The Shokz Guide, Starcraft 2 Guide

Heart of the Swarm Zerg Guide

Hello everyone. We are here with a set of guides for the Heart of the Swarm StarCraft 2 expansion. It has been quite a while since I last wrote a guide, but with the Heart of the Swarm just released, now is the perfect time for an overview of Zerg in HotS. This guide will feature all the match-ups (Zerg vs Protoss, Zerg vs Terran, Zerg vs Zerg) with a general overview of the early, mid and late game in each. We will be going over the use of all the new units, and how to utilize them the best in the current Meta-Game.

Zerg vs Terran

This Zerg vs Terran section will be going over almost every area of the match-up, including areas such as the early game reaper harass, as well as mid game unit compositions, and effectively using the units in the Late Game. The unit compositions this section will feature include roach/zergling/baneling/swarmhost, and mutalisk/ling/bane into ultra. The guide will also cover dealing with drops, mech, late game unit compositions and match-up specific timings.

The Builds

Versus a gas Opening from Terran

  • 15 hatch
  • 16 pool
  • 16 gas
  • 100 gas – pull drones off gas and get ling speed
  • 6:30 – take your third
  • 6:30 – put guys back on gas
  • 6:45 – get second gas
  • 7:00 – get third gas
  • 7:15 – roach warren + double evo
  • 7:15 – 7:30 – get fourth gas
  • Start +1 melee and carapace
  • Next 100 gas goes to lair
  • Get baneling nest while going lair
  • Lair finishes – get either an infestation pit or spire (will be explained below)

Versus a no gas Opening from Terran

  • 15 hatch
  • 16 pool
  • 4 queens
  • 36 – take third base
  • 6:00 – double gas
  • 7:00 – get third gas
  • 7:15 – roach warren + double evo
  • 7:15 – 7:30 – get fourth gas
  • Start +1 melee and carapace
  • Next 100 gas goes to lair
  • Get baneling nest while going lair
  • Lair finishes – get either an infestation pit or spire (will be explained below)

Detailed Explanation of the Build

The reason for opening gas against a Terran who opened gas is for the reason that most Terran’s will go for reapers which are very powerful in HotS. If Zerg doesn’t get fast zergling speed, and the Terran makes 3-4 reapers, Zerg can take a lot more damage than necessary, and will possibly start losing queens as well. Zerg requires speedlings to gain map control. If a Zerg attempts to respond with roaches, his economy will take a big blow, as you need them extremely fast. This also gives map control to the Terran for a very long time and Terran could potentially catch you by a complete surprise with an all-in since you have 0 map control. Speedlings allow Zerg to get back map control and be more aware of those timings.

The part of the build where you take workers off gas is because you want more minerals, and there is no reason to mine gas when your goal should be droning. The reaper opening does a great job at delaying creep spread and droning, while Terran keeps his SCV production up while expanding + teching. As a Zerg, you need to be droning extremely hard once you gain back map control.

If Terran goes gas, we advise you only get three queens, and only one of those for creep spread. If Terran gets no gas, you should do the standard four queens build with two for creep spread.

In a game facing reapers, your lair will be later than normal. This is perfectly fine as you have to remember that the Terran can’t possibly be doing a 8 minute marine/marauder/hellbat timing if he is opening with reapers. Zergs also have to remember the Terran’s natural is going to be a bit later then normal as well.

The +1 melee and carapace is just a preference on upgrades. If you know he is going mech 100%, then get ranged. Since Zerg’s normally don’t know 100% if the Terran is going mech or bio, getting melee/carapace is safest bet. If you scout mech, get ranged upgrades immediately and then go for the melee upgrades later on.

The baneling nest is just in-case the Terran tries a bio + hellbat timing or any sort of timing that may catch you by surprise. Banelings are a very great unit against timings you aren’t expecting.

The infestation pit or spire decision simply depends on what you prefer to do as a Zerg player. If you are going to go infestors get a infestation pit, if you are going mutalisks get a spire. This is very simple.

Dealing with the Early Game

Reaper Harassment

The best way to defend against early reapers is to get speedlings out as fast as possible. Defending until that point can be difficult if the Terran is using reapers aggressively, letting them heal, and then poking in again immediately. What the Zerg should do is once the reaper enters your base and starts shooting drones is to pull a few drones to chase it and pull any drone that is shot twice away as soon as you see it. Do this until lings come out, and then have your lings chase until the queens pop out. Once the queens come out, the Zerg should be relatively safe for the most part. If Terran makes 3-4 reapers, the harassment will still be super strong and you need to make more lings so that he doesn’t kill your lings, then kill queens and then the drones.

Now once your speedlings are out, you should be able to kill them or at the very least push the Terran back to his base since speedlings are faster then reapers. Use this time to maintain map control and keep an eye on any transition if possible. A lot of Terrans transition into some widow mines, so make sure to poke at the natural, but with only one ling at a time so that if the Terran does have widow mines, you won’t lose more than one ling.

Normally Zerg can do a little harassment and get a couple SCV kills with a speedling counter if the Terran opens up with three-four reapers. If he opens up with only one reaper, the odds are that he is going to have hellions out fairly fast, so be wary of that as well.

Once speedlings are out and you have map control, it should be possible to take the third expansion with no problem and transition into a normal mid-game.

1/1/1 Widow Mine Drops

The best response to widow mine drops is to make sure to have a spore crawler out as soon as possible. Make sure to pull workers off the worker line and let a ling detonate it to continue mining again as soon as possible.

If Zerg does not have spores when this drop comes, make a spore and detonate the mines as fast as possible, and get back to mining right away. Make sure to pull workers before the mine is reloaded. Try to keep a good eye on the timer and pull the workers, or wait until the spore crawler is about done to pull. It’s not efficient to waste too much mining time, but it’s also not efficient to lose every drone to a widow mine as well. Make a judgement call on whether drones should be pulled or not.

Once the spore crawler(s) finishes, the Zerg should be able to kill the mines and not have to worry about the drops anymore. If this drop does no damage, Zerg is going to be insanely far ahead as the Terran can’t do a fast timing after this. This particular strategy has to do damage or Terran can be in a very bad position.

Hellbat drops aren’t going to be happening anymore with the 1/1/1 due to the fact that Terrans can’t start hellbats until an armory is finished, or they have to wait until the upgrade finishes to transform already made hellions into hellbats. This hellbat drop has not been viable for a while, and should not be the primary area of concern for a Zerg player.

Bio + Hellbat Pushes

Zerg should be able to see this coming if they are actively scouting with overlords, sacrificing zerglings, and just scouting in general. This bio + hellbat push is powerful if Zerg doesn’t have the proper units. If the Zerg only has ling/bane, it can be hard to deal with this push; however, roach/ling/bane can crush this push as long as the Zerg prepared in time.

If the Zerg sees this push, they need to make to not over-drone when this push comes. Zerg needs a decent amount of roaches, lings, and banelings to hold this push. Terran will push with stim and 4-8 hellbats (it varies depending on the Terran player). If you have to lose the third base, it is fine to just sack it, as this is a push where Zerg wants to make sure they can hold, and losing the third base won’t be game ending.

Once the Zerg holds this push, he can either drone and take a fourth base, or try to counter with a roach/ling/baneling attack. Normally the Terran player shouldn’t have any tanks, and this attack does need to do damage. It is a strong two base push, but if it fails and gets crushed, Zerg is far very far ahead.

Mid Game Strategies

Dealing with Drop Play

Drop play is a lot stronger in HotS due to the medivac speed boost. These drops make going non-mutalisk play a lot harder just because of how fast the medivacs can speed into the player’s base. Dealing with these drops requires good multi-tasking and static defense.

Once the Zerg plans on moving out to be aggressive, you need some way to defend against drops, and that way is static defense. The Zerg should be placing a few spines as well as at least one spore at each base, so that drops don’t devastate the Zerg player. Also, keeping a small ling/bane group near each hatchery is a good idea to deflect drops as well, so that the Zerg doesn’t have to pull his army to deal with it. This is the best way to deal with drops once the Zerg is ready to be aggressive or if the Terran player is going to push while doing two-three drops at once. This way, the Zerg can defend the push and deflect drop play without taking to much damage, compared to having no static defense and not leaving any ling/baneling behind, which would result in a ton of damage.

Overlord placement is very important as well. The Zerg should have overlord speed at some point and once that finishes, make sure to spread out the overlords on the map. The sooner the Zerg sees a dropship coming, the longer he has to react to it. That way, the Zerg can place the defense they need, and can still move out or deal with a push rather then seeing the drop come out of nowhere, resulting in a mad scramble to deal with it.

Starting to spread out overlords too early is the reason Terran players make vikings early nowadays, so it is better to wait for speed to finish before sending too many out. Vikings will supply cap the Zerg hard if he is sending out all the overlords across the map, which is why waiting until speed’s done is better. This way the Zerg won’t lose all his overlords and can spread them out again after dealing with the viking.

Bio + widow mine combination

The bio + widow mine combination is the strongest form of bio in terms of tvz. It is superior to tanks in the fact that widow mines are super mobile and once drilling claws is upgraded they burrow in 1 second. This makes the bio + widow mine a very strong and hard to engage composition. The best way to deal with it is to go muta/ling/bane with some roaches and send in small packs of lings to set the mines off. Instead of sending only 1 ling, zerg needs to be sending 4-5 to detonate some mines.

A good terran will have his bio with his widow mines so that they can prevent 1 ling and sometimes even 5 lings from detonating a mine. A terran who puts widow mines down and then walks away is very easy to deal with, when they keep their bio next to it, it’s a lot harder to engage and requires very good unit control from the zerg. Flanking the terran army is almost a must so that widow mines don’t hit all the zergs units. If the zerg can hit from 2 different angles widow mine shots shouldn’t be as devastating as they would if the zerg attacks in one direction. If the zerg has roaches sending in a roach with a couple lings is a sure way to force a detonation off a mine or 2.

Swarmhosts are a very strong unit verse bio + widow mine, but if you go that composition the zerg needs to be prepared for drop play. Drop play is something that can punish this composition if the zerg isn’t prepared for drops he can die. Another composition that can be good is going muta/ling/bane into swarmhost which allows the zerg to deal with drops much, much easier and then swarmhosts deal with widow mines very good due to the locusts being strong and tanking a few shots.

There are a couple replays show casing the muta/ling/bane -> swarmhost transition and how it deals with bio + widow mine so feel free to download those to see it in action.

Mutalisk/Ling/Baneling into Ultra

The mutalisk has changed a lot in Heart of the Swarm. Mutalisks have seen a notable speed increase as well as much higher health regeneration. If mutalisks take a ton of damage, and they all go to one health, they will all be fully healed in roughly 120 seconds. Before, it took a lot longer to regenerate this health.

If Zerg is going to go heavy with mutalisks, an overseer is a must when doing harassment. If the Zerg doesn’t bring a overseer, two-three widow mines could really ruin your day. Two-three widow mines will kill most, if not all of the mutas, especially if they are clumped and focusing down something. This can be a game ending scenario if it happens, and either way Terran would be way ahead.

The Zerg wants to get about 16-20 mutalisks out before starting hive tech. Make sure to have overlords spread out as there is no way Terran can kill overlords that are looking for drops as the Zerg should have complete map control with his mutalisks.

Try not to attack from one angle when utilizing this composition. Setting up flanks is very powerful and makes it so that you can hit the Terran army from multiple angles, or even sandwich it so that he can’t even run away, resulting in his army just melting.

It is a lot stronger to perform flanks than it is to just go in from one direction, especially if there are siege tanks. If Zerg holds the Terran’s push or if he hasn’t yet pushed, ultralisks should be out fairly soon, and the Zerg should be transitioning into ultralisks/ling/bane/infestor. Do not throw away mutalisks; if you can keep them alive, it makes dealing with drop play much easier.

Zerg will eventually want to have a greater spire so that they can tech switch to brood lords, then back to ultras to counter when Terran tries to do their own counter of the brood lord army.

Another thing to note is that Zerg should not be doing this style if scouting mech. This will get crushed by mech, so if Zerg starts off with mutalisks against mech, DO NOT continue into heavy mutalisks.

Fighting Mech

Fighting mech can be quite hard as it is difficult to engage them on their own turf. Normally, Zerg will want to try and contain the meching player to as few bases for as long as possible while taking expansions and starving the Terran of resources.

The best way Zergs have found to fight mech is to get swarm hosts out, about 12-15 and have them assaulting the Terran bases. Behind this, Zerg should have roach/hydra, and once hive finishes Zerg should start adding in the vipers. Swarm hosts are very powerful against mech as they make the mech push a bit slower, delaying the push quite a bit with locusts. It also makes engaging the Terran mech ball a little bit easier since they can tank damage pretty well as well as dish it back.

Zerg should be able to keep a nice contain until vipers get out. If Terran begins to push, do not keep your swarm hosts in the same spot. Move them back a bit and let out a wave of locusts while waiting for viper energy so that you can blinding cloud or abduct the units. Do not rush any engagement; rather, delay it for as long as possible. If you find yourself having no choice but to engage, flank and try to time your attack with the locusts coming out. If Zerg can hit from three different angles with locusts at the same time, he should be able to beat back any Terran push with no problems.

Zergs will want spines and a spore at each base to deal with hellion/hellbat/widow mine drops. The spore is so you have detection, and the spines are to kill the drops.

The end game army that Zerg wants is ultralisks/hydra/ling/swarm host/viper. Make sure to have vipers behind hydras unless you are going to cast blinding cloud. You will probably lose your vipers when doing this, which is ok, as this is going to happen no matter what. Terrans are make vikings to counter vipers, but as long as the Zerg player can get blinding clouds down on the Terran army and engage, he can just remake them later.

Again, try flanking maneuvers. By keeping swarm hosts alive and with blinding cloud + hydra/ultra/swarmhost, the Zerg should be able to take on any Terran ground army head on. You may not kill it all, but Zerg should have a good enough economy to re-max fast. At worst, if Zerg engages properly, you should kill most of the army, and at best the whole army. Zerg can wait for reinforcements before pushing or keeping the contain as well.

A Zerg player’s goal against mech is to starve the Terran, and make sure he can’t get a ton of expansions. Eventually Terran will starve and you will win with a much better economy. This can lead to some long games, but patience is very key against mech, and Zerg should be taking the whole map so the Terran will have to attack or he will lose due to the economic difference.

There are replays that show case this so make sure to check those out if you are skeptical about it!

Late Game Transitions: Roach/Ling/Bane/Swarmhost into Ultra/Broodlord

Going for roach/ling/baneling/swarm host is a very great way to play the mid game, while you tech and get either your intended path of ultralisks or broodlords out.

When using this composition, make sure you are starting off with roach/ling/bane. Do not rush to swarm hosts and do not start making them as soon as lair finishes. If Zerg does not have many ling/bane or roaches, and rushes straight to swarm hosts, drop play will absolutely dominate him. A Zerg just can’t deal with drops, and if a Terran sees that you are rushing for swarm hosts, he will drop you at 3 places at once, and you will not be able to deal with them without taking immense damage, and it’s game over at that point anyway. With roach/ling/bane first, a Zerg can deal with drops easily and then they will have a very strong unit composition for the mid-game.

What makes this composition surprisingly powerful whether Terran goes pure bio, bio + tanks, bio + widow mines, etc, is that it deals with each of those compositions very well. The strength of this composition is that it is very great for defensive play. It makes holding pre-hive timings a lot easier since locusts can do pretty well against the bio, and it takes damage from tanks nicely.

This makes it a bit easier to engage a Terran army, and to slow down a push as well. Since locusts are free, there is no reason not to have them constantly going somewhere. If the Zerg sees a Terran pushing, he should throw down some locusts, then push the swarm hosts back so that the Terran can’t just stim and kill them. Once Zerg is going to engage his army, make sure to flank and attack when the locusts are attacking. Siege tanks will fire at them and will allow your roach/ling/bane to fight the Terran’s army without taking as much tank fire.

Then after you hold any push Terran does, the Zerg can get ultralisks out, or go with broodlords again. Going broodlords first can be nice as it will force the Terran to start making vikings and then Zerg can transition into ultralisk/ling/bane/infestor. Also, Zerg should keep swarm hosts alive as long as possible. They will be useful even late game as Zerg can have them assault a different base while you use your main army to attack somewhere else. Eventualy, Zerg needs infestors to prevent a bionic army from kiting ultralisks all day long. In addition, they are also a good way to take out medivacs.

This is a much stronger defensive unit composition then aggressive. The reason that is, is the fact that swarm hosts are slow and a stimmed bio force will catch them in retreat if Zerg doesn’t have a strong enough army to take his head on. If as a Zerg, you are going to be aggressive, make absolutely sure that your army can at least take out most of his army in a fight, and your swarm hosts will be able to get away. Getting caught out of position or losing the swarm hosts can be game ending, so keep that in mind.

Zerg vs Zerg

The Builds

Muta Build: 15 Pool Version

  • 15 - pool
  • 16 - hatch
  • 16 - gas
  • 15 - overlord
  • First 100 gas – metabolic boost (speedlings)
  • Second 50 gas – baneling nest
  • 25 – overlord
  • 5:30 – spine crawler
  • 5:50 – 2nd and 3rd gas
  • 6:00 – lair
  • 6:15 – 4th gas
  • Lair finishes – spire
  • Start third base after spire
  • Spire finishes - +1 carapace(+1 attack if no muta from other zerg)

Muta Build: 15 Hatch Version

  • 15 - hatch
  • 16 - pool
  • 17 - gas
  • 16 - overlord
  • First 100 gas – metabolic boost (speedlings)
  • Second 50 gas – baneling nest
  • 5:30 – spine crawler
  • 5:50 – 2nd and 3rd gas
  • 6:00 – lair
  • 6:15 – 4th gas
  • Lair finishes – spire
  • Start third base after spire
  • Spire finishes - +1 carapace(+1 attack if no muta from other zerg)

Detailed Explanation of the Build

When executing a mutalisk build, Zerg players should start the lair fairly fast, which is the most optimal way as seen from Idra in multiple games we have observed. This build allows mutalisks to come out fairly fast and does not put you behind economically.

Zergs will often switch up the order of the speedling upgrade/baneling nest. The reason for this is that if the Zerg doesn’t intend on being aggressive with early lings, getting a baneling nest first is going to make you absolutely safe against a speedling all-in. If the other Zerg is intending on speedling all-inning as soon as his speed finishes, you will have banelings, and unless there is bad micro, you should hold this no problem and come out very far ahead. On the other hand, if you intend on being aggressive, it is best to get metabolic boost first. If you intend on being defensive, we don’t see a downside to baneling nest first, but this is of course up to you.

The spine crawler is something Zerg players don’t have to do in ZvZ, but it’s safer and allows them to be safer, and holds off early aggression easier than not getting the spine. Not getting the spine is just a way of being greedier than the other Zerg player.

After you start your third, you should be mass producing lings, while either pressuring the other Zerg;s third base, or defending your own third base against his ling/bane pressure to try and cancel the third.

Mutalisk Play

Mutalisk versus Mutalisk

This is a very common scenario in HotS ZvZ right now, and it is the biggest difference between WoL and HotS ZvZ. In HotS, this is standard and something you should definitely know how to execute. With the mutalisk speed buff, health regeneration, and the infestor nerf, mutalisks are very dominant in this match-up.

Playing in a mutalisk war requires good multi-tasking and mechanics in general. You don’t want to miss making mutalisks, and should be doing ling run-bys while mutalisks hit another location.

Keeping up on injects is very important while multitasking ling runbys at the natural + third of the other Zerg; hitting another location with mutalisks is very good and can make some Zerg players just fall apart as this is a very micro intensive unit composition. Do not engage in a mutalisk fight unless you know you will win. The aggressive Zerg player should not engage the defending Zerg player’s mutalisks at his third unless the aggressive Zerg has a huge mutalisk advantage due to an earlier engagement.

Transitioning out of mutalisk vs mutalisk will make the Zerg very vulnerable for a short timing. If the opponent happens to notice that the Zerg is trying to transition into infestors, and doesn’t have as many mutalisks, he should push for the kill, or do immense damage while he is transitioning.

It wouldn’t be recommended to transition out of mutalisks, but if the other player transitions and you don’t act on it you could be in trouble. Pay very close attention to the other player’s mutalisk count, and if the Zerg starts falling quiet a bit behind this, it should be a huge indicator that the other player is trying to transition into some other tech.

Taking a fourth base is really based on when the Zerg has enough economy, or if he has a good lead from an earlier mutalisk engagement. If you are in the position of being in a good lead, take a fourth. It is hard to engage at a Zerg third, as normally they will have a spore or two+ queen support, and unless you have a huge mutalisk lead, this isn’t safe to fight into.

The best ways to defend against multiple ling run bys is to make a couple banes at the third + natural base. Also, a spine or two at each base will help a lot against any ling run-bys.

Mutalisk versus Roach/Hydra/Infestor

This isn’t as common in Heart of the Swarm, but it will happen every once in awhile. There are two things that can be done when going mutalisks against a roach/hydra/infestor composition. One of the options is going heavy muta/ling/bane into ultralisks. This is a very strong option because if the roach/hydra/infestor player attacks too late, your ultralisks will be out, but if he attacks before, the muta player needs to do flanking maneuvers and engage the roach/hydra/infestor composition when they hit flanks.

When facing roach/hydra/infestor, the mutalisk player should be making some spines so that when the fight does happen, it’ll be a lot easier to defend than engaging without spine support. When utilizing this style of play, make about 16 mutalisks before starting hive.

The second the mutalisk player see’s no mutalisks, he should make two evo chambers and start +1 carapace and melee upgrades. Then eventually add in infestors with the ultra/ling/bane composition as well. If you get this composition after defending a roach/hydra/infestor attack, as long as you don’t make a blunder, you will win with the better unit composition.

The other option that the mutalisk player can do is transition into a roach/hydra/infestor composition himself. This is really up to the Zerg player on how he wants to fight against a player not going mutalisks. Same thing as before: once the Zerg sees no mutalisks from the other Zerg, just get two evolution chambers, and if you’re going roach/hydra/infestor get +1 ranged/carapace instead of +1 melee/carapace.

Defending Roach/Ling/Baneling Attacks

A common attack that Zerg will face when opening mutalisks is a roach/ling/bane attack that will hit before mutalisks pop an attack that can straight up kill you if you don’t see it coming. If the Zerg sees this timing coming, he needs to be making a ton of spine crawlers, and spreading them out so that banelings will not kill all of them when they detonate. Spreading them out is a must or making so many spines will not matter.

To spot this timing, Zerg should always be sending in speedlings to the opponent’s base. Sending in three spread out speedlings at a time will garner you scouting information, for example, a ton of lings, some roaches, spine crawlers, evo chambers, etc. Sometimes, getting inside the main base will even allow you to see everything. There is no downside to doing this, and you have a much better chance of seeing this timing than waiting until he moves out.

There should be an overlord checking in on the other Zerg player’s drone count and gas timings. If lings fail to get information and you see no third and fourth gas and a low drone count, that is a sign of an attack incoming. This indicates some sort of timing is about to hit and you should be putting down spines if you notice it. Especially, if you notice that you have a lot more drones than your opponent, that is a huge sign that the other Zerg will hit a timing.

If you get enough spine crawlers down and spread out, you should hold no problem. If your spires finishes, you will be insanely far ahead. The roach/ling/bane player will not have a lair finished and will be incredibly behind if he didn’t do any damage. After holding this push, take the third base, drone it up, and use mutalisks for map control to deny the other Zerg’s third for as long as possible. Then kill him with either a roach timing or muta/ling/bane.

Zerg vs Protoss

This is the Zerg vs Protoss section of our Heart of the Swarm Zerg guide. This section will be most beneficial if you already know the basic ZvP openings. If you do not know the standard fast three base vs forge FE, watch the replays which will showcase these openings for you to learn. Some of the things discussed in this section will be swarm hosts, mutalisks, roach/hydra and the best ways to use those compositions as well as transitioning into them.

The Build

  • 6:10 – 2 gases
  • 6:30 – 7 minutes – a roach warren (this is up to you on when to get this)
  • 7 minutes – evo chamber (start +1 carapace)
  • 7:00 – get 3rd gas
  • 7:20 to 7:30 – start lair (this will be explained later)
  • 8:00 – get 4’th gas
  • Lair finishes – infestation pit and hydralisk (this will be explained later)
  • 9:00 – 5’th and 6’th gas

Detailed Explanation of the Build

It is normal to start a fast lair around 7:20 - 7:30 unless a stargate opening is scouted. If a stargate is scouted, it is fine to delay the lair to 7:30 or later. If a robotics bay is spotted, the Zerg should not start the lair any later than 7:20. This is for the simple reason that there is a possibility the Protoss can immortal all-in. The swarm host can come out in time for the immortal all-in, and this makes beating the immortal all-in a lot easier than with any other unit. We have replays show casing this vs the immortal all-in, and it is much easier to beat it than going pure roach/ling. If you get the lair much later then 7:20-7:30, you will probably not get swarm hosts in time.

The reasoning behind going for a infestation pit and hydra den at the same time is that hydralisks, in combination with swarm hosts are very strong; however, you also need some anti-air against stargate play which is what makes the hydralisks a smart choice. If the Protoss player goes for stargate play, and the Zerg goes swarm hosts first and then becomes aggressive with them, the Protoss can actually shut them down quite hard once detection hits the field. This will make the swarm host useless until the Zerg has his own anti-air on the field. Hydralisks aren’t too expensive, and they build very fast. After you get these out, you can start making swarm hosts, and start to become aggressive while waiting for your spire to finish.

When your +1 carapace is almost done, get a 2nd evolution chamber, and for ranged upgrades, upgrading +2 carapace and +1 ranged going at the same time. Just keep those upgrades going, and you can add a 3rd evolution chamber if you want to do melee as well. This is up to you.

If you need any more clarification just ask and we will answer!

Utilizing the Swarmhost

The swarm host is a new unit in Heart of the Swarm, and one many players have not used a lot. This unit is very powerful if used correctly in the Zerg versus Protoss match up. This section of the guide will explain how to use swarm hosts in the most efficient way, and how to beat the dreaded immortal all-in. Getting swarm hosts is by far the easiest way to beat a player going for the immortal all-in, so if you are struggling against that in WoL and don’t know how to defeat it in HotS, this section will be of great use to you.

The swarmhost as a unit is designed to control space and be able to contain your opponent. This unit works very well in it’s role, and can defend very well. They do require a fair amount of babysitting though, as you do not want to leave them to siege and let the opponent’s army get on top of them with a observer.

If your opponents army is starting to move up to the swarmhosts, unburrow and retreat backwards. The Zerg does not want to let his army rest on top because if he hasfour4 colossi, a ton of stalkers and sentries, those swarm hosts are dead and this is not what you want. When retreating, once you can let loose another wave of locusts, you should burrow, then unburrow, and repeat the process as you run away. Sometimes you can go back to where you were as your opponent retreats back to his base.

The best transition when opening swarmhosts is to add corruptors/overseers to the composition. This makes the Zerg army extremely deadly. and it also allows you to snipe obs, and attack colossi. If he starts adding in voidrays, you will have hydralisks to deal with that too.

Using the Swarm host to Defend the Immortal All-in

If you follow this build properly, you should be getting swarm hosts out as the Protoss starts moving out. When Zerg sees Protoss moving out, he should have ling support and will be able to bait out force fields with that, or at least slow the push down. Every second you get by delaying the Protoss with zergling support, there could be one extra swarmhost out on the field, which is very useful. Don’t lose all the zerglings, and you should be doing well.

Once swarm hosts are out, Zerg should be making sure they’re at the right location. For example, if the Zerg player had them at the third, the Protoss could just walk into the natural, forcefields the swarmhosts out, and kill the natural.

Zerg should be using the swarm hosts to keep tabs on where the Protoss player is trying to attack. Most Protoss will try their best not to engage in the area with swarmhosts, so always be ready to uproot the swarm hosts and move to a different position. For the engagement against a immortal all-in, make sure to use your zerglings efficiently.

Utilizing the Swarm host in a Standard Macro Game

This section will focus primarily on utilizing swarm hosts throughout a standard macro game. This can be defined as when both players are on three base economies, and there are no two base all-ins. The three base macro stage is when Zerg can become quite aggressive towards the Protoss. You can transition from mutalisks into swarm hosts (14-16 mutalisks then into a swarm host transition can be very powerful). Another option is just going pure swarm hosts without mutalisks. Zerg should make about 8-10 swarmhosts and then move out (with ling support). With the locust upgrade, you will want to assault the third base.

Once the Zerg player gets about 10-13 swarmhosts out, it is time to start adding in corruptors and overseers. At this point, Zerg should be able to send locusts for a while, and Protoss will need a substantial colossi army to deal with this. While the Protoss is acquiring this colossi force to deal with the swarm hosts, Zerg should be mass expanding. Take a fourth, even a fifth or sixth if you are able to safely defend against blink stalkers and drops. The corruptors should be used to snipe observers, colossi, and scout the Protoss army. Do not let them idle waiting for the Protoss to make a move. Look for opportunities to create damage towards their army. If Protoss is pushing out, try to constantly delay them with locusts, and if you need to engage, do it while a new wave of locusts are coming out. The point of swarm hosts in the ZvP match-up is primarily to buy time for the Zerg late game composition.

Facing Stargate Play

When going swarm hosts against Protoss, do not start making them immediately if you see stargate play. This is fairly self explanatory, as void rays and phoenixes can just snipe swarm hosts easily. First off, you will need some anti-air out before getting swarm hosts onto the field. This is very simple to deal with though, as you just need to get a hydralisk den to produce around fifteen hydralisks if the Protoss goes the standard five-six phoenix opening. Against void rays/oracles, ten hydras will suffice. Once these hydras are out, start making those swarm hosts, and push once there are around six-seven. At this point, the Zerg should be stopping production of swarm hosts and starting the production of corruptors. When going hydras before corruptors, still remember to get overseers for observer sniping. They are not as good at it as corruptors, but the Protoss might not anticipate it as much. The overall army composition for Zerg will be hydralisk/corruptor/swarmhost until late game, where the Zerg can either transition into ultralisks, or remain with the current composition with infestors added in. This is personal preference for most players.

Transitioning out of Swarmhosts

One of the most important things Zerg doesn’t want to do is to stay at a corruptor/swarmhost composition for most of the game. Eventually, Protoss will be able to bust the contain, so the Zerg player should be transitioning into infestors, and throwing down some type of hive tech. Around the time Protoss is able to break the Zerg contain, you should be ready for ultralisk production. Don’t throw away the swarm hosts though. Although they are not the key unit in the late game, they can still be useful.

The Zerg late game composition against sky Protoss should consist of ultralisks/hydralisks/swarmhosts/corruptors. If the Protoss is getting voidrays, you will need more hydralisks than normal. There isn’t much to say here. Just remember to continue expanding, and always be ready to tech switch. Be ready to produce your hive tech when it is available as well.

Using Mutalisks

Mutalisks are one the best tools in the Zerg army. Here we will teach you how to use them effectively in ZvP. There are many options that the Zerg has if he decides to go for mutalisks. He can either stick with them throughout the game and base trade when the Protoss army moves out, or Zerg can use them as a harassment tool in order to get out their hive tech.

First thing Zerg should do when mutalisks get out is harass. Find any weak spot in the Protoss base or army, and pick whatever you can off(sometimes this can kill the Protoss as well). Try to distract the army, and take out bases with zergling attacks, or even isolate his army and take out the stalkers. If you do not harass continuously with mutalisks, there is really no point in building them at all.

If the Zerg is planning on doing a pure mutalisk style, where you get 30+ of them, he will be looking to base trade in order to win. Since you know this is inevitable, be prepared. Send drones over the map to build random hatcheries, rally your units safely, and always keep your muta/ling together in order to kill the Protoss base faster. Try hard to snipe all of the probes as well.

If the Zerg is doing the muta/ling/bane into late game hive style, he should be getting hive fairly fast, usually around 13-15 minutes into the game. Spine crawlers are really important, because if the Protoss moves out before the Zerg players hive tech comes out, you need to delay them with spines and mutalisks as long as possible. For this style you only want around 16-20 mutalisks and then start transitioning out. But in general, with mutalisk styles, Zerg should always remember to mass expand while harassing. Zerg should have at least 5 bases by the time the Protoss moves out to try and kill you. He should still harass with mutalisks once transitioned into hive tech, and eventually allow them to die to free up some supply. Don’t just suicide them though; try to get some probes or a major tech structure in exchange for their lives. Also, do not do this before the full transition as you will be very weak without mutalisks.

If you scout stargate tech while going mutalisks, this is still fine, and you can continue making them. Eventually the Protoss will get phoenixes, so be prepared for this. Zerg can do a few things once seeing the Protoss getting phoenix. The Zerg can keep going mutalisks, and eventually add some corruptors, or he can transition out and go with swarm hosts, roach/hydra, or infestors.

Roach/Hydra Composition

When gong for roach/hydralisk, the Zerg is going to eventually need vipers and corruptors and eventually brood lords for the late game. The point of this style is to keep the Protoss deathball small with engagements and aggressive play. As such, Zerg wants to trade cost efficiently with this style.

Do not just sit back with this composition; the longer the game goes on the weaker this composition gets. Make sure to go hive decently fast so you can add vipers to the composition. Roach/hydra/viper is good as long as there are no templar on the field. Once templar hit the field, the viper’s effectiveness drops really fast as feedback instantly kills them, or at minimum takes all their energy away. If Protoss has no templar, blinding cloud on the stalker/immortals is great as well as abducting the colossi.

If the Zerg player is able to do damage all game and trade cost effectively, he should be able to get brood lords out fairly easily. Once they are out, the game can be ended. However, it is very important to keep the void ray count down as these will be able to deal with the broodlords very easy. Also, try not to let the Protoss mass up a huge count of templar and colossi, as this is also hard to deal with.

The Late Game

This section is going to be a general overview of the late game.

If the Zerg starts with mutalisks, a common transition into higher tech will consist of zergling/baneling/ultralisk/infestor. When starting mutalisk/zergling/baneling, this is the most common transition. However, you still want a greater spire for the possibility of a tech switch. Since the Zerg has air dominance, the Protoss will most likely not have tempests or void rays, and you should be able to make broodlords.

An example of this would be if he has mass archon/colossi/immortal/zealot with some templar for storm. Zerg would want to get brood lords against this composition instead of going ultra/ling/bane/infestor. But if Protoss is going stalker/colossi/templar, then you would want to go ultralisks, as they are very strong against this composition. The trick here is to understand when you should be going broodlords and when you should be going ultralisks. If Zerg starts out with ultralisks, this does not mean he should not add in broodlords at some point, especially if Protoss is not getting that scary sky toss composition, and is making a pure anti-ultralisk army.

If Zerg is going swarm host/hydra/corruptor, he may want to get brood lords first. If your corruptors are alive and the Protoss has no air, the Zerg should get a greater spire and morph the corruptors into broodlords. Zerg will essentially have killed him if he doesn’t break out of the contain by the time broodlords are morphed. If Protoss has air, then Zerg should get ultras out, but not too many. You can build just a few to soak damage so that splash doesn’t kill your hydras or start killing your swarm hosts if Zerg can’t retreat for whatever reason. Most of the time Zerg will be transitioning into ultras, but brood lords are a good option as well.

Hopefully this is clear, but if not feel free to shoot us some questions for clarification.

Best way to Fight Sky Toss

The dreaded skytoss consists of tempest/voidray/templar/colossi (normally tempest/voidray with templar or colossi, sometimes all four). This is a composition that as a Zerg you want to try as hard as you possibly can to prevent them getting. We will explain the best chance you have at beating this composition if he does get this as we all know you can’t stop them 100% of the time from getting this composition. Your best bet at fighting this is corruptor/hydra/ultra/viper, or corruptor/hydra/swarm host/viper. If properly executed it still might not work, but you have a better chance with this then any other composition. The reason for making swarm hosts or ultralisks, is that you need a way to prevent the Protoss AOE damge from killing your hydralisks/corruptors. They will be able to kill the colossi/templar, and tank the splash damage instead of the hydralisks and corruptors. The locusts are great at tanking and dealing damage, making it easier to engage. You also have to split your hydra/corruptors so that any storms that get off don’t do full damage to all of them.

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