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.

Apollo’s HotS Terran TvP

You all know how much I love Apollo’s tutorials, where he plays 4 hours with each race starting from bronze. He usually shows 1 or 2 builds for each race and focuses on safe, reactive, macro play. Well, he’s back with HotS tutorials, and he’s started with Terran.

The games are unfortunately wacky, so there’s not too much to learn from them. I’ll probably post again when he finishes the series, but I’m excited to share.

Terran versus Terran

In TvT, he starts with a Reaper-Expand opening. The early Reaper is mostly for scouting, but you can kill SCVs if the Terran player reacts slowly. Notably, there is no longer a SCV scout, so you should focus on scouting with that Reaper. In the early game, the big dangers are 1) Proxy 2 Rax (where they build 2 Barracks near your base and attack in the first few minutes) and 2) drops (Hellion, Hellbats, Widow Mines). If you can get through that, then you can focus on a normal Marine/Tank army.

He didn’t get through his build without disruption, but here’s the start:

  • 10 Supply Depot
  • 12 Barracks (at ramp)
  • 12 Refinery (delay next SCV slightly)
  • 15 Orbital Command, Supply Depot (at ramp), Reaper (scout)
  • 18 Reactor (Marine x2 when ready)
  • 19 Command Center (in-base)
  • 20 Factory
  • 21 Marine x2
  • 24 Marine x2
  • 27 Starport, Hellion x2, Swap, Orbital Command

Actually, he kind of got through the build the first time, but I disliked it so much, I assumed that he did something wrong.

Terran versus Zerg

In TvZ, he again uses a Reaper-Expand opening. Scouting is more critical since Zerg all-ins can come at any time. By walling at your ramp, you should be able to block any early Zergling aggression, especially since Reapers can outrun Zerglings. With a quick Factory and Reactor, you can get out 4 Hellions for harassing and scouting, then switch into Widow Mines for defense.

We have another abbreviated build for this matchup, though it should look identical to TvT

  • 10 Supply Depot
  • 12 Barracks (at ramp)
  • 12 Refinery (delay next SCV slightly)
  • 15 Orbital Command, Supply Depot (at ramp), Reaper (scout)
  • 18 Reactor (Marine x2 when ready)
  • 19 Command Center (in-base)
  • 20 Factory

Terran versus Protoss

TvP is also a Reaper-Expand, except he follows up with more Barracks instead of the Factory. I would explain more, but he actually through his build, and it should be pretty self-explanatory.

Apollo’s standard HotS TvP

  • 10 Supply Depot (at ramp)
  • 12 Barracks (at ramp)
  • 12 Refinery (delay next SCV slightly)
  • 15 Orbital Command, Supply Depot (at ramp), Reaper (scout)
  • 18 Reactor (Marine x2 when ready)
  • 19 Command Center (in-base)
  • (sees wall at ramp, cannon)
  • 24 Barracks x2
  • 27 Bunker (at natural)
  • 30 Orbital Command
  • 30 Supply Depot
  • 33 Tech Lab x2
  • 35 Stimpack, Marauder x2 (continuous)
  • 53 7:30 Refinery x2, Factory (reactor), Engineering Bay
  • 8:00 Combat Shields
  • 8:30 +1 attack
  • sees Twilight Council
  • 9:00 Turret at front, Starport
  • 9:45 Concussive Shells
  • 10:00 Swap Factory Reactor, Medivac x2 (continuous)
  • 10:15 Refinery
  • 10:30 Command Center (in-base)
  • 11:30 Barracks x3
  • 12:30 Engineering Bay, Armory, Attack


Since I actually play (and get crushed as) Terran nowadays, I have stronger opinions and totally plan on writing that guide later this week. To be honest, though, most of my StarCraft attention is currently focused on spawningtool, which continues to go well. Currently, it’s really focused on build orders, and a cursory glance at this blog should explain that obsession. Keep an eye out for development there!

Writeup of Apollo’s Terran Tutorials REVAMPED

I mentioned at the beginning of my last Apollo writeup that I needed the most help with Protoss. Well, a 88% win rate with Protoss a 53% win rate with Terran suggests that I might be wrong about that. Thankfully, Apollo is there to help with his Tutorials REVAMPED, with the last one recorded about a month before the release of HotS.

As usual, Apollo recommends an economic, reactive style. In all 3 matchups, he uses a 1 Barracks Expand opening with scouting, walling, and bunkering to survive the first bit. Compared to his Zerg and Protoss, however, I noticed that his Terran builds are centered more around ordering and relative timing instead of absolute time. Whereas his Zerg builds would dictate a 7:00 Roach Warren and Evolution Chamber (+/- 30 seconds for the early game), the Terran builds fit together so that buildings are started so that they finish just in time for use, and subsequent tech/research starts immediately upon prerequisites completing.

One more note: Terran early game has changed more than the other races from WoL to HotS. Reapers, Widow Mines, and Medivac speed boost all add new options for Terran, and standard play has shifted towards these new pieces. The builds below are still solid, though my Terran strategy guide will definitely incorporate new developments.

Anyways, let’s jump in.

Terran versus Terran

Apollo uses a Marine/Tank/Medivac style in TvT, which you actually don’t see a lot of nowadays. In any case, I synthesized his games and tightened it up in game to the build below


Apollo’s Standard TvT (Feb 2013)

  • 10 Supply Depot (wall, scout)
  • 12 Barracks (wall)
  • 15 Orbital Command, Marine
  • 16 Command Center
  • 16 Marine
  • 17 Supply Depot
  • 21 Barracks x2
  • 23 Refinery x2
  • 25 Orbital Command (when CC is done)
  • 27 5:20 Tech Lab (on 3rd Barracks immediately)
  • 34 6:00 Stimpack (when Tech Lab finishes)
  • 48 7:45 Factory, Engineering Bay, Combat Shield
  • 8:00 Reactor x2,
  • +1 Attack
  • 8:30 Refinery x2
  • 8:45 Reactor on Factory, Starport
  • 9:50 Swap Reactor to Starport, Medivac x2, Tech Lab on Factory
  • 10:00 Command Center,
  • Siege Tanks, Siege mode
  • 10:45 attack with Medivacs
  • 11:00 Factory
  • 11:30 Barracks x4 (Reactors later)
  • 11:40 +1 armor
  • 13:00 Engineering Bay, Armory (+2/+2 upgrades)
  • 13-15:00 Command Center

A few notes:

  1. Wall in at the top of your main ramp to deny scouting
  2. The goal is to get to double Factory and tons of Marines
  3. Starting after the 2nd Marine, you should be constantly building Marines out of all of your Barracks
  4. Scout with you SCVs often and don’t be afraid to scan. Information is everything when you’re playing reactively
  5. As I mentioned above, the build is more about order and relative timings, so rely more on feel than exact timings here. Timing varied by more than 2 minutes in Apollo’s games, so focus on playing as cleanly as possible, and let the rest follow

Of the builds he uses, I think this one is the most outdated. Currently, early Medivacs with Widow Mines are very popular. Hellbats make Mech more viable, and just having tons of Marines until 10:00 might not cut it.

Terran versus Protoss

TvP, however, hasn’t changed too much. I still recommend bio, and the new threats are Mothership Core and Oracle, both of which are handled by Marines. Anyways,

Apollo’s Standard TvP (Feb 2013)

  • 10 Supply Depot (wall, scout)
  • 12 Barracks (wall)
  • 15 Orbital Command, Marine
  • 16 Command Center
  • 16 Marine
  • 17 Supply Depot
  • 20 Bunker at natural
  • 22 Barracks x2
  • 25 Refinery x2
  • 25 Orbital Command (when CC is done)
  • 27 5:20 Tech Lab (on 3rd Barracks immediately)
  • 34 6:00 Stimpack (when Tech Lab finishes)
  • 6:45 Engineering Bay, Factory
  • 7:30 +1 Attack
  • Missile Turret
  • 48 Combat Shield, Start Marauders
  • 8:00 Reactor x2,
  • 8:30 Refinery x2
  • 8:45 Reactor on Factory, Starport
  • 9:45 +1 armor
  • 9:50 Swap Reactor to Starport, Medivac x2
  • 10:30 attack with Medivacs, Command Center behind it
  • 11:00 Barracks x4
  • 11:50 Engineering Bay, Armory


  1. This build is almost identical to the Terran one. The first difference is the early Bunker: 1 Bunker will hold off Stalkers at your front just fine. Second, you don’t get a second Factory or a Tech Lab on your first Factory. That gas goes into Marauders first, then Vikings if necessary, then Ghosts. Third, the later Barracks get Tech Labs instead of Reactors for those Marauders and Ghosts
  2. Apollo recommends a Missile Turret at the entrance to your natural expansion regardless of the game. 100 minerals isn’t much to make sure that you don’t randomly lose to Dark Templar
  3. The push at 10:30 can be pretty scary for them. If they don’t have significant AOE damage (Colossi or Psionic Storm), you should be able to do a lot of damage

– early bunker prevents the Stalker shenanigans
– scan a lot
– looks like TvT, except no 2nd Factory and get Tech Labs for Marauders
– early Engineering Bay, get a turret at front
– if they don’t have storm, you can probably crush them

Terran versus Zerg

TvZ ended up being interesting study in StarCraft because over the 2 months from the 1st Terran tutorial to the last one, Apollo changed his style. Originally, he advocated a very specific, tight Banshee opening into Mech build. By the last video, however, he fell back to a Hellion opening into Marine/Tank/Medivac. My guess is that he hit a wall playing with Mech and then fell back to a more classic style. Regardless of his preferences, though, they’re both solid build and demonstrate 2 very different outcomes.

Apollo’s TvZ Banshee into Mech (Dec 2012)

  • 10 Supply Depot (scout)
  • 12 Barracks
  • 15 Marine, Orbital Command
  • 16 Command Center
  • 16 Marine
  • 17 Supply Depot
  • 19 Refinery x2
  • 25 Orbital Command
  • 25 5:10 Factory, Reactor (Barracks)
  • 26 Bunker
  • 32 6:20 swap Reactor onto Factory, Hellion x2 (continuous), Tech Lab on Barracks, Starport
  • 7:30 CC (in base),
  • 7:35 Banshee (continuous), Cloak
  • 8:30 Refinery x2
  • 9:00 Armory x2
  • 76 9:30 Factory x2, Engineering Bay
  • Poke with Banshees and Hellions together
  • 10:30 Double upgrades
  • 11:20 Tech Lab x2
  • 11:55 Blue Flame, Siege
  • 12:10 Factory x2, move 3rd CC to 3rd base
  • 16:30 push

Notes on this build:

  1. The first big deviation from the other 1 Barracks Expand build is the Refineries straight into a Reactored Factory
  2. You should get 4-5 Marines before starting the Reactor. Once you have those, you can poke out for some minor scouting. Take shots if you want, stutter step if Zerglings come, run if you see a Queen, and try to get them back into your Bunker
  3. This build has a very early 3rd Command Center. Zerg will want to stay a base ahead of you and will likely go up to 3 bases. If they don’t, you can delay this. In either case, you should build it inside your main until the rest of your army is tough enough to defend it at your 3rd.
  4. The Banshees are great. Unfortunately, the Hydralisk buffs in HotS make it more likely that Zerg will be prepared for it. Still, you might be able to get some Queen kills if they aren’t ready or just go Zergling/Roach
  5. Be aggressive with both the Hellions and the Banshees. Sneak early Hellions in for Drone kills and scouting, but once the Zerg is onto you, keep them around the perimeter to watch for movement and slow creep spread. When your Banshees are ready, you can attack with them together
  6. You will have lots of extra minerals playing Mech, and your army won’t be very mobile. Build Planetary Fortresses at critical chokes and entrances around your bases for defense with that money.

Apollo TvZ Hellions into Marine/Tank/Medivac (Feb 2013)

  • 12 Barracks
  • 15 Marine, Orbital Command
  • 16 Command Center
  • 17 Depot, Marine (continuous)
  • 19 Refinery x2
  • 25 Orbital Command
  • 25 Factory, Reactor on Barracks (poke with Marines)
  • 28 Bunker
  • 32 Hellion x2, Swap, Tech Lab on Barracks
  • 6:50 Hellion x2 (4-6 total)
  • 7:00 CC (in base)
  • 7:30 Stimpack
  • 7:45 Engineering Bay x2
  • 8:30 +1/+1 upgrades
  • 9:00 Barracks x4
  • 9:45 Factory (for Siege Tanks), Tech Lab on existing Factory, Starport on Reactor
  • 9:50 Refinery x2
  • 10:00 Combat Shields, Armory
  • 10:30 Armory
  • 11:00 attack, move 3rd CC to 3rd base
  • 11:05 +2/+2 upgrades, +1 vehicle weapons

Notes on this build:

  1. This should also feel similar to TvT, so that should help with consistency, since the TvP build was also similar to TvT
  2. The differences are the hybrid of TvT and the TvZ build above: early gases, early 3rd Command Center, and Hellion harass
  3. You can get up to 4 Hellions, but after that, you can switch bank into the build
  4. If you’re comparing timings, you’re a little slower around 5-9 minutes, but after that, the 3 bases should kick in

Like in TvT, I think the Carbine (Marine Marauder Mine Medivac: M4) is popular right now in HotS. This build, however, is probably closer to that style than the TvT build above.


Well, this is the last of the Apollo writeups. Again, they’re old, but Apollo plays a very standard style, and he does a great job talking through it. If 4 hours of your race seems like much, do what I did: watch the first 10 minutes of his games, and once he has it in the bag (or is at least significantly ahead), skip to the next game. The important talking he does is early in games, and thinking like Apollo should certainly help you develop a stable, macro-oriented style.

Apollo taught me how to hold a TvT tank push

Replay 1 (TvT on Neo Planet)

Replay 2 (TT v TT on Bone Trench)

In preparation for my Terran guide, I have been watching Apollo’s Tutorials REVAMPED, just like I did for the Zerg and Protoss guides. Although Apollo plays a reactive style, I mostly try to synthesize the intended build and game plan without the specific reactions to his opponent. Even though I don’t add these details to my notes, I still note them, and in a game earlier this evening, it paid off.

In this TvT game on Daybreak, Apollo sees early gases and a late expand from his opponent. Upon scouting the Factory and Starport as well, he predicts a Tank/Viking push. Apollo’s opening is a 1 Rax Expand into 3 Barracks with Stim and then Tanks. His reaction is to put down an extra Bunker, and when the Tanks come, he lets them wail on his Bunker while he repairs. When his Siege Tanks complete, he sieges them on the high ground, then breaks the attack with Stimmed Marines.

In my TvT on Neo Planet, I saw early gases but went for Apollo’s 1 Rax Expand anyways, despite Reapers being a threat in HotS that Apollo didn’t have in his WoL tutorials. A scan later revealed a Factory, so I left Marines around the 2 walking paths on the map. That soon revealed a Marine/Marauder/Tank push coming for me, so I kept working towards a Tank (thank goodness you don’t need to research Siege anymore) and pulled my SCVs to repair my Bunker. That held fine, and when I got my Tank sieged, I destroyed one of his Tanks immediately then pushed and destroyed the other and his army. At that point, he tapped out.

So in my guides, I focus a lot on the big picture and what you should be shooting for, but games aren’t played in a vacuum. For example, in the TvP I played immediately before, I macroed and got to 3 bases, but when the big engagement came, I wasn’t ready for his composition at all and got rolled when he instantly reinforced.

So thanks Apollo for that win. Your videos have certainly taught me a lot and affect my play in more subtle ways, but in this game, copying your response instantly won me the game. That’s pretty gratifying.

P.S. The 2nd is a long TT v TT I played with my friend. It’s 50 minutes of us bludgeoning each other until they transition into Battlecruisers and we hang out for the win. I’m sure it won’t be worth your time to watch, but it was a lot of fun to play.

Summary of Apollo’s Protoss Tutorials REVAMPED

As much as I love Zerg, I need to spend more time understanding Protoss, and Apollo’s tutorials REVAMPED from a few months ago provides a solid framework for Protoss. Similar to his Zerg style, he depends on reactive, macro-based play. Given that, it’s harder to summarize the late game, but I did write up his build orders, and they should give you a sense for the different matchups.

Note that these builds are from Wings of Liberty, so they are slightly out of date. Primarily, the Mothership Core should come down somewhere in these builds, but I’m not exactly sure when.

Protoss versus Protoss

Ah, PvP: the most aggressive matchup. Apollo says there are 4 ways to play PvP:

  1. Robo
  2. Stargate
  3. DT
  4. Blink

The safest of the 3 is 1 Gate Robo, so let’s start with that:

Apollo’s PvP 1 Gate Robo

  • 9 Pylon (scout)
  • 11 Chronoboost
  • 13 Gateway
  • 13 Chronoboost
  • 15 Assimilator
  • 17 Pylon
  • 18 Cybernetics Core
  • 19 Zealot
  • 22 Assimilator
  • 23 Warpgate, Stalker
  • 25 Pylon
  • 26 Robotics Facility (after clearing scouting)
  • 27 Sentry (cut Probes)
  • 29 Observer
  • Gateway x2 OR Nexus
  • Immortal

Notes on the build:

  1. Use your first Stalker to kill any scouting Probes before putting down the Robotics Facility
  2. Cut Probes around 28ish supply until you get your 2nd base up. That is pretty good mineral saturation, and you might need the minerals in other places
  3. Depending on what you see, you can go up to 3 Gateways or Nexus at around the 6:00 mark. If you decide to go 3 Gate, the Nexus will come around 8:00
  4. In WoL, Protoss late game was just Colossi with some Archons mixed in to tank damage, so this is what Apollo continues to (Robotics Support Bay coming in before 10:00). Skytoss is much better in HotS, so you probably need a better mix

The only other build he showed off was a Stargate opening, which is perhaps more interesting in HotS:

Apollo’s PvP Stargate Opening

  • 9 Pylon (scout)
  • 11 Chronoboost
  • 13 Gateway
  • 13 Chronoboost
  • 15 Assimilator
  • 16 Pylon
  • 18 Cybernetics Core
  • 19 Assimilator
  • 20 Zealot
  • 23 Warpgate
  • 24 Sentry
  • 25 Pylon
  • 27 4:30 Stargate
  • 29 Robotics Facility, Gateway (cut probes)
  • 29 Phoenix (chrono, attack with 2, get 4 total)
  • 35 6:30 Nexus
  • 39 Observer
  • 7:30 Gateway
  • 8:45 Gateway
  • 10:15 Robotics Support Bay


  1. Chronoboost all of your Phoenix. Attack when you have 2 and max out at 4 Phoenix total
  2. Again, Apollo transitions into Robo because Colossi was PvP late game. You can stick with Skytoss if you like.

Protoss versus Zerg

PvZ is the matchup I dislike the most. Protoss is pretty much required to fast expand, and it’s difficult to get aggression going early in the game. Like the other matchups, Apollo likes aiming for Colossi.

There are so many ways to do fast expands, but you can probably get away with 2 variations: Nexus first and Forge Fast Expand (FFE). I’ll present them together, and the notes will apply to both:

Apollo’s PvZ Nexus First

  • 9 Pylon at wall (Scout)
  • 11 Chronoboost
  • 13 Chronoboost
  • 16 Nexus
  • 16 Forge
  • 16 Pylon
  • 20 Cannon
  • 21 Assimliator x2
  • 26 Cybernetics Core
  • 28 Zealot
  • 32 +1 Attack upgrade (with first 100 gas)
  • Warpgate
  • 6:30 Gateway x3
  • 7:10 Assimilator x2
  • Robotics Facility

And then the safer FFE

Apollo’s PvZ Forge Fast Expand (FFE)

  • 9 Pylon at wall (Scout)
  • 11 Chronoboost
  • 13 Chronoboost
  • 14 Forge
  • 16 Nexus
  • 16 Cannon
  • 16 Pylon
  • 17 Gateway
  • 20 Assimilator x 2
  • Cybernetics Core

Some notes on these builds:

  1. If you’re only going to know 1, know the FFE. As you progress, however, you should be flexible in using both builds depending on the scout. If it’s anything earlier than a 14 Pool, go FFE. Otherwise, go Nexus first.
  2. You can send your 8th Probe down to the natural area to build the wall at 9 Supply. Learn how to wall in on all of the maps: it’s subtly different
  3. React if the Zerg pressures early. Don’t be afraid to build an extra Gateway to complete a wall.
  4. The rest of Apollo’s strategy is Colossus Double Forge

Protoss versus Terran

This matchup has also changed as everything new is a bummer for Protoss: Reapers can be annoying if you don’t get your Stalker quickly, Medivac speed boost will tear you apart, and Spider Mines can get a good pop on your slower units. Despite that, Apollo’s guide is still solid. He goes for a “reactive Colossus double Forge” style, using Archons, Zealot, and High Templar in the late game while getting lots of Robotics Facilities up for an easy tech switch. To get there, he uses a 1 Gate Expand into Robo. It’s usually safe enough. He plays the prototypical game at this point in the video, so watch it for almost exactly the build below.

Apollo’s PvT 1 Gate Expand

  • 9 Pylon (scout)
  • 11 Chronoboost
  • 13 Gateway
  • 13 Chronoboost
  • 15 Assimilator
  • 16 Pylon
  • 18 Core
  • 18 Zealot (rallied across the map)
  • 23 Warpgate, Stalker
  • 23 Pylon
  • 25 Stalker
  • 27 4:50 Nexus
  • 31 5:20 Assimilator
  • Pylon
  • 34 6:00 Robo
  • 6:30 Gateway x2
  • 7:00 Assimilator x2
  • Observer
  • 7:30 Robo Bay
  • 60 8:40 Colossus, Double Forge
  • Thermal Lance
  • 9:30 +1/+1 upgrades
  • 10:30 Gateway x3
  • Twilight Council
  • 12:30 3rd Nexus (timed with your opponent’s)
  • 110 13:00 Templar Archives
  • Zealot Charge
  • 15:00 Gateway x6

And the last bunch of notes:

  1. The 9 Scout is key because Terran players will wall off and keep you out of their base. It’s very important to see if they have taken their gas and will 1 Rax gasless expand or whether you should consider anything else coming from them
  2. The Zealot and 2 Stalkers should poke early, so send the slow Zealot across first. This poke is probably replaced with a Zealot/Stalker/MsC poke in HotS, but either way, it’s important for scouting, and you may even do some significant damage.
  3. The Twilight Council may need to be earlier nowadays for Blink to deal with Medivac boost


Like in the Zerg tutorials, Apollo goes for a safe, reactive, macro-oriented style. It appears that he really likes Colossi compositions, so all of his builds move towards that. I’ll likely be going over some Artosis footage soon since he’s so good at commentary during his games, and that will be a good complement to this piece. Still, these builds are pretty standard through about 30 supply, so definitely try them out.

Dealing with a 3 Hatch opening in PvZ

I’m playing random on HotS right now until I figure out my best race. I’m feeling okay with all of the match ups, except PvZ. Gosh, I just have no idea what’s going on. I know that I need to open with a fast expand as Protoss, but the Zerg just goes up to 3 bases when they see that. And then a few minutes pass, and all of a sudden, an army of arbitrary composition but immense size rolls up and kills me.

The problem is that I don’t know what I’m to do from about 4:00 to 12:00. Pros do Stargate openings, so maybe that? Oh, but I should take a 3rd base at some point. How much army do I need? Maybe I should poke with my 1 Zealot, 1 Stalker, and 1 MsC. It’s pretty disastrous.

Thankfully, I’m currently watching Apollo’s Protoss Tutorials REVAMPED from WoL, and he has an excellent video showing what I think is the prototypical Protoss play against 3 bases. Admittedly, I haven’t watched enough PvZ in HotS to know if things have changed a lot, but I’m inclined to believe that things haven’t changed too much yet.

So check out this game (24:00 into the 2nd Protoss video), with the build order written out below. The keys here are timing attacks. First, he goes in with 4 Zealots and 4 Stalkers with +1 attack around 8:15 (you can even add the Mothership Core too). It doesn’t look big, but I’m certain that the early pressure is very important. At my level, I think Zerg knows to get to 3 bases, but they have difficulty knowing how to time aggressive Droning and enough defense. Second, he goes up to Colossi and attacks around 15:00, which is slightly earlier than classic deathball pushes. This timing might have changed as Zerg are looking to get to Hive sooner with Roach/Hydra/Viper, so let me know if that doesn’t work out as well.

The build order writeup is a little sketchy, but it’s a good outline. Just watch the game: it’s only about 11 minutes of real time.

Apollo’s Prototypical PvZ from WoL (Oct 2012)

  • 9 Pylon
  • 11 Chrono into probes
  • 16 Nexus
  • 16 Forge
  • 16 Pylon (resume Probe production + Chrono)
  • 20 Cannon
  • 21 Assimliator x2
  • 26 Cybernetics Core
  • 28 Zealot
  • 32 +1 Attack upgrade (with first 100 gas)
  • Warpgate
  • (Sees 3 base)
  • 6:30 Gateway x3
  • 7:10 Assimilator x2
  • Robotics Facility
  • 8:15 attack on 3rd with 4 Zealot/4 Stalker
  • +1 Armor upgrade
  • Observer
  • Sentry x4
  • Immortals
  • 9:30 Gateway x2, Twilight (for more upgrades)
  • 10:30 Nexus at 3rd
  • 11:30 Robotics Support Bay(seeing Reach/Ling), Robotics Facility
  • 13:00 Gateway x3
  • Gateway x4 (shooting for 12 total)
  • 15:00 Attack (timing attack before Hive)

Summary of Apollo’s Zerg Tutorials REVAMPED

A year and a half ago, Apollo (AKA dApollo back then) posted the Working up from Bronze League tutorial videos, which I previously covered. A few months ago, he posted an updated version of “Tutorials REVAMPED” for changes in the game over that year. Although the game has changed again with the release of HotS, his style and basic builds are still sound. Since I have been focusing a lot on openings recently, I thought I would post  the build orders he’s using, his thoughts on reacting to various things, and how these might have changed with the release of HotS.

Zerg versus Protoss (or Random)

Let’s start with the basic build:

Apollo’s standard ZvP (Oct 2012)

  • 9 Overlord (to natural)
  • 12th Drone Scout
  • 15 Spawning Pool (for cannon rush)
  • 15 Hatchery (send @ 200 mins)
  • 14 Queen
  • 16 Zergling x2
  • 18 Overlord
  • 4:20 3rd Hatchery
  • 6:00 Extractor x2 (scout for natural gas)
  • 7:00 Roach, Evolution Chamber, Extractor x2
  • +1 Missile Attack, Lair
  • Macro Hatchery

A few notes here:

  1. Your first Overlord goes to scout and should hang out for future scouting.
  2. The Overlord on 9 goes to the natural to watch for a cannon rush.
  3. 12th Drone scouts means that 1 of the 2 Drones you build after your Overlord finishes should scout
  4. Apollo goes Pool first so that he isn’t screwed by a Pylon block, but if you don’t see a Probe scout, you can go Hatch first if you want
  5. If you get Pylon blocked at your natural, build your 3rd Overlord immediately, then move to build your first expansion at your 3rd base instead. Also bring an Overlord in case of a cannon rush there
  6. If you don’t see a fast expand from the Protoss when you scout, then you don’t need to get your third. As usual, stay 1 base ahead of your opponent
  7. If your opponent does cannon rush you, you can delay the 6:00 and 7:00 timings by maybe 30 seconds
  8. At 6:00, send the waiting Overlord in to look for Assimilators at the natural. If any are taken, then they are teching, not all-in.

Overall, this build is still mostly valid against Protoss in HotS as well. A few thoughts on this:

  1. The new, early threat from Protoss in HotS is the Mothership Core. Because it is an air unit, have a Queen at all bases and target it as necessary
  2. Protoss may also be more willing to poke early because the MsC can Recall the units out. As such, be prepared for light pressure, but don’t freak out
  3. There will probably be more Stargate openings from Protoss since that is also now a viable midgame strategy (and because people like new, shiny things).

Zerg versus Terran

Apollo’s ZvT is a little squishier, mainly because he’s much more reactive here, but the basic idea is Hatchery first and 4 Queens:

Apollo’s standard ZvT (Oct 2012)

  • 9 Overlord (to natural)
  • 12th Drone scout
  • 15 Hatchery
  • 15 Spawning Pool
  • 16 Overlord
  • 17 Queen
  • 19 Queen
  • Zerglings if you need them
  • Queen
  • 4:00 Gas
  • Queen
  • 5:30 Zergling Speed
  • 8:00 Evolution Chamber x2, Assimilator x2

Since this one is less-defined, let me explain more:

  1. The Overlord on 9 goes to the natural to watch for Bunker rushes.
  2. The Drone scout looks around for proxy 2 Rax. If you see it in time, go for the Spawning Pool
  3. 4 Queens is important because the primary threats from Terran are Hellions and Banshees, both of which Queens can deal with effectively
  4. If you see Terran go CC first, you can open 3 Hatch (like in ZvP) to stay one base ahead.

The openings here have changed more significantly with HotS. Specifically,

  1. Fear the Reaper! Apollo was worried about 2 Rax; you should worry about Reaper openings. Because Reapers are so dang fast, Terran players are more likely to build the Barracks at their ramp and race the Reaper across, so just scout for that. If you see an early Refinery, you should prepare yourself for Reapers. 
  2. Given the early Reaper play, I’m a fan of earlier gas, similar to what IdrA does. He sandwiches it around 18 supply when you’re waiting on Overlords.
  3. Also be careful of Widow Mines. They’re scary, and Terran players may use them to block your 3rd base. I’m not sure whether this requires a reaction, but just be aware.

Zerg versus Zerg

The build:

Apollo’s Standard, Safe ZvZ (Oct 2012)

  • 9 Overlord (scout)
  • 12th Drone Scout
  • 15 Spawning Pool
  • 15 Hatchery
  • 14 Queen
  • 16 Zergling x2 (can be Drones if you see no threat)
  • 18 Overlord
  • 18 Gas (can delay if they haven’t taken gas)
  • 19 Queen
  • 22 Queen
  • 25 Overlord
  • ~4:40-5:00 Zergling Speed (or @100 gas)
  • Baneling Nest at Natural (or @ next 50 gas)
  • Spine Crawler (if you feel threatened)
  • Lair (when you have the gas)
  • 6:30 – 7:15 rest of your gases
  • Roach Warren
  • Evo Chamber
  • 10:00 3rd base

Again, some notes:

  1. Unlike the other matchups, you can send all of your Overlords out to scout. Specifically, you should form a line of Overlords between your bases since Zerg can’t shoot them down early
  2. After you get your Baneling Nest, the rest is somewhat flexible, and what’s above is a rough guide. Apollo isn’t very aggressive with his Zerglings, but if they are, you should have an Overlord outside their base to see it coming, and you can morph Banelings for defense
  3. Apollo does mention that he himself is willing to go Hatchery first, but probably just because he’s a boss at StarCraft. Pool first is safer since Zergling rushes do happen.

Fortunately, HotS hasn’t really changed ZvZ openings much. The important thing to note is that currently, midgame ZvZ is all about Mutalisks. Now that Mutalisks are faster (and Fungal Growth is a projectile, and therefore harder to land), the midgame is just having a better Mutalisk count and destroying your opponent. As such, you should get gas earlier since that is the limiting factor in your Mutalisk count.


You should watch Apollo because he teaches solid, clean play. I don’t blame you if you don’t want to watch 4 hours of him playing your race (or 12 if you play Random), but at least watch one or two openings so you can see the mechanics and style that he plays. His Zerg play is reactive, not proactive, and he relies on good scouting and clean macro to win games. His thought process explains how pros often seem psychic by just being aware, so don’t shy away from his WoL content. It’s still good.

Apollo’s analysis of a bad engagement

I happened to catch the last game between Bomber and Stephano in the GD Studio SC2 Arena this morning. Forgive me if I’m a little stale on the metagame, but Stephano’s style felt very similar to his ZvP. His third comes later and his tech comes faster, but he depends on heavy upgrades and just enough ling/roach/infestor to carry him through the midgame.

I agree with Apollo that he rushed into things and didn’t commit. When he goes into the last engagement with 4 Brood Lords, some Infestors, and a few lings and roaches, he probably could’ve come out much more favorably had he gone for it. Stephano does a great job running his lings by, and between that and Broodlings, he could’ve gotten a surround and let tank splash damage mop up the army.

In the end, though, the better advice would’ve been not to take that engagement. He might have noticed the lack of Vikings and felt that he had a timing there, but without his 4th saturated, he would’ve been safer getting a few spines and using that as an anchor for a push.

qxc mentioned something about this in the last State of the Game, but Zerg is really pushing to get to the late game as soon as possible, which is a little strange. Stephano especially wowed a lot of people with extremely effective Zerglings in the early and mid game. Perhaps he found that other players were locking down better, but constant pressure feels like the right way to play Zerg.

But this is all theorycrafting on my part. I’m just proud I played a few games of random 2s last night. It turns out that playing random 2s instead of Zerg 1v1 is much less stressful, and now that I finished Mass Effect, I might be playing more StarCraft 2 until I pick up another game.

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.