The Shokz Guide, Starcraft 2 Guide

How to beat a 6 pool in StarCraft 2

The 6/7/8 Early Pool is a build order loss to everything in ZvZ. However, even the best pros have lost to early pools. There is also a myth that defending an early pool requires ‘Godly Micro’ or that you must be a ‘god among men’, which is simply not true - against a comparable opponent (ie ladder system), you should always win. Defending early pools is not about micro, it is about decision making, and the decision is extremely black and white: Fight or Run Away. With correct decision making, you can beat early pools using only the mouse.

Furthermore, I will make this guide about going Hatch First and on Steppes of War, since it is the latest pool on the worst map, and if you can hold an early pool going Hatch First on Steppes, you will be able to hold early pool with any build on any map (preferably, with minimal micro!) - and yes, I do take into account the shorter scouting distance, and in the supplemental replays I make sure to either scout extremely late, or not react to what I scout until extremely late, to reflect longer scout distances (even going as far to prove the point by not throwing the pool down until the lings are in my base!).

However, there are many variations of early pools, and each variation requires an acutely unique and different response. This is why you even see pros lose to early pools.

So, in this guide, I will discuss everything on beating early pools - how to scout, how to prepare, how to respond, how to micro (I’ve also come up with new and better micro tricks!), how to follow-up, and of course, the counter-strats.

Finally, I will say right now, that there will be replays of me holding every variation of early pool by going Hatch First on Steppes of War against a competent Masters Zerg. The point of me doing these games on Steppes was to prove, beyond all reasonable doubt, that Hatch First can beat any sort of 6/7/8 pool, of any kind, without using ‘pro micro’.

I will also provide a short addendum at the end discussing how to best execute an early pool and my thoughts on which early pool is hardest to deal with, and even share some new tricks and builds to early pooling I came to learn… although really, the whole point of what I’m saying here is that early pool is stupid and pointless, but there is at least better ways to do a stupid and pointless build (I always think strat threads are best when they include the counter-strat).

I’ve spent a few months doing this research, and I suppose it all started with seeing Bad_Habit’s 6 pool to GM thread. As we saw from Losira vs Kyrix, hatch first can beat early pool, but this thread made the discussion a bit deeper. I then set out to find the answer to beat his ‘unstoppable’ ZvZ early pool, and although I found the answer quite quickly, it took a long time to truly flesh everything out as every pool is different. There are really no proper anti-6 pool guides on TL, and most of the ones that exist are so old that they even say 6 pool always beats hatch first, or just give completely wrong advice (against certain varieties).

Anyways, I spent a long time figuring this all out, and I soon developed the philosophy that not only is it possible to beat every type of 6/7/8 Pool with Hatch First, there is a way to do it using completely zero micro. This is a strong point in this guide - I felt strongly that there existed an answer that required absolutely zero micro, and I would not stop until I either was proven wrong, or found that answer, and so I did.

Note: 9/10/11 pools are build order wins against hatch first, so don’t tell me your awesome ‘10 pool counter hatch-first build’ can beat it, because yes, it will. You can still cancel the hatch and plant a spine to hopefully stay in the game, but if the opponent sends 8 drones a la Nestea or gets banelings a la Check, it’s gg.

On Scouting

I always recommend drone scouting when going hatch first. It is not important to send it super early, and you are not sending it to see if the opponent went early pool (at least, you aren’t sending it so early that you would change your build order). I send a 14 drone scout - some prefer earlier, some prefer later, but 14 drone scout is really fine enough. I would only really only see earlier drone scouts on particular, 2 player, short maps (like 10 drone on XNC just because it’ll arrive right before you plant the hatch first), but again, they aren’t necessary (in this case, you can see a 10 pool in time, although I personally don’t even 10 scout on XNC, I’m just saying you could).

I know most koreans don’t drone scout, but against drone all-in variations of early pool, it is much easier if you put a drone in their base, although technically you don’t need it in there. It’s extremely useful, however, to identify the exact variation of their pool, something you can’t exactly discern without a scouting worker (without a scouting worker, you can’t tell for sure if the 5 drones he brought were because he went 6 pool drone all-in, or he went 7 pool with drones and left 2 mining - and I can assure you now, that the answer to both are completely different and doing the wrong one will lose you the game; furthermore, a drone in their base is not 100% necessary, but makes things 100% easier).

As for the utility of a scouting worker in general when going hatch first, I’d also argue that it’s more useful (count to see how many lings the opponent who went hatch first started with so you know how much you can drone, if they went tech or not, etc) but since that’s another topic, I’ll leave that alone and say simply if you want to be able to beat possible drone all-in variations of early pool, you will need a drone scout.

Secondly, I recommend that when going hatch first, you send your 9 overlord slightly above your hatch, opposite the side with the mineral line, to spot for possible morphing spines. A morphing spine unseen can simply end the game for you, and just sending a drone around the creep is not smart, as the enemy drone can sneak in unseen and you can be distracted, simply not be that fast, or 2 spines can be morphing, or the opponent could be going hatch first and it would just hurt your econ too much. Another important part of this overlord is to scout the top of your ramp and the enemy’s position with his army if it gets to a base trade. You can definitely, always send the overlord to their natural or in front of their base (or wherever you normally put it) even on the largest maps in time to check for early unit movements or their natural timing once you have confirmed they aren’t 6-12 pooling you and get it there in time, so don’t worry.

Again, let me stress that sending a super early drone scout is not necessary. Yes, I will admit that a 10 drone scout can make things a bit easier against certain variations of early pool, seeing what’s going on at 13 instead of 16, but it is completely unnecessary - remember, a later scout on a larger map also means a longer transit distance for their units. Also, some variations of early pool are perfectly okay for you to even plant the pool as late as 16, 17 supply, even before the hatch cancel, although I will admit a pool above 15 supply or before hatch cancel against certain variations is a bit harder.

The next response depends on what variation of early pool is occurring.

How to React

Once you confirm that an early pool is coming, you must cancel your hatch, cancel any extractor if it isn’t too late, and throw down your pool ASAP if you haven’t already.

The placement of your pool is extremely important as well. For ZvZ, I’m sure everyone is aware of the ‘Sim-City’ Pool, where you place it to ‘block’ a side of your mineral line. Sim City pools are stupid, they are only really useful if you are going 1 base roach, so stop doing that if you already have a habit of doing that. Anyways, where you want to place the pool is behind mineral line, preferably ‘tucked’ against a wall, with the least amount of surface area. Perfectly, it’s placed in a way so the opponent has to split his forces to fully engage it, so you can take the 50% of his ~8 lings with your 16 drones and get a few cheap shots off, and keep it alive longer. A good example of this was shown in Losira vs Kryix GSL May on Crevasse when Kryix had to split up his ling/drone force against Losira’s hatch first drone force to attack his pol, and loses half of his units in the process with his desperate all-in.

If you sim city the pool, it will block your workers from protecting it, and make it much harder for your drones to ‘escape’ from one side of the mineral line when the enemy comes through the other. When Sim City’d, the enemy can simply pound on your spawning pool and your drones will have a hell of a hard time to protect it, and each time you go out to protect it, they back off, and your mining time has been significantly cut due to having to go back and forth such a larger distance.

So when you scout the pool first, don’t worry, calm down, just take a second to place the pool smartly, because if you panic and just throw the pool down, like in the open on the creep, or ‘blocking in’ your mineral line, it will definitely come to bite you, as the spawning pool is the #2 priority of the enemy to attack (the #1 priority being to deny mining) and often times you will lose it, so having it up slightly longer can save you (sometimes you can even be denied from the pool even finishing).

Also remember that if you hotkeyed your morphing hatch, when you cancel it you will have a drone on the same hotkey as your hatches now, which will prevent you from selecting larva and morphing new units until you remove the drone from the hotkey. For this reason, I actually hold off on adding the hatch first to my hatch hotkey group until after I confirm the opponent’s build (a cancelled hatch becoming a drone again, and a hotkey group of a drone + hatch means zero unit production and an idle drone just Stop Stop Stopping when you hit S for larva). I’d actually recommend that at the start, you hotkey your morphing hatch first to your army hotkey, so you can quickly cancel it and send that drone to mine.

Finally, I’d recommend you patrol your scouting drone in their mineral line to see what is going on, or directly outside the mineral line, to get a drone count and see if he sends all his drones, or does something like keep 2 drones or morphs a defensive spine, for defensive purposes.

Determining the Variation

Each type of early pool requires a different response, and you can glean a lot of what is coming with your scouting worker.

There are essentially 3 different types of early pool:
1. The ‘Infinite Ling’ where they make very few workers and make no spines, and stream nonstop lings
2. Ling+Spine
3. Drone All-in

You can instantly tell it’s a drone all-in if you see them pull all of their drones (and it must be every single drone).

If they continue mining with 2 or more workers, than determining the variation becomes more specific. You can usually tell if they are either doing the ‘Infinite Ling’ or Ling+Spine variation based on if a scouting drone is in your base or not, and if there are only 5 or 6 drones in the base, and they don’t pull them, that is indicative of ‘Infinite Ling’. But the most obvious tell, is if they make that spine in your base or not!

Should I make an Overlord?

If they are drone all-inning, or morphing spines, yes. I would recommend a 17 or 18 overlord, depending on how close your pool is to be finished (18 if it’s less than half is what I’d recommend). If they are doing an ‘Infinite Ling’ style, then making an Overlord is not recommended.

If you are unsure of what they are doing (they don’t bring their drones and doing a drone all-in, obviously), just hold off on the overlord. Really, 18 overlord will be just fine since you will still be waiting on the pool, and your hatch won’t die that fast that the larva for making a single overlord kills you.

Infinite Ling

While an ‘unrefined’ and simple 6 pool, no replacement drones, constant ling stream can seem newbish, I’d actually say that this is the pool easiest to lose to. This is because this build can quickly overwhelm you, as the ‘Critical Mass’ (when the opponent finally has enough forces to win an A-move against your 18 drones) can come quite quickly, and it’s easy to ‘slip up’ the required ‘answer’ and just screw up with a silly mistake.

The thing about Infinite Ling is that since he is mining at home, you can’t base trade, but because he isn’t making a spine, you aren’t forced to fight.

Here is the Build Order for the ‘best’ ‘Infinite Ling style, although it can come in many incarnations and is probably the most popular, particularly in the lower leagues, where people aren’t bothered to look up BO’s online and the player is perhaps innocent enough to simply ‘Do It’ rather than try to find the most perfect way to do a build (which is ironic, because I’d say this variation is the easiest to lose to).

6 Pool (No drones afterwards)
Double Extractor Trick
Overlord (Really not necessary because the game will be decided already)

Generally, this build is better done on 2 player maps rather than 4 player maps, or maps with 2 spawns and can possibly detect which base you are at with overlord to close by air (Shakuras, Metal, ST) due to the total lack of drones.

Because the opponent is still mining, it is effective pressure when he denies you from mining. From cancelling the hatch you should have ‘enough’ money, but every time he denies mining time, is giving a bigger edge to him. Not that it will win or lose the game, or that you really need to keep mining, but it hurts.

Now remember, I said don’t make that overlord against this style. This is important (although honestly, not terribly important).

Try to keep mining as much as possible - you will want as much money as possible, and it’s very easy to lose a few drones (although it’s also possible to hold without losing anything). What is unique in this instance, is that lings are not the answer. Yes, very counter-intuitively, you will rely on a spinecrawler!

What, you say, I waited forever for one building to finish, you’re telling to wait on another? Everyone says that spines are the completely wrong thing to do! Well, yes, most often this is true, which in part is why this build took me the longest to find The Answer for, so let’s get on with it.

When the opponent first arrives with an initial 6 lings, he won’t have enough to win an A-move fight. So remain calm, and when he ‘pokes’ into your mineral line, just mineral walk half of the drones, so the others remain mining. If he’s dumb enough to attack, just mineral walk over him, but don’t box all of your drones, mineral walk to one patch then another, in an attempt to ‘catch’ him, because if he’s competent he won’t let himself be caught, and you just wasted a whole lot of mining time. Against this variation of early pool, you will appreciate (read:not need) more money, so try to mine as loooong as possible.

When his reinforcement lings come to make it a total of 10 lings, is when things start to get a little ‘hairy’. From here, mining will no longer be a priority, and while you can mineral walk and do cute things like that, the ‘best’ micro trick is to do a ‘Defensive Drone Flower’.

Since no name has been coined for this, we shall call it “Belial’s Floral Arrangement of Death”. To execute this trick, select all of your drones, and repeatedly right click on a mineral patch (this is why I said against this type of pool, you need to click a lot!). Preferably, you select a ‘recessed’ mineral patch - you know, how on many mineral lines, there’s like a group of 3 mineral nodes, and the one in the middle is sort of ‘back’ a bit? Yea, click on that one, as if you click a mineral node that’s by itself, your drones won’t stack up perfectly, but if you pick one of these recessed nodes, not only will your drones stack better, but it creates a tighter choke for the opponent to engage through.

Once the opponent has a Critical Mass of lings, you will want to just execute Belial’s Floral Arrangement of Death. If the opponent is dumb enough to actually engage your Belial’s Floral Arrangement of Death, he will simply die - as all of your drones are stacked up all on one spot, every time you hit A-move, all 18 drones will attack on the same target at once, which only 1, maybe 2 or 3 lings can hit at once (1 if you pick the right mineral patch to do this trick). 18 x 5 damage = 90 damage. That’s enough to kill any ling in range instantly. Go back to stacking, and if he’s still dumb enough to be attacking snap again with Belial’s Floral Arrangement of Death! Quite quickly, your 18 drones can melt 20+ lings if done perfectly, and the opponent will be scratching his head.

But more often than not, he won’t be stupid enough to engage (actually to be honest, on ladder, he will be stupid enough to engage and you win!), so you are just doing it until the pool pops and to stay alive. This will force the opponent to back off, and it gives you critical time for the pool to pop. If he attacks the hatch, don’t worry about it, and if he attacks the pool, you can attack him and force him to respond to the drones. Using good pool placement, this can cause unfavorable engagements where he has to back off for a second to regroup, and then when he’s regrouped, you back off and go back to executing Belial’s Floral Arrangement of Death - buying you more of that critical time.

He won’t be able to kill the pool, and if it survives long enough for you to plant a spine and get a few lings, you’ll be okay to just remake it (you can also queue a queen and second spine before it goes down to be safe during the time you have no pool, as you’ll have a huge macro lead).

Once the pool pops is when things get tricky, and just right when a Critical Mass of lings will arrive that will kill anything but a perfect Belial’s Floral Arrangement of Death, even a well executed mineral walk.

What you need to do, is make a single spine crawler, inside the mineral line. If you make it outside the mineral line, he will kill it quite easily, but if you make it inside the mineral line, any time he tries to attack it, you can mineral walk and deal enough damage to make him back off, attack your drones instead of the spine, and in general buy enough time for the spine to pop. You can also right click the morphing spine with your drones, then hit ‘Hold Position” so that the enemy will aggro onto the morphing spine, and be unable to reach it due to the ‘Hold’ drones (although honestly this isn’t the best trick to do). He should have enough lings to take on a mineral walk, so all you are doing is mineral walking to do a bit of damage, and mineral walking slightly further again to get the hurt drones out of aggro.

While the spine is morphing, you can also be making lings. Making the spine takes priority over making lings, and with doing Belial’s Floral Arrangement of Death, it’s hard to fit in all the micro to make lings on top of everything else! Be extremely careful not to have all your drones on a hotkey and make the spine, and then hit ‘1-right click right click ….’ as the spine will cancel due to that drone being issued a new order, and also be careful not to just have your drones idling by, getting attacked, while you attempt to make the spine, as your own drones can prevent the spine from going down. The easiest way to make the spine, is to just have all your drones on one 1 hotkey, and a special drone on it’s own hotkey, particularly for this task. An easy way to do that is hotkey all your drones when you first identify the early pool variation, and then make the 18th drone, when morphing as an egg, on another hotkey.

When making lings - and remember, the spine takes priority over lings - it’s easiest when you add them to the same hotkey/grouping as the drones. At most, you will have 6 lings pop out against some 10+ number of lings, and that won’t do anything for you, so you will have to ‘hide’ them within the Belial’s Floral Arrangement of Death.

It’s quite easy to screw up on this though - sometimes a stupid drone will just block the spine forever, or you lose a bunch of drones on accident because you tried to make them move away long enough for you to make a spine. In this sense, this is why I say this pool is the ‘hardest’ to deal with, but with practice and/or patience, you will easily beat it, and when done perfectly, you can come away further ahead against this pool than any other. It’s not necessary the most micro intensive pool to deal with, but definitely the easiest to screw up and lose against.

Once the spine pops, it’s game over! You can easily come out with 15+ drones, and even all 18 is possible against the perfect 6 pooler, against his 5 drones. It’s okay if you are supply blocked, you make the overlord quickly and from there you have total control of the game. They will likely still have lots of lings, so you can follow up with banelings or speedlings.

Of course, you can always just make 2 spines instead of 1, if you aren’t comfortable with your ability to hold yet. Since zerglings are essentially useless - you will never overcome his production of lings until a queen’s larva inject pops, which won’t be anytime soon, and he’s constantly streaming lings in - it’s perfectly fine to make 2 spines and zero zerglings.

And make sure to always cancel if he’s about to kill a spine. It’s perfectly okay if you have to totally reset and cancel the spine that was almost done, and it’s even okay if you actually just lose it - it takes a lot of zerglings to be able to take on a mineral walk. It’s okay if you lose 10+ drones trying to protect the morphing spine, as he is only on 6-8 drones himself, and a defensive spine can even up if he’s a drone or two ahead by allowing you to just get defensive banes, if the game goes on, and get more drones instead. But hopefully you should’ve kept every drone alive ^^

And that’s GG!

Drone All-in

The thing about someone who brings drones to attack, is that it no longer matters if he uses lings to deny mining, as he isn’t mining himself. This makes matters much easier and simple.

So as I already mentioned, there are essentially 2 decisions that you can make in a ZvZ against early pool, and micro is not an issue: Run away, or Fight.

The following is the most optimal build order for the drone all-in, courtesy of FameToFlame aka Bad_Habit:

7 Pool
Drone to 7
Scout on 7 if necessary
@100% Pool 3 sets of Lings, send all but 2 drones
@140 Minerals and 100% Lings, Double Extractor Trick 2x more sets of Lings for 12/10 supply, and send off final 2 drones
Spine in opponents base by mineral line when you have enough to beat the opponent’s forces and can ‘secure’ the spine, usually when both drones and lings arrive

If the opponent is bringing all of his drones, you will need to run away. In fact, you will base trade. Try to mine until the very, very last minute, but once it’s too much just mineral walk to their base. If his units snap at you, such as in transit, do not worry, none of them will die and the health will regenerate. You can always try to juke and dodge him, but it is important to run faster rather than elusively.

You can also drone flower to buy more time for your morphing pool, and if the opponent is stupidly aggressive, you can outright win if he attacks your Belial’s Floral Arrangement of Death. Be sure to leave before the spine pops, as that is the best counter to it, but yes, 16 drones will beat 7 drones + 8 lings when using Belial’s Floral Arrangement of Death, but losing drones in this part of the game will hurt.

Also, if he does a drone all-in without a spine, you can simply do a Belial’s Floral Arrangement of Death to stall for your own lings (and maybe even a queen, or treat it like a Infinite Ling pool) and win. Since he won’t be reinforcing with more lings, you will actually have enough drones to win with a Belial’s Floral Arrangement of Death if he’s dumb enough to attack it, so I suppose that’s how you beat drone all-ins without spines, but you usually aren’t so lucky to come across someone that dumb, and you might as well be safe and do the following response anyways.

The best response of the opponent is to kill your pool ASAP, so if he gives chase or dillydallies, that’s just better for you. You should have well over 300 minerals banked due to the cancelled hatch and extra mining, and if you were pro you would’ve had all your drones return minerals before you ran away and you would’ve mined until the last second, giving you even more money (just right click the hatch before running away to return the last minerals, don’t worry, you won’t lose any drones because you will just mineral walk them away afterwards). If he actually chases you though, just run circles around the map until you’ve made a million lings and then rejoin forces and fight.

Now. This is where the scouting drone is so important, particularly on larger maps. On maps like Tal Darim, it is possible for the opponent to kill your pool (and if you didn’t drone scout, you wouldn’t even know where to go to base trade) before your workers get to his base. The reason for this, is because if he makes a spine in your base, you simply cannot engage there - so you must create a place where he cannot engage. While theorycraft wise you don’t ‘need’ a spine because eventually you’ll have enough lings, it is possible he out-micro’s your lings when they hatch, so you’ll need it for the stalemate if you lose too many lings when they hatch. It also makes things much easier, such as if they try to force a stalemate by not finishing off your hatch so they can keep their own spine on creep indefinitely, to prevent your eventually superior force of drones+lings from killing him off.

Sometimes people leave 2 drones at home. Generally, this becomes a “Ling+Spine” pool instead, and as such requires that response instead, but if he doesn’t have a ling there shooing your drone off or have a defensive spine before you, you can just make it away from his 2 mining drones and that should help you out (2 drones only kill a morphing spine if they start on it absolutely immediately). If he brings all of his drones, but leaves a ling at home to shoo off your scouting worker, you can extractor trick it repeatedly until your drones arrive (just send 1 or 2 drones, as just 2 healthy drones beat a single ling, immediately when you see him send all his drones, and keep the rest mining at home for the very last second, so you don’t lose your pool before it finishes morphing, and so you can bank more money).

You can also make the spine out of sight. I don’t recommend ‘cheesy’ or ‘coinflip’ answers to win games, but in this case, it’s not - the further from the mineral line, the more you deny mining, and with just 2 drones at home (or even less), he can’t kill it time, even if he decides to make lings at home. The point is to get it up ASAP - of course, the point of this guide is solid gameplay, so I’m not encouraging something like sneaking a spine as the only way to win. It is certainly easier though, so go for it if you can.

The next step of the base trade is quite important. You need to be morphing lings during this whole time, and you need to take care to rally them with utmost care so that they do not get attacked by the early pooler’s spine or units. If you can safely get 2 lings out of the base, and re-united with your drones, you will have enough units to simply a-move and win. If you cannot safely get 2 or more lings out, you will not win a battle without good micro and you may have to settle for a stalemate by camping the top of his ramp with your drones on hold position and your superior number of drones threatening a mineral walk on the cramped ramp, or hope the opponent gets antsy and tries to kill your spine while you put extractors all over the map and you go kill his spine.

If you can get 2 or more lings out, you can have a large enough force to simply kill him when the creep dissapears and he is forced to uproot his spine to keep it alive as his last building.

Make sure to uproot your spine when the creep starts to dissipate, or it will die (it won’t lose health if uprooted, even off creep). Sometimes you’ll even win because the opponent is too dumb to uproot his spine, which should be his last building, or doesn’t even make a spine and you just kill his pool+hatch. The opponent should not have enough money even for an extractor, and you can often just focus fire his spine. I would recommend that you do not make extractors on the map, as you want to keep as many units as possible. If the opponent splits his forces up, ever, try to engage one of the groups.

Famously, Losira held Kryix’s 8 pool twice in the same series going hatch first in the May GSL. What he did, was ran away and rallied lings to his drones, and then attacked when he pooled up enough lings. This response is okay against drone pulls, but will not work if the opponent morphs a spine in your base. If the opponent is not morphing a spine with his drone all-in, you can choose to stay close-by, and try to attack his units like when they are focusing a building and get a few free hits off, and even rely on good micro to come out further ahead, but just ‘Run Away’ until you have lings pop, and then engage the opponent. This is essentially the same scenario as a base trade - you are just staying away from the opponent until enough lings pop, and then you engage the opponent where there is no spine (either because he didn’t make one, or because he is forced to uproot when creep goes away). Because Kryix didn’t make a spine, Losira was able to threaten with his drones an unfavorable engagement, and so Kryix wasn’t able to kill off enough lings when they hatched (he killed only 1 of about 8 that were made), and so that was pretty poor by Kryix too.

The point of the spine is to protect yourself in the case the opponent denies you from getting enough lings out, or if you make a mistake, or get completely out-micro’d. Think of the spine as ‘insurance’ - to make sure that at worst, you will get a stalemate. Without a spine, it is quite possible you can lose, but with a spine, you can make sure you will at worst walk away with a stalemate. It can also secure a win if the opponent tries to force a stalemate, which he can definitely do. It also makes things a lot easier - but it is definitely necessary. There definitely are choices the opponent can make, but if you have a spine, it puts YOU in control, and allows a stalemate to become a win, and a loss to be a stalemate.

The opponent will do everything in his power to deny your zerglings from coming out. It is important you get at least 2+ lings out. Sometimes, and particularly on some maps, he can deny your lings from running off the ramp due to how the larva is positioned in relation to the ramp - it’s near impossible for him to surround and deny every ling from popping, but it is possible for him to deny you from re-uniting your forces. The opponent can just not kill your hatch so the creep stays alive, so he can keep his spine, and then deny your army from re-uniting, to force a stalemate. If you were able to hatch at least 4 lings, you can win with a rooting spine + 18 drones + 4 lings, but if you weren’t able to get 4 or more lings, you may have to settle for the stalemate.

It is okay if you can’t exactly re-unite your forces - just keep the lings alive by juking around in the base. This may require some multi-tasking, but remember to stay focused on keeping at least 2 lings alive (you can regen the life, so don’t worry about getting hit).

If you can escape with 2+ lings, just re-unite your forces, and attack after your hatch dies and the creep dissapears and he’s forced to uproot (sometimes people are too dumb to uproot, and a rooted spine off creep will die while an unrooted one won’t, so if he isn’t uprooting just let it die and take the easy win). If he tries to force a stalemate by keeping your hatch/creep alive, bring your spine over (yes, slowly, but surely) and take on his spine+10lings+6drones with a rootingspine+18drones+4 lings. You can either focus down his spine, or simply straight up fight - a rooting spine, 4 lings, 18 drones, and possibly some broodlings, will beat his rooted spine, 6 drones, and 10 lings.

Just make sure that when the engagement occurs, you either use micro such as at least a single mineral walk, or the drones that are doddling in the back, manually command them over for a better surround.

So let me wrap up the exact numbers for you, since the opponent will always have 1 spine, 6 drones, and 10 lings:
18 Drones + 2 Lings crush 6 Drones + 10 Lings
18 Drones + 1 Lings loses.

18 Drones + 4 Lings + 1 Rooting Spine beat 6 Drones + 10 Lings + 1 Rooted Spine
18 Drones + 3 Lings + 1 Rooting Spine lose to 6 Drones + 10 Lings + 1 Rooted Spine

18 Drones beat 10 Lings with about 9 left.

There isn’t much micro the opponent can do with his largely ling army, but there is a lot of micro you can do with drones (mineral walking, better surrounding). In the above scenarios, the only used micro was to correct the issue that when you have 18 drones engaging, what usually happens is just half of them engage and the other half bounce around in the back. The minimal micro I used was just grabbing a buggy ‘chunk’ and pulling them over and behind to get a better surround. This is very basic micro, and using actual micro like mineral walking, which is what you should be doing, would make things more effective. It wouldn’t change the numbers too much, sadly, but you can maybe get away with one less ling if your micro’ing much better than the opponent.

And that’s GG


Now when drones are pulled obviously the game is quite over one way or the other, but sometimes you get into a situation where the game looks like it will just continue. You will need a follow-up!

So the best follow-up, is to get gas asap, as soon as you know you will hold. The earlier the better, and I’ll often make the gas before any lings are out, but when those first 6 lings are about to pop and push him back, or when the queen or spine is about to pop, are early enough too. Now, you can decide to either respond with speed, or banes.

Also, you will want a queen. Now, a queen is never a good idea to save your ass, but if the game is going to continue on (either you took a lot of losses, or the opponent is a stubborn asshole and he didn’t drone all-in) you will of course need it. I would recommend getting the queen only when you know you are completely safe, or if you feel you are ‘close enough’ to holding that you are completely confident you don’t need a spine or additional lings, and a queen would be sufficient to hold. Again, I must stress, I never recommend making a queen to save your ass, but if you feel confident that a queen will be all you need to push him back, and you don’t need to rely on lings or a spine, and you are a total boss, go for it. Of course, you are going to win anyways, trying to ‘further your macro lead’ by making a queen instead of lings/spine is silly when you have 10+ drone advantage anyways, but, whatever.

If he has been aggressively reinforcing, I would recommend that you make a spine in your mineral line (if you haven’t already), and get banelings. If the opponent got gas himself and transitioned into speedlings, banes are even more useful.

If the opponent is attempting to drone up (he has not been reinforcing and streaming lings all game long), just get ling speed, and simply overrun the opponent. Even defensive banes on what, the 10 drones he might have, won’t be able to hold against speedlings streaming in.

I don’t recommend expanding and trying to just macro quickly. It’s quite common for a 6 pool to simply transition into a roach all-in or some other type of all-in, and you can usually end the game with the huge macro lead you’ll have even with both of you on 1 base. However, there are two instances I’d recommend expanding, one is when the opponent gets double queen to block scouting. In these instances, simply get around 25-35 drones, and make pure units, and be sure to sac overlords to check if he’s going lair (1 base muta can be quite lame). No matter what he’s doing, with an evo chamber and 2 bases you will hold whatever he does.

The other is if you know the opponent is going to do a 1 base roach all-in as a follow up (yes you read that correctly - speedlings, 2 spines, and 2 hatch larva, especially with at least 1 queen injecting, will stop any 1 base roach all-in cold, especially if you have the macro lead from holding a 6 pool, you can read other guides in how to hold 1 base roach all-ins (hint hint, you use speedlings and 1-3 spines). This is actually the most common follow-up to a 6 pool.

If it’s late enough, you may want to put down a spore, and it’s a good idea to patrol a roach or ling around your base against Nydus play. 2 queens blocking the ramp is usually indicative of one of these two plays, or just 1 base roach massing (to which 2 base roaches will crush, or just 3 spines really).


As you can see, it has nothing to do with ‘godly micro’ to hold a 6/7/8 pool with hatch first. It’s just reacting correctly, and when you react correctly, it’s quite simple.

Also, regardless of this thread, the best way to beat a build (like 6 pool) is just practice with a friend! 6 pools are over within 3 minutes usually, so it’s not hard to spend an hour practicing 6 pool with a friend. It’s surprising how even many pros haven’t practiced against it.

If you have an questions (besides about me being a rube) please ask! If you are still having trouble against early pools after reading through this thread, or having trouble executing the above advice, or have come across a ‘new’ variation of early pool, please post the replay and we’ll look over it. I’ll even guarantee that any bronze level player, barring handicaps, can beat my Masters 6/7/8 pool of any variation on Steppes - if you can’t get it on your own, I’ll help you out (you have to send replays proving you tried, you followed what I stated in the guide, and are failing miserably and aren’t even close, and you posted the replay in here and no one else could help you out, lest I be inundated with replay help from everyone who doesn’t even play much).

And to state the obvious, please don’t PM me on about me being wrong or prove it. I get too many PM’s now for talking about this already before making this official guide where people have said “You are wrong, you can’t beat drone all-ins”. I will just respond saying “You are correct sir, I am a fat liar” because chances 100% are that I’ve hashed it with someone who is a much better player than you, and I already know the answer. I don’t need to show a hold of hatch first vs a diamond level extremely common bad habit’s 7 pool drone all-in to everyone on ladder, and quite frankly it’s extremely rude. Also, don’t ask me to ‘Show You’ - watch the replays, try it out yourself, and if you are still having trouble after your provide replay proof in this thread, after following my guide, I’ll help you out, but PM me through TL, not

Of course, 9/10/11 pools beat Hatch First, so please, don’t post in here saying I’m a liar because your 10 pool is so gosu. A 10 pool and a 6 pool are completely different.

Source: Belial88 via TeamLiquid


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