So admittedly, I'm a bit of a SC2 newbie. I was playing an online match and my opponent upon first scouting me with a Terran SCV noticed that I had not yet started putting down Assimilators myself (I was Protoss) and proceeded to put down a Refinery on one of my gas units. I had a Gateway coming up and I didn't want to waste my drones on taking the gas down so I figured I'd wait for my first zealot to come out.

The problem of course was that by the time my zealot had come out out, he started building a Refinery on the next gas unit. Ultimately, the time (and attention) and the fact that I was a bit late on getting gas most likely led to my defeat.

What should I have done in this case? Should I have had a small handful of my drones take down the refinery? Should I have just proceeded with a heavy / early Zealot rush considering my opponent wasted 150 minerals and an SCV with this tactic and I would have possibly had him outnumbered at the very outset, assuming I mined/built fast enough?

I didn't care for the tactic, but people can play how they want and I'm not going to complain - I just want to know how I should have reacted strategy wise in the event someone else tries this on me.

7 Answers 7


Against Terran specifically, you should attack the SCV as it is building since that is the weak link. It will go down quickly and then you will not have to worry about it any more.

Zerg players using this tactic will often cancel the extractor as it gets close to finishing and start it over again, to maximize how annoying it is since the health of the extractor resets to maximum every time. In this case, at least he cannot grab both geysers.

Protoss players can build assimilators on both geysers fairly easily, but it's at a cost of 75 minerals each so you will be able to get out an extra zealot and a half that he won't have access to, giving you a slight army advantage first until you get the assimilators away.

Overall, the main thing you have to do against this kind of tactic is make sure that it doesn't affect your macro. Keep building probes nonstop to mine minerals as fast as possible, and possibly go for a 2-gateway or more build to pump out zealots as fast as possible until you've dealt with the issue.

  • I agree. The SCV will be busy building so it can't defend against anything attacking it. 1-2 drones should take care of it before the first refinery is finished.
    – user1978
    Aug 10, 2010 at 13:42
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    Although the general idea of this post is correct, building only zealots against a terran player is suicidal. Not only will you be kited mercilessly by marines and marauders, but you probably won't even be able to get into his base at all because it will be blocked off. I upvoted Doug's answer down below because it's generally considered essential to get your first stalker as fast as possible which means building an Assimilator at around 14 supply right after your gateway. From what it sounds like, you should have been able to do this before your enemy stole your 2nd gas. Aug 10, 2010 at 18:04
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    @Carl Clover - I like this additional information. I left it a bit vague at the end; I didn't mean to only pump zealots, because you should still be getting your Assimilator asap. Until then, however, it is a good idea to use what minerals you have rather than let them sit. Aug 10, 2010 at 18:11
  • To add to my comment because it can't be edited, the reason behind getting (and possibly chrono-boosting) your first stalker ASAP is because 1 stalker can defend against several reapers. If you have only zealots you won't be able to prevent the economy hit you'll take from even only 1 or 2 reapers harassing your probes as the reapers will simply kite you. Aug 10, 2010 at 18:14
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    As a terren player I've seen many occasions where people do not properly attack the SCV building the structure. The SCV moves around and even becomes unable to be reached a few times (depending on the structure) So make sure you focus on the SCV and that its for sure dead before you send your probes back to work. Telling them to attack, then Shift-Click to harvest is a bad idea. As the SCV will become unattackable and they will leave. And the SCV continues building.
    – jblaske
    Aug 20, 2010 at 18:52

Making my earlier comment into an answer.

If you are losing both gas to your opponent you are getting an assimilator way too slow. You should build 14/15 probes, then a pylon, then scout your opponent's base with that probe. Build another 3 probes (your pylon will be done by the time the 15/15 probe is done) then boost out the 11 and 12.

Build your gateway and as soon as you are able to after your gateway is started, build your first assimilator. If your opponent scouts you with one SCV/Probe/Drone he'll only manage to steal one gas from you worst case. Don't bother taking probes off the line unless he makes the mistake of moving his scout into your lines, then quickly select all probes and attack move. This will surround the SCV and kill it and your opponent will lose the scouting advantage and you won't waste time chasing him by doing this.

Once your gateway is done you can throw down a Cybernetics Core and when thats done you'll have enough gas to start your first stalker and Warpgate technology. This stalker can easily take out the gas that was stolen from you. Although you don't need double gas this early game, you want to focus heavily on minerals first and 3 probes on 1 gas.

Also, build your buildings out of sight of the stolen gas, so your opponent can't see what is going on in your base from his building's line of sight.

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    Precisely! This is my opening :)
    – Strawberry
    Aug 10, 2010 at 22:50
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    +1 for "build your buildings out of sight of the stolen gas". They already annoy you, don't reward them by giving free intel.
    – Oak
    Aug 20, 2010 at 20:40

I actually dislike almost every answer thus far, as they all get at pieces of what's going on, but even together too much is missing.

Let's start with the cost of a gas steal. If we assume that this is a scouting worker that would not have been mining anyway then the costs are as follows:

  • Protoss -> 75 Minerals
  • Terran -> 75 Minerals + 30 Build time (which if your worker would have survived is 30 minerals)
  • Zerg -> 75 Minerals + 20 Build time for new drone (which if your worker would have survived is 20 minerals)

So we can see that for Terran this is actually a more costly strategy. What's more if he wants to monopolize your gas you're looking at even higher costs for Terran and Zerg.

Now if a gas steal is so expensive, why are people doing it? There are a couple reasons:

  • Prevent early cheese (Banshee, Reaper, Void Ray)
  • Force you down a certain build
  • Scouting purposes

For Zerg that third one is most common, and if you're not cheesing I suppose you don't have to worry about the first, so let's focus on that second one, as its the really dangerous one. If you're playing Terran (for example) and a Zerg steals both your gas, its likely you're going to see some quick Roach or Baneling play. So take this into account.

The most reasonable response to a Gas steal, is to take your other Gas. In a worst case scenario, you've wasted as much on Gas extraction as he has. Now don't go overboard and start building gas at 13 on every game, only when he takes one of your gas.

So what if he takes both? In your example the Terran player spent 210 Minerals on gaining a Gas monopoly. As a result he can't easily mount a significant offensive. In this situation, Chrono boosting out a couple Zealots to clear your gas, while using your excess minerals to get a Cybernetics Core and possibly move into 3 Gate is a perfectly reasonable response.

He's seriously handicapped himself; your strategy is largely unaffected, and you'll be in good position once your gas starts up. In this scenario he's really at a disadvantage.

Now you might consider, what happens if he sends a Reaper? Early Reaper play requires a significant economic sacrifice, as does a Gas steal, so the presence of one will necessarily delay the other. If he's stealing both your gas, he doesn't have the economy for a super fast Reaper. Now he can still build one, but it probably won't arrive till you have your Core and a couple Zealots up (and probably the Refineries down).

What people do need to watch for, in a gas steal, is something like Protoss stealing both gas vs Terran. This will naturally force Terran into a more Marine centric build which the Protoss can exploit with a Zealot heavy Immortal timing push. In that scenario I would suggest throwing down extra Barracks (without add ons obviously) and pumping out Marines to clear out the gas. These extra Barracks can then get Techlabs, and you should be able to field a decent sized Marauder/Marine force by the time he arrives.

  • A zerg stealing both your gas... really? A zealot and Immortal timing? That's so far later into the game that the gas steal is completely irrelevant. A gas steal is pointless in SC2 because you have 2 gas. The correct response to a gas steal is to ignore it and keep doing your normal build, and kill it when you have a unit free. Which is what Mark said. [edited by Oak]
    – Ben
    Aug 20, 2010 at 18:49
  • As I mentioned the cost to zerg is very large making the strategy impractible (though I have seen artosis do it). I also talked about how the most common response is to just continue you strategy. Prehapse you answered with out reading the whole thing? Now for a new player experiencing a gas steal it's important to remember immortal timing that doesn't mean steal into immoral is a viable strategy
    – tzenes
    Aug 20, 2010 at 19:22

Your opponent most probably wanted you to delay mining yourself some gas. That's one tactic that some players do when they're faced against Protoss, to avoid what's called a Void Rush. (To successfully pan out a Void Rush, Protoss players tend to build 2 early Assimilators, so they can fund a number of Void Rays for an early attack.)

IMO, you could've sent out about 5 Zealots in your enemy's base just to see what he's up to. He's already wasted 150 Minerals early on by building 2 Refineries next to your Geysers, so chances are that he wouldn't have enough units to defend against a small number of Zealots.


My usual counter to this is to mass out zealots meanwhile, then attack with them before they get useless (before tons of marauders). Your opponent will be 150 minerals short so that's 3 marines he will never have. Plus you harvest more minerals during this time (6 probes in minerals instead of gas).

Build your cybernetic core anyway and be prepare to rush all out stalkers as soon as the refineries are down


I don't agree with the best answer choice. If you are playing Protoss and your opponent is trying to deny your gas then kill it with your first stalker, then build on it right afterwards. It does definitely slow you down a bit, but you should not be too far behind. It really is not a big deal. I do not see it happening much in Diamond games.

When going against Terran, it is usually best to rush stalker first incase of Reapers.

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    Don't stalkers require gas?
    – user1978
    Aug 10, 2010 at 13:36
  • @dbemerlin: Definitely.
    – Sadly Not
    Aug 10, 2010 at 14:33
  • What was the downvote for?
    – Strawberry
    Aug 10, 2010 at 14:39
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    He said he built a refinery on one gas then on the other. This is a indicator that @whaley is too slow at getting gas. With Protoss you should get your pylon -> gateway -> assimilator (1), worst case your opponent takes 1 gas from you that you don't even need until later. then get a core, by the time the core is done you will have all the gas you need to get out your first stalker and start research for warpgates.
    – Mark
    Aug 10, 2010 at 15:39
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    +1 for mentioning the fast stalker against terran, which is pretty much required anywhere above mid-level play. Aug 10, 2010 at 18:15

The purpose of a gas steal in SC1 is to interfere with your normal build order and force you to use a terrible BO, like 2 gate. Hence going 2 gate would play completely into the enemy's hands - this is why StrixVaria's answer is terrible in my opinion. Moreover, SC2 foiled the purpose of the gas steal by giving you 2 geysers!

2 gate is a terrible, terrible, BO. An early zealot advantage does nothing versus a terran opponent, who can wall in, and will put you in danger by delaying your sentry.

Mark's advice is much better.

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    This is more appropriate in a comment to StrixVaria's answer, don't post an answer just to bump your opinion up and get the original poster to change his accepted answer.
    – Sadly Not
    Aug 20, 2010 at 21:30

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