3 Hatch Before Pool vs. Protoss (Legacy of the Void)

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[e][h] 3 Hatch Before Pool LotV
Strategy Information


The standard response to the Protoss Forge Fast Expand (FFE) is the Pool First, Double Expand (also known as 3 Hatch Lair). "Triple Hatch Before Pool" is very dangerous vs FFE, but it's possible against Gate-FE and Gate-Core-FE.

In LotV this build is common, because FFE with Forge First is rarely played anymore.


Currently, the standard response against Protoss fast expand builds is to take a faster than usual third base (for mining purposes). Using "Triple Hatch Before Pool" is the fastest way to do so. Your goal is to have three Hatcheries, 3-4 gases, a Roach Warren, 1-2 Evolution Chambers, 3-4 Queens, and anywhere from 58-70 Drones at the 8-minute-mark, while maintaining proper scouting (with Zerglings and Overlords) for hidden Pylons, and Overlord scouting the Protoss main and natural.

Basic Build Order[edit]

3 Hatch Before Pool vs. Gate-FE
  1. You should scout after you build your Overlord. If you scout FFE you should abort this opening.
  2. If you opponent plays NexusFirst AND your scouting is very good, you can delay gas
  3. @100 gas: Metabolic Boost


  • Scouting is very important when using this build
  • In lower leagues a Drone-Scout should reveal Cheese- and All-In-Play (e.g. 4Gate)


In LotV many Protoss play Adept in PvZ. Since Adepts can "out-micro" slow Zerglings and Drones, one should scout for builds like 2 Gate Adept Harass.

Otherwise the same amount of scouting as "Hatchery First" after 4 minutes. You can take a late gas as like Life did in HotS, but it is more safe to get Metabolic Boost right away. Upon scouting an early third expansion, you can choose to create a ton of Drones for economy and then attack with three bases worth of Larvae. Protoss sometimes play a fast third Nexus, because a couple of Pylons with Overcharge will defend small amounts of Zerglings.

Scout, what your opponent is doing and develop a mid-game plan depending on what you will scout from your opponent.

Versus a Protoss using a Fast Expand Build, you will have three ways to scout what your opponent is doing:

  • The way Chronoboost is used.
  • The number of Assimilators at the Natural.
  • A double Overlord sacrifice at 5:30, one going into the Main, the other in the Natural.

See the following scouting tips for additional information:

Defending Pressure[edit]

This build relies heavily on scouting the telltale signs of aggression and making appropriate changes to react to it. Between your vision coverage in the early game and your scout with Zerglings, you can get a fairly good idea of what your opponent is doing. This section will cover how to defend against several different types of common pressure builds.

You should watch for a Zealot/MSC and build Zerglings according to your skill level. You should not lose a Queen to this kind of harass.

X Warpgate Rush[edit]

If you scout a 3-Gate/4-Gate on one base, do not play this build. Your Pool is ready about 2:25 and the Protoss might warp in units at 2:55 or 3:00 (using a 4Gate), which leaves just 30 seconds to produce units (and spines). You probably will lose your third base, which you build for a good economy in the first place.

If you scout a 4-Gate or 5-Gate on two bases, you should defend like Life did (Life vs San, see below). Life used a lot of Slow-Lings, tanking damage with a lot of Queens, using Transfuse.


  • This build requires the most attention and scouting after your Metabolic Boost has completed, and while you are trying to make enough Drones to saturate your third expansion. You can build Drones, if he cannot kill your third or harass your Drones anywhere on the map (e.g. Proxy-Pylons, Warp Prism)
  • It is important to see what Tech route the Protoss is going for after expanding, because this will decide how you will spend your gas. The Adaptation section explains this in more detail.
  • Life even uses slow Zerglings to kill Pylons, even if a big fight (All-in) is going on (Overgrowth, see below).

You do not always have to make a large number of Drones early in the game. Some players like to do a Roach/Zergling pressure attack on their opponent in order to kill their Sentries (or at least deplete their energy by forcing some Force Fields).


Staying on Hatchery Tech for a long period of time requires you to spot what Tech Protoss is getting and be able to immediately respond. Protoss has a few different builds and attacks that they can prepare, so being able to scout and respond to all possibilities is key in letting you defend with the minimum number of units required to and to keep up an economic advantage.

If the Protoss plays greedily like NexusFirst with a Gate instead of a Forge, you can delay gas and Metabolic Boost. If your scouting is not that good or you are playing on a 4-player-map, you should not skip it. You could lose a Queen/Drones to even small numbers of Gateway units. Stalker can kite against slow Zerglings.

Replays and VODs[edit]

South Korea  SortOf
Canada  HuK
Date: 2015-11-26
Patch: 3.0.5 VOD
New Zealand  Tileä
Ukraine  WhiteRa
Date: 2015-11-07
Patch: 2.5.5 VOD