This is something I came up with long ago when I was playing at D level on ICCup as a cute/fun idea, but I think it has a lot of potential against the modern style of +1 5 rax build, so I would like to share what I’ve been working on with so far so that maybe some better players can pick it up, refine it, and hopefully upgrade this thread to the level of a proper build guide
Like pretty much every ZvT build, this aims to tech a quick tech advantage over Terran in order to secure a third while getting to hive. However, by adding ensnare to the mix, it gives Zerg the ability to kill off much larger groups of MM than would normally be possible, since lurker/ling will clean up any small to mid-sized groups of ensnared bio very easily, and hence be able to push out onto the map more aggressively (and crucially, while taking much fewer losses). At the same time, the early Queen’s Nest allows Zerg to start hive before the third base is taken, which in turn gets the Nydus up the moment the Hatchery finished for a nice eco boost while defilers are on the way, after which it becomes a typical transition to late game.
The biggest advantage of using Ensnare over pure Lurker however is that it allows you to fight marines with much fewer Zerglings and spend those larvae on drones instead, while still getting a third and very fast Hive tech.
The early game plays out pretty much like every other 3 hatch build; do what you gotta do to stay alive and/or keep Terran guessing. It should be obvious, but if Terran is going for any kind factory/starport opening, you should not use this and respond appropriately. Keeping your early lings alive is quite important to scout if you’re being threatened before your tech is ready, so I would recommend against trying to get cute with runbys and the like. This build is kinda tight on minerals, so you really don’t want to be forced to make sunkens because you allowed Terran to move out freely.
Standard 3 Hatch opening (I recommend making one or two extra drones between your third hatchery and first Extractor)
100 gas: Lair
100 gas: Zergling Speed + Extractor
Faster Lurkers, Hydralisks out a little while before Lurker upgrade:
~80 gas: Hydralisk Den
100% Lair: Lurker Aspect, Queens Nest, Overlord, 4 Hydralisks
100% Queen’s Nest: 2 Queens, Overlord, Ensnare
Faster Queens, Hydralisks out just before Lurker upgrade
~120 gas: Hydralisk Den
100% Lair Queen’s Nest (save for Lurker upgrade)
100% Den: Lurker Aspect, Overlord
100% Queen’s nest: 2 Queens, Overlord, 4 Hydralisks, Ensnare
In both versions, get up to a control group of lings somewhere between 26 and 40 supply, and it’s probably a good idea send them to check for marines at your desired third. You should be able to scout the Terran main as soon as your Queens are out; they’re as fast as Mutalisks, so you should be able to avoid marines without dying, and if turrets are keeping you out, that’s good news too. The main things to look out for is if Terran is getting a fast factory/starport with only 2-3 barracks, in which case you’ll need to get a spire sooner, or add a few extra Queens for Spawn Broodling if he’s going for fast tanks.
Mid Game (lurkers done/morphing, ensnare ready)
If Terran is too passive, you can simply walk up to his natural with your Lurker/Ling/Queen force to contain him while getting your third and hive immediately, and if his defense is weak, you might be able to break him by ensnaring his army and optionally the mineral line (to stop him from surrounding his bunker), but be careful, since you already have the advantage at this point.
If he’s out on the map, you’ll need to build a few more lurkers and enough sunks to defend (if you haven’t already) before taking your third base (you can start your hive after making a few hydralisks), so that you can hunt down his army without dying to a counter attack. Alternatively, you can attempt to threaten his natural to force his army back while you send lurkers to your third, however you do run the risk of being flanked, so be wary of that.
Look for opportunities to get off a good ensnare and kill his army, but don’t be careless and waste them. At the same time, don’t be too greedy with them either; if you just need those extra 10 seconds to stay alive for dark swarm, do what you gotta do.
As soon as you feel safe enough to do so, send out a drone to your third and upgrade to Hive, but don’t forget to build a Spire in time for Starport tech. Continue to reinforce with Lurkers as needed, maintain 1-2 groups of lings (in total), and spend all the rest of the larvae on drones, much like with 3 hatch muta. If you manage to set up a decent contain without losing any Lurkers (and especially if you haven’t used any Queen energy), you can of course research broodling to snipe the tanks that he will absolutely have to get to have any hope of busting out. On Fighting Spirit, if you send a drone to your third and start Hive at the same time, your Nydus will finish at about the same time as the hatchery if you get them both asap. From here, continue on into your typical late game ZvT. If you get Hive right after morphing your first 4 Lurkers, you can have consume finished around the 10:00 mark.
These are some of the games I’ve had on the ladder using this strategy. It’s far from any kind of high level play, but I think they do demonstrate the overall idea, including how things can go wrong, and/or in some cases, glaring weaknesses and mistakes in my play.
1) First time trying this build on the ladder against a weaker player. It went on much longer than necessary, though it was a fun game (for me at least).
2) Here I tried sending 2 of the initial lurkers to defend the ramp. I also messed the control of the rest of my army at his natural quite badly, despite getting a really good ensnare. Even if I did control it better, I think I still would've lost both Lurkers and forced to retreat. This is why it's better to keep them together and send the second round of Lurkers to the third instead (if you need to).
3) In this game, against a stronger player, I messed up quite a bit by not getting my second gas and generally delying my tech too much. Although I cleared out the bio outside my natural with ease, I got too hasty in trying to ensnare and kill his army and lost all my lurkers. I also should've sent my army down so that I could protect my third while pushing him back. From there I was on the back foot and I got choked out of the game.
4) After defending a bunker rush and bust attempt, I ended up in a very good position, but just didn't realize how little he had defending his natural, and eventually the lack of drop defense cost me the game as I was too focused on containing him. I also made too few drones and too many lings, so I couldn't saturate my third and fourth bases properly (I only had 21 drones on mineral at 11 min), and my defilers could've been a little earlier too.
5) A short and sweet win, capitalizing on my opponent's mistakes. He made turrets defend against mutalisks, had no bunkers in the front, and seemed to not be paying attention to his marines, so there isn't too much say about this one, except that I had a better sense of being able to go for the kill.
6) A win against a higher ranked player going +1 5 rax. Although I won this one fairly convincingly in the end, there were still things I could've done better (other than finishing him off after he let all his marines and medics die). My hive and third could've been a full 90 seconds sooner if had started them after morphing Lurkers, the second ensnare only hit 2 medics, and most importantly, I could've died to that drop and should've easily had scourge in time. Luckily none of that cost me the game and I was able to hold the contain at his bridge long enough to get defilers there, and he gg'd once I started swarming his natural.
If you have any ideas on how to improve the build or gameplan, please share, though I would implore you to try it out yourself first. I also have no idea how Terran should respond to this strategy, so input on that would also be really helpful for further refinement.
And thanks for reading!
edit: added replay link to game 6