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Thread: Understanding SC2: A Unit by Unit Analysis

  1. #1

    Default Understanding SC2: A Unit by Unit Analysis

    So at one point I was going to make a big long post dissecting the uses and benefits of the entire Zerg line-up. As well as improvements that I thought should or could be made to each units. Well, I wrote up that post, and I'll actually probably use it for this one, but in general I think this is a better idea.

    Basically, the idea behind this post is to take one unit from StarCraft 2 a week, I'll post my analysis of that one unit and improvements that I think could be made to it. Monday seems like a good day, so we'll start now.

    The first unit I'll be doing is one that we've been discussing in a multitude of topics through out the forum.

    The Phoenix.

    The Phoenix is the Protoss' basic air unit. As something of an expy to the Corsair it is obviously an air superiority fighter. And it has the anti-gravity ability this serves the purpose of allowing the Phoenix to attack ground targets as well as disabling key ground targets. Such as tanks or immortals.

    In general, I think the Phoenix is a good replacement for the corsair. Initially, it serves the same purpose. As the fastest unit in the game, it makes for an awesome scout. Particularly in Protoss versus Zerg games. From a teching perspective it's by far the earliest air unit. Terran will not have Vikings and Zerg will not have Mutalisks when it comes out, particularly if you make use of Chrono-Boost. And the Queen, Marine and Hydralisk are too slow and cumbersome to catch it. (Any damage it takes, it will also regen back very quickly.)

    It's second use in the game, is as an ATA unit. It's got a fast-attack and a light bonus. This makes it an excellent counter for Mutalisks, Banshees and Ravens. Shutting down any air-based harassment unless they have overwhelming numbers. They're also fairly good against Vikings and Void Rays and they can take on Corruptors, even though they lose cost-for-cost. And of course they prevent Nydus and really any kind of drop from occurring with their incredible speed and attack power.

    Their third role, is of course, harassment. Like the corsair, they're excellent for hunting down stray scouting Overlords, but with anti-gravity, they're also very good at using their quick speed to completely bypass their opponents army and kill key units in their bases. They're very good against workers, and they can even kill the Queen when you've bunch up enough of them.

    The other thing to consider when looking at the Phoenix, is that as far as teching goes, when you build the Phoenix you're also getting the Void Ray for free. Now the Void Ray is possibly one of the worst units in the game against units. But easily one of the best units against buildings. The Phoenix I would consider the opposite. It's one of the best units in the game against units, (unless we're talking about mass marines or hydralisks or even stalkers) but it's completely useless against buildings.

    So I think this relationship must be kept in mind when one looks at the Protoss air army. The question of do I get the Void Ray first or the Phoenix first is a good one. The Phoenix will give you more mobility and speed (and air CONTROL), but the Void Ray will give you more fire-power and has more general use in your army. The key thing to remember here, is that they're at their absolute best when you have both. So starting with one Void Ray and one Phoenix might even be a good idea. Phoenix disables a ground unit while the Void Ray kills it.

    As far as improvements for the Phoenix goes, I don't think it can use too many. I think it's very strong in the role it fills right now, and I think that role is a lot broader than many people think it is. Air superiority is the name of the game, and in StarCraft 2, with banshees, medivac dropships, brood lords and what have you, what an important role that is. Having said that, I think it's base damage is a little low, and I think there are problems with the auto-acquiring AI when it comes to anti-gravity at times (the Phoenix will not attack an AGed unit unless it is already in it's range I'm pretty sure.)

    So if I had to suggest one improvement it'd be to improve it's AI a bit, and to maybe make some it's bonus damage, base damage. (So maybe (7 + 3) x 2 instead of (5 + 5) x 2.) That'd improve it against the Viking (which it's an INTENDED counter for). And make it a bit less useless against some of the bigger units in the game. But other than that, I think this is just a bit of a unit with a learning curve, that's in one of the weaker tech-trees of the game.

    So I'm planning on considering doing these in the future. I think next week I will do either the Thor or the Queen. I haven't decided, so feel free to vote if you want.
    Last edited by Gifted; 04-13-2010 at 12:17 PM. Reason: I did some BASIC formatting to make it look better


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  2. #2

    Default Re: Understanding SC2: A Unit by Unit Analysis

    As it is, the Phoenix is a decent counter to Vikings. It easily wins 1v1, and does a good amount of damage, even if it can't kill them quickly.

    Still this seems interesting. I'd like to see the Thor next, because people seem to think it's too weak ATM.

  3. #3
    Alterran's Avatar Junior Member
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    Default Re: Understanding SC2: A Unit by Unit Analysis

    I dont think Thor is weak at all, if you get one in the mid game you have to remember it can be repaired. It can basicaly take down an entire protoss army if ur lucky and he doesnt have many zeals to deal with the scv's. Its also the hard counter to mass mutas due to splash dmg GtA with a decent range.

    I think Phoenix need a fix, or more like stargate needs a fix, in PvP its really a clever unit due to toss units in general are kinda expensive so you get more for your gravity lift harass. I think its a decent support unit, but the question for me is, why would i buy one instead of voidray, unless its to counter mass banshee i guess.

    The queen can be a little bit of a pain to have around, but 1v1 a voidray win. The question here is why would i go 3 phoenix to kill queens/overlords or 1 voidray and 1 phoenix to lift and kill queen and then get hatch when i can just get 1 voidray to chase queen that no doubt will try to kite and then another voidray to finish the base in just a few sec later ?
    Vs terran, i think it could be genious to lift up some tanks when you attack. Problem is most terrans have a decent GtA when tanked up and phoenix needs to go in kinda early in the battle to be effective, also a matter of easy counter for terran with their vikings that cost less. For most terrans get a starport when they go factory anyhow.

    The problem for me is that i think the money can be spent on something better when you dont normaly need a stargate as a toss. Even later in the game, why would you get a phoenix? Its losing 1v1 vs any other AtA unit when u consider the cost. For a small number of mutas its perfect counter, but on the other hand then so is a few cannons or sentries.

    I dont think the unit is bad in itself, but i think the problem is that protoss have no real need or big benefit of going stargate if its not for voidray cheese or really late carriers. In PvZ, PvT its not really paying off to get phoenix, zerg has mutas and terran had medevac, banshee and ravens to consider other than their AtA, both really got valid and good units in all matchups that is worth getting ofen.

    I would like to see blizzard make stargate more valid for other general play, most games involving stargates is cheesy voidray play or boring carriers 30 min games. Or maybe make the phoenix cheaper so its cost effective AtA unit vs the other AtA units, also would make it a lot more worthwhile getting a stargate for the AtA and gravity harass alone if it had a lower cost.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Understanding SC2: A Unit by Unit Analysis

    Scouting is not an issue, because the Protoss already have a cloaked scout that comes out from Robotics, their main tech path. Hell, as it's now, it's like if Robotic was forced tech, like the Terran Factory, because you need it almost all the time.

    Going Stargate first is not common, because the Phoenix and the Void Ray are easily taken out by lower tech units, so you're throwing money to an incinerator by going Stargate before the enemy has air units.

    If the Phoenix could attack ground units, then it would be a possible tech path. They don't need to have the same attack, they could have a weaker attack if that would be too powerfull. While Void Rays can attack ground, their cost makes them a very bad option to fight the cheaper, lower-tier ground units.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Understanding SC2: A Unit by Unit Analysis

    Well, I enjoyed this kinda a lot. Im looking forward for the next units reviews. My only advice is to make your report a little less messy, the use of titles could give this article a cleaner look.

    Good work
    Heheheeey, I need some strong coffee.


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  6. #6

    Default Re: Understanding SC2: A Unit by Unit Analysis

    Quote Originally Posted by Norfindel View Post
    Scouting is not an issue, because the Protoss already have a cloaked scout that comes out from Robotics
    Which you aren't getting because you've gone StarGate. And the Phoenix is a better scout than the observer. It's faster. It's not gonna get hit by static defenses.

    Going Stargate first is not common, because the Phoenix and the Void Ray are easily taken out by lower tech units, so you're throwing money to an incinerator by going Stargate before the enemy has air units.
    No you aren't. You don't instantly STOP building gateway units because you went stargate tech. You use those air units for harassment and forcing your opponent to go on the defensive. And maybe even supply-lock him.

    And they aren't 'easily taken out' by lower tech units. Hydralisks, Stalkers and Marines can't even catch them. If they use blink/stim/range they might have a CHANCE, but the Phoenix will still escape. And an escaped air unit is one that can just come right back.

    Seriously. Do you ever see somebody ending the game with Mutalisks? No, he harasses, he kills a few workers, he flies around and looks menacing. That's what the Phoenix is supposed to do.

    If the Phoenix could attack ground units, then it would be a possible tech path. They don't need to have the same attack, they could have a weaker attack if that would be too powerfull.
    It doesn't need it.

    While Void Rays can attack ground, their cost makes them a very bad option to fight the cheaper, lower-tier ground units.
    Which is not what you're using them for!! You're using them for harassment. Void Rays eat buildings alive, and they're good support units if you micro them well. Particular in PvP both are very attractive options.

    The queen can be a little bit of a pain to have around, but 1v1 a voidray win. The question here is why would i go 3 phoenix to kill queens/overlords or 1 voidray and 1 phoenix to lift and kill queen and then get hatch when i can just get 1 voidray to chase queen that no doubt will try to kite and then another voidray to finish the base in just a few sec later ?
    Phoenix is faster and deals better damage without having to charge up. Plus in that scenario, if he gets hydralisks your void rays are kinda dead, Phoenix can kill equal numbers of hydralisks very easily. Plus Phoenix are cheaper and faster. (You get 1.5 phoenix for every void ray)

    For most terrans get a starport when they go factory anyhow.
    Which is way later tech than the phoenix. So you'll have more phoenix by the time he starts pumping out Vikings. And they're not even that bad against them.

    The problem for me is that i think the money can be spent on something better when you dont normaly need a stargate as a toss. Even later in the game, why would you get a phoenix?
    Air control. The sentry cannot chase down a bunch of mutalisks. They're too slow and they'll get outmaneuvered. A photon cannon is an expensive mineral sink. Why wouldn't you get tech which can give you one of the best siege units in the game, build a few phoenix first in order to give yourself air superiority. And then attack with Void Rays? It's a perfectly viable strategy. Or just to hunt down those mutalisks so that your army can move out.

    I mean against Terran it'd be kinda dumb to go Phoenix first unless you really want to harass his mineral line. The Void Ray is much better. But against Zerg? Phoenix is a great option.

    I dont think the unit is bad in itself, but i think the problem is that protoss have no real need or big benefit of going stargate if its not for voidray cheese or really late carriers.
    That's all people use them for generally. That doesn't mean that's all they're good for. I think often the void ray 'cheese' is preventing it from being used as a real harassment unit. Kind of a 'I'll kill his town hall or I'll die trying' mentality rather than just picking off some easy supply depots or other less central tech buildings.

    Well, I enjoyed this kinda a lot. Im looking forward for the next units reviews. My only advice is to make your report a little less messy, the use of titles could give this article a cleaner look.
    Hey, thanks a lot! I don't think it's messy really, but I suppose I could make it a bit more flashy.


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  7. #7

    Default Re: Understanding SC2: A Unit by Unit Analysis

    Why do people keep saying the Phoenix is good at killing workers? It sucks at it. Void rays are actually better. (Once you've burned the town center to the ground, their full-power beams pop workers as fast as banshees can.)
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  8. #8

    Default Re: Understanding SC2: A Unit by Unit Analysis

    Quote Originally Posted by Kimera757 View Post
    Why do people keep saying the Phoenix is good at killing workers? It sucks at it. Void rays are actually better.
    Because they don't suck at it. 3 phoenix insta kill a worker. 4 if it's an SCV. And the Phoenix is faster, so it can get in and get out a lot more quickly than the Void Ray. (Pre speed-upgrade anyway)

    And killing their town hall first is kind of an extreme example... =S I mean if you've done that, you've practically won the game already anyway.
    Last edited by Aldrius; 04-13-2010 at 11:22 AM.


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  9. #9

    Default Re: Understanding SC2: A Unit by Unit Analysis

    IF killing the town hall is so extreme, why not just do that and skip worker raiding? (16 workers are worth more than a town hall, too, especially if you don't let them build a new one.)

    Let the phoenixes fend off any air units or high templar/siege tanks/other expensive ground units instead of trying to take on the workers.
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  10. #10

    Default Re: Understanding SC2: A Unit by Unit Analysis

    Quote Originally Posted by Kimera757 View Post
    IF killing the town hall is so extreme, why not just do that and skip worker raiding? (16 workers are worth more than a town hall, too, especially if you don't let them build a new one.)
    Because you want to do something quickly. You can kill workers faster than you can kill a town hall. And the Phoenix can't do it. And it's the Phoenix's speed you want to take advantage of.

    Unless you're doing a really fast Void Ray rush when Zerg has no AA or whatever.

    Let the phoenixes fend off any air units or high templar/siege tanks/other expensive ground units instead of trying to take on the workers.
    Workers are squishy, slow and exposed. High Templar and Siege Tanks tend to move with the army. (And Phoenix don't kill siege tanks that quickly) So if you're going to do that, you might as well do it in a battle. The point of attacking workers is to FORCE your opponent to move back into his base. Or to kill off his workers, which is good economic damage.


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