LotV Zerg v Terran by Stephano (featuring Vipers and Hydras)

This morning, I tuned into Stephano streaming Legacy of the Void. Simply, I was blown away. I have watched various streamers over the past 2 weeks, and most of them are still working out through new units and strategies. Even if he hasn’t solidified his builds, Stephano played with the decisiveness in engagements and ease of micro that made him an instant success in Wings of Liberty, and it was a tremendous pleasure to watch. I watched him play 3 ZvT and 1 ZvZ games, so let’s dive into some analysis about what he did.

Stephano (Hydra/Viper) v. Semper (Mech with Banshees) – Link

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Apollo shows us HotS builds in LotV (and how to adjust build order timings)

Most streamers are trying new, fancy things in LotV. Openings are adapting for the economy changes. New units are everywhere. Not Apollo. Apollo knows HotS builds, and he’s using HotS strategies. And they seem to work, more or less. It might not be the most innovative StarCraft play, but this is really helpful for us because it helps us compare timings from old HotS builds versus LotV builds.

We have some writeups from his past tutorials, though the most useful one is probably his Terran in HotS. Here’s an example build he used in TvT. It is a very standard Reaper Expand into Starport

Apollo’s HotS TvT

  • 1:00 10 Supply Depot
  • 1:37 12 Barracks (at ramp)
  • 1:50 12 Refinery (delay next SCV slightly)
  • 2:45 15 Orbital Command, Supply Depot (at ramp), Reaper (scout)
  • 3:40 18 Reactor (Marine x2 when ready)
  • 4:00 19 Command Center (in-base)
  • 4:12 20 Factory
  • 4:36 21 Marine x2
  • 24 Marine x2
  • 5:15 27 Starport, Hellion x2, Swap, Orbital Command


Compare this to a build he just used on stream against ForGG.

Apollo’s LotV TvT

  • 14 0:20 Supply Depot
  • 16 0:42 Barracks
  • 16 0:52 Refinery
  • 19 Reaper, Orbital Command (continuous Marines afterwards)
  • 20 Command Center (at natural)
  • 21 Supply Depot
  • 23 2:10 Factory
  • 23 Refinery
  • 30 2:56 Starport (delayed because of pathing, Medivac when it’s done), Tech Lab on Factory
  • 35 3:00 Bunker
  • 35 Cyclone (Tank next)
  • 4:26 Command Center, Barracks x2
  • 4:45 Tank drop starts
  • 5:30 Barracks x3

There are a few differences we have to account for between HotS and LotV builds:

1. Supply counts are about +4 from before. This begins with the Supply Depot going down at 14 instead of 10 and continues forward. This, of course, affects the minerals available, but most builds are timed out based on the tech tree, not minerals, so it works out

2. Times start about 40 seconds earlier. Because of the increase from 6 to 12 starting workers, builds start earlier. Use this as a delta on your builds.

3. The game clock is faster by a factor of ~1.4. Legacy of the Void has blessed us with a game clock that is the same as real-time, so your 15 minute game actually takes 15 minutes, not 11 minutes.

These changes lead to the build adjustment formula for HotS Terran builds to LotV Protoss builds, which I will coin as “Apollo’s First Law of Void”

LotV = (HotS – 40) / 1.4

By the way, Apollo crushed ForGG in that game. My rough analysis is that Cyclones are good in small numbers, but they aren’t a backbone to a Mech army, because mass Marines work pretty well.

Tune into Apollo’s stream if you get a chance. He’s a great player to learn from.

My first Legacy of the Void Zerg build order

(Author’s Note: if you are looking for real LotV build orders, check out http://lotv.spawningtool.com, where you can see build orders extracted from beta replays)

This evening, I played my usual Tuesday night StarCraft with my friends, but we changed things up by using the “Legacy of the Void” extension mod to try out the new economy in our 3v3 games. Specifically, it bumped up the starting workers to 12, increased starting supply for the different races, and reduced the resources at each base. A few observations off the bat about what Legacy of the Void (LotV) might look like.

Bases ran out of minerals really quickly. I was scrambling to take extra bases and ended up broke while trying to hold onto my 4th base. That felt chaotic.

Minerals come in so quicklyThe game starts, and it feels like your economy is zooming. It’s only 4 workers away from roughly optimal saturation on your main base, so the emphasis on building workers is diminished. Despite that, you feel like a macro monster because your minerals are climbing so quickly, and you just want to expand.

The aggro starts quickly and hard. Although it feels like you’re ahead because of the strong macro, that also means it’s a lot easier for big pushes to come sooner. You have to get units out quickly.

Given that, I put together what felt like a decent starting point for a Zerg build order.

ZvX 17 Pool Expand

  • 12 0:10 Overlord
  • 17 1:05 Spawning Pool
  • 17 1:40 Hatchery
  • 16 2:10 Queen, 6 Zerglings

This build is relatively straightforward. Start with the Overlord first because if you build a worker first, you will be supply blocked. Crank workers continuously until you get enough minerals banked for a Spawning Pool. Pick up a worker, then save larvae for the 6 Zerglings. Oddly, you actually have enough money to get a Hatchery in-between there. The Zerglings can arrive at your opponents base before 3:30.

This, of course, skips scouting. I think it might be necessary to scout with a starting worker, particularly for 4 player maps. All of the timings are pushed back.

I imagine we will be refining a lot in the coming days, but it’s interesting to see how completely different the threats and timings are. The above build will probably fall out of favor very quickly: it’s easy to defend without sacrificing economy, so it may not be worth getting the Zerglings out so soon. I do think that with so much money, though, it might be worth the earlier Spawning Pool just to get Queens for more spending. We might also see early gases for very fast Zergling Speed.

Anyways, there’s obviously a lot of time ahead, but I thought I would share what I have seen so far. I’m very excited to see how the meta develops!

Legacy of the Void: throw out the playbook

(This is part 1 in a series on the multiplayer changes announced for Legacy of the Void at BlizzCon)

I am kind of obsessed with build orders. Since I’m not actually good enough at StarCraft to give real advice and analysis, it is much easier to create content by transcribing builds from professional games. That turned into a much larger endeavor in Spawning Tool, a website dedicated to build orders. And with Legacy of the Void (LotV), I can now throw away everything because players now start with 12 workers.

The worker change isn’t the splashiest part of announcement, but it does disrupt the meta-game in a far bigger way than the new units. With all of the LotV changes, there are 3 different ways that build orders will change:

  1. Some build orders will no longer be possible
  2. New build orders will be possible
  3. All build orders will have to adapt to the meta-game

Eliminating build orders is straightforward. Zerg cannot 10 Pool because they start with 12 workers. Proxy 2 Rax at 12 supply is probably gone because you should have more SCVs by the time you start your proxy.

Adding build orders is also straightforward. As seen in the showmatches, both the Herc and the Ravager can play a huge role in the early game. These build orders were previously impossible because we didn’t have those units.

How the build orders interact, I think, is the most interesting effect because when other build orders are added or eliminated, all build orders must change to remain optimal. Some build orders had safety strategies built in for eliminated build orders, so these can be streamlined. Some build orders are unprepared for new strategies and have to adapt for those.

It’s hard to overstate how meta-game specific builds are. The Forge fast expand is a strange build, and yet, it (and other fast expand variants) is relatively standard because of the threat of Zergling rushes. As Zergling rushes waned, the 1 Gate expand gained popularity. Through several iterations of meta-game shifts, we can arrive in places where “outdated” builds could actually work better against current builds, but modern builds are adjusted for the current context. With a sudden change in possible builds, every build will have to change to react.

I do think most of this thought process will be more natural than it sounds. The radical change in the game will cause players to start from the ground-up rather than tweaking existing builds, and even in tweaking, the reactions should be clear. The general point, however, is that early game looks very different from before. Old school cheese is basically gone. Instead, every build order versus Zerg knows that it has to handle a 12 Pool at the fastest and work from there. The jumpstart means that a player doesn’t even have enough time to scout some of these openings before they have already arrived with a rush.

Despite all of the negativity above, I am actually really excited to get the global reset on build orders. HotS changed some openings, but not a lot. The Reaper Expand became standard, but it is still a 1 Rax Expand. Protoss had to figure out where to add the Mothership Core. Zerg didn’t really need to change much. LotV is a chance to cast away years of strategies and start over again in a fresh world with a lot to explore.

Refining builds is interesting, but I think we have the most fun being surprised and trying to work on completely new build orders. I will try to do my best to provide content and tools to help the community as much as possible, but don’t be surprised if things change very quickly.

Zerg versus Protoss Strategy Updated

After playing primarily team games with my friends over the past few months, I am getting back into playing 1v1. This time around, I think I’ll be playing Zerg. I admittedly was somewhat lost in how to play out my games, then I remembered that I had a guide on how to do it. Then I read it and realized that some of the strategies were painfully outdated. Here’s an update. As usual, feel free to comment if you have any thoughts or feedback.

Zerg versus Protoss (ZvP)

Since the release of Heart of the Swarm, ZvP has become much more interesting. Previously, Protoss only fast expanded into 2 base timing attacks, but recently, Protoss have mixed in more 1 Gate Expand builds and early pressure. There might also be 2 base all-ins, Stargate openings, or just macro into deathballs. All of this means that Zerg must be more flexible. Continue reading

Protoss versus Protoss Strategy Updated

I have to admit, I don’t really understand PvP. Nowadays, the community agrees that Protoss is the most build order-focused, so there must be some structure in there. Here’s my shot at updating this section with some trends in Protoss play, which will appear on the Protoss Strategy page.

Protoss versus Protoss

PvP is volatile. It’s the only matchup where 1 base play is standard. Because of that, build orders and scouting are very important to ensure that you counter builds and attack effectively. Continue reading

Build orders from KT Flash’s stream

If you missed all of the buzz, Flash streamed himself laddering for almost 3 hours earlier today. You can find the recording on twitch, but if you’re just interested in his build orders, I have them here. Let me know if you see any mistakes; I probably missed things (like I think I missed him get combat shields most of the time), so let me know what i need to fill in

Game 1 – TvP on Frost LE http://www.twitch.tv/ktrolsterflash/b/453050408?t=5m10s


  • 10 Supply Depot
  • 14 Command Center (at natural)
  • 14 Barracks
  • 16 Barracks
  • 17 Scout
  • 18 Marine (basicall constantly)
  • 19 Bunker (at natural choke)
  • 19 Orbital Command x2
  • 21 Refinery
  • 22 Refinery
  • 26 Supply Depot
  • 28 Tech Lab on Barracks
  • 30 Supply Depot
  • 32 Stimpack
  • 5:50 34 Engineering Bay (gets upgrades at some point)
  • 37 Reaper? (I think he needs a better scout)
  • 6:30 +1 weapons
  • 42 Reactor on Barracks
  • 6:45 Missile Turret at natural
  • 44 6:55 Factory (Reactor when done)
  • 47 7:15 3rd Refinery
  • 7:45 54 Command Center (in base)
  • 7:55 Starport
  • (Still Marines)
  • 65 8:40 Barracks x3
  • 8:55 swap Starport onto Reactor, Medivac x2, Refinery
  • 9:10 +1 armor
  • 9:30 pushing out with only Marines
  • 9:45 starts producing Marauders
  • 10:15 3rd base taken
  • 11:00 Engineering Bay, Armory
  • 11:20 takes gases at 3rd base
  • 12:00 Vikings start coming out (he saw Colossi with earlier push)
  • 12:30 Starport, +1 air weapons

Wins in about 16:00 Continue reading

Protoss versus Zerg Strategy updated

Wow, PvZ feels like it has changed a lot over the past few months. Primarily, Naniwa’s 1 Gate Expand has changed how we think about the matchup, but the HotS meta-game has also settled since I first wrote up this guide. Here’s the new version you will see on the Protoss Strategy page. As usual, let me know if you see any mistakes or have any questions or feedback.

Protoss versus Zerg

Of the 3 matchups, PvZ is the most dynamic. Whereas PvP is build order chaos and PvT generally plays out similarly, PvZ has safe economic openings into a variety of styles. You should watch this Apollo video for a solid way to play PvZ. Continue reading

Minor update to Protoss Strategy PvT

Previously, I was recommending this interesting opening for PvT

The 1 Gate Expand is from itsgosu and is used in PvT (and PvZ if you don’t want to FFE). Note the very aggressive poke with the first 3 units: it’s a little odd but possibly valuable.

Perfect’s PvT 1 Gate Expand

  • Standard opening
  • 18 Zealot (rallied to enemy)
  • 22 Stalker (Chronoboost),
  • Mothership Core
  • 4:20 Nexus
  • Warpgate
  • Assimilator

I don’t really recommend this anymore. In fact, this was probably outdated before HotS was even released. It turns out that running across the map with your Stalker and Mothership Core doesn’t really help when Reaper openings are so common.

Instead, I slapped in a very standard, safe 1 Gate Expand from Mana. Read more on the Protoss Strategy page. And if you want to browse real build orders, check out some of these PvTs at the Spawning Tool. You can filter down to your favorite players and events on the right hand side.

One more thing: you may remember my spawning setup guide from a few weeks ago. This made me realize that there’s a gap in what I provide here. My current strategy guides assume that you understand the mechanics of the game and even what all of the units do. I was thinking it might be helpful to have guides that bridge a bit of that initial thinking as well. I’m not really a video guy, so maybe YouTube videos would be more suited for it, but I could slap together a guide on what parts of StarCraft you should use to learn how to play (tutorials, training, playing vs ai) and a brief explanation of units and compositions.

Vote in the poll below.

Would you use or share a ground-up tutorial for StarCraft?

  • Yes (83%, 10 Votes)
  • No (17%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 12

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ZvZ from WCS America Premier League

About a week and a half ago, WCS America season 1 Premier League had a group (stage 2, group C) with 3 Zerg players. With the patch out increasing Spore Crawler damage against Mutalisks, we got to see what ZvZ looks like when you can actually do different things.

Before this balance patch (which doesn’t have its own number, unfortunately), ZvZ was all Mutalisks. Early game was Zergling and Baneling trades, where the defender usually had the advantage. Once it got to Lair, Zergs would invest gas in Mutalisks, and getting the 1st volley or having 1 or 2 more Mutalisks was the difference.

Post-patch ZvZ looks more like WoL ZvZ. The early game is the same, the midgame is mostly Roaches, and then you mix in Hydras or Infestors (and eventually both) until the late game comes late. Most games would be decided around 3 bases in the midgame, however.

So the builds. Unfortunately, the matchups, cheeses, and technical difficulties mean that we have 3 games between Suppy and Revival and only 1 between Revival and Scarlett, but this is a good set of them. All of those are below in long form. Just a few notes ahead of time. I’ll be updating my Zerg strategy guide based on the recent changes to ZvZ, so read that for the bigger picture.

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