Hi, my name is Shawn Simon. Some of you may know me better as ChOseN or Sheth. I’ve been playing SC1 and SC2 competitively at high levels for a while now. I thought I would write a sort of general advice page here. If you have any questions or tips for me feel free to leave them as comments. Now to the information!
ZvT (In General Terms!) [Part 1: OPENINGS]
There are so many different ways to play the beggining of ZvT. In this I liken it to a chess game that to start there are only several viable openings.
The three I'd like to cover are 14 Drones --> Hatchery and then 13 Drones --> Pool |||| 14 Pool 15 Hatchery (Read 14 Drones -->Pool, and 15 Drones --> Hatchery.||| And 13 Pool 13 Vespene. Each of these have their benefits, and suit a specific play style. 14 Hatchery the first build order caters to those who want an early game advantage and are presuming that their opponent isn't planning on doing a powerful rush early on. Those who go 14 pool 15 hatchery there are several tricks to this, but the basic premise behind this is you want to prevent any early pressure that the Terran might use and to gain a fairly strong macro position. The 13 pool 13 vespene build is specificly designed to give you early pressure and dictate the early game at the cost of macro.
First of all lets focus on the 14 Hatchery and 13 Spawning Pool build order. This is a favorite of mine in far positions. Certain maps like steppes and kulas make this build order very hard to do though. Steppes has such a close base position that the terran can simply attack early with several marines and scvs and possibly do a huge ammount of damage. Kulas Ravine has so many ways to do early harass to a quick expo that this sort of build is so risky. (Think reapers on the cliff!) However on maps like Lost temple and Metalopolis this map can work solidly. Your oponent won't scout early enough to prevent this expo (generally) and you can macro early while scouting and preventing any early harassment.
Now to talk about what to do after you go 14 Hatchery! This is where things can start diverging, and you have to decide certain things... A solid build order in this situation of cross positions on either metal or lost temple would be to make 15 Drones then an Overlord. So 15 Overlord 15 Zergling 16 Queen is solid.
After you have finished the build order up to 16 queen your overlord should be just finishing. When the 2 zerglings you have made come out its wise to send at least one of these to the front of your opponents base. You should ALWAYS have a zergling inbetween your base and your opponents. This is the best way to figure out if your opponent is simply fake attacking or charging your base for real. Good terrans will simply step outside of their base and attempt to destroy this zergling and then just go back in. Its important that you recognize this tactic for what it is and not make plenty of spine crawlers without a good reason. Now after you have made 16 queen it is smart to simply produce drones.
Now if your hatchery is almost done say 90% finished you can start sending 3-4 drones over right away. Theres no need to wait for your hatchery to be completely finished before sending over drones. Depending on your opponents build order it is wise to not build a spine crawler just yet. You can make 2-4 zerglings in this middle time and keep them on creep. To continue the build order it would go something along the lines of 18 drone 19 drone 20 drone 21 vespene 20 queen (This one should be made at your second hatchery) Why not make this queen earlier? When you fast expo like this you will have enough larva that you won't need to spit or it will just give you extra larva that will set and wait. This is a topic that is up for debate but its what I've been prefering of late.
Its very important to continue scouting here. Send those 2-4 drones to go run up your opponents ramp and to run back. If he has a barracks with a reactor core then you can geuss hes going to simply transfer a factory over onto that and go hellions. With this build order its important to keep a queen on the ramp and to have at least one spinecrawler. The idea then behind this build order is that if you can prevent this hellion harassment and continue to build drones and tech (speed or lair) you should be ahead of your opponent who is still running off of one base. I will go more into vs. hellions later on however for now I'm just talking about this opening and how to get to this point of macro vs. macro and defending. So if you know your opponent isn't a very early rush styled player this strategy will give you the best early game macro boost. However if your opponent is constantly reaper rushing or if your just not sure it can be very wise to not take the chance. In tournament games go with what you feel, as corny as that sounds it generally works.
Now lets discuss how you could properly do a 14 pool 15 hatchery build order! This is my favorite because it offers a mix of both worlds. It can either provide early pressure on your opponent or give you a solid macro middle game. The point behind this build order is to get a first queen early and tranfer it to your second base while making several zerglings to stop your opponent from scouting and safely expand. So after you have 14 pooled 15 hatcheried you will want to drone up while taking a fairly early gas. So to continue the build you would go 15 overlord 15 queen 17 zergling and wait until the overlord is finished. Then you can either make several more zerglings (no more then 6 though unless hes rushing!)and then make drones. You will want to take that first queen and spit on your first hatchery and move it over to your expansion RIGHT away. Spit and walk. Also right whenever your first queen pops out you will have enough minerals to make a second one. This timing works out well and you can continue to make drones or zerglings.
After you have around 20 population here you should start to make a vespene geyser. You will want to either make speedlings or roaches at this point. (Unless its LT and then its smart to take a lair first, but we'll go into that later!) Roaches are a solid idea if you think your opponent is going hellion and speedlings are viable if you enjoy micro and think your opponent will be agressive with his hellions. so the point of this build was simply to have a few early lings to stop the scout, to prevent the early reaper or marine rush and to keep a solid macro up while scouting early. (With the first lings)
Now onto our final build order in early ZvT. 13 pool 13 vespene. This build is my favorite to use on on cheesey maps. If your opponent just finshed 8 raxing you two games in a row this build order will be a good counter. With this build you won't expand until you have lings to defend. With this build order you can cheese or expand. To expand and play a macro game with early speedlings (meant for fighting and surrounding early hellions) you should continue the build order as follows. 14 overlord 14 zergling 15 zergling 16 queen (Those should all be made right when your pool is finished). Then whenever you have 100 gas take the 3 workers off of gas and make speed. After you have made speed you can send a drone to your expansion and start to make your hatchery. To continue; 18 drone 19 drone 19 hatchery 19 zerglings and continue to make zerglings. At a certain point when the second hatchery is at around 65% its smart to take one last spit at your main hatchery with your queen and start moving him to your expansion while making a second queen at your main hatchery. Here you should be able to continue making just enough zerglings to kill hellions that attack you. You can either put a spine crawler at your natural and wait until the hellions charge and then jump on them as they are entering your natural or main or try and put slightly earlier pressure. They both have their benefits and negatives which we'll discuss later in middle game.
To turn this build order into a baneling bust, simply watch a dimaga game (several on the Day9 King of the Beta Hill Tournament). To use roaches to cause an early push you can adapt this slightly. Roaches this early are good to suprise your opponent. The build order to use roaches would be the same up until your at 18/18. After then simply don't get speed and make a roach warren and continue to make drones after you have your first 4-6 zerglings. Use these zerglings and your queen to prevent the scv your opponent sent to scout the roach warren. Never build the warren when your opponent is still in your base with that scv. Continue to make drones until 20-22. At 20-22 you should make an overlord and then wait. You should be saving up around 300 minerals and 125+ gas for when the larva comes down from the hatchery via your queen's spit. Then just make them all roaches and proceed to lay waste to the dominion!
So, those are my favorite three early game build orders vs. terran. They each have a unique style and its good to mix them up and see which you prefer. Or use your own, either way have fun with it!
ZvT Middle Game
MIDDLE GAME (HELLIONS/ BANSHEES / MARAUDERS OH MY!)
I consider the middle game to be the part in the game where you have your expansion up and some drones. Your opponent will also have a tech tree hes working on and your goal is to counter his with your own. Here were going to discuss several of the most popular T middle game harasses. The three most common build orders a terran will use are Hellions (Dropships, Ignite, Expansion), Banshees (Cloak or No?), and Marauder Hellion Marine (Expansion or Pressure). (At least those are the three I've been playing the most lately)
Hellions Hellions and more Hellions!
(Reactor core Build orders and more)
You have just scouted your opponent and you see he has a reactor core attached to his factory and hes going to be making hellions! OMG TIME TO PANIC! Run outside and scream away these nightmare machines! On a more serious note you shouldn't panic! You will simply want to retreat any zerglings you have into your natural base and plant down a spine crawler. You will want to put your zerglings on top of the ramp leading into your main base. You will want a certain number of zerglings / spine crawlers in relation to the ammount of hellions. I find that 1 spine 1 queen and 12 zerglings are perfect for anything up to 4 hellions. At 6 hellions it can be helpful to either add 8 more zerglings or another spine crawler. If you have speedlings you won't need quiet as many and you can attempt to surround so much easier. Your goal against this build order is just to get enough zerglings that you can either prevent this attack or you can attack the hellions he is making surround them, kill them, and then prevent him from expanding until he makes a whole new batch of hellions. If he makes anywhere from 8-10 hellions basically you will need to use waves of zergling in concert with your spine crawlers and queens to prevent this harassment.
You should have your lings spaced out on top of your ramp and several inside your minerals of your expansion. This will allow you to come from different directions and surround the hellions and keep them from destroying your drones. While your opponent is making hellions you should be mixing in drones with this zergling defense and attempting to tech to lair. Its important that you get to lair to put pressure right back on the terran. By making a spire or a roach warren you will be able to keep these hellions from preventing you from taking a third base and you can make him make some defense, be it thors vs. mutas or tanks vs. roaches. Once you have destroyed his big ball of hellions you are free to roam the world with your zerglings again so don't forget to put some lings in front of the terran's base and to keep zerglings on xel'naga towers! Taking a third and making again just enough to defend without losing your drones is the best way to defeat this line of hellions.
Hellions with ignite, time to fight!
(Factory with Tech lab)
You have just seen your opponent make a hellion and he has a tech lab! What why didn't he make a tank or a thor even! But no he has made a hellion and you can tell hes going to try and mess you up with blue flames. There are several ways to fight this. One way that you can use is listed above in the Hellions Hellions and more Hellions section. However I believe there is a better way to deal with this if hes using a tech add on.
You will have to make a roach warren and a few spine crawlers (2 or so) until your roaches arrive. Your goal here is to make 5-6 roaches to wall off either your ramp or keep the hellions away from your mineral line. You should simply keep him out and you can even attempt to pressure him back with 4-5 roaches. The time he spends micro'ing his hellions against your roaches will be time that he isn't attacking your drones and you can macro in this time. He will generally have to make at least 1 marauder or tank to prevent the roaches from then breaking into his main and you will have stopped him from making too many blue flame hellions. If he however conitnues to make hellions (6-8?) just keep making these roaches and drones. You should be able to prevent him from expo'ing at the least and preventing him from killing your economy.
Hellions Ready to Drop!
(Factory with a Starport with no add-on)
As if hellions with ignite or 4 quick hellions wasn't pain enough your opponent has a way to completley bypass your spinecrawlers and to put them down where they want! If your opponent doesn't have ignite with his hellions it can be wise to simply have your queen try and chase around the dropship while you try and surround the hellions with zerglings. Anything to keep them from your drones! You will want to damage the hellions enough that they have to leave or the same with the dropship. If however your opponent has ignite this can be very difficult. I would recomend getting roaches for this build like I mentioned above. You would want to keep some of those roaches above your ramp to stop them from running in and simply move them over to your main base and try and keep your drones alive! NEVER EVER highlight all of your drones and run them all away in a line. That is the worst possible reaction and the hellions will stare and smile as they cannot believe their own luck before they completely ruin your entire game! Move your drones by 3-4's to seperate areas and keep them from clumping if you can. Try and focus fire down the hellions as well its alot harder to flame drones down with 2 hellions compared with 4 half health hellions. These are the baisc options you have for how to prevent Hellions from ruining your day.
(Do i see a Banshee? Nope because my eyes are closed cringing!)
You see a starport and it has a techlab! I will be honest and say that this is the build order I have the most dificulty with. A small tip, be extra careful with terrans in tournament games, banshees are something that they think you won't expect in an important game. Now how to deal with this! There are several schools of thought here. Queens and only queens, spore crawlers with 1-2 queens, or queens with a fast lair and spores. I personally think that its important to continually make queens from 1 base while you tech up your other hatchery as quick as you can for an oveerseer. Its also smart to build an evolution chamber if you have seen it in enough time. You can put 1-2 spores in each base as little towers for your queens to retreat to if the banshees disapear. Its important to use w/e zerglings you have to try and prevent an expo by the terran while he is harassing with banshees. If you can manage to kill off the banshees or at the very least prevent them from doing to high of a tole in drones and queens you should come out ahead. I think its very important to leave a spore behind each mineral line to prevent the terran mindset that if they keep the banshees alive they can come back whenever they want for 2-3 drone kills while you move your queen to that awkward position.
Banshees with Cloak! What a joke!
(Banshees with Cloak obv... Starport with Tech Lab)
I think that you will have to either A. start your lair before you did your speedlings and very very early or B. make plenty of spore crawlers to stop this build order. Following the same logic as you would in a BW game you should continue to fend off these wrait.. banshees while teching to either mutalisks or hydralisks. Sometimes its wise to get a few hydralisks while still teching to spire to simply throw off the Terran. Once you have managed to live through these cloacked units by queen/spore crawler defensing your base you will need something with mobility to allow you to take a third base. You will have to either send 2-3 hydras with an overseer or some mutas to an expansion to protect it from any lingering banshees just waiting to pick off unsuspecting drones. Your drones will thank you for this! If you are losing all the drones at a base while making queens, its wise to move all of your drones to the base below. Its slightly harder for a banshee to kill a drone thats running then one that is standing still. Its very difficult to deal with this build orders in the hands of a sneaky terran, but you can do it!
Middle Game Topics that I havn't broughten up because I'm not intending to write a novel entitled: Why Sheth ended his life after writing a 330 page SC2 guide for people on TeamLiquid.net.
(Early Marauder attack, 10+ Reapers of death, scv marine attack ball and THOR ATTACK)
If your opponeent is planning on attacking you with marauders its wise to make many speedzerglings and a few spine crawlers to defend this. If he has hellions with it its still the best choice you can make to make plenty of speedlings. However if he has 4-6 hellions you will definetly want to focus them down first and perhaps get roaches to balance this. You will want to simply beat back this attack and you should be ahead economically. 10 reapers all racing to your base? A line of ling killing death? Little do they know you have 4-5 roaches just waiting for them. Try and geuss where they will fly up and be waiting for them with either roaches and lings or just PLENTY of lings and a queen. You will want to guard your natural with at least one spine crawler. If you can hold these off with roaches and prevent them from getting into your drones you should come out ahead, because roaches are viable in late game armies, where as reapers are pretty much just a fork broughten to a knife fight. (Useless unless your with indians and a canoe)
In order to fight a scv marine ball early on its smart to simply make as many zerglings as you can with queens. If you can sneak the zerglings behind the scvs and directly attack the marines yolu should be safe. Thor attacks are difficult to deal with as are Thor drops. Thors in mass are very difficult to deal with, if T has alot of hellions as back up. I'd recomend spine crawlers roaches and speedlings to deal with this composition early game. And focus fire the roaches onto a single Thor when they attack.
ZvT End Game (Theres so much more I could have written down, but I figured I'd start small.. kind of!)
End Game == Army Composition
(LOLOLOLOLOL My 200 IS BIGGER THEN YOURS!)
The biggest complaint most zerg's seem to have is that they can reach 200/200, however their army melts in the face of an equal or smaller terran army! I'm here to explain several tips and tricks on how to beat any and every composition the terran can throw at you. The most dangerous terran's will learn that they never need to leave their base and can simply turtle up to 200/200. You will have to fight for your life to stop this, but it is possible.
I'm not the best at it I'll admit, however there are ways to stop it. However there are plenty of end game things before we reach this point. The three topics I'd like to focus on here are how to deal with an army of Medivacs, Marines, Marauders and and Tanks || an army of Tanks Thors Hellions and Vikings || an army of pure Marines Marauders and Medivacs.
MMM (Marines Marauders Medivacs) and Tanks.
(Sounds like a delicious candy, however zergs cannot eat this...)
There are several armies and different types of compositions that are viable to fight this. I'm going to always be assuming that you both have a 200/200 army ready to fight. In order to deal with this perfectly I believe that with 2 Infestors, 20 Banelings, 20 Roaches 20 Hydralisks and zerglings. (AKA Keep the banelings roaches and hydralisk in proportion) you will be able come out ahead. Your goal is to fungal the marines and have your banelings in a seperate group. You will need to click 1A (1 is your hotkey with Roaches Hydralisks and Zerglings)and then 2click (2 is your group of banelings.) In order to explain this fully we'll have to go into Positioning, Upgrades, and Timing. Positionining and timing are very similar. In order to get a good position you will want your roaches and hydralisks to have a large enough arch that they can spread out completely. You will only want to attack on creep. You won't want to attack where your entire army will attack at different places (like you got split) You will have to make sure your infestors have just fungal growthed previously to you attacking. (Fungal then 1a 2click quickly!)
Upgrades are fairly simple. NEVER attack if your upgrades are almost finished. Wait for your 2-2 to finish if its at 85% instead of just attacking at 1-1. Also be careful that you don't get out upgraded, because in the end game upgrades will make or break a game completely. Then timing! Its important that you attack at an opportune time. This is close hand in hand with positioning. You will want to attack at just the time when he is slightly out of position. When all of his tanks are positioned behind his army on a cliff, you shouldn't attack. Wait for him to bring the tanks to a harder position to defend. Also be ready to attack if he unseiges tanks. The INSTANT he unseiges if you can attack it will be best. Its important that you keep overlords or a changeling near his army to gain this intel. Then simply whittle down his army and attempt to destroy his ball of death. This army composition I gave you was the simplest to micro and possibly the most cost efficient. However no matter how you crack it, this 200/200 terran army is very very hard to deal with.
Another viable option is to mix in Ultralisk Zergling Roach and Infestor. Any combination 200/200 of this can do well against this if your ultralisks go in first and dont' get stuck. If you have 10,000 /10,000 (10,000 minerals and 10,000 gas) the best combinatoin I find you can make is pure Corrupters and Brood lords. Brood lords are extremely effective however you have to make sure you can keep your Corrupters in a high ammount at least equal to the ammount of his Vikings. Also these marines can tear through Broodlords Very VERY quickly, so you should make sure you have a solid ammount. Sending a few Broodlings into his army of infantry while his tanks are seiged can completely devistate his ground army so this is a wise tactic. Also sending 2-3 broodlords to an expansion and attacking from behind a cliff or in open air is a strong tactic. While this will take plenty of practice and plenty of games to work with, I feel like there are possibilities to beat this MMM + Tanks.
The Mech Wreck
(Tanks Thors Hellions Vikings)
This army is a maelstom of extremely deadly fighting units. I find the best way to fight this ball is to never fight it. To simply whittle it away with drops, broodlords and large armies is the best way I can find. You can make a pure corrupter / broodlord army to fight this if its done perfectly. You will need plenty of minerals and gas and it never hurts to keep an infestor with your purely flying army to simply fungal growth his army of vikings if they ever stray to far forward. This sort of turtle with mech units is a very strong play style and I havn't come up with that many ideas to completely defeat it, but early and middle harass can prevent this ball from getting too big. Constantly tech switching, constant harass, nydus worms and dropships are your best bet. However play a perfect game.. and you still might lose.. terran in this style is extremely strong.
(So many Marines and Marauders and Medivacs your head will spin)
This is by far the easiest army to defeat. Zerglings Mutalisks Banelings and an infestor or to can tear this apart so fast you won't have time to blink. If you manage to stop the marines from running away by means of a fungal growth and then run the banelings in, your mutas will be able to push in and destroy whats left. The micro required for this with large armies can be taxing, but after you have died a few times to it you kind of get an idea of how to deal with this play. I feel like this is the weakest of the three I mention here so I won't spend so much time talking about it. Simply keep upgrades in mind, and work towards a complete army of banelings + mutas with 1-2 infestors. And keep plenty of larva on hand for if you do end up dieing to this ball!