ZvT - Strategy Guide.

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Mod Notes - This thread is to help all Zerg players in their fight against the Terran. It has been well-written, enjoy!
I have also formatted the thread as well, so it is slightly more readable.
~ Renzo

I will only be writing one ZvT guide, as I am a devout believer in this style being the most consistent at higher levels. This style takes a decent amount of skill, intuition, and practice to pull off correctly, and as there are plenty of resources for more elementary zvt openings I will not waste my time writing strats for newbies.

The purpose of this build is to maximize economy while minimizing risks to such "cheese" strats as proxy BBS.

Build Order
  • 9 overlord
  • 12 pool
  • 12 hatchery (at expansion)

If opponent techs:
  • 14 gas
  • if opponent 11/13 rax or especially 10/12 rax
  • 16-17 hatch in main or at expo if at 6, then immediate gas after.

If you start at 12, put your second hatchery just below/to the side of the ramp and your third at your expansion.

Now as at this point you have taken the economy route and are NOT in control of the game, you must respond to your opponent.

Early Game
vs Tech:

If your opponent walled off, use your initial lings as scouts and only make drones for now. Sending one ling periodically to his ramp to scout (and always maintaining another just outside out of his vision) is crucial to discovering what he is up to, as you have several vulnerable points and you cannot possibly protect them all and expect to win.

vs Early Wraiths:
If your zerglings see only a few (3-4 at the most) marines being made and no new ones in production, there is an extremely high chance that your opponent is wraith rushing. The only other thing that generally comes from this is fast tanks on your expansion cliff, but if he's stupid enough to do that you shouldn't have much trouble beating him. In any case, it is a possibility and we must cover that end as well. Even if you didn't 3 hatch, your spire will not be done in time to save all your overlords from the inbound wraiths. Since you will eventually switch to hydra later and you aren't worrying about tanks, just drop both a den and a spire, make 3-4 hydra, and wait for spire to finish to start making mutalisks. If your spire is nearing completion, you haven't seen any wraiths, and your scouting his ramp still reveals nothing, he's probably trying to put tanks on your cliff like a dumbass, so drop one sunken by the edge and rape it with mutas when it shows up.

vs Tank Rush
If your zerglings see academy units (or an academy) accompanied by slow marine production (i.e. 4-6 marines and medic(s) or firebat(s), he's obviously spending his money on something, and he's either hiding 3 rax m&m, fast m&m dropping, or tank rushing. Most of the time it's the latter, but in case it is the former you may want to suicide your other scouting overlord to find out since the counters to both are fairly different. If assured that he made an early factory make 24 or so speedlings, but don't let your opponent see them. The less firebats he makes the easier this is. If the tank comes out and you aren't sure you can take his army with a speedling flank (or burrow, if you were just that motivated), leave your army hidden and pop down a few sunks to slow him down and collect muta/speedling until you have enough to kill his entire army at once. The sunks should delay his tank(s) enough to build an army capable of doing this. If he leaves a tank or infantry unit unprotected use grouped mutalisks to snipe it. Once the attack is dealt with, proceed to midgame.

vs one rax M&M drop
Similar to the previous, make some speedlings and follow the dropship around when it gets to you. Since it can't unload on top of a dozen+ speedlings, he'll be forced to retreat in plenty of time for midgame. Often after this I'll skip mutalisks altogether and go straight into linglurker => hydralurker using the spire only for scourge.

vs Metal
Very few people do this anymore, but it's not unheard of. If you see multiple facts, sunk a few times and block your ramp (in case of speedvultures), then start massing mutas when your spire finishes with +1 attack upgrade. If your opponent begins making valks switch to range/speed hydralisks and get upgrades for them, and make a few scourge for the valks to include in your first fight in the middle. Valks cost alot of minerals, so you do not have to worry about any excess of tanks. If he continues on land only, muta/hydra is more than sufficient to deal with any amount of goliaths. Throw in a few lings if you're feeling frisky, it's really not a hard strat to beat unless you get caught COMPLETELY unaware.

vs Two Rax
Since you don't have to worry about anything except marines and medics coming through your choke for now, feel free to skip the zerglings (aside from your first 6) and make drones. Scout his ramp a few times as he may still be tank rushing, and you will need sunkens and/or speedlings to deal with that. If you see nothing but a pile of marines, power from all three hatches while teching to spire, not forgetting to block your ramp if it's exposed with a few lings (3 and 6 positions). Once your spire is done, proceed to midgame and be happy the early game was so easy. Make sure you scout for some dumbass trick like a floating rax in your main or such.

Collect your mutas until you have somewhere around 6, then go scout his main. If he happens to be playing aggressively and doesn't leave more than a few marines to defend his main, feel free to go gung ho on scvs while he frantically runs back to save his base. Speed really helps here, as keeping your mutas alive is extremely essential, but at the same time sitting at home collecting money is also going to get you killed. If you do see a bunker and/or turrets that are too much for your mutas to handle at this point, don't think you actually have to KILL anything with your mutas yet, the fact that he just spent 300 minerals clogging his base up with defensive shit is good enough. Fly around and see if you can't find a defenseless supply depot or scv building something, and try to kill it without engaging any force of m&m that you can't run over with ease. Also if he sends a tank to your expansion it'll often spend much of the journey unprotected, so feel free to kill those as well. In fact, make sure you DO kill those as well. Meanwhile while this is going on, don't forget to pump drones (or lings, if the ****er has you contained) as well as research lurker at the den you should have built around the point you had 8-10 muta. If he commits to getting a tank or two to your expo and you can't kill it (and you should start this when you first get to his base if you see a factory/machine shop working), forget the lurkers and get a massive amount of +1 attack muta. HovZ in particular likes this, because he gets to call you a newbie after he gets raped with it. Since he probably won't have a rine upgrade, +1 mutas en masse have the ability to melt medium to large groups of unupgraded marines and medics. If he did the more common 3 rax with an upgrade (and possibly teching to sci) do the previously mentioned lurker switch. As your lurkers are finished (and if you've been completely chased out of his main by now), hotkey them in a group next to your mutas, and keep them together. Use a ling or your scouting overlord to keep an eye on his ramp, and expo at least once (twice if he's playing defensively and expanding, since massing and trying to kill it as it lands is very risky and will get you killed very shortly if you don't succeed. After you are sure you can protect your new expos, throw down a couple evolution chambers and begin upgrading ranged attack and carapace. get hydra upgrades and start pumping hydralisks. If you lose your mutalisks in a fight as he tries to pressure you, don't worry, you don't need them. Make a few scourge and position your overlords to find a dropship leaving his base, and continue hydralurker production. If you have enough of an advantage already at this point, feel free to get drop research and take the islands, or drop his base when he leaves to attack you. If you end up with more lurkers than you absolutely need, put a couple at your expansions to protect against drops that you or your scourges miss. Continue expanding every time you win a fight in the middle, and if you lose one don't panic, just collect more units and hit his army again when it's vunerable. Remember that you always get to pick the place of the fight, so don't think you have to deal with it immediately if you are waiting for 6 more lurkers to morph somewhere. Zerg can handle losing an expansion or two, just stay in the game and rebuild what you lose. If you both make it to late game, you can get hive for darkswarm and/or ultraling, both of which are wonderful for breaking m&m&tank pushes into your expansions. Guardians are also very good when used with a little bit of ground support, as they do extreme amounts of damage to groups of m&m. By the time the terran reacts his army is often decimated, and you have free opportunity to expand again or mount a counterattack.
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