|Hello fellow TLers! Two weeks ago, I was searching for a way to add Dark Templars in my play and I came up with a strategy that is, so far, very effective in the PvP mirror matchup. I suppose people will learn to counter it, so it will not be as effective as it was up until now, but it is still nice to have in your arsenal of strategies.|
This guide starts off by explaining the general guideline of the strategy, followed by the build order and, finally, the strategy explained in details (against 4 gates or 2 gates robo). Replays are also available at the end of this post.
Like mentioned in the topic name, this strategy consists of rushing to get some Dark Templars out. I used some concepts learned from trying out the Tester Build (4 gates mass zealots with pylons in your base) and I applied those concepts into this strategy. Essentially, this strategy requires you to warp in ~9 zealots near the opponent's base around the 5m40s mark and put pressure on him until your Dark Shrine is completed at the 7m mark.
From experience, this is NOT an all-in strategy. You do not sacrifice your economy to make this rush possible. You will produce ~24 Probes. Of course, you will probably lose if you lose all your zealots and your DTs without damaging his economy. Under normal circumstances though, should this strategy fail, you should still be in the game and potentially win it.
Lastly, this strategy does not work against proxy gates, 12/14 gates mass zealots rush or the Tester Build. You will need to adapt to those strategies if you encounter them. Explanations are given towards the end of this post.
The Build Order
16 Cybernetics Core
24 Gateways x2
24 Twilight Council
26 Dark Shrine
I will now go into the details of the strategy.
In The Beginning
16 Cybernetics Core
There isn't anything special to do in the beginning. You can do a standard 12 Gateway. You can use 1 or 2 Chrono Boosts on your Nexus to speed up Probe production. Save your energy afterward and use it for a quick Warp Gate Research. Make sure to not lose your scouting probe and get it out of the opponent's base before his first stalker comes out.
I have never tried to do this strategy with a 13 Gateway. Although it could probably work, your rush will be delayed by 10-17 seconds. Because of that, it might be more dangerous against a Protoss who's going 4 Gates, since he should be leaving towards your base around that time (6m mark). A Protoss doing the standard 2 Gates Robo will have more time to get an observer out too. As such, I would not recommend doing it.
You do not have to make a zealot out, but you will be vulnerable to a zealot harass. If you opt to not make one, make sure the opponent isn't making a zealot to harass you.
You can make a stalker after the Core is built. You will have an easy time to kill the scouting Probe and you can afterward intercept any incoming scouting Probe. This will allow you the ability to do this rush "undetected". Unfortunately, the actual rush will be ~20 seconds late, since you will lack the vespene gas to do it more quickly.
What I like the most about this strategy is how you can branch out and do another strategy if you want. So far, the build order is nearly identical to a 4 gates push or a 2 Gates robo (at least mine). Because of that, it makes it harder for the opponent to see it coming.
Preparations for the Rush
24 Gateway x2
24 Twilight Council
26 Dark Shrine
At this point, it requires you to invest your economy to prepare for the DT rush, so I wouldn't recommend having a change of heart from now on. If you made a zealot/stalker earlier, send them to your opponent's base.
Afterward, stop making probes at 24 and make an assimilator, followed by 2 Gateways and a Twilight Council. Resume the probe production afterward. Once the Twilight Council is built, start building the Dark Shrine and transform your gateways into Warp Gates.
Also, around the 25 supply mark, make a proxy pylon near the opponent's base. If you lost your scouting probe, send one as soon as possible to make that proxy pylon outside his base. This is very crucial, since this strategy won't work otherwise. I messed up vs. Taurent on LAN - I forgot to make the proxy Pylon. The game ended up... very one-sided. Having 10 zealots in your base against a 4 gates push mass zealots/stalkers/sentries is not an ideal situation to deal with, trust me!
While I don't particularly like it, you can build 3-4 Pylons in the opponent's base. This tactic is much more "aggressive" than making a single pylon outside the opponent's base, since his attention will be on destroying the Pylons ~30 seconds before the first wave of zealots would normally arrive. By doing this though, you will lose a wave of zealot (3), so it won't be nearly as good in my opinion. If you do this, it's a good idea to have an additional pylon outside his base in case that you lose your pylons in his base.
Finally, here comes the rush!
DT Rush against 4 Gates
Since you will have Chrono Boosted the Warp Gate Research, you will be able to start warping Zealots around the 5m40s mark, which is earlier than a 4 Gates push.
Your goal against an opponent going for 4 Gates is to buy some time. Your Zealots WILL be slaughtered by his zealots/stalkers/sentries. Split your zealots in 2 groups and send one in his mineral line to kill some Probes or force him to control his Probes and his main army. Keep sending new waves of Zealots every 23 seconds. Send three waves of zealots (9 zealots total, 10 if you made one earlier). After those waves, your Dark Shrine will be coming up in any seconds now. Once that happens, make three DTs and Chrono Boost all of your Warp Gates.
Slaughter Incoming (My Zealots)
As of today (September 6th 2010), at this point in the game, you have won the game. Players don't expect it, so they don't have any detection if they go 4 gates. If he tries to send all of his Probes and army to your base now, make a DT or maybe even two (if you have the gas), in your base and hold position at your ramp. 2 DTs are enough to block stalkers from entering - only zealots will be able to enter now. If he does that, you can also just leave 1 or 2 DTs in his base to finish it and send 1-2 in your base to finish off his army without detection.
Base Trade? Anytime.
DT Rush against 2 Gates Robo
This one is more tricky, since your opponent might have an observer out. If he built an immortal first, it is counter-intuitive to make an observer while there are a bunch of zealots entering your base, so you should have some DTs out when he won't have any detection. If he builds an observer first, your DTs could be detected (if he keeps his observer in his base).
Your goal against a 2 Gates Robo is to destroy either of these: his army or his economy. Doing a 10 zealot rush against a 2 Gates Robo is pretty good: he will have a smaller army than yours (his Robotics Facility just went up) and you can overwhelm him with your waves of Zealots. DTs might not be necessary to win, but they kill Probes with one hit (when Zealots take 3 hits for single kill).
Do Not DT Rush If...
Just to state the obvious, do not go for a straight DT rush like I've mentioned in this guide if he goes for a proxy gates or 12/14 gates mass zealots strategy. You will lose long before you build a Twilight Council. If you stop a 12/14 gates rush, you can try out this DT rush. I have personally never tried it - I prefer doing standard games when my opponent does that.
You must not DT Rush also against a Tester Build. Essentially, the player doing the Tester Build will start warping in 4 Zealots every 23 seconds at the 5m10s mark, which is almost 30 seconds earlier than when you will while you do this strategy. The reason is that he got a 10 Gate and sacrificed heavily his economy so that he can warp in zealots in your base as fast as possible. Also, he will have 4 Gates vs. 3 Gates for you. To sum it up, you will lose.
Speculations on Potential Weaknesses
I have tried this strategy about 20 times and I have lost only twice with it - my first attempt at trying it and against Taurent where I forgot to make a proxy Pylon. Because of that, what I will write in this section is pure speculation on what the other player's could do if this becomes popular. I see three potential ways of dealing with this strategy.
3 Gates Robo
To counter the incoming waves of zealots, you could make units out of 3 Gates to counter it. As for your Robotics Facility, you will need to only build a single unit out of it - an observer. This way, you can match up against his waves of zealots with your own units being made from your 3 Gates.
If you notice he is doing this, it might be worth it to make an early forge (especially if you have 4 Gates). Making a forge and cannons costs no gas, so you can make stalkers/sentries like you would normally. Timing would be a key factor with this counter: you will need to have at least 1 cannon up by the time his DTs arrive. That cannon should be at your ramp, otherwise he could destroy anything that is out of the cannon's detection range. After the third wave of zealots, you could place all of your units at your ramp to block the DTs from entering until the cannon goes up.
Not A Bad Idea, But No Photon Cannons
As of right now, since I only make one zealot until the 5m40s mark, I am pretty vulnerable to an opponent who puts constant pressure against me. If you keep on sending zealots/stalkers against someone who does this strategy, he will be forced to make a bigger army himself, which will slow his DT rush, giving you the time needed to get detection. It is good to mention though that this does happen to me once in a while. When the opponent harasses me like that, I tend to go 2 Gates Robo or 4 Gates myself instead.
To conclude, I hope that you will like this strategy as much as I do. Normally DT rushes are very easy to counter, because they are so easy to see coming, but this DT Rush is quite unexpected. It barely slows down your economy (only 2 Chrono Boosts on your Nexus) and you can just choose to do another strategy after ~4 min in-game. Should it fail, you will have 3 Gateways (always useful), 1 Twilight Council (that could be used if you want chargelots or blink stalkers) and a Dark Shrine (which could be useful for harassing purposes later on in the game). It is also hard to see coming, since it looks like a 4 Gates push or a variant of a Tester Build with stalkers.
Feel free to comment this strategy, but if you wish to criticize it, try to be constructive as it could help me out write better guides. I will most likely post more guides once in a while, since I like coming up with new strategies.
The replays are posted below. Have a good time playing Starcraft II!
P.S: I do not have that many replays of the build order shown above. Since I've done it about 20 times, I experimented a lot with it to see what is best. I have put lots of experimental replays in the zip file.