The Terran versus Zerg match-up is a tough one, especially with the early game power of the reapers over zerglings and drones. In the early game you will basically have two paths to go.
If the Terran player goes for a gas build, he will rush reapers, to counter this you need to go for a gas build and rush the speedling upgrade since the speedlings are faster than the reapers.
StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm Zerg Vs Terran Build Orders and Strategy
Creating roaches straight away will be a huge burden on your economy so you need to counter the reapers harass by scouting and a bit of micro:
- 9 Overlord
- 15 Hatch
- 16 Pool
- 16 Gas
- Pull drones off gas at 100 gas and rush ling speed
- 6:30 third hatch
- 6:30 put drones back on gas
- 6:45 second gas
- 7:00 third gas
- 7:15 Roach warren, Double evolution
- Fourth gas
- +1 melee and carapace
The terran will most likely go gas build because the reapers are very powerful early game. You won’t be able to fight back properly until you get a queen out. The speedlings will help you scout, avoid damage and chase the reapers. Therefore, you need to pull drones off gas to collect more minerals. Droning should be your primary concern in this match up. Get three queens instead of four in the gas build. Reserve one for creep spread.
If the Terran does not go gas, you can follow the more standard build,
- 9 Overlord
- 15 Hatch
- 16 Pool
- 4 Queens
- 36 third hatch
- 6:00 double gas
- 7:00 third gas
- 7:15 Roach warren, double evo
- +1 melee and carapace
The +1 melee and carapace upgrade can be replaced by ranged upgrade if you scout that he is going mech. If you can’t scout or if he is going bio, it is best to go melee and carapace.
The baneling nest can be replaced with some other situational build. It is to help you against unexpected terran attacks. You can get infestation or spire depending on the situation and preference.
Surviving Early Game
Rush speedlings in case of a reaper rush, however, it would take some time for you to get your speedlings out. In that time, the reapers can wreck havoc if you don’t micro them effectively. Use your drones to fend off the reapers till then. Once your lings spawn, put your drones back to work and fend the reapers off with the zerglings.
Once the queen spawns, this is when you can really engage the reapers properly. Use your zerglings in conjunction with the queen to micro the damage and heal back up. Keep spawning zerglings because the reapers will target your queen once the zerglings are down and you cannot afford to lose a queen.
You can even turn the fight on to the terran and if you manage to get the reapers down, you can start your own harass. Beware, if the terran rushes only one reaper, he might be rushing hellions next, you might want to consider roaches if this is the case.
If you are doing well so far, you will be in a safe position and have some map control. You can then go for the third hatch and transition into mid-game. However, there might be some immediate threats.
Once the early rush is fended off, the terran might transition into widow mines. To counter this you can send zerglings to harass the natural. However, instead of sending multiple, send one zergling at a time so that you lose one zergling for every mine.
In case of widow mine drops, it would be best to build spore crawlers to fend off the attack. The spores will also help you against the drops which will Micro your workers to safety and detonate it using a zergling until you have a spore out. Don’t waste too much of your droning time.
Another possibility is a terran bio consisting of hellbats. With proper map control, you can see these attacks coming. If you have only zerglings and banelings out you can be heavily countered. This is a very powerful cheese and you might have to lose the third base to buy some time. Getting out some roaches will fend off the attack effectively. Don’t over-drone if you scout out the attack, instead, rush roaches even if your economy is a little burdened.
If you fend off this attack effectively, you will be far ahead of the terran in the mid-game transition. You can rally your well built army to attack the undefended terran base, or you can safely go for a fourth base.
Mid-Game and Late-Game
The medivacs are very fast and can cause havoc combined with a decent bio army rush. To counter drop plays, you need to have some spore and spines up before you can take your army outside the base. Make sure to have some zerglings and banelings around in case things take a turn for the worse.
This is the best way to deal with drops and far more effective than expending your army to fend off the attacks. Also, if you are pushing with your army along with the defenses in your base fending off the attacks, you can do a lot of damage.
Scouting is also key, not only to see incoming attacks but also incoming techs and builds. Get the overlord speed upgrade and spread your overlords. With the speed upgrade, you won’t lose your overlords to the terran Vikings. The Vikings are fast and can wipe out your overlords leaving you dangerously supply capped in the worst case scenario. Therefore, getting the speed upgrade before sending a lot of your overlords to scout is really important.
The bio and widow mine combination is incredibly powerful and difficult to deal with. With the drilling claws upgrade, the mine can burrow in 1 second. And with bio defending it, the mine will be impossible to detonate unless you use more than one zergling.
You will need to spend a lot of resources into detonating one mine and then there is the bio, this is what makes the combination so deadly. You will need to get out your mutalisks along with a steady supply of zerglings and banelings and some roaches to tank it all.
You should try to flank the terran army and attack micro your army to reduce the impact of the widow mine. Also roaches are good tanks and coupled with a few lings, can make sure the mines are detonated.
The Swarmhosts are a new unit in Starcraft HoTS and they are amazingly effective against widow mines. The locusts spawned by the swarmhosts are certain to detonate the mine, just make sure the swarmhosts themselves are out of danger.
A good transition would be mutalisk, zergling, baneling to swarmhost. This will deal with both the mines and the terran drops. The swarmhosts are an effective late game unit and can be used to slowly suffocate the enemy, given they remain out of danger.
An effective strategy against bio that zerg might consider with good map control is to get out a lot of mutalisk and go ultralisk. The mutalisk are great against drops but can be destroyed by a two or three mine which is why overlord scouting is so important for this to work.
Flanking is the ideal way to attack rather than a straight on rush. You will eventually get your ultralisk out and get a lot more power. If you get a greater spire at this point, you can switch to brood lords and back to ultras to counter the terran counters and frustrate him.
However, this build is only good considering that the terran is going bio, if the terran is going mech, your mutas will be heavily countered and you should switch strategies immediately.
You cannot fight the mech in an all out battle, rather, you need to get map control and suffocate the terran of resources to cripple him. The swarmhosts are irreplaceable for this role. Not only will they give you a threatening map control, but they will soak up the damage from the mech and stop their push. Have some roaches and mutas to back the locust push.
Flanking and clever play is the way to go here and with the positional advantage of the swarmhosts you will have a much easier time.
Once your hive is finished, get out some vipers and add them into the locust push. You need to contain the terran till your vipers spawn and a strong number of swarmhosts should keep the mech pushed back, giving you enough time. Micro the vipers to use their clouds and abduct units from the enemy line, then retreat when low on energy.
As you engage, make sure to have a spore at each base and some spine crawlers to detect and deal with drops. The terran will make Vikings to deal with your viper which is fine as long as you get the blinding clouds out and wipe out the rest of his army. Restock on vipers after the engage.
Although fighting with mech is slow, you should be able to slowly starve the terrans with your constant waves of locust and disable them with the blinding clouds. By stopping his expansion, you will have an economic edge over the terran and should be able to win in the end.
Once you have a strong mid game, you can transition into broodlords and ultralisks accordingly. Finally, your late game composition should have ultras, zerglings, banelings, swarmhosts and infestors and vipers.
For defensive play it would be a good idea to start off with banes, lings, roach and swarmhosts and transition into late game. Infestors will help you deal with being kited and are good against medivacs as well.
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