Standard Roach Hydra Guide ZvP


1st Overlord
2nd Overlord
First 4-8 Zerglings
Stargate Unit(s)
Gateway Unit(s)

Build Order

VS Stargate
VS Twilight Council
VS Forge

Key to ZvP: Multi-prong Attacks 

End Game



1st Overlord

Your first overlord can go straight through their base. Most of the time your overlord will get out because adept first is much better for the protoss. The adept allows the protoss to get valuable scouting of drone counts to see incoming early zerg all-ins. With your first overlord you want to identify first if there is a proxy on the map and second what tech your opponent is going for, twilight council or star gate.

If there is only 1 pylon in the Protoss base, they are going for a proxy somewhere on the map (most likely stargate). Otherwise there will by 2 pylons and a choice of tech (the second pylon should go down around ~1:52).

Another thing to watch out for is when their warpgate starts, commonly, Protoss players will get the stargate before warpgate but will start warpgate before their twilight council if they have decided to go for a twilight council build. Pay attention to their cybernetics core as it finishes to see if it is researching or not (bonus if it is chrono boosted this is a fairly good indication that they want to go for some kind of gateway based all in).

If the Protoss player goes stalker first and you lose this overlord, that is alright as long as you replace the overlord as soon as possible and scout with lings.

Here are two screenshots of dark’s overlord path in his first game against classic at WESG on blackpink. With this overlord he scouts the entire main of Classic and sees a chrono boosted oracle, despite the stargate being all the way in the back and Classic going adept -> stalker.

Dark Overlord Path 1.PNG

Dark Overlord Path 2.PNG

After you have scouted their base as above, position the overlord outside of the main base (in the case above placing the overlord to the right on a pillar near the base on the lowground would work well). Use this overlord to rescouting the Protoss base between 4:00 and 4:15 (especially if the Protoss went for a twilight council first).

2nd Overlord

On ladder, your second overlord should scout your natural base (ideally patrol to see the whole base as well as the ramp to the natural) to scout for a cannon rush. When your natural is ~50% complete you have 2 options. Since stargate is such a common build and a phoenix will likely end up killing this overlord if you send it out, you can keep it close to your base. Alternatively, sending it out to an overlord pillar near their natural base is also a good option as you can often see their wall as well as the units the gateways units they are building. If you scout twilight council first I recommend sending this overlord out as seeing the units the Protoss is producing with their gateways is useful.

First 4-8 Zerglings

The job of the first 4-8 zerglings is to first push back the adept and not allow any drone kills. After this first early encounter, if you scout that they are going for a proxy (only 1 pylon) then you need to use these zerglings to scout and find the pylon/proxy to identify what type of proxy it is (and hopefully shut it down before it can actually produce anything). Otherwise single zerglings need to be placed at the Protoss third base location to see when they take a third base as well as outside their natural base (to see when they move out) and ideally on a few paths to your base so that you can see warp prisms that are on the way to your base.

To Micro: select your zergling hot key, move command them to the location that they need to be, hold shift and click on a zergling on the wireframe at the bottom of the screen. Then let go of shift,  click on the next location to send a zergling, hold shift and click on another zergling on the wireframe. Continue this until they are where they need to be and then remake the hotkey with the remaining zerglings by holding control and pressing the control group that they are on. (this is for the standard hotkey profile, however this may be different with different hotkey profiles – it is the create control group hotkey).


Here is a great example of dark scouting with 2 Zerglings, the zergling on the right has vision of Protoss units leaving the base and the zergling on the left sees 2 zealots a stalker and an adept trying to take a third base (which rules out 2 base all ins, and any kind of adept based pressure).  In this game Dark also takes control of the south xel’naga tower early to get vision of any warp prism or other Protoss unit crossing the map in that location.


If you feel like you haven’t gotten sufficient scouting to know what your opponent is doing, building an overseer once your lair has finished and using it to scout your opponents base along with a changeling or two can help. (this can also be very useful for checking if your opponent has a third base on neon violet square)

Stargate Unit(s)

If you aren’t sure whether they went stargate or twilight council first based on your initial scouting, if you haven’t seen a stargate unit by 4:00 (whether that be an oracle, phoenix or voidray) it is a safe assumption that the Protoss player went twilight council first.

Using your zerglings to poke into their natural wall (or with your second overlord) seeing the type of units your opponent is creating is useful. Seeing multiple adepts (3+) usually indicates that your opponent is going for a midgame adept pressure or adept all in. Similarly seeing multiple zealots can mean a similar midgame pressure or all in. Seeing multiple sentries (2+) will generally indicate some form of sentry based all in.

Build Order


This basic opening will be safe against any of the Protoss meta builds described below with the correct reactions. However against strange non-meta strategies (anything on 1 base essentially) you may need to adjust and react yourself.

16 – Hatch
18 – Extractor //use the 17th drone from larvae to make ~1:10
17 – Spawning Pool //use the 18th drone from larvae to make
//Using the drones from larvae allows you to keep full 16 drone saturation
19 – Overlord
20 – 2x Queens
24 – 4x Zerglings //Rally these lings to your third to clear probe/pylon 
26/@100 gas – Zergling Speed (Pull 2 drones off of gas)
30 – Hatch
Your first Queen at natural becomes a creep/defense queen right away and should place tumors.
29 – 3rd Queen at Natural //Use this Queen to inject your natural
33 – Overlord
34 – 4x Zerglings //Only make these lings if they are pressuring with 2x early adepts
36 – Overlord
42 – 4th Queen at Natural
44 – Overlord
@3rd Hatchery – 5th Queen //Many of the top players will use 3 inject queens and 2 creep spread queens and then pull inject queens to defend depending on the situation, sending them back after defending (or remaking if they die). If pulling queens isn’t comfortable for you, you can continue making queens to add on 1 or 2 more for defense and creep spread.
@3:50 – Lair//Put 2 drones back into gas at rally 2 drones from your main to your main mineral line to keep full saturation, alternatively rally 2 drones from the first inject larvae into gas.
@4:15 – Roach Warren + 2x Extractors
@100% Roach warren – Glial Reconstitution (roach speed) and ~8-10 Roaches

VS Stargate

Stargate builds are the most common in the current metagame due to the safety they provide Protoss players against all in zerg strategies. Generally the Protoss player will make 1-2 oracles as well as a phoenix to kill overlords and lift a queen while the oracles kill drones. They will follow up this stargate harass with some type of pressure, whether that be adepts, an archon drop or a 2 base all in.

@3:40 – 3x Spore Crawlers (1 in the main 1 in the natural, use the first drone at your third to make a spore crawler there as well) //3:20 if proxied
@4:45 – 2-3 Additional Sets of Zerglings to pressure 3rd and scout

VS Stargate into Standard Archon Chargelot Immortal

To Scout: they should have a third base down by 5:00 at the latest. Additionally, to ensure that it is not a fake third base, checking for continued probe production (nexus lights flashing in main/natural) or just having probes at the third. (Also by scouting robo/templar archives or immortals/archons, as there is a chance they are going for a fast skytoss build instead of a standard one)

@5:30-6:00 – 1x Evolution Chamber + 4th Extractor //+1 range -> +2 range -> +3 range (if you have hive) -> +1 Carapace
@60 drones – 5th Extractor
@3 base 5 gas saturation – Hydralisk Den, 4th base + 6th Extractor
@7:00-8:00 – Pneumatized Carapace + 3-4 Drop Overlord for Multiprong Attack
@4th base almost complete – 7th and 8th gases
@7th and 8th gases – Lurker den
@80 Drones – 5th Base + Infestation Pit -> Hive -> Adaptive Talons +3 Range and eventual spire for broodlords, corruptors.

VS Stargate into High Templar Archon Drop

To Scout: there will be a templar archives and robotics facility (as well as a twilight council researching charge) as the follow up to the stargate. This could just as easily indicate standard play without the archon drop, if so they will usually make an immortal before the warp prism out of the robotics facility. The Protoss will have taken 2x gases at their natural around 3:30.

Follow stargate into standard archon chargelot immortal as you will have at least 10 roaches in time to defend. Just make sure you are in position with queens and roaches to defend the archon drop. 

To Micro: See VS DT Archon Drop below in the VS Twilight council section.

VS Double Stargate Phoenix

To Scout: the Protoss will have taken 2 gases at their natural around 3:30. It is tough to scout since the phoenix will deny your overlord vision, however once you see more than 1 or 2 phoenix it is likely 2 gate stargate. Sneaking lings into their base is one way to scout it.

Get a spire as soon as soon as you start to see more than 1 phoenix. Get 8 corruptors @100% spire and drone harder than you normally would. Follow the rest of the build in a similar order, including upgrades, hydralisk den and lurker den @ 8 gases. If they are playing 2 stargate phoenix into skytoss, get the air carapace upgrade right away. 8 Corruptors 1 shots a phoenix, so try to target fire. Also consider 2x spores / base depending on how fast your spire is.

VS Stargate into 2 base All-in (chargelot, archon chargelot or gladept)

To Scout: Around 5:00 if they haven’t taken a third base this usually means some type of 2 base all in. Scouting multiple adepts holding the wall will generally indicate a gladept all in, pulling off of gas will indicate a chargelot all in and a templar archives is indicative of an archon chargelot all in. It is likely that the gases in the natural will have not been taken by 3:30.

@5:00 if there is no third base – constant roach production and delay until you see a third base. Once you have held the attack, continue with the standard archon chargelot immortal build order with the evolution chamber and 4th extractor at the same time just delayed from the build order time. 
If they start a third base, it is safe to start droning some. 

To Micro: see respective all-ins below in the VS Twilight council section.

VS Stargate into Gladept Pressure into 1 or 2 Robos

To Scout: The easiest tell for scouting this base is multiple adepts in their natural wall/at their base which you can scout with zerglings. Protoss will have not taken 2x gases in their natural by 3:30.

Build an additional 4-6 roaches and then follow vs Stargate into standard archon chargelot immortal.

The single robo version will get storm earlier, while the 2 robo follow up the gladept pressure with more immortals and a delayed storm. Either way, the response is the same and scouting one or the other isn’t crucial.

To Micro: use 7-8 roaches to engage the adepts and another 7-8 to follow the shade. Pull drones as quickly as possible to lose as few as possible (ideally right before a shade finishes). Continue build as normal.

VS Stargate into Storm Drop

To Scout: Templar Archives at ~4:45 when it is finished (~5:21) Storm will begin and will be chrono boosted. If you scout a Templar Archives in this time frame and it is researching, it is likely a Storm drop. If it is being chrono boosted, it is almost certainly a Storm drop. Seeing the Robotics Facility and Warp Prism along with the Templar Archives ensure that it is a Storm or archon drop, while only seeing the Templar Archives could mean that it is a standard Immortal, Chargelot, Archon + Storm composition.

Follow vs Stargate into standard archon chargelot immortal. Be ready to pull drones against the storm drop. It is crucial to pull drones as fast as possible against the storm drop and then have roaches in position to defend the follow up archon drop.

VS Twilight Council

Twilight Council builds are in general more aggressive than stargate builds but not as common as they are often weaker to Zerg based all-ins.

VS DT Archon Drop 4 DTs @5:00 / 2 Archons @5:30

To Scout: this is a twilight council first build with no stargate opener. They will not be researching anything from the twilight council, they will only have 1 gateway in the wall (with 3 being added on at ~3:50 to warp in 4 dts). Scouting the dark shrine ensures that it is some type of DT play, likely a DT archon drop build. Against this build, the Protoss will take their natural gases between 4:00 and 4:30.

@4:30 2x Spore Crawlers (to detect dts) //1 in main and 1 at the second most vulnerable location (usually the third) these spores are only required if your lair is later than 3:50, otherwise you should be able to make an overseer in time.
@100% Lair – 1x Overseer
@5:30-6:00 – 1x Evolution Chamber + 4th Extractor
@Evolution Chamber – +1 Range
@60 drones – Extractor
@3 base saturation Hydralisk Den, Fourth Base and 6th gas
@4th base almost complete – 7th and 8th gases
@7th and 8th gases – Lurker den
@80 Drones – 5th Base + Infestation Pit -> Hive -> Adaptive Talons +3 Range and eventual spire

To Micro: Just follow the warp prism with queens/roaches/overseer and engage whenever archons/dts are dropped. Try to target warp prism with queens. Ideally focus fire one archon and spread out roaches to take minimal damage from the archon splash damage.

VS 2 Base Adept All-in

To Scout: they will have an abnormal amount of adepts in the wall, the twilight council will be researching (likely chrono boosted) and they will not have a third base.

@5:00 4th Extractor
@50-52 Drones – Constant roach production until the attack has been held.

Once the attack has been defended, counter attack, roaches trade effectively against adepts so their goal is to severely hinder your economy, not fight your army. After you kill the adepts you should be able to counter attack and get a reasonable amount of damage (or at least force them to not expand/build shield batteries and more adepts).

As you counter attack:
Go back to droning
Evolution Chamber
@60 drones – 5th Extractor
@3 Base Saturation – Hydralisk den, 4th base and 6th Extractor
@4th base almost complete – 7th and 8th gases
@7th and 8th gases – Lurker den
@80 Drones – 5th Base + Infestation Pit -> Hive -> Adaptive Talons +3 Range and eventual spire

To Micro: Try to keep two control groups of roaches, one to follow the shades and one to engage the adepts. Pull drones as soon as possible to avoid as many drone loses as possible. Use queens to target warp prism (if there is one).

VS 2 Base Chargelot Archon All-in

To Scout: The twilight council will be researching (likely chrono boosted), they will not have a third base and they will have the templar archives. They won’t have many gateway units (adept/stalker) but may have a few zealots.

Follow the VS 2 Base adept all-in.

To Micro: Kite with roaches, pull queens to target warp prism. Optional produce 3 ravagers to try and corrosive bile the warp prism down.

VS Gasless Chargelot All-in @5:00

To scout: taken probes off of gas in the main, 7 extra gates start to go down @ 3:15, not producing probes from main/natural once they hit 32 probes which happens around ~3:10. Will have not taken a third base. Check natural gases, they should be taken by 4:30, if not it is likely some kind of chargelot all in.

@100% Roach Warren – Constant roach production until the attack has been held.
If you scouted late, and made more than 40 drones, make 1-3 spine crawlers.

If you survive their attack with roaches and roach speed and lose under 10 drones you have basically won the game as they have no additional tech behind it and are on 32 probes and haven’t been mining gas. Counter attack with your roaches after holding. Optional make more roaches to counter attack.

As you counter attack:
Go back to droning
@50 Drones – Evolution Chamber + 1x Extractors
@60 drones -5th Extractor
@3 Base 5 Gas Saturation – Hydralisk den and 4th base + 6th Extractor
@4th base almost complete – 7th and 8th gases
@7th and 8th gases – Lurker den
@80 Drones – 5th Base + Infestation Pit -> Hive -> Adaptive Talons +3 Range and eventual spire

To Micro: just kite with roaches and target the warp prism with queens when possible. Pull all queens to defend. If necessary, you can put roaches in the mineral line and hold position your drones to block the zealots.

VS Forge First Cannon Rush

The response to cannon rush is highly dependent on when you scout it, how good the cannon rusher is and what map you are on/where the buildings have been place and if the Protoss is able to steal gas.

Generally, if possible pull 3-4 drones per pylon/cannon placed +1 drone/probe to chase the probe. The most important thing is to keep up your macro during this time, keep making drones when possible and don’t forget your build order. Do not be afraid to back off and cancel your natural if you are not able to successfully defend the cannon rush with drones. If you can not defend or scout the rush late, going into 1 base roach ravager queen with 2 gases is likely your only option to break out as fast as possible.

Other important tips include:
1 – using drones to block likely cannon locations. Patrolling a drone in locations that would be best to place a cannon makes it difficult for cannons to be placed.
2 – Being able to sneak out any number of lings/roaches/drone can be very useful as in the case of the roach/lings will force the Protoss player to make a cannon at home and if you are able to sneak a drone out you can expand somewhere else on the map (forcing the protoss to either use more minerals to cannon that base as well or be a base for yourself).

There are no specific rules for defending a cannon rush, as each one is different enough that it will require a different response. The most important thing when defending cannon rushes is to stay calm and be decisive, just like defending every other all in.

Key to ZvP: Multi-prong Attacks

Attacking in multiple places is the current key to ZvP, especially when playing a roach hydra lurker style over a ling bane hydra style. This is because once there is a higher immortal count and multiple high templars worth of storm on the Protoss side, it is very difficult for the zerg player to win a straight head on fight without A) a great lurker choke B) somehow sniping all of their detection (this shouldn’t be possible if they have oracles and are on top of their micro or C) getting to brood lords before the Protoss can reach late game stargate tech (tempest/carrier) these three options are all difficult and not reliable.

In order to defeat Protoss in these situations, you need to keep your army in two or more groups. If the protoss is attacking, use 12-16 roaches and hydras to counter attack (either in drop overlords or just running into their natural or other expansion). You want to bring enough units with each multiprong attack such that one round of protoss warp ins can not effectively deal with the attack. When attacking always try to attack in more than one location at once.

The goal with these multi prong attacks is to hinder their economy or production/tech with one group of units while distracting the protoss army with your other group of units. Try to either trade effectively or never fully engage with whichever group is defended by the main Protoss army. Splitting into more than 2 groups can become even more effective by getting more damage done. Once you have been able to affect their economy, if you have a strong economy yourself you should be able to fight their army, remax and then finish off the Protoss as they won’t be able to keep up with your production.

Multiprong attacks like these are difficult to do and take some practice, but are incredibly effective and important for the roach hydra ZvP style.


In general, ZvP is difficult in the end game when the Protoss has mothership, carriers storm and other supporting units (voids, archons). While you can beat this army in slightly different ways, the general basis includes many spore crawlers (some pro games reach over 50 or more spore crawlers! make sure to replace the drones) infestors for fungal growth on interceptors, infested terrans and neural parasite, corruptors (ideally enough to kill a carrier with one volley) some number of broodlords based on the size of their ground army and a smaller army (usually composed of zerglings and hydralisks) to counterattack the protoss. Other options include a couple of vipers (to abduct the mothership/carriers or parasitic bomb void rays despite being vulnerable to feedback) and 1-2 ultralisks for counterattacks or attacking high templar on the ground (vulnerable if they still have some number of immortals or high numbers of voidrays but can be good in counter attacks, especially if they have high amounts of static defense).


ZvPReplayPack – Here is a replay pack of some of the ZvP matches from IEM Katowice and WESG, featuring primarily Serral if you want to download them and learn from them yourself.

7 Replies to “Standard Roach Hydra Guide ZvP”

    1. I am not sure what you mean by update on attack timings. Do you mean common timings that protoss attack you or common times you should be attacking? If the protoss is turtling and just going straight for air there are a few options that you have such as droning up to 100 taking the whole map and going into mass spore crawler, infestor (neural and IT mainly but a few fungal is good too), corruptor, broodlord) or you can tech straight to hydras and just go mass hydra off of ~3 base saturation (get to 66 drones asap) and then just kill them.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s