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Can anyone think of a good tactic for knowing if an air drop is coming early on? I emphasize early because at that time frame every resource is even more precious and I need to build my army. I can't just put a strand of marines surrounding the enemy base, the drop could fly out from anywhere and sneak over. I'd like to know before they make it to my base but what's an efficient and cost friendly way of monitoring this?

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There is some good information here: gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/6715/… –  tzenes Sep 7 '10 at 16:36
    
Gaining air superiority will discourage your opponent from going drops, but this isn't a real 'solution'. If there was a catch-all anti drop strategy save building 99^99 photon cannons in your base then no one would be using drops. –  Lotus Notes Sep 7 '10 at 22:41

3 Answers 3

I think both of the answers here are good answers, but since you seem unsatisfied let me try to contribute.

When playing as Protoss or Terran I often find its useful to use my Pylon/Supply Depot to help give me vision around my base. This isn't, by any means, a replacement for scouting, but it does give me a little advanced notice on drops. Since most maps have your main on a cliff, spreading out these (otherwise useless) structures helps monitor not only the edges but extends the range of your viewing.

Now this technique won't stop a drop, and it won't even really give you too much advance warning, but when every second counts, these are invaluable. You also have the benefit of power for Warpgates. If your opponent drops near the edge, these aren't advanced enough warning, but they do provide a nice distraction while you move your army. If he bypasses them and moves to your mineral line, they're a more advanced warning.

By comparison, Overlords almost trivialize this problem as you can spread them about the map, around your base and even around your opponent's base.

I know its not a solution, but it should help.

The truth is, there is no cheap, effective, sure fire way to guarantee you catch drops. Certainly map control helps, as does scouting, but if there was an easy fix for this terran's would probably never drop.

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Good points, tzenes. I think a hard counter does not exist for the Drop, other than knowing when it is coming. –  Robb Sep 7 '10 at 17:48
    
yes good points, ideally though I want to see when they are preparing to leave their base rather than about to enter my base, so if my army is halfway to their base I could route them back in time or intercept –  ioSamurai Sep 7 '10 at 18:50
    
@Shogun I think the strength of a drop is that you can't do just that. Its design is to exploit the immobility of your large force. You're sort of looking at this backwards instead of saying "how can I see this so I can move my slow clunky army back in time?" you should be saying "My composition has a weakness, how can I adapt it so be less slow and clunky?" –  tzenes Sep 7 '10 at 19:50
    
@Robb there are a verity of strong counters against drops: Air dominance, fast units (Speedling, Hellion), rapid transport (dropships, Nydus Worm), static defenses. However, none of these are going to solve the problem of getting a large, slow, army back in time (though they'll all help). –  tzenes Sep 7 '10 at 19:53

You have a few options:

  1. When you build your 2nd food supply, get that scout in the base and keep it there as long as possible. You may be able to determine if he is going air.
  2. Watch Towers. Get a unit on a watch tower quickly. I usually use my first couple of Zerglings.
  3. Informative 'scouting'. Scans, sacrificial Overlords, fast Observers can be excellent in determining what he has and might be moving out with.

I recently had a match where because of my overlord placement and watch towers, I saw his Banshees move out. Gave me plenty of time to get Overseers, Hydras and an extra Queen to defend.

Take a look at Map Control for more info on just that: Map Control which relates to determing what your opponent is doing.

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so there isn't really a good way, either method is spotty and inefficient –  ioSamurai Sep 7 '10 at 16:41
    
@Shogan: Why is that? Everything Robb said are standard suggestions –  BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Sep 7 '10 at 17:40
    
@BlueRaja it may be that there isn't a way to do what Shogun wants. I realize this can be frustrating, but Robb's answer is pretty much what I do. You have to learn to anticipate some things... –  tzenes Sep 7 '10 at 18:00

As it sounds like you are playing Terran.

Sensory Towers - I can't recommend them enough, And follow those up with perimeter Turrets starting in the back of your base to nail those incoming drops.

It also doesn't hurt to place a solitary marine at each watchtower.

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I can't spend money on those early it will kill my military, also I want to see at their base not once it arrives. –  ioSamurai Sep 7 '10 at 16:41
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If you don't have the resources for a sensory tower at that point in the game, you might want to re-evaluate your econ structure. –  jblaske Sep 7 '10 at 16:50
    
I'm talking about 6-9 minutes in though, I suppose I could build sensor towers around their base, but can't the enemy see the sensor tower feedback on their map? –  ioSamurai Sep 7 '10 at 18:52
    
They can only see the ring of influence if they see the tower itself. Until that point they have no idea. –  jblaske Sep 7 '10 at 19:27
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Right, unless you didn't know they were there? But I was sure that anyone could see the circle regardless of if they have ever actually gained vision of the tower. –  ioSamurai Sep 8 '10 at 3:21

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