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Hatchery First (vs. Zerg)

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[e][h]ZergHatchery First
Strategy Information
Opening, Economic
Popularized by:


Hatchery first is the most economic opening for Zerg, but delays Tech and unit production. For this reason, going Hatchery first versus a Zerg opponent is sometimes considered a risky opening, given that your opponent will be able to put pressure on you with Speedlings and sometimes Banelings. However, following this build will allow you to open with Hatchery first while being safe against a large number of openings, given you are able to scout and react properly.


This build is a defensive one: you will plant an Hatchery before any other building, which will force your opponent to be aggressive to even out the situation if they opened with a Spawning Pool first. Once you have fended off the aggression, you will be able to enter the midgame with an economic advantage. Your opening will depend whether the other Zerg matches your Hatchery first or opens with a Spawning Pool.

Basic Build Order[edit]

Hatchery First vs Pool First
OR Baneling Nest plus Spine Crawler[3]
  • 23 - Overlord
  • 5:00-5:15 - Baneling Nest [4]
  1. This will make you safe against an early pool
  2. If your opponent expands
  3. If your opponent does not
  4. If your opponent expanded
Hatchery First vs Hatchery First
  • 9 - Overlord
  • 9 - Drone Scout [1]
  • 15 - Hatchery
  • 17 - Spawning Pool
  • 17 - Extractor
  • 17 - Overlord
  • @100% Spawning Pool - Two Queens and four Zerglings [2]
  • @100% Spawning Pool - Metabolic Boost
  • 21 - Baneling Nest [3]
  • 23 - Overlord
  1. This will make you safe against an early pool
  2. Use one to scout
  3. (In case of a Zergling all-in)


  • The Spine Crawler is what will make you safe against a 13/13 Baneling all-in: your opponent will have a very large number of Banelings, but hardly any Zergling. In this case, you should block your ramp with two Queens and evacuate the Drones of your Natural expansion.
  • In the case of an early Pool (before 10 supply), immediately cancel your Hatchery and place your Spawning Pool behind your mineral line. For further information about holding early Pool builds with an Hatchery first, you should read Belial's Guide to Beating 6/7/8 Pool with Hatchery First


Good scouting is absolutely necessary to the success of this build, and you will have to use different methods to make sure your opponent is not going to all-in you:

  • Counting Drones at the Natural
  • Zergling Sacrifice
  • Overlord positioning

Counting Drones at the Natural[edit]

  • On the vast majority of the maps, you will be able to send your first Overlord behind the Natural's mineral line of your opponent, allowing you to see how many drones are mining there without being hit by the Queen. A low number of Drones means that an all-in is coming, and you should pre-emptively morph Banelings.
  • Should you not be able to position this Overlord, you should sacrifice it at 30 supply, to make sure an all-in is not coming. This is a bit more costly to do, but will save your life more than once.

Zergling Sacrifice[edit]

  • You should regularly sacrifice a Zergling into your opponent's natural and look at what kills it.
    • An abnormally high count of units means that an attack will hit you soon.
    • A large number of Spines (two or more) could hint at fast Tech (Spire in general).
    • A low unit count could mean a greedy play or an hidden third, in which case you should try to attack.

Overlord Positioning[edit]

  • This is a key aspect of Zerg versus Zerg, and all your Overlords should be able to cover the entire map. In particular:
    • Your first Overlord should be behind your opponent's Natural (see above).
    • Your second should be out of your opponent's Natural, scouting for army movements.
    • Your third should be at the bottom of your Natural, scouting for morphing Banelings, then head toward your opponent's Third.


This opening is not map-dependent. However, a wide-open Natural is something that will make the execution of this build a bit more difficult. A notable example of this is Tal'darim Altar, where the lack of a ramp for your two Queens to wall off makes defending all-ins particularly troublesome.

Replays & VODs[edit]

Zerg Blade Versus a 14/14
Zerg iPBellini
Date: 2012-06-15
Patch: 1.4.3 Replay
Zerg Blade Versus an aggressive Hatchery First
Zerg Meijin
Date: 2012-06-18
Patch: 1.4.3 Replay
Zerg Blade Versus an aggressive Hatchery First
Zerg llllllllllll
Date: 2012-06-18
Patch: 1.4.3 Replay