Zerg versus Terran: Survival of the Patient

Foreword

Again, I bring you all my knowledge about another Zerg match up, the strengths and weaknesses of certain builds, and how to keep your head cool under pressure.
Now before we start, I must say that my Zerg versus Zerg is much more advanced timing wise than my Zerg versus Terran. Mostly because the match up is more easy to read because I play the same race as my opponent, and that most terrans on ladder that I meet are sub 100 APM at Masters. I won't say my ZvT is bad, but it certainly could be much more crisp if I encountered more active Terran opponents.

Introduction

Terran, some people dispize them. But as hard as they may seem to play against, the Terran player himself has to be fairly skilled to get the most out of their units. This is much more true in Terran versus Zerg, where there are dynamic engagements all throughout the match up.

There is a hidden force on the Zergs side though, fear. Fear that an entire army could burst out of the shadows and rip the Terran apart. Fear of a couple of hidden banelings that hit their marines from below. Fear that the Zerg might have become too big. It is this force that you should ally yourself with, for a person in fright will not execute crisply.

Table of Contents

Concept

Epidemics have to start somewhere

To instill this anxiety, you have to act like an unstoppable force. Ever expanding outward and swallowing everything it comes across. Much like an epidemic, you should become out of control and untamable. The first step is to get bigger than your opponent, and the Zerg have the perfect mechanics for that.

Macro

More stuff quicker Zerg macro

To put it all under one roof, macro is the mechanic that not only reinforces you to get ahead but keeps you safe simply by strength in numbers. A stronger macro means you can afford more mistakes than you would be in a weaker macro situation. Terran players can afford to be behind one base to the Zerg, but none more. Their units are more cost-effective than ours, but a vast amount of units will still beat even the strongest of individuals.

This means that you should always look to expand. Because the Terran are basically on a clock the second the game starts, they are always under pressure invisibly. This pressure grows stronger with each passing minute, with each hatchery they scout, and with each drop that gets defended.
Even if your minerals get high and you put an expansion somewhere, that still puts a ton of pressure on the Terran to take it out. So don't be afraid to double expand in the midgame, it encourages the Terran to push with all their forces.

You should also get a macro hatchery slightly before or slightly after you take your third. Because of the additional income you will recieve, your production has to match your intake. Keeping up with injections is a neccesity, because you will lose a lot of production if your injections aren't crisp. It shouldn't be your core focus in the whole game, but you should go back on it every other game and put pressure on yourself to inject well.

Overall, be ahead on bases versus a Terran opponent, and keep your production capabilities up and growing. Drones are important, but not the be all and end all of the game. Your potential production is much more a factor in this game, because a lot of larvae let you make a ton of units, and give you more breathing room for losing drones. As you can replendish them more easily.

Map control

In the country of the blind, the Overmind rules

This concept is core in the Zerg ways. Because you should be the untamable force, you cannot let the Terran any semblance of control over the game. That includes the map outside of his defenses.

Vision equals how much chance you have to spot a push coming, it also equals in what state you are in dronewise and basewise. You cannot stop Terran from scanning you, but you can keep them away from watch towers as much as possible. You should keep your mobile forces out on the map if the game is still in a 2 base phase, because if he moves out of his base you can quickly either counter attack if the attack is too big, or destroy him if his push is weak and not positioned well.

Air control is important, but doesn't have to be your most precious element in your play. If you do have air control though, it gets much harder for the Terran to drop you and thus it is much harder for him to seize map control from you.

Punish mistakes

It's easier to kick a drunk person

This is a lesson that might inspire you how to engage a Terran attack. In essence, Terran units are better than Zerg units when controlled well. After all, give MarineKing some marines and he will defeat slow banelings just like that. But even the most maticulous player out there makes mistakes.

Zerg units are fast, and because they are fast, they are GREAT for punishing mistakes like sieging slightly too late. Or not scanning and blowing up their whole marine pack with just a pair of banelings. Hellions that are stationary and getting surrounded by zerglings in an instant. This is just a tip of the iceberg of possibilities of punishable mistakes for Terran.

Focus not on how to counter a push with the right units, or how to best controll these units versus his strengths. Rather focus on looking at your opponent, and punish EVERY mistake he makes.

Scouting

Forseen attacks and information from all directions

Scouting is the other aspect of map control. The more intel you have on your opponent, the better decisions you can make. This is especially true for punishing a greedy terran, or suddenly exploding with a full 15 drones to instantly saturate an expansion.

Your overlords should be in safe locations, and preferably in locations where they can later serve as expansion deniers or drop spotters. As such, you should always put your overlords across the map on potential fourth and fifth bases, so you can later spew creep on them. For spotting drops, people tend to skim all the way around the edges with a dropship to make it as stealthy as possible. Unfortunately for the stealth factor, everyone does it. So keep your overlords around the edges and in corners of the map. On some maps there are spots where you can put your overlords where they can scout without endangering them, such as the big abyss in the middle of Xel'Naga Caverns. Learn these spots and use them as you gather up overlords.

Always make sure you keep the Xel'Naga watch towers. Not only does it give you vision of potential pushes, but it also prevents the opponent from seeing yours. So keep a zergling or two at watch towers, and make sure you don't forget to resend some as they perrish from a marine or a push. A burrowed zergling in a strategic position can also grant you a ton of vision and can often go unnoticed off of creep.

Ramp scouting is an essential element to the survival of Zerg players. Keep a zergling or two right out of their base, this is the first line of defence against pushes. If you don't know what your opponent is going for in the early game, the ramp gives you plenty of information in most cases. You can scout the buildings with add-ons, potential command centers being built and more importantly what units reside behind the wall off.

As for base scouting, in the early game I send a drone out to scout at 10 supply. This usually gives me enough time to slip inside their base or atleast scout the ramp. The big scouting info here is the gas geyser. If it is taken, this changes your gameplay around when compared to a gasless Terran.
If your drone is taken out, you can later sacrifice an overlord by sending it in from the side of the base to scout buildings and marine count should he just send his whole control group to kill it off.

These four core concepts is what you should strive for in your fight against the Terrans. But concepts alone won't help you in dealing with the myriad of pushes or styles that a Terran can perform. So now let's look at the early game.

Early Game

Patience and respect

Where many newer players will crumble, and a slight mistake or mis-scout can dominate the whole rest of the game. It is difficult to know just exactly what the Terran is doing even if you know the add-ons. But there is no reason you should be changing your play up for every single build Terran can do. Make modest adjustments to your play, that should be a focus.

That is why in every game versus Terran I fast expand. Personally, I go for a 14 hatchery. But other people go for a 15 hatchery 15 pool. I do not know which one is the most effective, but I will lay the only straight up build order that I use here.

Buildorder

9 - Overlord
10 - Send drone to scout
14 - Rally egg to expansion.
@300 minerals - Build Hatchery
15 - Spawning pool
16 - Extractor
17 - Overlord
When extractor finishes, put 2(!) drones in gas.

The first thing you should do in the game when you reach 10 supply is to send out a drone to scout, select it and press c so it is free from minerals before you send it out. In a few couple of cases on ladder maps you should be able to get inside the base of terran. Only if you scout his base last should you not be able to go inside.

If you get inside, the first thing you do is beeline towards the mineral line and see how far his gas is going. Should there be no gas, then there is a very high propability that the Terran is going for a 2 Barracks opening ( 2rax ) and in some cases a 1 Barracks Expand. In both situations, the Terran will be limited to Marines, SCVs and bunkers to defend and to pressure.

2 Barracks

Yes it does need a section of its own 2 Barracks

This opening is very versatile, and while the different applications are finite, it's uses are not. 2-Raxing is used by the Terran to put pressure at the Zergs expansion, so that he gets time to build his expansion and at the same time force the Zerg into building units. They can however go all-in with it, and the amount of pressure they can put on varies.

An 11 supply Barracks followed by another 11-Barracks for example is the strongest pressure build you can do against Zerg with two Barracks. It gets the bunkertech out as fast as possible and the marines building much faster than a normal 2 Barracks opening. It is however slightly less economical and often is heavily focussed on pressure, so beware. The first barracks starts at 1:31 and the first bunker is buildable at 2:31 ( 2:36 in the 1.4 PTR patch ). So you should be diligent with your scouting about when the barracks are going down.

Bunker rush

Your second overlord should be over your hatchery while it is building. This gives you the vision needed to scout a bunker going up. Because if that building goes up, you will have a bad time. If you see the bunker building, get that overlord back to your main or as far away as possible from the general line of attack. You don't want to get supply blocked in a situation like this.

Bunker rush

Now, your spawning pool isn't done yet and your expansion is barely not finished to spread creep. The only thing you have is drones, and there is a threat near your most vulnerable position. Your only choice is to pull drones. The amount of drones you should send should be rationalized. After all, if you pull too many drones you will lose valuable mining time.

In general, if the bunker goes up soon ( pre-spawning pool finishing ) you have to pull at least 6 drones to prevent the building from completing. The major target here is the SCV building the bunker. It is the easiest to snipe and if the Terran hasn't brought more SCV's with his pressure, the push can be over right there.

This is all just happy thinking though, good Terrans will atleast have a second and often a third SCV when they go for heavy pressure like an 11-11. So you can't just focus-fire the SCV with all your drones when there are more coming, after all, he can just use another SCV to finish producing the bunker if one is sniped.

So you have to split your attention a little bit, using one or two drones to focus-fire the building SCV. And the rest to scare away the small SCV/Marine force.

These drones often cannot simply take out this force, and a lot of economy is safed up in these units. Make sure you lose as few as possible when you scare the Terran away. With each drone he snipes, your possibilities decrease. So pick your fights wisely, and if you clearly cannot win, don't continiue your assault.

As soon as your spawning pool finishes, build a Spinecrawler behind your hatchery. This is the least vulnerable place to build it, because it is out of range from bunkers and if Marines want to attack it they have to move onto the creep and closer to your ramp. Your first queen should be built on the natural hatchery too, because that is where your forces should be and a queen is a very beefy companion.

As long as the bunker pressure holds up, you should make Zerglings. And obviously try to time 100 minerals up when you reach 100 gas for your Zergling speed. Because you haven't put too many drones on gas, you will maximize your mineral income while delaying your less important tech slightly. It is a good trade off too, because one drone can make a 50 mineral difference. That's an extra pair of zerglings and no overload of gas even after you get the speed upgrade.

Respect the bunkers, don't engage them until you have a lot of forces. Don't drone up, perhaps squeeze out a single one during a less pressured period in the siege. Your Spinecrawler should be finished up soon and you can plant it just in range of the bunker. If the bunker isn't in range of the hatchery, you should repell the pressure here. Because a Spinecrawler barely outranges a bunker, it forces the Terran to repair just to keep it alive. Often its better to just salvage it for him and take your losses.

Bunker defence We did it! Dinner is on me tonight

Is the bunker in range of the hatchery, then don't panic. Your Spinecrawler should bide you some time to get a lot of zerglings up. Let the hatchery take a little damage, it isn't going to die any time soon. A bunker full of Marines takes approximately 54 seconds to take down a hatchery. That's a lot of time to prepare.

When your spinecrawler has done its job by damaging the bunker a bit, lead your Queen into the line of fire. She will draw the fire so that the fragile zerglings can move in relatively unscathed. Move in with all your Zerglings at once, and click past the bunkers before you give your order to attack. This surrounds the bunker at once instead of having Zerglings clump up behind one another before they find a path to attack. Move your queen away, it is critical that you keep her alive because of her high cost and defensive capabilities of follow up attacks. If an SCV is repairing the bunker, grab a pair of Zerglings and focus it down. It should fall quickly, making the bunker a lot less cost-effective against your Zerglings.

As soon as the bunker falls and the marines have been turned into dogchow, move your zerglings out onto the map. You could find potential misrallied or retreating marines there that don't stand a chance at all against your Zergling pack. Behind this, you drone up and evaluate the situation.

He overextended himself, I saw a ton of marines and he brought some SCV's too! I'm nearly unscathed workerwise and my engagements were pretty spot on!

Sometimes when I hold off a bunker rush so amazingly well and I know that he is going for his expansion without a lot of gas or any at all, I get the chills. It is like Artosis is watching over your shoulder, and places his finger flat on the screen where he wants the Baneling nest to be built. You know you have a macro advantage, but you also know that your Terran adversary has a tech disadvantage. So the macro Baneling bust should be considered.

Your second queen should be finishing up by now, and you should build a Baneling nest when you feel you can ( its only 100 minerals and 50 gas, so you could potentially already build it in the ending phases of the bunker rush ). Make sure all three drones are put on gas, because you want the maximum amount of Banelings you can get. Spend all of your larvae on Zerglings and rally them just outside your opponent's base.

An expanding Terran that went 2-Rax will often wall off with buildings alone, hoping this will deter us from crawling inside their base and chewing through all of their helpless SCV's.

It takes 13 Banelings to blast through a Barracks. But without Siege tanks or Hellions to defend, who is really going to stop us from blowing it up? Move in with your banelings first, so that the Zerglings won't get in their way. And as your Banelings are attacking their wall, move in your Zerglings. With good timing they should move in their base at about the same time. In here you can quickly surround the bunkers and use any remaining Banelings to kill Marines or deal hard damage to the bunkers.

Natural doomed

When you are inside, you should win right there. Send a couple of your forces up the ramp while the other half mows down the natural. This increases the chances that your opponent will be too busy to lift the supply depot because of the huge amount of things happening at once. If there are Zerglings in his main and natural, the game is yours. If you can't even win with such a huge advantage, you're actually killing eSports. Inject right after you enter the main and make a ton of drones behind your attack. In the unlikely event that the person you are facing is Flash and he holds with just marines, a stray hellion and SCV's, your dronelead should carry you the win.

He retreated well, did a little bit of damage but didn't lose a lot of marines.

You should come to terms with the damage you took and your position. Drone up like you normally would and be glad that Hellions are delayed. There is no reason to go for a huge Baneling bust in this case, because a single sieged up Siege tank will ruin your attack in more ways than one. It is safer to just transition into the midgame with a few drone waves and make your choices there. You have some time to relax now, because another push will take some time to materialize.

Passive 2 Barracks

This is the most omnious Barracks play that you can encounter. You've seen the two barrack going up, so you know he is going to be aggressive. You look at your natural but see no bunker being built. You wonder what is going on, his gas tech is delayed and the economy is slightly hampered by the second barracks. Slowly and surely, you start to piece together the puzzle that seems so strange and foreign. One might say that that everything is falling into place Bit by Bit

A most famous all-in that ruled for a whole GSL, popularized by a certain korean on the Prime team. Perhaps the coach just wanted to have some diabolical fun. But even if we don't know the 'why' of BitbyBit, we know what he does.

SCV-Marine All-in

Bit by Bit

If you scout a large amount of SCVs marching across the map towards your base, you better act fast, because it's coming. Your biggest priority right now is to cancel your zergling speed and plant down a Baneling nest as fast as possible ( and preferably in your main, seeing as your natural is about to get beaten ). It takes 60 seconds for your nest to complete, and after that 20 seconds for your first Banelings to morph. So that is the timeframe that you have to stall the push.

As he still needs to move all the way to your base, you probably have enough time to build up some Banelings and lay waste to his SCV shield. But you can't be sure if they will finish up soon. So in the case that your opponent moves past your spinecrawler and up your ramp, you need to keep a couple of things in mind.

  • Keep almost ALL of your drones alive, preferably not losing any of them. These are the easiest kills for him and also the most valuable. Because his economy can be augmented by MULEs, he can keep on building marines while you can't build enough units with less drones.
  • Let him target the structures. A spawning pool or a hatchery takes a long time to kill, and time is your biggest friend here. Obviously you don't want to lose it, but you can feign a drone attack on the force to make the Terran stop focusfiring the building, if it is only for a second or two.
  • Build your Banelings in a safe location. The last thing you want to have happen to you is that you have the appropiate counter to a build, but having it get sniped before it is even done. So don't morph them in the front of your natural, on your ramp, or in the space between your ramp and main. It's best to hide them a little in a location where he wouldn't look or where he has to get way out of his way to find and attack the cocoons.

When you engage, attack with a large amount of Zerglings ( I hope to god you didn't drone during an all-in for pete's sake ) and try to herd the SCV-Marine ball against a wall or a cliff. Try to keep them huddled up before your Banelings ram their way in to maximize their damage. Never engage with just a couple of Banelings alone, because a good Terran WILL snipe them with reasonable controll.

Multirax Marine pressure ( 3rax and up )

Multi rax

This oftentimes starts off as passive as well, but there are also plays where you go for a 2 rax pressure and retreat to meet up with a larger force of marines. In any case, if you haven't stomped the marine force and you know there are a ton of them around, it never hurts to build a Banelings nest for safety.

A Baneling nest only costs 50 gas and 100 minerals, and with its buildtime of 50 seconds, it is hardly a costly investment. So getting it after your zergling speed will only delay the Lair for 50 gas . So if you have scouted a 2 rax opening ( or you're lucky enough to actually scout 3 barracks or more ) put up a safety net in the form of a baneling nest. It will shut down 4 rax plays very hard and it doesn't open you up for scary timings where you just built a ton of drones instead of zerglings, because you can simply upgrade your zerglings to banelings.

In addition, a single well placed Baneling will kill off so many Marines that it can be game-ending. Considering the Marines won't have stim and potential late Marauders won't have much to say to a large amount of speedlings and Banelings, this opens up a large timing where a baneling zergling counter attack can be extremely effective.

If you hold off this sort of push, you can be almost certain that the game is yours. Because follow up pressure will be so late that your third should already be up and saturated before his anti-baneling offensive will be ready. And if he attacks before he has Siege tanks up after he has seen your banelings, well let's just say that he will never pressure you again after that. Seeing as you'll just roll right through him and his last bit of hope.

1 Barracks Expand

1 Barracks Expand

An economic build that wants to get a strong midgame push. But it's very fragile, and it's easy to see a greedy 1rax expand versus a safer 1rax expand.

'A greedy 1rax expand? Aren't all 1 rax expands greedy?' you might think to yourself. But some Terrans just like to think that just because they can build a full rax wall off that they are safe. Unfortunately for them this is even easier to punish than a failed 2rax into rax wall-off expand. Because the command center delays the other two barracks needed for the wall off. And most of all, if he has built 3 barracks to wall himself in, he probably doesn't have a lot of SCVs gathering gas. This all has ripple effects. Later gas = Later factory = Later siege tech + siege tanks.

I love baneling busting these kinds of 'safe' wall offs, because as I explained in the 2 Rax section, you have a lot of things you can do with this pressure and just make his head spin. Don't restrain yourself to all-in every once in a while, especially if you see a clear opening for it. Remember, punish mistakes. There is no reason to go have a 20 minute long game if you know that it can easily end or give you a massive advantage if you do a high pressure attack now.

But if they get a faster gas, that means their tech won't be delayed by all that much. You can still all-in him, but it won't be as calculated and more luck based. Instead, you can focus on the lack of heavy pressure coming at you in the early game. The most likely pressure you will face is a pair of hellions harassing your front. With a spinecrawler and a queen to defend, these should not be a problem to deal with. It is probably the only units he will have to attain map control before he will do his 2 base timing, the inevitable marine-tank attack.

As you won't face any true threat, you can drone up nicely and saturate your natural and main and focus on getting a third up sooner than normal.

Gas openers

What? You can't use a whole carddeck in Texas hold 'em!

Bump your nose into the wall, put your ear against it and guess what exactly is behind it. There's only a 90 % chance that you're wrong! That's what this will feel like. You can't aim to gain scouting critical scouting information, because a good Terran will station Marines all around his perimeter so your sacrificial overlord will get sniped before it gets anything well. But there is a couple of things you can scout for, I'll list the way to deal with the Terran 1 base builds and the scouting information you might see. Do note that you can't ever be 100% sure what the Terran is doing, so if it takes a very long time for him to expand or push out, just attempt to defend against all possible attacks such as banshees.

Marauder/Hellion push

  • Gas during barracks building
  • Reactor on barracks before lifting
  • Techlab on barracks after lifting
  • No Command center
  • Hellion defending when you poke up the ramp
  • No bunker on top of the ramp
  • Fairly 'late' push for a 1 base

The strength of this build is fairly shallow, seeing as it only relies on the supposed 'counters' in the game. Marauders are used to deal with roaches while the hellions should deal with the zerglings, effectively countering these compositions if they both attack move into eachother.

But a good zerg ( read: not a knucklehead ) wouldn't overreact to a late factory with hellions by going roaches. And yes, if you would go roaches you would totally lose to a push like this. There are two zerg units in the early game that don't take bonus damage from either Marauders nor Hellions. These two units go hand in hand, the Queens to tank damage and the Banelings to deal them. Without the Hellions to deal with a large amount of speedlings, this push is easily dealt with and shrugged off with the right control.

'SlayerS' Marine Hellion Elevator

Slayers elevator
  • Gas before barracks
  • Techlab researching on Factory
  • Barracks with reactor
  • Two gas
  • Later starport
  • Swapping of factory to a reactor from techlab
  • No bunker on top of the ramp
  • Moving out with medivac

This is a fairly recent build that cropped up from the SlayerS house in Korea. It involves using a Medivac to move Marines and Blueflame Hellions from the low ground into the main. There are some variations like leaving the Hellions on the lowground while baiting the Zerglings with the Marines and loading up once the Zerg gets close. There are a lot of advantages in this position especially against melee units like the Zerglings and Banelings.

A way of dealing with this is to have three Queens out and focus-fire the Medivac while it is elevatoring the units into your main. Otherwise, good simcity will help against the Hellions while Queens can attempt to hold them out of the mineral lines. A spinecrawler at your ramp ( which should normaly already be there considering you are facing hellions ) will discourage Hellion run by's into the natural and creep spread between the main and natural is a definite advantage against this kind of play. You should never engage the Terran when he is at the cliff. He can't do much damage to your economy right there and the position will work against you too much that its better to lure him all the way into your main and try to outmicro him there with Banelings, Zerglings and Queens.

Quick Tank/Marine push

  • Gas before barracks
  • Two barracks
  • Techlab while factory is building
  • Techlab researching on factory
  • No Command center
  • No bunker op top of the ramp
  • Second gas taken

Perhaps the most fragile of openings a Terran can do, on par with a 1 base blink all-in in PvZ. It is great to deal with slow banelings and overdroned Zergs. It can also fare fairly well against Roaches.

But this opening is very bad against a Zerg that simply has a lot of stuff. And if you hit all your larvae injects reasonably and respect the 1 base attack by building units if you have a semi saturated natural, you should have enough speedlings to deal with it. Simply wait until he unsieges one of his tanks ( he should only have about 2 or 3 max ) or he drives unsieged tanks in too far and engage with all your Zerglings. You don't neccesarily need Banelings against this, but if you want to be safe, go ahead and get one. If you need to engage when he is in a good position and sieged up, lead with your Queen first before you move in with your Zerglings.

1-1-1 Expand

  • Gas before barracks
  • Quick factory
  • Quick second gas
  • Reactor on factory
  • Bunker on top of the ramp!
  • Hellion pressure
  • Techlab on starport researching

Another frail opening that heavily relies on catching the Zerg off guard with cloaked Banshee harass. It is really typical to identify, as the factory is often used in the wall. There is also a short Hellion harass ( which focusses on drones, but tends to try to take out Queens too ) before the inevitable cloaked Banshee harass. Generally there will be around two Banshees in this opening.

The best way of dealing with this is getting up more Queens and teching to an evolution chamber. The evolution chamber allows you to upgrade your Zerglings while granting your hatcheries time to build Queens. If you scout the banshees, instantly put down a sporecrawler each in the mineral line of het natural and main. These crawlers aren't meant to shoot at the Banshees, but its detection range is a lot bigger than the attack range. So it augments the Queens in shooing away the Banshees or sniping them off.

It's also great to have some creepspread connecting your bases so your Queens can move around more quickly to defend both fronts. And seeing as you will have around 4 Queens by this time, one creep tumor should already be built in the main. The best way of transitioning against this opening is a mutalisk based style, because it will discourage additional Banshee harass. Unless the Banshees did a ton of drone damage, the Terran will be behind and his follow up pressure will be much weaker than a more standard hellion expand or 2 rax pressure expand.

Two Starport Banshee

2 port banshee
  • Gas before barracks
  • Quick factory
  • Quick second gas
  • Only 2 hellions pressuring
  • Bunker on top of the ramp!
  • Barracks building techlabs
  • No Command center
  • Two starports ( if you scout this, you're playing a very unfortunate guy who put his ports in a way too obvious position. )

This is a heavily aggressive build designed to completely steal your map control. It can also be used as a shock tactic, hiding the banshees until they come in a pack of 5 or 6 trying to completely overwhelm you and snipe queens that are transitioning between the bases. The only thing this kind of banshee harass usually lacks is the cloak upgrade ( which costs a ridiculous 200 minerals and 200 gas ). But the raw airpower it provides is often enough to simply outpower the weak earlygame Zerg anti-air.

The best way of dealing with this is having three Queens up before you start your lair at one of your bases. Then keep building Queens at the unupgrading hatchery. The evolution chamber should have already been started when your third Queen finishes giving you the ability to get a lot of sporecrawlers up. And instead of just having an advantage with creep between your bases, you actually NEED the creep joining eachother to have the ability to quickly move all of your Queens from one base to another. The Queens can never travel alone, because you cannot afford to have a single Queen die for free against this heavy air armada.

Don't skimp on sporecrawlers, instead of just having them for detection, they are meant to zone out and shoo away the Banshees from the mineral line. As the lair finishes you should immediately get your spire, unless you just never want to take your third. Because the Banshees will deny your third indefinitely as your Queens are too slow off of creep and tumours can easily be sniped. A creep highway connecting all three bases won't be possible as long as the Banshees are alive. So mutalisks are the only way to get them away. You cannot go Infestors against this playstyle right away. Spread out Banshees simply murder Infestors easily and keep mapcontrol and keep your Infestor energy low.

The most logical transition for the Terran is a reasonably quick Thor when he scouts the spire. So you probably won't be able to harass his mineral lines much, but atleast you will regain mapcontrol and have a third up before his. His Siege tanks will be delayed and if he goes for a big push he won't have that much Siege tanks for that time in the game. So a large amount of Zerglings will help tremendously.

5 Rax Reaper

5rax Reaper
  • Techlab on barracks without upgrading
  • 2 barracks building simultaniously after the first barracks
  • No command center
  • No or just one marine

However, occasionally you can still get surprised with this opening. Whenever you scout a pack of 5 reapers or more, always start a Roach warren. Reapers actually don't do anything to Roaches and you will force him into Marauder production. You can't go for a spinecrawler defense because of the extra damage versus structures and Zerglings need a surround on the Reapers to have any chance whatsoever. Keep your units on the high ground where the Reapers can jump in when you see this large force, because most Terrans will jump all of them into the main at once and get easily overwhelmed by a sudden force camped there, be it Roaches or Zerglings.

Reaper Expand

  • Techlab on barracks without upgrading
  • No other production facilities
  • One gas
  • One Marine for a long time

A less aggressive and fairly delicate way of expanding, the Reaper expand relies on putting some pressure on the natural hatchery and perhaps snipe a couple of drones. Meanwhile its speed and manoeuvrablilty can keep the Zerglings at bay and keep the Zergs attention at his base rather than the Terran's.

The only time this gets actually game threatening is when an SCV is building a bunker near your natural hatchery. That bunker should NEVER get up and your drones have to snipe out the SCV to make sure that he doesn't retreat with the SCV to later come back when the Reaper meets up with him so he can finish the bunker. A Reaper bunker has additional range, is stronger against light and against structures such as the Spinecrawler and your hatchery. If this gets up and more Reapers stream down the map and hop into the bunker, your natural hatchery will simply die and his expansion will be up much sooner than yours. So don't let a bunker go up at all costs in the case of a Reaper build.

Blueflame Expand

  • Gas before barracks
  • Quick factory
  • Second gas
  • Two factories
  • Command center after factories being built.
  • One techlab building on factory
  • Reactor on factory
  • Techlab researching while reactor is building
  • Hellions moving out fairly quickly

Probably the safest opening for Terran out there against Zerg. It relies on two factories, one with a reactor and one with a tech lab, to pump out three blueflame Hellions at a time. This gives the Terran a more prominent position on the map than for example a 2 rax opening. The reactor factory simply switches over with the barracks after he has made enough Hellions ( often around 6 hellions ) and it makes a techlab for itself. The Terran will have the two factories up ready for the Siege tank transition for the midgame. It doesn't impede the actual gameplan much and it gives the Terran faster Siege tanks and more than a 2 rax opening.

You cannot simply transition into roaches and try to overwhelm him with the 'counter' to hellions because the siege tanks come out rather quick. And a Baneling all in is also easy to deal with due to the quick siege tech and the pressence of the Hellions on the map.

The best way of dealing with this is to play economical on two bases and protect yourself from a hellion run by. A pair of spinecrawlers in your natural will deter Hellions from driving behind the mienral line and sniping off a ton of drones. If he does he will be trapped and your Zerglings, Queens and Spinecrawlers. Which should kill them off and retake the map control that he had with them. This build heavily relies on the Hellions retaining map control against Zerglings, so if those die you will have all map control which keeps the Terran in the dark.

The most common transition is a Marine-Tank midgame push, but occasionally the Terran will go into mech too. The fact that this build relies on map control and is fairly safe and flexible makes it a great opening against Zerg.

The Tools

Learning the tricks and relations between early game units.

Queens

Zerg Queen

These units are the beefiest Zerg units in the early game. Not only do they have the biggest HP of all the units, but they don't take any bonus damage from light or armoured. In addition, they have 1 armour naturally.

Without regeneration held into account, a Queen takes the following amount of hits to kill.

  • Marines - 35 shots
  • Hellions - 25 shots
  • Marauders - 19 shots
  • Reapers - 58 shots
  • Banshees - 8 shots

Queens are used to prevent Hellion run by's and as damage tankers. Because they can take a big beating without falling, this unit often leads the charge before falling back to the safety of the mineral line where it can regenerate. Against Banshees she is the single most common way of defending. A lone Queen takes 8 shots to kill a Banshee, and with the slightly longer range and roughly the same attack speed, a single Queen can kite and be safe while retreating to another Queen. But it's prefered to never attack a Banshee with a single Queen, only for shooing it away.

On top of its defensive duties, the Queen takes care of the macro of the Zerg arsenal. Allowing creep tumours to be built and spawning larvae onto hatcheries. The longer the game is going and the lower the energy is, the better the player is at hitting the larvae injections. She is also the only unit that is spawned from the hatchery itself instead of larvae.

Zerglings

Zergling

Zerglings are the most basic and numerous Zerg units throughout the game. Because they are cheap and spawn in pairs, they serve as excellent units for a quick reinforcing wave to make quick and strong blows to a Terran who is thinned out. In general they lead the charge, taking the first siege shots to protect the valuable Banelings from getting barraged.

Speedlings are also the unit that can punish Terrans the most. Their speed allows them to catch up to any Terran unit on the ground and can catch retreating Marines and Tanks easily, delaying the follow up push even more.

In the early game before speed however, Hellions and Marines give them a tough time. Hellions can kite them and with their splash a normal Hellion can take out a Zergling pack in three shots. Blueflame Hellions hit even harder, two shotting them with ease, and the metabolic boost is absolutely needed to deal with BFHs. Marines kill Zerglings in 6 shots and can kite them reasonably well if they are stutter stepped. So Marines absolutely need to be surrounded if there is a normally sized army of around 5 to 7 in the early game lest you want all your Zerglings to die cost-inefficiently. In the case of a Hellion run by, Speedlings can trap and surround them behind mineral lines fairly easily, shifting the fight around in their favour.

Banelings

Banelings

Banelings in the early game are mostly a safety net. They benefit from overmade Zerglings too, since they don't require larvae and thus gives the Zerg more larvae later to devote to drones. Even if you have already spent all your larvae on drones and you spot a push coming, you can morph a few Banelings to strengthen your army quickly.

They are fierce at dealing damage, forcing the Terran to micro their units to not make them take all the splash damage from the Baneling. Marines get killed in 2 hits and hellions die in three, so a comeback is quickly made with these units.

However, Banelings also have the lowest HP of all the Zerg units, killable in 5 shots from a Marine. The cocoons with their 50 HP also need to be morphed behind some defenses, otherwise you risk Marines moving forward and sniping them before they hatch. You can also never lead fights with Banelings due to their slow speed and low health. They need Zerglings to tank damage for them and to catch and surround the Terran units so that they can do their maximum damage possible.

Roaches

Zerg Roaches

These seem like great units to bust down walls and get inside the main, but a Roach generally isn't great in a full on frontal attack unless the Terran doesn't have any anti-armoured units like the Marauder, Tank or Banshee. But otherwise a bunker filled with two Marauders or a sieged up tank will deflect a Roach army that has to move through a wall.

The best way to use a Roach is in the early game to deflect Reapers and Hellions. And occasionally can be used to punish a mass Hellion play, forcing them back and regaining the map control that the Hellions are supposed to get. The very best way of engaging with Roaches is flanking with two different armies, because you are spreading your forces out to mitigate the splash damage.

You could do a Roach/Baneling attack in the early midgame, where a flank could kill off a lot of critical siege tanks and slaughter a push. However, Roaches in the midgame are only useful against Mech due to the manoeuvrablilty of Terran drops and the slow response time of Roaches with or without speed. You are giving up too much map control and Siege tanks combined with Marines to tank damage are amazing against a large Roach force. So if you go for Roaches, make sure you have a large attack coming up in the midgame to transition out of it afterwards.

Dealing with Hellions

Drive by

These dunebuggies are a very real and dangerous threat to your most vulnerable resource, your drones. Especially in the case of blue flame where they kill drones in two shots ( or oneshot them if two Hellions are focusfiring ). I'll line up some tips for dealing with these fast, annoying barbequeing golf carts.

-Shooing with Queens

The easiest way to deal with and not overreact to Hellions. You simply try to park your Queen between the natural hatchery and an extractor. This scares the Hellions from moving in and getting trapped by the Queen and the Spinecrawler. You should keep moving the Queen back and forth like a goalie to keep them on your feet when they try to do a run by.

-Ramp blocking with Queens

Your ramp is the strongest line of defence against Hellions. Because it is a choke point and protects your main, Hellions will have to go through this hazardous area to get to the juicy drones inside. However, a well placed Spinecrawler in range of the ramp and a Queen hold positioned on the ramp will prevent a run by from happening.

You can put two Queens on the ramp on hold position to make a full wall off, but against Hellions you don't neccesarily need a full wall off. A single Queen hold positioned in the middle of the ramp will prevent Hellions from driving by. But beware, you have to make sure it is sitting in the middle of the ramp. Have it slightly to either side and the Hellions will have a chance drive past your Queen and into your main.

-Wall surrounding

Mineral lines are often situated near a wall or cliff behind them. This gives the Hellions a very narrow path to move through when they are harassing. But the wall also serves as a blockade to pin them against. When Zerglings surround harassing Hellions, you should try to pin them against a wall if you can't get a full surround.

Because the Hellions don't move on an attack move but on a regular move command, you will gain valuable seconds where the Hellions aren't firing and are more or less writhing in your grasp. Not only that, but they can't shoot at the wall to slip out of the surround, which they can do in the case of a Zergling surround. In essence, it gives you a cheaper and easier surround. But beware, you are trading surface area for an emergency surround, and Zerglings seeping through minerals tend to line up heavily.

-Feigning an undefended ramp

This is a mindgame and requires some additional tech in the form of a Banelings nest. Units on the low ground have no vision of the high ground, this is common knowledge amongst all of us. But few realise that the ramp essentially acts as a no-vision bush. As a zerg player, you will think 'so what? None of my units have any range to abuse that' but you would be horribly wrong on that.

The trick revolves around purposefully leaving your ramp easy to run by by not placing a Queen there. To a Terran player this will be seen as a weakness and he will instantly move up the ramp with all his Hellions to do major damage. Unfortunately for the Hellions, we will have parked 3 Banelings on top of the ramp. Because he will only notice the Banelings at the last second, he will hardly have any reaction time to retreat from the Banelings while they are so up close that they can detonate right up to the Hellions. 3 Banelings will kill a Hellion in one go, and since not a lot of people ever split up their Hellions before they move up the ramp, you will very often deal heavy heavy damage to the Hellion pack and leave them harmless to your economy.

-Drone or Queen block

When Hellions drive by behind the mineral line, they have to stop before they can shoot. This gives you enough time to grab a couple of drones or a nearby Queen and make a small blockade in front of the Hellions between the wall and mineral line. Attack moving while blocking the Hellions will make them attack the drones that are attacking, which are slightly more spread out then the mining drones. This also gives your Zerglings extra time to move in and surround the Hellions.

-Drone spread

If all else fails, you can spread your drones out to save them from a brutal end. Select all of your drones and hit S to make them all stop in their tracks. Then, instead of sending them all away in a tightly packed line, you simply spam F1 while clicking around randomly. F1 selects a single idle worker and the click will send it out. This trick is fairly easy to do and makes the individual spread a lot more effective against Hellions.

Midgame

The dance

The stage where everything converges into two different styles for both Terran and Zerg. For Terran, there is the Marine-tank push and Mech. For Zerg, there is the Muta/Baneling play and Infestor-ling, sometimes Roach infestor against mech.

There are a lot of similarities between the two Terran styles and the two Zerg styles. Terrans style attempts to move towards Zergs third and set up a contain. Zergs style is to counter attack, delay the push and pick it apart slowly before they engage. Mutalisks to try and pick off tanks, Marines dodging Banelings and fungal growth. Harassment on both sides. All in all, Zerg versus Terran in the midgame is a very exciting and fast match up.

Both the Terran and the Zerg player have to constantly readjust their position, and one fatal unsiege or a too quick engagement by the Zerg can prove disastrous for both sides. Because of this, only the most evenly matched players will move on through the midgame without being behind. I will lay out some crucial tips to play on the Zerg side.

Mutalisk-Baneling

Special guerilla tacticks

A style that is heavily reliant on harassment and counter attacks, Mutalisk-Baneling is great for those players that have amazing multitasking and map awareness. A lot of very strong Zergs prefer to use Mutalisks in their play to edge out small advantages against their Terran opponents. But there are also a lot of very silly losses when a Zerg does a tiny misstep, losing half of his Mutalisks because he flew over a squad of Marines.

The engaging advantages of Mutalisks are that only Marines can engage them in a Marine-tank push. Tanks and Medivacs are also juicy targets for them if they are caught out of position and they can quickly turn a push around by harassing the mineral lines.

Meanwhile, Banelings and Zerglings are used to deal with the Marine force. Catching them and turning them into big green blobs of acid whenever a Baneling connects to them.

With that out of the way, let's lay out the finer tricks of this style.

Counter attacks

A powerful technique where this style truly excels. The counter attack is an attack on your Terrans base and vulnerable installations while his army is moving out to attack you. Because of the speed and rapid damage Zerglings and Mutalisks present, this divides the Terran up in an unscathed state of mind. Should he continiue his assault and sack his main? Or should he come back to defend, giving the Zerg crucial time to defend for the Terrans next push? To know what choice is right the Terrans decision making has to be top notch, because the wrong decision will lose him the game.

To perform a counter attack, you have to have your Zerglings out on the map, preferably on the Terrans side of the map and out of sight of his attack path ( the direct path between your Terrans natural and your third or natural ) so that he won't know this kind of assault is coming. You also need a couple of Zerglings at the front of his base to notice him moving out ( you really should have one atleast.. well .. always here ).

Then, when he moves out, you wait a little until his army appears on your minimap atleast on the middle of the map ( where you should have something scouting too ) before you grab your hidden Zerglings and move them into his natural. Just let them loose, because you aren't trying to basetrade, you're simply trying to make him turn around so you can prepare for the push better. The damage you are doing is great, but even if you only killed 10 SCVs and a missile turret, your counter attack would still be remotely effective.

Do note that if the Terran really wants to push, that the counter attack won't do anything to change his mind. He wants to end the game right there and he doesn't care if he loses his production for it. Beware of over-counter attacking, because you won't delay the Terran indefinitely regardless of what you do, he will push. So if your first counter attack has done major, crippling damage, don't go for another one in the close future. He will be hellbent to siege up right next to your natural and bombard right through your bases to even the game out, and you need to be prepared with an army at YOUR base rather than one at his.

An extra more advanced tactic is to have your Mutalisks near his push when he retreats. In the best case, the Marines will have stimmed and rushed back to his base to save it, and leave the slower Siege tanks or sieged up tanks behind. Perfect for a quick tank sniping. Easy and quick kills to make.

Muta Harassment

Muta harassment

This is probably the single most annoying thing a Terran has to deal with when fighting against a Zerg. And also the biggest place where you can actually make differences microing Zerg units. Mutalisks are built for hit and run tactics, with their ability to fly and their speed they are just about the best harassment units in the game. That is, in the right hands.

There are a lot of things that can go right in Mutalisk harassment, and a lot of things that can go horribly, horribly wrong. But before we know what is correct harassment, we have to crunch some numbers. So I made a table with Mutalisk numbers and buildings that you can snipe. The s behind the numbers indicates ingame seconds, so 2 s would be 2 ingame seconds

8 mutalisks16 mutalisks24 mutalisks
M. turret6 s3 s2 s
Supply depot10 s5 s4 s
Reactor10 s5 s4 s
Techlab10 s5 s4 s
Armory19 s10 s7 s
Fusion core19 s10 s7 s
Engi bay22 s11 s8 s
Barracks25 s13 s10 s
Factory31 s16 s11 s
Starport33 s17 s11 s
C. center37 s19 s13 s
O. command37 s19 s13 s
P. fortress49 s24 s17 s

This table does not account for repairing SCVs. It's also accounting for no upgrades on the Mutalisks ( or building armour, because really, who gets building armour ) or the glave bounce ( because vs a stand alone building it doesn't bounce as far as I know ) nor the burning effect, but does include the regular armour of the buildings. Really, the equations get too complicated to put all of that into consideration for me. But the basic info still stands, even though it might not be 100% accurate, you can make good decisions based off of this crude table.

If we assume that we will have around 10 seconds before the Terran returns with his Marines, we can see that there aren't many buildings that you can snipe until you reach atleast 16 Mutalisks. You are mostly limited to supply depots, SCVs and add-ons when you have less than 16 Mutalisks. One upgrade building like the engineering bay, armory or fusion core can be sniped relatively easily when you have 16 Mutalisks and after you have more than 24, you can start sniping production facilities.

But the obvious targets are the things that are quick to die, because you can kill multiples of them in each raid. Things like SCVs, supply depots and add-ons. The biggest priority is a tech lab that's upgrading ( it glows green when it does ) because you can delay an important upgrade such as stim or blueflame that way.

After that, the reactor is an obvious second. Their build time is the longest of the add ons at 50 ingame seconds. This cuts the production in half and delays the rest of the production for 50 seconds until the reactor is online again.

The regular techlab is a third priority, because it stops production from the higher tier units. This is especially true for factories where you can delay tank production for some time. And lastly, the supply depots of course can supply block the Terran, stopping all further production until they get online again.

SCVs are the most juicy of targets obviously, but they often get protected by missile turrets. Missile turrets can kill a Mutalisk in 5 volley's which takes roughly 4.3 ingame seconds. So you have to move your focussed Mutalisk away after the third strike hits to keep it alive. Surrounded missile turrets ( 8 SCVs taken into account ) will repair at around 80 HP per ingame second, so it repairs around 120 HP between each Mutalisk attack. 14 Mutalisks do 126 damage with each volley, but because the missile turret will slowly batter down one Mutalisk so the volley damage will decrease by 9 which makes the SCVs repair the turret faster than the Mutalisks can damage it.

Missile turret vs Mutalisk

So, as you can see, the missile turret is pretty freaking good when it is repaired. You need to have atleast 24 Mutalisks to even start contesting a repaired missile turret. And even then, if there are multiple turrets ( 3 or so ) you can't actually contest a mineral line with mutalisks that aren't above the 30 number. This assumes that the Terran responds instantly and repairs a turret, but there are a lot of Terrans that don't have this down. So if the Terran can't respond quick enough, these numbers hardly matter since you can snipe them regardless and get to the crunchy SCVs inside quickly and painless.

Another way of Mutalisk harassment is camping above the production facilities. This is similar to cutting off their reinforcements because you are just waiting until the units appear to walk to their rally point. Marines spawn the fastest and are the easiest targets to kill. But when you see a Siege tank spawning, thats an obvious target.

20 Mutalisks will oneshot a Siege tank, so that doesn't really take long of your time and it reduces their tank count in the big Marine-tank push by one for free in a split second. Medivacs get oneshotted by 19 Mutalisks and they can be sniped in two ways. The first obvious one is camping at their spawning point, but the second is slightly dependant on the Terrans position and their hotkeys. Because Terrans often have their Medivacs and Marines on the same hotkey, they will travel to the same place when the Marines are moving to the harassment to shoo the Mutalisks away. But Medivacs fly over obstacles while Marines may take a much longer path to get to the harassment. Especially in the case of cliffs or high grounds you can abuse a Medivac flight path to fly right at your Mutalisks while the Marines are walking around the high ground and go up the ramp.

Burrowed Banelings

Burrowed Banelings

The most exciting thing you can have in a ZvT, a pair of burrowed Banelings can kill so many Marines that it is almost laughable for even our standards. Of course, its our only way of attacking in a cloaked fashion ( no, infested terrans don't count, you can still shoot them when they pop out of the ground and you don't need detection to fight them ). And just because our banshee doesn't fly, has to be stationary and needs stuff to be right on top of it doesn't mean the splash is bad right?

But because of this danger, Terrans in the higher leagues will be unscathed to death of these hidden dangers. As such, if you revealed that you have burrow, they will scan every step they make to make sure their whole army doesn't get liquified. And that's where the burrowed Baneling loses its effectiveness. So you have to be sneaky about this tactic to make it effective.

First, you don't burrow Banelings on creep tumored creep. Why do you ask? Because a good Terran is going to scan right THERE to get rid of creep, in other words, you will lose your creep and Banelings for free. Not a good trade.

The next step is to burrow Banelings in the attack path close to the Terrans base, preferably in pairs of two and spread out very slightly. Terrans usually start scanning in the middle of the map to clear them from Banelings, they think that the area closest to their base is fairly safe to trespass. Which makes it an excellent place to burrow them.

Another great place to burrow Banelings is in the mineral line of the next base the Terran will take. With any luck, he won't build a missile turret or notice that they are there, and maynard a ton of SCVs over to saturate his base. But the only thing he will be saturating is the workers lost tab.

If none of this works anymore, there is an additional trick that will require the Terran to think out of the box more, in other words, it works great. You leave a couple of burrowed Banelings in a slightly off location where Marines usually won't go or where Banelings wouldn't be expected at all. Then, you leave a couple of Mutalisks there. The fewer there are, the better, because it will look like a misrally of your units. And the fact that there are not a lot at all will make the Terran excited to pick it off for free. Unfortunately for him, you move the Mutalisks away slightly, guiding the Marines onto the mines below and blow them all up once they tread on them. This tends to work even in the Masters league because people aren't used to mindgames on the ladder.

Dismantling the Marine-Tank ball.

Tank contain

When you are going the Mutalisk route, you will probably be up against this: the most common Terran midgame in ZvT. The Marines are there to deal with air while the tanks support them unscathed Banelings roll in. So how do we defeat something that in essence should kill us with the right control?

There are a couple of tricks you can do to make your eventual engagement the best one you can get. The biggest one of them all is to have your current Zergling-Baneling force out on the map, so that later you will have an easier flank. Zerglings can retreat easily and because they are outside of the contain, they will be able to move around freely away from the tanks and out of sight from the Marines.

Another one is stim luring. If Mutalisks are just outside of the Marines range, the Terran will sometimes stim them to catch up to them to inflict damage. However, most Terrans simply stim a whole group and sometimes even an entire control group while your Mutalisks can retreat fairly easily once you notice them moving towards your forces. Let's say we have a group of 30 Marines that stims to catch some Mutalisks, that alone will do 300 damage to his whole force. In the case of regular Marines without combat shield, that means 22% of their life taken away, and combat shield will only reduce that amount to slightly below 20%.

You should always move your Mutalisks around the entrenchment to scout for possible weaknesses. Sniping a stray Siege tank or some Marines, anything that helps you wither down his force. You need all the help you can get to deal with the strong Marine-tank combination. If you can't find any weaknesses, you can always park your Mutalisks in his reinforce path. The reinforce path is the line between his natural and his force. Often Terrans reset their rally point to their contain, so that means a lot of single Marines and tanks that move around on a move command. Easy and free pickings that will make sure his contain won't get even stronger and tighter.

Muta bane

When you engage, you move in with everything at once. The flank, the main force and the Mutalisk pack. Try to move your Zerglings between his tanks before you attack and control your Banelings and Mutalisks to focus on the Marines. This engagement will probably be fairly chaotic but if you come out as the victor you will most likely have secured the win, so transition into a higher tech route and do with your advantage as you please, be it expanding or getting a stronger drop defence.

Engaging Marines with Mutalisks

Marine vs Mutalisk

Obviously this shouldn't be a priority to do, because it can hurt a lot when you engage in the wrong way. A single stimmed marine that has a Medivac healing him will hold off 2 Mutalisks, so for each Medivac in a large Marineball you should take 2 Mutalisks off of your group and see if it is worth it to engage. Obviously this isn't a perfect way of calculating when it is good to engage, but it can help you in making the quick decision whether you will lose too many Mutalisks simply by counting the Medivac count.

And you really should only engage Marines if you have atleast 50% more Mutalisks than their Marines, otherwise the engagement will be cost-effective for the Terran which is what you never want to have happen or atleast want to avoid.

The Magic box

This trick is easy to execute and highly effective in the right situations. A Thor will often end the reign of the Mutalisks annoying ability to attack from everywhere. But an unsupported Thor is easy to deal with using Mutalisks alone. This is because the Thors rely on a small point of splash to deal the damage. If your Mutalisks are spread out, this splash is negated and thus the Thors will die very easily.

Select all your Mutalisks and let them spread out, then regular move them past the Thors. Once you are on top of them, press H for hold position and let the Mutalisks rain their glave worms onto the Thors below. This gives you an easy to execute spread, making sniping stray Thors a walk in the park.

Weaknesses

Mutalisk-Baneling is an amazing army composition, and it deals well with Marines and Tanks if they are controlled well. But when Thors and ghosts start to enter the battle field, Mutalisks lose the ability to clean up armies or be annoying by sniping tank. Because clumping the Mutalisks will make Thor shots so harmful that you can never fly around freely. To illustrate, a full Thor shot will do 48 damage to your Mutalisks, multiply that by the amount of Mutalisks you have clumped up... yeah just don't. Marines and Thors will kill infinity Mutalisks and when the Tank pack gets larger, Zerglings and Banelings will lose their effectiveness quickly.

The biggest weakness of this unit composition is that it is a largely midgame army. It is great for a 2base vs 2base situation, but once the Terran starts teching up and gets higher more powerful units, it quickly becomes obsolete. That is why you have to know when to transition out from this style into a lategame army consisting of Broodlords and Infestors. Don't stay on this army for too long, because the longer the game will go on, the harder it will be to combat or delay the Terran forces.

Infestor-Ling

Delay and dismantle Infestor-Ling

This is the style I am most comfortable with because it does really well when you have good positioning. On top of that, it hinges on upgrades and a faster hive which is exactly what I like to have. And the upgrades that you are getting really improve the Ultralisk/Baneling style that I use in the lategame.

This Infestor-ling style excels at defending pushes, where Mutalisk-Baneling will have a lot harder time at defending such as the Marine-Tank push. But it cannot delay or put aggression on the Terran well because the Infestor is so pivotal in defending. Aggressive Terrans or Terrans which play revolves around the big midgame push will have a lot more difficulty dealing with this style, but macro Terrans that take a quicker but safe third base will have a slightly easier time. Fortunately, not a lot of Terrans take a third quickly AND safely that they aren't punishable.

This style also has a relatively short midgame, because you are relying on the stronger beefier hivetech units to put back pressure on the Terran rather than your Infestors and Zerglings.

Requirements

Infestor-Ling Requirements

You need quick upgrades with this style, because you are heavily reliant on Zerglings. Which both benefit heavily on the upgrades but also need to outupgrade the Terran units to be cost-effective in engagements.

Personally, I start my +1 melee before I start my Lair. When the Lair finishes I get another evolution chamber and get +2 melee and +1 carapace with them. These upgrades are crucial, because they will augment your Hive tech on both fronts and as you tech to hive fast you need the upgrades fast. On top of that, the Zerglings you are relying on in the midgame will be more cost-effective against pushes and drops.

You can also not take a third before your macro hatchery. You need to be able to make a snap reinforcement of a lot of Zerglings in case there is a random push coming up, and a third will often be near the Terran forces and can be more easily harassed than an inbase macro hatchery. On top of that, if you havexcess energy on your main queen, you can tap that to use it on both hatcheries before you have to build another queen to spawn larvae.

You should also get your Infestor tech up as fast as possible. This means getting the Infestation pit the second your Lair finishes , and building the Infestors once the pathogen gland upgrade moves past the 30 second mark while its being researched. After your pathogen glands finish, you should aim for the neural parasite upgrade right after. This combination will make dealing with Marine-Tank midgame pushes a lot easier.

Delaying

The whole point of this style is that you can get a Hive out slightly before the 15 minute mark. Because of that, you obviously want something that can delay or dismantle a variety of pushes. Both of this fits the Infestors glove perfectly.

Your Zerglings should always be out on the map, in the least outside of your natural with some scouting Zerglings on key scouting positions in the line of attack. These Zerglings can be used to force a siege on the tanks simply by feigning a big attack on the Marine-Tank ball. The best way of doing this is by moving in from two sides at once. This gives the Terran a feeling that you are committing to a huge flanking manoeuvre and thus incentive to siege up. If the Terran has to leap frog their tanks all the way over the map, the push will be delayed by a ton.

Huge Fungal

If Marines are leading the push, a single fungal growth will deal so much damage that the Terran will have to turn around or lose a lot of them that are supposed to tank the Zerglings. And a fungal on a little group of Siege tanks and Marines will snap them into place for a little while, giving you little amounts of time that will give your reinforcing army more time to safely spawn.

Positioning and punishing bad positions

Infestors with their range are one of the few Zerg units that rely on good positioning other than spreading them out or attacking in a unscathed. If there are Infestors out on the map, the Terran cannot move their Marines forward very far at all. They have to stay by the Siege tanks and preferably behind them. Sieged up tanks have a range of 13 and the fungal growth spell has 9 range, 10 range if you count the radius too. This gives the Infestor a 3 range lee-way of moving around and casting their spell.

If you catch a Marine ball with your fungal growth, you should time the next fungal growth out to be slightly less than 4 ingame seconds. This way you won't give the Terran time to retreat the Marines out of the grip. If you have killed a large amount of Marines with a couple of fungals, move in with all of your Zerglings and wait until you are atleast near the last Siege tank before you Attack move. This will make it so your surround will be much better and will make the Zerglings not focus on the 'meatshield' in the form of Marines. In the engagement, grab the first couple Siege tanks with neural parasite while keeping the other Infestors ready for a clutch fungal growth. This should give you a cost-effective engagement if you did it correctly.

Zergling run in

If you can't catch a large amount of Marines before the engagement, there is another way to start to engage your Terran opponent. Move a couple of spreaded out Zerglings towards the entrenchment while keeping your Infestors on stand-by. As soon as the Tanks show up into view, cast a couple of neural parasites on the frontal ones. As your Infestors waggle forward, move your huge Zergling force in before the Tanks can shell at the Infestors to draw fire away from them. Then as the Infestors latch onto the Tanks, move the rest of the Infestors in and start blanket fungalling the Marines while your Zerglings attack them. The Marines should die a very quick horrible death due to the massive splash damage all around, which gives your Zerglings all the room to surround the Tanks and easily take them out.

Highground Fungal

A great position to have your Infestors before an engagement is on the high ground. In case the force wanders along this ledge, this will give you the perfect place to start neural parasiting and fungalling the units without the Terran knowing. If there is a medivac around, this plan will obviously not be as effective. But you can easily retreat down to the lowground once you spot a Medivac. Also don't just do one single neural parasite, the Terran will notice and instantly scan the high ground where the Infestors will quickly die to tank fire of the other tanks the Terran has with his push.

Transitions

When your neural parasite is being researched, getting a Hive up should be your next priority. Hive tech offers a whole array of new options ranging from the +3 upgrades, Ultralisks and Broodlords. But most of all, the hive units are simply great at destroying entrenchments and contains. A late contain will face Ultralisks coupled with Infestors and Zerglings. All of these will quickly deal with any push that is coming too slow.

For more about the Hive tech, read the lategame section of this guide.

Weaknesses

As amazing as this style is against the most common Marine-Tank midgame style, it also has some weaknesses. Mainly that bad positioning will hurt you as much as the Terran will. Getting your Infestors caught in a strange spot by Siegetanks or very well spreaded Marines moving to them and killing them could weaken your defence by a TON.

Also, Banshees are remarkably strong against Infestor based styles. They do heavy damage quickly and because your anti-air relies on fungal growth, spreaded out banshees will be able to destroy your whole infestor pack and as such dismantle your whole build.

Whenever the Terran opens up with Banshees, you cannot directly move into this style. You have to start with a spire and atleast 8 Mutalisks to kill off the Banshees before you get your Infestors out. This also makes sure that the Banshees won't delay your third for a longer time than you actually want.

Of course, Ghosts are very strong against Infestors. But as long as your Infestors are spreaded out even when they are just sitting in your base, EMP won't be as much of a problem as the less tanks will be for the Terran. Don't get me wrong, Ghosts are amazing to deal with Infestors in the lategame. But if you get them out in the midgame your Tank count will be much lower considering the gas cost of a Ghost. So mass Zerglings will maul your meager tank count while spreaded Infestors will chain fungal the Marines into oblivion.

You can also not punish greedy Terrans as much because your mobility and harassability is a lot less than for example a Mutalisk based style. So Terrans that take a quicker third will be much better off then the general 2 base timing attack based Terran. Although you can bait the Terran into doing a quicker push by double expanding without saturating the bases. This will make him think that you are going to drone up and be undefeatable if he doesn't act now, so it puts some indirect pressure onto the Terran.

Versus Mech

A completely different composition for Terran Terran Mech

Mech is a whole different Terran style from the regular Marine-Tank style. It involves only factory units , or rather, no barracks units. You will see blueflame Hellions, Siege tanks and Thors with perhaps a small group of Marines to deal with Mutalisks. The name is derived from the units, which are all mechanical.

Factory units are very strong, they deal a lot of damage and are very cost-effective. It is a style that relies on the raw power of the Terran arsenal. On paper, this should be a much better style than Marine-Tank right?

As a matter of fact, Mech happens to just be different to play against. And personally I wouldn't say its harder but rather easier to play against. This is because it plays right into the Zergs playstyle, that is outmacroing, outmanoeuvring and eventually overwhelming an army.

If we scout three factories up on 1 or 2 bases, your opponent will be going for a Mech style. At first this means that a fast blueflame upgrade will be on the way to get some aggression onto the Zerg. So in order to take advantage of this, you get a Roach warren up and a quick third. Hellions can't snipe expansions and as such getting one earlier won't be more difficult to hold. Then, if you have an evolution chamber up, get a +1 ranged attack for your Roaches, Roach speed and burrow on your hatchery. Get a reasonably sized pack of Roaches of around 20 and spread them a little over your bases to deal with BFH harassment. Having 3 roaches in each mineral line won't spread out your army too much and you can quickly regroup of you see a sudden push coming.

Get your infestation pit up soon after researching burrow too. Because you will need the fungal growth and the Neural parasite to deal with a slightly earlier ( but riskier ) Mech push. Get out a lot of Infestors , say around 7. These will deal with Thors by mindcontrolling them while the Roaches will be flanking from multiple sides in the engagement. Get up a lot of Roaches and a macro hatchery up while teching to Hive and getting a spire up at the same time. If you start both at the same time, they will finish at the same time too, which means a faster greater spire.

If you can manage to do it, Burrow around 10 Roaches in the most likely siege up point. This will be another flank from below. The Terran will either pre-scan before the engagement to see if there is any burrowing going on. But if he is sieged up already and you show no sign of burrow, he won't feel the need to scan the ground beneath him. This is situational however, as soon as you scout a Raven you should abbandon this plan and go for a normal 2 or 3 pronged flank.

If the greater spire is along the way and only then the Terran pushes out, you don't need to engage the big ball of Mech just yet. Get some corruptors out before the greater spire finishes and morph them into broodlords. These broodlords should be enough to make the Terran retreat or cause severe damage. If he sticks around, move in with your huge Roach force and Infestor force, Neural parasite the Thors and attack move on all the rest.

Once his push is destroyed, double expand and get a lot of Roaches up. You should be able to counter attack while his force is meager or atleast snipe a planetary fortress or two to cripple his economy. Do note that the Mech style is a style around 2 or 3 bases, it isn't meant for long term play and only as a huge hard to stop timing push in the late-midgame. If your Terran opponent is doing a turtling mech style, which is by far the worst thing he could do, you should mass expand and get up a ton of broodlords before you engage. You should be able to indefinitely deny his fourth base and win the game way later.

Dealing with Terran harass

How to not come out behind when you win all the major battles but lose the drones Marine Drop

Terran harass is among the best of the world. The fact that they have Hellions, Medivacs, Banshees, Ghosts with nukes, Vikings that can land... alright you get they idea. They have a lot of harass units.
That's why understanding harass versus Terran is crucial to be able to stay ahead in a game and not be destroyed in multiple drops at the same time.

Marine drops

The easiest harass a Terran can do in the midgame is Marine drops. Medivacs can hold 8 Marines inside them and because a Terran will have both Medivacs and Marines in their regular play, they can easily incorporate a drop in their play without much additional investment like a Protoss or a Zerg would. Because it is so common and it is hardly even possible to imagine a ZvT longer than 30 minutes without a single Marine drop, this should be your first priority to be able to defend against these drops.

The obvious easiest way to defend drops is to prevent them from happening in the first place. This is exactly what Mutalisks allow you to do. But it isn't just Mutalisks that you need in this, you require Overlords in key locations. The biggest scouting spots for drops is actually around the edges of the map. This is where the Terran 'sneaks' Medivacs around outside of the way where the Zerg army normally would be. It also has a big air space there where no ground units can hit them but only air units can go to. When you scout a Medivac or two, it isn't that hard to move your Mutalisks into its flying path. It takes 20 shots from a Mutalisk to kill a Medivac, so it takes 2 volleys of 10 Mutalisks to kill it, so roughly 3 seconds. This is easy to do when the Medivac can't drop in that air space so the Marines can't shoot back. 8 Marines and a Medivac cost 500 minerals and 100 gas, so that's a quick and painless 500 minerals of damage you did by preventing it. You can snipe them with Infestors too, as 4 fungal growths kill a Medivac regardless of its contents.

Of course, we can't prevent all drops from happening, not even a progamer has that kind of reaction to multiple drops. So what can we do when a Marine drop happens and does some damage? Obviously we can pull our units back and kill them off, and this would be a perfect and right thing to do IF there was just one drop going on. Later on however, the Terrans will start dropping multiple bases while attacking your front. Taking out important tech, Queens and drones in a quick and fairly easy way. So we will have to start taking in consideration static defenses such as the spinecrawler and spore crawler.

Spine crawlers

Spinecrawlers are the Zergs static ground defence. But against Marine drops, they are only useful in the delayment factor. As attacking units will attack hostile units before they start attacking drones freely. But a spinecrawler doesn't do damage fast and only attacks one Marine at the same time. Seeing as a spinecrawler only does 4.5 more damage per ingame second than a Medivac can heal, these things won't kill Marines if they are microed propperly.

That's why if you want to deal with Marine drops with spinecrawlers you need atleast two of them. Two spinecrawlers do 25 damage each, so 50 damage per combined shot. That means they kill the Marine before it can be healed by the Medivac. It also means that if the Terran is unloading Marines into your mineral line, that the first couple of Marines will be taken out before they have even done any damage to the drones or the spinecrawlers. Coincidently, two spinecrawlers are pretty effective at dealing with Hellion harass as they two-shot a Hellion ( how does that feel.. Terrans? ) and can really scare a Terran into not running by to get to the drones.

Spore crawlers

It takes 11 shots to kill a Medivac with a Spore crawler, which takes roughly 9 and a half ingame seconds to do. It takes 8 seconds to fully unscathed a Medivac filled with Marines. That is why I personally prefer to build Spore crawlers in my mineral lines when I don't have Mutalisks out on the map. Stupid Terrans will simply start unloading and lose the dropship, in the same way, it zones the Medivac out of the mineral line. So the Marines won't have a quick and easy pick up when the Zerglings arrive. You can more easily kill off the Marines in the mineral line and do some damage to the Terran while he tries to do economic damage to you.

Macro hatcheries

Perhaps the scariest thing a Zerg has at his finger tips is the fact that at some points he just doesn't care all that much if he loses drones at all. In some cases the minerals have already been mined or you have a bank saved up anyway and the drone deaths will just free up supply.

In other cases, you will have a quiet hatchery slowly getting more and more larvae pooled on it. And when you lose that drone count, you go to your larvae bank and just remake all of them in an instant. Sure you will have lost those larvae because they can't be units now, but in the lategame it actually shouldn't matter all that much. Seeing as you should have multiple macro hatcheries up just in case you have missed a larvae inject or you need larvae for things such as drone replendishing. Personally if I have a third up I will always have a macro hatchery ready to pump out a lot of drones or Zerglings, and if I go up to 5 bases I add another macro hatchery at my third just so I can have that big surge of units.

Burrow

I really don't see why you wouldn't get the burrow upgrade in the midgame ZvT, nevertheless I forget it a lot regardless. But there are so many utilities to burrow aside from Baneling mines. Hidden flanks, expansion blocking and all that.

Another way of saving your drones is by burrowing them right before a drop hits. Especially when it is on an outerexpansion, Terran will think that there have simply not been any drones transferred there, so they are unlikely to scan. Queen burrowing also is perhaps the best way of keeping them from being sniped. Queen energy is so valuable especially in the lategame where Broodlords and Ultralisks can 'refuel' at a Queen with a simple transfuse.

Nuke harass.

This is a fairly uncommon harassment tactic to say in the least, but it is actually the most stressful harassment to deal with as a Zerg. Nuclear missiles tend to be fired onto your mineral lines and army, so the first thing you should do when you hear a nuke warning going off is to move your army back and see if there is a red dot there.

If there isn't, quickly cycle through your hatcheries with the backspace key ( or your rebinded base-cycling hotkey ) and look on the hatchery to see if there is a red dot. This shouldn't take all that long and with a trained eye you can quickly distinguish a nuke landing site and move your drones and queen away.

Lategame

Terrans 'oh shit' moment

This is where the swarm gets really, really difficult to handle for the Terran. By now, the infestation should have spread over the map in the form of outer hatcheries, creep and overlords hidden in key scouting positions. There is no simple way for the Terran to take you out, and the Zerg have only just begun assembling their Hive tech arsenal. Unless the Terran has some really amazing defence and unit composition, this is where the line ends for him.

To have our first look into the lategame of Zerg versus Terran, we will look at a couple of really strong compositions that you get up in the lategame.

Infestor Broodlord.

Infestor Broodlord

Infamous and well known, this composition is the stuff of nightmares for Terran. A slow and methodical death where the constant bombardment of Broodlings will eventually spell their demise. Infestors to deal with the Vikings that come out to face the Broodlords, and the Broodlords to smother everything on the ground. These two go together like bread and butter, Mutalisks and Banelings, Tasteless and Artosis, the MLG prizes and Koreans... I could go on about this.

This siege composition hinges on the Zergs capital 'ship', the Broodlord. This leviathan of the skies will shoot one or two broodlings depending on how long it hasn't been shooting, at a range of 9.5. The initial damage is 20 ( higher when you have air attack upgrades ) and the broodlings do the rest of the damage ( they do the same damage as Zerglings and benefit from the same upgrades ). The Broodlord shoots out an infinite amount of free broodlings that pin the Terran in their place. Marines won't be able to move through the wall of broodlings to come in range of the Broodlords, which automatically rules them out as potential Broodlord killers. On top of that, Siege tanks will target the broodlings that are toe to toe with the Marines, doing splash damage on the Terrans own forces.

The Infestor works as the support, clumped up Vikings die in 4 fungal growths, or a couple of fungals while infested terrans are shooting at them. This forces the Terran to split their Vikings up or risk having them all lost to Infestor energy. Vikings don't grow on trees for the Terran, and a well prepared Terran might have two starports producing Vikings. But they are expensive and cut into the tank production with their gas cost. So even if the Terran has a perfect split and a nice amount of starports producing Vikings, a tech switch into anything else will be very tough for a Terran to deal with.

The Viking will kill a Broodlord in give or take 11 volley's, but because Broodlords rarely travel alone, they have to be careful of both the Infestors range and splash ability but also the pre-morphed Broodlord, the Corruptor. Corruptors have a huge 200 HP with 2 base armour, and although Vikings outrange Corruptors, the Viking will still have to move back when a large flock of Corruptors is coming over. So the Corruptors aren't neccesarily meant to kill the Vikings, but rather to spread out their damage over multiple targets and protect the Broodlords from getting long range sniped out.

Thors hardly do any damage to Broodlords with their anti-air, and Broodlords outrange missile turrets by 2 and a half range. Perfectly adapted to be the Zergs space controlling unit in the lategame. Broodlords can force the Terran to unsiege and slowly give up ground or risk having all their units killed for free. So they give the Zerg more breathing room, more terrain to flank and more options. Another handy feat of the Broodlord is that it can fly, so with some good positioning, they could be used to besiege a Terran main or expansion with airspace around it. This leaves them fairly vulnerable to Vikings though, so use the harassment option of Broodlords sparcely if you want to keep them alive for breaking up contains.

The best way to move to this composition is starting with a Mutalisk build. The air upgrades will carry over to the Broodlords first attack and the spire will already be built when the Hive finishes. So all the tech is already there for the composition which makes the transition much easier.

The composition is highly cost-effective in the lategame, however there is one major weakness to it. The Broodlord is a slow ass unit, you can watch the whole Lord of the Rings triology before it has reached from one end of Tal darim altar to the other. This composition is highly immobile because the Infestors have to be in the area of the Broodlords at all times. Drops become very hard to deal with if you have only Infestors and Broodlords on the map, and you have to be fairly well fortified to not have your tech or expansions sniped.

Another huge weakness is that the Infestor and the Broodlord both have the convenient 'counter' in the form of the Ghost.

Ghost EMP

The Ghost doesn't only force the Infestors to spread out in case they want to EMP you, but the snipe ability kills Broodlords fairly quickly. The Broodlord only has 250 hit points, so it only takes 6 snipes to kill off one Broodlord ( costing 300 minerals and 250 gas ) from a comfortable range of 10. That's why Ghost-mech is considered very strong and 'bullshit' according to some members of the community. The Siege tanks can kill off a lot of ground units, and the Ghost can take care of the Broodlords, Infestors and are generally a great unit against Zerg because they are universally strong against all of them.

Another big threat to a Broodlord flock is Nukes. Nuclear missiles take a very long time to deploy, but because Broodlords are so slow, this makes the unable to engage or be sure to lose all of them. Nukes can be placed anywhere and they can be put in a retreating path for your army or even ahead of your army. But you have to retreat timely when you hear a Nuke going off, else you will lose everything. That might seem unfair that the Ghost can be so versatile against the Broodlords and Infestors, but hey, who are you gonna call?

Ghost busters! There is another lategame army compositions that are very strong that don't get 'countered' by well spreaded Vikings, Ghosts and drops. That composition is...

Blitz Zerg: Ultralisks and Speedbanes

Imbalance reincarnated Blitz Zerg

If you think that I am joking with the tilted sentence, then you are horribly mistaken. Terran players, if you haven't faced this composition before, you haven't truly cried imbalance like the Zerg have.
Imagine that wonderful Archon-speedlot composition that is oh so popular in PvT nowadays. You know, the one that requires you to constantly kite to make sure you aren't chopped up into minched meat?

Now imagine the Zealots exploding on impact and the Archons as big as five story buildings.

This is the quickest and crudest way of cleaning out a nice contain. Ultralisks and Banelings have amazing synergy between them. They have around the same speed, they benefit from the same upgrades and Siege tanks need to be well microed to get to the pockets of Banelings between the Ultralisk pack, and they don't have long to do that.

The Ultralisks in return get the benefit that they take very long to kill even with a large Marauder or tank force. Banelings do their damage instantly on impact, so one misstep, one wrong kite, and they get completely swamped, leaving the Ultralisks alive to fight with the rest of the Terran army. At the end of the engagement, there are often quite a few Ultralisks left. These can be used to charge right up to a vulnerable expansion or the production facilities of the Terran to chew up the Marauders one by one as they come out of the barracks.

And we aren't even talking about a suboptimally positioned Terran. 100 food armies are devoured in a mere 10 ingame seconds if they are mostly Marines and unsieged tanks. Because of the absolute raw power of this composition and the speed that it operates, I feel that it is rightful to call it Blitz Zerg.

And that Ghost-mech we were talking about earlier? Yeah.. if you start out with this composition it doesn't have a ghost of a chance of getting up and running. And even if it does get up, Ultralisk-Baneling does damage so quick that it is hardly possible to even snipe an Ultralisk in time before him and his mates arrive to blow up all the tanks die an acidic death. The Terran would have to be very, VERY good with Ghosts if he wants to prevent this composition from doing any damage. And it only takes 5 Banelings to take out a Ghost, so should have his Ghosts clumped up, you will be in for a very cost-effective engagement should you hit them with a Baneling carpet.

Before

Before ultrabane

After

After ultrabane

Another thing this composition has above the Infestor-Broodlord composition is its ability to do major counter attacks. Fringe expansions have never felt so good when you are on Ultralisks. If a Terran decides to do a major push on two outer expansions, he will leave his main, third and other bases completely open to be ravaged by this quick deathsquad. Banelings and Ultralisks are fairly good at taking out planetary fortresses and all the SCVs that worked there in the blink of an eye. This makes the Terran forced to defend or face a completely spiralling out of control game where he cannot fantom getting back on top.

If you want to go for this composition fast, going for the Infestor-Ling path will greatly smoothen the transition. The quick melee and carapace upgrades will upgrade both the Ultralisk and the Baneling, as well as the Infestors greatly limiting the Marines from retreating. You need two upgrades to do this style, the speed upgrade for Banelings and the +2 carapace upgrade for Ultralisks. Melee attack upgrades should be a priority rather than carapace upgrades, because the +3 carapace upgrade only strengthens the Ultralisk from 5 defence to 6, while the upgrade itself costs an Ultralisk. And I prefer having an Ultralisk sooner than a very slight improvement to the Ultralisks life. My personal experience is that I start an melee upgrade before lair, get a quick +2 melee upgrade and a +1 carapace upgrade during the lair time, and get +3 melee and +2 carapace when I reach Hive tech.

One downside to this composition is the lack of anti-air. As such, a small Banshee pack can be quite a nuisance to deal with. Ravens are also remarkably strong with the seeker missile against Banelings, if, you know, I fell asleep and never moved my Banelings around. In the future I suspect Ravens to be buffed in their seeker missile appartment ( more than the 1.4 PTR patch notes ) so that Terran has a better way of dealing with this composition. Otherwise... the future looks quite pale for Terrans across all leagues.

Lategame techswitches.

After the Terran has defended one really strong Zerg push, he can't actually feel good about himself yet, because he knows it was only the first punch in the fight. Zergs most strongest ability in the lategame is that the larvae allow for super fast enormous techswitches. The worst feeling a Terran can get is to hold off a maxed Zerg army consisting of Zerglings, and be swept off by the following maxed army of Mutalisks. Techswitches however require some thought put into them, you have to understand the strongest contrast in the Zerg compositions to know what techswitch is best.

The most common techswitch is the Broodlord into Ultralisk techswitch. A Terran requires the Viking to hold off Broodlords effectively and they do that quite well. But Vikings don't do anything against Ultralisks with their gattling guns, their supply is simply wasted into this unit that won't help in the big fight. That is why this techswitch is notorious for holding off. But this techswitch is also the hardest to perform. After all, you need to have a huge bank of minerals and gas to get maxed on Ultralisks in a single go after your Broodlords have died. You also have to wait until those Ultralisks finish, which takes a fair amount of time. So if the Terran somehow crushes your Broodlord army, you won't have much to defend at home to defend his push until your Ultralisks finish.

The second type of techswitch I like to perform is an Ultralisk-Zergling into Mutalisk tech switch. Ultralisks and Zerglings both require the Terran to be very stable on the ground. Marauders to deal with the swell of enormous armoured buildings moving towards them and Siege tanks or Hellions to augment them into not getting swamped by Zerglings. But Mutalisks in enormous numbers are very hard to counter if you do not have the right amount of Marines and Thors. This techswitch can outright kill a Terran straight up if he doesn't have any or too few anti air on the map. But if it doesn't outright kill them, it keeps them in their base long enough that you can expand even more or get even more tech up.

If I somehow unscathed the Terran into a Marine-Marauder-Medivac style, I will always techswitch into mass crackling with speed Banelings. The Banelings will have to be kited which gives you a slight semblance of space control. The Zerglings can be used to pin the MMM ball in a position while the Banelings destroy it off. Sure, Zerglings aren't that great against Planetary fortresses, but you can always counter attack into the natural and production facilities to maul those up.

Roaches are also an amazing swamping unit to do a techswitch into. Masses of Roaches require the Terran to have a lot of anti-armoured units around. Preferably Marauders and Siege tanks. So if the Terran somehow has to skimp on tanks, the Roach techswitch will absolutely murder a Terran straight up. A huge army of Roaches is also capable of taking out Planetary fortresses with a few volleys of attack, and they can be used to counter attack into it after the second major engagement ( the techswitch is always the follow up to the first engagement ).

Some very obvious techswitches also happen when the Terran is going for Battlecruisers. Corruptors maul Battlecruisers like it is nothing and these can be used to morph into Broodlords combined with Roaches. Terrans that go Battlecruiser can't have a lot of money for Siege tanks because Battlecruisers are so gas heavy, so the Roaches will kill everything on the ground with Broodlords to fall back on.

Infestors augment every single techswitch a Zerg can do. It is always key to have a few Infestors out on the map to help any of your armies out. The fact that it stops retreating and does a nice area of effect damage spell, and is also amazing against big units like the Thor and Battlecruiser gives it the most all-round unit the Zerg has. If you can keep atleast a few Infestors in your play during the lategame, your techswitches will be much more devastaging then they ever were.

And if you have a lot of larvae pooled, a mass of over 100 Zerglings only takes 50 food and they can quickly reinforce the perhaps still standing units from the first engagement. The one downside to this is that you have to be very good with your larvae injections to not be out of production after a big round of Zerglings.

Lategame harass options

Zerg harass is not really all that explored in Zerg versus Terran aside from Mutalisk harass and Zergling run by's. But in the lategame, virtually everything is at your disposal. This is the perfect place to start experimenting with a new kind of style. There are a couple of harass possibilities that I really like.

One of them is again Baneling bombing mineral lines. Terrans haven't adapted to Overlords moving over mineral lines yet, and because they usually have missile turrets up before this harass begins, they don't really care. But when you go for an Infestor-Ling path, you will never force the Terran into building turrets and in that way give them a false sense of security. However, +3 melee Banelings are vicious, oneshotting SCVs and whiping whole mineral lines easily when dropped from overlords. The only difficulty you have to face is well placed missile turrets, because it only takes 8 ingame seconds for an overlord to die by a SINGLE missile turret.

Nydusworms can be good to scare a Terran much like a nuke would. But if you can fill it with Ultralisks, you will get the fastest damage potential out of the Nydus and thus a very big threat to the Terran. You cannot stay around for long with Ultralisks though, because you really don't want them to be trapped in the main of a Terran base and killed off where their AI will make them do a little ballet performance in all the tight spaces between the buildings.

Infestors can be used to burrow and sneak by the Terran forces to slip into the main. When he moves out, throw down a ton of infested terrans all around and watch his add ons and buildings vaporize. Especially effective in the middle of his production facilities or at a supply depot 'island' As few as 4 Infestors can carry 32 infested terrans. When you have deposited the eggs, move out of the way into a corner of his base so that he can't come back and scan to kill your Infestors. The Infestors can then be used later on to continiue their harass. Beware of missile turrets though, because they can detect your burrowed units sneaking by.

Planetary fortress harass, or more like sniping, is a great way to get a quick advantage when you are ahead on bases. It takes 19 Banelings to kill a Planetary fortress, which in strict mineral and gas costs is a bad trade. 950 minerals and 475 gas for the Zerg to kill a 550 minerals and 150 gas building from the Terran. Trading a mining base out for Terran is almost always worth it if you can trade it for a relatively small squad of units. That's a base the Terran will have to rebuild, and all the SCVs won't give the Terran even half a base of extra income if they start long distance mining while the command center is building.

Lategame queen transfusions.

Again, I can only recommend getting out a couple of Queens when the game reaches Hivetech. It hardly takes any effort to start a Queen at each of your 3 or 4 hatcheries. And the pooled up energy will help keep your Ultralisks and Broodlords alive much, MUCH longer.

Conclusion

That concludes my second enormous guide about a match up. I hope you can reference it for a couple of new neat tricks and improve your play. I have been working on this one for about a week or two so I definitely hope it gets welcomed as much as the ZvZ guide was.

Again, if you want to donate ( first of all <3 ) you can via my paypal ( kevinteraa@gmail.com , the same email as in the footer ), this is completely optional but really motivates me to make more excellent content. I will always keep this site ad free, as I don't believe in the ad-system. I'll show you content that I think is quality, and I can't guarantee that with the Google system.

If you want to reference this guide, please use the full link. You can always take excerpts out of it as long as you put some credit to this site. I won't ask anything of you but enjoy the information in this guide, and the replays added to it.

Thanks to the kind commenters below for the typo corrections, you guys rock!

Thank you for reading and god speed.

Comments

TyRa

4 september 2011

Love You

junglepoon

4 september 2011

you are truly doing god's work. please come out with a zvp soon, it's my worst match up!

Thanks again!

kirdie

4 september 2011

Can you please tell how to defend the marine/tank push at around 10 minutes especially on cross positions and on typhon peaks top vs bottom through the destructible rocks?

macpo

4 september 2011

amazing work, really above the usual guide you can find on teamliquid

M

4 september 2011

Wow this is amazing. However, your knowledge of Terran builds is slightly off. Nearly all the builds you mentioned are transitions out of 2 rax, reactor hellion expand and 1 rax expand (with or without reaper). Slayers build, blue flame hellion build are all 2 base builds. Also note that a 1 basing Terran can sometimes have 3 orbitals in his main and is not actually gonna do a 1 base all in.

Also, I disagree with your ideas of baneling busting. Delayed tech or not, bunkers defeat baneling busts handily. A rax wall off + 2 bunkers? That is not gonna die to any Zerg all in any day. Nada does this every time. You treat a failed 2 rax as a free win because your bust always wins, but to me, this seems like the perfect way to lose the game and throw away your lead. Economic baneling busts have to do significant damage and you cannot guarantee that just because someone lost a few marines. Why not take a third and drone up and tech up, get mutas/infestors and win without risk? Also, if Terran is going 4 rax after Zerg defeats 2 rax, you are in a pretty bad shape if you waste banelings on buildings. If Terran micros correctly, he can suffer minimal losses against the bust and can put huge pressure on Zerg whilst being safe from speedlings due to production limitation cos Zerg went bling bust.

M

5 september 2011

Disregard what I said, I'm in bronze league and not very good at this game >____

ayadew

5 september 2011

Sir, this is godlike beyond mortal measure. The only thing we miss is Blue Flame hellion expand (taking map control) into marine siege tank. You can't scout, you can't prevent the tank marine ball from forming outside your base when they push out. Roaches get kited by the hellions.

Shane Hickey

6 september 2011

Awesome Article. Please link to the zvp you created before!

Mactep

6 september 2011

Best ZvT guide eva. Period.

Looking forward for the ZvP guide !

Thanks a lot.

ayadew

5 september 2011

Sir, I apologize for my stupid comment. Hellions have a range of 5 and roaches have a range of 4. However, this would require an apm of 6000 to do constantly and effectively and hellions do about 1 dmg to roaches per shot.

ayadew

5 september 2011

The above comment is not me, someone failed at quoting it seems.

Still, they hold off roaches fairly well in small numbers.

Anonymous

11 september 2011

some nifty tricks. Ive been going mass lings lately, which seems to surprise and frustrate terrans to no end, but the tips you give about infestors and a few other nuances of ZvT definitely made the article worth a quick read.

Nerull

15 september 2011

Good job, great job.

U cant considered queen + broodlord or ultra + queens?

Kevin te Raa is quoting Nerull

15 september 2011

Of course, I put Lategame queens at the end of the guide.

Queens are ALWAYS good in a lategame army, its just that nobody builds them.

Josjjg

3 november 2011

Impressive, this can be right what my buddy furthermore I had to understand

As a final note , give permission me thank you for your patience with my English as (I'm sure you have figured this by now,), English is not my number one tongue so I am using Google Translate to build out how to write down what I genuinely plan to write down .

DeZrog

19 oktober 2011

PS - You're using the word "convenient" instead of "continue", as in "to continue the assault". "Convenient" means that it's easy to do, or can be done easily without going out of your way.

DeZrog

19 oktober 2011

I wanted to comment on stopping the 2-bunker rush - I have seen the pro players use their first 4 Zerglings to get behind the initial few marines and pick off reinforcements - most Terran will rally reinforcements to your base, and picking them off one-by-one is a much better use of your few Zerglings, rather than trying to confront the marines head-on, where slow-lings will just get kited and turned into red slush. If you can force the marines to turn around to protect the reinforcements, you can use a mere 2 Drones to take out the building SCVs, and meanwhile get your Queens, Spine, and more Zerglings built.

Kevin te Raa is quoting DeZrog

23 oktober 2011

You make a few good points! And indeed, cutting off reinforcement is indeed a very good way of stopping a bunker rush. Although the main reason I worded the whole bunker rush section like that is because all too often do I see zergs randomly move in with zerglings and drones even though its clear they will lose all of them iwthout killing the bunker.

And on the convenient typo, thanks! I'll change that ASAP

nick rawss

6 november 2011

Hey
Can you make a section on how to deal with 2-10 hellions in the most efficent way?
I want my third but the hellions contain me.

eden

29 januari 2012

...what exactly do you think "unscathed" means? you use it to mean like five different things.

Kevin te Raa is quoting eden

31 januari 2012

I am sorry for that, some person send me a very detailed spelling/grammar document for me to fix the issues in the document ages ago. But in the process it appearantly changed a couple of other words into the word 'unscathed'.

Again, sorry if there are some of those errors in there. Please ignore them because currently I lack the time to go through the document completely and fix the errors.

roym899

20 februari 2012

Hey,
I have a question regarding the Infestor Ling Style:
Should I get a spire up to deal with drops? Or how should I deal with these? Because Infestors aren't very fast, and Speedlings can't kill the Dropships.

Kevin te Raa is quoting roym899

21 februari 2012

I tend to use Spore crawlers to zone out the dropships. Spread out overlords and make sure that you keep an infestor or two at your bases. If he is only dropping you, you should be able to come back with Zerglings and take it out.

It gets harder when he drops you at multiple bases and pushes at the same time. But fungal is amazing versus a marine drop if you have lings there or for stalling so you should be able to manage.

Getting a Spire is questionable, since you invest extra gas into something that might or might not come. And you could only really get like 5 Mutalisks if you want to get infestors as well, in which case you would probably die to straight up pushes anyway.

more brood lords

12 april 2012

Hi,
Thanks for this amazing guide. It is definitely going to help me a lot ! :)
I have only one question : when I got a drone in his main and saw that he had no gas, how can I make the difference between 1 racks fe and 2 racks with 1 proxied (a lot of Terrans do that when I meet them) ? Usually he will kill my drone with a marine before I can see a CC, or hide it in a corner, or well let's just say I saw nothing beside the fact that he has no gas. In any case he might bunker my expo, even if only to force a drone pull in case of 1 racks fe, so I can't deduce his build out of the bunker fact, and I don't want to build a spine if he's feing (and holding 2 racks including a proxied one seems very hard to me without a fast spine). Is looking around with a drone to spot the racks the only way ? I don't know the game well enough to count scvs and deduce his build with it.
Please help me and thanks a lot again for your great Zerg guides :)

Kevin te Raa is quoting more brood lords

15 april 2012

Hey,

What I prefer to do when I don't scout any gas is extractor up his gas instead and keep canceling it. If he leaves the marine behind to shoot at it, any rush would be delayed. Plus you can count the time it takes for the second marine to come out. If he never really attacks it, you can be pretty sure he is going to rush you.

In either case, building one spinecrawler and focussing on drones if hes FEing or lings if he is rushing doesn't really impede you. You should get even and the spinecrawler allows you to play greedier if you choose to be because it is so beefy.

more brood lords is quoting Kevin te Raa

15 april 2012

Okay so I'm gonna do that :) thank you very much for your answer !
Good luck !
More brood lords !

Joseph

17 juni 2012

such a good guide man. props to you (:

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