StarCraft® II

PvP woes

Posts: 27
Hey all, I'm a platinum protoss that's having an unbelievably bad time with PvP matchups... It seems that no matter what I scout, I have absolutely no idea what the hell my opponent is ever doing. I see 2 gasses and I think DT's or air, only to have him rush a colossus or expand randomly. I see a robo and assume that a push is coming, and they expand. The matchup seems so much more volatile than any other, and no strategy I've tried seems to work in all or even MOST situations, so I can't get a grip on the matchup. Can anyone attempt to explain to me what I'm missing, or suggest an opener that won't leave me completely defenseless against so many openers? My win rate is horrendous vs P and I'm beginning to fear a demotion considering I play against nothing but zerg and toss these days.

In summary, I have literally no understanding of how to read a game in PvP, and as a result, I can't figure out how to respond to anything, and no openers seem to be working very effectively. I would greatly appreciate any help you all can give me.

Thanks,
Darkk
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Posts: 750
12/05/2012 01:04 AMPosted by Darkk
I see 2 gasses and I think DT's or air


Double gas openings are standard in PvP, and can go anywhere. Unless he is 4-Gating you, there should be no reason for you to assume his tech path solely based on his gas, I think (unless it's something crazy like Gas First or something like that). You will need to scout his tech path manually, or run a "safe" build like 3 Stalker Rush into 2 Gate Robo (though nothing is 100% safe in PvP).

12/05/2012 01:04 AMPosted by Darkk
The matchup seems so much more volatile than any other


Sadly, it pretty much is.
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Posts: 8,360
Post a replay where you thought you scouted fairly thoroughly and still couldn't read what he was doing.
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Posts: 2,108
The only thing double gas rules out is a 4-gate or something like a 5-stalker rush into expand. Even double gas before core has multiple builds off it.

I highly recommend a 3-stalker rush opening. Probably into 2-gate robo expand as the safest build.

Here are the few things I check for when scouting.

If you see a 2nd gateway go down before the first one finishes it should indicate a 3 stalker rush. They could still be doing almost anything with this, but you should be aware that the early investment in 3 stalkers will slow down any tech choice.
If they follow it up with 2 or 4 more stalkers to bring it up to 5-7 stalkers 90% of the time it's a blink build. The other 10% of the time it's early pressure into expand with robo, but this is less common as it can lead to a deadly counter attack.
Most common is just a 2-gate robo. You should just check whether it's an expand or 1-base colossus build. There is also the branch that just gets a few more gateway units and expands before the robo, but this is involves more risk. You can normally tell a 2-gate expand if you see the 3 stalkers being extremely aggressive with a mixed zealot/stalker force or being extremely passive with sentries.
More rare is the DT/Phoenix build behind this, but because of the opening be aware you have extra time before they hit.

If you see only a single gateway when the core finishes.
The common build is zealot > stalker > sentry. You can usually rule out blink or at least a fast blink play because the zealot and sentry both interfere. This is most likely 1-gate robo or it can be some kind of 3 gate build. You should be able to pressure this enough to see how many sentries there are.
The other build is a tech play in zealot > sentry > zealot > sentry. This is used for phoenix builds and dt rush builds. You'll be able to see this by the noticeable lack of stalkers, multiple zealots, and possibly multiple sentries.

What map you are on can probably influence your guesses as well. Good Blink maps vs Bad blink maps. If you are on cloud kingdom or antiga you can pretty much guess that your opponent is going blink or robo. Bad blink maps tend to promote more robo, phoenix, and dt play such as daybreak. DTs are more likely if the natural entrance and map are more open.
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Posts: 2,691
I'd say first things first, learn to love the matchup. Find a good protoss friend and play customs often. Play several games at a time so that you have to rely on solid play, not gimmicks.

PvP is your mirror, so whenever you see your opponent do something unexpected you should be pulling up the build order tab. You should be watching the replay. You should ask him questions after the game! PvP should be your easiest matchup when it comes to learning because you understand both sides much more completely.

Still, PvP is demanding. It requires very good unit control and you only get that through practice. Learn the 3 stalker rush and just do this for a while. It is imo the safest opening and doesn't hinder you going down any tech path.
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Posts: 16,231
12/05/2012 01:04 AMPosted by Darkk
In summary, I have literally no understanding of how to read a game in PvP, and as a result, I can't figure out how to respond to anything, and no openers seem to be working very effectively. I would greatly appreciate any help you all can give me.


12/05/2012 05:10 AMPosted by TechNo
Post a replay where you thought you scouted fairly thoroughly and still couldn't read what he was doing.
I think you got the wrong impression here.

He is asking for help, not really based on specifics, but more generally how ANYONE is supposed to scout and read builds in PvP.
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Posts: 318
People throw around the word "volatile" often when talking about PvP. This is true in the sense that it moves quickly and you can lose at any point in the game from easy mistakes. It isn't volatile in the sense of being unpredictable. You can scout enough in the early game to be completely safe, and thoroughly enough in the midgame to react with virtually any build you choose. Some builds require excellent micro and awareness against others to win, but there are no hard counters and you should never have to play blind.

The post before me covered some of the reads you can make from your probe scout. If you aren't probe scouting (which some pros do not) you are either taking risks or are confident that you have godlike probe micro and fear nothing early. Your probe can (and must) always stay alive long enough to see how chrono is spent after the cyber is finished. There are 3 main things to look for: Gateway timing (and numbers), gas, and use of chronoboost.

When you arrive at their base, compare gateways; if theirs is ahead of yours, or already complete, you are certainly facing early gateway pressure and must now keep an eye on their gas to see if they continue mining beyond 50 (korean 4gate), their use of chrono (on gateway or cyber?) and start taking measures to prevent probes/pylons near your base.

If everything is normal so far, there are a few combinations.

1 gas and saving chrono, chrono on cyber. Probably 4gate.
2 gas and saving chrono, chrono on cyber. Possibly still 4gate with fake gas, play safely.
1 gas and chrono on nexus, especially after core finishes: Most likely an expand build.
1 gas and 2 gateways, chrono on gateway. Probably 3-5 stalker pressure. Wraith covered this pretty well. If you scout 2 gateways but chrono goes to the cyber, or both cyber and gateway, 4gate is still a strong possibility.
2 gas and saving chrono. Chrono on gateway or nexus (or no chrono). A tech build.

At the lower levels of play, it is entirely possible people are wasting chrono or putting it to the wrong use for their build, or taking gas that they don't need, or executing a 4gate so poorly and slow that it is confusing.
But as long as you are playing to what you see, rather than what you feel, and not taking risks, you should still win. Any stupid mistake that is misleading, or metagame trickery, always comes at the expense of the build's speed and efficiency. These kinds of tricks work very well against terran or zerg who must react in vastly different ways, but aren't that effective in PvP.

Any build that will truly threaten you in the early game - early-midgame can be scouted with your probe. After that, your most fundamental choice is between a tech or expand build, and further, whether to be aggressive with stalkers or defensive with sentries. Both have their advantages, and both are safe if you are playing well. Sentry tech builds are safe until you can get an observer or phoenix into play. 3-5 stalker pressure will grant map control and threaten your opponent into revealing tech early or playing too defensively as you gain an early expansion or the map control needed for tech pressure (usually blink). If you find an early expansion with your midgame scout, every protoss tech path has the option to go all-in on 1 base or expand and play catch up. There is no scenario in PvP (if you probe scout) where your midgame scout arrives in time to find that you have already build order lost the game or fallen severely behind.

My favored choices are either 3-5 stalker rushes into 2 gate robo expand as explained by wraithcube, which is usually my reaction to 1 gas builds (as it denies 4gate effectively and can force nexus cancels on expand builds) or phoenix builds, which are often my reaction to scouting 2 gas (because phoenix are so effective against robo builds and flexible in dealing with others) Reactions to scouting differ based on your tech, but this is something that you can learn for yourself and make your own choices. Both are fun to play, aggressive, and can sometimes leave your opponent guessing as to your intentions.
Edited by Pesto on 12/5/2012 9:05 AM PST
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Posts: 2,060
Im a zerg player and I find playing pvp really fun 4 gate vs 4 gate, blink stalker play, immortal play, and Phoenix play, and DTS. :D
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Posts: 8
12/05/2012 07:46 AMPosted by wraithcube
I highly recommend a 3-stalker rush opening. Probably into 2-gate robo expand as the safest build.


If no one minds, can anyone elaborate on this? I just started playing, and I have problems with players who rush me. (Well that's mainly because I keep practicing the nexus first build). But it would be good if I know a good rush opening myself as well. Specially when going against protoss.

Thanks :)
Edited by Badger on 12/5/2012 9:16 AM PST
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Posts: 2,108
Here's a guide on the 3 stalker rush
http://www.teamliquid.net/forum/viewmessage.php?topic_id=305331

A lot of people skip their first zealot though there are some builds that still get it.

The basic idea is to go gate > assimilator > core > at ~60% core build a 2nd gate.

You build a stalker right when your core finishes. Your 2nd gate should finish at the time your first stalker finishes allowing you to start 2 more stalkers. You can then move out on the map with the 3 stalkers comfortable in the fact that you have the best army possible at this point in the game.

Generally you then build a robo behind this and start an immortal when it finishes. You can then build a nexus using the immortal, stalkers and whatever else you can build from 2-gates and the robo for defense.

There's quite a few variations on this that have subtle strengths and weaknesses but they all move toward the same point of eventually getting to 5 gate double robo with colossus off 2 bases.

dt and phoenix builds require their own branch of explanation, but are in a weird area between often used but not quite standard. Phoenix builds are awesome though as long as you avoid the phoenix vs phoenix battles (we don't like to talk about these. they are like our dirty little secret when they happen cause "whoever builds more phoenix wins")
Edited by wraithcube on 12/5/2012 9:42 AM PST
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Posts: 8,360
12/05/2012 08:31 AMPosted by Zamara
I think you got the wrong impression here.


No I don't.

I could write an essay on different openings and what to scout and what to expect, but not everyone has time for that. He said he doesn't know what decisions to make with the information given to him so I was offering to show him what that information he actually saw in a regular game would tell him, and how he should prepare given that information.
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Posts: 16,231
12/05/2012 09:50 AMPosted by TechNo
I could write an essay on different openings and what to scout and what to expect, but not everyone has time for that.
That does not mean that is not what he is looking for. In any case, your response was not formulated in the right context - I was just pointing it out.

He said he doesn't know what decisions to make with the information given to him so I was offering to show him what that information he actually saw in a regular game would tell him, and how he should prepare given that information.
Which is only a fraction of knowledge he will get, but he will not understand how he might improve upon that when he sees totally different things in very different situations.

Of course, a replay helps explain things more visually, but the eventuality is that you have to give him that "essay" for him to really understand how to scout as a Protoss.
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Posts: 27
Thanks for the responses everyone... I will post a few replays later tonight when I get a chance to play, and then perhaps people can point out some of my more specific errors (I'm sure there are plenty!). I'll take a look at the 3 stalker rush build though, and I appreciate the scouting advice.
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