State on StarCraft: Stardust’s Upgrade-Centric Protoss Vs. Zerg

                BUILD ORDER
Probe production is constant unless stated otherwise
● 9 – Pylon at natural
● @100% Pylon, 3x chronoboost nexus (3)
● 17 – Nexus
● 17 – Forge
● 18 – Pylon
● 18 – Gateway
● @100% Pylon, 7x chronoboost probe production (10)
● 19 – Cannon
● 20 – 2x Assimilator
● 23 – Cybernetics core
● 25 – Zealot
● 31 – Pylon
● 32 – +1 Ground Weapons
● 34 – Stalker (chronoboosted)
● 34 – Warpgate
● 40 – Sentry
● 42 – Pylon
● 44 – Robotics Facility
● 44 – 2x Assimilator
● 46 – Sentry
● 54 – Sentry
● 56 – Observer
● 56 – Twilight Council
● 56 – 3x Gateways
● 56 – 2nd Forge
From here on out, chronoboost upgrades and immortal production
● @100% +1 Ground Weapons, begin +1 Ground Armor
● +2 Ground Weapons
● ~8:30 3rd nexus
● Begin immortal production
● Warp in sentries (6 total), zealots
● +3 Gateways*
*Though Stardust adds 3 gateways after he’s taken his 3rd, he has difficulty spending his income after it kicks in. Adding anywhere from 4-7 gateways may be ideal.


  1. Introduction
  2. Opening
  3. Timing and Followup


Except for a few minor changes, the build order to the right is Stardust’s exact opening.

To Nexus-First or Not

Stardust elects to open nexus-first several times with this opening, including Game 5 of his series against Jaedong.

Though highly economical, nexus-first openings — even with a quick forge followup — are a near-autoloss against early pools.

If you’re not too keen on taking risks, a few small adjustments can shut down early aggression: probe scouting after pylon, 14 forge, and 17 nexus gives you the tools you need to survive everything from roach rushes to 6-pools.

The Fast Third

The opening revolves around taking a fast third behind a robotics facility, twilight council, and four gateways of production.

Stardust plays it a bit greedy — skipping his mothership core and declining to wall-in his third with additional gateways — but three zealots, one stalker, and four sentries can handle most aggression Zerg might throw your way in the early game.

The Second Forge

The real strength of the build order is the second forge Stardust throws down after his first big wave of production.

+1 ground armor adds survivability against the ever-popular zergling-heavy openings and is invaluable against mutalisk openings.

Producing mostly zealot/sentry and immortals, the +2/1 upgrades set up a powerful timing attack in the mid-game.

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3 Comments on State on StarCraft: Stardust’s Upgrade-Centric Protoss Vs. Zerg


On July 10, 2013 at 12:17 pm

another amazingly in-depth guide to playing protoss at top tier level!


On October 28, 2013 at 4:17 pm

Hey State how do you hold off early pools using FFE?

Ryan Visbeck

On October 28, 2013 at 5:36 pm

Hey Makuly,

Make sure that you probe scout right after your first pylon. On 2-player maps, you should be able to scout even a 6-pool in time to react perfectly.

Build a Pylon in your main base, a cannon in your mineral line, and try your best not to lose any probes. From here on out, play as if you’re going gateway expand—build a gateway, an assimilator (make sure it’s protected by the cannon), and then start a zealot, cybernetics core, and then later a mothership core. Once you have enough units (you can use your mothership core to see how many zerglings are near your natural), move out and take the expansion. Start producing sentries and be careful with your unit positioning.

Sometimes Zerg players will hide a bunch of zerglings and then rush in with speed once you start taking your natural. In that case, forcefield off your ramp, hold your main base, throw down two additional gateways and expand when safe.

You have to make a lot of judgement calls and have good reaction times, but when you execute your defense perfectly it puts you really far ahead. On 4-player maps, you might get especially unlucky and scout them last when they’re going 6-Pool, and sometimes you can’t get the cannon in your mineral line up in time. Those losses suck, but they’re few and far between.

Remember that ladder isn’t about winning, it’s about getting better. Try not to get frustrated if you mess up your defense on your first few tries, just do your best to learn from your mistakes so that they don’t happen again.

Best of luck!