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Ice Fisher

From Liquipedia StarCraft 2 Wiki
This strategy has been validated to work for patch 1.5.3.
[e][h]Ice Fisher or "Spanishiwa Build"
Strategy Information
Popularized by:
[[Spanishiwa, Day(9)]]


The Ice Fisher - or "Spanishiwa Build"- is a very defensive style that relies on minimal units to spend almost all early Larva on Drones, for a strong two base economy. Gas is delayed until 32 Drones, then all 4 Extractors are taken at the same time; the influx of gas is then used for a very quick tech to Infestors and a plethora of upgrades.

Spine Crawlers (for holding off a 4 Gate, or 3Rax Stim, etc.), an extra set of Queens (for anti-air), and some slow Zerglings (to hold troops at the Spine Crawlers) are the extent of the early game defense so the Zerg can reach 32-40 Drones quickly as reasonable.

Day[9] has described Lair tech as the Zerg's play-ground, this is true in all match-ups. The massive gas income from the four Extractors allows the Zerg to gain quick access to all upgrades. One example is for Baneling Drops => Evolution Chamber upgrades + Baneling and Zergling speed upgrades and both Overlord upgrades for dropping straight into the opponent's base.

Basic Build Order[edit]

If you scout early aggression or 1Base-Play, you need two (or more) Spine Crawler between 20 and 30 supply. Most of the time you build just one.

"Ice Fisher"
9 Overlord[1]
16 Hatchery
15 Spawning Pool[2]
18 Queen
20 Queen
20 Spine Crawler
22 Zergling[3]
40 (32 Drones) Extractor (x4)
  1. send Drone to scout
  2. @100% Queen(2) + Lings(2)
  3. send one Zergling to each Watchtower and one to scout the front

When you get 100 gas, start your Lair and get two Evolution chambers. Note: 13 Hatchery 15 Spawning Pool can be used to avoid hatch blocking.

Variation "Quad-Queen-Build"[edit]

DRG played a variation of this build against DeMusliM at MLG Winterchampionship 2012.

9 Overlord[1]
15 Hatchery
16 Spawning Pool
17 Overlord[2]
18 Queen
20 Queen
22 Zergling
23 Zergling[3]
24 Spine Crawler[4]
28 Queen[5]
30 Queen
44 (32 Drones) Extractor (x4)
  1. send Drone to scout
  2. send Overlord to scout your Natural in ZvT/ZvP
  3. send one Zergling to each Watchtower and one to scout the front
  4. you might skip it, if you scout FE
  5. start spreading Creep

DRG builds only one pair of Zerglings because he scouts a FE. He took three gasses at 48 supply, but it is ok to take four at the same time.

It is important to scout an Aggressive Pool, because a 6-Pool will almost kill you every time. Watch out for Cheese, too.

Note: It is possible to use this build in ZvP, but you might want to train how to defend a Cannon Rush. FFE is popular in PvZ and a Protoss might try to build Cannons near your Hatchery.


  • It should be noted that although static defense costs a lot of minerals in the early game, the savings in Larva at this point is more significant.
  • Continue to make Queens up to 6, Zerglings should be made in an emergency only.

The number of Spine Crawlers players should create depends on the number of army production buildings the opponent has. For example, it would be necessary to drop 3-5 Spine Crawlers at your natural if you scouted a Protoss 4-Gate opening.

Vs. Zerg[edit]

If you do not see a Fast Pool, you can proceed with your Hatchery First opening.


Once you have started your Hatchery and Spawning Pool, you need to scout your opponent again to see what his initial Tech will be. There are a few possibilities for your opponents opening:

  • 14gas/14pool - this will lead to one of 2 openings:
    • Speedling Expand - if you see this, you should make a few extra Drones (3-5), and get Zergling Speed with your first 100 gas, followed immediately by a Baneling Nest when you get 50 gas. Once you have Speedlings and Banelings you should poke or attack your opponent's base, and see what he has. if your opponent has only Speedlings, you should attack. if your opponent has Speedlings and Banelings, try to do as much damage as you can. if your opponent has Roaches, stop making Banelings, cancel your Baneling Nest if you are able, and make more Drones while getting a Roach Warren and keeping an eye on how many Roaches your opponent has.
    • Early Bust - if you see that Zerg does not take your opponent's drones off of his gas after his Spawning Pool completes, then he is preparing to attack you with Zerglings and Banelings. There are a few ways to respond:
      • Roaches - Make a Roach Warren immediately when your Spawning Pool finishes. Make 4-6 Zerglings, and then save your resources for when the Roach Warren completes, and make 4-5 Roaches immediately when it finishes. If you placed your Roach Warren immediately, then your Roaches should hatch in time to defend against the Banelings.
      • Make Spine Crawlers - Delay your gas and make 1-2 Spine Crawlers and 2 Queens immediately when your Spawning Pool finishes, and keep making Zerglings. Block your ramp with your Queens to prevent a runby, and make sure your Spine Crawlers can cover both your ramp and your Hatchery.
      • Banelings - if you want to defend with Banelings, you'll have to skip Zergling Speed since you cannot get both by the time the attack is ready. Make a Baneling Nest as soon as you get 50 gas, and defend with unupgraded Zerglings and a few Banelings.
  • Hatchery First - if your opponent does the same opening as you, you need to get gas immediately, only make 2 or 4 Zerglings, and immediately get 2 Queens. After this, you can transition to mass Zerglings, Zerglings + Banelings, or Roaches-based on what you scout afterwards.

Vs. Terran[edit]


Scouting is critical vs. Terran, since you need to know if Terran is opening with 2 Rax or with Barracks-Refinery. These need to be dealt with in different ways.

You should be scouting around 13 if you know where your opponent is, and on 10 or 11 if you do not (e.g. 4-player maps).


What you see in Terran's base will determine the rest of your opening:

2 Rax[edit]

2 Rax can come in many forms, and you need to be prepared for all of them.

If you scout 2 Rax, then delay your gas, save your Larvae so that you can make 8 Zerglings immediately when the Spawning Pool finishes, transfer 5-6 Drones to your expansion around the time it finishes, and make a Queen for your expansion Hatchery, and then a second Queen in your main base Hatchery when resources allow. It is also a good idea to leave your scouting Drone near the Terran base or at a Xel'Naga Tower so that you can see ahead of time if Terran is pulling any SCVs for his attack.

You need to be ready to pull your 5-7 Drones at any time to immediately start attacking a Bunker if Terran starts building one. If you see a Marine, do not be afraid to chase it with your Drones; Drones move faster than Marines, so you will be able to get some hits on it and possibly kill it.

  • 1-2 SCVs, 1 Bunker - for this, you simply need to keep the Marines at bay until your Spawning Pool finishes. While you are chasing the Marine, put 1 Drone on the SCV building the Bunker, so you can kill it before the Bunker completes. Make sure to kill the second SCV as well, so that the Bunker cannot complete.
  • 2-4 SCVs, 2 or more Bunkers - this is a bit harder. You need to delay your second Queen for a second Spine Crawler if you see 2 or more Bunkers begin. You will need all 5-6 of your Drones in addition to your initial 8 Zerglings in order to fend off this attack
  • 5+ SCVs, 2 or more Bunkers - this is more or less all-in. Same as before, but you will need to pull ALL of your Drones except 2 or 3 to fend off the attack.


If you see this, you do not have to prepare for an early attack, however you will need to have Zergling Speed finished in time for Hellions. Take your gas at 15/16/17 supply, make 2-4 Zerglings and 2 Queens immediately when Spawning Pool finishes, and then transition-based on what Tech you see Terran getting.

Vs. Protoss[edit]

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 7:00, one going into the Main, the other in the Natural.

Chronoboost usage[edit]

  • Constant Chronoboost on the Forge and the Cybernetics Core hints toward a +1 4Gate or a +1 4-Gate Stargate.
    • The first warp-in of Zealots can happen as early as 7:30 (7:10 if the Protoss is doing a YufFE). In that case, you will need to put down a Roach Warren earlier (6:30) as a precautionary measure. Be wary of any proxy Pylon near your third Hatchery, as this attack will usually try to deny it. Produce your first roaches at your third base, and protect your Queen and your Drones.
    • In the event of a +1 4-Gate Stargate (the Protoss will kill your Overlord with his or her first Void Ray, make sure to have two Queens in position. Spore Crawlers are not necessary versus a single Stargate.
  • Constant Chronoboost on the Cybernetics Core but not on the Forge hints toward a 6/7/8Gate all-in with Zealots, Stalkers or both.
    • This attack can be devastating if unscouted. This is an extremely all-in build and should be treated seriously: precautionary Roach Warren at 6:30 and spines at your natural and third are recommended if you are not very confident in your micro and decision-making.
  • Constant Chronoboost on the Forge, but not on the Cybernetics Core could be a +2 Blink Stalkers all-in or a +1/+1 7-Gate Immortal all-in. The exact build will be confirmed by an Overlord sacrifice at 7:00.
    • In the case of a Blink Stalkers all-in the recommended option would be a mix of Roaches and Zerglings, while Teching to Infestors. The main concern here is to get Infestors on the field before your opponent reaches a critical mass of Blink Stalkers.
    • In the case of a +1/+1 Immortal Stalkers all-in, you should not get Roaches at all but plant spines and get a very large number of Zerglings.
  • Few Chronoboosts spent on the Forge or the Cybernetics Core points toward an economic opening into a Fast Third. The exact opening will be confirmed by an Overlord sacrifice at 7:00 (look for a low Gateway count and a Robotics Facility.
    • You have the option to take a fourth yourself and go for the end-game or try to end the game. Should you opt for the second option, a 12:00 max-out on Roaches and Zerglings with or without Ventral Sacs is your best bet. Last but not least, going for a Spire Tech could be a good way to deal massive amounts of damage to a greedy opponent.

Assimilators at the Natural Expansion[edit]

One of your Overlords should be positioned at a position that allows you to see the geysers at your opponent's natural in order to see how many gases he or she is taking.

  • Zero gas taken: This is a 4-Gate +1 or a 6/7/8-Gate all-in.
    • See above for the recommended reaction.
  • Zero gas into one gas (at 6:00): This is a 1Stargate build.
    • Usually, this build gets one or two Void Rays to clear Overlords then transition into a +1 4-Gate Stargate push(see above) which usually aims at taking a Fast Third. One Zergling should be in position to confirm the Fast Third from your opponent.
  • One gas taken after Nexus completion: This can be a large number of possible openings.
    • You are generally safe to get Lair, plant a macro Hatchery, or get upgrades. You should in any case start to produce units at 8:00, the exact opening will be confirmed with the Overlord sacrifice.
    • By 7:00, your opponent will have banked 400 gas. If your Overlord do not see many Sentries or Stalkers, your opponent may be opening with Dark Templars or Stargate.
  • Two gases taken immediately after Nexus completion: This is a Double Stargate build or a Sentry/Immortal push
    • If your Overlords scout an empty base, this is without any doubt the Double Stargate build, and all your opponent's gas will go into Void Rays and Phoenixes production. You should get Spores at your bases and get more Queens while Teching to Lair.
    • If you scout Gateways, this is a Sentry/Immortal push. This can be a scary push, and most of the time Mutalisks will not on the field early enough to deflect this push. The most successful answer is usually to make your opponent burn Force Fields by attacking them with Zerglings as soon as your opponent moves out while Teching to Infestors.

Overlord Sacrifice[edit]

This will be your way to confirm the intuition you got from the two other scouting methods. You should not only look for the buildings (as those may be well hidden in a corner), but also count the amount of gas you see in your opponent's units and if possible look at the probe saturation (a low saturation suggesting an all-in).


  • The initial Zerglings need to keep an idea on the opposing army size.
  • Take the Watchtower at all times.
  • Keep a Zergling at the opponents ramp and scout the front.
  • If you have to, sacrifice an Overlord at ~6:15 to scout for cloaked units (Dark Shrine, etc.). This might not be necessary, if you get attacked early or you scout his unit composition.
  • Due to the late gas, there are timing windows where cloaked units can do a lot of damage before you can get detection. Sacrifice Overlord to scout Twilight Council or Starport with Tech Lab, either get your Evolution Chambers earlier and build Spore Crawlers at both mineral lines.
  • If you have to play blindly, get an Evolution Chamber for Spore Crawlers, any time after the Spawning Pool completes, all cloaked units come after 6:45 game time.
  • Place one Spore Crawler at each mining base to defend both. If you are in the lower leagues, using two Spore Crawler for each base is totally fine.
  • Your opponent might expand early, which means, early aggression is delayed.


Dark Templar Rush is popular among the lower leagues against Zerg. Dark Templar timing, 200 seconds after first Gateway + 45 seconds (Rush timing). Some Protoss will hide their Dark Shrine somewhere on the map. A tech build always uses two Geysers and a DT-Rush does not build a lot of units and no Sentries.

Cloaked Banshees[edit]

If the Terran stays on one base, you should scout with an Overlord around the 6-minute-mark. According to WoL Openings/Timings a Banshee is ready at 6:16.


Ice Fisher is depending on Spine Crawler, Queens and slow Zerglings to hold off early aggression (like a 4Gate).

  • Cloaked units (Protoss/Terran) can hit you around the 7-minute-mark. Scout accordingly!
  • If you scout a Speedling Expand, then you have to make sure your opponent is taking his Natural. Otherwise, he can build a lot of Speedlings and try to overwhelm you. Build a fast second Spine and block the Choke with two Queens. It is best to hold of his attack without Zerglings. Since he is on one base and you are on two, it is ok to lose a few drones.
  • Against 14 Pool 15 Hatch you have to scout, which tech path he chooses. He can research Metabolic Boost, go Banelings or tech to fast Mutalisks. Scouting is very important. Since he is taking gas and you are not, you should be ahead in Drones.
  • If you opponent is playing an All-In with Speedlings, you should add Spines, Queens and slow Zerglings. Anything is ok to survive such an attack. Better safe than sorry.
  • A 7RR is a big problem. You have to scout it and react properly. Your opponent will not take his Natural and your opponent will cut Drones. So you can cut Drones, too and add a Roach Warren (plus Gas). Even if you have the same amount of Drones as he is, you are ahead, because you have taken your natural and you have at least two Queens. Build Spines and Roaches instead of Mass-Queens. 7 Roaches will kill 4 Roaches and 2 Queens, if you have no energy and no Spines to support them.
  • You can take your Third at the 8-minute-mark, if he is not playing a 2-base all-in. If he does the latter, tech to Glial Reconstitution immediately and get upgrades.
  • If you see a heavy attack coming, you can use all Queens at the front. Transfuse all Spines to prevent their death.


Pro features[edit]

  • Long rush distance where early aggression is less likely
  • Closed natural expansions with one entrance and no alternative entrance to main base.

Con features[edit]

  • Possible close ground or air positions will require adaption.
  • Long rush distance map, because of the lack of ability to punish economic-oriented opponents.