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Expand Roach (vs. Terran)

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[e][h]ZergFast Expand Roach
Strategy Information
Early-Game Strategy
Popularized by:


This is an economic build that punishes a Terran for going for fast Hellions. It should only be used when you know that Terran is using a tech build such as Hellion Expand.

It is also possible to deny scouting for this build, since it uses a 15 Hatch opening and the Roach Warren is not placed until after your initial Zerglings hatch.


The goal is two-fold:

  • Punish Terran for trying to expand using only Hellions for defense. Roaches counter Hellions, if Terran wants to defend against Roaches your opponent will have to switch to a different unit that counters Roaches such as Marauders, Banshees, or Tanks.
  • Scout Terran's base and units. Once you try to break Terran's ramp your opponent will be forced to defend with his units, thus showing you what Tech route your opponent is going. For example, if Terran went for Banshees then when he defends your opponent's base you will see the Banshees and can react appropriately (your opponent will also have to decide whether or not to use his Banshees to kill your Roaches thus giving you more time to get Queens and Spore Crawlers).

Basic Build Order[edit]

Basic Build
  • 15 Hatchery
  • 15 Spawning Pool
  • 15 Extractor [1]
  • 16 Overlord
  • @100% Spawning Pool, 1 pair of Zerglings and 1 Queen
  • Kill or chase away the scouting SCV, and start Roach Warren immediately after
  • 22 Overlord
  • @ 100% Roach Warren, 7 Roaches
  1. By this point you should know if Terran has taken a Gas Geyser or not. If he has not, or if you see 2 Barracks, do not get gas and instead use your normal response to 2 Barracks builds.

This version sacrifices a Queen for even earlier Roaches:

No Queen version
  • 15 Hatchery
  • 15 Spawning Pool
  • 16 Extractor (1)
  • 16 Overlord
  • 18 Roach Warren
  • 19 Overlord
  • @ 100% Roach Warren, 5 Roaches


This build works best if you are able to deny scouting of the Roach Warren. Seeing a Roach Warren this early in the game is a clear signal that Roaches are coming, so if Terran sees your Roach Warren then when your Roaches arrive your opponent will have either a Bunker with Marauder(s) in it, or Banshees. In either case your Roaches will not be able to do any damage.

Make sure you have killed the SCV or have chased it away before starting the Roach Warren. It may delay your Roach Warren a bit to do this, but the advantage of keeping it hidden is worth the delay.


Make sure you scout early enough that your Drone can enter your opponent's base, so that you can see if your opponent has taken his gas or not. Only proceed with this build if your opponent has. if your opponent hasn't, he is either going 2 Barracks or 1 Rax FE and you need to use a different build.

If you scout a finished or nearly finished Tech Lab on a Barracks, the Terran is going for a Reaper opening. In this case, proceeding with the build is a bit of a guessing game. Chances are that the Reaper will see the Roach Warren before it's completed, and since Terran already has a Tech Lab, making a Bunker with Marauders is very easy. However if Terran continues to make more than 1 or 2 Reapers, Roaches become very good for defending and for pressure. Use your own judgment and discretion here.


Once your Roaches hatch, go attack your opponent's ramp. When your Roaches meet his Hellions, one of two things will happen:

  • Your opponent will try to go around your Roaches and harass your Drones. In this case, move any Drones at your natural to your main, and place your Queen directly in the middle of your ramp to block any Hellions from getting up your ramp until you can get a few more Roaches made.
  • Your opponent will retreat his Hellions. In this case you do not have to do anything and simply follow him to your opponent's ramp.

if your opponent has used an add-on as part of his wall, kill that first. Otherwise, focus on killing a Supply Depot.

Once you are inside your opponent's base, focus on killing any units and workers if you can. If you see a Starport with a Tech Lab attached, and the Tech Lab is glowing, it most likely means he is trying to get Cloak for his Banshees, so try and kill the Tech Lab if possible.

In the event that your Roach Warren is scouted, either by your mistake, or by a scan, you have two options:

  • Cancel the Roach Warren, take Drones off of gas, make your second Queen, and proceed with a non-Roach build. You will not have as strong of an economy as you could have, but you will not be behind enough to hurt yourself
  • Make only enough Roaches to defend against Hellions, and then proceed as if you did a non-Roach build. This can be a bit risky, if you do this your Lair and Upgrades will be delayed but on the other hand you probably will not need to make any Spine Crawlers to defend your natural (and on the off chance that Terran went for a Hellion Drop build, you will be better prepared). Make sure you sacrifice an Overlord to see if Terran is going Banshees.


When your Roaches arrive at Terran's ramp, there are a number of possible things they could see. Based on what you scout, you can then react appropriately.


If Terran went for 1 Port Banshees, your opponent will have 1 Banshee with a second one on the way shortly. If Terran went for 2 Port Banshees, your opponent will not have any when you arrive, but 2 Banshees will soon arrive with 2 more following shortly after.

Try to break the ramp. While you're attacking, take your Drones off of gas, make 2 Queens and make an Evolution Chamber. When Evolution Chamber is done put 1 Spore Crawler in the mineral line at both bases. If he uses his Banshees at your opponent's base to kill your Roaches, you'll have plenty of time to get these up before the Banshees hit your base. If he ignores your Roaches and goes straight for your base it will be more of a base-trade situation but you will have the advantage since your Roaches are already doing damage and you have a second base.


Most often Terran will have 2-4 Hellions with more on the way, and once he sees your Roaches in the middle of the map your opponent will try to put a Bunker up at the top of your opponent's ramp. If Terran went for a Hellion Expand opening you will see a second Command Center in your opponent's base. This is good for you, since this build works best against such an opening. In the best case scenario, none of his Barracks will have any Tech Labs (and thus your opponent cannot make any Marauders), and will not have even started a Starport yet. Your opponent will be forced to scramble by making Marines, and defending with what Hellions/Marines/SCVs he currently has.

If Terran does not make a Starport or Marauders, then you can simply contain him inside your opponent's base by keeping your Roaches outside your opponent's ramp. Kill any Marines or Hellions if they try to come down the ramp.

Siege Tanks[edit]

If you see tanks this early in the game it means your opponent is going for a 1 Base Tank Push. Retreat your Roaches, keep Drones on gas, make Zergling Speed @ 100 gas, put the rest of your gas into Roaches and make Zerglings with your remaining minerals.


Usually if you were able to deny scouting of your Roach Warren, but you still see Marauders when you arrive with your Roaches, it means that Terran went for some kind of 1-base bio attack. Most 1-base bio builds are some kind of Marine/SCV all-in, such as 3Rax Allin or 6Rax Allin. 1-base bio builds that involve Tech Labs are much more rare, but are still sometimes used. In this case, it is almost guaranteed that your opponent is going for a stim timing attack. Retreat your Roaches, keep Drones on gas for another 100 gas to get Zergling Speed, then take them off of gas. Make Zerglings and drones, get at least 1 Spine Crawler at your natural, and get a 3rd Queen.


Pro features[edit]

No map features specifically help this build, although having a ramp helps defend your main from Hellion harass if Terran decides to ignore your Roaches and go for worker harass.

Con features[edit]

Large maps can hinder this build, since unupgraded Roaches are very slow. If your Roaches are spotted early enough on a big map, Terran can have a Bunker finished with Marines or Marauders inside when your Roaches arrive. Also on a really big map you may not be able to get a drone inside Terran's base before his wall is completed, and thus you will not be able to see if your opponent is doing a Tech build or not. Some examples include:

Maps that do not have a standard-sized ramp between your main base & natural will make it difficult to defend your workers if Terran decides to ignore your Roaches and harass your Drones with his Hellions. Some examples include: