The Protoss are the most advanced race in Starcraft II, and their technology comes with some advantages. Their units are individually the most powerful in the game, even the weakest Protoss unit can take on several of its Terran or Zerg counterparts. If you’re the kind of player who likes controlling a small but elite force, the Protoss are the faction for you.
Every Protoss unit is protected by an energy shield, a barrier that blocks all attacks received by the unit. You can tell when a Protoss unit still has shields left because they briefly illuminate around the unit when it is hit. Shields will regenerate over time, so a skillful Protoss player will withdraw his units as soon as they lose their shields, and wait for them to regain full effectiveness. In this way the Protoss player can use a force to destroy enemy units while still remaining at 100% health. However, shields do have some disadvantages. The Terran Ghost has an EMP ability that instantly removes Protoss shields, leaving some of their units dangerously vulnerable. Without shields, Protoss units won’t last long.
The Zealot returns in Starcraft II as the first infantry unit that the Protoss can recruit. The Zealot is a melee attacker, much like the Zergling, but far more powerful. Each Zealot has 150 hitpoints, as much as a Siege Tank. They are extremely difficult to take down early in the game, and each Zealot can take on three or four Marines or Zerglings. They have a new ability in Starcraft II that allows them to charge at their enemies with greater speed when they get close enough. In the later game the Zealot loses effectiveness. Their psionic blades, shiny as they are, can’t stab flying units. However, Zealots still have their uses in the late game, and are very good at clearing minefields, for example. They don’t have any actual equipment to clear the mines with, but if you send enough Zealots into a minefield, eventually there will be no minefield left. You’ll lose a few Zealots in the process, but they’re expendable enough that it’s not a problem. Throwing Zealots into the fray is always a good idea, as enemies will hopefully target them instead of the more fragile and valuable Protoss units.
The Dark Templar are another Protoss infantry unit that first appeared in the Starcraft: Brood War expansion pack. They are permanently cloaked units, which means that only a few detector units can see them at all. Skillful players will use these stealthy units to slip into enemy bases and destroy their worker units, as well as taking out valuable buildings. Dark Templar have a very powerful melee attack that can kill Zerglings, Marines, and worker units in one hit. However, it won’t take long for an enemy player to realize that his forces are under attack by a cloaked unit and send detectors to the area. Dark Templars aren’t very tough for a Protoss unit, with only 120 hitpoints. They go down fast under heavy fire, so it’s important to keep them out of the firing line as much as possible.
The High Templar is a classic Protoss unit that returns in Starcraft II. As in the original game, the High Templar has no main attack. However, it has several powerful abilities that can turn the tide of any battle. The most infamous of these is the Psionic Storm, an ability that casts a powerful area of effect spell over enemy units. Weaker units are killed almost instantly by the Psionic Storm, making it very useful for taking out dozens of unsuspecting Zerglings or Hydralisks. Even tougher units like Siege Tanks are vulnerable to repeated Psionic Storms.The High Templar has a new ability in Starcraft II, known as “Time Rift”. Time Rift slows down time in the game for 30 seconds. With only 80 hitpoints, the High Templar is one of the weakest Protoss units out there. Intelligent enemy players will snipe High Templars by targeting them specifically. The Terran Ghost’s sniper rifle will make short work of High Templars as well. Protoss players have to use High Templars carefully to ensure that they aren’t wasted.
Two High Templars or Dark Templars can merge to create an Archon, one of the most powerful ground units in Starcraft II. Archons have incredibly strong shields that block 350 hitpoints of damage. However, they only have 10 hitpoints themselves, which means that if their shields are disabled by an EMP blast they will be killed almost instantly. Because of this weakness, it’s important that Protoss players use their Archons with care. Archons can attack both ground and air units with a powerful but short ranged psionic beam. Their attack has an area of effect, and will kill several weak units like Zerglings with each hit. It can also quickly kill entire groups of Mutalisks or other units that are bunched too closely together. Archons are expensive, but very useful in the right hands.
The Disruptor is a new unit in Starcraft II, one that Protoss players can build very early on in the game. They are slow moving mechanical units that target enemy ground units with a beam that does continuous damage. Unsupported, Disruptors will be easy prey for enemy Zerglings or Marines. However, they have an ability that can be very useful to a tactical player. Disruptors can create a physical barrier that blocks ground units from passing through it. This barrier can be used to block a chokepoint and prevent enemy forces from getting into your base with an early rush. From behind the barrier, the Disruptor can use its long ranged beam attack with impunity. The barrier ability can also be used to trap ground units in a certain area while other Protoss forces destroy them. Early Zergling rushes might be a thing of the past for skilled Protoss players, thanks to the disruptor. The Disruptor also has the Hallucination ability, which allows it to make several fake copies of another Protoss unit. Enemy units can’t tell which units are fake and which are real, and will be forced to fire on all of the hallucinations. Players who aren’t familiar with Hallucination might also panic when their base is attacked by seven or eight powerful units, when only one or two of them are actually real.
The venerable Dragoon won’t be returning in Starcraft II, as it is replaced by the Stalker. Stalkers are similar to Dragoons in most respects, except that they have the ability to “Blink”, or teleport across short distances. Groups of Dragoons were traditionally weak to swarms of Zerglings and other melee units, but the new Stalker can use its Blink ability to avoid becoming surrounded, or even better, to teleport up to a cliff or other high ground where the melee units can’t attack them at all. This ability should make Stalkers much more versatile than Dragoons were. They can attack both air and ground units, and with the Blink ability, a skilled Protoss player can use Stalkers to counter just about any threat.
Starcraft players will remember that Dragoons had one implacable weakness, and that was the Terran Siege Tank. Dragoons simply couldn’t close with Siege Tank groups without being vaporized. A Protoss player had very few options for approaching enemy Siege Tank groups, as Zealots, Dragoons and even Reavers would be quickly destroyed before they got within attacking range. The Immortal, new to Starcraft II, will change all of that. The Immortal is a slow moving but powerful Protoss ground unit that has very strong shields that reduce all damage taken to 10 hitpoints. Siege Tank hits won’t do the normal 70 damage, but instead only 10. Since the Immortal has 350 hitpoints, this means that Siege Tanks won’t be killing it very easily, or at all. A group of Immortals are the perfect counter to safely approach and destroy Siege Tanks. However, the Immortal’s shield only counters high damage hits. Small, weak units like Zerglings and Marines will still chew them up just as quickly as any other unit. And the Immortal has no defence against flying units, only being able to attack ground units.
The Colossus is a new unit in Starcraft II, a massive robotic walker that towers over the battlefield. It is equipped with a powerful laser beam that sweeps back and forth across enemy units, destroying several at a time. The Colossus can also walk up and down cliffs, allowing it to avoid enemy melee attackers by attacking from areas that they can’t reach. These abilities make it perfect for taking down hordes of weak units like Zerglings or Marines. However, the Colossus has disadvantages. It can be fired upon by any unit in the game, even units that can normally only attack air, because it is so tall. Despite having 400 hitpoints, the Colossus will be destroyed quickly by Siege Tanks, Battlecruisers, or other units that are effective against armor, like Marauders.
Any Starcraft Protoss player will undoubtedly remember loading up Shuttles with his expensive Protoss units, only to have a Battlecruiser vaporize the Shuttle before it had a chance to drop off its valuable cargo. The best way to get around this problem was to use an Arbiter to Recall the forces to where you want them, without the risk of losing them in the process. However, Arbiters and Shuttles aren’t returning for Starcraft II, as they’re replaced by the new transport, the Phase Prism. The Phase Prism has no attack, but can act as a portable Pylon. After setting up, the Phase Prism creates a field in which Protoss reinforcements can be warped to. The Phase Prism can also power Protoss buildings like a Pylon. If enemies take out Pylons powering your base defences, you can simply fly a Phase Prism over which will power them instead. The Phase Prism can also transport units the old fashioned way like a shuttle, even the largest ground units like Colossus and Immortals. If the Phase Prism is destroyed while transporting units, they’ll all be destroyed as well.
The Phoenix is the new Protoss air superiority fighter, replacing the Scout and Corsair from the original Starcraft. Phoenixes are a pretty straightforward air unit, being able to attack only other air units. Their missiles are effective against small flying units like Mutalisks and Vikings, but are ineffective against larger and more armored units like Battlecruisers. The Phoenix has an ability, called Anti-Gravity, that allows it to suspend almost any ground unit in the air. While suspended with Anti-Gravity, ground units are helpless and cannot attack. This technically gives Phoenixes the ability to attack some ground units, as one Phoenix can pull the ground unit up into the sky while other Phoenixes destroy it. Some ground units, like the Thor, are too large to be pulled up by Anti-Gravity. However, valuable units like Zerg Queens and Terran Siege Tanks can be picked up and destroyed in this way.
The Void Ray is another new Protoss air unit. It is a large unit with one primary weapon, a powerful beam, that can attack ground and air units alike. The longer the beam is held on a single target, the more powerful the beam becomes, destroying buildings and even the most heavily armored units very quickly. However, Void Rays are vulnerable to hordes of small units like Marines, which will destroy the Void Rays while they focus their fire on only one unit at a time. Void Rays are also vulnerable to swarms of smaller air units like Phoenixes, Vikings or Mutalisks, if there are too many of them for the Void Rays to concentrate fire on. Void Rays are best used against isolated but powerful units like Ultralisks or Battlecruisers.
One of the most famous units from the original Starcraft, Protoss Carriers return in Starcraft II. Carriers have no attack themselves, but carry a large number of small interceptor craft, as their name implies. These interceptors can attack both air and ground targets and move very quickly. Enemy units will often focus their fire on the interceptors, ignoring the carriers that they are deploying from. With enough carriers, the swarm of interceptors will quickly destroy any enemies without taking much damage themselves. A large force of a dozen or more carriers is almost impossible to counter, as their interceptors will quickly destroy any air or ground force. Skillful Terran players will use Battlecruisers with Yamato Cannons to specifically target the carriers. A few Yamatos will destroy a carrier, also destroying all of its interceptors. Carriers are only very effective in groups. One or two will be destroyed quite easily, even by low level units like Marines or Hydralisks.
The Mothership is one of the most powerful units in Starcraft II, having 400 hitpoints and 200 shield points, as many as a Battlecruiser. The Mothership has a standard laser attack that is effective against most ground and air units, as well as several powerful abilities. The Mothership has a Vortex ability that is much like the Arbiter’s Stasis in the original Starcraft. The Vortex sucks in a group of enemy units, and holds them in a black hole like object for a certain amount of time. When the time runs out, the black hole disappears and the units reappear. This is useful for temporarily taking half of the enemy’s army out of the picture, allowing your forces to quickly destroy the remaining half, and then destroy the other half when it comes out of the black hole. The Mothership also has the Planet Cracker ability, which fires powerful lasers at the ground beneath the Mothership. Buildings and any units caught in this blast for long enough will be destroyed. There are several other potential abilities for the Mothership, including the cloaking of other units and the warping of Protoss forces to its location, but these have not been confirmed for the final game yet and might change. Motherships are very slow moving units and Protoss players should take care to not have them in a vulnerable position. Two Terran battlecruisers will defeat a single Mothership in a head on firefight, and a few Yamato cannon shots will destroy one instantly. Motherships are too expensive to fight it out with enemy units, and should be used as a support unit instead.
Article from Gamersyndrome.com