ZvT: 3 Base Roach Push
Khaldor introduced this build based off a replay between an unknown GM Zerg player and Polt on the Korean ladder. I like to pretend it’s NesTea, but just pick your favorite zerg and roll with it. According to Khaldor, this push is very popular amongst GM players and pros right now.
Summary and build order
Move out of your base with ~30 +1/+1 roaches around the 10 minute mark. Continue to flood roaches if you think you can win, or drone up your 3rd behind the attack and transition into hydra/viper or muta.
Basic build order / timings:
- 15 Hatch
- 16 Pool
- 2 Queens when pool completes
- 4 Zerglings (more only if necessary)
- 2 more Queens after first two pop
- @36 supply, 2 gas
- @100 gas, begin lair
- 2 more gas after lair begins
- Double evo at natural
- Roach warren (around 7:10 in the Polt replay for reference)
- Roach speed
- Stop droning when you’ve reached 16-20 on each mineral line
- ~60 supply, make 6 overlords
- Roach production
- 3rd hatch
- Move out at ~10 minutes with 20-30 roaches (+1/+1 should finish before you attack)
- Continue to flood roaches or drone up your 3rd
Because the attack doesn’t hit until after the 10 minute mark, a lot could happen from the Terran. Keep the following in mind:
- You won’t have ling speed, so be prepared to deal with reapers and hellions with your 4 queens during the early game.
- Check for a 2nd base from Terran. If you don’t see one, expect earlier drop play and heavier aggression.
- Hide your roach warren. The Zerg from Khaldor’s replay places his just outside of scan range in his main.
- Hide your roaches. Pool them up at the top of your ramp so it’s less obvious what you’re doing.
- Bring an overseer and watch for widow mines as you move across the map.
- Prioritize your targets when you attack. Bust into his base and kill army, SCVs, tech labs attached to barracks (no marauders), reactors, etc.
- Depending on the amount of damage you do with your attack, a counter-attack from Terran isn’t unlikely. Be careful not to overdone your 3rd in case you need to defend.
If you can’t win with your push, don’t throw away your army needlessly. If you can trade effectively, go for it, but do your damage and go home. Build enough army to defend against drops and counter-attacks, but your primary focus should be squeezing out as many drones as you can afford as you transition into mid and late game.
A natural tech transition is to add hydras into your composition and get up to Hive as quickly as possible to start mixing in vipers. I tend to favor this composition over mutas due to the upgrade advantage we have for range units already at this point. Continue to upgrade, defend, and take your 4th until you’re maxed, then push out with roach/hydra/viper.
As roach/hydra is a little less mobile than ling/muta, consider building a Nydus to harass and keep your opponent at home. Nydus canals can also come in handy if you need to retreat in a hurry.
Build order summary + transition commentary [7:27]
My attack is delayed by hellions, but I manage to do some decent damage and transition into a late game 3/3 roach/hydra/viper build to seal the win.
Khaldor’s Full Tutorial [25:05]
The zerg finds Polt vulnerable and floods roaches for the win. Build order timings in this post are taken from this VOD. Khaldor’s explanations are clear and thorough, because he’s a boss.
ZvP: 2 Base Swarm Host
Heart of the Swarm has really mixed up the meta game, which is a welcome change from Wings ZvP. While my previous entries have all broken down build orders from professional players, this one was too fun to pass up. I’ve looked at variations by Psy, CatZ, and Leenock, but the one we’re breaking down today was originally published on TeamLiquid by velvex during beta. A special thanks to my friend Velidra for showing this one to me (you’ve betrayed the Protoss race and brought shame to your people).
Summary and build order
The goal of this build is to put on heavy pressure with Swarm Hosts around 10:30 off of 2 bases (yeah, you heard me). Use spores in front to block detection, and adapt for the kill (or power up your economy back home) depending on your opponent’s reaction.
Basic build order / timings:
- 12-14 pool
- 16 Hatch
- 3:45-4:00 gas #1
- 2 drones on gas
- @100 gas: lair
- After lair is started, take 3 more geysers and fully saturate (~6:00)
@100 gas: overlord speedInfestation pit when lair finishes (~7:15)
- 2 swarm hosts, enduring locusts upgrade, and nydus as soon as pit finishes (~8:00)
- Send 3-4 drones, 2 swarm hosts,
and 5 overlordsacross the map (~8:45)
- Make 6 swarm hosts and 2 queens (rallied to your nydus)
- Evo chamber (optional)
- Drop creep with your overlords and open a nydus worm outside their base
- Morph your drones into spore crawlers, and nydus in your reinforcing swarm hosts and queens
- Spread creep with queens and burrow your swarm hosts
- ATTACK! First wave should hit around 10:30 with 8 swarm hosts, 2 queens, and 3-4 spores
- Reinforce with 2-4 more swarm hosts
- Take a 3rd base and either get aggressive or drone up
Update: I have been skipping overlord speed lately. Your nydus will spew out enough creep for your spores. Get a queen out to help spread it and to give yourself more room to spread out the spores. I end up using the extra money for quicker swarm hosts, ling speed, or hydra production.
This build will not work without enough gas, be sure to fully saturate after you upgrade to lair. You may opt to take zergling speed at some point too depending on how aggressive the Protoss appears.
Try to keep your opponent in the dark for as long as possible. Get 4-6 lings out on the map and go probe hunting. If they spot full gas saturation and no 3rd at 6:00, they will know something is up. Some people have even suggested faking a 3rd and canceling it at the last minute. This is a tight built though, and it may disrupt your timing… especially if you accidentally let it finish.
Set up your attack outside of their natural, but stay out of vision! The moment they spot creep, you can expect aggression. Enduring locusts upgrade is really good, you don’t have to get that close.
When you drop your spores, keep at least two in front of your swarm hosts to kill observers and another one or two among your hosts.
There’s nothing worse than having idle locusts (except maybe rage quitting to hallucinations). Make sure to set up a secondary rally for your locusts so after they take out the first structure you rally them to, they move on to another. The locusts will attack everything in their path, so don’t worry too much about microing waves unless you really need to target something down.
If things go south, use your nydus to get out! Losing all of your swarm hosts could be game ending at this point.
Obviously, you can win more than one way, but this is what I’ve found to be most successful so far. As a general rule of thumb:
- If you see robo, go spire or hive
- If you see stargate, go hydra
If you see robo, go spire or hive
In Blade’s HotS Zerg guide, he suggests that the best transition out of swarm host (once you have 10-13) is to start adding on overseers and corruptors. They do well against colossi and can continue to snipe observers. Alternatively, you can build mutalisks which do reasonably well against colossus (depending on the stalker count), but more importantly, can harass like crazy. Swarm hosts in the natural and mutas hitting mineral lines can be enough to break some toss.
In either case, you will need a 3rd for the gas, and maybe even a 4th at this point depending on how aggressive your opponent is acting.
If they have a robo, one of the best reactions to swarm host play are warp prism. Kill them with your air if you can, but expect it! You may send a few swarm hosts back home through the nydus to defend. Static defense (spores and spines) isn’t a bad choice either.
If you see stargate, go hydra
This is my favorite scenario as a Zerg player as Hydras will do very well attacking an air army with locust support, and can move quickly through the nydus to defend at home if necessary. Add in lings to protect your hydras and take out probes/production facilities. Build extra spores around your swarm hosts and probably 2 more spores at each of your mineral lines. Be aggressive, this is a decent window for victory.
Summary Video [11:46]
ZvP: Dimaga’s Banerain
Dimaga made a huge splash (sorry) at Dreamhack 2012 where he fought his way through a gauntlet of Protoss players to make it to the finals. His banerain shook up the current roach-heavy meta game, and reintroduced us to a very refreshing, effective and fun way to deal with the matchup.
Strategy and build order:
The primary objective is to take an early 3rd, early speed, quick upgrades, and loads of lings. BatesC deserves credit for transcribing the build below. He splits it into two sections: opening build order, and timings after 60 supply.
Opening Build Order:
- 9 Overlord
- 14 Pool
- 15 Overlord
- 16 Hatch
- 15 Ling
- 16 Queen
- 21 Hatch (4:00)
- 20 Queen
- 24 Overlord
- 25 Gas (4:30)
- 32 Overlord
- 36 Queen
- 43 Speed (5:55)
- 44 Overlord x2
- 46 Gas (6:30)
- 62 Evolution Chamber x2 (7:15)
- 60 Overlord x3
- 60+ Ling production
Timings after 60 supply:
- 8:00 +1 Melee/+1 Carapace
- 8:00 Gas x2
- 8:10 Lair
- 8:25 Baneling Nest
- 8:45 Macro Hatch w/Queen
- 9:35 Gas x2
- 10:00 Overlord Drops
- 10:18 Overlord Speed
- 10:50 Baneling Speed
- 10:50 +2 Melee/+2 Carapace
Like most zerg builds, gas timing plays an important role in optimizing production and upgrades. Notice his early gas at 4:30 for speed (at 5:55). He then continues to take gas as he progresses through his upgrades and tech.
Expect some pressure from Protoss (typically soon after warp gate finishes around 9:00), and use your lings and queens to defend, using spines when necessary.
Choose your engagements carefully. Where possible, try to set up a flank to surround the Protoss army as this will greatly improve the effectiveness of the drops. Drop micro takes focus, don’t forget to keep up on reinforcements!
Because you already have the tech, load up a few overlords and send them to his mineral line to harass. Doing this will both damage his economy and help control army position.
Dimaga takes a Spire around 12:30-13:00. He doesn’t use it for awhile, but having the tech available allows for greater flexibility in dealing with airtoss or large colossus numbers. Brood lords are a natural transition for this build as melee upgrades are already complete. Dimaga almost always builds a roach warren to help support the banerain, moving in to soak up damage and clean up or push back the remaining army.
From there, build an infestation pit and research pathogen glands. Upgrade to hive and finish your melee/carapace upgrades as well as adrenal glands. Blot out the sun with your overlords, striking fear and despair into your opponent’s heart.
Summary Video (13:45):
mTwDIMAGA vs. Quantic.Nani at DHS12 - replay with analysis
ZvP: Leenock’s 10 Roach All-in
As a preface to this post, I should disclaim that I generally don’t think all-ins should be standard weapons in your arsenal. However, learning the timings of all-ins is valuable in understanding how to scout them and how to defense them. And occasionally, pulling one out can catch your opponent off guard and can frankly be pretty fun.
Naniwa was crippled at MLG Providence when Leenock exploited this super aggressive 1 base all-in to punish his FFE opening. Let’s take a look at how it’s done.
Strategy and Build Order:
The basic idea is to fake an expansion, cancel it, and hit the Protoss with 10 roaches and 20 speedlings before the 8 minute mark and warpgate / stargate finishes.
- 14 Gas
- 14 Pool
- 15 Overlord
- 15 Queen / 6 lings / zergling speed
- 20 Expansion Hatchery
- 19 Drone
- 20 Overlord x2
- 20 Roach Warren
- Cancel Hatch
- 10 roach @ 20/42 supply
- Pull off gas, overlord
- Stream lings endlessly
Depending on rush distance and execution, your army should hit between 7:20 - 7:40.
One of the most critical parts of this build is that the Protoss does not scout your cancelled hatch. Your zerglings must aggressively comb the map to deny scouting. If your cancelled hatch is scouted, the Protoss could easily reinforce his wall with additional cannons and sentries. To do this, place 1 zergling outside his base, 1 at each tower, and the rest patrolling chokes and searching for hidden probes. Kill zealots/stalkers with lings, and do not let him see your roaches.
Assuming you’ve done your job, you should be met with a pretty weak defense when your army arrives. Focus down cannons and pylons with your roaches, and then send in your lings to kill probes once a hole is exposed. If he’s going Stargate, destroy the pylon powering it.
ZvP: Stephano Roaches vs. FFE
Stephano is undoubtedly one of the best zerg players on the scene right now. So it only seemed natural to analyze his play style vs. Protoss, as it happens to be my worst matchup. I love the simplicity and power behind this build, and have adopted it into my standard playbook.
Strategy and build order:
The objective is to take an early 3rd, delay gas, then attack a 2 base FFE Protoss with a +1 (range) roach/ling army around 11 minutes (160/200), then reinforce and max to 200/200 around 12:00. The build looks something like this (EDIT: I updated the build order below based on some community feedback, thanks!):
- 12-14 Spawning Pool
- 16-20 2nd Hatch
- 4:20 3rd Hatch
- 6:00 2 gas
- 7:15 Roach Warren + Evo Chamber
- 8:00-9:00 Lair, Metabolic Boost, +1 Range (or Melee for BL switch later)
- 9:00 3rd gas
- 9:00 Roach/ling production
- Consider a macro hatch and/or a 4th
- 10:00 Roach Speed
- 10:30-11:00 Attack (around 160/200)
- 12:00 MAX, continue attacking
- 13:00+ Expand, upgrade, constant swarm of roach/ling
As always, it’s important to use lings to constantly scout and deny proxy pylons and probes. 2 base warp gate timings can hit as early as 9:00, so be prepared to fight. Build just enough lings to defend yourself from early pressure and zealot harass, be careful not to overproduce or overcommit.
When you make your first push around 160/200 (10:30-11:00), be sure to rally reinforcements and keep up on injects. Target the cybernetics core and cannons if they’re part of the wall. Position your army carefully, be wary of forcefields, and use ling run bys where possible (if they’re trying to take a 3rd for example).
EDIT: Redditor confusedx left this comment, felt it was worth including here:
I wouldn’t recommend this style for zergs that have poor ability to quickly macro up 3 bases. Stephano generally gets ~70-75 supply when the 8th minute mark hits, that’s ~60 drones. If you can’t match this (or come reasonably close), your push is either going to be laughably weak or VERY all in.
Also, DON’T OVER COMMIT. One of Stephano’s many talents is knowing when to back off, and you should figure that out too. He very rarely wins from this swell of units. If the toss can safely get his third up, you should have 5 bases. Contest EVERY expansion that toss tries to take (ling run-by’s are good) on your way to blord/infestor with upgrades.
It’s a fun style, lots of tosses rage at it :P
Make sure to scout with an overlord around 8:00 to scout for stargate, heavy robo, or dark templars. Mutalisks or infestors are good tech choices for a transition into late game, but don’t let that deter you form pushing.
ZvT: DRG’s 7 Roach Pressure
Lately I’ve been practicing a ZvT opening that has proven to be really effective in defending the typical Terran hellion pressure opening, and sometimes results in winning outright. I stole the build from a TL poster who first saw it executed by DRG at DreamHack Valencia vs. Rain & ThorZain.
Fast expand and pump out 7 roaches for early pressure while you take a third or support with speedlings and go all in.
- 15 Hatch
- 16 Spawning Pool
- 15 Gas
- 17 OL
- @Pool finish: 2 Queens
- @100 gas: Metabolic Boost
- 2 lings
- Drone to 28/28
- 28 Roach Warren
- 28 3 OLs
- 28/52 7 Roach + 10 lings
Use your lings to take map control, scout your enemy, and spot pushes. If you scout a factory with a reactor, you can expect hellions. Send your roaches out as soon as they pop, and rally your lings behind them. Consider building a spine at home to defend your drones from hellion harass.
If you want to go all in, bust his wall down and stream in lings. Continue to rally lings for the win. The safer option is to take your 3rd and drone hard behind the push.
Throw down an evo chamber in case of banshees and to begin melee upgrades. Drop your baneling nest and start your lair. Continue drone production, take all 6 gases, and build a Spire. Keep up on creep spread, position your overlords to spot drops, and keep a ling outside his base. You should be in good shape for ling/bling/muta composition. Good luck microing, lol.