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User:Mystlord/Zerg vs. Terran Guide

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[e][h]Zerg Zerg Ultralisk/Zergling vs. Bionic Terran
The Zerg vs. Terran Matchup
Strategy Information


Zerg vs. Terran pits the Swarm against the Terran Ball in a fast paced match-up. This article discusses all aspects of the match-up, opening builds as well as early, mid, and late game strategies that Zerg may employ against Terran. This guide will also try and cover the most likely moves the Terran player will make and how you should respond to them, but if you really want to improve in this match up you have to know thine enemy.


The current Bionic Zerg vs. Terran metagame has stayed relatively constant for a long time. The Zerg army is extremely weak until the late game, when it can be supplemented by Defilers and their spells. Therefore, you should aim to delay your opponent with first Sunkens or Zerglings, then Mutalisks, and finally Lurkers until Defilers are out.


In its early stages, the match up was played completely different than the current way, particularly due to the fact that the Magic Box had not been discovered yet, and Defilers were not used commonly. The match up remained relatively stable until JulyZerg started to stack Mutalisks, thus allowing Zerg players to exercise greater control over Mutalisks, which opened up a completely new dimension in the metagame. Terrans were placed on the back foot due to this discovery. However, the match up eventually stabilized after Terrans began to build more Missile Turrets and build more Marines and Medics.

The rise of proper Mutalisk control opened up various new paths for Zerg. The major impact of this technique was the ability to delay Terrans for an even longer period of time than before. Therefore, while Terrans were still struggling to fend off Mutalisks in their base, Zerg players were able to mass expand up to 4 gas expansions and secure a huge mid and late game advantage.

Terrans had difficulty fighting back until they became accustomed to dealing with Mutalisks and Lurkers, and they enjoyed a period of relative ease. This trend was continued by the introduction of maps (Longinus and Reverse Temple in particular), where the naturals were wallable. This meant that Terrans could secure an extremely quick and safe expansion. Therefore, Terrans stomped Zergs for the majority of this time period as Mutalisks could not delay Terrans enough to secure 4 gas. Zergs were on a major losing trend until Savior introduced the 3 gas Hive build, which meant that the Mutalisks did not need to delay for as much time as before, so Zergs were able to secure multiple wins. In addition, Zergs began to favor a low gas army until Ultralisks, which stomped Terrans for the majority of the time.

Zergs enjoy a period of dominance until firebathero shows that a low gas army to secure 4 gas expansions is not a viable strategy as Terrans can use a "divide and conquer" idea, where they don't allow Zergs to gain map control by playing extremely aggressively. Zergs are thus stuck until the rise of the Crazy Zerg build. This build conserves a lot more gas than the 3 gas Hive build, so a lot more Ultralisks can be built, thus stomping the Terrans easily. Unfortunately, the build is short lived as Terrans pull out a 7 Rax timing push designed to destroy the Mutalisk harass and bust through the Zerg's sunkens before Ultralisks or Defilers are out.

Fortunately for the Zergs, the primary map used during this period was Blue Storm, which in it's 1.1 iteration, was extremely Zerg biased. Zergs were able to capitalize on the map's advantages by introducing the 2 Hatch Muta build, which allows Zerg players to stomp Terran players with exceptional Mutalisk control. When Blue Storm is removed from the map pool and gets replaced by the most imbalanced ZvT maps of all time (Colosseum, Othello, Tiamat, Wuthering Heights, and to a certain extent Andromeda), Zergs get crushed. Zergs are unable to find any proper response, and despite a period of experimentation where Lurker first builds were used, Zergs are unable to find any proper response to the current Terran play style.

Zergs finally are able to rediscover and redesign the 2 Hatch Muta build, allowing them to fight on par with Terrans. The current trend with 2 Hatch Mutas and Terran Bio is relatively even, with the win rate for TvZ hovering at 50%.


Zerg vs Bionic Terran[edit]

The general game flow for ZvT Bionic goes like this:

3 Hatchery Play[edit]

  • An early game that is characterized by building two quick Hatcheries and primarily relying on Sunkens for base defense.
  • Mutalisks force the Terran player to stay in his base.
  • Lurkers force the Terran player back into his base.
  • Once Terrans get a Science Vessel, they push out of their base, and the Zerg player tries to delay the Terran player by slowly retreating.
  • Zergs attempt to delay the Terran player until Defilers are out and Consume is done.
  • Zergs fight to gain control of a fourth gas base while Terrans try to actively deny that while taking their own third base.
  • Once the fourth gas base is secured, Ultralisks join the fray and the game becomes a fight for expansions.

2 Hatchery Play[edit]

  • An early game that is characterized by a quick Hatchery at the natural, followed by Zerglings or Sunken Colonies for defense.
  • Mutalisks (More common) or Lurkers (Generally all in) attempt to deal economic damage/kill the Terran while a third gas base is secured.
  • A generally Lurker heavy army is formed and forces the Terran player to stay in his base while the Zerg player attempts to power Drones to restore his economy.
  • Hive is quickly researched for Defiler tech. On some maps (Outsider and God's Garden), Ultralisk tech can be researched first instead.
  • Zergs fight to gain control of a fourth gas base while Terrans try to actively deny that while taking their own third base.
  • Once the fourth gas base is secured, Ultralisks join the fray and the game becomes a fight for expansions.

Early Game[edit]


Unless you are going for an All-In build, then the aim of the early game is establish an expansion and get to Lair Tech. Selecting a Spawning Pool first build will allow you to apply pressure to the Terran player, punishing any exceptionally greedy builds or at least forcing a Bunker and keeping them on their toes. On the other hand playing Hatchery first allows you to establish a stronger economy. In this case you may need to rely on Sunken Colonies to deflect early aggression, but keeping an eye on your opponent's choke will let you see if they are moving out and avoid making them unnecessarily.

Scouting / Triggers[edit]

In the early portion of the game, it is necessary to first determine whether he is going for a Bionic style of play or a Mechanized style of play. The difference is easily spotted if he gets a quick Refinery as opposed to expanding. Another indication is the lack of a Command Center, but at that point, the Vulture is likely to be out already and en route to your base.

Ultimately, it might not be possible to determine which build he is going for. An Overlord sacrifice might be necessary to determine his tech. However, if you scout him early with the Overlord or are able to sneak the scout into his base before he is able to fully wall off, then you can determine his tech choice without sacrificing an Overlord.

Besides going Mech, another few important factors to look for are Command Center timing and Barracks count with your Drone scout. You must determine whether he is going for a 1 Rax or 2 Rax build, as that will determine Sunken and Zergling count. For a 1 Rax build, the first Sunken can be delayed until maybe 20 or more supply, and the second can be delayed even later. For a 2 Rax build, the first Sunken will have to be built at 18 and the second one around your 2nd gas timing, depending on when the Terran player moves out.

As for the Command Center timing, it might not determine too much, but it is possible to force the Terran to build a quick Bunker by sending Zerglings towards your opponent's base.

After these initial factors have been scouted, it is crucial to keep a Zergling or an Overlord right outside of the Terran player's choke. The Overlord must be protected somehow, either by a cliff or inaccessible terrain. You must know when the Terran is moving out with his forces. The scout outside of his base must be kept alive at all times.


Pool First[edit]

There are a number of possible trade-offs here between economy and early Zerglings. The most extreme options are 4-pool and 5-pool, however they reduce one's economy so much that they are All-In builds and as such are dealt with separately.

To make a transition to mid-game viable a 9-pool or later is used. Generally, Pool first builds are never seen against Terran because the Zerglings do not force anything other than three SCVs on the ramp, which does not accomplish too much. However, on non-ramp maps with a wide choke such as Medusa, the 9 Pool build can end the game, although it generally depends on the position at the Terran spawned at on such maps.

Note: 'The Extractor Trick' refers to building an Extractor, building a drone, and then cancelling the extractor, allowing the Zerg to get to 10/9 supply.

Hatchery First[edit]

This build leads to either 2 Hatch or 3 Hatch builds, which are discussed later (A link must be placed here when the section is up)


Mid Game[edit]


Zerg vs. Terran midgame consists of the Zerg player attempting to delay the Terran player as much as possible and Zerg must secure a third gas base going into the late game. In order to do this, two Lair tech units, Mutalisks and Lurkers, will feature prominently into delaying the Terran until Hive tech is reached.

Scouting / Triggers[edit]


Mutalisk Based[edit]

The aim of these builds is to force the Terran player to stay in their base and defend, by constantly threatening their base with your Mutalisks. Killing SCVs and Medics is the ideal situation, and picking off lone Marines if your micro is good enough. When in doubt play cautiously, alive Mutas apply pressure even if they aren't killing anything, dead Mutas don't.

Luker Based[edit]

Lurkers should take advantage of the Terran's limited detection before vessels to contain the Terran forces in their base. The real goal is the same as Mutas though, buy time for your expansions and Tech.


I can't actually think of any other remotely viable builds right now. But if there are any they would go here.

Late Game vs Bionic[edit]


Scouting / Triggers[edit]


Defiler / Ultra[edit]

Guardian / Ultra[edit]

Essential Techniques[edit]

Scourge Use[edit]

Scourge are used for two main purposes in this match up, sniping [[Science Vessel|Vessels] and intercepting [Dropship|drops]. To deal with Vessels you will need to practise Scourge Cloning, while simply setting them to patrol the area around expansions should deal with drops. Some chat about killing vessels, move in after plagues and stuff.

Hold Lurkers[edit]

By default Lurkers will fire their spines as soon as any units wander into their range. This will usually allow the Terran player to pull the majority of their units to safety. By overriding this behavior to only shoot when specifically instructed to, you can sometimes decimate many more units. The techniques for accomplishing this are detailed in the Hold Lurker article.


Vessel Plaguing[edit]