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Zerg has one major advantage on the ground: Almost all of its ground units burrow. This advantage can be manipulated very well. Burrow must be researched by the Hatchery/Lair/Hive, and only the Lurker can burrow without the ability being researched.

Finding Expansions[edit]

Zerglings are very easy to make, fast, small, and can burrow. This makes them perfect for finding expansions. When Burrowed at a mineral depot, they can be an early warning sign if your opponent decides to expo. If the Zerglings are Burrowed right, the opponent will not know a Zergling is there, but will build their expo in a more inconvient spot (buildings must be built a specific distance from the resources, and can not be built on top of burrowed units). However, Terran Command Centers can lift off and reposition themselves to a more favorable position, so this does not work against Terran.


The key to ambushing is to make the right combination of units: Hydralisks, Zerglings, and a Defiler is a choice combination. The Zerglings engage in melee while the Hydralisks Engage from afar. If things get too messy, the Defiler can cast Dark Swarm or Plague. Using Dark Swarm will render your units virtually invincible, since only melee units can hurt them. This is especially useful against Terran, where the only combat melee unit is the Firebat, not normally used en masse. Cast Plague on the enemy at the start of the fight to reduce their health more quickly. Against armored units your Zerglings may need the extra help.

Zergling Micro[edit]

Zerglings are a key unit early game and it is vital to get the most out of them that you can. Zerglings require more attention than most melee units as they are quite weak and oftentimes if a simple attack-move command is issued to a place that requires them to go around a natural or artificial obstruction, they will attack in a single-file line thus giving the enemy the opportunity to kill them 1 at a time. If they aren't killed instantly they'll start to spread out, but much slower than if you do it yourself.

An easy way to get around this is to rally your troops before going into someone's base... tell them all to meet right outside of it, then once they have all gathered you can attack. If you are attacking a small group of troops, tell your zerglings to run *past* them, then as they begin running by and surrounding them, tell them to attack. This is especially important for a group of marines and medics.

Also, if they there is a choke point or blockade which will only let your zerglings through one-at-a-time and they have a small force behind it, tell your zerglings to move through it, then tell your zerglings that are through it to attack. Otherwise they may patiently wait behind one-another while only the front zergling attacks.


Plague on a tightly-packed group of marines can temporarily reduce their hp to 1 even with medics healing them. Also large group of science vessels can be devastating to a Zerg, plaguing them will get them down to 1 hp and make them easy to dispose of with a single mutalisk.

Dark Swarm can be exceedingly effective against marines when combined with zerglings, lurkers, or ultralisks. In open areas, the Terran can just move his units out of the cloud, but it is a very effective base-breaker.


The lurker is the only unit that can burrow without having to research it. Burrowed lurkers can drastically help a Zerg player, as they can decimate M&Ms and other infantry units while remaining relatively invulnerable.

When using them for base defense, place them at random places around your base, not just at the entrances. This will prevent your enemy from simply running past them with ultralisks, archons, or other tough units. Placing them near important structures ensures that attacking units will be taking damage constantly.

Lurkers are the most helpful units when guarding your own base against ground units. They are not meant to press your enemy, or to assault bases (although you can use them against new enemy outposts or to compliment your army during a large push). For example, in an assault with a large amount of zerglings and hydralisks (i.e. 60 zerglings/12 hydralisks) with some lurkers behind them, most of the force will be felt by the quicker units. The lurkers would take extra time to place and burrow, but once in place, would provide powerful ground cover. If you have burrow researched, you can more heavily micromanage your zerglings and hydralisks to keep them alive.

Enemies using splash damage units are most dangerous to lurkers and burrowed units. Watch out for reavers with observers and siege tanks (with or without science vessels). Since these units can kill most of your units in a single shot, and siege tanks can target the ground, going against them with burrowing units is typically not a good strategy.

Build Orders[edit]

Source: This build order archive was created by TwoTimer at

Build orders are designed to best thrust you into your midgame pump. They create a good mining economy, give you credible rushing chances, and prepare you to expand. Any map with patches normal distance away from the Nexus/CC/Hatchery can adapt these build orders as printed.

  • Pay attention to any special commands or building placement, both are also a part of a successful execution of a build order.
  • Any specific matchups the build can be used against are also included.
  • Any special map conditions will be noted (such as long distance between mains, air map, hybrid map). The default condition is ground map.
  • Please assume workers are being produced between any gaps in number in the build order (unless it specifically says not to make any workers).
  • Any special mining situations will be expressed (such as more than 9-patch mains).

These are a generic set of builds that might alter slightly per map. They are not all specifically designed to be used on Lost Temple. If you practice the build, make sure you do it on multiple maps so you can see the differences. Note that the supply numbers are approximate, they might vary slightly per map, especially the deeper you get into the build.

A note on vocabulary for newbies: "Expo" is short for "Expansion", i.e. a building near a resource pool outside your main base.

NOTE: The following builds were specifically made for maps apart from the fastest money maps.


Cerver 4 Pool Rush (Cerver Pool)[edit]

Matchups:ZvP, ZvT, ZvZ

Theory: 4 Pool, long considered to be an All-In build, has become somewhat unpopular on smaller maps such as Destination, and almost unheard of on larger ones such as Python. However, this build named after Cerver, the player who created it, gives you an early rush that has potential to destroy an opponents economy or kill him outright ,with a economy that suffers less than most 4 pool builds, giving you a very good chance to recover. However, it should not be used unless you have a good idea on where your opponent is.


  • 4/9 (Start) - Spawning Pool
  • 3/9 - Drone (Mine as soon as it gets out and you will have almost exactly 150 if not a bit more when Pool completes)
  • 4/9 - 3 sets of Zerglings (Rush as soon as these come out, you'll often completely suprise your opponent and catch them off guard)
  • 7/9 -> 9/9 - Drones (Set to mining)
  • 9/9 - Overlord
  • 9/17 - Hatchery
  • 8/17 - 3 more sets of lings (For defense)
  • 11/17 - Extractor (Set 2-3 Drones on as soon as it completes)
  • 10/17 -> 13/17 -Drones
  • 13/17- Lair and make Zerglings as necessary

From here you are free to develop and continue as you would any game. Against Protoss, it is often worth it to make an Evolution chamber and a Spore Colony near your mineral line to protect your Overlords before you develop a second Hatchery.

Zerg 7 Pool Rush[edit]

Matchups: Zvz, Zvp, Zvt, Multiplayer, close locations

Theory: This is very much a risk/reward build in 1v1 play. It is best meant for 4 player maps or less, where you can figure out where he is by the time the lings pop out their eggs. It can be done in any matchup, and in multiplayer, but locations must be close. In general you are going for early harassment, the point of your attack will vary for each race. To begin, scout with your overlord to the nearest base. Keep in mind if you use this strategy, your economy will be very weak compared to your opponent, so if you fail to do significant damage to him, you'll be at a huge disadvantage later.


  • 7/9 - Spawning Pool
  • 7/9 - Overlord (as usual, best to scout with this one and your first Overlord)
  • 8/9 - Scout with drone
  • 8/17 - 6 Zerglings
  • 11/17 - 2 Zerglings1

1Optional, you may also go with a drone here.

In Zvz, if you get to his base and his pool is not done, target his spawning pool with your lings. If it is done and there are eggs, take as many drones as you can before the lings pop out. For Zvp, he will have a zeal that just popped out, or is about to. If his gateways are powered by one pylon, you can take out the pylon and force the zeal to address you. If the zeal is by himself, you can take it on. With decent micro you will not lose a ling in the process. A good protoss will have scouted you and placed the zeal in his economy so his probes can surround and suffocate the lings. Here just harass his buildings and try to force the zeal to come out. Zvt is a similar process. He should have enough SCVs to kill the lings, so don't let your lings become surrounded by them, just harass supply depots and his SCVs to stall his mining, and make sure he doesn't get a marine or two planted among his workers. Do not try to kill barracks unless you have no other choice, as all he has to do is lift to prevent you from killing it. If he walled, target the depot while adding more drones and an extractor to begin teching. If he has multiple barracks, try to take down his supply depots. This will prevent him from making more marines or SCVs until he can rebuild them. In multiplayer this build is fine, but watch out for counters. Make sure your partners got your back and can protect you from a hardcore zealot rush while you catch up in economy.

Zerg 9 Pool Speedlings Rush[edit]

Matchups: Zvp, Zvz, Multiplayer, close locations

Theory: One of the classic and original zerg builds, 9 pool speedlings has withstood the test of time and continues to be a viable build today. For Zvp speedlings followed by harassment is normal (you may pull some or all drones off the extractor if you wish), while in Zvz starting a lair with the first 10 mins is normal. In multiplayer this was a popular build, but the ovy-hatch builds are more common now. This build is enhanced greatly by the presence of close locations.


  • 9/9 - Pool
  • 8/9 - Drone
  • 9/9 Extractor
  • 8/9 Overlord, Drone
  • 9/17 Place 3 Drones on gas until 100 for Metabolic Boost, then return drones to mineral line
  • 9/17 - 6 Zerglings (Scout with drone when pool finishes if you have not found the enemy as of yet)

When the extractor finishes, pluck three drones off the minerals and get some gas. When you get 100 vaspene in Zvp, upgrade speed for your lings while you harass and add a second hatchery. You may transfer some or all the drones back to minerals for a spell while your mineral-based economy rebounds. For Zvz, lair tech is fashionable since you can survive for a while with that few drones and catch up later once you have all rushes guarded.

Zerg 9 Pool Hatch[edit]

Matchups: Zvp, Multiplayer

Theory: This is a newer build tailor made for ZvP, although it has some uses in multiplayer as well. Here the pool is delayed for a while in favor of an overlord so extra drones can be made to support a faster 2nd hatch.


  • 9/9 - Overlord
  • 9/9 - Spawning Pool
  • 11/17 - Hatchery
  • 10/17 - 6 Zerglings (Scout with a drone here if you wish)

These lings are more of the harass and defensive type, with the second hatchery at the ramp or in an expo even. From here you can immediately go for gas and begin to tech, or you can continue to amass lings and drones while your hatchery warps. The exact build of course varies now that you have lings.

Zerg Muta Rush[edit]

Matchups: Air, Hybrid

Theory: This is one of the standard builds for zerg on air and hybrid maps. It leaves enough gas for a muta pump, while getting the drop/speed upgrades one at a time.


  • 9/9 - Overlord (Scout with this overlord as well if the other one did not find him as of yet, retreat or hide either overlord when you find him so they cannot be found and killed as easily)
  • 9/9 - Extractor
  • 12/17 - Spawning Pool
  • 14/17 - Lair
  • 15/17 - Hatchery
  • 16/17 - Overlord1
  • 18/25 - Spire
  • 18/26 - Drop Upgrade
  • 21/26 - Overlord

1For Zvp an evo chamber and a creep colony will be needed here to defend against corsairs (spore), this can be done at a later time in the other two matchups.

When you reach this part of the build, start saving larva so you can make six mutas (may add in some scourges if Zvz) when the spire finishes. The third overlord came early so you can have enough supply to fit in all of the mutas. When the first upgrade is finished, on hybrids you can slow drop a drone to expand (if the expo is close on pure air you can do it here as well). Against protoss it is wise to get two pairs of scourge so you can pop their stronger corsairs. Use a mix of muta and scourge to control double stargate corsairs until you have ovy speed as well.

Zerg 12 Pool Build[edit]

Matchups: Zvp, Zvz

Theory: This is a simple ovy-pool build that has a great range of flexibility. You can gas up at any time after the pool is down, hold larva for lings, or power drones until the pool completes for a good economy.

Build: (Larvae save for lings)

  • 9/9 - Overlord
  • 12/17 - Spawning Pool (scout with one of the drones)
  • 12/17 - Extractor (optional, but recommended)
  • 11/17 - Hatchery
  • 10/17 - 6 Zerglings

This is a nifty build to rush/harass while acquiring reasonably fast tech.

Build: (Power drone variation)

  • 9/9 - Overlord
  • 12/17 - Spawning Pool (scout with one of the drones)
  • 12/17 - Extractor (optional)
  • 13/17 - Hatchery

When the pool finishes, you may make lings in pairs if need be. The pool will be done fast enough to hold whatever any other race can throw out at you.

There are so many variations for Zvp and Zvz that it is really fruitless to talk about each. This is a very general guide in this case.

Zerg 9 Hatch 9 Pool Fast Expo[edit]

Matchups: Zvp, Zvz

Theory: This build from the theoretical standpoint differs for each of the matchups, especially when it comes to what follows the opening. It allows a very fast expo hatch in such a fashion that creep should be there before enemy troops arrive with a sacrifice of economy. You could do this build in a Zvt, but there are expo builds that are more effective econ-wise for that matchup. For Zvp this is the safest fast expo build, but of course there are other, more aggressive ones.


  • 9/9 - Overlord1 (When ovy is half done send drone to expo)
  • 9/17 - Hatchery in expo
  • 9/17 - Spawning Pool
  • 11/17 - Begin saving larvae²
  • 10/18 - 8 Zerglings

1If you can fit in a quick extractor trick where you lose only a few crystals maximum, then you can and it wont affect the build at all. If you can't, then do not try and just follow the above build. If you do try it, it will be a 10/17 hatch as a result.

²You can think about adding an extractor here. You do not have to put drones in it as soon as it is done, however. In Zvp you can quickly collect 100 gas for speed upgrade than send them back to minerals to bring back up the economy.

From here you shouldn't need a sunken colony right away since the 8 lings that pop out should be good enough. If you find that he is not rushing, do not make the lings. Options that are available is to add a sunken, quick extractor at expo, and tech hard, while scouting to determine how many extra lings you have to fit in to hold any rush attempt. In Zvz fast tech is necessary so your spire is not later than his, or you will have serious harassment problems with muta and/or lings.

Zerg 9 Hatch 11 Pool Fast Expo[edit]

Matchups: Zvp, Zvt

Theory: This is the "safe" Zvt fast expo build where offensive bunker is more easily defended, but beware that amassing of tech units will take slightly longer because of the sacrifice in economy if he tries to test that expo with a rush(you will need to spend money for at least one sunken). Scout well to make sure you do not make sunkens you do not need. In Zvp this is another decent fast expo build that is safer than the 12 hatch - 11 pool version.


  • 9/9 - Overlord1 (send drone to expo when overlord is half done, scout with this overlord as well)
  • 9/9 - Hatchery
  • 11/17 - Spawning Pool
  • 12/17 - Hold Larvae for zerglings²
  • 12/17 - 8 Zerglings

1 Here you may do a extractor trick for the 10th drone. If you are not well versed at doing it fast enough to make it worth the slight cost in minerals (if any if you are really fast), do not do it. In this case the extractor trick will make it a 10/17 Hatchery.

² You may include an extractor at this point, you may wait until the expo is up, then make a pair of them simultaneously.

Again you will have 4 larvae ready to morph when the pool is finished. If he decided to tech, then do not make any lings, and begin teching hard while continuously scouting.

Zerg 12 Hatch 11 Pool Build[edit]

Matchups: Zvp, Zvt, Zvz, Multiplayer

Theory: This is arguably the most popular zerg opening in Brood War right now. In Zvz it can be done if the enemy does not find you right away, you can expo with this build in Zvt (much more riskier in Zvp) and its perfectly fine for multiplayer. This yields both a good eco, and larva for lings.


  • 9/9 - Overlord (Scout with overlord when it completes)
  • 12/17 - Hatchery
  • 11/17 - Spawning Pool
  • 13/17 - Extractor1
  • 12/17 - 6 Zerglings
  • 15/18 - 2 Zerglings
  • Overlord

1In Zvt if you expo make sure you have a drone at the expo ready to make a sunken. Rally both hatches at that moment to the expo as well. You should send this drone now, since it is around here where most offensive bunker rushes begin. Should you be a victim of this, send a couple other drones to kill the scv, it is the most important part of the rush, and make sure the hatches are rallied to the area.

From here you can harass with the lings in Zvp, and think about expanding and teching with your gas. You can even go 3 hatch ling into a sauron-style zerg. It is best to get a sunken and try to push out as many drones as possible in Zvt along with hard tech; the lings are indeed optional. Make sure to go lurks if he tries to rush, and if he techs go muta should there be a cliff above the expo. What you do from here is really up to you, and rather flexible.

Zerg 3 Hatch Pool[edit]

Matchups: Multiplayer, FFA

Theory: This is an aggressive, risky build that if successful will give you an excellent economy that can support a heavy speedling rush. This build is best suited for multiplayer games or FFA. A double toss or zerg rush can put this build in serious jeopardy if you are paired with a terran. It is best to be paired with a quick rusher in order for this build to work. Now if they scout you late, then most likely you will be able to pull off this opening.


  • 9/9 - Overlord (scout with this ovy)
  • 13/17 - Hatchery
  • 14/17 - Hatchery
  • 14/17 - Spawning Pool (scout with drone)
  • 14/17 - Extractor
  • 13/18 - Overlord (begin saving larvae from this point)
  • 13/18 - Creep Colony (near mineral line)
  • 13/26 - 10 Zerglings, Sunken

Use defensive techniques such as blocking off the sunken if you are rushed and waiting for the lings to come out. From here upgrade speed, lair with the 2nd set of 100 gas, and you should not need any more drones and can pump pure ling until its time to expand (this is the beauty of this build order). With three hatches pumping ling, the lings will add up quickly and you can deal what can be a fatal strike on unwary opponents.

Zerg 3 Hatch Ling Rush[edit]

Matchups: Zvp, Multiplayer

Theory: This build has lost some popularity in Zvp in favor of tech builds, but its still thrives in multiplayer games. It is not the power build that 3 hatch pool is, but it is a much safer way to have three hatches pumping ling. However, the ling pump will not be as strong as in the other 3 hatch build.


  • 9/9 - Overlord (scout with this overlord when it completes)
  • 12/17 - Hatchery
  • 12/17 - Spawning Pool
  • 13/17 - Extractor
  • 13/17 - Hatchery (Save larvae)
  • 12/18 - 8 Zerglings1 (scout with drone)
  • 16/18 - Overlord

1You will not have 200 ready to morph them all, you will have to make them as money allows.

From here once you have 100 gas, upgrade speed, then put the drones back on minerals so you can support lings from the 3rd hatch when it completes (you may mine another 100 gas for lair, but then it will sacrifice your pump somewhat). A sunken is not included in this build because you will not have the cash for it. Pump lings from the three hatches, but make sure to tech in a timely fashion so your lings won't get owned by tech combinations (MnM, Zeal/Goon, or Zeal/Arch). Usually sauron-style zerg emerges from this type of opening from 4 or 5 hatches.


Sunken Colony[edit]

The Zerg have two different types of defensive structures that drones can be morphed into. Each one is specialized, one for air and one for ground. The sunken is stronger both in damage and hit points than other race's defenses. The downside is that its rate of fire is lower and it costs 175 minerals: drone (50), creep colony (75), sunken colony (50).

Against Terrans, place 4 to 6 at a choke. A marine and medic rush can destroy a Zerg otherwise. Against Protoss, 3 to 5 along with some zerglings will stop any early rush. Against Zergs sunkens are less important, 2 or 3 at most.

Spore Colony[edit]

As mentioned in the sunken defense section, Zerg uses two types of defensive structures; one for air and one for ground. Spores alone, once detected, will be quickly done away with a drop or simple ground forces if not reinforced with guardians or maybe ultralisks. They are basically ineffective against any large air force even if massed and ready. What I use for my air defensive positions is 4 spore colonies, 12 hydralisks, with a devourer and mutalisk combo to really provide the offensive destruction. Good luck all!


Lurkers need to be detected to be damaged. So if you place it near a spore colony, observers and other detection units will be unable to detect the lurker. Spore colony, sunken colony, and lurkers used to defend is sometimes called a "cowboy defense."


After the Spawning Pool, Zerg players have three options: make more Zerglings, create a Hydralisk Den, or mutate into a Lair. Creating more Zerglings is used to counter the use of Dragoons and Hydralisks. The Hydralisk Den is used to counter fast techs to air units, firebats, Zealots, and M&Ms via Lurkers. The Lair is to open up another available tech tree.

After the Lair, there are three more options: create a Spire, evolve Lurker Aspect, or create a Queens Nest. The Spire is used for the production of Mutalisks, which are used to counter Zealots, Dragoons, Firebats, and Reavers. Lurkers are used to counter armies of M&Ms or zerglings, or massed low-hp units in general. The Queens Nest enables the production of Queens, used with Spawn Broodling to counter Tanks, and also to tech to Hive.

After the Hive Tech, three more possibilities present themselves: Greater Spire, Ultralisk Cavern, and Defiler Mound. Greater Spire allows for production of Guardians, for mounting a final attack involving a steady crawl with Hydralisk or Mutalisk support, and the Devourer, used to counter flagships. The Ultralisk is used to mount a final attack a different way, by taking the hits of the enemy while zerglings and hydralisks in tow cause huge damage. The Defiler Mound allows for the research of Plague, Consume, and a +50 Defiler Energy Buff. Plague is used to counter flagships and to weaken enemy defenses, while Dark Swarm (learned by default) is used to cover Hydralisks defending from flagships and to cover Zerglings as they attack the enemy base.