State on StarCraft: Rain’s Championship PvZ

Phoenix in action: 4 Overlord and 5 Drone kills by 9:00


  1. The Build
  2. Mid-Game
  3. Securing A Third
  4. Transitions & Timings


Once your Mothership Core is out and Warp Gate research has begun, start banking for your Stargate. Even though you’ll be hunting down Overlords with your very first Phoenix, it’s still worth putting this down somewhere that won’t be scouted right away. Any edge you can get—even if it’s just keeping your opponent in the dark for one more minute—is worth taking. Finish your expansion’s wall-in with your next two Gateways, start a Sentry and warp in your last two geysers.

When your Stargate’s complete, start Chronoboosting Phoenix production exclusively. Timing is everything, and the sooner you can do damage to Zerg’s economy, the better chances you have in the late-game. Just don’t get supply blocked—Phoenixes warp in fast, and missing just one Pylon can cost you dearly. It’s better to be a Pylon ahead than to risk a supply block, and it’s worth warping in just one extra Pylon if your multi-tasking is taxed. It can take a while to warm up to Phoenix harass, and you shouldn’t let that cost you games in the meantime.

From left to right: Popular Overlord positionings on Bel’Shir Vestige, Derelict Watcher and Yeonsu

In most games, there should be at least three Overlords on your side of the map: one watching over your third base, another at your natural and then a third near your main. Clear these Overlords first before skirting around the edges of the map for any stragglers. Once your 4th Phoenix is out, you can start sniping Drones and—if you’re lucky—a few Queens as well. Check up on the Zerg’s tech and timings while you’re at it. Their early-game tech structures, Drone count and unit composition can tell you a lot about where they want to take the game.

Once you’re up to 5, cut Phoenix production and start banking for Colossus tech. 5 Phoenix can do a lot of damage really quickly, and it’s a great number to have in the mid-game. Just make sure not to lose any while harassing—they’re amazing scouts, they can be life-savers against Mutalisk switches, and they’re a great way of keeping Zerg’s economy in check.

Likewise, 3 Sentries is just about all you need to secure your next expansion. Maintain your Sentry count at 3 and start saving that extra Gas for all your future tech.

In the meantime, keep developing! By 8:30, Rain has two saturated bases, 5 Phoenix, 3 Sentries, a Mothership Core and one single Zealot. Check your replays to see how close you can get to matching Rain’s timings and what improvements you can make along the way.

At around 70 supply, throw down your Robotics Bay and two more Gateways. Warp in two rounds of Zealots, make sure +1 Ground Weapons has started, and get ready to take your third.

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1 Comment on State on StarCraft: Rain’s Championship PvZ


On January 4, 2014 at 8:32 pm

Thanks for another great guide State! I’m really intrigued about this gassless expand compared to the 3 gate/MSC pressure vs Zerg thirds that I’ve been more used to in PvZ. I tried it out and I’m curious about the timing of the second and third gateways. I presume I messed up the build at some point, because I’m not supposed to start them until after Stargate, but even with the completed Zealot I found myself floating enough minerals to get both of them before I had the required 150 gas for the Stargate. Is there something crucial I’m missing at this point?

Another point I’m unclear on is applying pressure to the Zerg. As I mentioned above I’ve been quite used to getting free third base snipes with a gateway expand. This feels as close to an FFE as a gateway based build gets. How comfortable should I be with a Zerg actually having a third base? I’m not used to letting them get those for free :p

Finally, how do you recommend making use of the Phoenixes if the Zerg is extremely defensive (i.e. pulls Overlords on the map back, 2 spores per base by each gas)? My Phoenix control/multi-tasking needs a lot of work and I’m finding it difficult to make use of them if someone just turtles up.

Sorry for the wall of text, I’m just really excited about this build!