4 Gate is Not a Good Starting Build

Protoss Discussion
I am going to keep this short, since I am just waiting for my next class to start. I was just reading the Protoss Strategy Forums for a bit, and I noticed a few threads created by lower league players seeking help. However, most of the comments on these posts say something along the lines of "Just 4 gate, it will get you to Diamond". Below are several reasons why I don't think 4 gate is a good build for learning Protoss. You can agree and disagree, and I am perfectly fine with being told I am wrong, as long as you provide some backup. Convince me otherwise, if you think you can.

I'll just get right into it:

4 Gate is a Timing Based Attack
I am going to say this flat out: Lower leagues (in general) really suck at timing attacks. Sorry, but true story. Out of all the 4 gates I have seen at the bronze level (I spectate a lot of bronze games), ~90% of them hit at least a minute late. Sometimes I see 4 gates hit at 10 minutes :3 I'm not sure why this is, but if I would have to guess, I would say it is simply because Starcraft runs at a very fast pace, and someone with little practice will very easily get overwhelmed by it. This can cause them to freeze, or even the opposite, make a rash decision that will probably cost them the game.

4 Gate is an All In
If it fails, you lose. However, most people won't simply leave after a failed 4 gate (or any all in for that matter). A player who 4 gates every game won't know how to follow up after it fails. They may just keep attacking until the other person pushes them all the way back to their base. They may also try to expand, but then just lose to a timing attack. In watching the raplay (koodos for those who do that), they won't be able to see what they did wrong in holding the counter attack. They will probably just blame their loss on the fact that they failed the 4 gate (which is completely valid, except they will have learned nothing).

4 Gate Doesn't Teach You Macro
Most Masters/Grand Masters would agree that macro is the main fundamental that will get you higher in the leagues. You can't survive in the leagues higher than Bronze if you are floating 2000 minerals at 10 minutes (Possibly an exaggeration, but it gets my point across).

Counter Points
In the interest of discussion, I will give you some counter points, then I will give you my response to them. I may add more points to this as this post gets more comments.

  • It doesn't matter if the 4 gate hits late, since the other player won't be able to defend it anyway, because they 'probably' don't know what they're doing.
  • It teaches you to macro and micro at the same time

It doesn't matter if the 4 gate hits late, since the other player won't be able to defend it anyway, because they 'probably' don't know what they're doing.
I don't believe that banking on the fact that the other player is worse than you are is a good reason to do a build. I learned this the hard way, losing several games to leagues lower than me because of this.

Also this won't remain true as (or if) you climb the leagues. As you get higher up there, players find it easier and easier to hold a 4 gate, even if it is well executed.

It teaches you to macro and micro at the same time
(In this case, macro being warping in units, and of course, micro being controlling the units). This is true up to a certain extent. I guess in constantly practicing the 4 gate, you will get better and better at hitting your warp in timings. As for micro, you will basically learn how to kite zealots, and possibly some fancy little micro tricks (none come to mind at the time of writing this). I think that is about all you will get out of practicing a 4 gate. You won't learn how many probes it takes to fully saturate a base, how many gateways and other production structures you can run off of a certain number of bases, when to get tech structures, how to fast expand and hold a timing attack.... and the list goes on and on... Micro and Macro become more important, and more complicated, as the game goes on. It can be difficult for a player who 4 only gates to be able to play a solid macro game, simply because they may not know what to do, and they will buckle under the pressure of the mid-late game harassment/attack timings.

Anyway, that's my two cents on the 4 gate at the lower leagues. Take it or leave it. Please leave your thoughts below, whether you are Bronze or Grand Master, I want to see it.

EDIT #1: Reading over this now, it was way longer than I intended :3 Oh well, I hope you will still take the time to read it and give it serious thought.
Trying to teach a new/bad player how to properly scout+perform an expand build, would be the same thing as a piano teacher giving a new student sheet music for Beethoven.

Can they learn it? Yes, but it would take sooooo long and be so difficult, that the student would probably just give up before ever coming close to getting the hang of it.

The same can be said in SC2. Trying to have a new player Scout + Micro + Macro, all at the same time, right off the bat... is just bad for learning.

You have to start simple, learn the basic mechanics of the game, understand how the Protoss race works, and go from there.

For one, a master Protoss executing a 4 gate well is a LOT better at it than a Platinum doing it. Why? Because the Master player has better mechanics, which only comes with lots of practice. The Platinum does not have mechanics of that level and will always execute a 4 gate more poorly than a Master level player.

Second, by practicing a build over and over, no matter what it is, you WILL become good at it and will learn a lot of basic skills like multitasking, probe management, chronoboost management, economy distribution (even on 1 base) and you will perfect timings (quite early on too), because you are dedicating effort and time to perfecting the mechanical skill to execute the build as optimally as possible.

Telling a new player that learning a 4 gate to learn Protoss is bad because of what your opponent can likely do or cannot is bad. If the new player is learning basic skills by using a simple build order like a 4 gate, then no, it is not a bad build to use as a learning tool. In fact, he can keep using it till he feels comfortable to keep doing or to move away from it for more interesting macro-oriented builds.

The FACT that a new player will learn multitasking, economy management on 1 base, unit micro and macro during battles, and chronoboost management, TOTALLY justifies using 4 gate as a learning medium. Guaranteed.

Other builds are fine too, but the process will take longer because other builds are defensive and require the ONLY other additional skill that 4 gate only teaches at a basic level: scouting.

Aside from Scouting, 4 gate covers base management, econ management, macro, chronoboost, warpgate tech, supply, unit micro and quick decision-making, and all of it MUCH faster than someone who is learning a Gate Robo Gate defensive build. And the bonus is that the 4 gating player can automatically switch to playing a defensive build (of ANY kind) without a huge learning curve, and the only additional thing he would need to learn is scouting which the defensive builds teach quite well when it actually matters, especially when you have decent mechanics thanks to being able to 4 gate optimally.

So, I disagree with your premise that learning 4 gate to learn Protoss is bad. On the contrary, it is the QUICKEST way to learn how to get used to Protoss and the warpgate mechanic as well as basic skills.
I'm not necessarily saying an expansion build is best to start off with. I'm saying a less timing focused or all in build is more preferable, such as the 3 gate robo. You still learn the fundamentals, such as the warp gate mechanic for example (also in a less stressed environment).

Also as a side not, This whole issue depends on the players learning style. Some people prefer to learn the mechanics quickly. In this case, I agree, the 4 gate could be a nice solution. For people who would rather take things slow, other builds may be more suitable.
Something else that i failed to mention in my first response... is scouting.

Have you ever tried to teach a bronze/silver league player how to scout?

I have... and it is a royal pain in the !@#.


Because Bronze/Silver league players (in general) do not know what they are doing. Teaching somebody how to scout what somebody is doing... when their opponent themselves don't know what they are doing... can be painful.

What usually happens is... "he did this, so I responded like you said, but then 50 marines were running up my ramp"

Any build, other than "all-ins" require scouting to be properly performed. If you cannot properly scout while doing a fast expand, or even robo expand, you are in a lot of trouble potentially.

Once they learn the mechanics, and get out of bronze/silver league, and begin facing opponents who actually know the mechanics of the game, and follow build orders (in general) it is 100x easier to learn how to scout/expand, and learn a wider variety of builds.

Trying to put too much on a new players plate at once, will only slow the learning process down.

Yes, SOME people can handle it, but in general, learning something simple like the 4-gate is a very solid go-to build, that will get them wins, while still teaching the mechanics of the game.
I'm kind of torn on the issue.

As a protoss player you should know how to 4-gate properly. You should also understand how to cannon rush and how to proxy 2-gate as well as how to defend all of these. You should know the strengths and weaknesses of each.

For somebody with rts experience trying to learn strategy a 4-gate is terrible. It does nothing to help understand of tech trees, upgrades, economy/expanding, strong/soft counters, or scouting.

The good thing about 4-gating is that it reduces the game to it's simplest form that allows a player to see how the game works without being overwhelmed by too many elements.

I'm going to focus on pvp as an example:

You can concentrate entirely on your base following a preplanned build at your base and then focus entirely on the attack. You never have to worry about both at the same time.

Scouting comes down to just a few simple things. For pvp it comes down to:
Are they proxy 2-gating? Are they cannon rushing? Are they also 4-gating? Are they defending?
The first 2 you get to defend. The 2nd one you are even. The 3rd one you attack. It's extremely straightforward. Battles come down to zealots, stalkers, sentries, and maybe immortals. There's no harassment, army splitting, tech switches, and composition adjustments are minimal.

Other builds incorporate a lot more variety. You need to read gas timings, chronoboost amounts, unit composition, tech path. Account for cheese, greedy expands, dark templar play, phoenix play, robo play. Everything requires slight adjustments and you need to make those while still executing your own build order.

I feel like anyone with rts experience can learn a basic 4-gate an execute it to at least a sufficient degree within an hour. I looked it up on liquipedia and practiced it twice vs a computer to memorize the timings and was already able to beat human players with it. But I've also been playing rts games against human opponents since the days of RA2.
I agree. I think it's better to teach somebody skills that will last them throughout their entire playing career. Teaching somebody how to macro and what all of the units do is much better than limiting them to making 20 probes, making 2 kinds of units and attacking at the same time every game.

4gate is a way to easily win in lower leagues, but does not prepare players at all for what they need to learn to be a complete player. If you want to easily win, just teach people to proxy 2gate... less effort and less skill required, yet it can still get into Masters comfortably.
01/21/2013 12:54 PMPosted by Erpman
Something else that i failed to mention in my first response... is scouting.
Couldn't have set it better myself. I agree with most of what you said in this post, I just didn't want to quote all of it, to save space.
4gate is the most fundamental build for protoss players to learn, every protoss player should know how to 4gate.

it is the easiest protoss build out there, that is why it is recommended you 4gate your way to diamond. It shows you the importance of having a good build. the 4gate is a 'good build' which is why it will smash everyone up until diamond/low masters, assuming you execute it decently.

i agree with previous statements, you want to jump straight into the hard stuff, the macro, making probes, not getting supply blocked, expanding, scouting, reacting, learning all the different strategies out there.

But trust me it is too difficult that way, you will easily get confused and rage quit more often than not, and starcraft will not be fun this way. You have to take learning steps 1 by 1. It would be like telling an elementary kid to learn calculus. there is no point
01/21/2013 01:24 PMPosted by Makkoli
assuming you execute it decently.
I hate to have to point this out, but way more often that not, this won't be the case.
01/21/2013 01:26 PMPosted by DOxXzar
assuming you execute it decently.
I hate to have to point this out, but way more often that not, this won't be the case.

I think the fact of the matter is that lower league players will learn how to use a timing attack. If you try to teach a lower league player how to macro, how to defend, how to scout and react to that, they'll be way over their head with options of what to do and they won't be able to completely learn it. A 4gate can teach the basics of economy, macro to a certain degree, and micro if they get into the fight. A bronze 4gate may hit at a later time; however, as the bronze practices that simple build over and over and over, it will become much, MUCH faster.

I speak from experience that the 4gate will raise your league, as I got at least one promotion after I started 4gating in my PvPs (I never 4gate now since I feel dirty to do so... and air openings are fun). The build is by no means an guarenteed win, but it will distinguish that player from the masses who attempt to do... whatever low league toss do.
One last thing I forgot to mention.... lol

Something else when talking about teaching a lower league player how to "scout".

99% of the time, when you scout a bronze league player, the "correct" response, is to simply walk across the map and kill them. Which is basicly exactly what a 4-gate does.

Not expand and macro up, just go kill them with the 2 stalkers you have made.
It's an okay build for quick and easy wins. It's a terrible build from which to learn advanced macro and micro tricks.
It's a good build to learn the game around, obviously you shouldn't do it forever.
What you mean dawg?!!?!?!??!


Who give a damn about MACRO!!!!!!
01/21/2013 01:26 PMPosted by DOxXzar
assuming you execute it decently.
I hate to have to point this out, but way more often that not, this won't be the case.

4gate is an extremely simple build that hits at an early timing. First off you need to be able to do the build perfectly, with no mistakes, and this can be achieved by grinding x games vs the AI. Do it until your comfortable and confident enough with a solid build then you do it on ladder.

Execution now is actually based on your unit control, and as we all know micro is a big part of being a protoss player. multi tasking is involved as well because you need to attack AND build the pylons at the same time. you have to understand that ramp vision is important in this strategy so that you can warp in on time and you have to know how to maintain map vision for your gateways to come online. And you cant forget to morph your gateways because you are busy attacking the enemy.

next you have to know which targets are priorities- sentries and stalkers. and if you get into his base you have to know to target pylons, and target units he's warping in because they take extra damage.

then you have to be able to make the judgement whether or not to engage him when he pulls probes or not, and whether if engaging into the probes if it will be cost efficient to trade units with his probes.

after all that you have to be able to know how to focus fire stalkers with your own and 'dance' with your own.

last thing is if he goes DTs you have to be able to read and recognize the fact that he has few units and something is fishy, and place a robo ASAP while stalling time with your own units

If you feel this is complicated already, then do not bother learning other builds because they will be 10x harder than this. This is why lower league players are recommended to learn 4gate first as step 1 in Protoss 101. You tell me if you want to skip to more complicated play if you can't do this right
99% of the time, when you scout a bronze league player, the "correct" response, is to simply walk across the map and kill them. Which is basicly exactly what a 4-gate does.

I agree. On an aside, in HotS (unranked) I actually ran into someone yesterday I scouted a Terran who did a 1 rax FE. I send in a zealot/stalker poke and encounter 3 marines. So I killed them... and his 3 scvs, and chased off his CC before he finally was able to chase me off with a couple marauders. I should have siz-gated this guy, but I'm just not familiar with the build, so I get 3 bases and max out before I finally kill him.
In WoL, 4 gate punishes greedy openings very well in PvP and in some situations PvT as well. For example, hellion drop can be beaten with a 4 gate and that saves you from having to defend it and most likely lose some probes. PvP it forces double gas openings (especially Phoenix) to create sentries to prevent dying, which can be a good thing since that might allow you to expand (a lot of PvP is played by ear, so not going to make too many generalizations.)

Lastly PvZ basically no one 4 gates anymore since Season 1 2010, unless you are talking about post Forge expansion in which many do a 4 gate pressure followed up with an all-in.
4gate is a good starting strat b/c you spend the first half of the game focusing on macro and the second half focusing on combat. you don't have to multi-task combat and macro which can be very challenging at lower levels. this is why it is such a n00b friendly strat.
+1: If i could i would give +1000000000 :D

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