Zerg versus Zerg: The Alpha and the Omega.

A follow up to this guide about Mutalisks:
http://raa-media.nl/blog/starcraft2/zvz-glaive

Foreword

In the beta, you wouldn't see much Zerg versus Zergs, people were playing Protoss and Terran or switching to them out of frustration. Over time though, with plenty of inspiration, us Zergies have become better and better. We learned to deal with the banshee idiocracy and the 2base death ball of Protoss. But in this trend, we started to be pitted against each other more and more, to the disgust of some of us. This article is going to be explaining the how and the why of dealing with the mirror match up that seems to divide the community.

Introduction

Ah, Zerg versus Zerg. The only time you wished you had a probe to block an expansion or a bunker to place near it. The community is very vocal about this match up, giving it the name 'coinflip' or 'rock, paper, scissors' . The weaker Zergs among the pack seem to have this stance together with Terran and Protoss players.

I'm here to explain to you the finesse and the timings of a Zerg versus Zerg match, why it isn't based on luck and how to make it fun to play. So without further ado, let's start by looking at it in the most elementary manner possible.

Table of Contents

The broad plan

Alright ladies, here are your objectives.

Because you're essentially fighting yourself, you have access to the same technology as your opponent. As such, you can't neccesarily overpower him with stronger tech. Your units can't move faster, because his will catch up as soon as his speed upgrade finishes. The only thing that beats a Zerg opponent, is more stuff, similar to the other Zerg match ups.

Luckily, you have the possibility to make tons of units on the fly because of larvae. So a numbers advantage is relatively easy to get compared to a tech advantage. To sustain large amounts of units though, we need an unsung hero of this battle.

Drone, by Blizzard

Drones, the most basic of Zerg units, are also the most essential to a Zergs arsenal. After all, if you have more drones, you can build more stuff and beat the guy that has less stuff. This is the way a ZvZ is usually won. More > less. But the difficulty comes from how do I get more drones than him, without getting overrun by him having more units? The answer is different in each and every situation. That's why you generally don't see a 'how to drone' guide, because the subject is so vast.

In a general sense though, this is how you drone.

Basic droning concepts

  • If you know the enemy cannot attack you, you make drones.
  • If you know the enemy is busy holding off an attack, you make drones.
  • If you have defended a big push, you make drones.
  • If you see a push coming, but you know you can defend it with only slightly more units built, you eek out a couple of drones.
  • If you see the enemy starting to build some units, you eek out a few more drones before starting your own production of units.

But what if I am sure I have less drones than my enemy, does that mean my game is over? In a sense, the safety net is off yes. You know that given time, the enemy will build more units than you and overwhelm you. The essential word in this sentence is, given time.

  • When behind on a drone count, you build more units and go for a push. During that aggression, you can remake drones freely and retreat while the enemy made units to defend.
  • Harassment, killing off a few drones during a run by while making yourself some.

If you are behind by a full 15 drones, the only chance you have is to all in. Make a big push with as many units as you can muster up and attempt to overwhelm him. If he made drones, he dies because of your superior forces. If he made units, you still have a chance if he has to use drones in the defense while you are making drones yourself behind the big attack. With this all in play, you are just trying to equalize the dronecount. That is why some all ins seem standard and abundant in ZvZ, because the dronecount has to be equal or higher for you to have a chance of winning.

Scouting

Overlord scout

This, after droning, is the next most important skill to have. Scouting gives you information which you can then use to decide what is best, drones or units. Because of this reason alone, scouting will win you way more games simply for the reason that you see attacks coming and can prepare for them much better.

There are a few basic spots to send Overlords too in the early game, and the first Overlord can be very helpful for early game decisions. The best spot for the first Overlord to be is at the opponent's ramp slightly in the natural like in the introduction picture. This area is so important because it shows if the opponent is sending Zerglings towards you, or is expanding, or is holding units back and building a Roach wall. This is basically everything except the actual tech structures in Zerg versus Zerg early game scouted. The fact that Queens can't simply walk up to it and snipe it without going off the ramp and exposing them makes this a pretty good place to be.

However, because not every map is a two player map, we can't always send them directly towards a ramp. Deciding on which base to go to first is simply a question of which one you can scout first. So let's say you are spawning on Shattered temple, you would always send the Overlord to the close by air base. In the case where you actually spawn close by air, its best to mimic your opponents build but delaying it by a very slight margin so you can get an extra drone out. As such, we often see 15 hatch vs 15 hatch in these cases.

The next few Overlords can be sent over the shortest path from your opponents base to your base, to further aid in counting units and scouting incoming attacks.

I'm a big fan of sending the third Overlord to your natural before anything else; because this is the time that Baneling aggression usually starts. Having an Overlord in the entrance to your natural can tell you how many Banelings are morphing and how many Zerglings are left, which is very helpful in the early game.

Something that is personal preference, but I highly recommend doing, is the drone scout. Infact, it is so essential to my play that I always incorporate one. When you start your 10 th drone you should send out a drone to the next-closest base to scout, aka the one where an Overlord isn't going. Unless you are already certain that your opponent is spawning close by air through your Overlords.

Drone scouting

I'll be honest with you people. If you aren't willing to sacrifice 50 minerals for a dronescout to ensure that your opponent isn't doing a 6 pool, then you should not complain about being cheesed to hell. This drone has saved me in SO many games on the ladder that would otherwise be very frustrating losses. Infact, this whole guide assumes that you are dronescouting so you have the most information available to you in the early game.

The drone scout gives you timing on the opponents spawning pool, whether he is going for a gas before pool, a pool before gas or an early expansion. This information dictates what response you are going to do.

A little extra could be to Harass the outer edges of the mineral line of the opponent, attacking drones and trying to snipe one can give you a little advantage in drones. Incase your drone gets stuck in the opponents mineral line, surrounded by his drones, you should click on a mineral patch. This slides the drone out of the opponent's grasp, oftentimes saving it to be used another day.

For an extra benefit, you can be an annoying piece of hatred if you scout him trying to hatch first, but your drone blocking the way of him planting it down. This can mess up his whole build and often forces him to build a spawning pool rather than a hatchery. Thus forcing your opponent down a predictable lane and giving you the advantage.

Hatchblocking

Later on, speedlings can be used to slip through the defenses of the opponent to scout the whole base out. One speedling can give you the intel whether you should build 12 drones or whether you should be cautious and get 10 units out. I often use my first few Zerglings to try and force my way into the main to check whether he is going Roaches or Banelings.

Speedling scouting

Even later you can use changelings to scout bases out, but I prefer to use the Overseer energy on contaminate rather than changelings.

With these basics explained, we'll step into the more refined 'tricks' of the match up. We'll start off with defending the earliest of rushes and working ourselves up to the lategame.

Early game

The period in which Zerglings are king, where the match up is fast and unpredictable to the untrained eye.

Holding off an early pool + spinecrawler rush.

Early pool

We've all been here before, spawning on Lost Temple ( or Shattered Temple as it is called now ) and exchanging GL HF's with our Zerg brethren. Scouting with the Overlord to not see his base and getting cheesed with 6 Zerglings and 2 spinecrawlers building in your main. You scribble down your little rage comment and leave the game grumpy.

These rushes however, are fairly easy to deal with once you know your way around Ret-fu. The art of fighting Zerglings with drones to stall time for your own Zerglings to spawn to repel the enemy.

Here are some Zerg pool and Zergling timings in the early game.

Pool timingPool starts 6 Zerglings spawn
6 pool0:442:13
7 pool0:522:22
9 pool1:082:37
no Overlord 11 pool1:242:54
11 Overlord pool1:373:06 + a Queen
13 pool1:523:21 + a Queen
13 gas 13 pool2:013:31 + a Queen + Zerglingspeed
14 gas 14 pool2:123:42 + a Queen + Zerglingspeed

As we can see, with the most all in of the lot, a 6 pool, we will have 6 Zerglings a full 89 seconds earlier than a 14 gas 14 pool build, the most common 1-base opening for Zerg. However, the rusher still needs to move his Zerglings from his base to yours. Factoring the traveling time, this could mean as little as a 30 second advantage over when our Zerglings spawn.

A drone however will most likely have moved from his base to yours ahead of time to plant a spinecrawler on your creep.

A morphing spinecrawler won't gain enough hp to stop it from getting killed if it is attacked by 4 drones. This is the optimal amount of drones to use when you only have drones to defend for the time being. In this time, you will most likely have stopped the spinecrawler from building and forcing the drone to relocate to a different spot while the Zerglings move into your base.

4 drones per spine

A spinecrawler takes 50 seconds to complete. If we can prevent him from building a spinecrawler until the Zerglings arrive, we will have more than enough time after our Zerglings pop to kill it before it emerges ready to poke at our hatchery.

What this means is that we don't have to deal with that threat until far later in the assault. The immediate threat right now is the 6 Zerglings knocking at our door. Luckily, those aren't hard to deal with. Using this marvelous stacking trick described below.

Stacked drones

Select all your drones; now click on a mineral patch. You'll notice all of them going to one mineral patch, stacking up regardless of the space required for the drone normally. After they all move to one mineral patch, click on a mineral patch on the opposite side of the mineral line. This creates a little conga line of drones. If the Zerglings are attacking that line, simply attack move and the drones will all spread out instantly and surround the Zerglings, trapping them and killing them off without a lot of drone losses.

With this trick, you can surround attacking Zerglings easily with your slower drones. Seeing as you have around 14 drones versus 6 Zerglings, you have the advantage in engaging. You don't want to lose a lot of drones, but if you can surround a Zergling or two, keep attacking with them and restack the drones when they die. You can lose a lot of drones while still being ahead, for example losing 4 drones is a pretty okay position to be in. You don't even have to engage the Zerglings, as long as you stall time with stacking and feigning an attack on the Zerglings. You just need a little time until the Zerglings spawn.

As soon as the Zerglings spawn for you, box them and your drones and go attack the spinecrawler. The rushers Zerglings will not be able to defend the spinecrawler, because they will be vastly outnumbered by the combined drones and Zerglings. As soon as that spinecrawler dies ( which should not be hard to do ) you have gained a commanding advantage.

Follow up to defending an early pool attack

You've defended a pre-10 pool attack with Zerglings, what now?

Alright, you have the advantage. But what now? Well let's see what advantage we actually have:

A gas advantage: You have your extractor up earlier than the rusher. Before the rush enters, you don't actually have to mine much gas at all to have an advantage. If you had just 2 drones mining gas, your speed upgrade will be much faster than him without suffering from a gas excess.

A drone advantage: He invested so much in getting aggressive that you will most likely have atleast an advantage of 2 drones at the minimum.

Because we have Zergling speed up way sooner than him, we can freely scout and take the map with speedlings. If he moves out with a small pack of Zerglings, yours can easily overpower them. You will have the speed upgrade easily about 40 seconds or more ahead of him. This is how long you can simply threaten attacks with your Zerglings and psyche him out into making more Zerglings instead of drones.

Queenblocking

Meanwhile, you get two Queens up in your base. If he decided to get an early Baneling nest, we can still safely sit behind two Queens that block the ramp. This gives us perfect safety of the Baneling and the Zergling tech for quite a while.

The next thing you should be getting from your gas is the +1 ranged attack upgrade. So you should get an evo chamber after you got the speed upgrade to make sure it is done on time. The 'why' about getting +1 ranged attack first before you get Roaches will be explained later on.

As you sit behind your Queens you get a RoachWarren and build Roaches. Because Roaches offer you the ability to simply drone up behind a fairly solid wall of units, they are great in these 1-base vs 1-base situations.

From the perspective of the early pool player, he has to drone up. But he is behind on tech and is constantly being threatened to attack by speedlings. He can't get an expansion up or out drone you because he will just die to lots of speedlings. Meanwhile, his opponent is getting Roaches and an even better economy while any all in attack for the early pooler will be easily stopped by the defenders Queens an Roaches.

He simply has NO way of coming back because you can deny his expansion with sheer power of units. Even if he does, he will lack the units to stop the Roaches. This gives you such an incredible advantage to do whatever you want to do that its hardly possible to lose with your +1 Roaches.

Just push with your more superior forces and expand behind it. It should be a fairly straightforward win.

14 pool and gas.

Starcraft at a million miles an hour.

For the novice, the following numbers will display the first semblance of a 'build order' for a Zerg player. A combination of a 14 supply gas and a 14 supply pool is a very common opening for 1 base. You can get Zergling speed right as the pool finishes and its fairly economic, so it is great to start out with this. In Zerg versus Zerg, this is the best way to open on one base.

It is also the most frustrating and the one where people say the worst things about the match up. “Baneling Zergling is just so coinflippy" “This is all based on luck" and well... you can probably add to that.

But Baneling/Zergling against Baneling/Zergling is just the thing that separates the men from the boys. Whine like a shrub or outplay your opponent like a boss. This is where you show that you can play Zerg, and if you can't handle it, you just practice harder next time. Super quick decisions and amazing micro, this is the place where you will need it the most.

Basic order for the opening

9 - Overlord
14 - gas
14 - pool
16 - Overlord
16 - 2 Zerglings
17 - Zergling speed as pool finishes
17 - Queen as pool finishes

This build is very reactive. You respond to what your opponent is doing to counter it. That's why scouting is so big right now. This is why I always dronescout on 9 food to the nearest spawning position, to eliminate more bases and to scout out early pool strategies.

And if I don't see an early pool, I'll stick around and see his gas and pool timing. From that, I can see whether he is going for a big Baneling play, or a Roach play. I can also see if he goes for a fast expand.

If you scout a gas that goes up sooner than yours ( a 13 gas ) you can go back, knowing that he will probably do a Baneling attack on you because he wants the gas early. If you see a pool, then gas, you can probably say that he is going Roaches because he doesn't want the Zergling speed as early.

With the two Zerglings, you can slip into his base and verify whether or not he is going Banelings or Roaches. Although this is only used to be a 100% correct, and you don't have to get them inside.

Vs Baneling play

Ah, the wonderful speedling/Baneling. Amazing to look at, exhausting to play against. If you scout this opening, you are very hard pressed to defend your absolute best.

You need to go Banelings yourself against this, but there are some slight tricks that can put you slightly ahead.

When you make your first 2 Zerglings, just make one drone right after. In the case that you are fighting a 14/14 Baneling attack, you are one drone ahead of your opponent if he is attacking you.

Also, when you reach your first 80 gas, take one drone of gas. This gives you more minerals and only delays your Baneling nest slightly. Ofcourse you put the drone back into gas when you put the nest down, to give you a good amount of gas for when you need to morph your defensive Banelings.

And here are some micro tips for this very tough to deal with pressure.

  1. Separate hotkeys for Zerglings and Banelings.

    This one is a fairly simple thing to remember, and highly effective!
    Nothing is worse than moving your Banelings towards the opponent's Zerglings, then having all your Zerglings lead the way. Not only will the Zerglings be a nuisance for your own Banelings, but they will threaten your own Zerglings by having them out in the open before the Banelings.

    Personally I keep my Banelings on 2 and Zerglings on 1. I constantly make sure that whenever I make Banelings I add the cocoons to the 2 hotkey and control-shift click on them and have the Zergling hotkey clean of any Banelings. It's only a very slight action to do, but helps keeping the battles much more manageable.

  2. Keep your Banelings spread.

    Spreading banes

    This one is also a very, very major improvement that will drastically help your Banelings become more difficult to deal with. The reason you want your Banelings spread is for the simple fact that 2 Banelings can kill Banelings in a splash area. For example, two well placed Banelings can take out 10 Banelings of your opponent should they be clumped up.

    Whenever you defend, you can spread them out. And right before you attack or push the opponent's Zerglings, always spread them beforehand, when you're moving long distances or go up ramps, just move the clumped up Banelings the opposite way for a little while. It gives you a nice dotted line that is very hard to deal with with just Banelings and Zerglings.

  3. Move your Banelings, do not attack move.

    This one will help you against 'Baneling sniping' and detonating on Banelings. A Baneling will always hit, regardless if an enemy unit takes it out or you attack with it. Therefore it is better to just move your Banelings towards your opponents Zerglings, because of a very simple trick that will punish an attack moved Baneling. A Baneling detonating on a single Zergling will basically trade 25 minerals for 50 minerals and 25 gas, i.e. you actually LOST the engagement.

    Also, if you have your Banelings spread out defensively, put them on hold position. A Zergling can move forward and lure a Baneling and make it detonate because it isn't being controlled.

  4. Shift-click one or two Zerglings to snipe chasing Banelings.

    Sniping banes

    If you're being chased by a pack of Banelings, or you just see some Banelings wandering around alone, you can simply move your Zerglings towards them, shift-click on the Zergling icons twice and move that group back and reset your Zergling hotkey to that group. Meanwhile, use those two single Zerglings to focus down any Banelings. It is cost effective if you kill a Baneling with 2 or less Zerglings, any more and it gives the enemy a nicely cost-effective detonation.

  5. Shift-add eggs to your Zergling control group.

    This is something of personal preference. If you're turning your larva into Zerglings, you can shift-add them to your Zergling control group. In my case I would hit 4szzz ( select hatchery - select larvae - make Zergling x 3 ) then click shift-1, which adds those eggs to the 1 control group.

    This will keep all your Zerglings under your control even if they have just hatched! Preventing them to walk into a bad rally point and just run blindly into a field of Banelings.

  6. Losing 4 drones is better than losing your Zergling numbers.

    Alright, this might seem a little bit controversial. After all, in these games of low dronecount we need as much drones as we can. Although in case of defending a Baneling barrage, it is better to take a dent in your dronecount compared to your Zerglings.

    The logic behind this is when you lose Zerglings and you are under attack, you have to rebuild those Zerglings to stay alive. If you're building Zerglings while you are behind because you have to stay alive, your enemy basically has you in a vice grip where you cannot escape. He has a better economy and both of you are just building units; this can only work out better for him. Whereas if you have a large pack of Zerglings, you can deny Zergling aggression for a little while until he remorphs his Banelings. This gives you time to redrone up a little and even it out, it'll make the next engagement harder, but atleast you're still in the race.

  7. Spawning pool placement + Queen positioning.

    Pool placement

    Even a simple thing like changing where you place your spawning pool helps you in Zergling/Baneling wars. If you place it touching your gas and leaving a gap between the hatchery and the pool, you both have something that will stop your opponent from placing an evolution chamber between your gas and hatchery. This happens often on Xel Naga and severely cripples your gas income and because of that you'll have a devastating disadvantage in Baneling wars.

    If you put a Queen on hold position between the spawning pool and the hatchery, you also have a solid wall where Banelings cannot move past. This forces them to move around your barricade, giving you time to respond to the situation.

  8. Don't sweat about one Baneling

    One Baneling cannot kill drones; it merely weakens them into the red HP. So if there is just one single Baneling moving towards your mineral line and you have a healthy stack of drones, there is no need to panic and do something drastic. Infact, sometimes it's best to just let it do what it wants and focus on more important things like hitting your injections and sniping morphing Banelings.

  9. Following an Overlord with Banelings to stop them from being lured.

    This one is really new to me, and also a really smart trick that I learned from listening to Mr Bitter when he was casting the GO4SC2 finals between Nerchio and sLivko.

    When you have defensive Banelings, select them all and click on an Overlord. This will make them huddle up around the Overlord, following it. This is similar to hold positioning them, however they will never detonate even if a ling is attacking them, unless ofcourse it gets killed by it.

    The downside of this is that an Overlord isn't out on the map, so your scouting will suffer slightly for this trick. So this is a very situational usage of Banelings, but it is easy to execute and frees up your actions so you don't have to be as fast all the time.

Transitioning out of this madness.

Defense with Queen

If the opponent goes for a semi all-in Baneling attack ( 13 gas 13 pool ) then you can be reasonably safe and get an evolution chamber connected to the opposite gas. As your opponent will probably continue to attack at your base, you should put a spinecrawler between the hatch and the evolution chamber while you are getting a +1 ranged attack.

The reason for this is that you don't want your opponent to take mapcontrol right away, which is exactly what happens when you go Roaches. Roaches are, infact, pretty bad against Zerglings. There are two factors where Roaches beat Zerglings.

  1. When you get enough Roaches that they cannot be surrounded by mass Zergling.
  2. When you get +1 ranged attack, which makes Roaches 2 shot Zerglings instead of 3 shot.

Seeing as you will not have many Roaches out if you transition into them right away, you will have to use them to block the ramp rather than move out. This shows the opponent that you will be defensive and gives him the opportunity to get an expansion while droning up more than you and getting a Roach Warren up slightly later. On top of that, the +1 attack and evolution chamber are only 225 minerals and 100 gas, just enough for 3 Roaches. 3 Roaches slightly earlier won't change the game around for you. +1 range a full minute earlier than your opponent will completely flip it.

Whereas a +1 ranged attack before going Roaches will not give the opponent enough incentive to stop all-in-ing. When you're putting up your Roach Warren a little later, it will already be too late for the opponent. Roaches with +1 attack are just so beefy against Zerglings and 0/0 Roaches that your counter pressure won't give him ANY chance of holding an expansion after an all in like that.

This gives you the chance to get your natural up and deny his natural, basically ending the game for your opponent.

Vs Roach play

There are a couple of indications where the opponent goes for Roaches, if his gas is later than his pool. And obviously, when you can slip in your Zerglings and scout the Warren building.

All of these will give you the opportunity to exploit your opponents unit composition, which will consist of Roaches and only some Zerglings. As you have seen, Roaches in small numbers are terrible against Zerglings. What this means is that you won't have to expect an attack in a long time. The most common way of going 1 base Roach is to build a couple of Roaches, block the ramp and drone up until saturation.

This means droning and getting an expansion for you. You don't need to make too many drones right away, but getting about 6 drones is enough to give you an economical advantage before you expand. You can delay your Roach Warren slightly, and getting an evolution chamber early is good for two reasons.

  1. We cannot scout his base as of yet, we do not know if he is going for a 1 base Roach all-in, a 1base Roach burrow attack, a 1 base burrow Infestor all in or a 1 base muta all-in. Evolution chambers help against all of these.
  2. In the case of a Roach all in, we can get a +1 earlier ( just like when you transition from a Baneling Zergling pressure ) and rely on our stronger Roaches for a while so we don't need as many Roaches as he does to have the same damage output. Meaning getting 2 extra drones in favour of Roaches will not just outright lose you the game.

Meanwhile, as your expansion finishes, build a spinecrawler. Spinecrawlers give you a unique advantage in that they are very strong against Roaches. Just one or two spinecrawlers ( which are only worth 2 Roaches mineral wise each ) will completely turn the tide of battle in your favour.

1 Base Roach timing attack

You will have the defenders advantage in four ways.

  1. You have the creep advantage; you don't need to move your Roaches all the way across the map. So you do not need the speed upgrade neccesarily.
  2. Positional advantage. You both have spinecrawler(s) set up at your natural plus you have the time to make a concave for your Roaches while you spot the opponents Roaches moving over het map.
  3. Unit advantage. With the +1 ranged attack you won't be behind in upgrades, and with the two hatcheries you can make more units.
  4. Reinforcement advantage. Your units pop up right near the battle, it's like you're finally having warpgates, except they're balanced ( Oh snap! Just joking ofcourse ).

When he attacks, make sure your Roaches cover the spinecrawlers. While spines are really strong offensively, they lack the health and a couple of Roaches can snipe them if they focusfire on it.

If you have Zerglings, move behind the opponents Roaches. Incase he loses the fight, he cannot retreat because he will be sandwiched and locked into place by the Zerglings while getting battered by your +1 Roaches.

Just continue to build Roaches ( and Zerglings if you have leftover larva and mineral excess ) and you should be able to hold the attack.

If you see the opponent's Roaches move with speed or they have coloured spikes on their backs, you better have started your lair or start it right now. Because you know the opponent has a lair, and thus could have burrow. While you should have more Roaches than he, you don't want to give him the ability to outmicro you with burrow. In either case, if the opponent burrows, keep an eye out if you see a ripple moving and follow it with your eyes, incase there isn't any, just park your Roaches over the place where his Roaches went under. Because unburrowing takes a little time, your Roaches will get the first shot off.

1 base burrow Infestor all-in

Infestors are rather squishy units, and while this timing attack is very rare, it can be very strong if you let the opponent just blast your main with infested Terrans. If you spot a large blob of enemy colour on the minimap in your main, just grab all of your drones and move it to your expansion while fighting the infested Terrans with your Roaches.

The Roaches should be able to hold the infested Terrans with their +1 attack. And because the opponent has invested so heavily in the tech, he should be way too behind to win.

Alternatively, you can build a sporecrawler near your ramp if you suspect something like this. It will completely stop the attack cold like a DT rush.

1 base mutalisk attack

This has the possibility to completely throw you off of your game, if it wasn't for your +1 ranged attack.

Normally, this one base attack is used to capitalize on the fact that hatchery tech Zerg has no strong anti air off of creep. They build spinecrawlers at the ramp and build Roaches to hold off Zergling attacks or Baneling attacks, to counter attack with mutalisks and get a quick expansion and third while denying your expansion.

However, you already have your expansion up and probably have a lot of +1 Roaches in case he went for a 1-base Roach attack. If you spot the mutas coming, you should immediately counter attack with all of your Roaches. This accomplishes two important things.

  1. You're forcing the opponent to defend with his muta's, which frankly do not do a lot of damage versus a lot of Roaches.
  2. While his mutas are defending, you can build two sporecrawlers in your mineral lines each and make a ton of drones, getting yourself more ahead while you can. Because if the opponent does deflect the huge Roach counteraggression, he can deflect your third for a long time.

If your attack gives you the opportunity to move up his ramp, run by the spinecrawler defences and directly start attacking important structures. Sniping the spire is game-ending for him in 100% of the cases. The Roaches you have in his base are forfeit regardless due to mutalisks not being damaged by them, so it's better to do crippling damage compared to damage to the droneline.

Does he hold? Well most likely you will have done a lot of damage to him in terms of unit count and the like, so make a ton of drones while teching to hydralisks. In this case, getting a +2 ranged attack will be better than a carapace upgrade. The hydralisk range upgrade isn't neccesary, because if mutalisks engage, they have a range disadvantage anyway.

Saturate your natural and move out with a huge Roach-hydra force with Roach speed and +2 attack, this should totally cripple your opponent and force him to use all his forces in the defence. Giving you an opportunity to grab 4 Roaches and do damage at the third during the attack. Victory should be yours after this attack.

Versus a Fast expand

Alright, so in this case, you are actually starting off 'behind'. This can feel rather constricting, much like an invisible tank line closing in around you. After all, the opponent has his natural up sooner, more production and an easier defended position. You cannot play passive versus a fast expand, you HAVE to punish it or you will lose. There are some options in your case, a speedling expand and a couple of other all ins.

The speedling expand

I know you're good, so I'll respect you and macro up myself

This is the safest macro build against a fast expand. You're focussing on the fact that your opponents gas will be delayed ( and thus the metabolic boost upgrade ) for a long time, and you use your few speedlings to force Zerglings to be made for the opponent so he cannot capitalize on his advantage. Essentially giving you enough time to get your expansion up yourself.

The build order.

9 - Overlord
14 - extractor
14 - spawning pool
Take one drone off of gas when you have 80 gas stocked up. This will time the finishing of the spawning pool and the gas, so you can take the upgrade right as the pool finishes without giving you too much gas.
16 - Overlord
16 - Zergling pair
17 - Metabolic boost ( Zergling speed )
17 - Queen
Make Zerglings until 22 and move to your opponents natural.
22 - Expand
Build more Zerglings and mix in a couple of drones.

This build is designed to seize mapcontrol from your opponent, giving you plenty of time to make more drones while pressuring him and faking him into making more Zerglings. It is NOT designed to kill your opponent outright, do keep that in mind. Your lings must stay alive for this build to have effect, so don't be careless with them and just occasionally engage the opponents Zergling numbers to keep him thinking that you are all inning him.

When you have your expansion built and his Zergling speed finishes ( or his Roaches move into the fight ) retreat with your Zerglings and transition into the midgame.

A regular 14/14 speedling Baneling aggression

Time to see how good your micro is, punk

This build is not meant to be transitioned out of naturally; you should focus purely on crippling the opponent beyond returning. That is why in some cases this isn't the greatest way of going about in ZvZ. It relies on doing a ton of damage so you can get your expansion up and be ahead of him in terms of mapcontrol and drones.

But there are some cases in which I prefer to do a big punishing aggression compared to a macro game. Of course I'm talking to you Zergies that go 15 hatch regardless if they spawn close positions on Shattered temple or do it on Xel'Naga with a wide-open natural.

This build is designed to punish those with insufficient defences. Because Banelings are SO strong against Zerglings, they can basically be used to mow the opponent's numbers down where you run in and surround his Zerglings. Signs that you should all in are him not building a Queen at his natural when it spawns or no spinecrawler started, these mistakes are just so easily exploitable that I see no reason you should not capitalize on them.

Build order

9 - Overlord
14 - Extractor
14 - Spawning pool
16 - Overlord
16 - Metabolic boost ( Zergling speed )
16 - Queen
18 - Zergling
Baneling nest at 50 gas and don't take any drones off of gas, you want as many Banelings as possible.
22 - Overlord, this gives you enough space for a lot of Zerglings and Banelings.

If your opponent only has speedlings while you have speedlings AND 6 Banelings, he will have to micro pretty godlike to hold off this aggression. He will never be able to engage your speedlings when there is Banelings nearby and thus you have two options laid out for you.

Hold the area around his natural with your Banelings spread while attacking his natural and sniping it out, while expanding yourself and retreating to give yourself a small advantage.

Or, you could just go and take his ladder points by moving a dotted line of Banelings up the opponent's ramp and barrelling through all the way towards the opponent's mineral line. In the worst case, you see two Queens blocking and you'll just have to fall back on sniping his natural. In the best case, well, his Zerglings blow up and you stream yours in to just outright kill him.

This won't be very strong against a fast expand into Roach though, as he can easily block the ramp with his stronger Roaches and outrange the Zerglings while they attack his natural. He can even tank a lot of Banelings which gives your Zerglings the chance to only attack him when he over extends his Roaches outside his ramp. If you do see him out of position and surroundable, do so and kill his Roaches effectively while rolling into the main with Banelings.

Because this build forces a lot of micro out of the opponent, you can be pretty sure that this will be effective all the way until the point where opponents will have atleast 100 APM.

The +1 melee speedling Baneling allin

Give me your ladder points!

This build is so all in you should raise your hand in a diabolical fashion and scream Bit by bit at your computer screen while you are executing it. So if you lose the game because of this response, you have no RIGHT to rage-quit.

You should also only use this build when your opponent is going for Roaches directly after expanding. You're going to focus on breaching his Roach-wall and surround the Roaches completely.

The build is a regular 14/14, getting an evolution chamber and starting your +1 melee upgrade when it finishes, then build a Baneling nest. All the while building ONLY Zerglings, keeping up on your injects and making sure you are not supply blocked ( Overlords on 22 and 32 supply ). When your Baneling nest finishes, you build around 7 Banelings. Make sure you deny scouting and don't show your Zerglings and Banelings to him at all costs, because if he sees the Banelings he can build a double Roach wall and stop this all in cold.

Banelingbust

When you move in, make sure your Banelings are all bunched up together. Attack the wall with your Zerglings and move back when your Banelings are close, ramming them all in the Roaches before engaging with your Zerglings again.

If this was successful, you should have atleast killed one or two Roaches and made a lot low health, and seeing as +1 melee Zerglings do 5 damage to Roaches instead of 4, they will kill them very rapidly. Your goal is to surround the Roaches where they are completely outnumbered and outgunned.

Once your lings move up the ramp and surrounded the Roaches, the game should be yours because you just keep streaming in Zerglings with him unable to block his ramp.

If he has Banelings though, you die straight up and simple. +1 melee Zerglings die just as fast to Banelings as 0/0 Zerglings. That is why this build shouldn't be your go-to build when your opponent fast expands, because your wins will be just as silly as your losses. Unless you just hate ZvZ and like to watch the world burn with rage ofcourse.

Hatch first versus pool first

Defending is an art, a frustrating art of stopping run by's and holding your ramp.

There is a huge difference in playing a 14/14 and a hatch first, especially if you are dealing with a pool first now. In the former, you can be defensive and offensive because of your quick Zergling speed. In the latter you will have to deal with your opponent's faster tech and possible all in.

I pretty much always drone scout when I hatch first because of these all ins. In some cases you should cancel your hatchery, and some you just have to be careful with your lings.

Dealing with an early pool

If you scout a pre-11 pool, you should always cancel your hatchery.

Against a 6 or 7 pool, you need to cancel the hatchery and use the minerals to build a spawning pool. You can hold it off if you follow the tips in the holding an early pool section of this guide.

Against a 9 pool drone-all in though, you will have a terrible time. It is taken for granted that this build will kill a 15 hatch regardless of your micro, it's THAT hard to deal with. So if you have to deal with this, god speed. It's the only buildorder loss that I think there is in SC2 ZvZ.

Against a 10 pool, I'm a bit on the edge. If you are building an extractor before pool already, you should cancel it because your pool is delayed. If you're building a spawning pool before extractor though, I think you can keep the hatch alive and use your Zerglings and some drones to keep the hatchery alive. Unfortunately I cannot really confirm this, so take this advice with a grain of salt. It is a very strong build against hatch first, so you're going to have a really tough time regardless.

Dealing with a regular 14/14

There should be a heavily defensive flag right near this part. This is one of the harder things to deal with when you are doing a hatch first. Technically, you are ahead. After all, you have your hatchery up sooner than your opponent. But this only means that you will have a more easily defendable position and a few more larva in the early stages. These larva cannot all be spent continuously because your economy isn't as strong yet, and your units aren't as strong as your opponents in regards to their tech.

Foremost I prefer to deal with these regular one base plays by building a spinecrawler right as the hatchery finishes. Also build a couple of Zerglings if you scout the opponent sending out a pack of 6 Zerglings towards you and use them to buy time for the spinecrawler to morph.

I also like to build a Queen at the natural and then build a Queen at the main. This gives your natural a little more defense sooner. Of course the two Queens will be used to block your ramp with hold position. A pair of Queens and a spinecrawler can hold of Baneling aggression easily, while the few Zerglings can help deal with protecting the hatchery.

A lot can be said about Queen energy usage too. But generally I like the following. One inject at your natural, no Queen energy usage from the Queen built in the main and just instantly send it to the ramp to block it off. This gives it the opportunity to build up energy for a transfuse which can be very crutch for your spinecrawler or your Queen walloff. You don't need two larva injects right away because you can't spend all those larva, and you don't need a creep tumour right away because you aren't fighting between your natural and main, you're fighting on your ramp and around your natural.

After your Queens are in production, build about two drones to get your dronecount back up ( you lost an extra drone for the spinecrawler, and you don't want to be behind a drone ).

By now you have a couple of options opened up to you for your defence.

Going defensive Banelings and teching to Roaches.

This is a rather conservative and safe option. It is safe against all ins and very defensive compared to the other options. The Banelings will give you safety against mass Zergling attacks with possible +1 melee attacks, while the Queens will give you a pretty safe wall. You shouldn't get the speed upgrade for Zerglings to maximize your gas for your Banelings.

Defensive banes

After your Roach Warren finishes, you just build 5 Roaches and you're safe against a Baneling attack and you will most likely have deterred the opponent from furthering his aggression.

This build however is slightly worse than just going straight for Roaches, because it forces you to stop making drones for a little longer and you're surrendering map control to the opponent. This gives him the opportunity to drone up too and catch up or even be slightly ahead. But ofcourse this gives you the ability to drone up too and directs you both into the midgame to fight out your difference there.

Going Roaches.

This is a slightly harder opening, since you don't have the safety against mass lings as you would with Banelings. It heavily relies on your positioning, and you can NEVER be caught out of position with this opening, doing so will sacrifice your ladder points to the Scrub gods. There is again no need to get the metabolic boost, because you want to maximize your Roach count.

It is again strong against Banelings, because you need that safety desperately to hold off aggression coupled with them. And it does well against one base Roach openings obviously because you have a better economy and a more defendable position.

Roach cork

You need to learn three kinds of walls here, the 'Roach-cork wall', the 'double Roach wall' and the 'outer wall'.

the Roach-cork wall is when you just put all your Roaches on hold position on the base of the ramp to have range on the hatchery while stopping run by's.

The double Roach wall is when you put a line of 3 or 4 Roaches on the middle of the ramp on hold position and the rest of your Roaches on top of the ramp on hold position so they are out of vision. This gives you a wall that will minimize Baneling busts because the Banelings can only splash on the first wall, and the next wall will not be effected and thus cannot be surrounded.

Finally you have the outer wall, which connects the base of the ramp to the natural hatchery with a single line of Roaches on hold position. Because these Roaches form a long wall, they cannot be fully surrounded and they still protect the hatchery. They also protect the spinecrawler behind them and you can easily retreat to the ramp should the opponent try to all in you or do a run by.

This should all be executed with great control, and can oftentimes be very difficult to rationalize your stupid looking losses. But this should bring you ahead versus a 14/14 in drone count and a faster hatchery.

Going defensive Baneling nest +1 range into Roaches.

This opening is used to capitalize on your economy in an immediate counter aggression when his aggression ceases. Or if you will punish your opponent for taking his expansion after yours. It also does really well if he does defend that push, since you can get an earlier +2 ranged attack and keep your Roaches better upgraded. If you get metabolic boost, your Roaches will be too delayed and it will be very tough to hold off aggression.

You again use defensive Banelings and a Queen wall to keep you alive during the early stages from all ins, the difference is that you are getting your Roaches up later so the timings you have must be more crisp than with a Baneling - Roach opening.

The +1 attack however does extremely well against Zergling all ins as well as against a destiny style Roach/ling allin. Because of this, you can be aggressive after you have droned up a bit. Getting a large force of Roaches up and moving out while droning behind it can often give you a huge drone lead. Incase you are losing the engagement, you simply retreat because the opponent cannot possibly chase you down and catch your units.

I use this on some occasions when I feel like doing a big Roach attack when he is saturating his natural up. It is a good non-all in pressure and it does wonders against people who overdrone.

The Midgame

Where the games are usually decided, two base versus two base. The battle for drones and punishing.

I define the midgame as the part where there are two hatcheries up for both players. Even though a hatch first versus a hatch first opening can still be very aggressive and be up really quick. That's why I put that 'opening' here.

Hatch first versus Hatch first

All-in or macro game? Hatch first

This also is a very interesting match, because it all relies on scouting. It's really easy to overdrone in this situation and really easy to lose the game if your scouting was subpar. Is he going for a massive Zergling all in? Is he going for a destiny styled Roach ling all in? Or is he teching to mutalisks? Maybe he's just droning and macroing up too... all of these possibilities are reall and need specific responses. That is why it can feel like a coinflip, because if you don't get your scouting in, you're not sure when to drone and when to make units.

The most important thing to scout in these cases is dronecount in the natural expansion. That's why putting an Overlord behind the natural mineral line way out of the reach of Queen darts will be a very good indicator whether your opponent is going for an aggressive play or a defensive one.

You don't always have this luxury however, and you can't have an Overlord parked over the ramp like you normally would for scouting. So in a sense, you are in the dark. This is something you should always try to prevent happening. You need your tabs on your opponent to make rational decisions.

That is why I feel that going speedling aggression against this opening is king. Because you can pressure the front and see whether or not he is going for defensive Banelings or going straight to Roaches and so forth. I also like to add in a smidge of Banelings, only morphing 2 max before you scout his base. If he is going Banelings himself, morph some more and lay some pressure on him with a dotted Baneling mine. You could also go for a few Baneling snipes before you decide to move in.

If you scout Roaches, you have mapcontrol and you can easily fall back on getting an evolution chamber and +1 ranged attack before going Roaches yourself. This gives you more time to drone up and your Roaches will be stronger than his incase of an attack, which should give you the defenders advantage.

2 base mutalisks

If you scout a lot of spinecrawlers or fast double extractors at his natural, you can be certain that he is going for lair play, most likely mutalisks. This poses a unique choice, go defensive and try to break him with a 2/1 Roach-hydra force, or go mutalisks yourself.

Both are rather hazardous in the way that neither truly is the 'right' decision. The former is a big all in attack that relies on crippling your opponent utterly due to the fact that he should have overdroned because of his quicker third. The latter is just trying to even out everything, while the opponent might have gotten more gas than you already and will most likely have the mutalisk lead.

However, I can say that going mutalisks yourself will be tricky because you should build sporecrawlers in your main and natural to cope with the lesser amount of mutalisks for you. This gives him the opportunity to build his third before you while having mapcontrol. I do not fight this opening all that often because I tend to just overrun him with a fast +1 Roach pressure, but if I don't I will attempt to get a third up while he gives up mapcontrol in the early game and sporing it up. This is just speculating however and it needs more experience on my side to truly verify it.

Past the opening stages

Finally! No more Baneling shenanigans.

So now you have survived the battle of the builds, you are safe to drone and so is he. It is a time of peace in Zerg versus Zerg land, Overlords shaking hands, Queens tending for their hatcheries. It is all just a facade though; a storm is brewing under this seemingly veil of silence. And it takes a true Zerg to notice what is safe and not. “Units built in fright, Zerg player's delight. Units built after drones, Zerg player's broken bones." one might say in a way to butcher a sailors saying.

This part is especially alien for Zerg players that do not see why they lose in this stage. You see, right after the mapcontrol has been gotten by one Zerg player and you both have expansions up, there is literally no reason to not make drones because you know your opponent won't all in on you. And if he does you have the advantage of having a few more drones. You're basically caught in a wild west standoff where building drones until saturation without having too few units to defend a push ( meaning trickling in Roaches between drones ) is the best decision to help augment the big 2 base army.

There are a couple of dynamical decisions you can use in your arsenal to give you an advantage.

Tech choices

If you want to get an edge in the midgame, you need to understand the upgrades and the tech. Because your units will consist of Roaches mostly with a similar economy, you will have to gain advantages in other areas. Let's start with the core upgrades.

Glial reconstitution (Roach speed)

Roach speed

This upgrade is absolutely essential in the midgame for Zerg v Zerg. Without it, you cannot move out and attack or pressure to force him to make units. The reason for this is that in a Roach engagement, it is really easy to defend as the defender. You just build a lot more Roaches and your reinforcing point is much closer.

If you are losing that engagement as the aggressor, and you do not have Roach speed, all of your Roaches are simply done. They will be chased down and picked off until you lose the sickest amount of Roaches that will lose you the game regardless of your drone advantage or how you defend. Because the opponent drones up behind his counter and simply way outproduces you.

This is one of the reasons there is a downtime in ZvZ midgame, because moving out is actually detrimental to you without the speed upgrade. So if you plan to attack your opponent, make sure you have Roach speed so you can always retreat incase the fight doesn't go your way.

Burrow

Burrow

Burrow is not a critical upgrade to get, but it can be very handy if you are skilled with using it. For one, if you force the opponent to build one or two Overseers, you have already forced the same amount of gas for a response for your cloaking. The upgrade itself isn't that expensive to get, at 100/100. And it allows you to save units that are otherwise caught dead. You also now have the ability to micro your injured Roaches down to heal to gain a slight edge in Roach on Roach engagements.

The most impactful usage of burrow however is one that seems insignifican't. One burrowed Zergling at your opponent's future third will deny that base for a huge amount of time; we are talking atleast 20 game seconds. In some cases it can even stall it for a full minute if your opponent isn't paying attention. This stalling can win you games, it's that good.

Burrowed Zergling

However, there is a grim flipside to the burrow upgrade. While it is very potent when used correctly, it can turn against you very quickly in the wrong conditions.

A burrowed unit cannot attack, and if it is popping up, it has a little downtime before it can start attacking. This gives the enemy units the first shots, which is 16 damage times the amount of Roaches the enemy has. A huge deal.

Another big downfall is fungal. Fungalled burrowed units aren't also capable of attacking, but they can't unburrow either. You are basically pinned into the ground, while taking area of effect damage and taking damage from the opponent's Roaches that get free shots off. You'll just lose your army completely.

So this upgrade is very difficult to pinpoint when to get it. Because it can be strong and weakening at the same time. You don't need to rush to it, but it can be a good tool in your arsenal.

Tunnelling Claws ( Roach burrow-movement )

Roach burrowmove

I'm really on the fence with this one. I personally do not think this upgrade is worth it in Zerg versus Zerg. I have a few reasons lined up below. The upgrade takes 110 ingame seconds. That is 110 seconds that it is delaying the Roach speed upgrade which is required to do anything but an all in push.

It requires burrow, making the upgrades in total cost 250 minerals and 250 gas. That's a ton of resources spent on a slightly quicker restoring Roach while it is out of action.

It doesn't have that much more utility than a regular burrow. Yes sure your Roaches will be able to sneak past the opponent if they are foolish and don't have an Overseer or a sporecrawler up. But relying on your opponent not having detection is quite an all inish decision you are making. One Overseer will make short work of that burrowed Roaches shenanigans and it will put your army at a huge risk for a potential blow.

That's why I think this upgrade isn't for the midgame. It is simply too easily countered and it costs too much to justify. You can be rather obnoxious with burrow Roaches in the lategame though.

Regular upgrades, the what and the how

The decisions about your evolution chamber upgrades explained. Evolution chambers

Alright, now we have the special Roach upgrades talked over, which one to absolutely get and which one to cut from your play or to just take it a lot later. But regular ol' upgrades have a huge effect on your Roaches.

Let's talk about the attack versus the carapace upgrade first. Attack upgrades are always better to get first. Because with each attack upgrade, you gain +2 damage on your Roaches. Whereas with each carapace upgrade you will only tank more 1 damage with each upgrade. So even if your opponent has the carapace and you just have the +1 attack, you will still be stronger in the engagement.

The difference now is how fast you get your upgrades. In general there are two different styles to go. The style where you just put down two evolution chambers when your lair is morphing, and the style where you get one evolution chamber first to get a quick +1 attack, then get a quicker +2 attack and an extra evo for a +1 carapace upgrade.

The former style is pretty defensive. Your upgrades won't be as quick as a quick +1 attack , but you can quickly gain up on those because you have a quicker second evolution chamber. But because you can't get an upgrade advantage until soon, this is a semi defensive road to take. It doesn't give you an upgrade disadvantage, but you certainly cannot edge out an upgrade advantage against your opponent either unless he is playing sloppy.

The latter style is what I personally prefer to do. A fast +1 attack opens up a lot of different timing attacks. The +1 attack timing without speed, a fast +2 timing attack or a +2/+1 timing push where you have a better advantage. In other words, it gives you the ability to be aggressive with a stronger army.

Taking a look at this graphic for Roaches and their upgrades.

Vs unup. RoachVs +1 armourVs +2 armourVs +3 armour
unup. Roach10 attacks11 attacks12 attacks13 attacks
+1 att Roach9 attacks10 attacks10 attacks11 attacks
+2 att Roach8 attacks9 attacks9 attacks10 attacks
+3 att Roach7 attacks8 attacks8 attacks9 attacks

As you can see, an attack upgrade advantage can quickly swing the tide of battle in favour of your Roaches, whereas the carapace only minimizes some of the damage. Having a carapace advantage thus is not as impactful as an attack upgrade advantage. This is why I use the quick evo before lair +1 attack , because it sets me up for a stronger push. Let's just imagine your +2 attack finishing while his carapace is still 0, you are taking a full 20% less time to kill off a Roach than he does. That is so huge because you can quickly gain a unit advantage in an engagement that way. And if you have more Roaches that are better upgraded than your opponent, well let's just say it's looking quite grim for him.

The Overseer

An often forgotten tool, the Overseer can be the decider in a Zerg versus Zerg game in conjunction with the right units. Most of all, it can detect so it is a necesity in a midgame push.

Secondly, the Overseer is reasonably fast. This makes it an excellent scouting tool for checking what the opponent's upgrades are, what type of tech he is getting and how many drones he has. It's also awesome to see just how much your opponent sucks at injections ( ololol.... please, I'm not the only one who does this, right? )

The ability, Contaminate, is really underappreciated in this match up though. There are a lot of uses for this kind of harass too! I'll list them here.

A contaminated hatchery will not spawn additional larvae. In addition, the Queens cannot inject at them because the contamination wears it off. Limiting your opponent's unit/drone production, which can be critical if he is going for a push or is playing from behind.

Contaminated evolution chambers, you have no idea just how much this changes the game around. Remember that banter about +2 attack Roaches devastating 0 carapace Roaches? Well if you do a timing attack where you are ahead on attack upgrades and manage to contaminate your opponents evolution chamber, this is a very real possibility. Delaying an upgrade for 30 seconds is amazing in its effectiveness and should definitely be used more.

The contaminated Infestation Pit. This one is just a dick move and it can make your opponent cry if you timed it correctly. We all know that trick where we wait until the upgrade has reached a little over 30 second duration before you make Infestor eggs, and have the Infestors spawn with 75 energy for a fungal growth because the upgrade just finishes? Imagine having 6 Infestor eggs building when suddenly, an Overseer messes up your upgrading Infestation Pit.

Those Infestors will spawn with 50 energy and will have to wait a loooong time before they get enough for a fungal. Do you see the severity of this? It is absolutely crippling to do a timing attack on someone while his big investment, the Infestor, can't do anything in the fight aside from throwing a bunch of infested beach balls around. This is a game-ender if the pit is teched to too quickly and a push is executed at this time.

Nestea's Future of ZvZ

You can't really ignore The God of Zerg in his word, can you? Nestea's Future

Once upon a time, in a land far away, a guy picked up a drink and decided that would be a great name for a god. That drink was Nestea, that guy was Im Jaeduck. The undisputed best player on the planet at the time of writing this article. Winning three GSL's and even going through one without losing a SINGLE GAME. There is really not much to say about such dominance, but I won't use that term that you all love to use too frequently. He isn't, stop trying to call him it. I could lift him all the way to the heavens with my words, but then I would be standing in the way of Artosis doing the same thing.

Before the Zerg versus Zerg finals of Losira vs Nestea, he announced that he has a new style of ZvZ that he thinks will be the dominant play style in the upcoming months. It was on Bel shir beach, the first game of the finals, where he first showed his trickery. The mutalisk in the hands of a craftsman is just an art to watch, so it was not hard to be amazed by Nestea's control and the way he used the mutalisk.

The Mutalisk

There are two free VOD's of Nestea showing off these games, the first game of the Nestea vs Losira July Finals, and the game of Nestea vs Kyrix in the round of 32 of August. He used mutalisks in both of these games and it was really startling to see it work on such a high level. Personally I have been fiddling around with mutalisks in ZvZ, but I just could never work out the timings to make it work without losing to an allin Roach counter attack. I've examined these games thoroughly and have come to some conclusions about the style he is using.

He starts out with a regular expand and he gets up a Roach Warren. While going to lair he gets an extra gas geyser and when the lair finishes he gets Roach speed without any evolution chamber upgrades. Then he starts massing up Roaches and Zerglings. When he attacks, the spire is building and a couple of spinecrawlers have been erected. If the fight doesn't go well, he can easily retreat back to the safety of his spinecrawlers while his mutalisks spawn, ready to help in the defence.

If the defence is over, or there isn't an attack to defend, the mutalisks are used to clear our Overlords from the map, denying scouting on a grand scale and getting free and easy kills.

The mutalisks also force sporecrawlers to be built, but because sporecrawlers are so incredibly beefy, the mutalisks aren't actually used to Harass dronelines all that much. Unless the mineral lines are defenceless, mutalisks should never attack them.

He also uses the mutalisks to deny the third base. Since a Roach-Infestor player has a terrible anti air consisting of slow Queens, spore crawlers, slow infested Terrans and fungal growth which costs a ton of energy, it's very plausible to deny the building hatchery. This is the most important aspect of this style, denying the opponents third and getting your own up before his to gain a solid macro advantage.

Another overlooked aspect of the mutalisk is that Nestea uses them in separate groups, not in a unified flock most of the time. If you fly over a pack of Roach-Infestor with 10 mutalisks, the Infestors won't hesitate to just fungal you to hell. However, if it is just two mutalisks, it feels like a complete waste. After all, it takes four fungals to kill off a mutalisk and if you are just killing 2 mutalisks, you're basically trading 4 Infestors with 2 mutalisks. Not a good trade at all! Even if you put down an infested Terran or two, the mutalisks will just fly away knowing that they have wasted your energy.

This is perhaps where the good mutalisk players separate themselves from the bad ones, you need multiple groups harassing stuff at the same time. Overlords... the army.. perhaps be annoying in the main base. This is all very APM intensive and requires a lot of focus. That's why I wouldn't advise you to try this strategy if your overall ZvZ isn't as solid yet.

However, suppose we go ahead in time, where the prophecy has come true and ZvZ has turned into a mutalisk based play. Then we need to take a look at what is good in mutalisk versus mutalisk fights.

In the upgrade department, it is always better to get carapace over attack. Because the attack upgrade only gives one extra damage on the first bounce, while the carapace reduces the incoming attack with each bounce ( so -2 damage in total ) which makes your mutalisks more durable and thus better in muta vs muta engagements.

There will be a logical next step in this future too.

The Corruptor

The Corruptor, with its base armour of 2, reduces the overall mutalisk attack including the bounces to 9, and at a huge health of 200, this air to air beast can tank up to 23 full mutalisk shots if we don't take in the consideration of regeneration.

Its attack does a full 14 damage too, which kills an unupgraded mutalisk in roughly 9 shots. And it has twice the range of a mutalisk. The only thing what it lacks is speed, the mutalisk is faster and can outrun the Corruptor. But if they do decide to engage, the Corruptors will always get the first shot off.

And with only 50 more minerals, you get this beefy squid. Great at defending from incoming mutalisk attacks, and thus amazing at parking above your third base so you can get it up faster than your offensive mutalisk opponent. The sheer sight of this behemoth can even force your opponent to make more expensive air units to defend against Overlord harass. This is great for you, since you can simply go straight into transitioning to the lategame while the opponent is still busy expending minerals and gas to this midgame threat.

What if we aren't going for a similar Nestea-esque ZvZ though? What is our saving grace to stop us from dying to the mutalisk Harass?

The Hydralisk

Far out the best way to dealing with this kind of heavy mutalisk harass is to add in a couple of hydralisks to your Roach force, since Infestors don't quite cut it. A hydralisk will defeat a mutalisk one on one, and it has better range than the mutalisk, so in even numbers the hydralisks always win. The difficulty lies in the fact that you can't be certain how many mutalisks your opponent has, and that you cannot let the mutaball pick off stray hydralisks, they have to stay in a pack.

The hardship of a hydra-roach player is that they can't get their third base up as quick as the mutalisk player, so you are in a perilous situation from the get go. The hydra-force is also really slow, so if you attack, you need to be really certain that they will kill off the opponent. The only real purpose of the Hydralisk is to basically be a higher dps dealing Roach and I normally only build them against mutalisk players because their cost doesn't justify their slow, squishy, creep needing snail butts.

When you are moving your hydralisk ball around, you have to keep Roaches infront of them at all times. Not only do Baneling-flanks rip apart hydraforces, but Roaches will kill a hydralisk in 5 hits. To top it off, it dies in 3 fungal growths ( thanks JinHit for the correction ). So for 25 minerals and gas more than a Roach, you get something that has less health, and is slower. The only benefit is its range and the slightly quicker damage per second.

Roaches in the front to tank the damage, hydralisks in the back for support. This is how you should engage a position. Note the high amount of units you should have here, you pretty much must do a sweeping push all over the map to deal with the opponents soon to be raging economy. If you don't, you will get overwhelmed and it will feel like there was nothing you could do. If the mutalisk-goer defends this push, he wins the game. That is why I think Nestea thinks this will be the future, because when executed correctly against no-mutalisk players you can win games in a convincing fashion.

Gearing up for the late game

The inevitable tech switch to Infestors and the third base.

Alright, you both have gotten up a big number of Roaches and gotten some upgrades. You're sure you cannot kill him right now and he cannot kill you. It is time to start teching up once more and deal with the changing landscape. The Roach, our most precious ally and strongest foe, is a few minutes away from becoming more or less redundant. We want to get up a third, and take out the big guns

Ladies and gentlemen, get up your Infestation Pit.

The Infestor

This unit is the closest thing you will ever see to a high templar in Zerg versus Zerg. With it's quite squish nature, and little skittish legs, it has the power to wipe out fields of Roaches in a continuous blast of fungal growth. This is the primary use of the Infestor, to put on the hurt on masses of Roaches, hydras, Banelings and Zerglings alike.

You might wonder why we didn't get Infestors out sooner. Well that's due to the very simple fact that it takes four fungal growths to kill a Roach. Four Infestors have 850 gas invested in them ( 600 for the units, 150 for the pathogen gland upgrade and 100 for the Infestation Pit ). That is so much gas that you didn't invest into midgame Roaches that you can easily be overrun by the right spreading and amount of upgraded Roaches regardless if you build spinecrawlers or not.

Plus the fact that you need to get spinecrawlers up when you rush for Infestors, which makes you very defensive visibly to the opponent. A smart player would then just expand before you and take the map while getting Infestors of himself, putting you behind on economy and setting you up to the path of defeat.

You get Infestors when you are gearing up to take your third base. With this in mind, you can easily punish people that rush for Infestors while being safe for big Roach attacks at the same time. Which turns out is a pretty good way of getting a safe third base up.

When your Infestation Pit finishes, you immediately get the pathogen glands upgrade. This upgrade allows your Infestors to spawn with 75 energy directly, letting them fungal growth right after birth.

A common known trick is to wait for the upgrade to reach past the 30/80 mark ( thanks to the people pointing this error out, used to be 35 ) of the upgrade duration and build Infestors right after it has passed that point. This gives you Infestors right as the upgrade finishes, thus giving you the fastest Infestors possible with fungal growth.

Engaging Roach/Infestor with your own Roach Infestor

If you feel like you are behind, or your opponent wants to make a move, this will most likely happen at this stage.

Fungal growth is the spell that dictates how good your engagement will be. Not only does it do a lot of damage ( it takes 4 fungals to kill a Roach, 2 to kill an Infestor ) but it prevents the units in the back from partaking in the battle.

  1. This is why you should atleast keep your Infestors on a separate hotkey so you can punish an opponent's bad positioning or spreading quickly.
  2. Another tip is to keep your Infestors spread out when you are moving forward. Because it only takes two fungals to kill an Infestor off, you do not want 6 Infestors clumped up and dying before they can do their damage to the opponent's Roaches. In the engagement, this will also prevent Infestors from getting picked up in an enemy fungal before they unleash their own energy. That's what you want to do after all, trade energy with Infestors and hope that he runs out of Roaches/Infestor energy before you do.
  3. It is less important to keep your Roaches spread, but please do not just ball them all up, that's just begging to get punished. The best way of engaging a position which is defended by Roaches and Infestors is to move your Roaches in a wall like formation rather than a circle formation. This gives you a better chance that your Roaches will be taking part in the battle.
  4. If you think you have a good engagement from your scouting, always move up to the Roaches as close as possible. Because both of you and the opponent will get fungalled, all of your Roaches will atleast be taking part in the battle. Plus it gives your Infestors the best possible position to fungal from.
  5. When possible, flanking with a few Roaches can also be a very potent strategy. This sniper crew of Roaches is meant to go after Infestors behind the opponents big Roach wall. Because Infestors do not want to just waste their fungal growth on a couple of units, you can at the very least force some energy to be wasted from them. 6 +1 Roaches will snipe an Infestor in one shot, so this hit squad can wreak havoc if left untouched.
Roach Infestor

After this slightly chaotic engagement, a winner should be rather clear with his huge amount of Roaches and Infestors left alive. This is where the most midgame ZvZ battles are decided, and its very often the place where games end.

Should the game not have been decided with this battle, or has this battle not unfolded at all due to the way too defensive position of the opponent, then it is time to start 'sieging up'.

The Lategame

From the relative calm of the midgame, to the chaotic multibased multipronged stage that is Zerg versus Zerg lategame.

Alright, you two both have the third bases secured. You both cannot attack without getting your ass kicked by the enemy's absurd amount of Infestors. The Roaches you have aren't as effective anymore as they used to be. It is time to bolster your defences and sit down.

You cannot deny the utility of the spinecrawler. With its range of 7, 2 armour and its bonus damage against armoured, this building is a formidable defence against Roaches and Infestors alike. The most important factor to the spinecrawler however, is the fact that it cannot be fungal growthed. Indeed, the Infestors spell is so strong that you need adequate defence against mass Infestors. In the Zergs case, there are two things that can withstand fungal growth. Spine/sporecrawlers and Ultralisks.

Obviously the spinecrawler is easier to get than an Ultralisk, although it is very immobile. This is why you should get a great wall of spinecrawlers covering the front of your third and your natural. In the best case you will have an 'impenetrable' defence of spinecrawlers which cannot be engaged with Infestors and Roaches.

Spinecrawler wall

Because these walls are so strong, you almost cannot engage them directly without an enormous force. It is like a tank line stand off in lategame TvT, where both of the players take their half of the map and tech to air.

This is what you should be doing, taking your side of the map. Just going mad with building hatcheries and getting gasses up. This gives you enough money and momentum to tech to Ultralisks or Broodlords to lay siege on your opponent. However, there is another part of the lategame that isn't as straightforward as just building an army and mashing them together with the opponent's army. And it is usually this what effects who wins and who loses.

Lategame Harass

Separating the multitaskers from the turtlers

Harassment options are opened up all around now that the enemy is spread out over the map and that the defences on both sides deter clashes. Drops, nydusworms and the like are all things that make lategame Zerg versus Zerg exciting and speeding up again.

I'll lay out a couple of harassment tactics below.

4 Roach drop

Roach drop Queen

This is one of my favourites, because it is easy to execute, low in cost, and effective in its damage.

The Overlord filled with Roaches should be moving towards the enemy's bases. The Roaches' target is the Queen. The Queen is one of the pillars of the Zerg system. Without Queens, your opponent will quickly crumble due to not being able to build as many units as you can.

Four +2 Roaches kill a Queen in 2 volley's each, so it does not take long at all to do this damage and load up into your Overlord again to move to the next base or to get out of there. You can keep attacking the drones in gas after you killed the Queen, but you shouldn't bank on it to kill hatcheries or buildings with this harass.

Let's just check what damage this is actually doing.

In the worst case, the Queen has just injected at the hatchery. So in 40 seconds the larvae of that Queen will have fallen off. A Queen takes 50 seconds to build, so assuming that the opponent won't build a new Queen until he has dealt with the drop, we can delay the next injection by about 20 seconds. Where you would normally have 12 larvae from injections in 2 minutes ( should you inject perfectly ) Now you only have 8 larvae from injections. On its own this harass isn't all that strong, but if you drop at three places at once and take out three Queens, you can have the opponent lose as much as 12 larvae that he could have had.

Before I get my hive, I like to get the drop upgrade in my lair and the Overlord speed at another hatchery ( you can do them at the same time at different hatcheries, you don't neccesarily need to get it at a lair or a hive ). Because I like doing this kind of harassment right before the opponent is going to engage me and my defences.

Because these drops are so effective and require relatively little units to do, I like to have multiple drops at the same time. Sometimes taking out the Queen at the third, natural and main at pretty much the same time and spreading out the attention of the opponent. I've killed my fair share of Roach Warrens because my enemy needs to clean up constant Roach drops in his third and natural.

8 Roach drop

“Don't leave me hangin' “ said the Roach that was loaded up and paired with another full Overlord. These two Overlords are designed to take out tech buildings and hatcheries. You should always use this in conjunction with another drop because it has so much value tied up in the drops ( 800 minerals and 200 gas ) that losing it can be rather annoying. Even though you can quickly rebuild those Roaches.

Here's a table of the amount of volley's it takes this squad to take out various buildings. This ofcourse assumes that your units are +2 attack by now, which isn't all that unreasonable to think.

Hard targets ( Big risk, big reward )

Infestation Pit
BuildingVolley's of attackIngame seconds
Hive1734
Lair1428
Hatchery1020
Spawning pool714
Greater spire714

Medium targets, all of these take 6 volley's or 12 ingame seconds to kill. They are medium risk but high reward depending on what you are sniping ( Roach Warren, morphing greater spire or Ultralisk cavern are pretty good to snipe )

Roach Warren
Baneling nest
Spire
Infestation Pit
Nydus network
Hydralisk den
Ultralisk cavern

Low targets, these take a very low amount of volley's to kill, but they hardly do considerable damage to justify your huge drop investment.

BuildingVolley's of attackIngame seconds
Evolution chamber510
Extractor48
Nydus Worm1 and a little2

Those are the statistics, so if you are attacking a Roach Warren for example. You have around 12 ingame seconds to snipe the building, load up your Roaches again and get out. And seeing as Roaches can move to defend rather quickly, you obviously have to do a major attack or something to distract him while you are doing the damage to his tech. You cannot just do this drop and expect it to work because of the long time it takes to do any critical damage at all.

Infested Terran harass.

An Infested Terran is a unit that only costs 25 Infestor energy and it isn't uncommon to have an Infestor built up with 200 energy and thus 8 Infested Terrans loaded up.

You can really easily sneak Infestors around the map, be it via a burrow-by ( Infestors can move while burrowed naturally ) or via a drop. Taking three Infestors to an opponent's outer expansion can easily level it. Taking some stats from Liquipedia, we see an infested Terran takes 5 seconds to hatch and can attack 32 times during its lifespan of 30 ingame seconds. With +2 attack these guys have 10 damage with each shot. So a single infested Terran can do around 300 damage ( a hatchery has 1 armour ) if it is left alone.

If we take for granted that the opponent will have gotten to the danger half way through the duration, we have a benchmark of the amount of damage the infested Terrans do.

16 infested Terrans ( 2 full Infestors ) do (16*16 = 256 ) times 9 damage per shot. So in 15 seconds and with focusfire, 16 infested Terrans can take out a hatchery with ease. Infact, 4 Infestors can be a serious threat to your tech structures inside the main base.

You should never underestimate the infested Terran eggs, and they need an immediate defence to keep your hatcheries alive.

Baneling bombs

Banelingbombs

The closest thing we Zergies will have to the blue flame hellion. A Baneling bomb is an Overlord filled with Banelings that is sent towards the mineral lines to devastate it utterly. It normally takes two Banelings to kill off a drone, so if you attack with unupgraded Banelings you could kill a nice 8 drones in this drop.

The real danger however lies in the +2 melee upgrade. Much like in the Protoss match up, the +2 melee upgrade gives Banelings the ability to oneshot drones. This obviously has a huge impact on the amount of kills you can receive.

I normally don't start Baneling dropping until the late-late game when I am nearly maxed on upgrades. And I don't like dropping Banelings that aren't at least +2 melee upgraded because the devastation just isn't quite the same.

Larvae Harass ( wait what? )

This kind of harass is worthy of the TLO award of random knowledge, and you don't see this kind of strange attack because of the fact that it isn't an obvious target.

Fungal growth kills larvae in one volley. So if you have saved up larva at your hatchery and a crafty opponent sneaks in an Infestor, well, there goes all your work. You can take out a lot of saved up production this way and it will definitely turn some heads when you do it. It's like taking out a barracks with a single spell.

Of course, you can also neural parasite a morphing egg. This pops it like a boil instantly and kills the unit inside. I don't think I have ever done neural-parasite harass, but there you go. Oh and by the way, I actually learned that one from following TLO.

Ultralisk style

Punish those mass Infestor kiddos with their one fear.

As strong as they may be, Ultralisks do need tending for. Sure they are walking buildings that do a large AoE attack with bonus to armoured ( Infestors and Roaches alike ) but Ultralisks aren't really that strong without back up.

You absolutely need to get the Chitinous plating for them, because a +2 carapace Ultralisk only has 3 armour compared to the +5 one would have with the upgrade.

If we consider a +2 Roach, they do 15 damage with each attack to a chitinous +2 Ultralisk, it will take 34 attacks from that Roach before the Ultralisk is slain. In other words, it can tank out a whole army of Roaches for all of their damage for just 6 food. 6 Food of Roaches will not be quite as frightening as 1 Ultralisk will be. An added advantage is that should the opponent hav e 50 Roaches and they all focusfire one Ultralisk, then that is 16 Roaches that have just overkilled on that Ultralisk. Meaning that their damage output has been nullified for that strike. In this example this ensures you take 320 damage dealt less to your army.

On top of that, if left alone, the Ultralisk will do 20 damage to a pack of Roaches as fast as a Zergling would. So you absolutely have to deal with them in order to avoid massive damage taken to your Roach force. This is without taking in consideration carapace and melee upgrades. One melee upgrade gives the Ultralisk 2 more damage with each attack, and for 100 minerals and 100 gas, I think that upgrade is well worth it if you are transitioning into Ultralisks.

Perhaps the strongest feature on them is their resistance to the snaring effect of fungal growth ( it will still take damage ) and the immunity to neural parasite, which makes it a perfect unit to combat Infestor heavy compositions.

As amazing as I make Ultralisks sound, they also have a flipside. Ultralisks are the biggest creatures in the entire galaxy with the lowest mass to brain ratio. Infact, the Ultralisk cannot think. The air inside its skull just presses him in one or the other direction. It's just that stupid.

Keeping Ultralisks infront of your army is a must, because these units tend to randomly audition for dancing contests during battle if there are Roaches in front of him. His body simply can't move through the wall of Roaches attacking, so it just sits there, not dealing damage and not tanking any.

In addition, you should not go only Ultralisks backed up with Infestors. As good as they may be, they are a support unit in their own right. Having 5 Ultralisks with a pack of Roaches and 8 Infestors is great. Having 12 Ultralisks with 8 Infestors... not so much. It's like doing chargelot archon against Terran, without the archons to back the zealots up.

The advantage in going Infestor-Roach-Ultralisk compared to the Broodlord tech is that Ultralisks are FAST. They can be taking out an expansion and retreat before the army gets there. So it is amazing for hit and run tactics. It isn't as strong as a Broodlord composition in its ability to siege armies and defences, but it comes at a close second.

So keep in mind their need to be cared for, the occasional melee upgrade, the essential chitin upgrade and that they should not be massed exclusively, and the Ultralisk can be a very formidable ally.

The Nydus dance

Now I take out your main, now I retreat to my defences, then I start harassing your third. All in just over 30 seconds.

Now here's a flashy strategy for any multitasker out there. The Nydus worm, as disgusted as people are when they even hear its name, is actually really good in lategame ZvZ. Especially in something I like to dub the Nydus dance.

This strategy relies on the incredible flexibility of army movement when used with Nydus worms. A single Nydus worm after all is enough to unload 6 Ultralisks in less than 5 seconds. And all it takes is one nook in your defenses, one place unscouted, to have this thing open up a whole alley of attack from an entire army, and give it a free way out at the same time.

If you want to use Nydus worms to their full potential, you absolutely need 2 Nydus networks to produce them two at a time. This gives you the ability to plan an attack, a retreat and another attack right after in the shortest timeframe.

Let's say I build a Nydus worm in the opponents main and in his fifth base. If I attack the expansion first, I will draw his entire army towards his besieged economy. When I did my damage OR I see the army coming over, I quickly retreat in the nydus worm and unload at the main to attack his tech structures, drawing his army back again. In the mean time, I could have planted a Nydus worm at his fourth and given me another thing to attack after I retreat from the main.

The important thing here is that I am in complete control of the pace of the game. He can defend or go all in with an attack, while I can simply retreat for free towards my base to defend his attack. It is a very fun and very quick style to play out in the lategame, and my personal favourite when it does come to that stage.

There is another use for nydus worms too. Perhaps you are rampaging through an opponent's fourth and you know your army would get smashed if it was attacked by the opponents larger army. You can continue your assault on the fifth while 'cornering' your army, but you build a nydus worm in advance so you have a quick and clean escape path.

If you get to a good lategame stage, please think of the nydus worm. And don't underestimate its damage potential.

Broodlord death flock

Broodling bombardment

This is the ultimate siege weapon in the Zerg arsenal. With its range of 9.5 it outranges everything in the Zerg arsenal by a huge margin.

The initial attack hits at 20 damage, spawning broodlings that are similar to Zerglings in all aspects but the speed that can do severe damage when left alone. Its attack also outranges anything Anti Air on the ground for Zerg. Sporecrawlers, hydralisks with the range upgrade, Queens and infested Terrans are all outranged by this unit.

Another added benefit to its attack is that the broodlings can pin an army down. Because the army cannot move through a wall of attacking broodlings, it is suspended out of range of the Broodlords. This gives the Broodlord a feeling of nigh invincibility for units on the ground, and almost cannot deal with them without air support. It is also a good thing to note that broodlings benefit from melee and carapace upgrades.

A Corruptor has to shoot around 12 times before it kills a Broodlord, a +2 hydralisk takes 20 shots to kill a Broodlord and a Broodlord can take up to 7 fungal growths before it dies. So with proper support Broodlords are very tough to snipe out.

There is however one ground unit that has something ranged enough to hit the Broodlord from the ground, the Infestor's neural parasite. While this seems like a very difficult thing to pull off, the neural parasite is only outranged by .5 and the Infestors can be protected by Roaches. You have to focusfire Infestors with Broodlords all the time to make sure your own siege unit doesn't get used against your ground forces.

The other big weakness of the Broodlord is that it is a sloooooow unit. It is rather easy to evade a Broodlord army to attack a vulnerable expansion or tech installation with a more nimble Roach based army. This means that Broodlords do take a good knowledge of positioning to get the maximum amount out of this siege unit. In addition, it is the most expensive unit for Zerg, at a staggering 300 minerals and 250 gas each.

Still, because of its range and the fact that it flies gives it the stamp of strongest unit in the Zerg arsenal in Zerg versus Zerg. If you want to make the strongest army, build the 'deathflock' of Broodlords and Corruptors and re-enforce it with Infestors and upgraded hydralisks.

This army pivots around the Broodlord in that all the other units ( Corruptors, hydralisks and Infestors ) are used to defend the big damage dealing Broodlord. This makes the army invincible compared to other compositions. But once more, this army is slow as hell. So for the very strongest army in the match up, you are also much more vulnerable to counter attacks and base trades.

Offensive Queens

These can... help in battle? Come on! Who do you think I am, Catz? Transfusing Queens

In the lategame, Queens can augment a high tier based army by giving it a lot more costeffectiveness. A 50 energy transfuse can replenish a unit with 125 health, so if used on a near-dead Roach, you have basically given yourself 75 minerals and 25 gas because you don't have to remake it. More expensive units benefit more from Queen transfuses, because you don't have to rebuild those units. If you transfuse an Ultralisk, you give it back a quarter of its health, if you compare that to a quarter of its cost ( 75 minerals and 50 gas ) and you've saved yourself quite a bit with just a 50 energy spell. A full Queen can save you a whole Ultralisk on just energy, a free Ultralisk!

Broodlords are also amazing transfusing targets, with a 75 minerals and 62.5 gas saved per transfuse. In addition the Queens 7 range to air helps to keep your Broodlords alive against air units such as the Corruptor and mutalisk. Thus, in the lategame, it is only beneficial to your cost efficiency to start producing mass Queens so you can bolster your attack and start really crashing through that spinecrawler defence. The only downside to Queens is that they are slow, but if you have enough APM, you could possibly ferry them around in Overlords or use nydusses to move them around. Much like nydus worms, there is no reason to not start experimenting with Queens in the lategame of ZvZ.

Conclusion

This concludes pretty much all of my knowledge about Zerg versus Zerg. I hope that it helps you in your play and that it inspires you to think of the match up not as a coin flip, but as a really fast paced and hard to grasp game where mistakes cost you dearly.

A shoutout to CrazyOne who cleared up a ton of typo's and suggestions to the guide. If you see him on battle.net, thank him with a great ZvZ. :)

If you want to share this information with someone else, I would be very appreciative if you sent the link to them. If you really do need to put the info somewhere else or want to use some of it, then please reference this guide with the link. Information is free, but a little courtesy goes a long way for eSports. With that, I want to point at blizzard for some of the artwork from this guide, of course an amazing company that brought us all of this.

Thank you all for reading and best of luck.

Comments

Kevin te Raa

19 augustus 2011

I want to thank JinHit for correcting me on reddit about the fungal growth. I know you are 'done' with my guide because of that error, but know that it is corrected

People have been requesting about my paypal too ( wtf, this community is awesome ) and its the email in the footer ( kevinraa@live.nl ). Also follow me on twitter and googleplus if you want to get the first updates on new articles.

asd

19 augustus 2011

I'm sorry about that spam, I pressed once I promise :C

Kevin te Raa is quoting asd

19 augustus 2011

Haha it's okay :) I'll remove the spammy ones

StylezStarcraft

19 augustus 2011

That was an AMAZING guide! I do play starcraft II and I do in fact play Zerg and I felt as if the mirror match up was what was preventing me from playing it fully. The mirror match up was such an aggravating match-up and didn't truly know timings and build orders, I just knew roaches, banelings, speedlings, and infestors were good. I've only been winning my matches by trying to assert my superior micro but in the end it usually isn't enough. Thank you very much!!!

Scott

19 augustus 2011

amazing... just... amazing.

blueRaven

19 augustus 2011

Incredible, thank you!

transience

19 augustus 2011

A great guide, although you might want to add some more specifics about the 1.5 base roach/ling all-ins that have been dominating ZvZ of late.

Kevin te Raa is quoting transience

19 augustus 2011

In the guide I describe that if you scout a late gas ( post pool or even post hatchery if you will ) you should put down an evo chamber and get +1 attack. The lings will get mauled by the roaches who two shot them and you can reinforce much better.

Although it can still be tough if you try to eek out a couple of drones, it is definitely easy to hold if you play safe and scout well.

Robbiek

19 augustus 2011

This is just awesome. It actually covers every single thing! I have always had problems doing ZvZ, but i am sure this will help alot!
THANK YOU!

p.s. Are you dutch?

~Robbie

Kevin te Raa is quoting Robbiek

19 augustus 2011

Why yes I am, didn't you notice by the fact that EVERYTHING on the site aside from this guide was written in dutch?

In other news, over 10,000 people have looked at this guide now seeing from my analytics program. If all those 10,000 zergs improve, I might have to put some effort in my ZvZ's again T_T

Alcool

19 augustus 2011

this is a fantastic read. Thank you for taking the time!

Robbiek

19 augustus 2011

This is just awesome. It actually covers every single thing! I have always had problems doing ZvZ, but i am sure this will help alot!
THANK YOU!

p.s. Are you dutch?

~Robbie

Robbiek is quoting Robbiek

19 augustus 2011

I don't actually know why this got posted again. It posted after refreshing.

And tbh, i didn't really look at anything else than the guide lol, i only noticed the dutch words when i read your post.

Kevin te Raa is quoting Robbiek

19 augustus 2011

Yeah I am currently having some issues with that... I built my own blog system you see and there are still some bugs lying around. ( such as the double displaying of certain comments, I dunno why it does that ) I'll try to fix those later.

dom

19 augustus 2011

Hey sir, that was the best zvz guide I've ever seen. Good job and thanks for sharing. The only thing I might suggest is to add relevant replays in sections. For instance, to defend a 6pool with a 14pool (to see the drones right+clicking in action), or for the nydus harass, etc. Thanks again!

Chris

19 augustus 2011

You can start making infestors after 30 seconds of pathogen glans upgrading. :D

bootcamp

19 augustus 2011

I will be playing zerg all weekend thanks to you.

jah

20 augustus 2011

This is awesome. It brings reason and rationale to a steroid fueled bloodbath where one false move can mean the loss of the game.

TYVM for this

this is an amazing guide

20 augustus 2011

this is an amazing guide!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! thank you so much, zvz banelings/lings were killing me!

osharews

3 september 2011

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TheBlacklist

23 augustus 2011

This was a fantastic read, and one of my favorite pieces of zerg literature yet! This is helpful on the level of 12 weeks with the pros!

Would you consider doing ZvT and ZvP guides in this style? Please??

Its a fun read and I got a ton out of it, and I know I will reference this many times!

Great job, thank you!

ayadew

23 augustus 2011

+2 Melee banelings 1shot workers

Kevin te Raa is quoting ayadew

23 augustus 2011

All workers except SCV's :) SCV's take +3 melee to one shot.

And yes, watching a whole mineral line of scv's and mules die feels awesome.

Mactep

6 september 2011

Amazing guide!


However, I'm not quite sure what opening you recommend as the "safest standard", 14 gas pool or hatch first?

Because if speeding expand is good against hatch first as you explained, and speeding baneling is the way to go against gas pool, can we assume that 2 Zerg players that want to play optimally would go gas pool every time in order to speeding expand, then see a similar opening of their opponent, that should drive them to go speeding baneling every game, every other opening strategy being sub optimal for one or the other?

Thanks again for this wonderful guide man! U rock.

Kevin te Raa is quoting Mactep

6 september 2011

There is never a safe standard. You have aggressive builds, safe builds and macro builds. 14/14 is the safest opening, but Hatch first is the best macro opening, but requires some more skill and knowledge of the match up to consistantly pull off.

Mactep

6 september 2011

Thanks for your answer Kevin.

I've extensively read your two guides, and although they are extremely detailed and specific, it would have been great if I could ask you for some clarifications about some points. As I dont want to take too much on your time and I understand you cannot answer to everyone, I wonder if you plan to add some Q&A evetually, so I can email you some questions?

Again, great job and thank you for helping zerg community that much. I craved for a guide that could really improve my skills to match ones of masters!

NSFW

11 september 2011

This is easily the best ZvZ guide I've ever read! I covers everything and it helped me so much!

Would you consider doing the other match-ups as well? I'd would just love to read those as well!

Yoman

12 september 2011

excellent guide, but what would you do vs spanishiwa-style fast expand with lair @first 100 gas? i often follow that up into immediate hive>broodlords, destroying arny roach/infestor army, all the while maxxing out on zerglings and max melee/carapce ups for zerglings and broodlings. after the broodz break any siege defenses, my speedlings can usually eat the base at max dps with the ups. also, instead of 8roach drop, have you tried dropping in max ups lings? dps on those is insane, you can snipe much, much faster

Kevin te Raa is quoting Yoman

12 september 2011

If I see an extremely quick lair I will go for a +2 roach timing attack while teching to spire and expanding.

With that I can crush trough any spine crawler wall that has less than 5 spines. Any quick Infestor play will get crushed and Mutalisks will be forced to be at home.

Meanwhile I can respond to mutalisks with my own or carapace upgraded corruptors. With which I would do a +1 air carapace roach corruptor timing attack. I've won most of my vs quick lair play using this.

GinjaNinja

21 september 2011

Hi there, thanks for this amazing guide! Im about to go check out your ZvT and ZvP guides now as well!

There are just a couple of things though, you say that ultralisks beat infestors because they are immune to snare (fungal) and neural paracite. However you can use infested terrans to create a wall in front of the ultras between them and your roach army. While the IT are still in the eggs the ultras will not attack them and they will 'dance about' trying to get to the roaches behind. This effectivly acts as a unbreakable zerg forcefield which once the eggs hatch adds incredible firepower to your army which can easily turn the battle.

Also with infestors against the Broodlord, burrowed infestors spamming infested terrans under the broodlords are the only effective way to beat them with any ground army if they have support.

Finally, with the infestor NP range reduction today could you update your amazing article to reflect this and say that NP on Broodlords just because a whole lot more difficult.

Also add links to your other guides!

Kevin te Raa is quoting GinjaNinja

21 september 2011

Hello there,

Infested terrans ARE great against Ultralisks, especially the eggs. But unlike with fungal growth or neural parasite you can retreat from an Infested terran wall. You would have to surround the Ultralisks with IT eggs just to keep them from not speedily retreating, which costs a lot of energy.

I have attacked into a mainly infestor army with Ultralisks before. I just attack and wait until they have blown their IT load over the ground and move back with my speedy Ultralisks and wait for the Infested terrans to die from old age. Then attack into the opponent again when he is low on energy while my infestors are at high energy.

IT's are amazing against Broodlords, but that's only the case if there isn't an army underneath them. I find that it relies on a gimmicky trick to work if you want to kill Broodlords with that, and I prefer to play my ZvZ's more standard.

I will add the Neural change in some time in the future, it should be quick though.

ZvT: http://raa-media.nl/blog/starcraft2/zvt-alpha-omega
ZvP: http://raa-media.nl/blog/starcraft2/zvp-aiurs-armageddon

rockslave

24 september 2011

Hey man, great article. Looking forward for more of your stuff.

Ghost

15 oktober 2011

I'd like to add something to the infestor area,
if your opponent is going mass ultralisk and you are going infestor roach, if you make a wall around (incircle) the ultralisk, they cannot attack the roaches and are forced to attack infested terran eggs (doing really no damage for a few seconds) than attacking IT also taking more volleys.

Thus making ultralisk a terrible choice against mass infestor roach.

Trollstabber is quoting Ghost

4 november 2011

Ghost, you are mistaken. You are assuming that a player would not only get his ultralisks well ahead of his roaches (which is rediculous, because speed roaches move *faster* than ultralisks) but would also a-move, then take a little break from the game rather than running away after your infestor energy has been spent. This won't happen past bronze league. And then, there's the fact that it takes so much energy to cast enough infested terrans to pin a single ultralisk that even if you manage to do so you have made a bad trade. Ultralisks are always a good choice when you need to break an infestor-heavy ground army.

Kaiser

5 november 2011

As a master leaguer, it's hard to find freely available advice that's actually accurate and applicable to my games, especially in such a sharp matchup like ZvZ where general advice just doesn't cut it.

That said...This looks amazing. I'd love to chat and play some games with the author. I've only skimmed through enough of it to see that it's real shit, but I'm off to read through it now.

Kevin te Raa is quoting Kaiser

8 november 2011

I'd love to play with you :) I'm Eik.995 on EU ( currently diamond because 22 loss streak by playing terran T_T )

Trollstabber

4 november 2011

Sorry for double post >.

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