Zerg Guide By Ahzz
========================= Introduction ============================
(Note: Macro means managing your resources, building units etc in general, while micro means controlling your units in battles in general. Secondly, for those doubting this guide, I can play zerg, aside from zvz, at A- or A level if I put effort to my game.)
First off, for those better players around there. This is mostly meant to teach stuff for less experienced players, though experienced players can get something out of it too but.. Well, what I'm trying to say is, that if I say that you shouldn't concentrate on cool micro, it means that you should ONLY concentrate on better micro etc if you have enough speed and multitasking, which most of the people who read this do not.
There are several ways to start the game. Some are better at something else than others etc. Well, let's skip that crap and move to business shall we?
-A good amount of drones is usually 1½ times the amount of mineral patches +3 for gas. So for example, if an expansion spot has 8 mineral patches and a vespene gas, then a nice amount of drones would be 12 at minerals and 3 at gas. This is, of course, in general. If you're making a power build or something, you can have several more drones on minerals.
-Keep your overlords around the map. Especially if you have speed. If you dont have speed, it might be too dangerous to send them around, so in that case just keep them at safe-ish positions and around your expansions and bases. This way you can still spot any harassment and attack attempts and somehow defend against them. One could say that this brings great danger to the overlords and shouldnt be done. However, if you ask me, it brings much greater danger to them if you keep them clumped at one place, you wont be able to spot harassment attempts (for eample, shuttles with dark templars to kill your expansion, or instead of dark templars, high templars to kill all your workers in matter of seconds), and they will be in great danger against units like corsairs. Besides, it's easy to bring a few hydralisks in case of an early harassment attempt. Also, if you keep your overlords around, you will have quicker detection for cloaked units such as dark templars. And if you have speed, just send your overlords to any strategic positions such as expansions, choke points, places he might attack you from etc. They are fast, you can escape with them from almost anything, and they have 200 hp. And even if you lose one, you will win much more as you know EXACTLY where he is, where he's attacking from, and usually his army size too, so you will know wether its worth to attack his army just yet or not.
Trust me, every good player does this, and its totally worth it. watch any high level replays, you wont find a single game where this isn't the case.
-Zerg needs more expansions than terran or protoss to be able to fight them in general. In theory, "to win for sure" you need two times the expansions he has, and to be able to fight him rather well you need one more expansion. Of course, it's not always like this, but Zerg players should keep this as an guideline to really understand the importance of having more expansions. Also remember that gas is more important to zerg than other races, as the zerg is the most gas consuming. You got to weigh the options when expanding, either taking a safe mineral only expansion, or perhaps a bit more risky expansion that is worth more. Also, since gas expansions are much more valuable, your opponent will scout them more often.
Remember, even if you have the correct amount of expansions the very moment, the least you should still expand is another expansion when your previous one has decent amount of workers. The Zerg can never have too many expansions.
-Atleast against terran and protoss, Zerg needs to keep his army around the map (also called MAP CONTROL) for various reasons. That way you get faster defense for any harassment attempts at your exapansions for example, you will have you army ready for flank the very moment he moves out, and its harder for your opponent to know your army's size. The Zerg has weak units in general and they rely on their quantities, therefore A flank and some general and simple micro such as burrow lurkers, dark swarm, or moving your units just a bit to prevent your opponents escape is in general all you will need. except hydras against psionic storms for example. That is pretty intense stuff, since you have to predict perfectly where and when your opponent is going to throw a psi storm, how many storms he has, where to dodge, etc etc. Such knowledge can be acquired through experience and practise. However, for lower skilled people just spreading out your hydras is enough.
-Hotkey your hatcheries. The zerg has least amount of production buildings, so it's well possible for them. Also, the larvas piling up is another advantage. Personally, I prefer 0,9,8,7,6,5 etc for hatcheries. In the late game as I have even 6+ groups of units, I choose units before production buildings, since both of us will be battling with such large armies a single battle can change the course of the entire game.
Guidelines for using Hatcheries
-Even while you're only doing macro at your main, I, atleast, still prefer using hotkeys to build drones and units. It's faster than using your mouse. The only thing I have to do is 0sd9sd8sd or something along the lines, and the hatcheries I want to are building drones.
-One could say that these hotkeys suck as they're hard to reach. However, personally I think that using units at easy reach is much more important, if I want to macro, I can do whatever 0sh9sh8sz7sz6sz in an second if I release my hold of my mouse. Right after that I bring my hand back to my mouse. With experience you will start doing this automatically without thinking and disturbing ANYTHING you will know the exact moments..
-Always keep building your units. Dont forget it for an second. While your units are moving to the location you wish to, go and do your 0sz9sz8sh7sh whatsoever again. Also, since bigger battles do take quite a while, you should do this hatcery hotkey stuff every time before a battle, during a battle unless its very intense, and right after the battle. If you have too many groups of units, it's a bit more tricky. However, in that case you should usually have ultralisk tech ready already, and really, it's the fastest way to spend huge amounts of money. Choose a good time and go back to your base and build ultralisks from as many hatcheries as you can. poof, all your money was spent in seconds.
-Remember, once an expansion has good amount of drones, it becomes a unit production building. Sometimes its good to leave the rally point close to the expansion, You can then take it any time you wish, and it will provide better defense for the expansion.
-The more you have extra money, the more expansions you make, unless you already have alot of them already or something. It's hard to give a guideline for this, but one could be... 2 expansions = 5 hatcheries, 3 expansions = 6-7 hatcheries, 4 expansions = ... even more. If you have plenty of expansions and plenty of money, of course you make more expansions, but what's more important is to get alot of units and fast. You do nothing with expansions if they get destroyed before they can be used, and you cant defend them unless you have units. But you could say that if you have enough expansions to fight him, you could spend most of your extra money for extra unit production hatcheries. Depends, but yeah. Also do not forget that usually once an expansion has the appropriate amount of drones, it becomes an unit production hatchery.
-In early game, especially in zvp, a zerg will be able to fend off a protoss attack without huge trouble even if the zerg ONLY starts to prepare once the protoss is about to move out. If you have 1 sunken colony and 6 lings, and protoss is starting to move out and you place 1-2 extra sunks and spend all larva on lings, you will be able fend off almost any attack especially if you pull your drones to help as well. Unless they specifically target the drones, they will just try to attack lings/sunkens so it might give you several free hits plus other bonuses which is why its quite powerful as a defense.
-When playing zerg, you just about always scout with your ninth drone. If your opponent plays random, you MAY scout at seventh or eighth drone. Unless you know what your opponents race is, you have to start off with a pool build. Otherwise its too risky.
Note: The build orders I give are just something to lead you to the correct timing. It could be an ideal situation, so you gotta see how you act if the situation does not happen to be ideal. In general, I don't really follow all build orders that closely. Personally, I just make the buildings when I got the money for it. Of course I send the worker a bit beforehand, so I can build it the instant I receive 300 minerals for example. In most of the cases anyway.
========================= ZvP ============================
pros: May catch opponent off guard, forces him to make more and faster defense, you have defense for any kind of rush, pretty much.
cons: not too great early economy (not THAT bad either, but still)
(Another variation of this build would be to keep the extractor and make zergling speed early on, making it even more powerful of a rush, or if it fails, you can use zergling speed to stop any scouting units with ease. However, this takes a lot more money, and it might not be quite as good in some cases for that reason)
9/9 spawning pool
10/9 extractor trick (take a drone, morph it to extractor, build another drone, and then cancel the extractor and you have 10/9 drones
pressure with lings unless he already has defense you cant easily break up. If he has 2 zealots at ramp (2 gate build by protoss), dont attack. Leave them at his choke point so you can see the moment he moves out, and kill and scouts they might send. Same goes if they make fast expo and have 2 cannons up, or probes blocking the way and 1 cannon. if its only 1 cannon, then attack with the zerglings. you should still have 3-4 lings left after finishing off the cannon. If you're confident with your multitasking and micro, you might want to keep sending zerglings and finish the game right there and then, or atleast gain a huge advantage, or just settle with dealing some damage to gain a small advantage while pumping drones yourself, gaining superior economy. This is what I usually prefer to do. Instead of taking a huge risk of just keeping on, why not leave it at that and take a huge lead? Of course I dont give up the very moment im about to gain the advantage, you keep going on for a moment, but remember to not get too greedy.
now there are different ways of continuing after making the lings etc... You can possibly make an ultra fast spire to completely catch him off guard, especially if you dealt some damage with your lings, or perhaps 3 hatchery zerglings to simply mass over him, though it pretty much only works if he made an fast expansion. Another option is to just continue safe and normal, making an expansion after you make your lings, keep making drones, and after you have enough money, make a third hatchery. If he made an fast expansion, make the third hatchery to a new expansion spot in most cases.
pros: better economy than 9 pool, able to defend against rushes pretty well.
Cons: a bit slow hatcheries, 5-10 seconds slower than 9 pool
(just like in 9 pool, in overpool you can build a gas at 10 supply as well to make ling speed.)
9/9 drones (ninth drone to scout)
expand when you have the money, send a drone beforehand,
14or15/17 lings (thats 8 or 10 lings). You will make lings appropriately depending on his build order and army size when needed, of course. You will use these lings to either shut him down if he's going 14 nexus fast expand, or if he's playing safe just kill his scouting probe and bring lings to choke to see when he moves out etc.
make a third hatchery somewhat over here. If you dont have the money yet, just make it when you do. If he fast expanded place it to your second expansion.
17or18/18 overlord (im supposing that your second hatch already popped out)
make a sunken colony now, it will kill scouting probes and since you're 18/18 anyway you will have to wait a while for the overlord to finish. This way you will be able to build another drone and no larva is wasted
Make a fourth hatchery when you have spare money while keeping on making drones and doing w/e tech you wish
pros: VERY fast lings, kills almost any protoss fast expansion unless they're aware of it early on or map distances are large, gives a rather good economy even though you wouldnt expect it, you can also laugh your ass off at idiots who whine after the game for being stupid enough not to realize its potential
Cons: If it fails miserably you will have hard time, if he makes gateways instead of normal fast expand you will have very hard time, or if he finds out about it almost instantly you will have a hard time.
This build order is extremely underestimated, however, it only works on maps which you'd expect the toss to fast expand.
6/9 spawning pool
6/9 drones, send 1 to scout.
do the extractor trick and morph 2 more lings
attack with the lings and make an overlord when you have the money.
Once your ovie pops out you make a few more drones and after that expo when you have the money. More drones and third hatch to second expo if he fe'd. Even more drones and do w/e you wish. I'd recommend 4 hatch start with this build tho. Make lings and sunks when needed.
The micro with lings:
when your lings arrive his cannons most likely will not be up yet, but they should be up rather soon. If they're not up and you're pretty sure you could kill them, go for it. If he has pulled several probes to block/kill your lings, see if there's a path which you could use to run to his main before cannons pop out. If there is no such path, use right click to make your lings attack 1 probe at a time. This is the thing, really, his cannons will most likely pop out before you could kill them or run past if this is the case, which it will be in most cases, but with this build you will kill like, at least 6 probes of his before the cannons actually come out. That will slow him down so much that you wont even be behind. Since you did a fast rush like this he will be completely paranoid and playing extra safe making his economy even worse, while you're just making drones. Even if you dont do well at all with this build, you should be able to do well enough that you wont be behind, but very few actually understand this.
Vs 1/2 gateway:
in the case that protoss went 1/2 gateway build and you went 6 pool, you wont be having any instant win moments like you might have when fighting against fast expansion. However, your goal is to deal as much damage as possible.
Your lings should arrive around the same time that his first zealot pops out. If he knows a bit what he's doing, he should have pulled around 7 probes or so to help that zealot while building a new one. Now, you CANNOT fight this army head on. You got to wait till they're in some sort of a line and scattered around, and then pick off lone probes one at a time. If he gets careless at any moment and his zealot gets separated, surround it and kill it. If you're able to do this, it might be gg already. Vs 1 gateway you will have far easier time than 2 gateway because if he went 1 gateway you wont have to fight a big counterattack after the rush, and he wont have that many zealots to chase your lings. In any case, try to kill off as many probes as possible. Possibly destroy the pylon that powers the gateway if you feel like it would be good and you have the chance to do so.
pros: quite safe against rushes, just overall good economy, most likely able to kill scouting probe before it sees anything big
cons: your lings most likely wont be able to deal any sort of damage, not quite as good economy as 12 hat, balancing drones and lings might get troublesome against rush builds your enemy makes.
(like in 9 pool or overpool, you can make an extractor after your spawning pool, but in that case you wont have quite as good economy etc.)
9/9 drones, send ninth drone to scout
(either gas here or gas later)
12 hatchery at expansion (unless he's doing proxy gates or some weird stuff)
14/17 6 lings (you can make a few more if you wish/need)
third hatch around here unless you're going very fast tech to spire or lurkers
overlord around here too
more drones, possibly place a sunken colony
w/e you wish now. (of course not random shit)
pros: just about best possible economy for early game zerg, quite safe if you save larva for lings, very standard build (perhaps most popular too)
cons: your opponent can play a bit risky and doesn't have to watch out for anything, can have trouble fighting against proxy gates or really fast gates
2nd hat at expansions
either you make a gas here if you're going for fast tech, or later. If you make gas here, your third hatchery wont be yet.
13/14 third hat to second expo if he fe'd
make 6-10 lings
drones till 17/18
a new overlord at 17/18
you can build sunken colony here if you wish
continue with w/e tech/unit build
pros: You get to fast expand, you're VERY safe from almost anything, even fast gateways, you will get extremely fast 10 lings which will kill your opponent if he's careless.
Cons: not quite as good economy, have to think more about things, and balancing your economy out may be troublesome.
10/9 drones (extractor trick)
send 2 drones to your expansion after your tenth drone pops out, build an hatchery and send the other one to scout (doing it this way makes it easier to build the hatchery if his worker comes on the way)
10/9 spawning pool (yes, extractor trick again)
10/9 extractor trick again
save larva for lings when your pool pops out. You will be able to bring 10 lings at a time, and if your opponent went 14 nexus fast expand you might be able to kill him off if he's careless. After this you just keep making drones and overlord when you cant make more drones, also make third hatch when you have the money (to second exp if he fe'd) Keep making more drones and tech when you wish etc. (ofc not too late)
I will skip 3 and 4 hatchery before pool builds against protoss fast expo since it's really difficult to balance out the drones and lings well enough for it to work. Once you're better you can find out yourself, or if you're already better you know of it already and know how to do it)
9 Pool into fast Spire
Basically, you make gas around same time you start your lings or around the time you do the 10/9 trick, except that instead of doing the trick, you make it to the end. Start mining gas from the geyser, around the time you make your first lings, you should also have around 100/100 extra... make ling speed with those. Now keep making a few lings so that you can add a bit more pressure, and once you have enough money, make a lair. Also make some more drones at this point. If he has a good defense up (3 cannons or so, or zealots blocking the ramp) don't try to get in and waste your units. If he has less defense, feel free to try and run in and kill whatever stuff you can. After that, it depends if he expects mutalisks or not. Now, it's ESPECIALLY important that he cant scout you at ANY point of the game. Very important. If he does, it's obvious you're making a fast lair, and its over. You cant deal damage anymore after that. Keeping it secret is hard, and if you're too secretive and seem to be missing something, he will become suspicious, so this is hard to pull off. depends how much extra money you have, but make your second hatchery to the expansion, after your mutas the LATEST (you should have money for it earlier too, anyway). This build is very risky and its basically all-in. If you deal a lot of damage, good for you, if you dont, you've lost the game.
3 Hatch Zerglings
Second hatchery to your expansion, and third to second expansion. Basically you keep making zerglings with speed, and after you have around 24+, depending of his defense, you attack. Now, it's also very important that he doesn't know about this. If he does, it's over. It's easy for him to make 4-5 cannons an a few zealots and probes, and there's nothing you can do. And again, this only might work against fast expand. or atleast, then it has highest chance of working. Otherwise it's quite easy to block the ramp and build a cannon or two and its hard to get through unless he becomes careless.
2/3 Hatch Hydra all in
Basically this build is making a very fast hydralisk den with 2 or 3 hatcheries and having rather few drones and spending all of the money on hydralisks and their upgrades. This works best against fast expand. Basically if your opponent is able to scout this, you will most likely lose since he will just canno up and you will have far inferior of an economy. However, if he cant predict in time you might be able to just run over him.
The 'safe' builds:
Instead of going for a fast cheese build, you can just play it safe, stop ling production after first 6-10 unless he's adding a huge load of pressure with zealots, take an expansion pretty soon afterwards, and maybe throw in another hatchery while making drones. If he started off with a 2 gate build or so and you feel like he's making a lot of zealots or something along the lines, you may want to place a sunken colony early on, and maybe make a creep colony or two beforehand if you're quite sure he will be attacking soon. Just making an creep colony saves money and they morph to sunken colonies extremely fast, so you will be safe this way. However, don't forget that each sunken colony costs you 175 minerals (you lose a drone) and if we take to account how much money that drone could gather, it means you lose about 200 minerals for each sunken colony you make, so you should be aware of this and weigh the options.
Basically you have 4 decent options along with a few less common builds which you can figure out later yourself. You probably wont need em for a while.
The zerg, unlike the protoss, can make a million different variations of each build, and its the same over here. They can for example either make a quick lair straight after second hatch and maybe even add drop ugprade coming as well, or they can just start lair a bit after their thitd hatch in which case they will have good economy, able to fight fast pressure builds without things getting complicated, spare money for additional things like upgrades, lings, and maybe even another epxansion, and so on. Once again you have to weigh the options and look at whats happened so far in the game. If you think it will work out, then you can go for it, but going for it when its just been a basic game so far and both are playing safe is usually not worth it.
Thats why I'd recommend safe builds for you now.
The lurker tech:
Let us suppose we're playing safe. First off, think what your opponent has done, did he fast expand or is he still in his base, doing either 1 or 2 gate build or something. If he fast expanded you gain a huge load if you can make a quicker carapace than your opponent can make an +1 weapons, since if the protoss only has +1 he will kill zerglings with 2 hits, but if the zerg has a carapace upgrade it will take three hits. You may have noticed that progamers rarely rush to quite quick evolution chambers, but I recommend that you still try to get a quicker upgrade than your opponent because you don't have progamer gaming sense, micro, macro, or timings, and thus not making the upgrade will punish you a lot more. Okay, you KNOW he's getting a quicker upgrade, that's fine, you just have to play a bit different. For example now making slow tech and making a lot of lings could be bad since his zealots are like, twice stronger than before against your lings. So either you make fast tech or you go hydra. That's what I usually do anyway.
In this case we're talking about lurker tech. In any case, you should start your lair pretty quickly after your third hatch, either with the upgrade before or after the lair, however you fancy and feel. It also depends on how much spare money and gas you have. Your scouting ovies or lings/drones should have seen if they're making a stargate or just templar tech. If he did a stargate first, you might want to place your hydralisk den a bit beforehand, for example right after you start your lair so you can save as many overlords as possible. Otherwise you will be fine with starting it when your lair is about 50% done. Also start your second gas around the same time you start your lurker aspect upgrade. Since you most likely have been just making drones till now, you should be having somewhat nice number of them around already. You should start ling production at this point. Remember to also add your fourth hatch when you have the money. If you dont have a second expansion yet, you could add it there. Keep making lings and make a bit of hydralisks beforehand so that the instant you get lurker aspect you can morph around 6 lurkers or so. Now, you should be watching out for a few things. First off, if he's making some sort of a zealot rush, you should be defending your expansions and making sure that you know where his army is and when. Bring your lurkers to help if needed, and sunken up, but dont overdo it. If your army can already beat his army as it is, no point wasting money on sunken colonies. You only add them if you believe you cannot beat his army otherwise or you'd have trouble defending your expansions. I recommend starting a spire after your first lurkers pop out too. Also make overlord speed when you have the money. Now, he SHOULD be in his base, and he most likely has his natural.
There are a few things you need to look out for. First off, could he have observers yet, and second, how many cannons does he have and at what locations. If you think you will be able to destroy his cannons and he doesnt have observers, go for it. If you're able to do this, its pretty much gg since there's not much he can do against your lurkers when he has no detection. However, you shouldn't do this uselessly. If you think you might not be able to pull it off, dont try. If you lose your army at this point, especially if you started off with lurkers, you will also lose your map control, he might be free to take another expansion, and your army will most likely be inferior overall.
Let's suppose you did NOT attack. You should spread your lurkers at his choke point so that he wont get more than 1-2 with a storm. Also bring some overlords close by so no dark templars will sneak by, and you will be able to see if he has observers and so on. If you're making a spire like I recommended, using scourges to kill off harassing shuttles and killing observers will slow him down a lot. Also, make double evolution chamber, if you haven't already. Upgrade carapace and melee attack, since thats what you will need in late game and probably the best now too. Expand and make more unit production hatcheries with your spare money. Also keep making more units and bringing more and more lurkers to the choke point, making it harder for him to pass by every moment. Also make a queens nest for hive.
Now, since you're making a lurker block you have to be extra careful not to suddenly lose everything for free because you're putting a huge part of your game on this build. Basically the goal is to keep him in base long enough for you to get hive tech and even ultralisks if possible. Adrenal glands for zerglings improve them two fold, so its important not to make too late hive in ZvP. Also, once he breaks out you also have to make sure that he will lose a large portion of his army too, because if he doesnt he can just run over you. Usually at this point every zerg has to sunken up his main and exps appropriately. Also, if you've kept him in his main a decent time, his mineral will be close to running out, so its especially important to stop him for getting new expansions without trouble.
My most common lurker build: (only vs protoss fe)
starting off with either pool build or 12 hatchery fast expand, it doesnt really matter. Also fast third hatchery to second expo. Keep making drones and make a fourth hatchery when you have the money, also start a gas the moment you start your fourth hatchery. If you made a pool build, start it a bit before your fourth. Also make some lings when spawning pool pops out. Keep making drones and start to gather gas. Make an evolution chamber when you start gathering ags as well, and as fast carapace as possible. With this build your opponent most likely will NOT have faster upgrade than you. Keep gathering gas and making more drones, also make lair and ling speed when you have the gas. Start a second gas after ling speed. Make a hydralisk den when lair is at 50%. You should now dedicate around 3 hatcheries for ling production, while one hatchery makes drones. You can also make ovie speed, second evolution chamber, and spire when you have spare money. With this build you will have faster upgrade, and you will have enough lings to kill off ANY rush he makes, even if its something like 6 gateways mass speed zealot rush. You can also expand again once you have a decent amount of lings. Especially once you fend off his attack. Once your lurkers come, set a lurker block and use lings as well to keep him away and check for any exps. Keep adding units and make hive as well. Possibly expand once again after a while.
4 hatch hydra:
This is basically making 4 hatcheries and a gas a bit after the fourth hatchery. Of course making drones all the time before this besides for the few lings. And if he fast expanded, you place third hatch to second expo. Once you have the gas you make a hydralisk den, start hydra speed and start making hydralisks. Also start a second gas. Keep making hydras for a while... You most likely will not end the game with this, but thats possible too if he's careless. Start a lair when you have spare gas, and if you have plenty of spare gas make hydra range and double evolution chambers for ugprades (even tho you make hydras for now, you will still upgrade melee attack instead of missile). Also, this would be a good time to make more drones if some of your expansions do not have enough and expo again.
Once your lair pops out make ovie speed, lurker aspect, and if not already, zergling speed. Keep making units, and keep him contained for now. Watch out for high templars though.
If you're not able to keep him contained, at least make sure he doesnt get expansions for free, or if you don't think you can stop him, take an expansion or two yourself.
Let's suppose he didn't break out of your hydra contain. Once your lurker aspect finishes, morph as many hydras to lurkers as possible. Start a lurker contain, and have some overlords close by. This is a bit different from the previous lurker contain because this time you may not be using scourges at all. Instead, the moment your overlord spots an observer, you move in with your hydras and focusfire on it and instantly run away, while brining more units and teching up, upgrading, etc. remember to make a lot of lurkers. You can also bring scourges but its semi-optional.
3 or 4 hat muta build:
Basically you start off the same as if you're going the lurker build I explained before (4 hatch and gas instantly after fourth hatch) except that instead of evolution chamber, you will be making a a lair. (you can also start gas after third hatchery, but you will have slightly worse economy then) Also make a speed after that, and start your second gas. If you wish, you can make an evolution chamber for carapace now as well. If you do it now, It MIGHT get in time.
The good thing about this build is that you will be able to get a good amount of drones, a good economy, and its rather safe and basic build overall. Another good thing is that they might not predict this build as mutalisks since this will be so late. However, because this IS so late, they will have archon(s) and high templars with storm, and POSSIBLY 1-2 cannons, and thus it might not deal a huge load of damage. That won't necessarily make your situation worse though, since you have good economy. Meanwhile you have two options: Either you make mass hydra and use mutas to kill off his high templars, or you go with the 'safe' thing which would be lurker tech. Remember to add a second evo and possibly tech up while taking a new expansion while doing this build. The danger of going mass hydra after this build is that if you're actually not able to take his high templars or if your macro screwed up, he will just be able to run over you unless you have good micro. That's why its risky.
So most of the time I'd just make lurker/ling/muta/scourge at this point, and using overlords with speed to pick off any observers with both muta and scourge. Try and set a lurker contain if possible using mutas/scourges to pick off observers as long as possible.
5 hatchery mass: (only vs protoss fe)
Basically you can do this when you start off with almost anything, but personally I'd recommend that you start off with a pool build, either 9, 9 overpool, or 12 pool. This way you can kill his scouting probe so he will be wondering a bit what you're doing, you will be safe from rushes, and you will force him to cannon up a bit and delaying his nexus and gateways and so on. After your first lings expand, and then just keep making drones and adding hatcheries. Add your third hatchery to your second expansion. Once you have 5 hatcheries you take both of your gasses. While making more drones. This build is very strong for several reasons; You can make a huge amount of lings any time since you will have so many hatcheries so you wont have trouble with early attacks. You will also have so many hatcheries that in just a few moments all your expansions will be running at full speed. In any case, with this build you have two good options:
Either you go mass hydra, which gives you a strong mid game but weaker late game, or just go mass ling/lurker to fast ultra which is sort of weak mid game but strong late game. The ling/lurker to fast hive/ultra also requires more gaming sense, while the hydra is something almost anyone can do.
If you decided to go with hydra:
make a hydra den when you have the gas, once it pops out you do hydralisk speed and start full hydralisk pump from 5 hatcheries. By this point all your expansions will have plenty of drones and you will just be able to pump hydras from 5 hatcheries. Just keep pumping hydras, also get range once speed finishes. The reason this is so strong is that even if the toss went 6 gateway mass speed zealots he cant do a thing about it. You will have 3 times the hydras and they will just die. They can't expand either, but if they do you can just run over the expansions with pure mass. If he gets careless at all, you can just run over his whole base if he doesnt have enough cannons/storm. Basically the only good thing he can do is cannon up, make high templars rather quick, and gather up his army, and then burst out. Which really isn't a bad thing for him since at that point he can cast storm so many times that hydras wont do much, therefore if that DOES happen the zerg has to stop making hydras for a while, tech up, and get dual evo upgrades while taking an expansion or two and maybe a few more drones before continuing unit pump again. Naturally they have to make lurkers as well and all. Then it becomes gaming sense/macro battle. The reason why this build isnt so strong at this point is that the zerg wont have as good upgrades, and thus toss doesnt even need that many units. Secondly, zerg wont have hive tech, and he wont have cracklings or ultras whatsoever, he only has to beat tosses army with pure mass pretty much, which can be hard. Especially if zerg wasnt able to contain the toss.
If you decided to go with ling/lurker -> fast ultra
Basically with this ling build as well you will have extremely strong economy, and a huge amount of lings. Even if toss makes a zealot rush, it shouldnt be a big problem because there will be 4 lings to each zealot, unless the toss did some 5/6 gateway mass zealot thing, in which case you have to sunken up.
Basically it goes like this;
dual evolution chamber and hydra den
lair, also ling speed and dual carapace/melee
make a few hydras so you can kill off corsair harass
also at this point or a bit before you need to start making lings. Besides, all your expansions should have plenty of drones. Also make ovie speed/lurker aspect upgrade when possible.also make a queens nest for hive/crackling/ultras. Keep making lings. He will probably either try to take an expo, or attack with his stuff, which you shouldn't have any problem stopping. After you've got some lings up you can expo pretty freely I'd say. Also, since you will be doing so heavy ling build and only quite few lurkers, you will have a lot of money and that means a lot of unit production hatcheries. You will have so many lings that you shouldnt have any problems if you sacrifice even 20 lings to stop his expansions from time to time. But basically, you cant let him expo now. You wont have enough lurkers and your ultras wont be up yet, so you need to make sure he doesnt get many expoes when the game gets to late game. Once you start to get more ultra/ling you should be quite safe.
The mass ling/hydra/lurker/defiler
This isn't a very common build mainly because it needs very good macro to work well and not bad micro so that your hydras and lurkers wont be wasted to few psionic storms. Basically you can do this even if you started with anything, you just need to start 3 evolution chambers rather early and getting all ling/hydra upgrades. That includes getting cracklings as well. You need defilers later on, but they're not in as big of a hurry. You're basically gonna be making a huge load of hydra/ling and lurkers with any spare gas that you have, having total map control and superior upgrades over your opponent, totally swarming him.Later on with defilers you will plague his army and use dark swarm and lings/lurkers to your advantage against expansion cannons, dragoons, and archons. Later on you should switch to ultra ling hydra though.
That's pretty much it for the ZvP part. I'll still list the goals for each time of the game.
The goal is to survive, keep your tech hidden as well as possible, get an expansion (or against fast expansion 2 exps) up, and get as good economy as possible.
The goal is to not let your opponent take any free hidden expansions. You need to make sure his probes didnt sneak to cannon up a ramp or choke and so on. This is quite important. You also need to get your tech up and running, make sure you're not too inferior upgrade-wise, have good economy, and start massing units.
The goal is to outexpand your opponent and take down his expansions while protecting your own. You want to have ultras, lings, defilers and so on and several hatcheries pumping units non stop. You need to keep map control, and you cannot let your opponent to get any expansions for free. You also got to be aware of his late game tech, which could be arbiters, corsair/dt, or reavers. Or possibly just mass archons which is extremely deadly.
======================= ZvT =========================
if in ZvP it is important to have good macro, then in ZvT aside from macro its important to have good timings/gaming senses.
Basically most of the opening build orders are same for terran and protoss, but there are a few changes and exceptions. For example 6 pool is pretty much out of the question, and making a quick speed on ZvT is almost like making all in zerglings. It's far more risky, because if he blocks it, and why wouldnt he if he has firebats, stimpacks, medics, or scvs blocking, the game is just about over. Making ling speed is fine, but not on the early game unless you plan on really swarming his first M&m attack, destroying his fast expo build, or something along the lines. But basically thats almost all in, so you shouldn't do it too often unless you have a reason to do so.
Also, unlike ZvP, in ZvT you need faster tech, and you dont need as fast upgrades in general. If your lurkers for example are too late against a decent terran, you wont be able to even move out properly, and not even expand once without it being taken out pretty quickly. And if your mutas are too late, you wont deal any damage at all and his science vessel will be up pretty soon so the damage will be even smaller.
That being said, there are two ways to start an average ZvT game, either go lurkers, or go mutas. However, there are very many variations of these. Let's go through them.
1 base build:
Basically this is all in build, you start off with a 9 pool speedlings, make very quick lair and very quick lurkers. You try to deal as much damage as possible with the lings until your lurkers come out. When they do come out you try to end the game. If you're not quite able to, take an expansion up while making drones/keeping adding more lurkers. You might get a chance to break him once you have enough lurkers. Against decent players you dont have too big of a chance of winning with this one unless you're lucky
2 hatchery muta rush:
You either start off with a fast pool or 12 hat, make a very fast lair and speed for lings shortly after. You also make a few drones meanwhile. After a while you start making lings. Start a spire when lair pops out, and when spire is 50% start your second gas. Otherwise you will have too few minerals that it will be useless to have extra gas. With the speedlings that you have been making you try to deal as much damage as possible, killing his marines, destroying missile turrets that he might be making, and overall just slowing him down. Remember to save a bit of money and larva for mutas when spire pops out. When spire DOES pop out, you make your mutas and try to deal as much damage as possible with the harass. Just make mutas and drones when you can. You have to deal quite a bit of damage, because your own economy will be quite bad meanwhile that unless you can do the equivalent amount of damage or end the game, things will be bad. Basically you either make fast guardians, or you continue with lurker build. If you've already dealed a lot of damage with mutas, and if you have several mutas left, it will be rather cheap and effective to actually just morph them to guardians. In that case you need to bring scourges too to fight off wraiths/vessels though.
If this doesn't end the game, you just have to hope you can continue the game with lurker/defiler/ling/scourge.
2 hatchery lurker build:
(first building timings almost same as 2 hat muta build)
Used in maybe 1/100 games or something. This doesn't give you a good economy, it might be hard to keep control of the game, and things might get otherwise complicated as well. In this case you need to make drop as well, otherwise it will be too difficult to deal real damage. But basically you use speedlings to slow him down, destroy marines, bunkers and so on, while making your hydralisks beforehand and possibly even bringing them to the middle of the map before the lurker upgrade finishes for faster lurkers. If he doesn't have bunkers ready by the time your lurkers arrive, you might win the game with that since your economy wont be downright horrible. If he does have bunkers etc, your hope is that your drops will be succesful. If that fails too, you might as well type gg but if you insist, you just have to keep making only drones and lurkers and expanding twice and hoping to outplay him.
3 hatchery mutas:
Works best if you start off with a 12 hatch fast expo, but it works with 12 pool/9 pool as well.
Basically, make your expansion after whatever you've been doing, either lings, pool, or just drones. Whatever you began with. Make a few drones and make your third hatchery. The same time you start your third hatch you also start your first gas. Make lings if you havent already so you can kill his scout and see when he's moving out etc. Make some more drones and possibly place a sunken colony so you'll make sure he doesn't sneak an scv scout behind your back. Make your lair as quickly as possible, and keep making drones. When your lair is about 50% done, start your second gas. You may also start ling speed around this time if you have not already. Just keep making drones for now. You may place an hydralisk den somewhere to mislead him, and then place you spire to another spot. This might buy you quite a bit of time.
Around the time you start your spire you should be having enough drones at both of your bases, so you can start ling production. Once your spire is about 1/3 done make a few overlords so you will have around 20 or more free supply by the time your spire pops out. At this point you also need to save larva. If you didn't have to sunken up, you should have enough money for a fourth hatchery, which you should place at another gas expansion. If he's been moving out with M&m, you might want to sneak the drone beforehand so you wont delay it.
Once you start your first 9 mutas you should also start a hydralisk den for lurker aspect. Your lurkers cannot be too late. You have to contain him before he can move out when your mutas cannot keep him in his base anymore. Anyway, once your you've started your hydra den, start 2 more mutas so you will have 11 alltogether. Go and harass with your 9 mutas and add 2 mutas to that group when they pop Pick off any lone marines, scvs building missile turrets, scvs in general, lone missile turrets, and so on. One thing you need to remember that if he has huge clumps of marines, do not attack. Wait for them to be in a disadvantageous position or in a line or just scattered. This is when the pros attack as well (sometimes they get greedy, and if you look closely, thats EXACTLY when they lose a lot of mutas). If you see a flaw in his defense you may bring your lings to deal some extra damage. Also, remember to make hydras in time so you can start lurkers the moment your upgrade finishes. Also remember to make a third expansion when you have the money, as well as a fourth unit production hatchery. Also send 2 lurkers to your expansions choke points so m&m alone cannot take them down. Start an evolution chamber or two while making lurkers and lings and contain him in his base till he gets science vessels. If you have several mutas left from your harass, you can place an queen nest already for hive. That way when you get a greater spire you can make guardians very cheaply. It's almost free. Also, unless you have all your 3 expansions left and map control, you will need defilers before ultras. However, if your attacks and/or pressure has been succesful, you may be able to go ultras first. Use scourge on dropships and science vessels though to delay him even further.
Remember, do NOT waste your units. He's attacking your lurkers with siege tanks? Retreat, unless you know you will overwhelm him. In ZvT especially its very important to keep absolute map control. You will need to know where your opponent is and when, how big of an army he has, and if your army could beat him, and even more, at what place your army can fight his army. You will have to look for the correct timing when to fight his army.
In any case, just keep gathering up your army, protecting your expoes and looking for the correct time to attack while getting hive tech. Usually defilers first and then ulra.
3 hatch lurkers:
Kind of same stuff as in 3 hatch muta except that you make lurkers in stead of mutas first, and you probably can't expo before you move out.
Basically, make your three hatcheries and so on while making a few lings and drones. Once your supply is around 16/17 take one gas. Make a few more drones and start an overlord. You may also start a sunken over here. Make a lair when you have enough gas and keep making drones. When your lair is about 50% done make hydralisk den, also make zergling speed. Now, you have two options. Either you make lurker drop, in which case you have to take a new gas right now, or you can just make normal lurkers and possibly add a carapace sooner, in which case you will take the gas around same time your lair finishes. In the case of lurker drop I recommend making hydralisk den instantly after you start lair so you can make a few hydra beforehand and sneak them around the map before the terran m&m contain comes so your drop wont be slowed down. It's sort of optional, but it works sometimes.
Anyway, once you start your lurker aspect you should be having quite a few drones already, so you need to start producing lings. Remember to make several hydra beforehand so your lurkers wont be slowed down.You might be able to swarm your opponents m&m army before your lurkers even come, but if he has a larger than average army or firebats, I wouldn't take the risk. In any case, once you get your lurkers , take your army and move out, drive the terran out of your way and back to his base. He can't really do much else. Also expand once or twice now, however you fancy and have money for. Keep making lurkers while you make a few more drones what your main/natural may have been missing. Also make a spire for scourge so dropships and vessels wont be a trouble. If you haven't started upgrades yet, make a double evolution chamber now.
You have two choices now. Either you depend more on your superior macro, add a new hatchery and just mass out your opponent for first 1-2 attacks, or you add a queens nest for quick hive and defilers. Either way you need to expand again if you haven't already. And even if you did go for macro style, you still need to make queens nest pretty soon for defilers and/or ultralisks. Basically try to keep your expoes while taking more of them, massing up more if possible and getting defilers. Once you get defilers defending against him will become easier though you have multitask twice as much as before. Try to drive him to his base. Later on just go ultra/ling/defiler/scourge
double expo vs 14 or 18 CC terran FE:
Ok this zerg build I thought of myself, though some other people may have used before me. It's sort of tricky, so if you have trouble balancing your drones/army in general, I don't recommend it.
Start off with 12 hatchery fe, make 11 pool, and 14 hatchery to SECOND EXPANSION. Make a few lings and then make a gas. Try to hide your second expo as well as possible, make a sunken colony early if you need to, because if he finds out about it before he even starts his CC, he can just not do it, but instead add 2-3 more barrackses and run over you. The good thing about this build is that it wont give terran any sort of economical advantage, the bad thing is that it's very macro heavy and needs a bit of experience to pull off well. Anyway, start a fourth hatchery once you have the spare money, keep making drones and make a lair first and then ling speed when you have the money/gas. Also start a hydralisk den when lair is at 50%. Remember to make a sunken colony or two to your second expo, and start making lings. All of your expoes CANNOT have enough drones yet, but you still have to know the correct time to start massing speedlings, which is why this build is tricky. Either you start making them when he moves out which could be before, or you start making them now. I recommend something like 1 hatchery for drones, and the rest for speedlings. Once he moves out, prepare your lings for a flank and absolutely rape his army. Remember to make hydras for lurkers before hand. Once you get your first lurkers, start a second gas (and third in some maps) and an evolution chamber for carapace. Contain him inside his base with lurkers, take another expansion yourself, start making another evolution chamber, tech up, make a spire, maybe add another hatchery for units and maybe a few more drones if some of your epxansions dont have enough. The just continue to mass lurkers and lings. It's all about your macro and flanking and attack timings right now, and its pretty much the same as with 3 hat lurkers, so gl.
Early game goals:
Survive, find out what he's doing, get up as good economy as your build allows, not too late tech, hide your tech as well as possible.
Mid game goals:
Get another working expansion or two, survive his first 1-2 attack while being able to keep your expansions, tech up and start upgrades now the latest.
Late game goals:
Do not let him expand for free, get a lot of your own expansions and protect them, and stop his attacks. Also get ultraling.
================== ZvZ ====================
I haven't played serious ZvZ for a while so I won't tell you the specifics like I have in ZvT/ZvP so I don't tell anything wrong. Besides, every ZvZ is different and by watching ZvZ replays you only get the vague idea. True ZvZ knowledge and gaming sense comes through experience. Also remember one thing, ZvZ is all about who makes the first mistake. That mistake will change the whole game.
Also, you pretty much always have to make gas after your spawning pool either for ling speed or just quick lair. The general goal is to get quicker spire than your opponent, but even if you do get quicker spire it doesn't necessarily mean that you will win the game, because your opponent can go mass hydra or just place a spore colony or two while having TWO HATCHERIES against your ONE, and/or simply far better economy. Every single drone counts in zvz. If your opponent has 1-2 more drones for a few minutes, you will probably kiss good bye to your victory since he will have quite a few more zerglings. ZvZ is also largely about having more lings than your opponent and copying his moves. He keeps making drones? You keep making drones, He starts making lings? You make 1 more drone and then make lings because it will take time before he arrives at your base. These guidelines are, of course, not working if you're going a ling heavy build yourself, but in that case I would expect your opponent to react somehow. Also, though making muta upgrades doesn't help you for a while, but once the game gets longer and there will be bigger mutalisk vs mutalisk battles, the winner will most likely be the one with superior upgrades.
Also, until your opponent gets antiair, keep overlords all around his bases and paths to your base.
Let's look at some general builds:
12 hatchery at expansion, 11 pool, 10 gas, drones till 12 then save larva for lings and be ready to make a sunken colony at your expansion if needed.
If your enemy does mass ling build, you will be in trouble. If he does 9 pool or even 9 overpool, you will be in trouble. If the distances are short and he makes 12 pool and triple sunken colony at your natural, you will be in trouble. However the latter can usually be stopped with proper caution. If you scout your enemy and he's not 9 pooling or 9 overpooling, you might have chance for this build. The advantage is that you will get a bit better economy and more gas than your opponent which will count when you get mutas. (unless, of course, your enemy did the same build)
12 hatch at main, 11 pool, 10 gas. Drones till 12 and save larva for ling etc.
Not too risky if you're prepared to make a sunken colony if needed, but if he 9 pools you might lose several drones
12 hatch at main, 11 gas, 12 pool, drones till 14, save larva for lings and MAKE an sunken colony
This build gives you VERY good economy, you will have rather quick lair and ling speed because you've been gathering gas so much beforehand, and you will have so many more drones that it will be no problem if you even have to make a spore colony. Once your spire pops you wont be behind in mutas. You can also easily overpower your opponent with lings if he gets careless. However, this build will most likely lose to 9 pool, 9 overpool, and possibly 12 hatch at expo (but not necessarily).
3 hat ling:
Start with w/e pool or hatchery build, making one to an expansion is optional. Make three hatcheries, also remember ling speed. Your goal is to destroy your opponent with mass lings before he gets a spire, however the game is not over if he gets a spire if you deal enough damage, it just means you got to make 1-2 more spore colonies and start making hydra while droning up.
9 pool/9 overpool fast spire
skip ling speed usually, just make spire with the first 100 gas you get, sunken up as needed while making first 8 lings. Make as quick spire as simply possible while making more sunken colonies if you need to and more drones. Your opponent will either rush to spire as well, in which case its competition of faster spire, or go 2 hatchery lings with slower spire in which case he might try to run over you with zerglings before your spire completes and winner stays undetermined if you survive, or he goes mass ling and if you are able to defend well, you've won pretty much.
Doesn't happen often anymore, but its basically 2 or 3 hatchery lings with rather quick lair, and just massing lings and scourges. Scourges take very few minerals, and thus by making them the zerg can just mass ling and use scourges to counter his opponents mutalisks. Doesn't work too well IMO.
3 hat hydras:
This is actually semi-risky. Basically you add your second or third hatchery to your expansion, make lings as needed, defend, and drone up. Dont mind his spire, just make spore colonies as needed while droning up and making a hydralisk den as well as hydralisk attack upgrade. Your hope is to mass hydra and run over his stuff. If you're not capable to do this, you've most likely lost
well, actually there aren't any safe build in ZvZ as it all depends on your opponents build order, but I mean safe start off.
Basically make 8 zerglings or so as well as zergling speed. Stop gathering gas for a moment. Possibly make 1-2 more drones, and also make a second hatchery. Start gathering gas and make as fast lair as possible while constantly making lings and getting as fast spire as you can. If your opponent has inferior amount of lings, try to run over him. If he's going some super fast spire build, you might need to make a spore colony while possibly trying to run over him with lings.
9 spawning pool
start gathering gas, and do same thing as in the previous ones
In my opinion these two are quite safe and you will usually have faster or fast spire as your opponent, you wont be behind in hatcheries since you have two, and you most likely will not be behind in drones unless you wish to make lings when he's making drones. Just remember to save money for mutas.
Watch some ZvZ replays. You will get the general idea faster than me explaining every specific thing you can think of.
Early game goals:
Get faster spire than your opponent, destroy him if you see a weakness
Mid game goals:
Destroy him if you get a weakness while having better muta upgrades, not letting him expo while expoing yourself, having more mutas
Late game goals:
Get creative here. Destroy his exps, tech to hive, have better upgrades, get devourers, defilers etc.
•you see 1 barracks and quick refinery with your overlord or drone:
-he might be doing fast academy to fast expansion while rushing with 1 medic, few firebats and marines,
-he might be doing 1 barracks fast drop.
-he might be doing some sort of a 2-4 vulture fast rush through your defense and kill your main to some sort of wraith rush or drop to an expansion (possibly expo without air)
-he might be going for just fast 2 starport wraiths
-he might be going fast metal -> expansion
-he might be doing a fast tank push at your expansion
Mutalisks, either 2 or 3 hatcheries, but it got to be rather fast.
(if he made fast academy rush to fast expo, lurkers are fine as well)
If it's too slow, his wraiths will kill too many overlords and drones. If its too slow he might already drop your main and destroy it (however, if you predict a drop, make sunken colony and zerglings with speed to your main beforehand). If it's too slow his tanks will be able to destroy your expansion hatchery.
If you think your enemy is doing really quick wraiths, far faster than your spire, I recommend placing a spore colony at both of your mineral lines.
If you think your enemy is making vulture rush through your defense, Make 2-3 sunken colonies and place them so that he has to go through as long course before he can run through as possible Be ready to pull drones to block to slow him down even more.
If you think your enemy is tank pushing or there's the risk, place sunken colonies, at least 4 of them, as far apart from the hatchery and a bit apart from themselves as well so tank splash wont kill them. Keep making more sunken colonies before your spire finishes.
•you see he's making tank push and you started with a lurker build:
you need to stop drone production and start making a lot of speedlings beforehand. Once he starts attacking your sunken colonies, which you should have at least 2-3 of, measure his and your own army. Can your lings destroy his? If so, go for it. If not, wait for your lurkers, then destroy his army.
•You saw some other of these options and started with lurkers
Just play safe, but make as quick spire as possible so you may fend him off. You might need hydras against wraiths etc tho.
•He fast expands
You either go the risky way and try to mass speedling him, or you play it safe and go 3 hat muta (best, probably) or 3 hat lurker build. 2 hat muta may work well as well. My double expo build works as well, but if you cant pull it off, I don't recommend it. In any case, just tech up while making drones and expo when you have money for it.
•He makes proxy barrackses either middle of the map, at his choke, or just really fast barrackses at his main.
-did you go 9 pool or overpool? If you did, just keep making lings and also make ling speed. Expand when you have money for it. You're safe. This is the perfect counter.
-did you go 12 pool? Make ling speed and keep making lings, however, only expand after your lings pop out
-did you go 12 hatchery? This is a tricky one, first off, you need to see if he's bunker rushing you or not too. If he is, pull off 6 drones or so and try to destroy his scv that builds the bunker and/or marines before they enter the bunker. Build as quick double sunken colony as possible and save larva for lings. Once a sunken colony pops up, send your lings with the help of the sunk to destroy his attack. You should be fine in most the cases unless your micro failed.
Did you go 10/9 hatch? If so, you should be fine. Just place a sunken colony beforehand.
•He goes fast expo or without fast expo metal
-At first you need mutalisks to kill of wraiths, vultures, and such if he made them. If you made mutas you might also be able to destroy quite a bit of his stuff before his goliaths with range arrive. Keep making mutas with +1 attack or carapace. Also start a hydralisk den for hydralisk speed/range and evolution chamber for +1 carapace/missile. Now, if he's making 100% goliaths, make almost 100% hydra (just keep around 1 group of mutas around). If he goes metal he will try to expand a huge lot, so keep the map scouted. Just have 1-2 more expansions than him and concentrate on out-massing him. Also try to have superior upgrades. The more he makes tanks, the more you make mutas. Just use muta/ling/hydra with good upgrades to kill him off. Make 2-3 sunken colonies per expansion so no drops or vulture harasses can disturb them much. Also tech to hive, but it is NOT in a hurry. The best possible combo to fight his metal build is ultralisk, hydralisk defiler (and maybe mutas). Just flank him well, and use the terrain to your advantage while not letting him expo.
•He's making a lot of tanks, m&m, and some vessels (most common tvz mid/lategame build)
if you have mutalisks left from your previous build, go to guardian tech fast. If not, try to get quick defilers and use lurker/ling/defiler/scourge to drive him away. HYDRA/LURKER ARE NOT AN OPTION AGAINST THIS BUILD UNLIKE SOME ZERGS SEEM TO THINK! The tanks simply slaughter the hydras, you get almost 4 lings for the cost of 1 hydra, and you get more lurkers that way too If something owns a terran army its 1-2 groups of lurkers that flanks the terran army.
•He is making mass vessles and a huge lot of m&m (skterran, he might also be making tanks from 1 factory)
If you notice this early on, before mid/late game, go mass hydra with double evo upgrades and lurkers. The thing is, now there aren't that many tanks at all to shoot down your hydras like flies, and thus they're very strong with the help of lurkers. Also, once lurkers get a few damage upgrades, they just utterly rape m&m. It's a fact. Besides, if he has good micro scourges might have trouble killing the vessels, but hydra focus fire still works. Later on you may tech to hive and get defilers/ultralisks. It's especially important to keep your expansions vs this build.
If you, however, realize this a bit late, aka your hive is coming etc etc, you got to play a bit different. You have to rush to defilers, and use lurker/ling/scourge for now to fend him off at all costs. Once you get defilers use dark swarm to delay him a bit more. Upgrade plague as soon as possible. Keep making defilers, because he will irradiate them a lot. Once you get the chance, plague all of his science vessels and marines. At this point, make a few mutalisks. When you get the chances, use these mutalisks to attack on the 2-3 hp vessels. They will die pretty quickly...
But basically from this point on just keep fighting his army with defiler/ling/lurker/scourge/muta, maybe get ultras once you start to have more gas.
•It's early game, and I don't know anything what he's doing!
You may sacrifice an overlord to see his tech, but its semi-optional. Make rather quick mutalisks though, because they counter so many weird ass cheese builds and even if they don't cheese, mutas are still fine since you gain map control so quickly.
•Mass wraith at endgame
spore colony or two to every exp, a lot of hydra, and scourge/muta
devourers, plague, and hydra
•He's making 1 gateway and assimilator
this means fast tech for protoss in 80% of the cases they will be making fast stargate and try to pick off as many overlords from you as simply possible before you get hydras or spore colonies. Calculate in your head, how long will it be till that corsair/scout (yes, scout. They kill overlords 3x quicker and can even attack drones) will be finished? What are you doing? Lurkers? Mutas? Hydras? If you're going hydras, you might as well just place the hydralisk den a bit beforehand and make a few hydras and then continue drone production. If you went for a spire, place a spore colony at your NATURAL ONLY. And bring your overlords there
If you went lurkers you might want to build the hydralisk den about same time you start your lair so you can move your ovies around sooner, but also place a spore colony at your natural. However, if you're quite sure that he's making fast templar tech instead of stargate, then you dont need to place spore colonies. Though, if they go 1 gateway and make a corsair tech, you better watch out because once he takes out your overlords from his choke point etc, you wont have any detection. Once he makes dark templars after that and expands, there's not much you can do to help it but accept it. So either you accept it, or take precautions.
•He's making 2 gateways with assimilator
about 50% of the time he will be making corsairs and other 50% just mass zealot with fast speed and fast templars. This time the corsairs are slower though, so you might want to add that your calculations. If he's not going corsair, he also wont have anything to kill your overlord at his choke, so dark templars to defend his expo wont be a problem. However, you most likely wont have anything that can take his army out so you could destroy his expo before psionic storm/cannons warp in, so don't get greedy. You just got to finish up what you were doing and expo again etc. Remember, if he's not fast expanding he wont have as quick +1 upgrade.
•He's making 2 gateways without assimilator, either at his choke or main.
It means that he will be doing the 2 gateway pressure build. This is basically rushing your fast expansion if you made one with zealots and a few probes, and rallying his zealots to your base, or your choke all the time. The thing is, he will be making zealots non stop AND probes non stop, so in the end he will be gaining better and better economy. When he has the money he will make a nexus at his expansions and cannon it up and start playing normal. Personally I hate this build. You just got to watch out for a few things, if you FE'd, you need to make 1-2 sunkens so you wont die. You also need to make lings almost all the time so that his zealots will not run over you. His zealot army will keep growing at your choke, so its kind of tricky.
This is what you can do;
9 pool speed or 9 overpool and force him to stay in his main/natural. If he ignores this, make a sunken colony to your main and run in his base with your lings or destroy his pylon. If he stays in his base, take an expansion while keeping on making lings. Once your expo pops up, he will have quite a few zealots and might be attacking any moment, so I'd make 1-2 more sunken colonies. After they are done, and if you have a decent number of lings, you can make drones for a while. You just got to make sure that you make sunken colonies appropriately while he keeps brining more zealots. UNLESS you decided to go with a mass 3 hatch ling build and run over his zealots AND him. Its a bit risky if he survives though. If you decided NOT TO go that build, you can go fast mutas, just remember to sunken up enough. Going mutas is neat because by the time your mutas pop out, his cybernetics core probably hasnt even finished, so you might be able to either end the whole game, or at least drive his zealots away and slow his tech quite a bit. You can also go hydras, but then you cannot go very low economy hydras because he will have cannons and like 12 zealots without speed. Hydras would be All-in. Lastly, there is lurker tech, which is quite safe economy wise, and since you make lings you wont need as many sunkens. You will be able to contain him fine and keep your own expoes.
12 pool is bad against this build because you have to make lings 24/7 and he will have zealots before your lings come, so its not strong. You will have to make lings all the time till your expo finishes and then sunken up, while he can just make probes meanwhile. This is maybe weakest build against 2 gate pressure build. However, you continue same as in 9 poo/overpool start.
12 hat at main works fine as well since you will have good economy, a lot of lings, and you dont hae to get tricky with sunks. However, you need to watch out that he cannot cannon up your choke while walling in with zealots. Third hatchery to exp and continue normal while making lings from 2 hatches and trying to break him.
12 hat fast expo works as well but you just have to survive the first rush and sunken up appropriately.
•He goes 3-4 gateway mass zealot
You need to survive his attacks while you get mutas or lurkers. Sunken up a lot.
•He goes 1 base dragoon/reaver
-I started with muta build:
Good, this is the best thing you can do. Muta ling whereas the lings flank them well is the best thing you can do. Dragoons deal very little damage to mutas and lings, so you will do good. Also, his reavers cannot harass your mineral line this way. You just got to watch out a bit. Be ready to switch to muta/hydra later on
-I started with 3 hat hydra
That's fine. Just make spire as quickly as possible while making mass hydra and slowing him down/flanking him well.
-I started with lurker build
This is the worst build you can start off, and if you did, you're very unlucky . But. You just need to make spire as quickly as possible. Try to save as many lurkers as possible, and slow him down however you can. Once your mutas pop out, flank and swarm him with muta lurker ling and stop his escape with lings so lurkers deal extra damage. This is the best you can do with this startoff.
Once you fend their first attack, they should be trying to expand. Stop it if you can, but even if you can't, expand again yourself.
•He does some weird-ass build (aka I don't know what he's doing, or he's doing something like reaver drop or smthing)
Make a sunken colony at your mineral line(not needed if he's not making a drop, but you need spore colony if you think dt drop is possible. They always corsair harass your main before dt drop), and make as quick spire as possible. Be careful with your lings, but try to delay his harass if possible.
•He fast expoes (most common pvz build nowadays)
You can go risky and go super fast mutas or 3 hatchery lings or 6 pool or w/e. I explained this before in the ZvP part of the guide.
Or you can play standard, aka expand twice and play normal
•He fast expoes and does 2 stargates
This means he will most likely be doing corsair/reaver, at least at first. Especially if you see his cyber core upgrading. The counter is to make a fast lair for spire while making mass hydras otherwise. Also upgrade hydra speed, range, and +1 attack. Don't forget ovie speed. You will also need a spore colony at both of your expansions to help protect against corsairs. Just keep making hydras, but make sure he cannot expo more. This is important. (on some maps they can anyway, in which case you will take two expoes) Once your spire pops out morph like, 12 scourges. Pick a good time to attack his corsairs (unless he already has a huge lot. If he does, don't make scourge. Use hydra/muta/scourges to destroy his shuttles at all costs and corsairs too if you simply can. Don't make very many mutas though. You can make mutas at first when he still has 6 or less sairs. After that it's just a waste. If he does reaver sair, you also won't need many unit production hatcheries. Just expand a huge lot. And I mean, A LOT. Tech to hive, and keep upgrading shit and stopping his exps. Once your hive pops out, get a greater spire and make devourers. Devourers are the best possible counter for corsairs. Keep making hydras though, and if you have plenty of spare money make ultras/defilers.
However, he might stop making reaver/sair any moment and instead just attack with reaver sair twice and then switch to normal zealot/high templar/dark templar/corsair/reaver or whatever, in which case you might need lurkers and fast ultras with your army.
•He goes fast expo and doesn't corsair harass
This means he will most likely be making just fast templar tech or mass zealots. Either way, you need to prepare with enough zerglings and sunken colonies. Don't prepare too much beforehand though. The lurker build that I like to use that I explained before can counter their attack while having good economy yourself quite nicely. (TT1 did 6 gateway mass zealot against it and I had no trouble beating him). However, you can do pretty much what you want. I explained this stuff before already. In this case it's a bit more important to have +1 carapace same time as he has +1 attack
•He makes fast expo and does corsair harass from 1 stargate
This is very basic fast expo build. The most important goal for the toss when he does this is to just know what his opponent is doing. Killing overlords is secondary, BUT. If he does do this, take precautions, because he will most likely kill all your overlords that are nearby his base, and that means that fast hydra push to kill him might not work since he will have dark templars. You either prepare, or don't attack or just add pressure but not even try to break him etc.
You may need a spore colony at your expansions for this.
•He double expoes cuz of weird map
Either try and take advantage of it and mass over him, or simply triple or quadrouple expand yourself. In the latter you need to be a bit careful though. And also, if he double expands, or expands really quickly again, you need to watch out for his army because he will be getting a LOT of units. Your macro cannot fail in this one.
•Some other weird shit/don't know what he's doing in early/mid game
In most cases if you don't know what he's doing, the best choise is to either go hydras or mutas. Mutas may be a little more risky if he counters them well. When you don't think that either of them would work because the situation is so special, use your head and experience.
•He does corsair/dt
You need quick devourers. Otherwise you just need to manage with ultra/hydra/plague as well as making a spore colony to every expo and main as well as sunkenking up the expoes. You need a lot of hydras for now. Till you counter them.
•He does reavers along with his main army which is very powerful
This is very powerful and the reason why is because it has no direct counter. You will just have to try and overpower him you know? But in any case, you should use plague, mass ultras, and hydras. Some zerglings to the bunch as money allows and all as well.
•He goes arbiters with his main army
You will be needing scourges to take them out, and ultra/hydra/ling otherwise. Possibly throw in defilers.
•He goes mass archon (and maybe some Dark Archons)
This is another combo that has no ultimate counter. It's one of the strongest thing the toss can do.You will have to use dark swarm, ultra, and ling in general. Under dark swarm archons only deal around 5 damage instead of 30 or 39 or whatever, so it's basically a must against this combo. Also sunken up.
•He goes carrier corsair or smthing
Devourer hydra plague dark swarm, pretty much.
•He just does his normal zealot/dragoon/archon/high templar
Go ultra ling, maybe defiler, get expoes, defend them with sunken colonies if needed, dont let him expo
•He turtles or you're not sure how to attack him so that it's worth it
-Drop him. A few ultras to take the damage and 20 lings can destroy quite a bit in a short time, plus it might drive his army back to his base which allows you to take his exps.
•He has more lings than you
sunken up as needed
•He has more mutas
make a spore colony or two
•He gets faster spire by far
get a spore colony or two
•He has more drones
You either destroy him, find a way to kill his drones, or make more drones yourself
•He's rushing to spire
try to destroy him before spire completes, if not possible, spore colonies up.
•He's mass linging me
Make a lot of sunken colonies and zerglings yourself. Make sure that he doesnt destroy your spire
•He's expanding around the map
Stop him, if you're able to, you must get an expansion yourself
•He's getting mass hydra
Get mutas for a while, but start lurker tech. A few sunken colonies and lurkers or just lurkers at his choke can stop any number of hydras. Once you have lurkers you resume muta production.
==========MICRO & TRICKS============
First for the tricks:
-You can stack your flying units easily by using a resource patch.
-You can stack your mutas really well (which is needed for muta micro) by using the magic box. The magic box is having one unit apart from the bigger group and when you tell the whole group to move to a specific location, they start to stack by themselves and stay stacked. The best unit to use as the stacker is the overlord because its slow.
-When you micro your mutas and you have lan latency, use hold position. Let me explain a bit; You close up to your enemy, when you're somewhat in firing range, press hold position, and after maybe 0.3 second delay you right click back so you wont get killed. This way they will not only pick one target, but several, which is very powerful in for example vs marines when you have 9 or more mutas. Against static defense, however, right click is the best. (or when you have very few mutas)
-If you select a group of lurkers and add an overlord to the group, burrow the lurkers, and press hold position, they will not attack even if they're in firing range. It always feels good when a group of marines and medics walks atop my lurkers and then they just die. (this is allowed even in proleagues, because it's the TERRANS flaw and carelessness if he falls for it.)
-If you select your larvas and any other unit and press stop, the larvas will move to the left side of the hatchery
-If you burrow your drones, the science vessels that irradiate one another cannot damage your units, nor reavers that dont have detection can shoot your drones.
-Overlord unload while moving can be done by selecting one overlord at a time and pressing unload on it while its still moving to the specific location. This is especially useful if they're closing up on a cannon line for example because then the cannons will target units, not overlords.
Always, ALWAYS flank your opponent. Except maybe zvz. Zerg micro at even quite high level could possibly only be good flanking, burrow with lurkers, and dark swarm and cloning with scourges to effectively kill vessels or corsair etc.
However, there are some stuff where more micro can be good.
Hydras vs zealots/high templars:
Now this is very tricky. Against zealots alone you will move the first line of hydra which is targeted by the zealots almost instantly after the zealots close up to the back of the line and start shooting again. Against high templars too the most important thing is just effectively dodging the storms, which you will learn through practise and experience. You will just feel in your head that THIS group of hydras will be stormed soon, in which case you move them, and poof, just out of the storms way, pretty much. The thing is, you first have to see how many high templars he has. You could count that he has 1 storm per templar, but still be wary once each templar has cast a storm once. They almost always try to attack the place which have most hydras. If you have two clumps that have a lot of hydras among your other 'clumps, you might want to move the two the same time. You dont lose much if you move a group back for 1-2 seconds useless and then move back
Lings stopping the enemy from escaping:
Sometimes once you've flanked your enemy well your army is actually stronger (especially if you're burrowing about 6-12 lurkers), and the difference in power at that situation is so great that they will want to escape or look for a better position. To stop this, you might take a group or two of zerglings and run in the way to block the escape. This micro happens from early to late game.
Sometimes it might be annoying to control a group of overlords even if you need detection, so why not try making overlords follow the strongest units, for example ultras or lurkers by right clicking on the specific unit
Quick overlord load:
Its slow to simply load 1 overlord at a time, so you got to learn how to be faster. First, you have your normal units grouped up and all. Now you bring your overlords near those units. Just select group 1, right click on 1 ovie, group 2 right click on another, group 3 on a third and so on. It doesn't actually make that much of a difference if 1 spot of the overlord is left unused. Later on if you have more overlords than you have groups, you can just use the heaps of the groups to full the rest.
Muta vs scourge;
The best possible way would be to first run away, then when scourges close up, press patrol behind the scourges and instantly right click away again. The scourges will slow down just a bit before hitting the mutas and this is possible without taking hits. However, this requires a lot of practise to do in a real match when you need it, so I personally prefer just running, right click or hold position trick on the scourges, and running again. This way a lot more scourges than mutas will die and its safer.
Mutas vs archons:
Mutas actually have a bit longer range than archons, so if you use your terrain to your advantage mutas can shoot archons without taking hit themselves, however, its so risky that I would avoid it at all costs.
=========HOW TO IMPROVE FASTEST==========
Several people I've met seem to think that you simply playing a lot of games makes you better. This is true, yes, but if you REALLY want to improve, you must reflect on your mistakes. You must really think of to do, and what you did wrong. This is the most important thing and you learn fastest that way. But basically, you watch pro replays, see the genral idea, you practise it, and reflect on your mistakes. Asking better players for help helps the most.
PHEW !! That was it, and almost 23 pages.
Some of you may be wondering that this guide was actually very vague at times, but thats simply how zerg is, that is how STARCRAFT is. Anyone who can reach even D+ at iccup should understand this guide quite well at all times. This game is not warcraft3, so I cannot tell everything EXACTLY like it is. A fact is, that nobody of you has probably played many games where exactly the same stuff happened, which is why I cannot be very accurate all the time.
Also, I apologise if the way this guide was laid out annoyed you or is hard to browse, understand or something.
One last thing, I will review and tell ANYONES mistakes if you post a replay on this thread:
Just read the rules first. For example, I wont touch money maps or team games. And preferrably, not games where you have won. Also, only one replay per person per week.
NOTE; Not the best possible replays, but I had to dig out something, and this should give general idea. I might add more if I need/as I come to it
3 hat muta zvt
5 hat hydra
5 hat ling
6 pool and 5 hat
(See how I did least possible damage with 6 pool and still wasnt far behind)
protoss 2 gate zvp
lurker build zvp