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In my recent games, I've been having a lot of trouble with Terrans who refuse to engage my army even if it arrives knocking on their doorstep (I play Protoss mostly), because they know that they will always win in a base race. If I arrive at their base and start killing their workers and buildings, they simply go to my base and do the same.

This usually happens around the early-mid push so both players have mostly tier 1, maybe a couple tier 2 units out, but it's even easier once they have Medivacs because they can fly out of their base unharmed and land in mine.

What I've noticed is that there is far less risk for them leaving their base unattended. Why?

  • They can simply lift off a lot of their buildings which can't be killed fast enough by stalkers, since I also need an approximately equal number of zealots to survive tier 1.
  • Even if I kill all their workers, then leave to return and defend what's left of my base, they can recover from the economic loss quite well with MULEs.
  • Terran t1 units tend to do kill buildings faster anyway.
  • Killing Pylons cripples the Protoss player much more than killing Supply Depots hurts the Terran. I end up being supply blocked and my warp gates have no power so I can't produce anything, while he can still make at least a few things from his barracks.

Options I've tried:

  • Leaving 2 or 3 sentries at my choke to slow them down. If I look away for even a second, the Terran player has already stimmed and taken out the sentries before I can block them off with force fields.
  • Taking out their workers and the command center, then heading back to my base. All my Pylons and workers are already dead and he's probably had enough time to kill my Nexus, so game over, as he can still produce a few marines at least while all my warp gates are unpowered and I am supply blocked.
  • Leaving behind a portion of my army. It's too difficult to split up the army, because my offensive force won't kill his base fast enough and my defensive one isn't big enough to defend from his force.
  • Letting my base die, continuing to kill his and chase his flying buildings around the map while attempting to 'Farm-hide' Pylons or Nexuses until I kill all of his buildings, or possibly engage his army and hope to win. I usually end up losing when I try this as he's still been able to produce several more units from hidden barrackses while my warp gates are unpowered.
  • On ledge and cliff oriented maps, like Desert Oasis where the Terran likes to use drop ships a lot, going Stargate first instead of Robo and trying to gain air superiority. The terran just uses their superior ground army to beat mine, and leaves behind a few marines in their base to deal with the Protoss air units.
  • Sitting in my base, never leaving it until I have at least a couple Colossi with the range upgrade. Okay, this works most of the time but a two-way turtle-tech-fest is really boring.

It is true that I do play mostly against my buddies and that they have a higher probability of opting for a base race than in your average 1v1 quick match vs. unknown opponents (although in Diamond league I've faced a lot of people who do this as well). But I want to know if there's anything I can do to prevent every single P vs. T game from turning into this.

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Have you tried quick expanding? That way if you attack his base he will attack ONE of your bases. Just wondering. –  Carlo Sep 1 '10 at 18:54
    
One other factor here is that Terrans can hold a base, or the ramp to their base anyway, pretty effectively with a few units. They can leave a tank or two and a bunker or two, and it will take a while for a typical P or Z army to bust through that. While the Z player especially has no such easy way to defend the base. –  Peter Recore Sep 1 '10 at 19:58
    
@Carlo Fast expand is usually suicidal against Terran, as it puts you at a huge army size disadvantage at the time the Terran usually makes their MM ball push. –  Lotus Notes Sep 1 '10 at 20:24
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2 Answers

up vote 12 down vote accepted

It sounds like you're building a large army and using it to gain map control, but then are falling prey to things like drops and backdooring.

If you have map control your first thought should never be: Crush my opponent, as you're essentially sacrificing an advantage (map control) for an unsure victory (because he doesn't control the map doesn't mean he can't take you). Instead your thought should be: take the map. I think you'll find this change in philosophy will lead to situations where you have a much more powerful economy than him and you're able to kill him with attrition.

Now if you're falling prey to things like BD here is a quick check list for you:

  • Are you scouting? an Observer should be the first thing you build out of Robo. If you don't go Robo, a Hallucination works just as well. Sometimes scouting means sacrificing some Zealots in a pointless charge to just get inside his base.
  • If you're scouting, are you seeing it coming? Overlords on the edge of your base, Starport with Reactor + 3 Rax, all of these are indicative of certain strategies you should watch out for.
  • If you see it coming, how are you responding? If you have map control that means you should be able to respond quickly. Shutting down these back door attempts is often a bigger victory than a straight up conflict
  • Finally, Do you have map control? If you don't have map control that means he does, and if he's beating you with map control then your problem is not "how do I deal with a base trade?" but rather, how do I regain the advantage.
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Thank you for your answer, I agree that scouting and map control are a super important aspect of sc2. The funny thing is that, when I watch the replay, in fact neither of us have map control which is why each of us doesn't know where the other's army is so we end up at each other's bases. For me, it's hard to have both map control and at the same time be able to defend my base. If I leave my base to take control of the watch towers, I lose the advantage of being able to force field my base's choke. –  Lotus Notes Sep 1 '10 at 20:19
    
@Carl I think you're mistaking having units on the map with map control. Looking over your answer to the map control question only further reinforces this thought. –  tzenes Sep 1 '10 at 20:54
    
@tzenes Stop being right all the time! Will make my own separate question for Protoss map control as it is an issue I'm struggling with compared to the other two races. –  Lotus Notes Sep 1 '10 at 21:23
    
@Carl I think your answer (to map control) is a good one (and I upvoted it) its just not the whole picture. –  tzenes Sep 1 '10 at 21:23
    
Also, Phoenix are a great unit for map control as Protoss. That's why you'll often see pro protoss players go phoenix against non-air forces. They're just too good a response to pass up. –  tzenes Sep 1 '10 at 21:27
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Scouting is key. Knowing what your opponent has and what he is doing with it is crucial to victory. I would focus on dealing with his main army. If you can keep them bottled up in their base, many players go air. If you know that their main force left their base, try to slip a few zealots in to kill workers. Use your main force to kill their force. If you have enough for Templars and Psi Storm, they work well with weakening marines.

The key here, like @tzenes said, is map control. Fighting through a natural choke point is a terrible way to go. Try to take on the terrans out in the open or by a cliff that you can station your Stalkers on. As long as you can take out their air units, you can use your zealots to hold them on the "killing field" without loosing your ranged attacks.

I sometimes station a random pylon with two cannons near the base, but out of the way to warp in a few units to attack when the main force leaves. They can either turn back, or split their forces to deal with that small force. It can be tough to micro that, but you'd be surprised what a few zealots can do when no one is looking. If you can get them to look away from the main fight, it would be worth it.

Hope this helps

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I have tried something very similar, getting a warp prism and warping in Zealots behind his mineral line. Usually the resources it cost to do that puts me slightly behind in army size and I lose at my own base, while Terran dropships are part of their regular MMM composition anyway so they don't lose much by going for dropships. –  Lotus Notes Sep 1 '10 at 20:27
    
It all depends on how well you can handle an MMM mob. While it's true that getting a pylon setup outside of your main base causes one less worker, you can drop the pylon on your way to scout the enemy base. It's also only 50 min and 50 gas for warp tech and you can dedicate a single gateway to warp in units. It's mainly important to not dedicate too much to this harassment force, as you need to make sure your front door is strong. and that you have enough anti air to take out the dropships before they make it into your base. –  Doltknuckle Sep 3 '10 at 18:32
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