HOTS Tactics - Useful Timings for Protoss Builds and Units

A Happy Protoss Family - Everyone made it in time.
A Happy Protoss Family - Everyone made it in time. | Source

Hello! This hub teaches you some of the most important timings for Protoss in Startcraft 2 including new units for the new Heart of the Swarm Expansion!

I was lucky enough to get a beta key and so have had the insight (and time) to find out changes and new functions available in the game so you don't have to.

Feel free to add your own comments in the comments section and vote your opinion accordingly too.

Useful Timings to Know

  • A Zerg opponent typically has his spawn pool finished at around 4:30 and so any rush that you as a Protoss player might want to play should not be too far past this time.

The Basics

Before we go on to HOTS related builds, it's important to know all the important old timings which are still very much in use in ladder games.

  • Cannon Rush - the first cannon begins at around 2:30 so be sure to scout your base at around 2:15 if you haven't already seen that your opponent did not go forge first.
  • 2 Gate Rush - 3 Zealots will be ready for battle (though not at your enemy's base) at 4:00 and 5 zealots will be out at 4:38
  • 4 gate - At 5:20 on the clock (which you can activate in the Options in-game) Warpgate Research finishes and so in the standard 1 gas 4 gate you will see an attack around the 5:45 to 6 minute mark. Keep this in mind when doing any build against another protoss player, if you have no answer to masses of units at this time in your build, then you will certainly fail and fail hard.
  • 3 Gate Blink Stalker - The blink ability finishes at 6:30 and so you can expect that at around 6-6:15 there will be stalkers and a pylon placed outside of your base. If you didn't scout and didn't get attacked at 6:00 by a 4 gate, expect a blink attack. Note, this is probably the easiest build to scout because of the millions of stalkers you will see if you attack someones ramp with a probe or zealot.
  • DT Rush - At around 6:45 you can expect 3 DT's to be harassing your base, make sure to have at least a well placed cannon or observer around if you haven't already scouted that they went a different build.
  • 3 Gate Robo - A very common strong push of 6 zealots, 3 stalkers, 2 sentries and 2 immortals often occurs at the 8 minute mark. Once again, if you don't see a 4 gate push by 6:30 minutes and you haven't had the chance to scout, expect a 3 gate robo push. But, make sure to scout that they didn't just expo (you can do this by simply sending a probe to their expo) etc.
  • 2 Base Colossus Timing - Depending on the amount of chrono boosts and the exact timing of the robo, expect 2-3 colossus and a strong ground force at around the 13:00 mark. If you are not prepared for this push there is very little chance that you'll bounce back in by warping in more units or sacrificing probes because of the splash damage of the colossus.

To Summarise:
5:45 - 6:00 = 4 Gate Push
6:30 = Blink Stalker Push
6:45 = DT Rush
8:00 = 3 Gate Robo
13:00 = 2 Base Colossus Timing

These are the most common builds in WoL (Wings of Liberty) and like already mentioned are still very common (at least whilst people don't really know how to incorporate the new units yet). You can assume that in your game you will be faced with one of these builds (or choose to use one of these builds yourself) so even without scouting, it's important to prepare yourself for these things.

If you want to succeed however, it's incredibly important to learn how to scout throughout the game (not just at the start as many players make the mistake of doing).

Vs Zerg

  • 1 Gate Stargate - The 1st Phoenix comes out at around the 5:55 mark so make sure you that if you ever play as zerg you don't have tons of overlords spread across the map because these will be sniped down for free. This is not really a build that you should worry about as Protoss or Terran however since it is only against zerg that you can survive off of only 1 gate (since zerglings cannot break a ramp blockade).
  • Forge Fast Expand
    Forge First: 9 pylon, 14 forge, 17 Nexus (fin. @ 2:55), 17 Pylon, 18 Gateway, 18 Photon Cannon (fin. @ 3:47), 18 2x Assimilator
  • Nexus First: 9 pylon, 16 Nexus (fin. @ 2:30), 16 forge, 17 Gateway, 17 Pylon, 17 Photon Cannon (fin. @ 4:15), 18 Assimilator x2

Facts to Consider

Gateways

  • Starting with your gateway at 8 probes will have it finished at 2:10 (first zealot: 2:48)
  • Starting your gateway at 10 probes will have it finished at 2:30 (first zealot: 3:08)
  • Starting it at 13 probes will have it finished at 2:48 (first zealot: 3:26)

Chronoboost

  • Using Chronoboosts can speed up the building time of any unit or building by a factor of 1.5 (not double the speed as is commonly thought) and lasts for 20 seconds.
  • 2 Nexi will give you enough energy production to almost Chronoboost something consecutively
  • You get 1 chrono boost every 45 seconds.
  • 3 Chronoboosts on a colossus will save 25 seconds of its build time

Cybernetics Core & Warpgate Research (WGR)

  • Starting a core at 17 probes it will finish at 3:40.
  • With no Chronoboosts used Warpgate Research will finish at 6:20.
  • With the maximum of 5 Chronoboost used WGR will finish at 5:33 (saving 47 seconds)
  • You can achieve 5 Chronoboosts on WGR If you only use 2 Chronoboosts at the start of the game.

Higher-Teching

  • Colossus
    -
    it takes 3:25 to place a Robotics Facility down, the Robotics Bay and then research a Colossus without Chronoboosts
    - It takes 3:00 with 3 Chronoboosts.
  • High Templar
    - The time it takes to build a Twilight Council, Templar Archive and then research storm is 3:30
    - It is 2:53 with constant chronoboosting
  • Dark Templar
    -
    You can build a Twilight Council and Dark Templar Shrine in 2:35 and have DT out on the field.
  • Carrier
    - From already having a built Stargate, it takes 3:00 to get build the Fleet Beacon and produce a Carrier out onto the field (60+120) without Chronoboosts
    - 2:20 with 4x Chronoboosts (save 40 seconds per carrier)
  • Tempest
    -
    From having a Stargate, it is 2:00 to get a fleet beacon and produce a Tempest (60+60)
    - 1:40 with 2 chronoboosts (save 20 seconds per Tempest)

Upgrades and Twilight Council

  • If you start building your Twilight Council as a +1 upgrade is about 66% complete then your Twilight Council will be done in time to research +2.

Fast Expand Timings

  • Typically, a Protoss player will need to have the extra 2 assimilators on his second nexus at 6:40, if this is not the case then early aggression should be expected (no tech).

Morphing Units

Archon - 12 seconds
Mothership - 100 seconds

The rare and beautiful 12 second Archon metamorphosis.
The rare and beautiful 12 second Archon metamorphosis. | Source

Build Times For Units

Nexus
Probe - 17 seconds
Mothership Core - 30 seconds

Gateway
Zealot - 38 seconds
Stalker - 42 seconds
Sentry - 37 seconds
High Templar - 55 seconds
Dark Templar - 55 seconds

Robotics Facility
Observer - 30 seconds
Immortal - 55 seconds
Warp Prism - 50 seconds
Colossus - 75 seconds

Stargate
Phoenix - 35 seconds
Oracle - 50 seconds
Void Ray - 60 seconds
Tempest - 60 seconds
Carrier - 120 seconds

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