Yesterday I was cannon rushed as protoss.

I know the best way to counter it is to just not let his probe build the first pylon, but somehow I missed it and when I realized what was happening it was already too late (he had like 4 cannons already built just outside my vision).

Assuming this starting point, what should I have done?

I got pissed so I gg'ed and played another game, but first I tried building a few immortals to try to destroy the cannons, zealots wouldn't cut it -- and all I did was waste resources.

Should I just have abandoned my main base and try to attack his base with a few zealots? I assume he would've had cannons there too.
Should I have re-built my base someplace else?

How do you recover from this situation?

  • 1
    See also the Zerg version and the Terran version. You may want to add "Protoss" to the title.
    – Wikwocket
    Oct 28, 2010 at 13:45
  • 2
    It'd be very unlikely to have cannons in his own base. I've done cannon rushes before and if you're doing it right it's pretty much an all in at your enemies base and you don't have resources to build defenses at your own.
    – Viper_Sb
    Oct 28, 2010 at 13:47
  • 1
    @Viper for a very early cannon rush this might be true but after he has his first cannon or two down, or if he waits till 12-13 to rush, he can very easily build a cannon or two back home.
    – tzenes
    Oct 28, 2010 at 15:48

4 Answers 4


Dealing with a cannon rush as Protoss is very different from dealing with it as Zerg. Creep prevents the placement of buildings in a lot of places, so a cannon rush against Zerg is largely used as a contain. This is not true for Protoss.

A number of people have suggested countering, or getting up defense, or expanding, but against a standard cannon rush (8-10 Forge) chances are you don't have time for any of that. They should be finishing their first cannon around the same time you are finishing chrono boosting out your first Zealot. With a very early cannon rush like this, if you do not catch them throwing down that pylon, you will not survive. They've made a huge economic sacrifice and this will be an "all-in" for them.

This is a very scary situation to be in and even at high levels (~1200 Diamond) a fast cannon rush like this a guaranteed win if its not scouted (and still 20-30% effective when it is). I'd recommend the following recourse:

  1. Don't panic. Disaster management is a very important skill and if you panic you won't handle this well
  2. Don't pull all your workers. This is a classic mistake, as they'll just let them target his Pylon, throw down a new one and cancel the old
  3. Kill the Probe. This is usually hard (as you only have probes) and you'll have to pull workers off and micro a surround. Since Probes can build far more than you can destroy this is your number 1 target. This will be especially hard since they can avoid any surround by just clicking on minerals (workers get unit walking while harvesting). Keep attacking them and pull in more Probes as needed.
  4. Throw down a Gateway. You should catch them before you'd normally do this so this should be one of your first instincts. Probes can't do enough damage to buildings, you'll need this to clear them out.
  5. Don't cut Probe production. While you'll shift your chrono boosts to Zealots (save them while waiting for you gateway), you still need to build your economy. The goal of fighting off this rush is to survive and come out ahead. If you cut Probe production you will not come out ahead.

I highly recommend you practice against this with a friend. Go on Lost Temple and have them sneak a pylon in the back of your base so it overlaps the cliff. They'll follow up by putting their forge on the low ground and the cannons on the high ground (that means 2 probes). If they get out the first two cannons before your Zealot arrives, restart. You want to nip this in the bud.

  • 3
    Yes, I should print this and keep it near me
    – juan
    Oct 28, 2010 at 15:29
  • @Juan I'd say 90% of my losses are based on panic-ing. The 10% are being on tilt because I panic'd on the game before.
    – tzenes
    Oct 28, 2010 at 15:43

If your opponent is cannon rushing you, then several things are probably also happening.
The first and most obvious one is that he has little or no unit production. At 150 minerals per cannon, building a gateway back home plus pylon is a no-go, unless your rush has already failed.
A not so evident one is that your opponent has probably been cutting probe production. When I cannon rush I do produce a few probes on the get go, always making sure that I can hit the first 100 and then 150 for the pylon / forge. Thus, they will probably have a lesser amount of income.
And finally, cannons back at home. Cannon rushing is cheese. And as all cheese, it is thought to take the opponent by surprise and unprepared. Building a pylon and at least one cannon back at home means 250 minerals less towards forward cannons. That's almost 2 less cannons to attack with. In my experience, if there is a cannon rush, there are no cannons back at home unless the rush failed and the opponent is trying to fall back to economy play (which imho, cannot happen unless you allow it).
Considering these, I would say that good PvP responses to cannon rushing would be:

1) Take whatever units you have and go for their probes. No money = no cannons. If you still have an economy going, killing off the cannons at your base is a only a matter of amassing some troops (assuming your opponent bm's and doesn't gg).
2) Expand if you have the minerals to. Abandon your base, relocate elsewhere in the map and make sure you don't get cannon rushed again t.t . You will be ahead in economy and units. Make sure that they don't expo to your original spot. Go for their probes, again, no money = no cannons or units.

I believe that the key concept when being cannon rush is realizing what is not happening. The usual response to such a situation is "OMG I'm dead", and seldomly do we think "Well, they can't move their cannons, they've invested a HUGE amount of money on this attack, and right now they have nothing but probes back home". Not trying to say that it is easy, but the key with such a situation is not falling into desperation.

Hope this was useful.

  • Yes, I think I panic'd -- I realized it after I left the game, but I should've stayed in retrospect.
    – juan
    Oct 28, 2010 at 14:43
  • @Juan That is usually the goal of rushes. It takes a LOT of play and experience (neither of which I have) to be cool in such a situation. Oct 28, 2010 at 15:14

Build a few cannons between his cannons and your vulnerable buildings in order to prevent him from advancing. Then just ignore the cannons and attack.

  • If you have a way to get units out of your base, a few quick Zealots in his mineral line can make quick work of him. He is unlikely to have base defenses or any sort of army.
  • Depending on his pylon placement, you may be able to get a few cannons of your own up to limit his encroachment. He'll have a tough time warping in cannons within range of yours.
  • If it's looking bad, try to get a probe out and build a new Nexus. At this point, you may feel woefully far behind, but remember how many resources your opponent has already spent on the Cannon rush. Maybe grab a high-yield, if one is easily accessible. Again, a quick counter with some Gateway units will often take the enemy by surprise (especially if he thinks his Cannons are mopping up your only base).

Of course, the best defense against this rush is good scouting. If your main is large, use your first scouting worker to look around a little before heading over to your opponent's base. Spreading out your first couple Pylons will also help you keep vision in your base. If you see an enemy probe lurking or heading into the fog of war inside your base, follow it! You may have to take 4 or 5 workers off minerals to deal with the probe and pylon (hopefully while it's still building).

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