Assuming that I scout well and find out that my opponent is going for mass marines early on (no gas, reactors), I still seem completely unable to counter marines when they come at me too early. My sentries die immediately, so Guardian Shield isn't up for really long. It's impossible to forcefield the ramp because it's too huge. I usually have not enough stalkers to hold.

I surely do something wrong, but I hope this not micro (I'm terrible at it).

(I hope this is not a duplicate, but I found no reply other than:

  • FF your ramp: I'm talking about huge ramps like Scrap Station's
  • Collossi : I'm talking about a marine rush, I'd have no way to rush this much to collosus.
  • Guardian shield + stalkers is a good answer, but how do I keep my sentries alive? With zealots => less stalkers...


EDIT: some good looking answers were provided, but some of them collide. I'll have to try several of them but have not too much time to do so currently. My list looks like this:

  • choking the base entrance
  • more units from 2 or 3 gateways + cannons (not sure about the order...)
  • more sentry-focused army and using FF to create chokes


Ok, I had some time to make some tests this week-end, although not real in-game tests. I just used the UnitTest map.

  • zealots alone are good enough in small numbers against a mineral equivalent number of marines, but only in open spaces (not a ramp).
  • should you add a sentry (with guardian shield), your army is allowed to be smaller than your opponent's.
  • stalkers need an arc and a guardian shield to be really effective without micro.

Anyhow, the good answer is really to just have stuff to defend, it seems.

  • Just how early are we talking about? How many minutes in?
    – Sorean
    Commented May 2, 2011 at 15:07
  • I'm talking about any marine rush with 10-20 marines I think? I don't know the timings, sorry about that :(
    – tharibo
    Commented May 2, 2011 at 15:30
  • You keep the sentry alive by putting it behind your stalkers until the shield runs out. While it is up, the shield is worth more than its small additional DPS. Afterward, you can move it in range to fight. Commented May 2, 2011 at 16:38
  • 1
    If you could give a more specific marine count and/or timing that would be helpful. Additionally, if you are on the NA servers, I can help you practice vs these rushes if you'd like. Harbinger.279 Commented May 2, 2011 at 16:54
  • @en1gmatic325 The only precision I have is that I usually don't have enough sentries to block off a huge ramp. Thanks for the help offer, but I'm on EU servers.
    – tharibo
    Commented May 3, 2011 at 8:16

6 Answers 6


A bit of a long answer...

tharibo, the MAIN counter is to have A LARGE ENOUGH army. If he brings 10 marines but you have 2 sentries and 2 zealots, you will die no matter what.

If you detected mass marines - don't worry too much. I play mostly Terran (gold/platinum), and my experience tells me that mass marines is a cheese. If you detected that in time (while reactors are being built), then it's easy for you to get ahead in the early game.

Instead of telling you what to do, I will tell you what NOT to do:

  1. Don't expand early (should be obvious, but it's still important to mention);
  2. Don't be afraid to build assimilators (you will need gas for sentries/stalkers);
  3. Don't build 4 gateways (no time and there is no real value in that);

Now, let's talk about what TO do:

  1. Build a forge
  2. Build 2 cannons on the choke point (not more, don't over-invest; you need to have a mobile army)
  3. Get some zealots and put them close to the cannons. Once the marines began to shoot the cannons, your zealots will attack the marines. Often he will lose much more than 3 marines just to kill the 1st cannon
  4. If you managed to build a few sentries, put a FF behind the marines so they won't be able to retreat and will die quickly.
  5. Once you fight off your opponent, EXPAND! Don't harass your opponent.

Actually, this 'todo' list is very easy, and is simple to modify or extend. After getting 4-6 zealots, add stalkers, etc...

Don't forget to continue scouting your opponent. If you scouted 2 rax (1 tech lab, another reactored) and believe he is going for mass marines, your opponent can easily switch to hellions, etc...

  • Sounds interesting. From your experience, zealots + cannons are enough early, and I add stalkers/sentries later? I guess it'll depend on how early my opponent pushes.
    – tharibo
    Commented May 4, 2011 at 8:12
  • So, did that help? just wondering :)
    – Budda
    Commented Jan 10, 2012 at 3:41
  • @Budda I didn't really encountered the specific build again, but I do not play much. After rereading, I see that only the first part is the right answer: having stuff. The rest depends too much on micro, exact unit composition and timing, it's too hard to tell if your solution is the very good one. I watched pro streams and saw them only microing stalkers against marines. Just by preventing their death, it seems to be enough.
    – tharibo
    Commented Feb 23, 2012 at 8:25

First you need to determine how all-in it is. If he is bring SCVs you should definitely pull probes yourself. A few probes to clog up the ramp can help anyway.

I would NOT get more sentries because they take a long time to build and you need as many real units as possible. Guardian Shield is so good against marines that you should try to get a few though. I usually get 1-3 sentries early so they have time to save energy, and if I scout mass marines than I switch to all zealot stalker. I like about 2-1 stalker-zealot ratio.

Make sure you have your zealots in front.

+1 armor is really good against marines. A cannon can also help if you think they are really going all out 1 base marine push.

Finally, stalkers can kite marines (i.e. they are faster and have more range). So if you see the marines coming send out your stalkers and shoot the marines and then run away as they approach you. If it gets desperate you can continue to do this within your base.

  • 2
    Cannons are a good idea - but you need to be careful not to build too many or your army will suffer.
    – Wipqozn
    Commented May 2, 2011 at 16:35
  • 1
    I often forget about pulling probes. About zealots, I always make sure they are front, but usually they die before reaching any marine. +1 armor is the first upgrade I research however, this is later in the game. I'm really bad at kitting, I should train. Do you focus fire against marines when you have something like 3-4 stalkers? When you have more?
    – tharibo
    Commented May 3, 2011 at 8:27

Zealots (w/charge) to Colossi. Zealots take care of marines in a 2-1 ratio. It's a bit scary in the beginning of the game where zealots are fairly "kitable".

If you prefer, trickle in some dark templar instead of colossi. They'll waste scans one by one. I don't even bother with sentries primarily because if I'm heavy with zealots, there is no point to the sentry (guardian shield does not cover them in melee combat from what I understand), and force field generally isn't that effective (unless you are really able to separate their forces) Updated: As long as you've got your zealots within the guardian shield, you'll reduce the damage being done. Sentries do get torn up pretty quickly, so you'll have to weigh that against moving up the tech tree (High Templar, Collossi) against the early battle. Typically, I still find that just having lots of zealots (a token stalker is often good enough to discourage kiting) is enough for the first battle, but you'll have to move onto something more effective. MMM is effective the entire game, so get used to it.

I almost always send three zealots out of a double gate opening to greet my terran friends. Constant pressure will lower the chances you'll be surprised by a mass of marines. (provided you're not running your units against a wall)

  • Well I usually 1 Gate FE against Terran. I'm trying to pressure somewhat with my first zealot and stalker these times around. Maybe it helps. I'm not marine rushed too often, but this is a build I really don't know how to counter. I'll have a look into double gate + zealots next time.
    – tharibo
    Commented May 2, 2011 at 15:40
  • If you FE without knowing whether it's safe or not, then you risk dying to a rush. Maybe you will be OK with that risk. The safe counter is to not made the bad decision to FE :)
    – tenfour
    Commented May 2, 2011 at 15:49
  • @tenfour You're right about expanding too early but double gate is also not standard, right?
    – tharibo
    Commented May 3, 2011 at 8:19
  • @altCognito By the way, guardian shield DOES protect zealots from marines because marines use range attack. Guardian shield DOES NOT protect anyone from zerglings because zerglings use a melee attack.
    – tharibo
    Commented May 4, 2011 at 8:25
  • gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/5637/… Ah, so it says
    – cgp
    Commented May 4, 2011 at 15:02

If you scout it in advance, you can try to focus on just more sentries. Even large ramps can be covered by 2 to 3 force fields - hell, enough force fields can also block open terrain, not just ramps.

Just build more and more sentries until you have enough to maintain a force field wall for a long time, and then you have a chance to advance your tech / enlarge your army quietly.

Finally, good force field placement can either (1) trap a small part of his army on your side of the wall, susceptible to sentry attacks, or (2) allow the sentries to shoot from above without being spotted, if they get too close.

  • Are you talking about sentries alone? How many gateways?
    – tharibo
    Commented May 2, 2011 at 15:34
  • @thar I don't know. I have a feeling that if you do your regular build but just build sentries instead of anything else until you hit the 5-6 sentry mark, you'll have enough to block the ramp for a while and then you can focus on other units.
    – Oak
    Commented May 2, 2011 at 16:06

I can't believe no one has said it: early mothership core. Photon overcharge does awesome against marines.

  • 1
    At the time of the question, there was no mothership core :)
    – tharibo
    Commented Jan 29, 2015 at 9:40
  • You're right. Probably for the reason that there was no good answer.
    – Visser
    Commented Jan 29, 2015 at 16:40

I annihilate marine rushes. Try the following:

Scout base, if no gas, build like hell the following:

First gate should be up already Cybernetic core Zealot x 2 at ramp top Mother ship core. Hot key core Pylon, forge, and 2 ramp cannons Gate x 2 2 sentry, 3 stalker to start Force field and overcharge with zealots in close, stalkers from far Build robot facility Build immortals x 2 - 4... death to all marines Build warp prism.. Fly to Terran base and destroy all scvs, fly out Expand when you can, and they should be weak and under tech, build star ports mass carrier void ray

  • Please have a look at my comment on previous reply (about mothership core).
    – tharibo
    Commented Sep 26, 2016 at 6:54

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