--> Double Archon Timing
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Over the past couple months I've been playing with my own style. I really wanted to try out my own ideas that I honestly thought would be really fun to play, with a goal of having a style that has a high skill ceiling. All Zerg players should be very comfortable playing against Colossus compositions nowadays, and there's honestly only so much you can do with a Colossus centric army. I focus on a composition that revolves around Blink/Immortals/Archons (and later HT).
Imagine you have Immortals in PvZ. What are they bad against? Lings, Mutalisks, and Broodlords (most things are bad against Broodlords though). So, if you want to make Immortals, what unit would have great synergy with them? Archons of course! Imagine an army in PvZ made with Archon/Immortals. This army is extremely tough (given that zealots and sentries are present as well), but sadly rather immobile. I haven't solved my problem of getting away from using those boring Colossus!
Blink and Warp Prism. These are your tools. Use them and love them. Blink grants your army a highly mobile option, and warp prism allows great versatility as well. In my style, which was happily dubbed CvZ one day on my stream by one of my fans (Cecil vs Zerg haha) your play will focus around Immortal/Archon/Blink/DT/Warp Prism. Throw in Voidrays and/or HT in the late game, depending on what tech the opponent goes for.
Choose your Opening
Really, go ahead and choose your favorite opening! Any! As long as it puts you at least on equal footing with the Zerg's economy. My absolute favorite opening is a 1 Gate FE, so I'll briefly cover it.
- Assimilator (2)
- Stalker or Sentry
This is the basic opening pathway for most Protoss openings in all matchups. If you cannot do this without perfection, then go practice it in YABOT until you can. Next you do the following:
- Gate -> At Nat
- Gate -> At Nat
- Make Sentries non-stop from your 1 single Gateway
Try using this very cool sim-city! Er.. Well that's not the best place for the Zealot
Here is the really interesting part. After your three Gateways are up and you Saturate your Natural with about 16 probes on minerals, you place either a Robotics Facility or Twilight Council. Twilight Council first is great for fast DT, which is good if the opponent is delaying Lair tech and staying in Ling Baneling. It's also a good way to win a lot of fast ladder games with fast DT tech. Just be sure to research Blink before any large engagements, if you can help it.
Robotics Facility first is more standard an much safer, as such I recommend it. Once you lay the Robotics Facility, chrono out 1 Observer followed up with either one or two Warp Prisms. These Warp Prisms are going to do wonders for you if you use them well. They will allow you to tech to Blink and DT while taking a third base - you can even take an early third base on a lot of maps.
This Warp Prism needs to be used in a specific way. Here are the priorities for the Warp Prism in descending order starting with the highest priority:
- Do not lose any gas units (zealots are okay), and especially don't lose the Prism!
- Show active presence to the Zerg player.
- Kill enemy units (drones!).
Very simple! What this sort of priority schema will do is it will force the Zerg player's attention onto the prism, and keep the prism as a constant threat. Every moment the Zerg player does not have defending forces in place to fend off the Warp Prism, show presence and land units. Warp in some Zealots -you can afford to lose a few here and there! This keeps a large amount of the Zerg's forces on the opposite side of the map, giving a much easier time to take your third base.
On more open maps like Tal'Darim you should chrono out two Warp Prisms and harass two locations constantly! You should also do this on maps where a three base Zerg is very spread out (Xel'Naga Caverns, Shakuras Plateau if they take the edge base).
It is essential to show at least one Warp Prism in order for you to not fall behind economically. Otherwise you won't have a fighting force with your two Archons until about 12 minutes into the game, which is much much too late.
After you lay your Robotics Facility and order your Warp Prism, lay down your Twilight council, immediately followed by 2 more Gateways. You need the additional Gateways to keep up with your 2 base full saturation. Once the Twilight Council finishes you should have about 3-7 Stalkers, 6-9 Sentries, and an amount of Zealots. Start researching Blink as soon as you can afford it. Continue Stalker production in order to have a nice bulk of Stalkers to make use of Blink (about 8-14 Stalkers).
Next you need to save up a bit of Vespene, so I recommend taking a third base, or warping in a lot of Zealots. This vespene is for DT tech followed by Dark Templar. Keep in mind you should have had a good amount of action with your Warp Prism(s) at this point in time!
Now here should be your current setup: 5 Gateways, 1 Robotics Facility, Blink, and DT tech. Start Chronoboosting out Immortals. Once DT Tech finishes, warp in 4 Dark Templar and morph them into Archons, and if you have the resources place some DT around the map.
You now have an excellent infrastructure to produce a very scary army! You have Immortals, which are excellent against Roaches and Ultralisks, you have Archons which are good against everything except Brood Lords -and exceptionally good against Ling/Muta, you have Blink Stalkers for Mobility and core army supplementation, and Warp Prism/DT which has great harass synergy! All of these types of units work extremely well together and have amazing synergy!
Now you might have been wondering what this Double Archon business is about. Well the moment your Dark Shrine finishes is the moment when your army is "complete", and at this time you just so happen to always have enough resources for 2 Archons. I find it's a really great timing where the army value of your army spikes sharply, and often times I simply win the game at this point due to the Warp Prism harass slowing the Zerg player down so so much. With your Double Archon timing, you should have somewhere around 15 Stalkers, 6-10 Sentries, 2-4 Immortals, and 2 Archons with a rabble of Zealots.
Once your third is complete (often times around or just before the Archons finish, you can support 2 Forges 3-4 more Gateways and another Robotics Facility. You need two Robotics Facilities at this point in the game to replenish Observers, Warp Prisms, and Immortals. If you feel these Forges are a little too late, you can simply delay the timing of your Blink by a minute or so and research +1 attack (around the time you lay the Twilight). I do this very often.
- Opening to Three Gates (FFE is acceptable, I included a FFE replay).
- Robo -> Obs -> Warp Prism(s)
- Twilight Council
- +2 Gateways
- DT Tech
- Third Base + Immortals + Stalker/Zealots
- @100% Dark Shrine 2 Archons + DT Harass
- If you are ahead of your opponent, the 2 Archon timing will likely secure a win!
- @3 Bases have: 2 Forges; Templar Archives (going for Storm)
- If Broodlords : Blink Stalkers OR Voidrays (Voidray/HT/Immortal is basically unbeatable!)
Notes for Engagements
There is really only one time of engagement that will take some practice, other than practicing general good PvZ engagements, and that is against an Infestor count of 5+. Against Infestors, it's best to Blink a small group of Stalkers onto the Infestors and snipe the ones with the most energy. I tried exemplifying this in one replay against engulfSAGA and misclicked and Blinked all my Stalkers forward, and didn't pick off any Infestors. This is bad!
When you engage Roach/Ling/Infestor you need to try to FF the Infestors away from your army as best you can, and space your army about as best you can. Once the enemy's Infestors are away from the core army roach/ling, then is the time to blink a group of 5-7 Stalkers at them and pick off 2-3. This will reduce the Fungal count immensely and also force down wasted fungals on your small group of Stalkers. Also Immortals and Archons take a lot of damage to die from a fungal, so fungal isn't very effective against them -Archons also deal hardly any damage to Immortals/Stalkers if neural parasited!
It takes some practice, so play with a friend in a unit tester for a bit with equal food counts! I assure you the battle will come out even. Just be sure to have less Immortals if no roaches, in favor of Archons!
I've had a tough time against very heavy Hydralisk counts. This is due to a delayed AoE tech of Storm or Colossus. If spotted, it's best to immediately tech switch to Chargelot/Archon and head towards Storm asap! It's also important to stay on top of your upgrades, go double Forge if you have to (three base or higher)!
Against pure roach or macro roach, I simply get a second Robotics Facility before my third base, and favor a lot more Immortals. Similarly, against very little to no Roaches, get less Immortals more Archons/Stalkers/DT. Just don't be afraid to make Immortals if you see no Roaches at all! You need to have at least two in the event of a tech switch from the Zerg player. You'll see in my replays that I always have a few Immortals in my composition - that's because they cannot be hard countered. Immortals are just good against everything except ling/muta, which the Archons and later HT make up for! Immortals are even pretty dang good against a large Hydra count (it should be noted that against pure hydralisk compositions Chargelot Archon should be created with fast HT/Storm).
Don't be inactive with your Warp prisms! Remember, this style is intended to have a high skill ceiling, so push yourself to your limits! It's going to give all lower-tier players a great chance to improve themselves since it requires a higher degree of skill than low-apm deathballish play.
It should be noted once more that you don't need to deal a giant amount of damage with the warp prisms. It's more important that you show its presence and keep it as a threat, than trying to deal some damage while losing the prism altogether. However, if you lose the prism to mutas (happens to me all the time), well now you know mutas are on the map earlier than usual.