Over the past few weeks many of you watching top level Starcraft II will have noticed that a lot of Protoss players are opening up with a Twighlight council in the Protoss vs Zerg matchup. This is a huge deviation from the standard Forge fast expand into Stargate plays, with Phoenix used for clearing scouting Overlords, picking up Queens and making the Zerg’s life a general misery until they either get well positioned spores, enough Queens, Hydralisks or a combination of these anti-air measures. It is also a world away from the aggressive Gateway expand into four gate pressure that also crops up regularly.
The first question we have to ask ourselves about this choice of tech is why? There are many answers to this but most simply put the access to Blink tech as a relatively early stage, allied with weapon upgrades gives the Protoss player a large enough window of opportunity where this improved mobility on a two base economy gives them an advantage over most Zerg openers. With the right blink micro a healthy number of blinkable Stalkers can beat any combination of Lings and Roaches. The same can also ring true even when a few Hydralisks are added into the equation, without a critical mass of units or some god like engagements the Zerg forces simply cannot trade with the ability to instantly retreat a damaged unit. The range of the Stalker allows the crippled units to find safety in the back of the ranks but still fire crucial shots mainting DPS, of course Hydralisks benefit from a similar range with an upgrade but target firing blink Stalkers can be fatal as a well timed Blink will see the focused units mindless wander into the closer Stalkers looking for the targeted enemy.
The second question I usually ask myself after asking why, is why not? Well again this seems pretty stacked in Protoss favor. There are few builds that will kill this out right due to the early-mid game versatility of the Stalker. One of the most worrying problems for Protoss against Zerg is the threat of Mutalisks that have great mobility and harass potential. Having Blink and a large helping of Stalkers helps keep any Mutalisk timing that could hit before you move out at bay. Swarm Hosts can also be tricky for a Protoss, but again this build hits before a critical mass of SH can usually be obtained, with some well timed blinks and an observer it isn’t too difficult for the Stalkers to completely nullify the threat of the locusts and their parents. The real drawback to this build in terms of why not is the weak scouting options it gives, generally you will have limited hallucinations on the few sentries you can afford whilst ploughing gas into blink, Stalkers and upgrades.
As you can see the pro’s certainly outweigh the con’s on this build, and with the variations we’ve seen of it both on various Twitch ladder streams and in top level player it can be tricky to deal with especially the more economic variants which allow a transition into a third and more tech, notable the High and Dark Templar paths which can be obtained more easily with the early Twighlight Council.
Below you can find (a slightly outdated) build order for this strategy which will give you a rough idea of the timings.