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Any time I let a Protoss player live to mid-game, I seem to be swarmed by Void Rays, and while I can sort of react, it's generally a 50/50 at that point.

Let's say I scout a player with a single Void Ray and plans to build more. What should I do to counter them? As each race preferably, but I generally play Protoss as well.

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9 Answers 9

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You're falling into the trap of "What would be good right now." This is a mistake when evaluating strategy. Any choice at this stage will necessarily be too late as it requires a time and resource investment that can't be made instantly. Instead I would suggest the following:

Void Rays take a long time to build and represent a substantial Vespene investment. This should allow you to produce as substantially larger army against a Protoss player focusing solely on Void Rays. A small investment in defensive structures will keep off a small force of Void Rays, however any larger force of Void Rays is better handled by direct assault on the Protoss base as you can produce a more cost effective force.

Bear in mind that a Protoss player investing in a gas heavy strategy (like Void Rays) will have an excess of minerals. The result is that their defensive force will largely be made of Zealots. Take this into account. Additionally, they are also very likely to expand as expansions are made out of minerals and provide excess gas very quickly.

Finally, I recommend better scouting. Seeing an early second Assimilator is a tell-tale sign of a Void Ray rush.

A word to Protoss players: A Void Ray rush is not a sustainable strategy, neither are mass Void Rays before you have a Mothership out. However, Void Rays do complement a Tier 1/1.5 force very nicely, especially armored units with High HP.

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While I think you're correct, you didn't help provide any counters, which is what he's looking for. You just told him when to detect void rays, and what else he might be doing. –  McKay Aug 3 '10 at 14:33
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@tzenes Here's my reread: Paragraph 1: You're thinking wrong, here's what I suggest. 2: You can have a bigger army. Defensive structures could work, but a "more cost effective force is better" But you don't explain what that is. 3: Take into consideration Zealots and Expansions. No help against the void rays the enemy already has. 4: Scout the void rays earlier. I think this is what he's already done to get to this point. 5: Other people, don't mass void rays. Am I missing something? You seem to think that "any equal-cost force should defeat him" is the answer? –  McKay Aug 3 '10 at 17:37
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Spelling quibble: "bear in mind" –  TM. Aug 3 '10 at 20:13
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@McKay Reread paragraph 2 "This should allow you to produce as substantially larger army against a Protoss player focusing solely on Void Rays." The bottom line is that if the Protoss player is beating with with just Void Rays either a) you are screwing up badly or b) you are playing too defensively. Telling him to "Mass Stalkers" is not a viable solution to either problem. Comparatively "You have a bigger army, use it," is the ideal solution. –  tzenes Aug 3 '10 at 20:16
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@UltimateBrent the answer is not "kill him first," but there is no magical unit composition which will guarantee victory. Instead, consider what you have instead of Void Rays and use it. If you get attacked by Void Rays and you have 100 Zerglings, the answer isn't build hydras. Its USE THE ZERGLINGS. –  tzenes Aug 4 '10 at 3:47

For PvP, I like blink stalkers against voids.

The basic principle is that stalkers are more cost-effective than void rays, as long as the stalkers don't engage while the voids are charged. As long as you can stay on even bases, you can wear your opponent's economy down before yours, and eventually have the numbers to win outright.

HotS changed the void rays' face-melter cannon to a timed ability with a long cooldown, rather than something that charges up automatically. Stalkers are fast enough, especially with a well-timed blink, to easily get out of range whenever the voids are charged. You MUST get out of that or your stalkers will dissolve almost instantly. Then, once the voids have powered down, blink back in and attack. You have a long time before they recharge.

Some basic fundamentals will help this strategy a lot:

  • Blinking and engaging into the flank of the void line will greatly increase your stalkers' cost effectiveness.
  • Have at least 8 gateways, and some well-placed forward pylons for warp-ins.
  • Since stalkers are gas heavy, spend excess minerals on zealots to take down expos and keep map control, or, if you must, photon cannons to fortify your base and distract the void rays.
  • Keep the battle out of your base, since while you retreat from the charged cannon, those voids could just stop and destroy several structures. If you must fight in your base, try to dance like a butterfly, sting like a bee with those stalkers, getting the voids to focus on your units and waste facemelt time chasing you around.
  • Remember that void rays are expensive and slow to build, and although that void cloud may look menacing, it's made of about 20 voids at the most, and it's only strong when charged. Using the stalkers to blink in and snipe one here and there will add up quickly to victory.

A lot of people are pushing a "detect it early and shut it down" strategy, which is undoubtedly the best way of dealing with mass voids. This is what to do if you have not been able to stop that void cloud from getting established.

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To anyone reading this old question, here's what I've found works on Protoss vs Protoss-

Hit them early with as many Zealots as you can get your hands on. I know, I know. "Zealots vs Void Rays? They can't even touch them." Hear me out. This must be started quickly. So quickly I often don't bother scouting for anything more then map position and expansion when playing Pro vs Pro because this works for about anything another Protoss player could through at you early in the game. If as Protoss, you see you're playing Protoss, then start with the Z build immediately. Just enough gas for your Charge upgrade and also Warp Gate upgrade. (You will need Warp Gate early to keep the pressure on with a proxy Pylon.) Build your usual 4 or 5 Gate and get them Warp Ready asap while building Z's. Have a scout drop a proxy Pylon and then start building there. The other Protoss will either be doing the same thing by building Z's in which case your ok since it's just Z's vs Z's, or he's building stalkers which Z's can still handle, or he's building his Void Ray army which this is great for squashing early. In the time it takes for them to make 4 Void Rays you should have about 20 Zealots. (Especially if they fast expand and aren't ready for your early rush.) Rush the base and just let them fire on your Z's while you stop their production abilities. While they're chopping his base down, use your proxy Pylon and start building Stalkers to handle those Void Rays. Let them fire on you. 20 Z's can handle the fire of 4 Void Rays for about five minutes of game play before they're numbers dwindle. In that time you should be able to dismantle all power to their base and every probe they've built. So then it's everything you can throw at them vs. their only 4 Void Rays. By the time the 5 minutes is up you should have more then enough Stalkers to knock down the 4 Void Rays that have been firing on your Z's. Your opponent won't think much of a Z rush if he has Void Rays because he knows you can't touch his fighters with your ground units. But you're not after the Rays, you're after his whole damned base and his ability to make the 200 strong army of Rays that gives you all the trouble.

This plan works well with other Races. Use small fast units because Void Rays are better against big targets. Void Rays have a priority system but if you Macro well enough to draw them out they will fire on what is in front of them. Therefore, you can "All In" a little on this too because if the Void Rays are firing on your useless probes/SCV's/Drones your other units can continue to disable their base operations. Try a Marine Rush with the Terrans or a Speedling rush with Zerg. Just remember you're not fighting the 4 Void Rays. You're taking out the power to his Stargates and killing all his probes and allowing him to attempt to fire on your Charging Zealots. When he can't do anything more then fight with his 4, bring in 14 of whatever shoots down his Void Rays and finish him.

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From a PvP point of view (ie from a Protoss perspective, even though you never really see this in a 1v1 setting):

Mmmm the problem with mass Void Rays if you let their numbers build up is that they kill your units so quickly, since you have fewer units than the other races, that you'll very quickly run out of things that shoot up in a balanced enough army to deal with their Zealots too (Sentries, Zealots of your own, Collosi).

Storm can be interesting if they don't magic box at all, but if they do you won't hit much, and storm templars is already a hefty investment in PvP where they're mostly useless in general.

What I'll instead suggest is Archons. Yea, you heard me! 5-6 Archons with one Mothership can clear out every single Void Ray in 3-4sec, while losing almost nothing. Massing Archons will leave you with a lot of excess minerals which you can sink in zealots to counter his Zealots, and after the Void Rays fall, Archons can help with splash damage on his Zealots too.

Of course we're talking about late game mass Void Rays, in smaller numbers Stalkers can shoot them down before they become a threat. Make sure you scout to see what he's doing, churning out a Mothership can take a while, but it's way worth it.

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I want to complete @tzenes answer on some particular point: against void rays, I found out that it's better to have the fight at the protoss' base, than to let him attack your base. He won't be able to charge them against your buildings before the fight, making the void rays a lot less efficient.

So whatever you have, use it and attack, do not wait his attack.

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If terran, best marines do REALLY well, but move some forward, otherwise the back ones dont do anything. USE STIM.

If Protoss, Stalkers are OK, especially with Blink as somebody already mentioned. Pheonix are much better than Voids. High templars will set them running!

Zerg, Again as somebody mention Hydras are BAD (and they are cost for cost!) Mutas are amazing and cost for cost, so are Infestors. (use infested Marines)

I tested this with this unit tester: http://www.sc2mapster.com/maps/unit-tester/

I had the same question and checked it out :)

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Void Rays are becoming an increasing problem for me as well. In 2v2 and higher games it is hard to account for them completely because even if you are ready for them the teammate you are with may not be. If you see the one void ray camped out when you scout and believe he intends to make more the best answer is to gather what force you have...(hopefully enough anti air to take out the ONE void ray.) and wreck his pylons. Most likely he is going to need a ton of space for a ton of voids and this will delay him enough to make the few voids he does push out futile. Killing pylons isn't very difficult either and can be done with any hard hitting fast unit so you can raid as you would against drones SVC's and probes. Reapers, Dark Templars, and even Muta's are good at the hit and run on pylons. Most of the time if you have a fear that he wants to mass void rays you have reason to believe so... meaning you have enough time to react. Reacting and properly taking away his strategy (when it comes to void rays because they are very hard to just switch to another strategy after you have geared up for them) is almost a certain win. BUT...

To further answer your questions DIRECTLY I have found that only one unit really does well against massed voids... massed marines. They are cheap and small enough that a void ray focus on a marine takes just enough time that your mass of marines can pick a few off.

To further lend some advice... If they are getting void rays on you, you and your teammate need to attack faster in every game. There is no circumstance that an enemy should have the resources and time to gather that many voids.

To be COMPLETELY honest.. there is little to no good way to defend against massed voids if they are already built. Your most likely behind already.

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PS. - Hydras will not do much against a lot of voids. That point can be argued... but if your arguing they can..... you happen to be wrong. Try it. Seriously. Mass voids VS Mass Hydras. You won't do it. –  JohnnyToss Aug 20 '10 at 9:19

Ghosts I haven't tried this, but has anyone considered ghosts? I know they do extra damage vs light units and void rays are considered armoured mechanical, but assuming the toss player hasn't built detector units, you could use snipe to at least weaken the force.

Ravens Haven't tried this either, but the raven's seeker missile does a lot of damage to groups. I've noticed most void ray spammers like to bunch up their group. Though, Ravens are expensive, require a lot of micro and lack real defense, it might be worth a shot.

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+1 for ravens, those guys are just fun, plus they are detector! –  jblaske Aug 20 '10 at 14:31
    
Can't snipe mechanical units, imagine the uproar if you could snipe Collosi.. –  Blindy Mar 2 '12 at 17:09

Void rays are easy if you have sufficient ground anti-air.

Protoss

Stalkers, especially with blink. Do not make phoenixes-- they are not good against voids.

Terran

Marines. Early on marines can handle any void rays you come across. Later, vikings will make mince meat of them.

Zerg

This one is a little harder. Early on, if you scout that they are making voids making queens. Use the heal ability if you have the energy.

Spores work, but are not the best since they can't move well and have pretty short range. Tech to hydras as soon as possible. Infestor's fungal growth is pretty great esp. with hydras.

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Corruptors should nail them pretty well, especially with the "corrupt" ability. –  Raven Dreamer Aug 3 '10 at 2:03
    
This is true, however don't get too many of them since they are not as strong as the devourer was in Brood Wars.. intend on making a few into Brood Lords. The problem is corruptors are the zerg's anti-capital-ship unit, and void rays are not capital ships. –  smdrager Aug 3 '10 at 2:23
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I believe the best counter is mutalisks, actually. As long as they don't have a massive force, they can take out the voids before they can get properly charged, with minimal losses on your side. If they start to get charged, mutas are fast enough to run away and fight again later. –  Karl Aug 3 '10 at 16:25
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@Karl in an equal resource fight, Mutalisks lose to Void Rays. Void Rays are unique in that they "move fire" making Mutalisk hit and run even less effective. –  tzenes Aug 3 '10 at 16:57
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@Bora The upgrade no longer exists. It was removed many months ago in a patch. –  smdrager Apr 30 '12 at 15:03

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