My new command group setup

Back in Brood War, I played with my first hatchery on 5, and following hatches on subsequent control groups. That was as complex as it ever got (well, comsat on 0, but I didn’t play much Terran anyways). At some point during the Starcraft 2 beta, I switched over to put all hatches on 4, all queens on 5, and units on 1 through 3. This was pretty consistent with other races as well: nexus/CC on 4, gateway/rax on 5, robo/factory on 6, stargate/startport on 7.

I don’t think I’m good enough to take advantage of having the hatches on multiple control groups, and since I use the backspace inject trick, I need all my queens on 1 as well. The main problem, however, was that only 3 groups wasn’t enough for my units. Moreover, I needed to use them differently with different unit compositions, and I can’t hold that much in my mind either. Tragedy hit when I put my mutas and banelings on the same control group: while harassing with mutas, my banelings just rolled in to their death.

As such, I’m switching it up so that my hatches are on 5, queens on 6, and units on 1-4 as such:

  1. Main army (lings, roaches, hydras, etc)
  2. Banelings/secondary army (I like the idea of being able to split my army)
  3. Infestors
  4. Mutas/Brood lords

This new setup has been giving me a lot of grief as I’m trying to unlearn my old ways. My muscle memory should figure it out pretty soon, however, and I think it will help me avoid silly mistakes.

And just to finish up, here’s a replay from today: I think this is the first conventional ZvT that I have ever won. He did some hellion harass that I held off, I did muta harass, we had a marine/tank versus ling/baneling/muta battle that I crushed. I think the 2 keys to victory here were 1) not allowing him to hold his 3rd and 2) having great map vision with OL spread to see incoming attacks and drops. The 2 big things to improve on are 1) droning (he had more workers than I did for most of the game!) and 2) larva injects. I missed a lot of them, unfortunately, and it meant that I was really skimpy on units at times where he could’ve walked over and killed me. That should help with the drone count, too.

dApollo’s Zerg Tutorials

dApollo released a 4-part Zerg tutorial series (and has started the Protoss series as I write),  and they’re absolutely fantastic. He starts out at the beginning of bronze and works up through diamond, winning about 20 games in a row. For low-level players like me, he advocates playing safe and scouting a lot. Obviously, Apollo is much smarter than I am and knows how to interpret different scouts and prepare accordingly, but I think it’s a good mindset to have.

Here are a few things he emphasized:

  • Send in an overlord scout around 5:45 – 6:00 to see what they’re doing. This is right around the time when people really get into their game, and you can see what’s going on
  • Get the evo chamber if you’re uncertain about stargate or banshee play (which he was relatively often), but don’t get spore crawlers. Because he drones so hard, the 75 minerals isn’t a big deal to be safe, but with good overlord positioning, you should have time to throw done reactive spore crawlers
  • Get 3 queens ASAP. 2 are injecting larva, and the 3rd is spreading creep
  • He was a big fan of a single spine crawler at the front, just to be safe. It’s not a huge investment, and I think it prevents a lot of silly situations

I wrote down a few of his build orders, which shouldn’t be too surprising. Note that his early buildings are with a certain drone, not at a certain supply, so he has constant drone production.

dApollo 14 gas, 15 pool (ZvT, ZvP)

  • 9 overlord
  • 12th drone scouts
  • 14th drone extractor
  • 15th drone pool
  • 15 overlord
  • 15 2 lings, queen (lings spread to towers, behind natural, scouting up ramp

In ZvZ, he prefers to play defensively, though he did show a few strong counters and some aggressive play. At the bronze/silver level, he did a defensive roach build

dApollo defensive roaches (ZvZ)

  • 9 overlord
  • 12th drone scouts
  • 14th pool
  • 16 overlord
  • extractor when pool is almost done
  • 16 2 lings, queen (same as above)
  • 20 roach warren
  • 2nd queen somewhere in here
  • 25ish hatch

He points out that it doesn’t work as well at the higher levels because roaches are slow, and you end up giving away the map in these cases. Instead, he prefers a hatch first opening at higher levels, with defensive banelings

dApollo 15 hatch defensive banelings (ZvZ)

  • 9 overlord
  • 15 hatch
  • 15 pool
  • 17 extractor (pull out of gas after 50 gas
  • 16 overlord
  • 16 2 lings, queen
  • 20 spine crawler (send 1 drone to build instantly at the natural)
  • 20 queen
  • baneling nest

He keeps 1 baneling on the high ground, 1 on the low ground, and 1 in front and depends on good micro to stave attacks off.

The tutorials were so popular, he’s apparently streaming now, so check that out.

Defending against hellion harass

Learned this one while watching Ret’s stream. If you think they’re going early hellion harass, keep your queens on the low ground and lings at the top. When they see the opportunity, they’ll definitely try to go up the ramp. Trap them with the lings on the ramp as they’re trying to run by. The queens will be shooting the entire time and can more quickly reinforce when they go for the drones at the natural. And the lings are fast enough to get there anyways.