StarCraft® II

Tips for ZvZ

Posts: 2,131
Hey everyone, I'm looking for some ZvZ tips and advice.

...Okay, a lot of ZvZ tips and advice.

ZvZ has got to be my worst match-up -- I don't understand when to be the aggressor, or when to play defensively.

It makes matters worse that there's no such thing as a sneak attack or being greedy. Until Mutalisks are out on the field, each player can see exactly what the other player is sending at them, or when the other player takes an expansion.

On top of this, every unit feels like a glass cannon. You can lose your Speedlings to a couple of Banelings, lose your Roaches to a couple of Mutalisks, or lose your Mutalisks to a couple of Fungals.

As a former Terran, I did not know how dreadful this mirror match-up was. I genuinely hope that they try to make it more forgiving and dynamic in HOTS.

My questions are:
1) When should you drone, and when should you not drone?
2) When should you tech to Roaches before Muta/Infestor, or Muta/Infestor before Roaches?
3) What are the differences between the Muta/Infestor tech paths?
4) What are good ways to stop Speedling runbys?
5) Are Hydralisks viable in any situation?
6) When is it a good idea to take a 3rd expansion? What unit composition do you need to make this safe?
7) When is it a good time to start upgrades, and which ones are the best to get?
8) What is the ultimate late-game ZvZ deathball composition? Or is there no such thing?

Thank you for your help, I really appreciate it.
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Posts: 40
ZvZ is stupid. fixed position maps 6 pool them, or random positions 10 pool.

anything else gets you killed.
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Posts: 1,172
ZvZ is the Bane of my existance (see what I did there?). But seriously, I hate this MU and suck at Ling/Bane wars so much that for now I've just been Ling Spine rushing. If it doesn't work, I leave.
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Posts: 2,131
Thanks for the responses.
ZvZ is stupid. fixed position maps 6 pool them, or random positions 10 pool.

anything else gets you killed.
10 Pool seems to work well against 15 Hatch openers, but not against Pool before Hatch (12, 14, etc.). I play Random though so sometimes they'll 15 Hatch and you can catch them off guard.

In my experience 6 Pool doesn't work very well in ZvZ, even with pulling Drones for Spine Crawlers. He'll just kill you with his Drones and it's gg. Have you been able to make it work against a Pool first Zerg?

01/28/2013 12:24 PMPosted by DirtyD
ZvZ is the Bane of my existance (see what I did there?). But seriously, I hate this MU and suck at Ling/Bane wars so much that for now I've just been Ling Spine rushing. If it doesn't work, I leave.
Ohhh, I see what you did there. :D

Haha I don't blame you for rushing! ZvZ isn't even fun to play, it's so frustrating.
Edited by EliteAxiom on 1/28/2013 12:46 PM PST
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Posts: 749
Hey everyone, I'm looking for some ZvZ tips and advice.

...Okay, a lot of ZvZ tips and advice.

ZvZ has got to be my worst match-up -- I don't understand when to be the aggressor, or when to play defensively.

It makes matters worse that there's no such thing as a sneak attack or being greedy. Until Mutalisks are out on the field, each player can see exactly what the other player is sending at them, or when the other player takes an expansion.

On top of this, every unit feels like a glass cannon. You can lose your Speedlings to a couple of Banelings, lose your Roaches to a couple of Mutalisks, or lose your Mutalisks to a couple of Fungals.

As a former Terran, I did not know how dreadful this mirror match-up was. I genuinely hope that they try to make it more forgiving and dynamic in HOTS.

My questions are:
1) When should you drone, and when should you not drone?
2) When should you tech to Roaches before Muta/Infestor, or Muta/Infestor before Roaches?
3) What are the differences between the Muta/Infestor tech paths?
4) What are good ways to stop Speedling runbys?
5) Are Hydralisks viable in any situation?
6) When is it a good idea to take a 3rd expansion? What unit composition do you need to make this safe?
7) When is it a good time to start upgrades, and which ones are the best to get?
8) What is the ultimate late-game ZvZ deathball composition? Or is there no such thing?

Thank you for your help, I really appreciate it.


So I'm not Masters, and this is my worst match up, so take anything I say with a grain of salt. I'm sure there are some better players who can help you more than I. But I'll give you my opinion anyway, since I do watch a ton of pro games and I have been making some progress with this MU lately.

1) It's a stupid answer, but as far as I can tell it's the correct one. If you feel threatened or scout a mass of units, you build units. If you don't, you drone. Generally 55 drones is a good amount, spread across three bases. Take your third when you feel you have enough units to protect it and your natural. I like to use two evos and a spine to semi-wall my natural, leave a few units there and about 5-8 roaches at my third while it morphs to protect against lings.(all very vague and not helpful, I know haha)

2) Roaches first. Roaches are the backbone of your army. They can neutralize larger ling/bane armies, you can mass them and run them across the map against Muta armies to either by time or do damage, they're cheap and they're the best meatshield you have at your disposal.

3) Mutas can give you map control by hunting overlords, harass mineral lines and give you more mobility, but aren't very good in a heads up fight. Harass can be countered fairly easily with spores and queens, and if you mass mutas to overpower that type of defense you're extremely vulnerable to a chain fungal killing your entire army. Also a large roach army with upgrades can do significant damage to your infrastructure while absorbing fire from mutas.

Infestors jive well with roaches, though less so since the infested terran nerf. They can be more useful defensively since fungal gets stronger when used at a choke point (i.e. ramps) and they hard counter mutas. A roach army with fungals will do a lot more damage than a roach army without them, and they can help you prevent your opponent from retreating if you're having a favourable engagement.

4) Depends what phase of the game you're in. Early game, two queens on hold position on a ramp with a spine nearby will slow down a ling attack significantly. Mid game, a semi-wall at the front with a spine and a couple banelings on hold position (I like to have 1-2 in each mineral line and another at the top of my ramps) will deter runbys. Late game, fungal wrecks lings, roaches will wreck lings in tight spaces.
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Posts: 749
5) Yes. A dozen Hydras mixed in with a roach infestor army adds a ton of dps to your attacks. They share upgrades with roaches, and add more AA if he is going mutas. The downside to hydras is once you attack with them, you aren't retreating because they're too slow off creap. Personally, I've gone to more hydras and less infestors since the IT nerf, but i can't say whether thats a good idea or not. Seems to be working for me though.

6) Another vague answer, but when you feel safe. You don't need a particular comp to hold it, you need a good map presence to see when it's threatened. I keep a small group of ling/bane or a handful of roaches while it's morphing, and then drop a couple spines once it's up. After that I try to engage on his side of the map as much as possible. Infestors are always a good defensive option, but they need support. If you scout Mutas, drop a couple spores and/or an extra queen.

7) Upgrades can be a huge difference maker in this MU, so start them ASAP. I generally use my gas like this: First 100 to ling speed, next 50 to a baneling nest, then I start 1/1 ranged and carapace. When lair finishes I start roach speed ASAP, and try to get 2/2 going as soon as 1/1 finishes.

8) Generally you won't make it to Hive units (you will get Hive for 3/3 upgrades though) so the "deathball" of choice is roach/hydra/infestor. Normally end game zvz will turn into a battle of two roach/hydra/infestor armies. There is a build where your goal is Ultra/Ling/Infestor, and if you get that out in large numbers it will destroy a roach based army, but it's sort of gimmicky.

Hope some of that helps. And if anyone spots incorrect info in there please correct me! My ZvZ needs help too, maybe I'm off on my understanding of the match up.
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Posts: 2,131
Thank you AlrgcToZmbz! I'll definitely give your recommendations a try on ladder today and see how it goes.

Don't worry about not being Master; I'm probably Silver or Gold level in ZvZ right now. All of the above will be really helpful.

Thanks again.

EDIT: If you ever need help in ZvT, feel free to add me.
Edited by EliteAxiom on 1/28/2013 1:38 PM PST
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Posts: 40

In my experience 6 Pool doesn't work very well in ZvZ, even with pulling Drones for Spine Crawlers. He'll just kill you with his Drones and it's gg. Have you been able to make it work against a Pool first Zerg?.


yes but only on close positions, and because his spine wasnt covering his pool. my build is

6pool
5 overlord
rally point on his main
zergling
zergling
zergling
ect.

is works against all hatch firsts and if your opponent doesnt scout and/or has poor micro is will beat most openings. if he didnt make any spines its GG.

the aim is to attack his drones/pool/spines i usaully have 2-3 lings attacking a building and micro the rest to kill of his lings/drones.

why? because ZvZ is stupid thats why.
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Posts: 13

In my experience 6 Pool doesn't work very well in ZvZ, even with pulling Drones for Spine Crawlers. He'll just kill you with his Drones and it's gg. Have you been able to make it work against a Pool first Zerg?.


yes but only on close positions, and because his spine wasnt covering his pool. my build is

6pool
5 overlord
rally point on his main
zergling
zergling
zergling
ect.

is works against all hatch firsts and if your opponent doesnt scout and/or has poor micro is will beat most openings. if he didnt make any spines its GG.

the aim is to attack his drones/pool/spines i usaully have 2-3 lings attacking a building and micro the rest to kill of his lings/drones.

why? because ZvZ is stupid thats why.


Honestly, 6-pool is such a bad build. If you REALLY don't want to play ZvZ, you can at least 7 pool spinecrawler rush him. 6 lings and a spinecrawler building are a lot more scary than 6 lings.

Pool @ 7, build 1 drone and an overlord, rally lings.
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Posts: 180
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8NNhz7IkAM&list=PLPW1oxf-pY2z_TlIpqbP5QU_R940oevX9&index=4

Skip to about 15:20. I'd advise learning to play the matchup as opposed to cheesing and crossing your fingers every game.
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Posts: 1,736
I like ZvZ more than I like TvT and I play macro for both. I think its easier to hold off ling aggression then it is to hold off 1/1/1 if you did a 1 rax FE.
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Posts: 3,892
1. When you're drone scouting (if you do that), you should stick around until after his pool finishes. If you see him stockpiling 3 larvae as his pool is finishing, he's probably going to make 6 lings instead of the normal 2 or 4, and I usually take that to mean a more aggressive strategy.

2. I almost always tech to roaches before muta/infestor. I usually try to force the ling/bling wars a bit more than most people I think though which ends up delaying mutas/infestors, making it possible to go roaches easier. If you notice they're playing really defensive (evo walls, spines, some defensive banelings, not making an effort to attack), I usually interpret that as them trying to go mutas quicker (try to confirm with overlord scout), and in that case I'll probably go ling/hydra instead.

3. I'm not sure if I understand this correctly, so ignore this if it's not what you're looking for. In WoL, you usually go mutas with the intention of delaying your opponent's third and taking map control so you can easily take yours, then transitioning into infestors. Mass muta died out because if you do end up losing all your mutas to a few fungals, that's the game. Going infestors first can leave you vulnerable for a while until you've got the numbers/energy to fend off mutas easily and deal with their ground army with a combination of roach/fungal.

4. In your main and natural, evo/warren/nest walls with queens/spines are good. For other expansions, I like to put spines wedged between mineral patches so it's harder for lings to kill them. If they hold position in your mineral line find 3 minerals that make a little pocket you can mineral walk all your drones into and keep them there. If they try to attack them in there, only 1 or 2 lings will be able to attack at a time, and you can attack with all your drones at once by constantly clicking on the middle patch, the a moving anywhere and going back to clicking on the middle minerals. Keeping a few banelings on hand can also be helpful, although just banelings alone won't do much.

5. Hydras can end the game if they skip roaches to go straight to mutas. You need to recognize that they're not making many banelings or any roaches and scout for the spire. If you catch it early enough, you can reactively put down a hydra den, get them out and push at or a little after the time his mutas come out, and all that money invested into mutas causes his army be too weak. I usually put two spores up per base as I push just to ensure they can't do any damage with their mutas.

Roach/hydra/infestor is also stronger than roach/infestor. If they go muta and you go infestor, you still can't really move out until you've got a good number of infestors in case they send 1 muta at a time to waste your energy, having a few hydras gives you move freedom, although you sacrifice some gas that could be more infestors. Later on in the game, hydras do more damage than roaches, so you want a good buffer of roaches, then hydras for more damage behind them, and infestors for fungal/IT.

6. I usually feel safe taking a third when I'm preparing to move over to roaches. Things you've got to be careful about when taking a third are split runbys and mutas, so try to keep an eye on his army size and figure out which tech path he's going down as early as possible. If they go mutas and I want to take a quicker third, I may go hydras before infestors to make it easier, unless I'm able to get spores up at my third before mutas become a problem. It's hard for me to give anything too specific, since mostly I take my third based on how the game is going, sorry I can't be of too much help here.

7. I like an evo wall at my natural, so the option to start upgrades early is available in addition to the extra security. If I'm not feeling ling/bling wars and I want to go quick roaches, I'll go for an early +1 range attack(sorry, don't have any times) to try and catch them before they get +1 carapace so my roaches 2 shot their lings. If I know I'm gonna be on lings longer, I'll go carapace first so my lings don't get 2 shot by their roaches. Lings can do well against small number of roaches as long as they're not getting 2 shot. In muta vs muta fights, air carapace is always better.

8. Late game zvz can be tricky. I've had an opponent who got brood lord/infestor, but I just split up a bunch of roaches and killed all his bases. Brood lords can be countered easily enough by corruptors as long as they're spread out and they're so slow you've pretty much gotta be aggressive with them right away or risk getting pulled apart by multipronged attacks. Roach drops in the main and small groups being sent to your outer bases is tough to stop with such a slow comp. For these reasons, I'd say roach/hydra/infestor is the best late game option.
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Posts: 121
Hello, although I'm no masters, I'll give you my 2 cents. Generally when I ZvZ I go roach/hydra/infestor. Its a great mix and covers both ground and air. Try to defend against ling/blings, expand when you can, and tech up to the above units. Add in a few lings aswell and you got a good army composition. Whenever I play a zerg player and they go muta, I usually win due to hydra dps and infestor fungal/ITs. If the opponent goes heavy lings, bring out a few banes and you'll be able to at least scare him off (if not wipe out his ling army). Also infestors fungal can actually kill packs of lings and makes them temporarily useless. Add that together with your banes and you'll clean them out. So basically, try and expand when you can (I know vague :/) while defending your self from their ling pressure, and tech up to roach/infestor/hydra and you'll be able to compete with the enemy. From what I've heard, ZvZ really comes down to whoever can tech up the fastest to win. (not including the lucky all-ins though) :)

Hope this helps.
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Posts: 3,892
Other tips:

Keep banelings in groups of two, it takes two banelings to kill a baneling, but two banelings to kill lots of banelings.

3 banelings to kill baneling cocoons.

If your opponent is going mass muta but is good about avoiding your infestors, burrow some and try to bait his mutas near them so you cang et that initial fungal off, then chain fungal them all to death.

2 queens on the ramp will completely block the ramp from lings.
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Posts: 202
I saw a replay the other day for zvz. I think it was stephano vs puma. What the commentator explain about early ling bane agression was very interesting. The problem with zvz is to know when you should tech up or expand. When you decide to tech up, you open a breach in your defence to the opponent.

Personnaly, I like to put pressure with ling/bane at the beguinning. Why? Because with that, you decide when and how the fight going. If the fight happen in is base, you could put your money in offence than defence. A lot of time, when i'm able to snipe is expand, it's a certain win. Because it's give me time to upgrade to roach. Always funny to see a huge baneling explosion at is natural.

So i like to push with 4-6 ling at is natural and then bring those back and make a bigger push few minute later with more ling/bane. It's force my opponent to make ling and than my bane push work fine. If he bring roach, I'm still able to build some roach before he's in my base. I expand before my push (always expand when you attack)

I'm not a master, I'm only gold but from now that strategie work fine. The only danger is if you forgot to tech up and just focus on ling/bane when is defence is more strong. One last thing, Infestor is the key in late game. First one to pop them up generaly win big time.
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