I dislike playing Colossi. Sure, they are awesome (in graphical design, story background, abilities etc), but in my opinion (warning: I'm silver ;) ) they kind of force my opponents to build certain counters and this pushes the game into meta-game like "keep colossi alive long enough to make sufficient damage to turn battle in my favor". This is just plain boring :)

Given the circumstances, I'd love to completely avoid creating Colossus (for some time at last) to enjoy, examine and practice other possibilities and I'm curious:

Is there any unit composition/technique (in any race) that requires Colossi to survive/win?

Could its main purpose (frying masses of light, small units - Zerglings, Marines, Hydras) be handled with success by High Templars? (I enjoyed HTs back in the SC1 days)


A few clarifications:

  • by "reasonable" win-loss ratio I mean "not much worse or even comparable to that when using Colossus" assuming comparable conditions ;) (theoretically);
  • I'm aware of the fact that High Templar does require higher amounts of micro and careful aiming when casting psionic storms (I'm not afraid of that, I just enjoy HT)

4 Answers 4


So you don't want to build Colossus... how do you feel about 4 Gating? Because you could just 4 Gate All-in your way to Masters.

Actually judging by the latest oGsMC vs White-ra, you could just 4 Gate your way through the GSL

This question comes from a very weird place:

"I dislike playing Colossi."

Playing a lot of Protoss myself this is a very strange statement, since I love playing Colossi. They're fun to micro, they wipe out ridiculous 4 Gate/3 Rax play, and they make most Zergs look like idiots. But then I read a little further in to your answer and I see this:

"game into [a certain] meta-game"

So you don't dislike playing them, you dislike having to baby sit them. I can empathize with that. I also dislike having to babysit my expensive high tier units. I think the problem here isn't that you're building Colossus its when you're building Colossus. I'm going to guess your BO looks something like:

  1. 3 Gate Pressure
  2. Expand
  3. Add on a Robo and more Gateways
  4. Colossus

This is a very common BO for many Protoss: 3 Gate Expand into Colossus. But it is not the only one. You could, for example do 3 Gate expand into Blink Stalkers, or DT, or Double Starport. There are a verity of builds that can come out of a standard 3 Gate expand (or even the more risky 1 Gate Expand). So let's talk about those, and how you can use those.

Lately I've been watching Adelscott (vs IMMVP, or QXC) and he runs a very aggressive 3 Gate Expand into... more Gateways. This seems kind of weird at first, as most Protoss naturally evolve from there into Colossus, but actually Protoss Gateway units can be fairly beefy in their own right.

One of the keys to this long term, Gateway based play, is upgrades. Its not usual for a player like Adelscott (or Liquid`Nony) to go double Forge off two base to get as many upgrades as possible. This usually sticks them in a situation where they're up 2/0/2 to an opponents 1/0 or 1/1. One of the big benefits of having an upgrade advantage is that Zealots become extremely powerful when you have that advantage. I've seen pure Zealot forces eat through Marine/Marauder balls, just because they were up 2 Armor upgrades.

The other key item for your Gateway forces is the Twilight Council. I remember when Liquid`Nazgaul first demonstrated how abusive Blink Stalkers could be against EGIdrA in a show match. Blink Stalkers are an extremely powerful force, and most players will now work them into whatever build they're going. What many people forget though, is that Charge is just as powerful an upgrade. In addition to functioning as a gap closer (and a free hit since patch 1.3), Charge is also a speed boost to normal Zealot movement (from 2.25->2.75 a 22% increase). This makes Zealots a viable harassment option for unguarded expansions.

While often dismissed, you can see how transitioning into 10 Gateways off 3 Base can make a very fearsome force, but that's not all it allows you to do. With the high number of Gateways now, you can start supplementing your armies with DT. A very aggressive unit, Dark Templar can be used for mid-Game harassment just as well as Banshees. A simple Pylon near your opponent's cliff + Observer means you can start warping in DT to their back door.

Speaking of Observers (which by the time you get 3 Bases you should get a Robo), do you know what else builds out of the Robotics Facility (and is awesome)? Dropships! That's right, that old unit which was life changing back in Broodwars because you could drop 4 Zealots on someone's mineral line. Well, its still around. Only they upgraded it and changed its name to Warp Prism; but who cares about that, they also let you warp in Reinforcements! Its like they took a BW unit, made it a billion times better, and everyone ignored it. What's up with that? Well ignore them, Drop stuff. You know how Dropships make Terran annoying as sin? Well start dropping back on them. See how they like it, and when they don't make sure to take the time to lolz.

And sure, when you hit late game you can always throw down a few Colossus for old times sake, but chances are you won't get there because you'll be too busy winning.

PS, you can also go Stargates, get 1 Voidray, then 4-5 Phoenix, and annoy the heck out of people, dominate the air, so when you finally transition Colossus, his Corruptors/Vikings will be outnumbered. Just a thought...

  • I think NoNY goes by Liquid'Tyler now. And Nazgual vs Idra was at MLG Dallas I think. Don't mean to sound picky, just wanted to share the info. Speaking of the warp prism, there was Kiwikaki's 2 immortal drop ship (also vs Idra at a MLG) that was pretty sick as well. All very good points in your post tzenes :)
    – Sorean
    Apr 14, 2011 at 21:39
  • Nony/Tyler has gone back and forth on his name a couple times. Naz vs Idra was Dallas, I was actually thinking of Idra vs Nony right before Dallas, which was the first time we saw blink stalkers
    – tzenes
    Apr 14, 2011 at 21:50
  • @tzenes: Thanks, very good and funny answer. Just one thing: I dislike Colossus not because I need to take care of them (HT needs great amounts of babysitting, too - such damage dealers seem to get extra attention from enemy ;) ), but because playing it FORCES enemy to follow one path and that bores me to hell. I need a complete break from tall destroyer ;) Do you think that HT could be a viable total replacement for Colossus in dealing mass damage? (4gate bores me too)
    – gorsky
    Apr 14, 2011 at 21:58
  • every time I read one of your awesome SC2 posts I am reminded that I need to play that game again... Too many games on the backlog, not enough time :(
    – l I
    Apr 14, 2011 at 22:01
  • @gorsky HT are not a replacement for Colossus. They do fill a similar role but you can't go HT off 2 base, you have to transition from something else into it, and you'll be forcing your opponent to go down a very specific road (again). Honestly, it sounds like you're bored of Protoss.
    – tzenes
    Apr 15, 2011 at 0:20

You're correct in that going colossi force your opponent to make certain units to counter, but then you already know that which in turn means you can adjust appropriately. Versus Zerg, they'll make corrupters, terrans, vikings, protoss, turns into war of the worlds usually.

You cover the point of the colossi with your question of "Could its main purpose (frying masses of light, small units - Zerglings, Marines, Hydras) be handled with success by High Templars?" which is exactly what they are for.

In theory you could avoid it, but it would be very difficult to maintain. The High Templar play is hindered by energy, and because of the recent patch (removal of the Khydarian Amulet) it is even more difficult to have High Templars out with enough energy to hold off those units in a prolonged fight. Colossi don't require energy to focus, and doesn't require as much micro when compared to the High Templar.

When compared to other similar tiered units, Void Rays, High/Dark Templars, Immortals, it depends on what the opponent is making so your options on what units to make is kind of limited to deal with the opposition army.

As far as maintaining a reasonable win/loss ratio, it's too broad and theoretical as it depends on the opponents you play.

  • Thanks for answer, I've edited my question to clarify some points. I perfectly understand importance of proper unit composition in response to enemy activity. I'm just wondering whether getting rid of Colossus in favor of HT EVERY TIME would cause some compositions become (almost) unbeatable.
    – gorsky
    Apr 14, 2011 at 20:02
  • Well assuming proper micro and having enough energy to cast storm you can replace the colossi in your build and use them instead. That said, one quick counter that comes to mind would be a terran ghost heavy army with nicely placed EMPs would nullify your high templars. If I was playing as protoss against you, the storm wouldn't be very effective. I see you storm, I'll pull my army back, let my sheilds regen (maybe), then re-engage, keeping that cat/mouse until you run out of energy and then run you over. I can see HT/storm working well vs zerg (off-creep).
    – Sorean
    Apr 14, 2011 at 20:38
  • Those situations doesn't look like ultimate HT demise. HT vs Ghost is micro/skill/scout-based (both units have abilities that disables each other; HT in its dark hour can merge to Archon; I can try to keep HTs splitted into several groups; I can scout to prepare for Ghosts etc). Fancy Sentry's FF micro can prevent (or at least - reduce it) escaping from storm area; in addition - regenerating shields (as well as mana) takes time (obviously mana regens much slower). So far so good (no urgent need for Colossi for now):)
    – gorsky
    Apr 14, 2011 at 21:21
  • You're very correct, none of those situations are a hard counter to high templar play, just situations that I could think of off the top of my head that would be a little stronger against a no colossi army.
    – Sorean
    Apr 14, 2011 at 21:35

I would start answering from the end.

the BEST win/lost ratio you can get before you reach Master league is 50%. The reason why is Blizzard: they balanced match maker in way that it will find you opponent of your level.

If you play well your win/lost ration will be increased and you will be matched to more strong opponents and you win/lost ration comes back to 50% (till the time when you increase your skills). If you play poorly (and your win/lost rate will go down) - you will be matched against weaker opponent that will help you to get win/lost ratio back to 50%.

So if we strictly try to answer on your question: it doesn't matter what you will build if you care about win/lost ratio only.

BUT if you want to qualify into a higher league, you need to find usage for all units as all of them are particularly useful for some purpose.

There are thigh that made colossuses better than HT:

  1. don't require energy (so can't be stopped by EMP);
  2. do provide vision to high ground (HT doesn't);
  3. can kite opponents;
  4. has more HP;
  5. i guess there are a lot of others...

If you restrict your play with lesser amount of units that means you won't reach level of top (good) players. If this ok for you - don't care about those colossus: do whatever you want.

But if you detect yourself in situation when you already have Robo and need "something" to handle "those marines" - you will have choice: build 'Twilight console'+'Teamplar Archives' and then HT or would be better to build 'Robotics Bay' and go colossus (2nd way required lesser amount of buildings). If you choose it in PROPER cases - you will win more often.

Other reason why is hard to play with no colossus: very often (almost always) Protoss needs observer and then build RoboFacility. After that is a good synergy to build RoboBay (see previous paragraph).

  • You're right about win/loss ratio, I used unfortunate sentence BUT staying forever in Bronze would give much less than 50% ratio ;) ). I'm aware of difficulties of not using Colossus, I'm wondering how good can I perform without them (but this obviously depends of many factors). For example - is it possible/doable to get to Diamond and stay there without using Colossus (answer is probably hard - you don't know how good I can perform in theory).
    – gorsky
    Apr 16, 2011 at 16:29
  • If you are playing few days and is in silver - you PROBABLY can, but if you are playing few months and STILL in Silver - we could assume you are not genius, but a usual player - I would say - IMPOSSIBLE. You need to WORK VERY HARD to switch into gold, MUCH MORE hard to switch into GOLD... are you will need to double your efforts to go into platinum... do at least anything of that (taking into account ) I would say impossible without colussus used at least in each 2nd match.
    – Budda
    Apr 16, 2011 at 19:31
  • This looks like concrete conditions, I'll give my plan a shot and see how far it gets me.
    – gorsky
    Apr 16, 2011 at 21:56

I agree with @tzenes. You really should have a look into Adelscott's games. He develops his own style which is really macro-oriented around gateway units. Logic is followed since he upgrades them as hell, via Twilight Council and Forge(s).

In addition, he really uses zealots as meat to save its gas units (stalkers mainly), allowing him to tech into whichever he likes (High Templars in your case).

I'm silver too, and I'm trying to embrace a heavy-macro-oriented style. Using upgraded gateway units allowed me to spend my money more easily just by building more gateways. Maybe you'll get this as well.

  • +1 @tharibo: Yeah, my main issue at this level is probably smoothing my mechanics/macro, not HT vs Colossus :P
    – gorsky
    Apr 18, 2011 at 16:52

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