Looking into other early options for zerg, I've come up with a very good opening against both terran and protoss: the 5 roach rush! It's capable of breaking into your opponents' base early on without going all-in. If it fails, one injection-round of drones and you're usually leading in the worker count.
Banelings are great, but way too expensive to use every game. Taking down a supply depot or pylon costs 250/125, and you have to have fighting units on top of that! With the 5RR, the roaches pull double duty by destroying the depot/pylon and still being around after it's gone. Not to mention they are fantastic against early zealots/marines.
- Does significant damage or even wins outright vs some openings. The good thing is that it's strong against openings that we hate to see: stargate, 1-1-1, reaper, and hellion openings.
- Can get around the stupid wall-ins
- Doesn't wreck your economy. When the roaches are leaving your base, many times you're ahead in workers as well as putting your expansion down.
- If you break into their base, you can just rally and send more guys as your next round of larvae have popped.
- Crushes a 2-gate**
- Allows you to set up a hellion contain if you get there early enough
- Forces the game into certain channels: 4-gate, marauders/thor.
- Completely fails against some openings (marauders, stalkers). I'm saying don't even attack type of fail because you'll insta-lose.
- If your opponent is opening with marauders or stalkers, you have to back-tech to zerglings ASAP or you'll often die outright.
- If your opponent opens with stalkers/marauders, you'll be behind economically than if you didn't rush.
- Forces the game into certain channels: 4-gate, marauders/thor.
13 Spawning Pool
Roach Warren (latest you should start is when queen is 70% done)
Zergling speed when you have 100 gas
Overlord when queen pops, inject larvae
Take drones off gas once you have 125
5 Roaches (Warren, OL, and injection should all pop very close to each other)
Overlord (31/34 food)
Expansion when your roaches are walking to the enemy
Zerglings as you get the minerals, rallied to your opponent's base
UPDATE: taking drones off of gas greatly helps you to power drones and push out a queen for air defense if you should need it.
Use your zerglings to kill the enemy scout or shoo him away before you drop the roach warren: this isn't too necessary against terran as he'll have committed to his tech path by this point. Against protoss it's more so he doesn't start building stalkers/sentries. Many times they'll have multiple zealots blocking and the game is pretty easy. If they know roaches are coming, they just make stalkers and it's not going to happen for you.
Also, sometimes you'll want to do a 1-base muta strategy, or a simple pool->gas->hatch powering build. Keeping the worker out of there makes it a guessing game for THEM for once! This helps a lot in match play (or if you get paired against the same opponent in league), as your opponent will often be waiting for an attack that never comes.
A great thing about this strategy is that it's very flexible: it's not all-in by any means, but certainly can be. By the time the roaches leave your base, you'll have 18 drones and an expansion hatchery going down. If you get to the opponent's front door and you can't get in, pumping out 6+ drones from your recent injection pop puts you at equal count if not ahead of your opponent.
At your opponent's base, try and find the weakest spot. Against terran, it's often just focusing down a supply depot and barging in there. Roaches can hit repairing SCV's, which is really nice. You may lose a roach or two breaking down the depot, which is fine and normal. Against protoss, often the weakest link in the wall are the zealots. However, it's sometimes best to focus down a pylon if it's the only one powering the gateways/cyber. If you break the wall, rally and spam zerglings. Generally if you break in you tend to win immediately. If you don't break in, just spam drones and retreat.
Learn your roach micro! Move-Stop-Move-Stop to make the absolute most out of your roaches (the replays have tons of examples of this). Your opponents will often bring out their workers, and it's very important you don't get your roaches surrounded! Just lead them on a merry chase around their base, slowly killing them off and giving your zerglings time to get there.
Roaches need constant micro in combat. Both right-clicking on a building/unit and attack-move are strictly awful for roaches. What will happen is that the first line of roaches fire while the rest scamper around behind them. You need to right click in front of the unit/building you want to attack so they walk right up to it, then either stop or attack-move or right click on a unit. The AI treats them like a range unit, but you need to manually override that to treat them like a melee unit.
Once your opponent sees early roaches, they tend to make units that crush roaches: immortals, marauders, thors. This means a back-tech to zerglings is usually the best, which is why researching zergling speed is in there.
Keeping up with your injections is severely important to this strategy! Since you're on one hatchery for awhile, these injections are vital. Also, you really can't spare any energy for creep tumors until your 2nd hatch is up.
That's all there is to it! Marines and zealots at the ramp are pretty easy to deal with, and often you can force your way in. In that case, just rally and spam units to him. If the rush fails, it's not a huge loss as you have enough drones as well as an expansion hatch.
The 5RR channels the game away from super early air units and takes away some of the openings that are troublesome for zerg. However, if your opponent was making anti-roach units, then you're a little behind where you should be had you not rushed and you need to quickly back-tech into zerglings. Overall, the positives greatly outweigh the negatives.
**vs a 2-gate: include a few roaches/lings early on if the zealots will arrive before the injection pops.
EDIT: People have asked some intelligent questions in the thread, and I have tried to respond as well as i could. If you scan for my responses, there's a good chance your question was already answered.
Replays of it in action:
I'm going to show a few of replays where it just kills my opponent outright, and then one where the game goes further just to show how easy it is to rebound the instant things don't go well.
We have several 800+ diamond players in this group of replays, showing that this can topple almost anyone.
NOTE: All of the replays are on the old 13/15 build, but all of the ideas remain the same.
5RR vs fast stargate:
5RR vs FE protoss:
5RR vs 3 rax reaper:
5RR vs 5 rax reaper:
Example of 5RR where I don't deal too much damage and the game goes long:
EDIT: Replays where the game goes long. These aren't the best quality replays, just recent ones that show how to bounce back in macro after you're held off (keep the Income tab open when watching the replay). The result of the game isn't important, and neither are my glaring mistakes. =) Just that the opening transitions nicely into a macro game.
About me: Fistdantilus. 1100+ Rank 1 Diamond. I'm not amazing, or even very good, just OK for now.