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What is the best way to counter a player who is using a lot of Carriers?

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Focus Fire them. – Doug Aug 14 '10 at 2:49
up vote 14 down vote accepted

The main problem with carriers only really arrives if you allow your opponent to build a ton of them. Alone, like Carl Clover said, they're very weak.

The secondary problem with carriers is that they're often accompanied by a mothership, which complicates matters.

One of the best ideas to counter a protoss dead-set on going carriers is to scout and provide early pressure if you see him teching quickly to a fleet beacon. He's probably spending so much money on those buildings that he has a comparatively weak army, and you should be able to do a good deal of damage.

Often the answer to a question of "how do I counter X high tier unit?" isn't so much about countering that unit once it's built, but preventing it from coming out at all.

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Don't let him get that far, is probably the best solution. Make sure he can't expand to get the resources to built them – Ivo Flipse Aug 14 '10 at 8:25
@Ivo Flipse "don't let him get that far" can't always be the answer. if the only way to counter a certain unit is to never let the opponent get the unit, then that unit is imbalanced. SC2 is like rock paper scissors - each unit has a counter. the important thing is to scout so you know that he has carriers before he shows up with 12 of them and you have a bunch of zerglings or zealots. – Peter Recore Aug 16 '10 at 15:16
@Peter No Ivo is perfectly right. There are units that can beat a carrier, but once there are 5 carriers you'll need a really big fleet of let's say vikings to take them down. Needless to say that Corruptors and Phoenix are totally worthless as anti-air counters. If a protoss manages to get to 4-5 carriers there is no possible counter to this. You'll usually have invested in a normal army, not heavily into anti-air so you'll just not have the right mix of units to counter that mount of carriers. – Tigraine Aug 16 '10 at 23:27
I have to agree that if you let a player get far enough to have a sizable number of carriers, he was going to win anyway. I only build carriers/mothership as an additional insult when I'm already winning, because they really are not cost effective units. – Lotus Notes Aug 20 '10 at 17:20
@Peter Corruptors are dedicated anti-massive attackers, and unless you know the carriers are coming you won't have 24 corruptors to use against them. "Scout early and provide pressure" are the main points of this answer, because then you'll know what to prepare for. – StrixVaria Oct 16 '10 at 13:00

I'm a player who almost always goes for carriers in large games (3v3, 4v4, FFA).

As someone who uses a lot of carriers, I can tell you what I fear the most:


  • Mass Vikings using focus fire. They are (way) faster than my carriers, and they have longer range. A decent number of Vikes can focus-kill a carrier in about 1 second.
  • Defensively, if you support the Vikings with marines, it's even harder to deal with, since a large group of marines can very quickly kill all my Interceptors.
  • Note that marines alone are terrible against carriers. You just can't catch them. Even if you kill my Interceptors, I just run away and rebuild them, or attack you somewhere else. If I've gotten to mass carriers, I probably have the resources to rebuild the Interceptors.


  • Mass Stalkers with blink. If you don't have blink, forget it, I just run away and pick off the Stalkers that chase. Even with blink, I will try to run away over gaps, but obviously, that's harder than just running away over cliffs.
  • Mass (more) Carriers with focus fire.
  • Forget Mass Void Rays, UNLESS they are already charged up when the battle starts. Otherwise, by the time they are charged up, half of them will be dead, and game over. Your only chance here is to get into my base and be killing my dudes so that I'm forced to come and engage you while you are charged. Even then, I will come in focus-firing, so you better be ready to react with focus-fire instantly and not waste time killing Interceptors (I see that ALL the time).


  • Infestors with Fungal Growth, backed by mutas/hydras/corruptors
  • Corruptors WITH corruption, backed by mutas or hydras.
  • Corruptors alone aren't usually that effective against Carriers - I can focus fire too, and they're not too hard to run away from. Mutas alone are terrible against carriers, your bounce damage isn't very effective against the mass HP of a carrier. Mass hydras are terrible, I will always just run over a cliff or a gap and attack you somewhere else. However, if you can use fungal growth to freeze Carriers, or corruption to increase damage, and use mutas/hydras/corruptors to pick them off, then i'm in trouble.
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+1 good answer . – BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Oct 15 '10 at 21:57
+1 I've definitely had good luck with sentries + stalkers (w/blink) vs. carriers. – notJim Oct 16 '10 at 5:07
This should be closer to the right answer a combination of this and the main – zardilior Jun 24 at 16:23

Since nobody else has mentioned it yet...armor upgrades. The interceptor fires 2 attacks that do 5 damage each unupgraded. With a maximum of 8 interceptors per carrier, each +1 to armor reduces the total damage the carrier does by 16 per wave of interceptors. Most anti-air units will do fairly well if you spend an equal amount on them, especially if you can stay ahead in upgrades. Corrupter and vikings are especially effective.

Edit for example: Corrupters start with 2 armor, if your air armor upgrade is one ahead of the carriers' air attack upgrades then each wave of interceptors will do a mere 32 damage (80 - 16 * 3). If their attack is 1 ahead of your armor, your corrupters instead take 64 damage per wave.

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If you are playing zerg, use corrupters, corrupt each carrier, and focus them down. If they have "a lot" of carriers, they spent a fortune creating them. If you spend a similar fortune on vikings or corrupters, you should come out OK.

For example, I just did a test using the Hard Counter map. 10 carriers got killed by 24 corrupters which cost me less minerals and gas. (and quite possibly build time, though that varies with a lot of things)

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Carriers are possibly the weakest units in relation to their cost until you have like a dozen of them. Just focus fire them so that you're not wasting firepower on their interceptors.

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Vikings and corrupters both counter carriers. If anything carriers are under powered.

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