The Dark Archon, the fusion of two noble Protoss Dark Templar assassins, is the most powerful spellcaster in the game of StarCraft: Brood War. There is not a single spellcaster that can match it in potential use.
It's a pity that its potential is not utilized often. Watch a replay
for those lucky enough to have access to them) of one of the top Protoss players such as Reach
and I guarantee you won't see a single Dark Archon in a single one. There are many reasons for this:
The technology costs alone make the Dark Archon quite worthless in a serious match. To even gain access to the Dark Archon, a Protoss player must first construct a Citadel of Adun
and a Templar Archives
. The Citadel's costs aren't too extravagant, just a slick 150 Minerals
and 100 Vespene Gas
. The Templar Archives, however, cost 150 Minerals and 200 Vespene Gas. This cost is quite steep at the point of the game in which you can immediately spend resources of this amount. That 200 Gas could have gone to a small squad of Dragoons, an attack upgrade, any number of things that may be of use.
Compare this to the other attractive alternatives presented to the Protoss player: The Stargate and the Robotics Facility. The Stargate is a popular option when a Protoss player is battling a Zerg opponent; the Corsair is a quick unit that can scout out the Zerg player's technology and harass his source of control: (food, supply, what-have-you) the Overlords. The immediate benefit of constructing a Stargate against a Zerg player is ENORMOUS in a game like StarCraft, where scouting is king. Zerg players constantly change the shape of their army. A speedy Corsair is much more useful than an easily-spotted (to the Zerg, anyway) Dark Templar in the mid-game. The Stargate also costs a low amount of resources to construct; it can be bought for the small sum of 150 Minerals and 150 Vespene Gas.
(Oh yeah, the Protoss player can also build a Scout
from a Stargate, but the Corsair is cheaper and faster. Scouts are rarely seen in high-level play.)
And, of course, there's the common choice to opt for the Robotics Facility. The Robotics Facility allows access to the Protoss Shuttle
, a unit commonly used to expand to distant islands on the battle map or to drop a squad of offensive units on a cluster of Workers
or enemies laying siege to your base. All this for 200 Minerals and 200 Vespene Gas.
The Robotics Facility also opens up the Protoss player's tech tree to the branches of the Observatory
and the Robotics Support Bay
. The Observatory
is a staple of the modern Protoss versus Terran
match-up; it allows the Protoss player to purchase Observers
, which allow the player to view the normally hidden Spider Mines
quite often laid by the Terran
player's force of Vulture
s. The Robotics Support Bay
allows the construction of the Reaver
, a difficult unit to control, but very destructive when micromanage
So, would you rather pay 300 Minerals and 300 Vespene Gas for a Citadel of Adun and a Templar Archives, which allow access to the very powerful High Templar and Dark Templar, as well as the Archon and Dark Archon..
...150 Minerals and 150 Vespene Gas for the Stargate, which give you an invaluable Corsair and, perhaps later, the dreaded Carrier
...or 200 Minerals and 200 Vespene Gas for the Robotics Facility, which allows construction of the Shuttle and later allows construction of the Observatory
for 50 Minerals and 150 Vespene Gas or 150 Minerals and 100 Vespene Gas for the Robotics Support Bay (which ends up costing more than the Templar Archives)?
In the end, it's all up to the player
, but the invaluable Corsair and Observer are both much more useful than the Dark Archon.
2: There are better things to make at your Gateway.
So, you've decided to go against my advice and make that Templar Archives anyway. Maybe you know that I'm a Zerg player at heart and I'm part of some big anti-Dark Archon conspiracy
. The first statement is true, the second is debatable
. But, consider the following
A Dark Archon can only be formed by converting two Dark Templar into it.
Sure, it doesn't sound like much.. but Dark Templar cost 125 Minerals and 100 Vespene Gas each. Dark Templar also have the amazing built-in ability to stay cloaked
permanently. They cannot be seen unless they are trapped in a Stasis Field
, covered in the green goo of the Zerg Queen
spell, being slowly sapped away at by the Zerg Defiler's Plague
spell or are sighted by a static detector
(such as a Missile Turret
) or mobile detector
(such as a Science Vessel
). This has great implications. Stasis Field is rarely used in a serious Protoss versus Protoss game, the same for Ensnare and Plague (a pity at that, they are both awesome spells) and detectors can be (and usually are) killed. As a Zerg player, I've fallen victim to the classic DT/Sair
combo, in which the Protoss player builds Corsairs (The Sair in the combo) to destroy Overlords and Dark Templar (the DT, as it is commonly called in Starcraft shorthand
) to destroy all of the units that were within the Overlord's vicinity (quite often innocent Zerg Drone
s). Dark Templar are also commonly used as scouting units, their invisibility being a major asset in that situation. And, of course, you can simply use it to kill enemy units. Dark Templar are GREAT assets to the Protoss army and TWO
DARK TEMPLAR ARE MORE USEFUL THAN ONE
Also, the cost of the Dark Archon could go toward the purchase of High Templar
s (the regular kind). High Templar are notorious for their Psionic Storm
skill, dealing massive Area of Effect
damage in the area of the spell's target. (While Minerals, Vespene Gas and time must be spent researching Psionic Storm, it is among the best spells in StarCraft and is commonly used.) Also, after the High Templar is out of energy for casting Storms, you can wait for the Templar to regenerate its energy or merge two of them into an Archon, a powerful tanking
unit that is well-known for its ability to destroy large masses of units before dying.
The Dark Archon, on the other hand, begins only with its Feedback
skill. Feedback is a weak skill at best. For 50 Energy
, it can deal a maximum of 250 damage
to a unit that has energy (which accounts for at least a fourth of all StarCraft units). More often than not, it will deal 200 at maximum (the reason being that spellcasters
in Starcraft have 200 base energy and 50 more can be added if energy upgrades are research
ed. Most players do not bother with these, as spellcaster energy is quite often used by the player as soon as the player gets it). More often than THAT occurrence, it will deal a negligible
amount of damage, because the unit that was the target of the Feedback spell didn't have its maximum energy at the time.
Now, it is true that many spellcasters in StarCraft quite have more energy than health
. The Ghost
and even the mighty High Templar
can potentially die INSTANTLY to one Feedback. However, the Ghost isn't used that often against Protoss players. The same is true of the Medic, Defiler and Queen. The High Templar is the only unit that a Dark Archon would be of practical use against.. Except for the fact that its powerful Psionic Storms
can be more easily managed by simply dodging them instead of investing heavy amounts of resources on a Dark Archon. Also, Feedback targets a single unit. With StarCraft's user interface
, it is hard to single out that one spellcaster
that could spell your doom
among all of the other things that are constantly going on. Having a pair of Dark Templar assassinate that irritating High Templar
and go on to slay
others is much more efficient than a clunky
The Dark Archon's other abilities, Maelstrom
and Mind Control
, must first be researched before they can be used, like many of the abilities in StarCraft. Maelstrom is quite a useful
skill. It stuns organic units
for a very short amount of time and leaves them open to attack from your units. Zerg units are all organic, so Maelstrom is quite useful there. Protoss and Terran forces are mostly mechanized; against these races Maelstrom is a waste of resources.
is a very intriguing skill. Any idiot can see the advantage of taking over an enemy unit. I've heard legendary tales of this spell's usage. They may or may not be based on real occurances.
Legendary Tale #1: The Overlord Thief
Legend has it that a very long time ago, perhaps before replays
, a Protoss player stole a Zerg Overlord from a Cerebrate
by cunning usage of the Dark Archon's Mind Control ability. The Overlord had its speed upgrade (Pneumatized Carapace
for the purist) and transport ability (a.k.a. Ventral Sacs
) researched. With these abilities falling into the wily Protoss' hands, he did not have to construct a Robotics Facility
, for the Overlord could carry burden
s (like a Shuttle) and see the unseen (like an Observer). This player was able to ignore an entire branch of the tech tree because of this one skill. It is not known if this player won the game or not, but this story strikes fear into hearts of many
and ushers awesome, nerdy respect
(hey, I can't be totally pretentious
). The name of the player is forgotten, but his legacy will always remain.
Legendary Tale #2: The Protoss Siege Tank
Legend has it that in what would not be a typical Terran versus Protoss game
, a wily Protoss was able to turn the tables in a macro game
. It was Zealot versus Vulture
, Dragoon versus Siege Tank
; the classic battle that had been fought for many years. The Protoss was able to Mind Control a single Siege Tank and an SCV (for this madman
had constructed more than one Dark Archon). He used the Tank with his Shuttle
to put it on cliffs
to destroy many tactical targets
and when things looked grim
for this Protoss Tank, it was sent to base for rest and repair
Now, these two stories make Mind Control seem very tempting
. It is easily the best spell in StarCraft, potentially
When a Dark Archon uses Mind Control, it loses all of its Shields
. This makes the Dark Archon an easy target
with only 25 HP keeping it alive
Mind Controlled units, more often than not, die
. The examples above are legendary
because the Protoss player was able to utilize it well and keep their mind-slaves
alive. In a typical game, this is VERY difficult
. It is very easy to get your Mind Controlled
and Dark Archon killed because of the time spent
attempting to manage all three.
iii: Why Mind Control when you can rip your enemies to shreds with a well-aimed Psionic Storm?
Psionic Storm is notorious for slaying large crowds of units. Killing 20 is better than converting one.
So, you see, the risk
greatly outweighs the return
of constructing a Dark Archon. It's a very specialized unit
in a game that demands flexibility
. However, there's one redeeming factor
Dark Archons are badass.
There are many units in Starcraft that are not used to their full potential. For years, many Zerg players avoided using the Zerg Defiler. The ability it begins with, Dark Swarm
, allows units under it invincibility
from ranged attacks
from the outside, while being able to fire upon enemies outside of the Swarm or deal melee damage. For years, people were very timid
in their use of the Defiler. Zerg players were content
with their large armies and their macro style of play (macro meaning macromanagement
, as opposed to micromanagement
). Zerg players amassed large armies
and pitted them against their opponent
s' large armies. This was a crying shame, because
Defilers are badass.
One day, in the Terran-dominated KeSPA
(Korean e-SPort Association) rankings, a player named JulyZerg
took the number one spot. One of the things he is notorious for, besides his aggressive
style of play, is the use of the Defiler.
JulyZerg is badass.
StarCraft is a game of weapons and war
. In the Defiler's case, it found a worthy pair of hands
in the capable JulyZerg. Perhaps, someday, the Dark Archon will find a worthy Protoss
to serve. Maybe it will find its niche
in such an expansive, ever-changing game with so many style
s of play.
StarCraft is badass.
Until then, it'll just be two wasted Dark Templar