How to avoid dying to early Protoss aggression

Like many Gold League Terran players, I struggled for a long while against Protoss in the early game. There are so many ways the protoss can kill you early. I’ve finally figured out an all purpose build/strategy that prevents u dying early to Protoss, and almost always gets u to a safe & secure third without being behind on economy, that I thought I’d share. Comments/improvement suggestions welcome. It’s helped me graduate to Platinum 3 and I’m routinely beating similarly rated P opponents at 2.9k MMR now no problem.

*Go one rax expand, taking first gas after barracks. The build doesn’t put you behind economically. After the rax finishes, go immediately into a reactor.

*Send an SCV scout about the time you take your first gas. Don’t wait for a reaper. This is very important. When u arrive at the P base you will see one of three things: (1) early second base - if so, turn the SCV around and come home. You don’t have much to worry about for now; (2) early cybercore and/or more than one gate - if you see this, you should expect early aggression - perhaps a bunch of stalkers trying to kill you early; you should pay attention to how many gasses and gates are building - it tells u what type of units they are thinking of building and how many; or (3) not much at all - only one base, and one gate building at most. In this case, it is almost certainly a proxy gateway.

As Terran, you cannot defend simultaneously against all potential protoss threats. However, the Protoss does not have unlimited money. If they want to go early stargate with oracle, they cant go early blink or robo. If they want to go warp prism with a lot of zealots/stalkers, they can’t build stargate units. There is an opportunity cost to everything. What you’re trying to do is figure out what they are going to/likely to do.

After the reactor on your barracks finishes, build one marine and one reaper. This is very important - don’t build two marines. A reaper can (1) kite early zealots sent across the map and/or from a proxy gate. The worst that can happen is they delay your second base if you’ve walled off your main, and they have delayed their 2nd to proxy a gateway anyway; and (2) it can then scout.

After you start these units, build a bunker in front of your natural and put the marine in it when it pops. From here on in, keep pumping out marines two at a time. After the first marine is in the bunker, send out the reaper to scout for proxies nearby, and then send it across the map into their main to find out what they are doing. If you think they are proxying from your SCV scout, send our an SCV or two to try to find it earlier. However, stargate proxies can come later, and the reaper will help find it.

With the reaper scout, you’re trying to confirm if they have expanded, and look at how many gates they have, if they have a robo or fired up startport, and if they have gone twilight. Lots of gates plus twilight probably means blink stalkers and possibly into DTs. Early stargate means oracles may well be coming or a void ray/phoneix. And do they have a robo? If so you need to worry about warp prisms.

After your rax is built & second supply depot, you go into tech-labbed factory and then tech-labbed starport, all while pumping out marines. If its an early starport opening, build a cyclone and put it on your main, and after filling up the bunker with marines, send marines into your natural mineral line. This effectively guards against oracle harass.

If you see a bunch of gateways and twilight, build a tank first instead, and position it far enough behind your bunker to be out range of stalker fire. If its a scary amount of gateways, don’t be afraid to build two bunkers, and also even keep some SCVs idle close to the bunkers on auto-repair so they can quickly repair the bunkers if you are pushed. Bunkers are a massive force multiplier and allow marines to deal with quite a large number of stalkers - esp with SCV repair (this is also an effective strategy for dealing with proxy gateways). And also, wall off your front with supply depots as depots are needed along with 1-2 bunkers, to protect against mass zealot.

You first stargate unit should be a raven. This is also very important. Firstly, it provided detection, so if they try any DT schinanegans you fail to scout, you won’t just die to it. Failing that, just drop an auto turret and retreat the raven on an protoss attack. Hotkey it so you can pull it away from the front. Secondly, a raven will help you clear out any observers - look around for them. In order for stalkers to blink into your main, they need highground vision. Deny that vision. It is much harder and scarier and riskier for a protoss to attack if they can’t see what you’re doing and where your army is.

After building a raven, build a medivac which can heal your bio and is a force multiplier.

If the protoss is playing greedy, go into an early third after the starport. However, if not, then build two tech-labbed barracks after your starport - especially if they are building a lot of stalkers, which they often do. This will allow you to start pumping our marauders and also get stim, combat shield and concussive shells rolling. Keep pumping out marines from your reactored barracks non-stop, and tanks, unless they are stargate heavy in which case you want cyclones instead.

Marines are versatile, and allow you to more effectively spread out your forces across multiple potential entry points, and guard the perimeter as well as the front.

After you start your third, build two engineering bays, and then start building missile turrets to guard against all warp prism drop entry points. Cover gaps with any cyclones you have, and marines.

If you’re worried about a warp prism drop earlier, due to scouting an early robo, you can use a cyclone + viking to patrol airspace outside your main. Failing that, have a seiged tank in your main (after covering the front entrance), and maybe even a bunker for marines. Marines can help guard the perimeter also, as you’re pumping them out non-stop. The raven also comes in handy - it can interference matrix the prism, or drop a turret to help deal with it. You should have enough to defend against a drop if you pay attention to how many gates they have an adapt your build & third timing accordingly. Basically, you don’t want to go into a third too early if they are on two base building a tonne on units. In this case you want to be at least three rax with upgrades before taking your third. You will have enough to deal with warp drops if this is the case, if you’ve been dutifully building marines, tanks, and into marauders & medivacs.

After your third completes, about which time a lot of turrets protecting you from warp drops are completing, you are now safe to take your third and pull the majority of your forces to the front - your marines, marauders, tanks and medivac, plus raven for detection, turrets and/or interference matrix. As you’re on three rax, with a few medivacs for healing, some upgrades well progressed with tank and raven support, you should be fine - especially if you’ve cleared out any observers with your raven so they don’t know when you’re taking your third.

That’s basically it.

Obviously nothing will help you beat a much better player. However, I’ve found it to be effective in countering most early protoss aggression I would ususally lose to.

Interested in what people think.


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Woah, you typed a lot in this post so I’m just gonna take a brief look. Let me know if you have any questions.

1: Don’t go into a reactor as your barracks finished… if they send an adept you are screwed and + no reaper = you are gonna let them snowball and no marine = you have no defense…
2: Don’t scout at 16… That is too early… 17 scout provides more info such as an expansion and gasses and tech. No 2nd pylon = proxy.

3: I don’t agree with the reaper marine right after the core reactor because that puts your tech behind I think.

4: the bunker in front of the natural is good. Usually the scv that builds your 2nd depot builds the bunker and a new scv builds factory into cyclone for warp prisms / stargate.

  1. The new meta for stargate is phoenix openers to kill ravens and medivacs.

6: You could swap the tech labbed factory for the starport to get the raven earlier. Raven = No observer = no blink unless they get a sentry for some reason and hallucinate a flying unit or a colos.

  1. You made a typo when saying, “You first stargate unit should be a raven.” But we all make that mistake sometimes

8: hmmm a medivac? I’d go into a viking into medivac. And if you see a stargate, don’t switch. Go viking and cyclone.

9: I recommend spreading marines around the map to cover more ground and see army movement, maybe even expansions. Hmm turrets. The thing is, turrets sometimes wont help. I mean you have to get turrets early and even then the protoss might not transition to stargate or DTs. Against WPs you are gonna have to position them well which could be a hassle because Protoss is unpredictable. And I think you explained a 3-1-1 from when I read, “marines, marauders, tanks and medivac, plus raven for detection, turrets and/or interference matrix. As you’re on three rax, with a few medivacs for healing, some upgrades well progressed with tank and raven support, you should be fine” Here is a link that explains it well. Anyways, that is what I found. I’m sure I could find more if I put more time but I have to go. As I’ve said before, let me know if you have questions and I’ll try to respond as fast I can.

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