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Zerg week

I dislike the Zerg. I really do. They were the villains of Starcraft and Brood War and I have never liked playing true villains. I dislike their insectoid look and hive intellect. I hate how creep covers the otherwise nice looking terrain. However, I really enjoy playing them in Starcraft II. In my post last week I concluded that Zerg was probably the strongest race in Beta at the moment. To be able to better combat them I decided to play Zerg and only Zerg for a week. To my surprise, I really enjoyed the play style.

Here is an overview of basic aspects of Zerg play. Links to unites ans structures are to the excellent Starcraft Wiki, which is much better updated and information heavy than the official site.

The Queen

The Queen is the most important unit of the Zerg. Her primary ability is to produce extra larvae at a Hatchery, which allows Zerg to quickly amass a large force. She can also spread creep over the map through creep tumors and heal other units. Furthermore, she’s the first anti-air unit that can be produced (she can also attack ground). Because she is intended as a purely defensive unit, her movement speeds off creep is really slow.

Fast Expansion

Fast Expansion (FE) is more a choice than an ability. The Hatchery, the Zerg main structure, costs only 300 minerals, which is significantly less than Command Centers and Nexuses. This allows Zerg to expand quickly with the least economic risk of all races. On the other hand, it is almost necessary, because Zerg are mostly limited by the number of larvae they can produce. An extra Hatchery with an additional Queen is necessary to keep competitive with Terran and Protoss who can operate from one base more easily.

Tech switch

Terran and Protoss build specific buildings to produce specific units. Complex units require additional passive buildings (e.g. Thors are built in the Factory, but there must also be an Armory present). A Terran player who wants to make a group of Banshees will have to build one or more Starports first and then produce the Banshees one by one. All Zerg, on the other hand, from the lowliest Drone to the giant Ultralisk come from larvae first, although some units can evolve afterwards as well (e.g. larvae are used to create Zerglings and Zerglings can morph into Banelings). Which units can be created depends on the presence of specific passive buildings. Thus after building a Spire, all present larvae can immediately be turned into Mutalisks.

This allows Zerg to quickly respond to enemy units, but it is also a vulnerability: if the base defenses can be breached and a building can be destroyed, the Zerg player can no longer make the corresponding unit.

The opponent tries a sneak attack by breaking through destructible rocks. However, the Overlord has spotted him.

Map control

The cheap Hatchery allows Zerg to quickly expand. Placement of creep prevents the build of non-Zerg buildings. By placing Overlords and buried Zerglings on strategic locations (like at mineral patches, so you can see when your opponent tries to expand) it is possible to safely view a larger portion of the map than non-Zerg. Winning with Zerg is winning the macro game: your opponent may destroy large portions of your forces, but multiple Hatcheries and Queens combined with a large amount of minerals and gas allow the Zerg player to immediately rebuild and attack again while their opponents has not recovered from the initial battle. In general, a Zerg player has to winning the economic battle to be able to win the game.


Fortunately, the Zerg has also one of the best units to harass the opponent’s mineral lines: the Mutalisk. This fast Air-to-Air and Air-to-Ground attacker has a bouncing attack that does damage to multiple units. A group of Mutalisks can quickly destroy a group of weak enemies. However, Mutalisks are relatively expensive. It is necessary to get a full gas production from at least two bases to get a sizeable group of Mutalisks without leaving your other defenses open. Mutalisks are not very sturdy. They have to be careful around static defenses until they are massed. The High Templar’s psi storm can be devastating to them, but their speed allows them to quickly move out of it. A group of Terran Marines with Stim-packs can annihilate a group of mutalisks easily, especially if they have Medivac support. The best way to use a small group of Mutalisks is hit-and-run: attack a mineral line, then attack another base. Either your opponent will: loose all his workers, have to leave units and multiple spots (and thus spreading his forces), build static defenses (and those resources cannot be used directly against you anymore).

The Mutalisks can destroy a significant number of SCV's at this unprotected base before the opponent can respond. Note that there is a barely visible buried Zergling just North of the Command Center.

There’s more

The post next week will deal with other basic aspects of playing Zerg, like how to deal with specific Terran, Protoss and other Zerg.

Categories: Starcraft II Tags: , ,
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  1. April 10, 2010 at 10:23 pm

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