buildings before the enemy can send a detector to see them.

    With that said, Dark Templars are paper tigers. Once they are detected, they good down easily to any unit in the game, particularly ranged units which will usually kill a Dark Templar before it has any chance to attack. Using Dark Templars therefor best used when you have a good idea of your enemy's ability to build detector units. An enemy without detector units can usually be so badly damaged before one is built that they'll be forced to surrender.

    Keep in mind that the Dark Templar tends to be a "one-shot" unit in that they are very powerful up until the point where your opponent has the counter. When you use Dark Templars, go for the throat. If you just pansy around with them by killing a military unit here and there your enemy will build detectors and ruin your day.

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    High Templar

    • Cost: 50 Minerals / 150 VespeneStarcraft 2 Protoss Units: High Templar 
    • Supply: 2
    • Build Time: 55
    • HP: 40
    • Shields: 40
    • Attack: N/A
    • Type: Light

    The High Templar is a pure spellcaster unit, which means that it has no normal attack and it also has very, very low defenses. However, when used properly, the High Templar can become one of the most powerful units the Protoss has access to, particularly against Zerg and Terran players who are trying to overwhelm you with numbers.

    This is largely becauseof the Psionic Storm active ability. This creates a "storm of psionic energy" which deals 80 damage in 4 seconds to all units in an area. Each Templar has a three second cooldown on this ability, but you can of course build multiple High Templars in order to chain cast it. Psionic storm is the best Protoss counter against the Terran "bioball" attack of mass Marines and Marauders and also is very effective against almost every Zerg build.

    The High Templar also has an ability called Feedback which deals one point of damage for every point of energy an enemy unit has. This is basically an assassination ability which can be targeted against enemy units that have special abilities. For example, this will one-shot a Zerg Infestor or Corruptor which is fully charged on energy.

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    • Cost: 250 Minerals / 100 VespeneStarcraft 2 Protoss Units: The Immortal 
    • Supply: 4
    • Build Time: 55
    • HP: 200
    • Shields: 100
    • Attack: Ground 20 +30 vs. Armored
    • Type: Armored

    A very expensive but very effective unit, the Immortal is a walking juggernaut on the battlefield. The +30 vs. armored units basically says it all when it comes to what the Immortal is meant to do. Common units which go down quickly to Immortals include Stalkers, Siege Tanks and Roaches. If your enemy is using it, and it is a ground armored unit, the Immortal is a very effective counter. This is reinforced by the Immortal's Hardened Shield ability. This passive ability which does not need to be researched reduces the damage of all incoming attacks to 10 if the Immortal's shield is up.

    Hardened Shield also effectively illustrates the Immortal's biggest weakness. Large masses of units which do less than ten damage tend to counter Immortals very well. Marines and Zerglings are just some examples. It is ironic that such a powerful unit can be taken down by what are thought of as some of the weakest units in the game, but that is how it works.

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    • Cost: 400 Minerals / 400 GasStarcraft 2 Protoss Units: The Mothership 
    • Supply: 8
    • Build Time: 160
    • HP: 350
    • Shields: 350
    • Attack: Ground/Air 6x6
    • Type: Armored - Mechanical - Massive

    The gigantic Protoss Mothership is among the toughest and most intimidating units in the game. However, as you might guess from the relatively low offensive ability of the Mothership, the Mothership isn't really meant to be a flying tank of death. It is ultimately the supreme support unit, capable of dramatically improving the effectiveness of a late game Protoss force.

    The Mothership has a passive ability which cloaks all friendly units and structures in an area. This leaves Mothership obviously vulnerable because it will take the brunt of an attack unless the enemy has a detector around, but this is a risk well worth taking. By cloaking your armor, the Mothership makes it very, very difficult for your enemy to anticipate what kind of units are approaching. Stalkers? Immortals? Void Rays? He won't have a clue until the attack begins.

    The Mothership also has two active abilities. The first is Mass Recall which teleports targeted friendly units to the Mothership. This can be used an emergency device to retreat your army when it is caught in a bad situation. It can also be used as an offensive tactic - hover the Mothership around the back of an enemy's base and then teleport your entire army behind his defenses. The Mothership also has Vortex, an ability which sucks in enemy units and removes them from the battle for twenty seconds. This is a great way to split up an enemy army into chunks so it is easier to defeat.

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    • Cost: 25 Minerals / 75 VespeneStarcraft 2 Protoss Units: The Observer 
    • Supply: 1
    • Build Time: 33
    • HP: 40
    • Shields: 20
    • Attack: N/A
    • Type: Light

    The Observer is the Protoss spy drone and detection unit. The Observer is cloaked, which makes it a very good unit for scouting. Enemies who have not invested in detectors will be unable to see the Observer, and so you will be able to track their every move without issue.

    The Observer is also a detector, which means it detects enemy units which are cloaked. For the Protoss this is very useful against a number of enemies, the most common and dangerous of which are burrowed Roaches. While Observers have no attack of their own, they are very inexpensive, and are a better unit for detection than a Photon Cannon.

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    • Cost: 150 Minerals / 100 GasStarcraft 2 Protoss Units: The Phoenix 
    • Supply: 2
    • Build Time: 45
    • HP: 120
    • Shields: 60
    • Attack: 2x5+5 vs. Light
    • Type: Light

    This fast Protoss anti-air unit is the number one Protoss counter to enemy units like Mutalisks. The +5 damage to Light units per shot means that instead of doing 10 damage overall per shot, the Phoneix does 20 damage overall per shot. This absolutely rips light enemy aircraft to shreds. However, this does mean that the Phoenix is not the best counter against enemy heavy air units such as the Terran Battlecruiser. Dealing with heavy enemy aircraft is a job which is usually best left to the Protoss Carrier.

    While the Phoneix has no air-to-ground attack, it does have a special ability called Graviton Beam. Graviton Beam makes an enemy unit float in the air for ten seconds. It is very effective at taking out a specific unit which is causing problems. For example, if you see an enemy High Templar, Ghost or Infestor you can take them out of the battle temporarily with the Graviton Beam to prevent those units for casting any of their nasty active abilities.

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    • Cost: 50 Minerals / 100 VespeneStarcraft 2 Protoss Units: Sentry 
    • Supply: 2
    • Build Time: 42
    • HP: 40
    • Shields: 40
    • Attack: Ground/Air 8
    • Type: Light - Mechanical - Psionic

    The Sentry is a support unit which comes with some interesting abilities. In terms of its own offense and defense, the Sentry is extremely weak, but when used properly in conjunction with other units the Sentry is very effective.

    The two basic powers it has are Force Field and Guardian Shield. Force Field creates a field of energy which lasts 15 seconds and acts as a wall which prevents ground units from moving past, although they can still fire over the force field. The force field is a very situation power which is most often used on ramps and chokepoints. Well placed forcefields are very effective against units which are attempting to push up a chokepoint because they have the ability to separate the advancing forces, making them easier for you to take out. They're also very effective at dealing with a player who is mixing melee units with ranged units, such as a Protoss player using Zealots and Stalkers.

    Guardian Shield is an ability which reduces incoming ranged damage by 2, and it also last 15 seconds. This is less situation than Force Field and is one of the most important early game tools the Protoss has for dealing with early Roaches from a Zerg player and advancing Marines from a Terran player. While a reduction of 2 points may not seem like much, it actually does add up and makes your forces significantly more durable. If your opponents is using ranged ground units there really isn't any reason to not use the Guardian Shield.

    Finally with have Hallucination, which must be researched. Hallucination serves two roles. First, the additional units, while they are less durable than normal units and can't attack, can demoralize an enemy into retreating from a battle they could win and also forces the enemy to fight opponents who really aren't opponents at all. Very smart players can make some accommodation for your hallucinations, but ultimately the hallucinations give you an edge in battle. You can also use Hallucinations to force a player into counters which are wrong. For example, pressuring an enemy with Immortal Hallucinations when your real plan is to go for mass Void Rays may cause the enemy to build the wrong response, leaving them vulnerable when you come in with your real strike.

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    • Cost: 125 Minerals / 50 VespeneStarcraft 2 Protoss Units: Stalker 
    • Supply: 2
    • Build Time: 42
    • HP: 80
    • Shields: 80
    • Attack: Ground/Air 10 + 4 vs. Armored
    • Type: Armored

    The Stalker is the most basic ranged unit in the Protoss army and replaces the role once held by the Dragoon. It is capable of attacking both ground and air units. This versatility makes it a common choice for Protoss players as the game progresses from the early to the mid game. Stalkers are tough, but they're far from cheap, so they have to be tightly managed. And while the Stalker's versatility is an advantage, the Stalker has some distinct disadvantages against Terran and Zerg threats like Roaches and Marauders. These lack versatility, but are stronger for the cost in direct ground combat. In fact, building too many Stalkers is a common mistake made by many Protoss players. Stalkers are really best when facing either an opponent who is using both air and ground in combination or against an enemy who has elected to go with a low number of armored units.

    The only special ability the Stalker can gain access to is Blink. Blink is actually great because it turns the Stalker into an excellent harassment unit. Blink allows the Stalker to make mence-meat out of most melee units if you micro the Stalkers so that whatever unit is attacked is blinked away one by one. It can also be used to quickly advanced past enemy defenses and into the resource line and then back away once the enemy responds.

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    Void Ray

    • Cost: 250 Minerals / 150 VespeneStarcraft 2 Protoss Units: Void Ray 
    • Supply: 3
    • Build Time: 60
    • HP: 150
    • Shields: 100
    • Attack: Ground/Air 5 + 15 vs. Armored + Bonuses from charge
    • Type: Armored

    The Void Ray is a terrifying air assault craft which attacks using what is called a "Prismatic Beam." This beam does more damage the longer it is focused on a target. This makes the Void Ray extremely effective against very heavy units and also against buildings. A common Protoss strategy is to rush out between 3 and 5 Void Rays and then sneak them behind the enemy base. If the enemy has not prepared in some way, the Void Rays can kill the enemy's entire production line and main base building before a response can reach them. This is particularly effective against Zerg players, who often go with mass Zerglings/Roaches as a early game strategy. I have achieved many victories by hiding two stargates and fighting a delaying action with Zealots to throw the Zerg off guard. In more direct conflict, the Void Ray can decimate heavy enemy units like Ultralisks and Battlecruisers.

    Since the Void Ray has to focus on a target before its damage ramps up the weakness is fairly obvious and similar to that of the immortal - multiple little units. Marines, Hydralisks and Stalkers are all pretty effective at countering Void Rays, so you'll need to dance your Void Rays around those in order to accomplish your goals. For this reason the Void Ray tends to work worst against the Terrans, who often field a fair number of Marines. The real hard counter, though, are anti-air aircraft like Vikings. They'll rip your Void Rays to shreds quickly, so keep an eye out and be careful if you see that your enemy is building towards a Starport or Stargate.

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    Warp Prism

    • Cost: 200 MineralsStarcraft 2 Protoss Units: Warp Prism
    • Supply: 2
    • Build Time: 50
    • HP: 100
    • Shields: 40
    • Attack: N/A
    • Type: Armored

    The Warp Prism is the Protoss transport. It has no weapons of its own, but it can be used in order to quickly transport a unit behind in lines in order to harass them. Dropping in tough units like the Colossus right onto the enemy production line can do a really number of the enemy's workers before they have a chance to pull their units away.

    The Warp Prism also has the ability to temporarily act as a Pylon when using Phase Mode. This allows for structures to be built and it also lets you warp-in additional units quickly.

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    • Cost: 100 MineralsStarcraft 2 Protoss Units: Zealot
    • Supply: 2
    • Build Time: 38
    • HP: 100
    • Shields: 50
    • Attack: Melee Ground 8x2
    • Type: Light

    The Zealot is the most basic unit which is available to the Protoss. Tough and deadly in close quarters, and relatively inexpensive to produce, you'll need to learn to love Zealots in order to play well at higher levels. They are your only viable early game unit against quick bunker rushes and Zergling rushes, and they are also your best offensive unit if you choose to try a quick rush yourself.

    At a basic level, the Zealot seems to move and operate similar to a Zergling. It closes in for melee and then attacks. However, there are two subtle but important features to the Zealot which must be remembered. The first is that, like all Protoss units, the Zealot is expensive but though. If you are facing a Terran or Zerg player who is playing about as well as you, you will generally be outnumbered. This tends to be a problem against the Zerg in particular because they can surround your Zealots and tear them apart. As a result, you need to position your Zealots well. Fighting in close quarters and on ramps is always recommended. If you can force the enemy into a situation where their units are essentially going one-on-one with your Zealots you have the advantage. Also, like all Protoss units the Zealots have a nice shield. This means that the Zealots can be used for effective hit and run tactics and it also means you have significant reason to retreat if you believe you in a situation you can't immediately win. If you act quickly you can retreat your Zealots before the enemy whittle down the shields, which means your force will be as good as new quickly.

    The Zealot's effectiveness becomes reduced as better ranged units enter the field. Many Protoss players abandon them entirely as they move on to Stalkers, Immortals and other advanced ground units. However, if you want to stick with Zealots you simply must upgrade them with Charge, which allows them to close the distance with an opponent very quickly. Zealots are also very useful as meat-shields. Stalkers and Immortals are really rather weak against mass enemy melee units. Having your own line of Zealot will make it harder for an enemy to overwhelm you ranged units.

Starcraft 2: The Complete Unit Guide

Are you a new or semi-experienced player looking for more information about the units in Starcraft 2? Look no further. This guide covers all of the units in Starcraft 2 and provides detailed information on their strengths and weaknesses.
  1. Starcraft 2 Strategy Guide: Protoss Units
  2. Starcraft 2 Strategy Guide: Terran Units
  3. Starcraft 2 Strategy Guide: Zerg Units