PvP NaNiwa’s Safe Expand

General Overview

This build opens with a 1gate FE, using a Hallucinated Phoenix to scout, and an early Robotics Facility+Mothership Core to defend any early aggression.  This safe expand produces somewhat stable macro games if you react appropriately to your scouting information.

Build Order

  • 9 – Pylon
  • 13 – Gateway
  • 15 – Assimilator
  • 16 – Pylon
  • 18 – @100% Gateway, start Cybernetics Core and 2nd Assimilator
  • 21 – Pylon
  • 21 – @100% Cybernetics Core, start Warpgate Research and a Stalker
  • 25 – @100 Gas, start Mothership Core
  • @100% Stalker, start 1st Sentry
  • @400 Mins, start Nexus
    • Pause Probe production
  • @150 Mins, start Gateway
  • @100% 1st Sentry, start 2nd Sentry
  • @100 Gas, start Robotics Facility
    • Resume Probe production
  • @100% Warpgate, warp-in 2 Zealots
  • @100% Robotics Facility, start Immortal and Hallucinate a Phoenix to scout your opponent’s main base
  • Benchmark: When your first Immortal finishes (@7:10ish), you should have 32 Probes, 1 Stalker, 2 Sentries, 2 Zealots, and a Mothership Core.


Being active with your initial Stalker around your natural and third will help keep you aware of any super early aggression.  Just be sure to pull your Stalker back to the protection of your Sentries/Force fields and warp-in units quickly if you have to defend an early attack.

The majority of your scouting comes from your Hallucinated Phoenix.  Your phoenix should be able to get into your opponent’s main base and determine what tech route you see your opponent going.

  • If your opponent is expanding quickly, then feel safe.  Consider going for a midgame Immortal+Gateway bust.
  • If your opponent has a Robotics Facility, then be sure that you do not fall behind in the Immortal/Colossus count going into the midgame.  Do NOT over produce Stalkers.
  • If your opponent has a Stargate, then be sure to not take damage against early Phoenix or Oracles.  Produce several Stalkers to initially protect your mineral lines, but consider getting a Stargate of your own or going for a quick Blink timing in order to truly stay safe against your opponent.  Keep a tabs on when they take their natural expansion – a 3gate Stargate attack can be deadly if you are skipping too many warp-ins or teching too aggressively.
  • If your opponent has a Twilight Council, then make one Observer for detection against DTs and constantly produce Immortals.  Also be sure to position your army/Mothership Core defensively in order to safely defend any Blink attacks.


This build is a very strong macro opener that transitions into a macro game quite easily.  However, the actual unit composition of that macro game very often depends completely on what tech choice your opponent has chosen to open with.  If your opponent stays on one base for too long, then throw down more Gateways, constantly make units, and prepare to defend your natural with Stalkers, Immortals, and your Planetary Nexus.  In Robotics vs Stargate macro games, quickly switch into Blink or Stargate play of your own so as to not lose against any Void Ray based armies.  In Robotics vs Robotics macro games, Immortal count and/or Colossus count are the most important things.  Keep tabs on your opponent’s tech switches so that you transition into a late game army appropriately.  In Robotics vs Twilight macro games, defend your opponent’s potential Blink or Dark Templar harass by producing Immortals+Gateway units or Colossus for defense.


  • Use all your initial chronoboost on Probes so as to establish your economic advantage going into the midgame.
  • Poke around your natural and third base with your initial Stalker to make sure your opponent is not performing a very early attack (such as a 4gate or Trap’s 3gate All-in).
  • Against all 1 base attacks, you must defend using your Planetary Nexus.  To maximize your protection, save your Mothership Core energy as long as possible – only calling in your Planetary Nexus once your opponent has committed to attacks.
    • Be sure to constantly chronoboost Immortals out for maximum DPS against ground-based armies.
  • Against Blink play, be sure to position some of your army and an Immortal or two in your main base to destroy any Stalkers that blink up outside the range of your Planetary Nexus.
  • Against Stargate play, be sure to warp-in some initial Stalkers and position your units to defend both mineral lines from potential Oracle or Phoenix harass.
  • Once you are safely in the midgame, go back to chronoboosting Probes to fully saturate two bases.

Pros and Cons

This build is a very versatile, macro build that takes advantage of the power and range of your Planetary Nexus in order to stay safe against early attacks.  It also gets detection and Immortals for defense, so very often you have a more stable opening than most other PvP builds.

However, defending early Stargate play can be quite tricky as your Robotics Facility does not help at all in producing anti-air units.  Also, this build requires a lot of scouting information to be executed effectively, so getting a Hallucination into your opponent’s base is crucial.

Favorable Maps

This build is strongest on maps where your natural Nexus’ cannon’s range can hit any and all entrances into your natural.  That way you can rely on your Planetary Nexus to defend frontal assaults.

  • King Sejong Station
  • Overgrowth
  • Catallena
  • Foxtrot Labs


NaNiwa defending Dear’s Blink all-in with this build at the MLG Spring Championship 2013

NaNiwa’s Safe Expand Tutorial Replay vs a Very Easy AI