Zerg Micro Tips
Zerg v Protoss
Zerglings v Scouting Worker
If you want to hide Tech on a map that has a ramp between your main and natural, put two Zerglings on hold on the ramp. This will prevent the worker from seeing your Tech.
Many times workers will move around the back of your minerals. Take two of your Zerglings, and intercept the worker, trapping it behind your minerals and giving you at least a few extra hits.
As soon as you have Zerglings, attack the worker, then shift-deselect one of them. Now, allow the Zergling AI to continue chasing the worker while you control the remaining Zerglings. This makes it especially difficult for the enemy to keep his worker alive, and makes it easier to trap and/or corner the scout.
Normally, the worker will auto-run away when you attack it with a Zergling. But if you walk up next to the worker, and let it attack you first, it will not run away. Surround the worker with Zerglings, letting it attack once before you begin attacking.
This situation occurs when you are able to get Zerglings inside of a Protoss base. To make the most of this situation, you want to have speed upgrade. The best build to get into this situation is the 9 Pool Speed build or the Overpool build (with Zergling Speed). Typically this occurs against a FE build.
(1) Probes: kill as many probes as you can. You'll have a few seconds before the first zealot pops.
Usually it's best to target Probes one at a time. Only attack-move if you don't see him stacking. As soon as he stacks, quickly back off. You don't want to be caught in a tangle of attacking Probes. As soon as Probes begin to acquire different patches, run in and kill again. Repeat as often as necessary.
Once a Zealot comes to help, you'll have to change your micro a little. Instead of darting in and out of the Mineral line, when the Zealot comes to attack, move around the back of the Mineral line, and attack the Probes on the other side of the Mineral line. Another option is to move away, luring the Zealot away from the workers. When the Zealot is far enough way, dart back and kill a Probe while the Zealot comes back to the workers. Repeat as often as you can.
If you have more than four Zerglings, it might help to separate them into two groups. One group has two or three Zerglings, and darts in and out of the Mineral line killing Probes. The other group can attack the other side of the Mineral line for quicker killing, or can attack the Nexus or stray buildings.
(2) Nexus: If he sends all of his Probes to his natural, target the Nexus immediately. If you can take out a Nexus that early in the game, it's pretty much GG. Any moment that cannot be spent attacking Probes should be spent attacking the Nexus.
(3) Stray buildings: Use your judgment here. If he has a Cannon protecting his workers and/or multiple Zealots, attack stray buildings. Almost any building will do, but if he has, say, one Pylon powering two or three Gateways, that makes a good target. Tech buildings (Cybernetics Core, Stargate, Citadel of Adun, Templar Archives) make good targets too.
Early-game Zerglings v Zealots
If you have at least a 4:1 ratio of Zerglings to Zealots, engage them. Set up a flank if you can, and surround and kill any stray Zealots.
If Zealots have +1 Attack, and you don't have any armor upgrades, avoid engaging, or run back to Sunken Colonies. You will get slaughtered if you try to engage directly.
If you are forced into a fight against +1 Zealots with no upgrades, make sure you have Sunken Colonies. If Sunken Colonies don't stop them, and you haven't Teched to Mutas/Lurkers, congratulate your opponent because you are the victim of a well-executed timing attack.
Zerglings v Base w/ Cannons
This one is tricky, and depends on the number of Zerglings you have, and the position and number of Cannons. However, for up to eight Cannons or so, you can do the following:
(1)move the first control group in all the way to the farthest Cannon. Attack-move with the second/third etc. groups (2)Once the first group reaches the back, attack-move to collapse and attack the Cannons.
If you have Adrenal Glands upgrade, and at least +2 Attack, you will shred the Cannons. If you have +3 armor, that's even better, as Cannons will take three shots to kill a Zergling.
If you have time, split your Zerglings among the Cannons. Grab clumps of four or five Zerglings and have them each attack a different cannon. If you have a 4:1 or 5:1 ratio of Zerglings to Cannons, this is the fastest method.
Hydras v Observers
Hydras do 10 explosive damage, which does 50% to small units. Observers are small units, but their shields take full damage from all attack types.
Observers have 20 shields and 40 HP. So that's 20/10 = 2 hits for shields, and 40/5 = 8 hits for their HP, making 10 hits total. So, for reference, it takes ten Hydras to one-shot an Observer. So if you have ten hydras in range, they can kill an Observer in one hit. It will take five Hydras to kill an Observer in two hits, so keep that in mind. Six Hydras is a good number, since the Observer may regenerate one shield in between the two hits.
If you see an Observer in range of your Hydras during a battle, select ten Hydras and you can one-shot it, or select five to six Hydras and you can two-shot it; this kills the Observers as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Using Zerglings Late Game
If you have a group of Zerglings that comes across the Protoss army, look for High Templar to try and pick off. This will help reduce Storm for when your armies engage.
Always engage Zerglings v Dragoons if they don't have any support.
If there are Reavers attacking your army, send over small clumps of two to four Zerglings to the Reaver. That way, the Reaver wastes Scarabs on two or three Zerglings rather than punching a large hole in your army. Time the clumps so that they run over and attack the Reaver just after it fires a Scarab.
Hydra Cannon Break
First, check if there's anything that can be targeted outside of the Cannons' range. Usually this will only be a Gateway or Forge at most. Inch your Hydras closer and closer until they are within range, then put them on hold. Putting on hold is good because they will target the building, but will also switch to any units that come to within range.
When you're ready to kill Cannons, move in, kill a Cannon, then quickly move back to deal with any units that are brought forward. DO NOT target the Cannons with more than the necessary number of hydras. If you try to target one Cannon with too many Hydras, the Hydras will try to move around buildings and units to kill the cannon, taking unnecessary damage. Depending on the size of the choke, only eight to ten Hydras are necessary.
The moment you break his Cannons, kill as many units as you can. If he retreats, move in further and kill Probes. If he retreats units and Probes, kill the Nexus. DON'T waste time with any other buildings, as soon as the Nexus is killed, move into his main to kill more units and Probes.
Muta/Scourge v Corsair
You can group Scourge and Mutas together when fighting Corsairs. The best way to minimize splash damage is to first move directly on top of the Corsair, then attack. As soon as you start attacking, select small clumps of two or three Mutas and move them to a different side of the Corsair. Smart players will back their Corsairs off and attack again, forcing you to split your Mutas again. Repeat as often as necessary.
If he runs with his Corsair, hit-and-chase with your Mutas all the way back to his Cannons/Archons/Dragoons, then back off.
Finally, don't engage if he has as many Corsairs as you have Mutas. He will slaughter your entire air army and will take minimal losses.
Muta v Archon
Many times your opponent will protect his or her workers with an Archon. However, Mutas have +1 range over Archons, so with careful micro, you can hit an Archon without being hit back.
NEVER ATTACK-MOVE MUTAS INTO AN AREA WITH ARCHONS. Archons will auto-acquire your Mutas over just about anything else, and kill them quickly.
If there is an Archon guarding workers, snipe Probes from the other side of the Mineral patches that the Archon is on.
If in a big battle with Mutas and Archons, micro the Mutas away from the Archons and attack other units until they are dead. If you can't do this, retreat your Mutas away from the battle until the Archons are dead, then move in.
Dropping Against Protoss
Drop is typically not researched until after Hive. The reason for this is because Zerglings/Defiler/Ultra are the best units for dropping.
When doing a Zerglings/Defiler/Ultra drop, the best technique to use is Move-Drop. This way, your units will be spread out to avoid Storm, and will also be spread out to kill defending Cannons more quickly.
If you drop at an expansion, place a Dark Swarm over the Nexus first to kill it quickly. If you drop at his main, key Tech buildings, namely Forge, Templar Archive, Robotics Facility, and Observatory are important targets.
First and foremost, NEVER BURROW LURKERS THAT ARE CLUMPED TOGETHER. One Storm can deal 500-1000+ damage if you clump your Lurkers.
When setting up a contain, space out Lurkers so that each Storm only hits at most one Lurker.
During a battle, the fastest way to space out Lurkers is to:
1)Give a move command (or attack-move if they're grouped with other units) to your group of Lurkers. Pick a spot such that each burrowed Lurker along the way will be able to deal damage.
2)While the Lurkers are moving, individually select each Lurker and burrow it.
Shift-deselecting your Lurker group is too time-consuming to perform in the midst of a battle, and isn't recommended.
Sunken Colonies have a range of 7, and Lurkers have a range of 6, so if you're defending a base with both of these, put the Lurkers 1 in front of your Sunken Colonies. That way, Dragoons attacking your Lurks will also take damage from the Sunken Colonies, and vice versa.
Defilers are hard to control, because they are slow, defenseless, have extremely few HP. They will often charge into the enemy doing nothing if you attack-move them with a group of units.
As for Swarm, it's pretty easy, put a Swarm over any Ultras, Zerglings, or Lurkers that are attacking the enemy. If the Protoss army retreats, WAIT until they turn back around and fight before laying down another swarm. Too often, players cast five or six Swarms when two or three would suffice. If you're getting hits with your army, and your opponent retreats, don't waste Swarm.
Anytime your Defiler is nearby a clump of Protoss units, Plague them. ALWAYS shift-queue a move command to retreat your Defiler after a Plague.
When dropping Defilers along with Crackling/Ultra on an enemy base, put a Swarm down next to the Nexus. This will enable your Zerglings/Ultra to quickly kill the Nexus without taking damage. After you kill the Nexus, cast Swarms over Cannons if you have enough Energy.
Generally, when engaging an army with Defilers, you can attack-move them along with Ultras and Zerglings. Since those units are faster than Defilers, they will engage the army before the Defilers, so the Defilers won't die immediately. As soon as your army engages, begin microing your Defiler(s).
Remember to use Consume BEFORE you engage your opponent. A good technique is to check rally point(s), which will usually have both Defilers and Zerglings, and Consume there. Then, hotkey up your army and move out.
Defending bases against Archons
This most often occurs when Protoss opts for a Fast SpeedZeal/Archon Push, usually either skipping Stargate entirely, or making only one Corsair. You will need at least two Sunken Colonies at each point you think Protoss will attack. Continually follow his army with Overlords, or if there are enough safe spots, just put Overlords everywhere you can.
If you went Mutas
Pick off as many Zealots as you can, being careful to avoid any Archon fire. If he's not moving, or he starts retreating his army, move back to his base and try to pick off any recently built High Templar. When he engages, you need to be ready. Send in all the Zerglings/Hydras you can. PAY ATTENTION TO THE ARCHONS. Command all of your Sunken Colonies to attack one Archon at a time. If you can't focus one at a time, then at least make sure your Sunken Colonies are only attacking Archons. After engaging with your army, select clumps of Hydras and have them focus down the Archons. While doing this, you need to keep darting in and out with your Mutas and killing Zealots. Whatever you do, don't let Archons near your Mutas, avoid them at all costs. Just one +1 Archon attack does 33 + [5 * (number of Mutas - 1)] damage, which can be up to 88 damage for a stack of twelve Mutas!
If you went Hydra/Lurker
Same as above, target the Archons with Sunken Colonies, focus the Archons with Hydras, burrow Lurkers and let them do their thing, and attack-move Zerglings into this army. Snipe Observers when you can. Remember to dance small clumps of Hydras back as you are able.
Zerg v Terran
Muta v M&M
Ah yes, the ever-popular Muta micro. This changed dramatically during the July era due to the discovery of stacking Mutalisks. See the Muta Harass guide, as it is a detailed, comprehensive guide on using Mutalisks, especially against Terran.
Zerglings v Marines (Early-Game)
You can still take on small groups of Marines before you get Zergling Speed. Just make sure you don't send your entire control group of Zerglings after one Marine. He will micro them away, and the other Marines will get free shots. Split up your Zerglings, two per Marine. He won't be able to micro all of them, and will have to retreat them all away to a choke or a ramp.
Scourge v Science Vessels
Always look for stray Vessels during fights, or attempting to make raids on your workers. The best way to master killing Science Vessels with Scourge is to master Scourge Cloning.
To kill Vessels that are sticking too far out from the Ball, group the Scourge with Zerglings. Since Scourge do not have a ground attack, Marines will auto-acquire the Zerglings instead of the Scourge, allowing the Scourge to kill the Vessel.
LurkLing v Tank push/Mid-game Terran Ball
When you move your army into position, put the Zerglings a bit farther away from the Ball. When you move your control groups in, move the Lurker group right before the others. Since the Lurkers are a bit slower, and a bit closer, they will arrive at the same time as the Zerglings. That way your entire army engages the Ball at the same time.
When moving Lurkers, make sure they burrow within attack range so that they can target the Tanks. This will force the Terran to unsiege and move back, or end up losing the Tanks. Once the Tanks die, Terran will be forced to retreat his M&M away from your Lurkers.
If you know you have superior numbers, move your Zerglings past the Marines. Then, when the Marines try to run away, attack-move into them to prevent them from running.
Just as Muta control is important during early-mid game, Defilers are important during late-game. You MUST become good at Defiler control in order to get good at late-game ZvT. Practice this as much as you can. All of the Defiler's abilities should be fully utilized to win.
Swarm: Swarm renders everything except Tank-splash and Firebat-splash useless. Place Swarms so that about 75% of it covers the Ball, and 25% extends out towards your army, ensuring that your army doesn't die while trying to close in on the Ball.
After you place your first Swarm, your opponent will start to retreat. DON'T haphazardly place your second or third Swarm. WAIT until you see which way he moves his forces. Then place the Swarm close to your initial swarm, BEING CAREFUL not to overlap. (Overlapped Swarms = a few pixels closer to a base you could have been.) The only time it's good to pre-place your second or third Swarms is if the Ball is backed into a corner, and has nowhere to run, or only one direction to run. In that case, put the 2nd/3rd Swarm down quick to block them from escaping.
If Swarming from multiple directions, place a Swarm for each direction (i.e. if flanking from three directions, three initial Swarms should be placed).
Since Terran effectiveness is maximized when its Ball is packed as tightly as possible, they are especially susceptible to Plague. Plague whenever you can, but don't use Plague at the expense of Swarms. Here are some tips for using Plague:
(1)Plague Vessel groups - The single most devastating use of Plague is to take an entire cloud of Vessels down to 1 HP. Vessels have 200 HP. A Plague cast on eight Vessels does approximately 1600 damage! Very deadly. Make one or two Mutalisks to clean up the Vessels. Mutalisks are best because each attack bounces twice, which kills up to three one-hp Vessels per shot.
(2)Plague the Terran Ball BEFORE engaging - The purpose here is to weaken the army before engaging. However this will rarely happen against a good opponent because A) Terran will likely have his Vessels out hunting Defilers, casting Irradiate on them before they can get within range, and B) The Terran ball will likely have Sieged Tanks, which have a range of 12, which is greater than Plague's range of 9, which will kill the Defiler before it gets a Plague off. Still, if you are quick, and catch the Terran when his Tanks are un-sieged, a Plague can do massive damage. If you have Metasynaptic Node researched, and your Defiler has a full 250 energy, you can place a Swarm, walk under the swarm, and Plague the Ball.
(3)Plague the Terran Ball AFTER engaging - This is what most pros do. After attack-moving your army into the Terran Ball, and/or casting Swarm, individually select defilers that have enough Energy and Plague the army. Be sure to place the Plague so that it doesn't hit your own army. Always try to Plague behind the front line if possible.
If you see a Vessel about to Irradiate one of your Defilers, quickly launch off a final Swarm or Plague if you can before the Defiler goes to waste.
ALWAYS get the energy upgrade for Defilers. Defilers are one of the only casters who can fully utilize 250 Energy. Casting a Swarm (100 Energy), and then walking under it to cast Plague (150 energy) is absolutely devastating, and the only thing Terran can do is be quick enough to Irradiate and have the Defiler die before it gets its spells off, or get lucky and the Defiler happens to die from Tank splash while under the Swarm (or mass Firebats, but that rarely happens)
Late-game Hive army v Late-game Terran Ball
This is really just a combination of the above tips: Pushing your Lurker/Zergling groups into the Terran Ball, using Defilers, and killing Vessels with Scourge, all at once.
Set up a flank if you can, hotkeying as much of your army as possible. You can group Defilers together with your Zergling/Ultra groups. Attack-move into the Ball. If you have Lurkers, move them either under a Swarm, or close enough to target Tanks before burrowing. Immediately after attack-moving, launch Swarms. After launching one or two Swarms, start cloning Scourge to kill Vessels. After that, if you are quick enough and have enough Energy, start launching Plagues. Lastly, continue placing Swarms as the Terran retreats. With practice, each of these steps will become like second nature, until you can do everything in about two seconds. GL, this is the hardest part of engaging large late-game armies in ZvT.
Using Fully-Upgraded Zerglings
Once you have maxed upgrades (3-3) on your Zerglings, you have a force to be reckoned with. For a mere three actions (drag-select 12 Zerglings, 'attack', left-click on mini-map) you can send only 6 Supply to completely raze an undefended (or poorly defended) Terran base. USE IT. Unlike Protoss, who have 0-Supply cannons, Terran has no way of efficiently defending a base without using Supply. Use this to your advantage; as soon as late game hits, and you get the Adrenal Glands upgrade, you should be constantly sending groups of Zerglings out to stop Terran expos. Since Zerg will have way too many units/Hatches to accommodate everything within your ten hotkey groups, constantly send out Zergling groups to go expo-hunting in between microing your army and macroing from your Hatches. It will help your multitasking tremendously and will cut down on Terran expos. Since Terran wants to keep his entire army in the Ball, if he is able to take an expo without devoting any ground defense to it, he will always attempt to do it. FORCE him to use his army to defend his expos. Twelve Zerglings will always beat any Terran 6-supply equivalent (except for maybe 4 Marines/Firebats in a Bunker with a Tank), so you shouldn't have to compromise your army to deflect Terran expos in the late-game.
Zerg v Zerg
Zerglings v Zerglings
Don't engage Speedlings if you don't have Speed upgrade yourself. In fact, if you don't have Speed, it's probably not a good idea to wander outside of your ramp/choke in the first place. There isn't much micro you can do here, just position your army so that Zerglings don't get stuck behind other Zerglings, and run around not attacking. The battle will pretty much be decided by speed, upgrades, and who flanked and who didn't. However, after engaging, if you have the hand speed, select groups of two Zerglings and have them target one Zergling.
Zerglings v Undefended Base
"Undefended Base" means that you are able to get into his base with your Zerglings while his Zerglings are not there. Now what? First off, check whether there's a Sunken Colony protecting his workers. If it protects all of his workers, don't worry about workers. The exception is, if you have enough Zerglings to kill all of his workers even with a Sunken Colony there. If you have that opportunity, take it. Trading your Zerglings for all (or almost all) of his workers will always work out in your favor. If he's protected by a Sunken Colony, check and see if there is a building that ISN'T protected by Sunken Colonies, such as an Extractor, Spawning Pool, or Spire. If you can take that out, kill it. Since Mutas are so important in ZvZ, sacrificing a few Zerglings to take out the Spire is also worthwhile.
If he has all of his buildings and all of his workers protected by Sunken Colonies, it's still probably best to try and kill as many workers as possible. Just don't lose a large number of Zerglings doing it. You'll have to use your judgment here. As long as you don't lose a large number of Zerglings, trading Zerglings for enemy Drones is always a good idea.
Drones v Offensive Sunken Colony
This is not a common situation, but it is still good to know what to do if someone tries to do this to you. If you get hit with an offensive sunken, don't panic. Pull off three Drones per Colony and immediately begin attacking the morphing Colony. Lay down a Colony of your own if you haven't already. Once Zerglings hatch, defend yourself with both Zerglings and Drones.
Three Drones is the optimal number, and will kill a Colony just as it finishes morphing into a Sunken Colony, IF you attack the Colony as soon as it is laid.
Muta v Muta
Use your group of Mutas and focus on one Muta at a time. Shift-click all of the opposing Mutas, so that your Mutas will switch as soon as they kill one. If you can see which Muta of yours is being focused quickly enough, select it and back it away, to give your Mutas free hits. This battle is also almost always determined by number and upgrades.
Scourge v Muta
Not much to say here, always put two Scourges per Mutalisk. If you have a group, clone them whenever enemy Mutas are within sight range and you have the opportunity. If you have a group of Mutas, and also a group of Scourges, it can help to have your Scourges move-follow your Mutas.
In a battle where your Mutalisks engage along with your Scourge, it is advisable to assign only one Scourge per Mutalisk - since that will leave the enemy Mutalist close to death, your own Mutalisks can finish it off, and your Scourge damage is maximized.
Muta v Scourge
If you have a lot of time on your hands for practicing, and nimble fingers, you can abuse a glitch in the Scourge AI by using your Mutas. To see how this works, please see the Mutalisk vs. Scourge Control page. It is a very detailed guide on fighting Scourges with Mutalisks.
Muta/Scourge v Muta/Scourge
This is probably the most common type of battle you'll face in ZvZ. For this type of battle, you want to put one Scourge per Muta, not two. Scourge do 110 damage, so one Scourge will put a full-health Muta at 10 HP. So, for 25 Minerals/ 75 Gas/ 1 Supply/ 1 Larva, you can take two Mutas (100 Minerals/ 100 Gas/ 2 supply/ 1 Larva each) down to 10 HP. This will allow your remaining Mutas to clean up. This is the most economical approach to taking down opposing Mutas, but it is very micro-intensive.
Muta/Zergling v Hydra
Unless there is a very large number of Hydra, Muta/Zergling should beat Hydras easily with a proper flank. Never attack a ball of Hydra at a choke. Only attack when you can flank from at least two separate directions. If the opponent never comes out of his base with Hydras, you should win through economic advantage and map control.