12 Hatch (vs. Zerg)

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[e][h]Zerg 12 Hatch
The 12 Hatchery FE Build
Strategy Information

12 Hatch in Zerg vs. Zerg is considered to be one of the more risky strategies in modern ZvZ. This build is greedy and aims to obtain up an early economic advantage with a significantly faster second Hatchery. This of course gives the Zerg player twice the number of Larvae. The major drawback to this build is the spawning pool comes much later and thus leaves the Zerg player vulnerable to a 9 Pool (or faster) build. The Hatchery can be placed at either the main or natural. This build is considerably better on maps with long rush distances.

Build Order[edit]

Build Order Clarification[edit]

Zergling Production[edit]

Depending on the information your first Overlord gives you, build extra Zerglings or Drones. For example if your opponent is also going 12 Hatch, you could try to make a few Drones and build a Sunken at your natural to compensate. If on the other hand your opponent is very aggressive, it might be necessary to pump Zerglings non-stop and even skip the Overlord at 16/18 if you need them immediately.


versus 9 Pool[edit]

On a small to moderate size map, 12 Hatch is in big trouble. The 9 pooling player's Zerglings will arrive before your Hatchery finishes and will be able to kill it. Your entire mind set right now should revolve around delaying his Zerglings as much as possible as to minimize the damage you will take. This is why the correct response is to cancel the Hatchery, at the latest possible time, while building a Sunken in your main. Utilize solid Drone drilling to protect the morphing Sunken, try to lose as few Drones as possible. Versus a 9 pool, your sim city will also be key in stopping his attack. A forward Spawning Pool with a Sunken behind it works well as it protects the Sunken, still allows Drone-drilling, and covers your entire base including the 2nd Hatchery you will replace in your main (See picture below).

Depending on the damage you've taken you have a few options:

  1. If you're too far behind: you can try to go for a Zergling all-in, possibly with Sunken support. This will be stronger the more Zerglings your opponenet lost during the fight in your base. Skip replacing the 2nd Hatchery if you've lost too many Drones, get Zergling speed and move out with 2 Drones or so to build Sunkens on his/her creep.
  2. If you barely took any Drone losses and still have your pool: Tech towards Lair while delaying Zergling speed in favor of a slightly faster 2nd Hatchery. Place Spores if you have to defend against incoming Mutalisks while your Spire is building. Invest in a lot of Zerglings and plan a big attack together with a ton of Scourge. If the opponent's attempting to expand or just expanded, s/he might be trying to saturate their 2nd extractor. This is most likely the opportune time for you to strike as s/he will have less Mutalisks and Zerglings at this time-point. In small fights, Scourge can be very effective against Mutalisks as it will get progressively more difficult for him/her to snipe them the less Mutalisks they have.
  3. Again, if you managed to defend very well, you can attempt to skip Zergling speed completely. Replace your 2nd Hatchery as soon as possible and get Spores to defend against the opponent's Mutalisks if it's necessary. Focus on getting as many Mutalisks as possible and attempt to out-micro the opponent before s/he can get any benefit from a second geyser. (See Zero vs Effort VANT36.5)

versus Overpool[edit]

This situation is almost identical as versus a 9 Pool in case it's a small map. On moderate size maps such as Fighting Spirit your fate will depend on whether it's a close-spawn or cross-spawn, and on how fast your opponent can find you (See 1st Overlord Scouting). If it's close-spawn your reaction should be identical to the one against a 9 Pool. The only difference will be that it will be easier for you to defend and his/her Mutalisks will be ~5 seconds later (in case of speed first). If it's a cross-spawn or your opponent fails to find you on time, you should be able to hold onto your natural Hatchery. It will still require a great deal of effort on your side. Your Hatchery will get dangerously low on health (~400-500) if your opponent starts focusing it immediately, her/his Zerglings will gain speed moments after yours arrive at your natural, and the opponent will have reinforcements coming in. Therefore, it is probably best to attempt to build a Sunken in this scenario at your natural to draw the opponent's fire away from your Hatchery. Next it might be necessary to pull some Drones to help defend as losing the Zergling battle at your natural will most likely be game over for you.

versus 12 Pool (regular, 2nd Hatch @ natural)[edit]

12 Hatch is a soft counter to 12 Pool due to the fact that you invest in a later Pool (and an earlier Hatchery) but early enough such that 12 Pool can not put any real pressure on you. Furthermore you have an economic advantage as well as a Larvae advantage, and equal Lair timings!

Your opponent will use Zergling speed to his/her advantage to keep you pinned in your base, while getting a few extra Drones. S/He can not do any damage to you as long as you prevent him/her from getting into your main. This can be effective until you get Metabolic Boost as well. If your opponent over-Droned, you will be able to over-run him/her unless s/he's invested in a Sunken or 2. If your opponent invests in a few extra Drones very early on, you can do the same as this will allow you to take your 2nd extractor much sooner. You could also try to over-run your opponent with Zerglings but be careful as forcing him/her to invest in a Sunken or two is already a victory for you. No need to waste Zerglings while attacking if it's not clear you will come out on top.

In short, use your Larvae advantage to further your economic lead or to overwhelm your opponent with Zerglings. As always, also pay close attention to your opponent's Larvae usage just because you opened 12 Hatch versus his 12 Pool doesn't make you immune! If you repeatedly take bad fights or don't do anything to further your economical lead, it's still anyone's game during the Mutalisk stage.

versus 12 Hatch[edit]

If your opponent opened with the same build order as you, it is a good idea to mirror what he's doing while trying to get away with one or two extra Drones. In a situation like this, the person who gets his Overlords to his opponent's bases first has a big advantage of exactly knowing what they are building. By getting those few extra Drones you can hopefully take your 2nd geyser earlier and will have a Mutalisk/Scourge advantage. Building the 2nd extractor and getting enough Drones to saturate it however is very costly (both on minerals and Larvae), you will most likely need to build Scourge to keep using your gas. Therefore, watch out in case your opponent is showing no sign of taking his 2nd extractor as your opponent can get an overwhelming amount of Mutalisks that way before your gas advantage starts kicking in. Also be careful during the time you place your Spire, your opponent could delay his Spire for some time while investing into more Zerglings to surprise you.

versus Overgas[edit]

Overgas (with Pool at 11) will have a really hard time versus 12 Hatch. Its Pool timing is even later than a 12 Pool but it doesn't have a second Hatchery until much later. Often the player that's going Overgas will forgo Metabolic Boost to be able to afford his 2nd Hatchery sooner and to save another 100 gas. This essentially means you have free reign to Drone up and take your second extractor. Now, his/ her Spire timing will be around 30 seconds earlier, which means you should normally invest into Spores. You could also do a very strong Zergling attack to break his/her ramp and delay your opponent's Mutalisks but this is risky. It will definitely depend on how greedy s/he's being, in other words how many Zerglings your opponent has guarding his ramp and whether s/he has a Sunken or not etc. Due to your second gas, you will soon be able to overwhelm him with your Mutalisks before s/he can secure a second base. However, be very vigilant right after your opponent's Spire finishes. It is possible that s/he researched Metabolic Boost after placing his/her 2nd Hatchery and will try to do a surprise Zergling attack. S/He will use 6 Larvae on Zerglings instead of Mutalisks right as his/her Spire finishes. This could be deadly right as you are investing into Spores and possible making some Drones!

versus 9/10 Hatch[edit]

12 Hatch has a very big advantage against a 9/10 Hatch. The latter trades economy for safety which is disastrous against a greedy opening like 12 Hatch. The economy of a 9/10 Hatch build is essentially so poor that it won't be able to afford to keep more than maybe a single Drone on gas. And even if your opponent decides to keep mining gas, its Lair and consequently Spire will be delayed compared to yours. 9/10 Hatch does start researching Metabolic boost roughly 25 seconds before a 12 Hatch build. In case your opponent is not mining gas, and is building only Zerglings, it is a good idea to invest in a Sunken while also continuously building Zerglings. Your Mutalisks should mean game over for him as your opponent won't be able to afford Spores.

As always it will be important to monitor your opponent's Larvae usage. S/He might try to suddenly switch into a lot of Drones, an opportune time to do this would be during the period s/he has speed but you do not. Even then, it will be very difficult to catch up to you regardless of whether you decide to make Drones as well or Zerglings. Pressuring your opponent with Zerglings can further delay his/her Spire, while droning as well will allow you to saturate your 2nd geyser much sooner.

There's only 2 ways a 9/10 Hatch will have a reasonable chance and that is by surprising you with mass Zerglings if you played too greedily (not getting a Sunken, too many Drones) or in case your opponent scouts you on first try and responds appropriately. If this happens, s/he will be able to make 3 Drones immediately instead of Zerglings and instead get a Sunken at her/his natural. To catch up in Lair timing your opponent will have to skip Metabolic Boost and research Lair instead. Even after all these steps, your opponent's economy is still much worse than yours and s/he won't have Zergling speed. You will be free to Drone and saturate your 2nd geyser.

Overlord Scouting[edit]

On 4-player maps it will often be advantageous to scout in an unusual pattern with your first Overlord if you are attempting to 12 Hatch. When examining Fighting Spirit, there are a few options:

  • Scout anti-clockwise instead of clockwise.

It is standard to scout in a clockwise manner as this will give you vision of the natural of an adjacent main and will thus give you information the earliest. By scouting in the opposite direction, you are assuming your opponent is scouting in a standard manner. If you do not meet his overlord halfway, you can cross-out your opponent being at that location and go through with 12 Hatch-ing. You can also send your Overlord straight towards the other position in an anti-clockwise manner. If you meet your opponent's Overlord on the other hand, it is safer to switch your build into a 12 Pool, which is still possible. Else s/he will immediately know your location, and in case of a close position 9 Pool and Overpool this is essentially suicide.

  • Scout towards the cross-spawn.

This has the same effect, aside from not giving you any information. It can also backfire in case your opponent rightfully assumes you are located cross-spawn. His/Her Zerglings might then come across your Overlord at the center of the map and deduce your positioning from the direction it is going in (not very likely, but it can happen!). Case in point: (See ZerO vs July VANT36.5)

  • Scout clockwise.

This the standard way of scouting. This can be helpful in case your opponent is doing a 12 Hatch or 12 Pool and you would scout him/her on first try. If however your opponent is going for a 9 Pool or Overpool, you have just betrayed your position. If you had scouted in a different manner, s/he would probably have assumed you were cross-spawn and lost a lot of valuable time.

Countered By[edit]

Hard Counters[edit]

Soft Counters[edit]


Both 9 Pool and Overpool can either be soft or hard counters to 12 Hatch, depending on the number of starting locations and length of the map. Wider maps and a greater number of starting locations is in favor of 12 Hatch.

9 Pool counters 12 Hatch harder than Overpool does.

Counter To[edit]

Hard Counters[edit]

Soft Counters[edit]

Notable Maps[edit]




  • Pulling Drones to ward off early Zergling pressure is recommended.
  • Sim-City the Evolution Chamber with the purpose of reducing a Zergling run-by attempt.
  • Whether placed in the natural or main base, a 12 Hatch will delay teching to Lair. Because of this, Spore Colonies will be necessary to defend against Mutalisks. If the opponent goes for a 12 hatch, Spore Colonies wouldn't be needed.
  • The standard for Spore Colonies is two per base. If you went 12 Hatch 1 Base, more may be needed depending on the placement of the Spore Colonies and 2nd Hatch.
  • Spore Colonies should be placed near the mineral line, but not in a way that would disrupt the Drone's mining path.
  • Remember that Spore Colonies are used to buy time while waiting for your Spire to finish and Mutalisks to hatch.

Extra Resources[edit]


This game is an excellent example of the third scenario of 12 Hatch vs 9 Pool. A few notable things ZerO did were: prioritizing Lair, not getting 6 Zerglings, and not getting Metabolic Boost. By making sure he starts Lair on time, his Spire timing would be only ~25 seconds later than Effort's, which means that he could get away with not building Spores (although it can still be risky). ZerO was confident he would hold with his Sunken so he got 1 Drone and only 4 Zerglings instead of the usual 6. By doing this he's already compensating for any Drones he would lose. This is however (only) possible because the rush distance on Match Point from main to main is larger than it is on for example Fighting Spirit (close positions). Finally by skipping Metabolic Boost ZerO saves 100 vespene gas and is able to afford his second Hatchery sooner.

This game showcases what can happen if you elect to send your first Overlord cross-spawn. The game features a 9 Hatch instead of a 12 Hatch.


Tutorials and Guides[edit]

See also[edit]