Having done an adept and a zealot build it's time to let the sentry shine. The hallucination buff encurages the older pvz style of scouting with hallucinations throughout the entire game, and while the viability of tempest is still unknown what better this is a good time to build some tempest regardless to get a better feel for the units speed health and cost. Additionally the void ray got a slight buff and hydralisk got a slight nerf. Being able to defend 4 bases with a sentry ball is key so ideally this build is played on a map where the 4 bases are close by air and has chokes on the main attack paths into your bases. I did it on chose Automation LE. The learning objectives are learning to use the sentry efficiently, setting up a defensive possition using a range/air advantage together with pushback (force fields) as well as controlling and macroing to a protoss deathball.
Overview and reactions This is a very defensive build which typically has 2 disadvantages against zerg, the first is scouting which hallucinations take care of and the second is that zerg can wait with building units and then counter whatever you choose to build. We deal with this by going straight for the deathball which does not have an obvious weakness. To defend early on we rely on void rays + an oracle to take down any early roach/ling attack. Later queen/hydralisk timings are dealt with using force fields and shield batteries together with void rays and later on tempests. The force fields will cut paths letting only a few units through at a time which the void rays supported by shield batteries make quick work of, while the tempests constantly shoot at the zerg units which can never really ever be attacked by hydralisks or queens. Against viper you want feedback, storm is the next transition so that brings you closer to the deathball. The spire is a bit more tricky, the fleet unlocks phoenix range which is probably what you want against mutalisks. I also suggest getting a 3rd stargate so that you can more qucikly produce phoenixes and getting more cannons and shield batteries. You don't want to blindly make too many phoenixes however, you're relying on a strong maxed out army and corruptors is a real option even against a void ray opener. I think against corruptors try to reach the deathball army and make less tempests.
Detailed description Phase 1: Regular gate expand into stargate. The first stargate unit is a void ray to kill the scouting overlords and keep us safe against any all in. The seconds stargate unit is an oracle, because oracles are awesomee. We stop at 3 gases and then take the 3rd base which is allowed by the void ray + oracle. From here we get the fourth gas and a second stargate and warp in as many sentries as possible without disrupting void ray production. As the 3rd finishes we want gases on it as soon as possible. +1 air weapons is started. Keep your sentries and adepts safe against any lings, build a shield battery and a wall choke for your sentries.
Phase 2: At this point we will have scouting from hallucinations as well as the oracle, use these! If we feel safe go forge + twilight for charge and take a 4rth. If we see an attack instead invest in cannons + static defence until it is defended. target sentry and void ray count is both around 6-8 after which we want tempests. If an attack is draining all the sentry energy you can warp in more sentries if they are doing good. As soon as you feel safe go for +1 ground attack and twilight for charge and take a 4rth and move to the next phase.
Phase 3: Here we rely on tempest and use tempest + sentry. Ideally we want to get storm and archons with the army, so only make as many tempests as you think you need to defend, no more than 6 unless the opponent is on your side of the map with a bunch of hydras / queens. The build order notes stop here, but the goal is getting the old style tempest deathball which consists of storm + tempest + archon + void ray. The logic of this army can be simplified as follows:
Tempests give you a range advantage
Storm crushes almost everything, especially when retreating, use together with tempest range to force opponent to walk into you while you kite back and storm everything.
The only zerg units that survive the storm is corruptors that can go in and snipe a tempest or two and ultralisks / lurker. Tempests shoot down lurkers, archons zone out corruptors and ultralisks with the help of void rays since archons are too big and gas expensive.
Now the only problem with the army is getting surrounded. Do your best to avoid it, clearing creep helps but can be difficult.
Phase 4: Now you have the deathball, what you do with it is up to you and will depend heavily on the map. Your options are to keep turtling forever on a split-map (where you can safely mine out ~50% of the bases) or attacking.
Before you look at the build order notes, I want to finally say that the ordering after the 3rd base is started does not matter too much, just make sure you spend the gas quickly (since idle gas could be sentries gathering energy) and continuosly produce probes. The order that you get the void rays and sentries you can do as you feel. Just remember that you are relying on defending using shield bats + sentry + void + tempest which is a way of saying that you're blocking the zerg units from attacking. Adding power to the army in the form of faster chargelots will not add anything to the army, they will just run into the force fields and allow the otherwise idle zerg army to kill them off. So mineral/gas management is key, and building a 4rth and cannons/shield batteries is basically the only good way to spend minerals.
|86||5:47|| ||try to get them ready at the same time as 3rd base nexus, gas is very important.|
|100||6:25|| ||when you feel safe, this will not help you defend.|
Learning how to do it
Predicting your gas mining and expenses is pretty key, if you spend all your gas on sentries right when the fleet beacon finishes you will not afford any tempests. If you think this is tricky to manage that's good, that means you'll become more aware of it by doing this build. Planning for your gas spending is a very key part of protoss macro. Learn it simply by doing and being more aware of it while playing, try to plan a minute ahead by looking at when your next tech is starting and how many assimulators you have mining. If you are observant over time you will get a better feel for it.
force field micro, a big part of this is keeping sentries in a safe possition and looking at the army when the opponent attacks. Good scouting makes the latter point easier since you will be predicting the attack. You should never lose sentries, force field and run them back. Because of this consider putting the ground units on one control group and air units on another, so you stack the void rays and then a-move them followed by force fields and pulling the sentries back. You could alternatively put everything on the main control group and sentries also on a second group so you first stack everything and then force field and only after doing that select the second control group and pull the sentries back (can be done also by a control click on senties). Choose a mathod and practice this micro in unit tester.
Hallucinations. in the earlier parts of the game you scout with hallucinated phoenixes and the oracle. because queens kill them so quickly you need to actually micro them to get good information. You can send 2-3 on the same path so get more health. You can also send them around spore crawlers. You're looking for drone/gas count, seeing their main army, as well as their tech structures. This is a good way to practice scouting since you actually have a way to see things after only 20 seconds of deciding to scout. Try to predict when you need information and send them out a bit before. If you have not scouted in 30 seconds you probably should send a scout. Another trigger is if you lose a scout without seeing anything useful, then you instantly send another. Be careful with sentry energy though since it is not limitless, again be observant, look at the sentries before you make one and judge if you need to be cheap or not with sending them in the upcoming 1-2 minutes. If you have not already choose hotkeys that you want for the hallucinations that you want, suggested is having archon on same key as hallucination so you can hold that key down for massing archons in a battle and remembering the key for hallucinated phoenix.
If you did the above properly and react to what you scout there is a good chance you reach the lategame where you have the deathball. How do you control this? To be honest if you don't know how to control it there is a good chance your opponent does not know how to beat it even when it a-moves given the shear power of the army. That is not an argument not to do your best though, so I will give some techniques, try to do one or all of these better. Tempests should kite away from the zerg as much as possible. Oracle should put revelation on the zerg before the fight, especially on infestors/vipers. high templar should stay fairly safe and zone out vipers as well as storm in the fight. Archons / void should zone out a mass corruptor poke. So in other words what this all means is you start by putting revelation on the zerg, then move around the map keeping archons + void on the right side of the tempest as you move around and keeping a few ht just in front against vipers. If a fight starts that you can run from simply kite back and storm, and if you can't avoid a big fight basically just feedback vipers/infestors while storming everything, a move everything else. In case of broodlords do basically the same but focus fire them with tempest beforehand with shift clicking (still trying to disengage if possible though). A lot of the army movmeents can be trained in unit tester, get a friend to actually take engagements though, but archon / ht zoning can be done a bit by yourself.
if you struggle with spending minerals after having gone up to a 3 base economy so quickly add cannons / shield batteries in smart possitions, try to predict where opponent can attack and put defences in every location. Because you don't have another good way of spending minerals you may as well do this before you see an attack coming, there is no reason to float minerals. Build them close to each other to be space efficient if you still struggle with spending money. Both this and the gas management can quite easily be practiced just by doing the build against easy ai.
. Continuosly producing probes is a very key part of starcraft that against a player that is not as good at it can put you in a winning possition without any engagements occuring and without taking and risks. Because this build is very defensive and has easy macro this is a great opertunity for you to work on this if you are not already excellent at it. Focus on it, look at the bar on the nexus as well as the cue, try to put it into your memory when you next need to build probes. Make it into muslce memory. Watch your replays to see how you're actually doing, a lot of the time we think that we're doing it but in reality we just did not notice that we forgot it. Try to incoperate it into other builds as well, you don't want this habit too strongly tied to a single build, but this build is a good starting point for it.
Building some immportals and zealots is a way of spending minerals which will make the sentries less fragile to bad control since they do tanking instead. You can try doing this until everything else feeld fairly smooth, but try to do it without afterwards, having the sentry shine without zealots is the endgoal.
if you play a lot of aggressive low eco zergs you could delay the 3rd (not because you have to, but to make it easier) and instead make more stargates and gases before taking it.
Try making void rays nonstop and maybe 10 or so sentries without tempests to simplify the micro. This army scales worse and can struggle against parasitic bomb for example, but can be good just to practice void + sentry micro in isolation and for an extended time.
potential improvements / Additional difficult techniques
Add 1 carrier to the deathball to mess with corruptors a-move.
when defending on 2 or more fronts split up your army into 2 control groups with sentries on both fronts
use smart sim city, don't let banelings ruin your day and don't lose structures for no reason. A good sim city will allow you to use less force fields. I leave it to you to think about what sim city is best for this composition (hint: normally you're afraid of your buildings blocking your own units, say with zealot immo against lurker, but since you're air heavy that is not a problem)
send random hallucinated units around as scouts/distractions, for example 2 zealots or a colossus.
consider getting also shield upgrades since you will have an archon deathball and it also benefits the air units.
micro tempests 2 by 2 against hydras to one shot them (or 3 by 3 before +2). If you have 4 simply move command the tempests, select 2 and target a hydralisk, select all of them (with control group ideally) then attack another hydralisk before the cooldown of the first 2 tempests is done, keep targeting hydras nonstop. This will allow the tempests to shoot 2 by 2 even though you have all of them selected when you targetfire. Works exactly the same with adepts against drones!
EDIT: Important correction in vod and maybe still in text: +1 tempests do not 2 shot hydralisks, blizzard reversed the hydralisk health nerf which I forgot about, you need +2 for that, so it is actually probably a good idea to get +2 as soon as possible.
On Nov. 29, 2018, 3:21 p.m., FightingFrog said:
Thank you for the comments wren, and good catch on a potential weakness.Good luck!
On Nov. 29, 2018, 2:49 p.m., wren42 said:
Thanks for the response and for sharing the build! I is definitely making me think more about re-incorporating void rays and tempest into my deathball builds since the latest patch. I might just add the second stargate and fleet beacon later and get up a standard ground force and upgrades going first to be safe, depending on the map.
On Nov. 29, 2018, 12:31 p.m., FightingFrog said:
To answer wren42, you're probably right, a well-macroed and well-controlled hydralist all in might break this. The purpose of these builds is as mentioned in the first introduction not to make solid builds that work against everything.
That said, the one time I played this against hydralisk or queen pushes I did hold (against low gm level) so it is also not impossible at non pro level. The key is having extra units since the 3rd is very early (which means more units overall later) and warping in sentries and a lot of static defence. I think you should have enough sentry energy for 2-3 complete wall-offs where you pick off 5 hydralisks for free each round and after that all of the added on static defence is done and your unit count will have increased. Unless the map is open, then you are just really dead.
Short comment on lack of AOE; AOE is one way to be cost efficient when your units are weaker one-by-one. Using range+forcefield combo achieves the same.
On Nov. 29, 2018, 11:04 a.m., wren42 said:
Spending all gas on sentry + void ray and delaying any ground AOE this long seems risky against the initial hydra ball. twilight council doesn't start till 6:30? muscular augments can be finishing not long after this, and a hydra push on your third could just kill you if you have no chargelots, archons, or any robo units. 4-5 void rays and a few sentry/adept won't be enough to hold.