Starcraft 2 Nerazim Crypt Strategy

Starcraft 2 Strategy Guide --> Starcraft 2 Map Strategies --> Nerazim Crypt Strategy (you are here)

In this article, I will be going over the best builds, strategies, and tactics to use on the new season 3 Starcraft map: Nerazim Crypt. The map you play on makes a big difference in how the dynamics of each match-up plays out, and below you are going to get a crash course on this particular map.

Nerazim Crypt - Map Overview

Nerazim Crypt 

Spawn Locations and Expansions

This 1v1 Ladder map features 4 spawn locations. Spawn locations feature a narrow ramp and a relatively narrow choke point coming into the natural expansion. In terms of size and width, the choke point coming into the natural is similar to that of Shattered Temple. However, there are some destructible rocks which open up the amount of room you have to enter the natural expansion.

Thanks to a recent update, this map now features no rich expansions. Note that the third expansion for each spawn location is on the low ground and has a small high-ground lip from which you can hit it, which is opposite to the way the ramp points.

In other words if you spawn adjacent to your opponent, you can sneak a ranged units back there to harass one of the vespene geysers and a few Drones. Tanks can actually hit the main building from here.

While this expansion is easy to harass, it is hard to take out. The fact that it is on isolated high ground makes it very easy for your opponent to trap you if you move a lot of units down there. Of course, if your opponent takes a very fast third and has no units to trap you with, that's another story.

Rush Distance and Drop Placements

Perhaps the most notable feature of this map is its very small size. Despite having four spawn locations, 4 natural expansions, and 4 additional expansions, the map is jammed close together. Close spawn locations take just under 30 seconds for a worker to move between base to base.

The far spawns are not much better - it only takes a Drone 35 seconds to move between the northwest to southeast base, where it takes about 40 seconds to move between the southwest to northeast base (the way the ramp points adds a few extra seconds on this).

In short, no matter where you spawn on this map, distances are close and as such fast expansion plays are going to be risky. You really cannot safely take a fast expansion without scouting first to see your opponent's timing, which may take awhile if you get unlucky thanks to there being 4 spawn locations.

You will have to take care when using drops on this map, simply because there is almost no "free space" on the outskirts of the map. If you try to drop in the main and fly over the natural, you will be scouted out in a heartbeat. If you want to drop on the main, drop in a counterclockwise fashion:


This way, you are in a spot where you can drop as soon as your enemy can see you. Likewise, to defend against drops, you will want to drop a Pylon, Supply Depot (or build a sensor tower in your base at that edge), or place an Overlord at this base. This way, you can see drops coming and you will give yourself time to prepare. Given that your mineral line is up against the water, simply placing a building here will not give you enough time to react.

Due to the way the ramps are positioned, it takes a few seconds longer for units to move from the ramps of the northwest and southeast bases to get back to their own mineral line. In the context of a drop, that can add up to a lot of extra worker kills. As a result, dropping may be more viable when your opponent spawns in these locations.

Other Notable Features

There are 4 Xel'Naga towers in the middle of the map, and controlling all 4 assures that no units can move by ground from one spawn location to another without you noticing. However, you cannot scout a player moving to their typical third expansion (counter clockwise). So even if you do not control the Xel'Naga towers, your opponent will have to send out an extra scout to see if you have taken a third base.

In front of each natural there is also a vision blocking area (half moon shapes on the map). If you tag the Xel'Naga watchtower near your base most of this area will be revealed.

Another thing to consider here is that there is actually a lot of air space in the corners of the map. While your air harass can be scouted easily, there is certainly plenty of room for air units to harass your opponent's mineral line with.

Now that we have the map basics down, let's take a look at some specific strategies and builds for race-vs-race match-ups.

Nerazim Crypt Protoss Strategy

This particular map is great for Protoss players. The narrow ramp from the main to the natural and the relatively tight choke from at the natural expansion make Force Fields very strong. Add in the fact that there are some really close spawn locations and whether you like it or not, the 4-Gate is a very strong build on this map.

Additionally, the natural expansion is quite narrow and close to the main, just like Protoss players like. There is also little room for drops to sneak by, so smart Pylon placement can spot drops coming in plenty of time. Even the third is not terribly difficult to defend for Protoss players (depending on spawn location, of course).

Protoss vs Protoss Strategy

Not surprisingly for PvP, 4-Gates will be the build of choice for most players on this map. The spawn locations are just too close and 4-Gate is too good in PvP for anything else to happen. Given that a single Force Field can lock down the small ramp, it is possible for 3-Gate Robo, 3-Gate Blink Stalkers, and other builds a possibility, but I can't see anything other than some sort of 1-base build working out here.

If your opponent takes an early expansion, you simply 4-Gate and you can win every time. Force field the ramp between their main and natural as you push and there will simply be no contest - any money invested in an extra Nexus or Probes is 4+ extra Zealots in your army that your opponent does not have.

You also need to be careful about cheese on this map given how close the bases are together. The expansion to the clockwise position of your spawn location makes a good place for proxy Pylons and Gateways. If you see something is off about your opponent's build, this is a spot you want to check. You also can place proxy Pylons here to have a nice, hidden Pylon close to your opponent's base.

Protoss vs Terran Strategy

I think this is a fairly balanced map for PvT play. While I think Siege Tanks are pretty good on this map, so are Colossi and Blink Stalkers - it really just depends on which player abuses the terrain the most.

Given the tiny ramp, you are not likely to be hit by any early shenanigans simply because a defensive Force Field can lock the ramp down. A good Terran player is likely to go for a 2-Barracks (or even 1 Barracks 1 Factory these days) Fast Expand build, as Terrans can drop a few bunkers on the low ground and salvage them later.

While I am not a big fan of 4-Gating Terran players, as always it can work if they try to get over-aggressive with their expansion (i.e. 1 Barracks --> Orbital Command). If you do spot this you can punish them given the small map size.

Unless I spot something cheesy, my standard opener here is either 3 Warp Gates into an expansion, or 1-2 Gateways and a Robotics Facility into an expansion. If you see something like an unusually early Refinery you have to get an Observer out fast to see what is going on. If you have absolutely no idea what is going on, you need an Observer as well.

From a 3-Gate Fast expand or 2-Gate/Robo into an expansion, you can either tech into the classic Colossus/Blink Stalker build or the new trend of mostly Zealots, Archons, and a few Sentries. Both work and really depend on what your opponent is doing.

On this particular map, I am partial towards Colossus/Blink Stalker on this map just because there are so many ledges to move up and down if you walk around the perimeter on the map, Zealots and Archons can be annoying against late-game Terran if they lock down the Xel'Naga area with tanks (particularly by putting tanks on the high ground).

Blink Stalkers and Colossus can also easily harass expansions since they can move up and down the ledges much quicker than the ground units you are likely to go against, which works well on this map. You can always harass a Terran player's third on this map.

Protoss vs Zerg Strategy

I think this is a great map for Protoss players to go against Zerg players on. Thanks to the destructible rocks, you can opt for a fast expansion build:


Note that if the Zerg Player goes for a 6-Pool, he can get to a close spawn in about 2:45 and the far spawns at around 2:50. This gives you barely enough time to get a Forge and two Gateways down - so where the Cybernetics Core is in the picture above, you might need to drop a second Gateway there instead to get your wall up sooner.

You may or may not have time to wait and get a Cybernetics Core up. If you scout your opponent has gone for a Hatchery-first play, you might have enough time to even get the Nexus up before you seal the wall. There is no need to spend the money to seal the wall or even build cannon(s) until there are Zerglings on the map and they are headed for your base, so getting a scouting Probe into your opponent's main (and keeping it alive) can really boost the strength of this build.

The rocks above also do not actually cover much space; placing a single Pylon or Cannon behind these rocks makes a tight wall-in even if the rocks go down.

As a result, I think a Forge-Fast expand build is really viable here and is probably the best overall opener in PvZ on this map. You just need to be sure to get a Probe in your enemy's base so you can see when the first Zerglings pop so you can finish up your wall.

From here, your transition is really dependent upon your opponent's build. If your opponent double expands in order to try to catch up, a 6-Gate timing push can really hurt them hard on this map. You can easily walk into the third then wall if off with Force Fields to take it out as well as push into the natural and use Force Fields to shut off reinforcements from both the main and the third.

The third in particular is extremely vulnerable if they take it early in the game (early enough to be hit by a 6-Gate timing push) because unless you are at the highest level of play, the creep is not likely to connect the third to the main and natural just yet.

If your opponent does not double expand, the only real option they have left is going for a 2-Base Hydralisk play (if so, you need Colossus) or a 1-Base all-in (cannons and Gateway units work here - as long as you can see it coming). Research hallucination at your Cybernetics Core so you can send some Phoenix out to scout in order to figure out your transition.

Nerazim Crypt - Terran Strategy

For Terran players, I think the thing that immediately jumps out is the strength of mech builds on this map. It's very small and the expansions are close together, which is great for slow-moving mech. In comparison, since drops are so easily scouted on this map, I think MMM builds just are not as strong.

Drops definitely can still certainly (and should) be part of your strategy, but I think you are selling yourself short here if you do not get out some Siege Tanks in the late game, no matter what match-up you are playing against. However, this can play right into a mech build: Hellion drops work great on this map given how close the mineral line is to the dropping area.

Terran vs Protoss Strategy

Due to the small size of this map, things can get pretty cheesy if you aren't in the Diamond league or higher. Players love to use Proxy Gateways on tiny maps like this, especially since they can hide them near your base in the adjacent third expansion. Be sure to scout early in order to defend this.

I think one of the biggest strengths Terran players have on this map is that they can easily take and defend 3 bases. Grabbing the natural expansion fast can be dicey if your opponent goes for a 4-Gate. If your opponent does not have an expansion down, drop a scan to see what is going on.

You can also drop down a few bunkers down on the low ground and load them up before dropping the Command Center. Even better, just 1-2 Siege tanks on the high ground overlooking the choke point can completely lock down defense for a quick expand. A 1 Barracks 1 Factory build into expansion can be a great choice on this map for that reason.

Once you are late in the game, typical TvP unfolds. The more Colossus your opponent has, the more Vikings you need; the more Templar/Archons your opponent has, the more Ghosts you need. Once the Protoss takes a third base, you can use drops and Siege Tank harassment to cripple their economy.

Siege up tanks right at the entrance to the ramp at the third base is devastating. You can spread your tanks on the high ground with Marine/Marauder/Viking support, then send down just a handful of Marauders or Marines to take out the actual expansion. Since there is only one way out, any fleeing probes will be easily taken out.

Terran vs Terran Strategy

TvT is pretty typical on this map. Heavy mech play works well as always. The map is small so I would definitely favor more Tanks and less Marines and Marauders. The center is definitely a point of contention of this map like any TvT, and the Xel'Naga watch towers certainly make things interesting.

A lot of Terran players might go heavy ground with Siege Tanks, Hellions, Marauders, and even Thors here, since if you control the Xel'Naga towers much of the map is exposed. However, air superiority is still as good as ever - if you have control of the skies thanks to having the most Vikings, be sure to mix in Banshees with your army.

Banshees are particularly good at picking off tanks positioned on the high ground - it can take Marines a few seconds to get up to the ramp and hit your Banshee (if they can even reach it), so I really think Banshee play is strong on this map. To counter this as a Terran player, build a Missile turret on top of each Xel'Naga tower.

As is the trend lately in TvT, Hellions and particularly Hellion drops can be strong. You can use these in the main by flying in the recommended direction on the map above to avoid detection and place them down in the back corner of the base.

Note that a Tank on the Xel'Naga watchtower platform can hit anything that crosses through the adjacent portions of the center of the map. You can avoid this by travelling around the outskirts of the map. If your opponent takes a third base with an Orbital Command (instead of a Planetary Fortress), you can move in very easily with Hellions around the outskirts of this small map and take out all their workers instantly. Since there is no where for them to run to, you can literally clean up every SCV this way.

Terran vs Zerg Strategy

I think Terran players will fair pretty well against Zerg players on this map. The only thing you have to worry about here is having the Zerg's expansion count get unmanageable. On the other hand, Terran players should be pretty safe taking three bases here, which is about as far as most games go (unless you are in Master's).

Given the tight natural expansion with a narrow ramp, early Hellions is not likely to be terribly effective unless you are particularly good with them or your opponent is particularly bad. The ramp can be plugged easily by Queens.

Instead, a standard 2-Rax fast expand (map is a bit small for 1-Rax) build works well. Given the small map size here, you will want to throw a Bunker or two down outside of your Orbital on the ground.

Standard Bio-Mech play works well on this map. I think the most reliable strategy here is to starve the Zerg player through smart tank placement. In particular, the natural third base is very hard for a Zerg player to defend against the Terran.

Move into position at the top of the ramp with Tanks in Siege Mode, and leave your Marines and other units on the high ground, protecting your tanks from Mutalisks and Zerglings. The Tanks will be able to shell the enemy expansion and there will be little a Zerg can do to stop this play. To dodge Banelings with your Marines, you can actually fall back down towards the expansion you are taking out while your Siege Tanks pick off all the Banelings.

As usual, you have to be careful moving through the middle as Terran, as this is the only place where you are weak against Zerg. You need to control a significant amount of territory with Siege Tanks placement so that you do not get surrounded.

As a Terran you can get control of the mid pretty easily with Siege Tanks. There are mini "chokes" created by each Xel'Naga tower that you will want to hug.

You can do a surprising amount of damage with Siege Tanks placed on the high ground where the Xel'Naga towers are. If you have extra resources, the platforms are big enough to actually put a few Siege Tanks, 2 Turrets, and then wall it off from the top with 3 Supply Depots.

For a powerful mid-game play, a simple 2-Base Siege Tank and Marine push can be really devastating. At this point, the Zerg will not have tons of creep spread to cover the center of the map. Set up at the third expansion, take it out with ease, then push in for the main, slowly leapfrogging forward with tanks and constantly reinforcing.

Zerg Strategies

For Zerg players, this will play out a lot like Shattered Temple, except all the Zerg weaknesses of Shattered Temple are amplified. Due to the very small rush distances between bases, it can be dangerous to take your fast expansion with a Spawning Pool first.

At the same time, due to a tiny ramp and tight choke points at the natural, it is very hard to put out reasonable early in the game. At the same time, it can be tough to take your own expansion due to the small map size and tight chokes. Cheesy builds like fast 2 Barracks/Bunker rush, cannon rushes, and 6-8 Pools will wreck you if you try to go Hatchery first.

As a result, no matter who you are playing I think getting Spawning Pool first prior to an expansion is a good idea.

Additionally, you should be able to control most of the Xel'Naga towers through Zerglings up until the late game. This is something you will want to do in order to track troop movement.

Overlord Placement

One thing this map does have going for it for Zerg players is the great amount of information you can take in as a Zerg. In addition to the Xel'Naga towers which reveal the center of the map, there are plenty of places around the outskirts of the map for you to place Overlords.

The first position you will want to take is over the empty space in between the opponent's main base and natural expansion. This will allow you to safely see when your opponent take's their natural expansion and can be used as a sacrifice if necessary.

There are nice open spaces adjacent at the clockwise position to each main where you can stick an Overlord. This Overlord can scout to see if the opponent tries to sneak an expansion as well as be used as a sacrifice to gain scouting information. This is typically the preferred Overlord for a sacrifice fly-in, as you will want to save the Overlord near the natural to see expansion timing.

Finally, you want to place an Overlord in the space in between the natural expansion and the natural third. This will allow you to see the timing of the second expansion.

You can repeat these placements all around the map to scout for ninja expansions as well. 

Zerg vs Protoss Strategy

PvZ on this map plays out a lot like Shattered Temple; you will have trouble early in the game securing your own expansion due to 4-Gates or Cannon Rushes, and there is a good chance your opponent will opt to go for a Forge Fast Expand.

Good scouting is key here. Scout early for any cheese. If your opponent does go Forge --> Nexus, you need to grab a fast expansion yourself and consider taking a third to catch up. Alternatively, you can either opt for an all-in or even 2-Base Hydralisk/Roach (works well if your opponent goes six-Gate instead of straight to Colossus tech).

If you do take a fast third, you need to be on point with your scouting to protect against 2-Base 6-8 Gateway all-in timing pushes Protoss players have been using lately against Zerg.

Overall, Protoss players have a fairly easy time securing and maintaining three bases, which is not always an ideal situation for Zerg players on such a small map. The third base is the most exposed, so do whatever you can to harass it. Baneling drops in the mineral line are an effective strategy to hit both the third and the main for later in the game. Coordinate these to land simultaneously for best results.

I also think Mutalisks are pretty solid on this map for mineral line harassment against Protoss players. The minerals are pushed up right against the edge of the map, so you can easily swoop in and hit workers, then pull back across the cliffs where ground units cannot follow. The map is small enough where you can pull your Mutalisks back to use with your main army easily if you see your opponent move out.

Just like in ZvP on Shattered Temple, you can make a wall of Spine Crawlers to simultaneously protect the entrances of your first three bases quite effectively, so you do want to use some automated defense here if the game progresses into a longer-term game.

Zerg vs Terran

Zerg have very similar advantages and disadvantages in TvZ as they do in ZvP on this map. Early in the game, you are susceptible to cheesy fast Barracks/Bunker rushes if you do not get out a few Zerglings before you throw down your expansion. For this reason, Spawning Pool first is a good idea before throwing down an expansion.

Your Terran opponent can easily lock down and secure three bases from frontal assault, and it can be hard to stop them from setting up three bases. Your best defense against the Terran player picking up three expansions is harassing the mineral line while also building expansions yourself. Mutalisks work great on this map since there are so many exposed mineral patches and buildings which will undoubtedly be positioned by ledges you can retreat across.

The small map size means that you can harass effectively and still pull your Mutalisks back in time to fight with your main army should the Terran player move out. This means you can use them to pick off easy targets like supply depots placed near the ledge and it is a good use of your time since you can pull them back to your base so easily.

Having Mutalisks with your main army is very important for this match-up, since your strongest position to engage the Terran army will be right in the middle of the map. The reason for this is that Terran players will like to set up tanks on the Xel'Naga tower platforms in the middle and you will want to pick those off with Mutalisks.

Your best position for engaging the Terran player will be the middle of the map. This will allow you to run Zerglings around for flank so you can get a good surround and damage the Siege tanks. Spread the creep out into the center as much as possible in order to give yourself enough time to catch a Terran player marching across the map. Once they are sieged up at your front door, you've already lost here.

Your biggest worry as a Zerg player will be countering the ever-popular 2-Base Marine/Tank push. Given that around the Xel'Naga towers there are only a few paths through with the Terran army can move, you can burrow a few Banelings scattered around to help buy yourself some time. You also need to grab reinforcing units as much as possible with Zerglings; getting to the Terran players base the "long way" does not take very long on this small map.

Zerg vs Zerg

Zerg vs Zerg is a dumb match-up on this map. Even if you go for a 13 Spawning Pool/Fast Gas build for Zergling speed, which is typically a "safe bet" in ZvZ, your spawning pool will finish actually a few seconds after 6 Zerglings would arrive in your base if your opponent is going for a 6-Pool.

If your opponent takes the cheese a step further and does something like an 8-Pool and pulls 6 Drones off the line to make Spine Crawlers, you can be in a lot of trouble even if you go for the typical safe play of Spawning Pool at 13. As a result, you may want to send out a Drone around 8 or 9 Supply to scout in a ZvZ or even Zerg vs Random as you may not even be safe going for a 13-14 Pool/Speedling build. If you do not scout the right direction initially, consider going 12 Pool just to be safe on this tiny map.

If the game does manage to progress long enough to get an expansion up, a few Spine Crawlers and a Queen or two to block the ramp works well. The short distances between bases and narrow ramps make the slow Roach a viable transition if you can manage to hold off early Zerglings and Banelings long enough to make that investment.

Nerazim Crypt Strategy Conclusion

Strategies for this "rush" map center on good scouting so you do not get surprised by cheese. Except Protoss players in PvZ, expanding quickly on this map is never a good idea without knowing your opponent is not preparing for an early attack.

Once the game gets out of the first few minutes, late-game battles and harassment should make use of this maps many ledges. Terran players will do well by sieging up their tanks at the top of their opponent's third, whereas Zerg and Protoss players can harass with Mutalisks, drops, and Blink Stalkers quite effectively.