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Zerg week II

This posts continues the discussion of basic Zerg concepts in Starcraft II from last week. While patch 8 had some positive and negative effects, the concepts below remain valid. That said, I have played enough Zerg for now. I really want to try some Terran and Protoss strategies that were employed against me.

Easy harass

Harassment forces an opponent to choose between losing forces/buildings or spending resources on base defense. A bunch of Speedlings (Zerglings with movement speed upgrade) can wreak havoc in a mineral line, but the king of harassment is the Mutalisk. A group of them can move quickly from weak spot to weak and destroy workers, buildings and whatever else is not well protected. Roaches moving underground with upgrade can also do surprise strikes, but most people are prepared for roaches these days.

Early defense against air

Zerg are vulnerable to an early rush by air units, because they have no regular anti-air till the Hatchery has been transformed into a Lair. However, an air rush with Banshees, for example, requires a signficant sacrifice for the opponent. If you scout an early banshee or void ray, simply build two Queens (you want one at each expansion anyway), because they have decent anti-air and they can heal each other. Two Queens should be able to protect the base until the first Hydralisks are spawned. A Spore Crawler can help as well, but it lacks the healing synergy. Still, it is useful as a detector later on.


Detectors are vital to prevent a strike by cloaked and burrowed units. The Zerg have arguably the most vulnerable detectors in the form of Spore Crawlers and Overseers. They are necessary to prevent strikes from Terran Banshees and Protoss Dark Templars (rarely built though and easily scouted). Also, the main information source for Protoss is the Observer, a permanently cloaked flying unit.

On the other hand Observers and Ravens (Terran) can detect burrowed units and the static defenses (turrets and cannons) can as well.

Banelings roll in, while Zerglings have been drawing fire

vs Terran

The dominant strategy for Terran so far has been to wall in and mass Marines, Marauders and Medivacs, eventually with tank support. Even without healing the M&M ball is a danger to almost any Zerg force. The most effective way to deal with them is with Banelings. Unfortunately, they need both a speed upgrade and burrow to be really effective. The Terran player has several harassment tools: early air strikes with Banshees, Overlord harassment with Vikings (again making use of the weak early anti-air of the Zerg), running Hellions to the mineral line, striking with Reapers.

It’s important to keep the economic advantage against Terran while defending. Losing a force as Zerg is not a problem as long as the replacement can be paid for. Of course, if the opponent does not protect himself well, a group of Banelings can blow a Supply Depot at the block and let speedlings wreak havoc inside. Note that tanks in Siege mode do splash damage to all units, friendlies included. Mutalisk harrasment works well, but the Terran player has plenty of tools to deal with them in a real fight (Marines with stim pack, Vikings in number, turrets, even Thors). Ultralisks can plow through any ground Terran ground force, but they require many upgrades to be viable. The Brood Lord is much more effective as a game ender, but it needs protection from Mutalisks/Corruptors.

The Protoss player has been spamming cannons out of fear for Mutalisks

vs Protoss

Protoss own the ground, but their anti-air is weak. A sizeable group of Mutalisks will destroy the Protoss, but it is important not to get overrun by a ground force. Protoss are less effective against blocking their base than Terrans. An early attack is almost always worth it. Roaches were particularly strong against Zealots, but a bit less since patch 8. One unit to watch out for is the Sentry: it is an effective fighter against Mutalisks, it can deploy a shield around it that reduces ranged damage for all friendly units (including Roach spit) and it can spawn temporary force field blocks that cannot be passed: they can split or trap a force. Another is the Immortal: it’s shields reduce heavy hits and it does massive damage to armored units. Zerglings and Hydralisks can make quick work of them though, but they need protection from the inevitable Zealots accompanying the Protoss forces. A Colossus, on the other hand, will destroy just about any Zerg ground force, hit it with air before it gets close (Corruptors are especially effective).

While scouting the Protoss base, keep an eye out for Pylon placement. Sometimes it is possible to take out several buildings by destroying just one or two Pylons. This will set the opponent back a lot. Of course, it’s a beginner’s mistake, but it should always be exploited.

Just like against Terran, the Zerg should take the economic advantage. If the Protoss player is not pressured enough he will be able to make a Carrier swarm and that is very difficult to stop. Corruptors can do it though if managed well. If the game lasts till the highest tech level, than the Brood Lord (protected by Mutalisks and/or Corrupters) is the finishing unit of choice. Ultralisks are not really an option, because they get completely wasted by Immortals.

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