Build Order Notebook: 6 advanced Zerg ladder builds



Sat 28th Apr 2012 - 8:41pm


So far in Build Order Notebook we've covered some Terran and Protoss builds, but we haven't shown any love to the Zerg. This guide aims to rectify that omission, with six powerful ladder builds to add to your arsenal. We've got two builds for each matchup, so whether you're struggling with one race or all three you'll find something of value.

Let's get started with our first matchup, Zerg versus Protoss.


Leenock's ZvP 10 Roach Rush - source

This build is an aggressive Roach rush designed to destroy a Protoss opponent who has gone for a Forge Fast Expand or Nexus First, with 10 Roaches and 20 Speedlings arriving at the Protoss base as early as 7:20 - before that critical Stargate or Warpgate technology is completed.

09 - Overlord
14 - Extractor
14 - Spawning Pool
15 - Overlord
15 - Queen
17 - Zerglings x6
20 - Zergling Speed
Remove Drones from gas as normal, but then return them once the scouting Probe has left

It is critical from this point out to deny scouting information. Use your six Zerglings to control Xel'Naga watchtowers, watch the entrance to the Protoss' base and constantly scout for hidden Probes and Pylons.

20 - Hatchery
19 - Drone
20 - Overlord x2
20 - Roach Warren (around 4:25)
Cancel the hatchery when Zergling Speed is completed (around 5:20)
20 - Roaches x10 (around 5:45)
40 - Overlord
Remove all drones from gas
40 - Continuously produce Zerglings from this point

In this build, it's critical to deny scouting with your six initial Zerglings - if the Roach Warren or cancelled expansion is spotted, then the Protoss can prepare with additional cannons. If it does arrive unscouted, you should be able to simply overrun the enemy.

Stephano's 12 Minute Max - source

With this build, pure macro and heavy Roach pressure is emphasised, with the relative power of the Roach streteched to the breaking point with a very power 12 minute 200/200 Roach push off three bases.

15 - Spawning Pool
16 - Queen
18 - Zerglings x2
20 - Hatchery (2nd)
19 - Drones x2
21 - Hatchery (3rd)
20 - Queen
22 - Overlord

From here on, you want to make drones where possible but don't be shy about getting Zerglings as you need them. The more drones you make, the faster you'll be able to hit your max.

22 - Drones x7
29 - Queen
31 - Overlord
31 - Drones x11
42 - Overlord
42 - Extractor x2
40 - Drones x4
44 - Overlord
44 - Drones x10
54 - Roach Warren
53 - Evolution Chamber
52 - Drones x6
58 - Overlord
58 - Drones x10
68 - Queen
70 - Lair
70 - Extractor

From here, it is almost impossible to make too many overlords. You are shooting for 200/200, so feel free to make multiple overlords at once, and don't get supply blocked.

70 - Overlords (many)
70 - Roaches x10
90 - Extractor
90 - +1 Missile Attack
90 - Roaches x10
110 - Roach Speed
110 - Hatchery (4th)
110 - Overlords (many)
110 - Roaches x20
150 - Zerglings x20
160 - Hatchery (macro)
160 - Overlords (up to 200)
160 - Roaches x15
190 - Zerglings x20

At this point, you are maxed and should be moving across the map. Some of your supply is still being made, but you can still attack and have your eggs rallied to your army. With luck, you'll totally overwhelm your Protoss opponent.

This is essentially a macro exercise. The more efficient you get with your mining (two drones per patch) and timing, the closer you'll get to the 12 minute max and the faster your Roach attack will come.


Roach Zergling All-In - source

This aggressive ZvT build allows you to put on early Roach and Zergling pressure off two bases. You need to do critical damage to your Terran opponent or you will be behind in the midgame.

14 - Hatchery
14 - Extractor
14 - Spawning Pool
16 - Overlord
16 - Zergling x4
18 - Queen x2
22 - Drone x6
28 - Roach Warren
27 - Drone
28 - Zergling Speed
28 - Overlord x2
28 - Roach x 8
44 - Overlord x2
44 - Zergling x16

Once your attack has been held, take a third base and begin droning into a standard mid to late game composition - Zerglings, Infestors, Brood Lords.

Leenock's Double Spire - source

This unusual build uses burrowed Banelings to increase Baneling efficiency and therefore decrease Baneling numbers. In turn, this allows for an early second Spire and strong Mutalisk upgrades.

15 - Hatchery
17 - Extractor
16 - Spawning Pool
20 - Zergling x2
21 - Queen x2
25 - Zergling Speed
Pull two Drones off gas
30 - Queen
32 - Spine Crawler
35 - Evolution Chamber
35 - Hatchery
Put drones back on gas
37 - +1 Ground Carapace
40 - Extractor x3
42 - Lair
44 - Baneling Nest
44 - Spine Crawler
50 - Spire
50 - Centrifugal Hooks
50 - Burrow
60 - Flyer Carapace +1
60 - Mutalisks x10 (or more)
70 - Flyer Attack +1
70 - Spire

From here, continue to upgrade Flyer Attack and Carapace, whilst producing a large flock of Mutalisks and other units as needed. You should take a 4th base with the map control you gain as a result, and eventually head towards Hive and your choice of late game tech.


Deltrus' Ling-Centric ZvZ - source

15 - Spawning Pool
15 - Extractor
17 - Hatchery
16 - Queen
18 - Zergling Speed
Remove Drones from gas
18 - Zergling x6
21 - Queen
23 - Overlord
24 - Spine Crawler at natural
24 - Zergling x12
Move out for an attack
30 - Drone x3
Rally Drones to gas
33 - Overlord
33 - Drone x6

This is the end of the first stage. You should have attacked with ~20 Zerglings and done damage to a greedy player. From here, supply counts are highly dependent on your engagement, so these will be omitted from here. You should also make Drones as you secure additional Extractors and Hatcheries.

- Roach Warren
- Roach x5
- Extractor (when Roach Warren completes)
- Evolution Chamber x2 (at 100 gas)
- Drone to 38 in total, 16 on minerals at each base + 3 in each gas
- Hatchery (macro)
- +1 Missle Attack
- +1 Ground Carapace
- Queen (when saturated)
- Roach x9
Attack around 11:00 if you sense weakness
- Lair
- Extractor
- Extractor (when Lair completes)
- +2 Missle Attack
- +2 Ground Carapace
- Burrow

That's the end of the second stage, and the beginning of the time that you're vulnerable to massive balls of Roaches. Build Roaches and Lings as necessary. From here, it gets even more fragile and you probably won't get to the end game, but the basic idea is this:

- Spine Crawler x5
- Hatchery (when opponent takes 3rd)
- Extractor x2
- Infestation Pit
- Hive
- Ultralisks
- Adrenal Glands

Destiny's ZvZ - source

This aggressive ZvZ stays on one base for a little while to gather up Roaches and Zerglings with which to attack. From here, it's a relatively simple matter of expanding when safe, then sending out your Roach-Zergling attack.

13 - Spawning Pool
16 - Extractor
16 - Overlord
16 - Spine Crawler
16 - Queen
18 - Roach Warren
20 - Overlord
20 - Roach x6
32 - Overlord
34 - Hatchery
36 - Zergling Speed
36 - Roach x7
44 - Overlord x2
46 - Queen
50 - Zerglings x12 (or more)

From here, you should have dealt damage to your opponent and you can now either move into a standard macro mid-game, or make more units to try to go for the kill.


So that's it - six Zerg build orders for you! I've already covered Terran build orders and Protoss build orders, so what's next?

Well, I was thinking about moving past race into more specific categories. Builds orders that are novel, easy to execute or have unusual origins. Let me know what you think of the idea as well as the article itself in the comments below - I'd love to hear from you.

Your Comments

  • Mon 30th Apr 2012 - 11:16pm
    The earlier you can get a drone the better since it will translate to slightly more money, so theoretically if you want to compensate for drone loss in buildings you should get the drones earlier. The difference in most games is pretty insignificant either way though so unless you're dropping 16 spine crawlers or something you don't need to worry too much about it.
  • Sun 29th Apr 2012 - 3:42am
    I've got a question regarding drones and mineral saturation - in many of the builds it doesn't seem considered that to build a building means a loss of a drone. Is it better to front-load the drones and have more than 16 on minerals (at least right before the building) or is it best to replace them afterwards, or ideally should you have just insanely good timing and pop out a new drone for new building groups?

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