Tuesday, September 7, 2010

PvZ - Antimage's Void Ray Expo Build

This guide is not 100% complete. I rushed it out but I will continue to address concerns and mid/late game transitions if they are unclear later on, but a lot of people wanted to see it so here it goes...


With zerg players like Sheth, SLush, and Idra leading the way, the imbalance in PvZ has begun to stand out. Surprise 6 gate into 2 robo colossi builds put you too behind economically to be effective against anyone competent. 2 gate or 3 gate robo gives up map control and against a good flanking zerg army, you stand no chance.

Playing any of those above builds straight up against a top notch zerg will put him too ahead in army count in worker count, and this build is to balance it out (and give Protoss an edge).

The difference between this and any comparatively ineffective 2 gate robo or 3 gate expand builds (which I adopted back in beta), is that you force hydras because roaches melt under 2-4 void rays. Thus, your colossi will be doubly effective, your expo is out faster so you have 4 geysers to tech switch if you find it necessary.

Side note:
I call this my Void Ray Expo build, but it’s also kind of a 1-1-1, but you’ll have to adjust your transitions to what you see. You can always get your robo before your second and third gates if you see zerg playing standard macro style, but that’s not a guarantee.

Begin: Antimage's Void Ray Expo Build

This build is designed to put you on even footing against a fast expanding zerg player.

Just like Sheth intends to make mini-Sheths with his infamous ZvP thread, so I will make mini-Antimages to combat those mini-Sheths.

Step 1: Choose protoss. Hate on opponent for choosing imba zerg. Nah I kid.


1 gate-core opening, blocking ramp with gate and core. You'll need two units to fully block it, but it is infinitely safer than blocking with pylons (banelings anyone?), if anyone still does that.

Get your second gas as soon as you can, at around when your core is about 200 HP up. If you don't scout a fast expo and see 2 gases or anything strange (roach warren, etc, baneling nest), then this build is probably not the best one to go for.

Usually, you should be able to put your second gas up before starting your zealot (which may or may not even need a chrono depending on how many lings initially pop out). This build is designed to counter Idra type play - which means whoring drones like the dirty zergs they are.

A basic rule of thumb in PvZ: against a regular zerg macro build, you can afford to make your core and then your first zealot, without even chrono'ing it. It'll be out in time, and you can chrono a second zealot (or stalker if you have time to block with it) if they went gas/pool/hatch in which case there's a threat of mass speedlings, so your block has to hold.

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Got your gas stolen? Don’t worry about it, just kill it and get your stargate anyway. You will need to add 1 or 2 gates before your robo since you won’t have enough gas to sustain it after your first few void rays.

Once your core is done and you have a stalker building (to try to deny scouting/complete your wall), begin your stargate off two gases. Doesn't matter if the zerg sees it with an overlord. The point here is to force more queens off the two zerg bases.

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He sees it coming!

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Doesn’t matter if you know it’s coming bro. =)

Once your first void ray is out (chrono'ed - you don't need to chrono warp gate tech), send it to the zerg base and rally your stargate to that unit.

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This opening forces spores if they drone too much. Further delaying their tech. Also note that here that SLush is in the red supply.

At the same time, move out with your 3-4 zealots and 1 stalker and claim your natural. Expand with your next 400, all the while continuing to pump void rays non-stop. With your void rays, try to inflict as much damage as possible. Snipe off overlords, extractors, whatever you can lay your dirty protoss hands on. I prefer to go for the overlords - they go down faster and delay the hydra counter effectively with a smaller risk of dying to queens.

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In this case, when they mass more lings, you want to add more gates before your colossus to defend your expo. Your void rays should see the lings.

Your next tech choice depends on what you see with your void rays. If there are signs that they teched faster to lair than normally, make 2 more gates and a robo, cutting probes if you're worried. Once you robotics facility finishes, get your support bay and chrono out colossi ASAP. If however you spot or suspect mutas (both natural geysers are taken), add on 2 more gateways and go heavier on stalkers/sentries, while getting +1 – cut some probes to get up to 5-6 gates so you can further outmuscle the fragile muta army. From here on out, it's a regular macro game.

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Information received! If you’re colo is late, add a forge and a few more gates immediately!

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Defending that initial push once they feel they have enough hydras. If you feel you can’t defend adequately, get a forge up with your gates/robo and cannon up a little.

The zerg player may choose to expo again. However, your void rays should take care of that. Note the minimap, how all close bases are scouted with the void rays.

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Deny more expos with your void rays. It’ll be 2 base against 2 base on a map like metal.

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Another expo deny. Note the huge differential in worker count.

Once your colossi numbers start building up, up your gateway count. You’ll need it for late game if the game draws out. Start with stalker/sentry to deal with anything that isn’t ultras.

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Ahh, the beauty of the void ray/colossus/stalker/sentry ball. Force field makes it impossible for a ground army to be able to position well at the same time the air units hit. They won’t get good army positioning against you.

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Yes, it beats a maxed out army if the zerg players decides to go mutas. Just sit tight, and float around the middle so their mutas can’t roam free without the threat of a backstab into their base.

End game:
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Looks a bit barren, doesn’t it? This is what happens when zerg tries to tech to ultras. They can’t defend their 3rd expo in time once you have 3 or 4 colossi out.

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Ultras may work pretty well against this strategy but once you already have a huge econ advantage and many gates, you can switch it up and go heavier on zealots and high temp.

Timing pushes with fast hydras will really push your defenses. If you suspect this coming, you might even want to consider sentries/cannons to buy yourself some time.

Mutas will keep you in your base longer as your ground army is weaker, but once you add more gates, you'll be able to abuse sentry/stalker/guardian shield/ground upgrades and you'll be ahead again in no time.

Mass ling is also a great threat if you do not scout it properly. If you see mass ling coming, prepare acordingly with heavy zealots. Once your colossus is out, with good enough force fields, you're gold.

Worker counts:

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Vs machine, after the hydra counter is repelled (up 2)

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Vs masterasia, after the hydra counter is repelled (up 8)

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Huge worker count differential when opponent fails to do damage with mass speedlings (up 13)

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Large worker differential while zerg tries (but fails to) put up a third after failing the hydra push (up 13)

Author’s note:
My laptop died so I can't really play SC2 anymore; it starts up properly maybe 10% of the time - I'll be playing on a friend's laptop in the meanwhile. Please see my blog for more details and how you can help!
Click here!

Replays here

Alternate link for replays


  1. SC2 has been a huge timesink for me since it came out :-(

  2. damn i wanna play now but i gotta go to bed soon xD

  3. i'm playing zerg and i HATE voidrays. the always come so fast. :/