The Zerg are the one race that truly hasn’t changed much since the
original StarCraft. Their mainline combat units are strong in
swarms and in surround-based tactics, and die alone horribly.
Even the mighty Ultralisk is subject to this, and can no longer
devastate a column of Terran infantry with ease. Only a few
things have changed about the rank and file forces of the Zerg, but
they’re critical changes that you need to be aware of in order to win!
Fleet of foot, and swift claws
of death. Just keep them away from splash damage.
Cost - 50 Minerals for 2, and 2 consume 1 control.
Build Time - 28 seconds
Combat Stats - 35 HP, 0 armor, light armor type. Deals 5
damage per attack, gains 1 damage per upgrade. Fast movement,
fast attack speed, can be upgraded to very fast in both.
Blindingly fast on Creep. Cannot attack air.
Early Game - The Zergling has been in a strange place for much of the
beta. Many early game builds use two to six to destroy early
scouting, and then transition straight into Roaches. Much
like the original, when you get your spawning pool tends to determine
your Zergling use. Builds such as a 10 pool, or Overpool
(Spawning Pool is placed after Overlord is started) will get
out a pack of Zerglings relatively early for map control, whereas later
builds will go heavier on drones and transition into a powerhouse
economy to make hordes of Zerglings in under a minute!
Zergling rushing is harder than before. AI has been improved
since StarCraft (thank god), and while the Zergling surround AI is
wonderful, it also falls to workers with some clever
micromanagement. The AI will always prioritize combat units
to non combat units, and a SCV that issues an attack move command
instantly becomes hostile and the priority target. It doesn’t
matter if there are 20 idle workers nearby, your Zerglings will
consider this one rogue guy the threat. You must control your
rush absolutely perfectly in order to succeed now.
Mid Game and beyond - Positioning is all that matters when it comes to
using these. You must have a clear area to surround and
brutalize your opponent with these little terrors--no unit in the game
comes close to the amount of damage Zerglings can put out over time,
given they can attack. Open ground is prime Zergling real
estate. You can surround, you can prevent your enemy from
fleeing, and everyone will get a piece of the enemy. At the
same time, attacking a choke point with Zerglings is an exercise in
futility. Don’t do it. You’ll need ranged units to
breach that, and then release the hounds!
Zergling Speed is essential to using these, but don’t forget to expand
the creep as well. Since the surround AI is vastly improved,
Zerglings leaping across the screen will be on top of your opponent, or
behind them, in a second if you’re on creep.
Be really careful when moving a pack of these around. They
tend to get divided. Move short distances, regroup, and
continue if you’re unsure of your opponent’s army
positioning. You do NOT want to funnel
into a line of Hellions almost single file!
Since these deal such little damage, but attack so quickly, upgrading
your attack damage is critical to getting mileage out of a Zergling
swarm. In addition, watch your opponent’s upgrades and unit
composition. If you’re seeing a lot of protoss weapon
upgrades, make sure your armor is up to snuff as well. One
extra weapon upgrade will allow a zealot to 2 shot your zerglings
rather than 3. That makes a huge difference when facing a
line of them!
A pest that moves underground,
regenerates while underground, and takes a beating.
Fortunately, it can't really dish it out.
Cost - 75 Minerals, 25 Vespene gas, 2 control
Build Time - 27 seconds
Combat Stats - 145 HP, 1 armor, Armored armor type. Deals 16
damage per attack with a short range of 3. Attacks rather
slowly, moves rather slowly, can be upgraded to move moderately quick
or move while burrowed. Regenerates very quickly while
burrowed. Cannot shoot air. Gains 2 attack per upgrade.
Early Game - Roaches fit the role of the early game tank-unit, and
excel at it like no other. Roaches are friggin tough, and
cheap for their toughness. However, a Roach barely does more
damage than a single Zergling over time. You aren’t building
these for their damage generally, you’re building them to block access
to your vulnerable rear units.
I may say these are ‘tanks’, but remember that this is an
RTS. You have tough units, but these tough units can still
kick ass. Look at the Zealot, for instance. Roaches
are your dominant go-to for countering Zealots. Without
Charge, there’s no reason a Zealot should ever touch your
roaches. You move faster, you have range, and you can move in
between shots. You can even focus fire to bring individual
Zealots down in one or two volleys.
Roaches are NOT hard counters to Marines or Zerglings though.
Roaches are tough, but they need something behind them in order to
fight Zerglings--some kind of terrain to prevent the
surround. Whether you fight a choke point or form a perfect
line to not let any of them by, that is how you engage Zerglings with
Roaches. Once you’ve taken out a sufficient number of them,
you can just roll over them with an attack move easily enough.
Marines have the same kiting property against Roaches as Roaches do
against Zealots. Until you get the speed upgrade later on,
Marines and Marauders will laugh at you and kite you around with
Stimpacks. A couple Roaches in your army are good for
absorbing some fire to let your fragile units do the work, but they’re
not a workhorse in this matchup.
Mid Game and Beyond - Roaches tend to fall off pretty hard beyond the
mid game. It’s a potent unit, but it has a short range,
consumes a lot of population, and doesn’t do a lot of damage.
What’s more, the number of Armored counters is huge and running into
one will generally mean the end of your Roaches in short
order. You have to be very careful going for these in any
decent number, because you can bet your ass you’ll see an Immortal or
Marauder pack building shortly after it’s scouted.
Still one of the most disgusting
flyers, both in looks and in strength!
Cost - 100 Minerals, 100 Gas, 2 Control
Build Time - 33 Seconds
Combat Stats - 120 HP, 0 Armor. Flying and Light armor
types. Deals 9 damage on each attack, bouncing to 2
additional targets for 3 damage and then 1. Upgrades increase
the initial hit by 1 damage. Moves very quickly.
Can attack ground or air, 3 range
The Mutalisk returns, and with it, the dreaded hit and run
tactics. Just take a look at it in action, and you can tell
some very obvious aspects to abuse.
- The second fastest unit in the skies,
behind the Phoenix.
- Doesn’t have to commit to a long
- Cheap for a combat air unit.
Put two and two together, and a fast pack of Mutalisks is not only
viable and dangerous, but difficult to counter. Speed
kills. Use it! Keep these moving at high speeds and
only attack with one shot at targets before moving on. If you
stop to fire, it takes time to accelerate back to maximum speed.
Mutalisks are incredibly difficult to deal with when well
used. You can hit anything, anywhere, in a blink of an
eye. They require much attention from you though, and leaving
them standing in a brawl will leave you with a rain of blood where your
Mutalisks once were. At the same time, paying too much
attention to these and leaving your base and economy untouched will
cripple you in the long run. Lost larvae are a resource you
can’t afford to have, and while you have your opponent’s attention, you
need to expand as well.
With upgrades, these can terrorize even most anti-air, but you have to
be careful of Light armor hard counters. Thors love
Mutalisks. Thors will shred your pack while spouting bad one
liners. Phoenixes are less of a threat but will still kill
your Mutalisks in direct combat, and if the player is controlling them
well, will attempt to avoid your every move while firing from
afar. Since they can fire on the move and are faster than
you, if you come up against well-controlled Phoenixes. ... just stop
using Mutalisks to fight them!
Run like hell from area of effect spells! Ravens, Infestors,
and High Templar will annihilate if you sit around!
Still the final word in ranged
units, the Hydralisk no longer has a damage penalty versus infantry!
Cost - 100 Minerals, 50 Gas, 2 Control
Build Time - 33 seconds
Combat Stats - 80 HP, 0 armor. Light armor type.
Deals 12 damage per attack, gaining 1 per upgrade. 5 range, 6
with upgrade. Upgrades increase the damage by 1 per upgrade
Can attack ground or air units. Moderately slow movement
speed, fast attack speed.
Probably the heaviest offensive unit in the game in terms of sheer
firepower in numbers, the Hydralisk returns with a vengeance.
The main thing you’ll notice though is that these are much slower than
their previous incarnation. You must expand the creep
vigorously in order to use these effectively. Getting caught
off creep and in a losing battle will result in every Hydralisk likely
going down from the chase afterwards.
Just like the first game also, these are extremely vulnerable to area
of effect attacks. This is related to the previous speed
problem, but with the creep speed boost you can at least evade some of
a Psi Storm. When you see Colossi or spellcasters, you need
to think fast. Can you kill them before they can devastate
you? Can you retreat to a better firing arc? Could
other units assassinate the casters before you send in your Hydralisks?
These are one of the few units that can hit critical mass.
Once a horde of Hydralisks gets going, it takes a lot of splash damage
and some serious stuff up front to stop it. If your opponent
is leaning towards units that fare poorly against Hydralisks, or at
least evenly, go for Hydras and get the range upgrade. Even
if they switch to a splash damage attacker, you can use the Hydras at
somepoint later in your strategy or to clean up once they’ve been
They are rather costly, and for that cost, frail. You must
keep something in front of them, because if anything gets in range of a
Hydralisk, generally the Hydralisk will die in short order.
Keep Roaches around and in front of your units, or if they’re rocking
some heavy anti-armor, Zerglings will do the trick as well.
Pick your fights carefully, much like you would with
Zerglings. Cluster into tiny circles, and Colossi and area of
effect weapons will devastate you in no time. Fight in open
ground where your Hydralisks can form a solid firing line or concave.
Letting loose one of these
behemoths is pretty much the equivalent of a bull in a china shop.
Cost - 300 Minerals, 200 Gas, 6 Control
Build Time - 75 Seconds
Combat Stats - 500 HP, 1 Armor (3 with Chitinous Plating), Massive and
Armored armor types. Deals 15 (+3 per upgrade) damage per
attack, with a bonus of 25 versus armored, and splash damage to units
close by its melee target. Has a building only attack--a
headbutt that deals 75 damage, +5 per upgrade. Also, it can
burrow now! Moderate move speed, fast attack speed.
Late Game - The Ultralisk is still in a bit of a rough spot, but now
serves a purpose. The Ultralisk is your only anti-armored
attack unit in your arsenal. If your opponent is bringing
heavy weapons to bear, the Ultralisk will bring them down quickly.
That is, unfortunately, not how it usually plays out. Most
armored units get a bonus against armored units, and don’t require the
melee range the Ultralisks requires. The Ultralisk is very
effective against packs of Marauders, but one stimpack and a few rounds
of focused fire and an Ultralisk is a bloodstain.
One of the major upsides to the Zerg super unit is its new complete
immunity to stuns and mind control. No longer can
an Infestor or Thor ruin your day effortlessly.
The uses of the Ultralisk remain similar to the first one--with hordes
of Zerglings and support Infestors to hold down targets.
People will target the Ultralisk first. You just have to make
sure your support, or rather, your main army is enough to overpower
your opponent with the help of an Ultralisk to clear a path.
Ultralisks are not effective en masse--they stumble over each other,
they bump into things, and generally fail at getting in position in
Jokes and problems aside, the Ultralisk is a very effective unit at
cutting up hordes of melee units and ranged units that clump up.