Starcraft 2 Roach Strategies

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In this week's newsletter, I am going to discuss one of the most powerful yet misunderstood units in Starcraft 2: the Roach.
Below, I will be discussing not only how Zerg players
can get the most out of the Roach, but what other
players can do when facing a Zerg who likes to
use Roaches.
Many players mistakenly think that Roaches are
not that good due to their slow movement and
the number of hard counters they have, and their
overall weakness despite costing two supplies.
I would have to say that this attitude is a major
mistake. If you watch any pro-level Zerg replay,
you will see that not only do all of them use
Roaches, but they will use them in large quantities.
However, Zerg players at lower levels of play
rarely use Roaches and try to stick to use Mutalisks,
Zerglings, and Hydralisks as their primary units.
You could say that there is a direct correlation between
the amount of Roaches a Zerg player makes and their
rank on ladder.
The primary reason that lower-ranked Zerg players
do not utilize the Roach is because they simply do not
understand its strengths and weaknesses.
Roach Strengths
The primary strength of the Roach is its stats relative
to its cost. Many players will write me asking why
I recommend using Roaches, saying something like:
"Why would you use Roaches? Mutalisks are so much
better for 2 supplies, plus they can fly and are more
While this might be true, the fact is that a Roach has
140 HP, 1 armor, deals 16 damage per second, and only
costs 75 minerals and 25 vespene gas.
Compare that to the 100 minerals and 100 vespene gas
cost of the Mutalisk and you will see there is really
no way you can compare the two units in terms of raw
stats - the cost is just too different.
Zerg are a very gas-hungry race, especially if you need
to produce anti-air for any reason. Mutalisks, Corruptors,
and Hydralisks are all very gas-intensive units.
Combine that with the need to research a variety of
upgrades and Zerg really do not have a lot of vespene
gas to spare.
Roach Macro
However, the cost of Roaches is just the beginning. The
real reason that Roaches are such an incredible unit is
the rate at which you can create them and get them to
the lines of battle.
A good Zerg player will have anywhere from 3-5
hatcheries in the mid-late game. With a Spawn Larva,
each Hatchery could potentially have 7 Larva. This means
you can train 21-35 units at once.
In many late game fights, two large armies will clash and
both race's armies will suffer heavily. If you have your
Hatcheries hot-keyed, you can then quickly bring up your
Hatchery hot-key and queue up 20-30 Roaches.
You can set the rally point to near the fighting lines and
quickly reinforce your army with 40-60 supplies worth of
units in 40 seconds or less. This is where the Roach shines.
If you watch some high-level replays of longer games, once
the final battle starts, Zerg players will continue to macro
large quantities of Roaches and reinforce those to the front
While a 200/200 Zerg army will fall to a 200/200 Protoss
or Terran army nearly every time, the Zerg player can then
create a much bigger army before the Terran player can push
in on all the Zerg's bases.
Since Roaches are so cheap, players can afford to constantly
lose them and rebuild them. Roaches are the perfect "tanks"
for your primary units.
Roaches are naturally very slow. The speed upgrade from
the Roach Warren is one of your best upgrades as Zerg as
it makes the Roach faster than the average ground unit.
Spreading the creep is just as important. All of your
expansions must be connected by creep. Zerg units move
an incredible 33% faster when on creep.
When Roaches with the speed upgrade are produced,
they can move along creep with blazing speed. This
allows them to get from the Hatchery to the front lines
in literally less than 10 seconds.
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Roach Micro
Roaches do not need very much micro. Ideally, engage enemy
players in open areas where your Roaches can form a large
concave shape. If this is not possible, be sure to push your
Roaches forward they are all in range.
While your Roaches are soaking up all the damage, you can
control your more important units. Using Roaches gives you
the freedom to cast Fungal Growth with your Infestors and
bring your Zerglings around from the back to get a good
surround, and use your Banelings to chase down light units.
The key thing is to remember to have your Hatcheries bound
to a hotkey and make sure you keep up with Spawn Larva.
This way you can quickly reinforce your army with dozens
of Roaches with the press of a few buttons.
Roach Upgrades
Another important thing to note about the Roach is that it is
one of the best units in the game to get upgrades for.
The Roach is the only 2 supply unit in the entire game that
gets +2 damage to all of its attacks when it gets a weapons
upgrade. With no upgrades, the Roach does 16 damage per
hit; with +3 upgrades it does 22 damage per hit.
Note: The Zealot gets +1 damage per hit, and both hits are
mitigated by armor. The Marauder only gets +2 damage to
armored units; only +1versus light units.
How is this relevant? Because when 1-2 supply +3 weapons
and armor units normally fight, the bonus damage is
normally mitigated by the bonus armor of the other player.
With the Roach this is not so. A 0/0 Roach will normally
deal 16 damage per hit to a 0/0 Marine and take 5 damage
per hit. This means it takes the Roach 4 hits (seconds) to
reach the 55 HP total the Marine has.
When a 3/3 Roach and a 3/3 Marine fight, the Roach will
deal 19 damage per hit to the Marine and still only take
5 damage per hit. The Roach will now kill the Marine in 3
Granted, this raw math is a bit off considering that Marines
usually use Stim (-10 HP) and usually have a Medivac
healing support, with all things considered 3/3 Roaches do
nearly 20% more damage to 3/3 Marines as compared to
no upgrades for both units.
The point is that Roaches respond very favorably to upgrades.
Early in the game, stimmed Marines are quite effective versus
Roaches but this advantage is lost by the late game, where
Roaches will do very well versus Marines.
Roach vs Zerg
The Roach should without a doubt be the primary unit of
your army in Zerg vs Zerg battles. Zerg players have no unit
which counters the Roach (aside from air units - which kill
Roaches very slowly).
Roaches should consist of the bulk of your army in any
Zerg vs Zerg match-up.
Roach vs Terran
Roaches do not fair as well versus Terran as with the other
races, but they still are useful. As mentioned, Roaches do
pretty well late in the game versus Terran players once they
have upgrades.
Additionally, late in the game the popular strategy for Terran
players is to go bio-mech: a build consisting mostly of Marines
and Thors to kill Mutalisks and Siege Tanks to kill Banelings
and Roaches.
I think that the Roach is most useful here as a switch. Most
Zerg players like to make a mix of Mutalisks, Zerglings, and
Banelings when faced with this situation.
If the Terran player tries to go light on Siege Tanks because
you have a lot of Mutalisks, you can easily switch tech to
Roaches after taking out tanks.
A ball of Roaches along with a healthy dose of Banelings,
Zerglings, and Mutalisks will roll over a Marine and Thor
Terran players looking to avoid this should cut off the
problem at its source - the Hatcheries. During major battles,
be as defensive as possible while dropping 8 Marines off
in each of the Zergs expansions.
You only have to divert a handful of units and if you can
take out the Hatcheries, you will stop the Roach
Roach vs. Protoss

The Roach is the perfect "throw away" unit versus
Protoss. Stalkers and Sentries are very expensive compared
to Roaches, so using them against Protoss is a great
You will want to add in plenty of Hydralisks to handle
any Immortals and Stalkers that might make their way onto
the field.
The Roach is also great at soaking up damage as it takes
out the Colossus. They also make great shields for your
high-damage, long-range Hydralisks.
Be sure to add in a few Corruptors to take out Colossi.
Go heavy on Roaches when Immortals thin out, and
go heavy on Hydras after taking out the Colossi.
Protoss players looking to stop the Roach parade need
to conserve units as much as possible. You need to
lay down great force fields to split up the Zerg army
and cut off the Roaches from the Hydralisks.
You then need to continuously back up your Colossi
so that they are protected by your wall of less-expensive
and powerful ground units.
I believe that was one of the longest newsletters on
record, but it the Roach really is that good! If you are
a Zerg player and are not utilizing Roaches in nearly
every match, you are making a mistake!
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