Starcraft 2 Zerg Build Orders - HotS Updated
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Copying and practicing good build orders in Starcraft is
perhaps the fastest thing you can do to start winning more games of Starcraft 2. The build order refers to the
order in which you morph new units and build new structures.
As a Zerg player, there will naturally be less variance in your build order from game to game. Since most Zerg
units come out of Larva, Zerg players tend to focus on getting up a big economy and multiple Hatcheries and
deciding what to do later in the game rather than work towards a specific timing attack.
With that said, there are still some great Zerg build orders that shine versus specific races that we will cover
below. Additionally, at the end of this article, you will find general Zerg openers that can be used against any
Note that in all Zerg build orders (aside from going for a Hatchery first), the term "X Pool" is shorthand used
to describe the timing of the Spawning Pool. The variable "X" is a number and denotes the number of Drones that are
out when the Spawning Pool is built. For example, a "8 Pool" means that the Spawning Pool is built when there are 8
Drones (including those still producing). A "14 Pool" refers to starting your 14th Drone before adding on a
Match-Specific Zerg Build Orders
While most Zerg players, there are some good timing attacks that can be very effective against enemy players of
specific races. Learning these builds can help you punish enemy players who focus too much on their own economy
thinking the Zerg is not going to attack until the late game.
ZvP Build Orders
- Safe But Fast Third - Getting out Metabolic Boost and a
handful of Zerglings in between taking the natural expansion and third base is a safe way to plant your third
base at around the 5:00 mark.
- 3 Base Mutalisk (Econ Mutas) - While ideal for ZvT, this
build can be very effective in the hands of a skilled player when the Protoss player goes for Robotics tech.
Downside is it does not work well against Protoss players who open with Stargate tech. You can always open this
way and diverge in the middle of the build and drop down a Hydralisk Den instead of a Spire should the
Protoss go Stargate.
- Proxy Hatchery Block: Building a Hatchery at the Protoss
natural expansion is an excellent way to slow down the Protoss.
- Mass Zergling into Ultralisk: Focusing heavily on
Zerglings and upgrades in the early game and transitioning into fast Ultralisks is very effective in ZvP. This
takes Protoss by surprise since they are not used to playing against this style.
- Mass Roach vs Protoss: Max out on Roaches and push the Protoss
early with this build order. Works great for Zergs with great macro that otherwise struggle versus
ZvT Build Orders
- Baneling Bust - When a Terran tries to start their third
Command Center before the Factory, Marines and Bunkers alone are not going to be enough to stop a well-timed
- 3 Base Mutalisk (Econ Mutas) - An excellent Mutalisk-based
opener for Zerg. Involves slightly delaying the third base in order to get out an early pack of 10 Mutalisks.
Zerg macro is slowed slightly, but it is nowhere close to being an all-in attack.
ZvZ Build Orders
- 9 Pool - The 9 Pool is actually a legit opener on 2 player
maps in Zerg versus Zerg. If your opponent opens with a Hatchery first, you typically can win the game outright
or at least cause a huge amount of damage. Even if the opponent gets an earlier Spawning Pool, you do not end
up very far behind in ZVZ with this opener.
- Baneling Rush - An early Spawning Pool and gas can allow the
Zerg player to follow up their Zergling rush with very early Banelings. One good connect on clustered enemy
Drones or Zerglings is game over at this early in the game.
General Zerg Openers and Build Orders
Zerg players often use the same basic openers against each race. Builds may diverge slightly from game to game
(i.e. adding Queens in response to seeing Protoss air units), but these basic openers will serve you well no matter
what your opponent's race. We will start with the most aggressive openers and the builds will become more
economical as you move further down the page.
6/10: Spawning Pool
8/10: Zerglings (3 pairs)
...follow up with steady stream of Zerglings
The 6 Pool involves building no additional Drones at the start of the match and instead saving up for a Spawning
Pool. Sometimes only 1 Drone is added so that a 4th pair of Zerglings can be started sooner.
The chance of failure with the 6 Pool is very high. You should only use this build if you are confident that
your opponent (of any race) is going for an expansion-first build. If the opponent does anything other than opt for
a quick expansion, you are in trouble.
If you are right, go in and start messing with the enemy's workers. Do not worry about destroying the expansion.
Instead, you should be worried about destroying workers and preventing unit production. You can let your
reinforcements take out the expansion. Do not lose all your Zerglings to enemy workers. Your goal is to kill
isolated workers but not lose any Zerglings. Delay enemy unit production until you can get another wave of
Zerglings to the enemy's base.
10 Pool or Overpool
10/10: Spawning Pool
10/10: Spawning Pool
The 10 Pool is when the Spawning Pool comes first while the Overpool refers to getting the Overlord first. These
builds are intended to be aggressive but are a little less all-in than going for a 6 Pool.
As soon as the Spawning Pool finishes in either case, start making 3 pairs of Zerglings as well as a Queen when
you can afford it. The extra workers means that you will be able to afford a steady stream of Zergling production
and still eventually save up for a second Queen and Hatchery. This allows you to be aggressive with Zerglings
without it entirely being an all in.
This build does rely on causing damage and delaying the opponent with your Zerglings. It is ideal for use
against players who are going for a fast expansion. Unlike the 6 Pool where you need to completely halt the
opponent's progression, with the 10 Pool or Overpool, destroying the expansion and a handful of workers is
enough damage to make the attack worthwhile. You can start your own expansion at home sooner and end the Zergling
attack with a better expansion timing and higher Drone count than your opponent.
This build is particularly good against other Zerg players since it hard counters Hatchery first builds. It also
does well against Terran and Protoss players that go for an expansion first, although on the ladder, Terran and
Protoss are less likely to opt for this route. However, if you have played your opponent before and know they like
risky, economic openers, this can be a good choice against any race.
Gas and Pool First Expansion (Metabolic Boost Expand)
14/18: Spawning Pool
16/18: Pull Drones off Gas and harvest minerals (at 100 gas)
18/26: Metabolic Boost
20/26: Hatchery (can do Hatchery before 2 pairs of Zerglings)
Also known as "14 Gas Before Pool", "Speedling Expand", or "Fast Zerg Speed", this build involves getting out
Metabolic Boost early in the match without significantly delaying the timing of the expansion. This allows the Zerg
player to gain map control, chase out Hellions, Reapers, or Stalkers, or even pin the enemy Zerg in their own
From here, players can either make Zerglings to take map control or continue macroing up, just getting the early
Metabolic Boost in case the enemy made an attack.
16/18: Spawning Pool
23/26: Queen x2
This is likely the most popular Zerg opener against any race. Although the Zerg going for this opener risks
losing to an unusual early rush like a 6 Pool, proxy Barracks attack, or proxy Zealot rush, Zerg players believe
that the occasional loss to these oddball rushes is worth the advantage Zerg gets in any other game from going for
this quick expansion.
This allows the Zerg's expansion to finish around the same time the Spawning Pool finishes. Queens can be
started at each Hatchery at the same time. The timing of it all is very convenient for that reason. It is the
most economical method for Zerg players.
I recommend trying out all of the build orders to figure out which one is the right for you. Be sure to change
your build order based on your enemy's actions, such as testing out the Overpool against a player you have played
before that went for a Hatchery first build. If you are looking to min/max risk and reward, try the Gas and Pool
First expansion on 2 player maps and the Hatchery first build on 4 player maps.