Zerg Fast Expand in Starcraft 2

The Zerg fast expand strategy is by far my favorite Zerg strategy in Starcraft 2. This is my go-to strategy in almost every 1v1 situation and this has helped me win dozens of games in the Diamond league.

In this particular strategy, you skip out on defense, units, and technology in order to build a quick expansion and double the economic output of your enemy very early in the game. Note that this strategy is best suited for 1v1 and FFA play. It does not work well in 2v2, 3v3, and 4v4 matches.

The build order I use (and that I think is best) is often called the "IdrA" as IdrA is a professional player who uses this technique regularly. Here is the best build order for the Zerg fast expand technique:

- Drones all the way up to 10/10 supply count.

- Overlord at 10/10 supply count

- Drones up to 15/18 supply count

- Spawning Pool at 15/18 supply count

- Build 2 more Drones

- Build a Hatchery at your natural expansion (the one close to your base) at 16/18 supply count (note: make sure your Drone is in position when you have 300 minerals so you can start building your fast Hatchery right away).

- Overlord at 15/18 supply count (you lose 1 supply for building your Hatchery)

- Queen at 15/18 supply count

- 1 pair of Zerglings at 18/18 supply count

At this point, you are set to transition into whatever strategy you are using. If you scout the enemy and find he has few units and is not getting ready to attack, you can keep producing Drones and research new technology.

If the enemy scouts you (common in high leagues), he will probably try to rush to counter your Zerg fast expand strategy. In this situation, don't be afraid to build a few Spine Crawlers to secure your expansion and get Zerglings as needed. Use your Queens to connect the creep between your natural expansion and your main base, so your Queens can move efficiently between the two Hatcheries as needed.

If a Zerg player spots your fast expansion, he will likely opt for a Zergling rush. Hold your natural expansion as long as you can and in your main base tech for Roaches. Roaches demolish Zerglings and are good versus Spine Crawlers. I often find I am able to sacrifice my expansion and pump out about 9-12 Roaches and win with a counter. It takes Zerglings a long time to finish off a Hatchery! 

If a Terran player see you opting for the Zerg fast expand strategy, you are likely to see Hellions in your near future. Place your Spine Crawlers very tight up against both of your Hatcheries (2 at your natural and 3 at your main). You will want to place one near each extractor and one in the back of your mineral line.

Good Terran players will avoid these if you place them too far from your Hatchery, or go for your main base if you only defend your natural expansion. In this situation, I like to tech for either Mutalisks or Infestors and Ultralisks while staving off the Hellions. It seems to be very effective even in the Diamond league.

Protoss players are hard to predict. I find they will typically opt for teching themselves to Immortals and Colossi. In this situation, I like to tech further with Broodlords and Mutalisks. I use Mutalisks and Speedlings to slow the enemy down so he focuses on replenishing and defending his mineral line rather than on attacking me!

With that said, here is the pros of the Zerg fast expand strategy:

  • Zerg units are expensive and weak comparative to other races
  • Getting a strong economy going quickly helps alleviate this weakness
  • Zerg Queens and Spine Crawlers are great defensively and fairly inexpensive

And the cons of the Zerg fast expand strategy:

  • Susceptible to both ground and air rush
  • Need to be able to manage two bases while teching and building units (takes a lot of mental energy)

You can avoid con #1 by only opting for the Zerg fast expand at large Starcraft 2 maps. Some 1v1 maps like Metropolis have 4 starting points so you can safely fast expand before your enemy can find you, figure out what you are doing, build units, and attempt to counter.

The Zerg fast expand strat is much harder to counter when playing on large maps because the processes mentioned above take a long time on big maps. You should be able to build your expansion and defend it easily on such maps.

Con #2 is a lot harder to get around. If you have trouble controlling two bases, i would recommend simply sticking to Zerg for every match and using this technique literally every time (even if the situation is not optimal). This is good practice and will set you up for success with this strategy in the future.