10 Zerg Tips for Starcraft 2: Legacy of the Void
The Zerg is the most different of the three races in Starcraft 2. While the single player campaign of Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm introduces players to the Zerg playstyle, it can still be very challenging to play in the multiplayer. In Legacy of the Void, several changes have been made to the multiplayer. You can read all about them here. Here are 10 tips to help you improve and ultimately win as one of the most interesting real-time strategy game races of all time, the Zerg.
What do you think is the strongest race in Heart of the Swarm?
In order to get better as Zerg, the basics will be one of the first thing you need to work on. Hotkeys are a must. It makes performing an action that much quicker. You can hotkey units and buildings by selecting them and pressing CTRL+ any number key (eg. 1). From then on, you can simply press 1 and it will select whatever you had hotkeyed there. You can hotkey multiple units and buildings at the same time. You can also use hotkeys in order to use abilities and set build instructions easier. A simple thing to help you learn hotkeys is to enable the "Display Hotkeys on the Command Card" in the Options menu. Try practicing without ever clicking on the command card versus the A.I to get used to the hotkeys at first.
As Zerg, your main production building is also your main building: the hatchery. Switching between hatcheries to inject larva is going to be a vital part of your play. You can hotkey your individual hatcheries to jump between bases, or you can rebind the 'Base-cam' hotkey to either the tilde ("~") key or your spacebar key. This key cycles your camera through all your active bases so that you can easily jump back to a base whenever you need to inject.
Always send a drone scout. Scouting what your opponent is doing is often the difference between winning and losing. If you notice a very early production of units and an unusually low number of workers, your opponent will usually go for an all-in attack in which case you should be prepared with static defenses and units of your own.
Watch your supply. Since Zerg's produces many units at once, your supply can be easily eaten up without you noticing. Thankfully, you can also produce a number of Overlords at the same time, but this doesn't mean being supply capped is fine. Supply caps can be deadly as Zerg especially when defending a push, so keep an eye on that supply counter!
Remember to rally your army. Once you have your hatcheries selected, you can right click anywhere on the ground and units produced from these hatcheries will rally there. You can also add morphing eggs to your hotkeys immediately. After morphing your units, without deselecting the larva, CTRL + click the morphing eggs, then press Shift + 1 our whatever your army is hotkeyed to.
I have written a more comprehensive guide on how to play Zerg over at my blog, Tictac Tactics. Check it out over here.
2. Droning and Basic Macromanagement
Workers are the most important unit in the game. A good economy is the backbone of any army. This is especially true for Zerg players. Zerg units tends to be weaker in an equal fight, and rely on strength in numbers. As a Zerg, you need to out produce your opponent in order to win. This means you need to primarily focus your production on drones so that you can produce nothing but units when you see your opponent move in and overwhelm him. An optimally saturated base has 16 drones on minerals and 3 drones on each gas. If you have other bases, feel free to rally drones there once you already have 16 in your main base.You need to protect your drones at all costs when you see your opponent go for them. Do not be afraid to pull your drones from mining in order to move away from enemy fire. Lost mining time is better than killed drones.
Since Zerg players produce army and units from the same building, you are going to have to expand early in order to stay even with your opponent. The general rule of thumb is that zerg must be up 1 expansion versus the other two races.
Now the best economy in the world is useless if you are not spending it. Keeping your money low is one of the key things in Starcraft 2. Unless you are saving up for a whole bunch of units for a timing attack, you should always be spending. Make units, get upgrades, keep that money low!
3. Larva Injects
Another unique thing about Zerg is that it has another resource aside from minerals and gas: larvae. The larva morphs into overlords and every Zerg unit aside from the queen. The hatchery stops producing larva once it has three or more. In order to get more larva, you need to use queens. The queen is produced from a hatchery and comes with three spells. The spawn larvae spell is cast on the hatchery. After 40 seconds, the hatchery will then instantly produce 3 larva. You cannot cast spawn larvae on a hatchery you've already cast it on. The queen comes with enough energy for a spawn larvae when it comes into play so you must use it as soon as possible. From there on in, you must use it every time it's available and a hatchery is not currently producing larva from the spell. If a queen has spare energy, you can shift+click on the hatchery to queue up multiple larva injects. And don't forget to use the larvae!
4. The Macrohatchery
If you find yourself floating minerals and you don't have any larva to use or upgrades to get, you should make an extra hatchery inside your base. This is called a macrohatchery and is primarily used to produce extra larva. You can also produce queens from these hatcheries to help your larva production even more!
5. Static Defenses
Static defenses, namely the spine crawler and the spore crawlers are defense structures you make to help defend your base from attack when you don't have enough units, or when your units are at the other side of the map. While static defenses are extremely useful when you need them, they are expensive. A lot of newer players mass up static defenses in order to feel safe. Massing static defenses is generally not the way to go especially in the early or mid-game. Producing too much static defense will put you behind economically so you must only make what you need. Remember that Zerg building also cost a drone, and the more static defenses you build, the more drones you lose. I usually put down one spine crawler in front of my natural expansion (the first expansion you take, usually the one closest to your main base). I put down a spore crawler or two at every base when I see my opponent go air units to harass me.
6. Creep Spread
Another unique mechanic to Zerg is Creep. Creep is needed to put down any Zerg building and it also makes Zerg units move faster. It's it easier to chase, flank and surround an opposing army on Creep. Protoss and Terrans cannot place any building on Creep and it can be used to deny an expansion, especially since Creep takes time to disappear. Creep spread can also be the difference between life and death, especially when you are defending an opponent's attack. The most effective way to spread Creep is through the Overlord's generate Creep, which produces creep underneath the overlord which lasts until the overlord moves, and the Queen's Creep Tumor ability. This ability spawns a Creep Tumor that produces Creep until it is destroyed. It is invisible, and can also spawn additional Creep tumors. Creep tumors are especially effective in spreading Creep, so whenever you have a chance, spread that Creep! Consider making extra queens to help spreading Creep faster.
Scouting is more important to Zerg than any other race. Zerg needs to see when an opponent moves out since our ideal gameplay is to produce drones until we see an attack coming and only then we start producing army units. As such, you need to know what he is attacking with, where he is going to attack, and when is he moving in.
Always fight to hold the Xel'Naga towers. These towers produce free vision in important pathways as long as you have a unit near.
Spreading creep provides scouting as well. Creep tumors also generate vision, and the farther your creep spread is, the farther you can see with your tumors.
The primary scouting unit of the Zerg is the Overseer. This unit morphs from the Overlord and comes with the Spawn Changling ability. The Changling will morph into the basic unit (Zergling, Zealot or Marine) of the first opponent it gets near to. It will appear like an opponent's unit and can be immensely helpful your opponent did not see it morphing. It only cost the Overseer energy to produce a changling so use it, and use it often!
If you don't have time to morph an overseer, you can suicide a Zergling! They're cheap, and expendable and they move very fast. Use them to scout for expansions, and leave them at general paths so you'd be alerted if your opponent decides to move out.
8. Overlord Spread
The Overlord's primary function is to provide supply, but they can also be used in scouting and spotting! A good Zerg keeps his Overlords spread out and spotting important chokes and back routes. Send your first Overlord near your opponent's base and keep it out of harms way. If you can't get in because your opponent is walled off, you can suicide an overlord inside your opponent's base around 5 minutes into a game to see what he's doing. Just be sure you don't get supply capped!
Overlords are even more useful in Zerg vs Zerg matches since the only unit that can shoot up in the early game are queens. Most of the time, you can safely put an Overlord in front of your opponent's natural expansion entrance to see if he's moving out with zerglings so you can produce your own units to defend.
9. Unit Control and Micromanagement
In order to trade armies cost effectively against the other two races, Zerg needs to make use of positioning. You must never attack in a choke and up a ramp unless you have to, or unless you have much more army supply than your opponent. If you are using ranged units such as Hydralisks and Roaches, ideally fight in a concave instead of fighting in a ball. Fighting in a concave maximizes your army damage since each unit can attack the opponent effectively. If you are using Zerglings, Banelings and Ultralisks, the most important thing to keep in mind is the surround. Surrounding the opposing army is a sure way to connect the Baneling hits and prevent him from kiting you away. Attack from two sides if you can. Flanking can lead you to easily surrounding and beating an opponent's army.
As important as unit control and micromanagement is, however, it must never be placed above macromanagement. You can easily micro your units to the best of your ability, but if you don't have reinforcements, you will still lose! Just remember to hit those hotkeys to keep on producing even when you're microing your units!
There will come a time when you are going to be up against invisible and burrowed units. These units are typically used to kill of drones and to put you behind economically. In order to see these units, you need Detection. Zerg gets Detection from Overseers and from Spore Crawlers. Usually, production of these units take time, so scouting these units before they do any damage is definitely the best way to play against them. If you scout them too late, immediately put down a spore crawler and morph an Overseer and send your army over to deal with them immediately as your detection becomes available.. Remember to pull and save your drones!