Saturday, July 30, 2011

Starcraft 2: Countering Proxies as Zerg

I just wanted to go over a defensive decision that all Zerg players should make part of their Starcraft 2 decision-making toolbox.

The subject today is bunker rushes and proxy barracks / gateways.  If you open with a hatch-first or early-hatch build with Zerg, YOU NEED TO CANCEL IT when you scout a lack of Gateways / Rax in the enemy base.

Immediately throw down a pool if not already started, and you NEED to get a spine crawler up.  I also recommend Roaches over Banelings, because early banelings can be kited and killed by good marine micro, and Roaches use less Larvae, which you will be severely limited on.  Roaches are surprisingly good against small numbers of un-upgraded marines.  But again, it's more about the larvae, so make sure to build a Queen, or replace her if you lose her.  However, if you are really tight for money, build 2 Roaches instead of 1 Queen.  However, chances are, with no Queen and only 1 Hatch of larvae, you will have plenty of minerals to build Queens with.

If your opponent is NOT all-in (and most proxy rushes are), you can't afford to just make spines and be contained, because your larvae count will suffer.  Make sure you check just how many marines your opponent continues to send to your base, even if he dares not attack because of your Spine Crawlers.  If he expands and doesn't keep building marines, you need to bust out ASAP, and either expand yourself or counterattack.

Counterattacking is always a good strat (if you manage to get units out of your base), because without his early barracks / Gateways at home, he won't have a wall-in.  Even a few Zerglings, if you attack when he's also attacking your base, may go undetected long enough to kill a LOT of workers.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Starcraft 2: Zerg Strategy and Upgrades

Well, I just played a game today where something very interesting happened:  my upgraded Roaches (+2/+2) took on a Protoss army built to counter it (Stalker/Immortal/Colossus, although not many of the latter two), and absolutely destroyed it.  While I think micro had a lot to do with it, as well as Zergling support, it really emphasized for me the power of early upgrades, especially when you can stay ahead of your opponent.

The difference becomes really evident when the numbers of units get higher - you don't want to upgrade early so that your early units are effective - when you're pressed, it's better to spend the gas on more units than on upgrades that you don't get as fast as you get units!  Also, upgrades are no good if you have no units left for them to affect...

The key to the game I linked above was probably offensive play.  It's important for your opponent to feel pressured, and it's important, as Zerg, to have forward-positioned units to see attacks coming so you can pump reinforcements.  Delaying my opponent's third, while getting my own up and running, was also highly effective.

I also realized just how effective even 2-3 Infestors can be in slowing and damaging an approaching army.  It's the only AOE (area of effect) attack that Zerg has, but it's very very good.  The problem is that making TOO many infestors costs a lot of gas that could become units that keep attacking, rather than having energy-depleted infestors trying to clean up the last few units.  Again, if things are tight, don't go with a pile of Infestors - get a base army going, THEN pile on some more Infestors.

Yes, my macro could be much better.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Starcraft 2: Out of Shape and Out of Supply

 Well, I just had the crappiest run of losses I ever had in Starcraft 2.  Sure, my strategy may have been okay, my build orders okay, but after about 30 supply, I started hitting the supply block wall.  Supply blocking yourself FOUR TIMES in a game is pretty much a guaranteed loss.

Here's an exercise for those with the same problem (thanks Powerfang!):

  • Play the computer on Very Easy
  • You must make SCVs constantly. 
  • Watch the replay 
  • If you hit the unit cap without ever not making an SCV, you win.  Otherwise, you lose.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Roach before Queen Zerg Build Order: Adaption

I both love and hate the late-Queen, early-Roach Zerg build order.  On the one hand, you can expand versus Terran or Protoss without worrying about an early couple of units taking you apart - slow Zerglings are easily killed by Zealots or Marines, but Roaches aren't.

However, the key to this build isn't executing the build, it's using your firepower properly.  In short, you sacrifice early counterattack capability (Sspeedlings) for a secure early expansion (Roaches).  You also get the option of a Roach all-in if unscouted.  But, if you are scouted just after your Warren goes down, you'd better switch back to your usual unit mix (i.e. Roach/Speedling vs. Protoss or Speedling/Baneling vs. Terran), or else you are going to lose.  While Roaches work very well against small numbers of Marines, they fair poorly against larger numbers of Marines with upgrades.  Speedlings are required vs. Protoss Stalkers, too, or your Roaches just get kited to death.

For those Zerg players who hate-hate-hate bunker pushes against an early expand, this build is for you.  However, I would recommend transitioning out of it before Terran opponents build Marauders, or else going all-in and trying a 8-11 Roach push.  Don't wait for your last Roaches to come out, though, or he might have Siege tanks.  Bring your first 5-6 Roaches and attack, rallying the others to his base.

Tip:  Have an Overlord to give vision of the high ground, so you can snipe buildings from below.

Tip:  Get Speed (Metabolic Boost) AFTER you've committed (or not) to a Roach push.  If you get speed first, you won't have enough Roaches for a push, but you need Speed later.

Monday, July 4, 2011

ZvT - The new Roach Rush

I came across this Zerg build order on the TeamLiquid forums, and thought it was one of the best Zerg Strategies to come out in awhile (thank you JulyZerg!.

The build order
*from TeamLiquid forums*
The Build
(Optional early drone scout)
15 Spawning Pool
15 Extractor
16 hatchery
(Optional 0-6 Zerglings)
(Optional Metabolic Boost research)
@150min Roach Warren
Overlord x2 (Optional x1 if you made 4-6 lings)
Roach x8-11

* If you opt for 6 lings, you can allow meta boost to finish, and not impact your roach timing.

* Be sure you have OLs spotting the ramp. Due to your map control, you should be able to position two overlords (one on either side of his ramp).

I like it because it's tricky - it shows the player one thing, and does another thing.  Perfect scouting would cause this not to work, and it wouldn't work against Zerg, because without a Queen to chase away the Overlord, your opponent could simply park an Overlord above your base and see everything he needs to see.

I've also been having an issue with ZvT lately (stupid bio pushes!) so this might be a good, aggressive answer to Terran stim pushes.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Custom 2v2s, aggression and micro

Well, I got completely stomped today in a few 2v2s.  I am going to have to work on reining in my aggression, and doing better on my micro.  I hit 2v2 platinum with one of my 4 teammates (although he's Diamond, so I guess I'm just being carried), and at this level, you can win or lose small fights with good micro.

For example, did you know that it's possible for 4 Zerglings to beat 4 Zerglings with 3 Zerglings left over, if you micro yours and the opponent doesn't?  I still have to learn the trick, but it involves moving your almost-dead Zergling away for a second, and then coming back to gang up on another Zergling.  It's a version of focus-fire, but you can't target just one Zergling with all 4 of yours, or you'll spend too much time moving and not enough time attacking.  It's very tough to do.

Aggression is normally good in 2v2.  However, what I have to learn is NOT to throw units away doing it.  It's often not worth it, either because either:
  1. You force your opponent to go all-in, and after losing your harassment units, he'll have more army than you and roll you over, or
  2. You don't actually do as much damage with your harassment as it cost you to make the units!
These 2 points are why Mutalisks are so good for Zerg - they are fast, their damage is quite high, they fly, and can easily escape.  Banshees are similar because they can cloak.  Blue Flame Hellions with a Medivac are also effective, because you can load up and fly away.  Protoss have their Dark Templar, but often those end up being throw-away units, or a sucker-punch that you hope will end the game.

And remember: if you're getting stomped, sometimes it's just better to stop playing for awhile rather than lose, lose and lose some more.  Go play the AI a bit, and you may figure out what the problem is.