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 Then I read it and realized that some of the strategies were painfully outdated.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.

The Build Order

Conventional wisdom is that Zerg should stay 1 base ahead of their opponents. Since most Protoss will fast expand, you should get 3 bases quickly. Saturate all 3 bases while getting just enough units and Spine Crawlers to defend. React to Protoss aggression, but if you’re left untouched, this build is all macro up to 7 minutes. After that, you can use your favorite composition.

ZvP 3 Hatch Speedlings

  • 9 Overlord
  • 12th Drone Scout
  • 15 Spawning Pool
  • 15 Hatchery
  • 14 Queen
  • 16 Zergling x4
  • 18 Overlord
  • 18 Extractor
  • 22 Queen (at natural; transfer 4-5 workers to natural)
  • 26 Metabolic Boost @ 100 gas (pull workers out of gas)
  • 26 5:00-5:15 Hatchery
  • 26 Overlord, Queen
  • 6:00 Back into gas
  • 6:30 Extractor
  • 7:00 Lair, Evolution Chamber, Roach Warren
  • Macro Hatchery

Some notes:

  1. I prefer Pool first because it better defends proxy Gateways, Pylon blocks, and Cannon rushes. You can go Hatch first once you know the timings and are comfortable defending it
  2. Gasless 3 Hatch builds are more, but with early Zealot pressure becoming more popular, I think that Speedlings are a safer default build. If you want to skip Speedlings, your 3rd Hatchery comes down around 4:20, and take both gases at 6:00
  3. Play reactively and flexibly. Scout and be as greedy as you can (without dying). If you see an opening, do a Zergling run-by. If you see pressure, cancel your 3rd and drop Spine Crawlers
  4. Watch carefully for their 3rd base timing. If they don’t take it, it’s an all-in. If they do, either force a cancel or take your 4th.

Some of what you’re up against

  1. Sentry/Immortal all-in. They mass Sentries and Immortals off of 2 bases and attack before you get any useful tech. The Sentries trap Zerglings, and Immortals destroy the Roaches. You should macro cleanly off of 3 bases, bait preemptive forcefields, and position your army well. Get Hydralisks if you can
  2. The Protoss Deathball. Colossi, High Templar, Archons, Void Rays: whatever the composition, this single control group is meant to roll you in one big fight. Delay their bases, macro and get more bases, use Zergling run-bys and better mobility, and don’t engage the deathball unless you have to
  3. Oracle/Phoenix harass and Skytoss. Ward off harassment with a Spore Crawler and lots of Queens at each base. Hydralisks are great against air, but be careful of storms

What you can do

  1. Mutalisks. If they’re not ready, you can do a lot of damage by hatching a lot of Mutas at once. If you commit, though, keep the pressure on and macro hard, or else Phoenixes, Blink Stalkers, Psionic Storms, or Archons will let them get back into the game efficiently
  2. Roach/Hydra with Vipers or Corruptors. The primary threat to this composition is the Colossus, so get up to Hive for Vipers to Abduct them. Get good surrounds
  3. Swarm Host. Tempests have made Brood Lords irrelevant in this matchup, but Swarm Hosts are the new free unit option. Turtle and push slowly and efficiently with Locusts. It’s a boring but effective style

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