Standard Roach ZvP

Build Order

Opening
European Opening
Korean Opening
Reaction VS Twilght First
Reaction VS DT Archon Drop
Reaction VS 2 Base Chargelot Archon All in
Reaction VS 2 Base Gasless Chargelot All in
Reaction VS 2 Base Gladept All in
Reaction VS Stargate First
Reaction VS Stargate into Archon Drop
Reaction VS 2 Stargate Phoenix
Reaction VS Stargate into Adept Timing
Reaction VS Stargate into 2 base all in

Playing Swarm Host
Playing Lurker
Endgame vs Protoss
Key to ZvP: Tempo and Momentum
Scouting and General Notes
Relevant HSC Replays

Intro

This is the complete guide to standard Roach based ZvP. Since Ling bane hydra styles against Protoss are very different, that style will be a separate guide. It will focus on the highest levels of ZvP play as well as strong responses to various common Protoss builds. This means all of the strategies and timings in this guide will be focused on the highest levels of play and as such, you may see various other builds on the ladder or similar builds at later timings. If you are at a lower level of play, focus on the order everything is built and the benchmarks that the build aims to hit rather than the specific times that everything is happening. To follow this build order, choose either the European opening or the Korean opening, follow the reaction to the build order you scout and then follow the transition to one of the army compositions listed.

Build Order

Opening

There are two types of standard opener build orders in ZvP currently. The first  builds two queens and four zerglings on 20 supply in order to start injecting, creep spread and push back the scouting probe to take the third base on 30-32 supply. The second builds the third hatchery on 20 supply by delaying the first two queens and third overlord. In general, the first opening is much more popular from European pros such as Serral and Lambo and the second is much more popular from Korean Pros such as Dark or Rogue. Because of this, I will refer to each as either the EU opening or the KR opening. Jump here to read more about the pros and cons of each opening.

European Opening

13 – Overlord
16 – Hatchery (15 hatch on tiny maps such as blueshift)
18 – Extractor (rally 17th drone from egg)
17 – Spawning Pool (rally 18th drone from egg)
Rally next 2 drones into gas and pull 1 from the mineral line
Rally last drone back to minerals
20 – Overlord
20 – 2x Queens 4x Zerglings (Queen @ main injects, Queen @ natural is creep queen)
@100 Gas – Pull 2 drones off of gas
26 – Metabolic Boost
31 – Hatchery
31 – Overlord
31 – Third Queen (@natural)
38 – Overlord
44 – 2x Overlord (only 2 if one overlord is going to die to phoenix opening)
44 – Fourth Queen
@100% Third base – Fifth Queen (@Third)

Korean Opening

13 – Overlord
16 – Hatchery (15 hatch on tiny maps such as blueshift)
18 – Extractor (rally 17th drone from egg)
17 – Spawning Pool (rally 18th drone from egg)
Rally next 2 drones into gas and pull 1 from the mineral line
Rally last drone back to minerals
19 / @~100Minerals – Send a drone to make your third base
20 – Hatchery
20 – First Queen (@Natural becomes creep queen)
@100 Gas – Pull 2 drones off of gas
26 – Metabolic Boost
26 – Overlord
26 – 4x Zerglings
@100% Queen – Creep Tumor 
28 – Second Queen (@Main)
30 – 2x Zerglings
31 – Third Queen (@Natural)
@100% Third Hatchery / 36 – Fourth Queen (@Third)
38 – Overlord
42 – 2x Overlord (only 2 if one overlord is going to die to phoenix opening)
42 – Fifth Queen (@Natural)

Reaction VS Twilight Council First

There are a few different twilight council PvZ openings however they mainly consist of DT archon drop, chargelot based all ins, gladept based all ins, or gladept based timing attacks. Against Twilight Council / Robotics facility builds, after defending going spire and making ~8 mutas is also a powerful transition. Often times Protoss players will do a follow up all in and the mutas are strong at delaying their attack, hindering their economy and shutting down the all in by killing the warp prism. 
To Scout: the first thing to look for is whether or not the Protoss Cybernetics core starts researching as it finishes building. Twilight council first builds will start warp gate immediately while star gate openings will start the star gate before warp gate, meaning it will take a few seconds before the cyber core starts researching.  Additionally, stalker first or right after the first adept is more common when going twilight council (as you will not have a phoenix to kill the overlord).

Cancel Zergling Speed
@~3:05 / first inject pops – Rally 2 drones from eggs into gas
@3:30 – Roach Warren + Lair
44 – 2x Extractors (full 2 base mineral saturation)

Reaction VS DT Archon Drop

The DT Archon drop hits with 4 DTs @5:00 or 2 Archons @5:30 and a warp prism. Additionally, they can add early charge as well as a couple of gateways to add a chargezealot warp in round (6 Chargelots). There is another DT Archon drop that hits with DTs @4:30, however it is less economic. If you cancel ling speed and response with fast lair, you will have detection in time.
To Scout: this is a twilight council first build with no star gate 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 ~3:30-3:40 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 at 4:00. Because the additional gateways are so late, this build often puts the robotics facility in the wall off. 

@4:10 – Spore Crawler (@Main Base)
@4:30 / 100% Lair –  Overseer (@Third base) + Roach Speed
@50 Drones / 100% Roach Warren – 10-16 Roaches
@Protoss Attack – Defend with 10-16 Roaches, 2 creep queens, 1 inject queen and overseer

Reaction VS 2 Base Chargelot Archon All in

Chargelot Archon All ins can be off of 2 bases or 3 bases but the 3 base will be a fake. They will go up to 4 gases (differential between the pure chargelot all in). 
To Scout: they will have a non researching Templar archives, 4 gases, many gateways (8 is usual) and potentially a third base. If there is no third base by 5:00 be cautious of one of the three all ins. If they do take a third base, it will likely be extra early (~4:30) so that there is time for you to scout it and feel safe, however they will not saturate the base at all and will stop building probes in the main and natural (you can tell if you get a scouting ling in by looking at the nexus). 

@100% Lair – Roach Speed
@52 Drones  – Constant Roach Production
@5:00 – Fourth Extractor
Defend with mass roach and your defense / creep queens. Highly suggested you make 3 ravagers to snipe the warp prism once it goes into warp mode if you have the gas. Once you have successfully defended transition.

Reaction VS 2 Base Chargelot All in

The gasless Chargelot all in stops at 32 probes, stops mining gas once they have charge and the robotics facility started and hits around 5:00. The Protoss will have ~8 gateways and be warping in 8 charge zealots each warp in round. Against this all in, if you will still be ahead if you lose your third, this means that creating an evolution chamber wall to reduce chargelot surface area at your natural base is a solid tactic that can help you survive and come out ahead. This is especially useful if you scout the all in late and drone over 41.

To Scout: No gas mining in the main, Gateway explosion begins around 3:15, once they hit 32 probes they will stop producing probes, will have not taken a third base by 5:00. If neither natural gases is taken by 4:00 then it is likely a chargelot all in. 

@100% Lair – Roach Speed
@41 Drones – Constant Roach Production
@5:00 – Defend with mass Roach and 5 Queens
Once you have defended counter attack with mass roach and win the game.
You can either continue making roaches and do a counter all in, or counter attack with just the roaches you have and transition with drones to roach swarmhost or roach hydra.

Reaction VS 2 Base Gladept All in

To Scout: the Protoss will have an unusual amount of adepts in their wall and will generally take 1 gas at their natural. Otherwise the scouting signs are the same as the 2 base chargelot archon all in. 

To defend, follow the reaction vs the chargelot archon all in. However When defending adepts, you will need to split your roach queen into two separate groups, one to follow the shades and one to attack the adepts. After defending the attack, counter attack and transition similar to the reaction vs 2 base chargelot all in.

Reaction VS Star Gate First

Star gate openings are by far the most common PvZ opening because they keep the Protoss safe, give the Protoss scouting, deny Zerg scouting and allow a lot of variety in the follow up. 

To Scout: Warp gate won’t start right away (closer to ~2:25). Send Overlord into their base once their second unit from warp gate unit has been made (if adept). If a phoenix starts killing your overlord at ~3:25 then it is phoenix first if it doesn’t then it is oracle first.

@3:30 – 2x Spore Crawlers if oracle first (main and third)
@3:50 – 2x Spore Crawlers if phoenix first (main and third)
@4:20 – Lair + 2x Extractors
@4:35 – Roach Warren
@100% Roach Warren – Roach Speed + Roaches (# of roaches depends on your scouting)

Reaction VS Star Gate into Archon Drop

One of the two main standard PvZ builds is the Star Gate into Archon Drop, the other being 2 star gate phoenix. 

To Scout: both standard builds will take 2 gases at the natural around 3:30. To confirm whether it is 2 stargate phoenix or archon drop, you will need to patron single zerglings along as many pathways as possible to see the warp prism or phoenix leaving. 

Build ~12 Roaches against the standard archon drop and ~16 Roaches against archon drop with charge zealot pressure. 

Reaction VS 2 Star gate Phoenix

The other main standard PvZ build, double star gate phoenix. 

To Scout: both standard builds will take 2 gases at the natural around 3:30. To confirm whether it is 2 stargate phoenix or archon drop, you will need to patron single zerglings along as many pathways as possible to see the warp prism or phoenix leaving.

 You only need to build units against an adept timing follow up to the phoenix. In which case build ~3x Zerglings / adept. 
5x Spore Crawlers (1 natural, 2 main, 2 third)
Keep your defense queens in your natural. Send all overlords to a defend-able position in a mineral line.
@5:40 – Hydralisk Den + Go up to 6 gases (should be at least at 5 gases by now but gas times will depend on your desire composition described below) 
@100% Hydralisk Den – Hydralisk Range
@66-72 Drones – 15 Hydralisk + 4th Base

Rogue vs ShowTime Acid Plant Main Base Spore Defense
Rogue vs ShowTime Acid Plant Natural Base Queen Defense and Overlord Location

Reaction VS Star Gate into Gladept Timing

This is a glaive adept timing follow up to the 1 phoenix 1 oracle stargate opening and generally transitions into 2x robo immortal production.
To Scout: Protoss will have not taken 2 gases by 3:30 in their natural. There will also be a high number of adepts before they move out.

Make 16 Roaches and split them into two groups of 8 to deal with the adepts and the shade, then go back to droning to make up for drone loses.

Reaction VS Star Gate into 2 Base All In (Chargelots, Gladepts, Immortal Sentry, Archon Chargelot Etc)

Some Protoss will follow up star gate with a 2 base all in. More often than not, these builds only open star gate for the phoenix and don’t build an oracle. If an oracle never shows up, be cautious of one of these builds. The 2 base all ins will not have a third base started at 5:00 (but may start a fake third extra early). 

5:00 – 4th Extractor
52 Drones – Constant Roach Production
Morph 3 Ravagers before the push to snipe the warp prism (more if immortal sentry)
After defending, counter attack and resume droning / transition. 

Swarm Host

The Swarm host style is a very powerful composition in the current ZvP meta, however it is somewhat map dependent. The style is mostly dependent on map size, but also good positions to launch locusts into. Smaller maps are better for swarm host because they are easier to cover in creep. Creep spread is important for swarm host because it gives them a large speed boost, allowing them to escape from enemy units to launch more locust waves. Swarm host are also a snow ball unit, meaning you want to start launching aggressive waves of locusts quickly and consistently. Whenever you launch a locust wave, remember to use your main roach army either as a multi-prong attack at a different base or to crash in with the main locust wave to get extra damage done without losing much army.

Roach Swarm Host vs Non 2 SG Phoenix
@4:50 – 2x Extractors
@5:00 – 1x Evolution Chamber
@100% Lair – Roach Speed
@100% Evolution Chamber – +1 Range
@5:30 – 6th Extractor + Infestation Pit
Build roaches as needed for defense
@100% Infestation Pit / 66-72 drones – 16-18 Swarm Host
@6:00 – 4th Hatchery
@100% +1 Range – +2 Range
Build Roach Ravager Ling (lings if you have no gas) and apply heavy pressure to the Protoss with Roach Ravager Swarm host and a 66-72 drone economy. 
@200 Supply – Hive + Spire
Take 7th and 8th gases as you start to tech up. If you lose your swarm host, drone up to 75-80.

Hydra Swarm Host vs 2 SG Phoenix
@4:50 – 2x Extractors
@5:00 – 1x Evolution Chamber
@100% Lair – Roach Speed
@100% Evolution Chamber – +1 Range
@5:30 – Hydralisk Den + 6th Extractor
@6:00 – 4th Hatchery
@100% +1 Range – +2 Range
@100% Hydralisk Den – Hydralisk Range
@66-72 Drones – 15 Hydralisk to push back the phoenix
@15 Hydralisk in production (~6:40) – Infestation Pit 
@100% Infestation Pit – 16 Swarm host
@100% Hydralisk Range – Hydralisk Speed
@100% +1 Range – +2 Range
@100% 4th Hatchery – 7th and 8th Extractors
@100% Extractors (and 200/200 supply) – Hive + Spire
Stay on 66-72 drones with 8 gases, build ling hydra to support your swarm host and multiprong / attack with each locust wave. You can add in some roaches to the composition as well depending on your opponents composition.  Transition to broodlords and corruptors once you have the tech. You can go up to 80 drones if you ever lose the swarm host. 

Lurker

The lurker ZvP Style generally starts with lots of roach hydra multiprong, primarily using lurkers as a defensive tool once you have done critical damage to the Protoss economy and the Protoss moves out to all in the Zerg player.

Roach Hydra Multiprong
@5:00 – 1x Extractor + Evolution Chamber
@100% Lair – Roach Speed
@100% Evolution Chamber – +1 Range
@6:00 – 4th Base + Hydra Den + 5th and 6th Extractors
@100% Hydralisk Den – Hydralisk Speed + Overlord Speed
4-6 Drop overlords (start moving dropper lords into position to drop
@100% Hydralisk Speed – Hydralisk Range
@67 Drones – Mass Roach hydra and start multi-prong with the drop overlords and roach hydra
@100% +1 Range – +2 Range
Once you have enough roach hydra to start doing multiprong (~60 supply worth or so) add 5 drones and the 7th gas then based on the game either continue making roach hydra and doing multiprong or transition to lurker.
To transition to lurker add the 8th gas, infestation pit and go up to 75-80 drones. 
@100% 8th Gas – Lurker Den
@100% Infestation pit – Hive
@100% Hive – +3 range + Lurker burrow speed
@8:00-9:00 when safe to do so – 5th hatchery
Take 9th and 10th gases such that they finish and can be saturated as your 5th base completes. 
@100% +3 Range – +1 melee to go into broodlords or +1 carapace if you don’t have the money for the brood lord transition
Try to take another base every 2-3 minutes or so

End Game vs Protoss

Protoss end game is historically strong and I think this patch is no different. Ideally you are able to kill or severely hinder the Protoss player by continuously leaning on them with waves of swarm host or by constant harass and multi pronged attacks with roach hydra and eventually roach hydra lurker armies. The ideal Zerg army in the end game scenario against large skytoss armies is a large number of infestors to fungal high templar, neural carriers, tempest or the mothership and launch infested terrans to add a significant amount of anti air dps. Ideally you will also have a few vipers to abduct and parasitic bomb units, a flock of corruptors, 6-10 brood lords to take out the high templar / archons on the ground and a small roach hydra army or two to defend zealot run bys and multiprong to kill probes. In addition to these units, you will want to create a large field of spore crawlers to help fight against the skytoss units. You will also need 4+ overseers to give vision of the Protoss army when cloaked by the mothership as well as to detect dark templar which may be used in runbys / counter attacks. Engage by attacking with broodlords, focus firing units with corruptors, fungalling high templar, neuralling the large units, dropping infested terrans (with rapid fire) and launching a parasitic bomb or two. Abduct units that attempt to disengage and run away, or into spore crawlers. Obviously doing all of this is very difficult, so if you are not at a level to achieve all of this just start with the a move and focus fire units as well as the spore crawlers to help engage. The next step from there is adding on the infestors and focusing on one or two fungals and neural parasite. Then add the infested terrans and eventually the vipers as well. To create the forest of spore crawlers, drone really hard 100+ and then start to mass the spore crawlers around critical parts of the map. Ensure that you have enough bases for the 100+ drones to mine from, as you can use them to mine for a bit of an economic boost before placing the spore crawlers.

Key to ZvP: Tempo and Momentum

Simply due to how the Zerg vs Protoss match up works and how fast both races can reinforce, momentum is often the key factor. Units like Swarm host, Chargelot all ins, adept timings and roach hydra multi prong can all snow ball out of control very quickly and create leads in the game that are nearly insurmountable. To use this to your advantage, ensure that you are working towards getting the snow ball to roll in your favour by pressuring, poking and looking for good trades or harass damage as often as possible once you are able to reach that nice 67-72 drone count and can mass enough units to split them up effectively. When defending attacks like chargelot all ins or adept timings, how the fight starts out often dictates the rest of the game. This means having enough army to defend the initial wave of attack is crucial to the defense. While units like lurkers, high templar storm, broodlords and the mothership do exist and they can be used to make comebacks more often that not it is the pressure units and the momentum of the game that decides the victor. 

Scouting and General Notes

5 Queens

The most common roach based ZvP builds make a total of 5 queens. This is a much lower amount compared to most ZvT builds, but it is mainly due to the extra cost of taking gases faster so that you can drone more. Additionally, queens aren’t quite as strong at defending in ZvP compared to ZvT. You will want to be using 3 of your queens for injecting your first three bases and the last two queens to spread creep. Against 2 star gate phoenix be very careful with your creep queens as they are important for defending and can be easily picked off. Rogue keeps both creep queens, his natural inject queen and one spore all packed into his natural base mineral line on hold position so that they can’t be killed by phoenix without doing a large amount of damage to the phoenix. 

Overlord Pathing / Positioning

First Overlord

The first overlord should head straight to the Protoss natural base. It’s first goal is to see the cybernetics core and whether or not it is researching warp gate. The first overlord will make it to the natural as the cybernetics core finishes. If warpgate starts as soon as the cybernetics core finishes (it starts flashing), then it is likely a twilight council build. If it is delayed, then it is likely a star gate build. After scouting warp gate, you should move the overlord to a high ground location near the wall. 

After the second gateway unit is produced out of the first gateway in the wall (to ensure that it isn’t a stalker that will kill your overlord) move your overlord in to scout the Protoss base. If it is a star gate build, around this time a phoenix will begin attacking your overlord (phoenix first), if there is not a phoenix it will be Oracle first. Around 3:30 you want to be able to scout the natural gas timing. 

Second Overlord

The second overlord should just be sent to your natural base to scout for cannon rushes. You can do a few other things with the second overlord instead, but for ladder especially I would recommend just watching for cannons. If you scout that it is not a star gate opening, you can send your second overlord across the map as well as it won’t die to the phoenix. 

Korean vs European Opening

The Korean opening gets the third base placed earlier, can delay overlords slightly due to supply received from the extra hatchery and can start creep spread at the third faster. Additionally you can start a spore crawler easily in time for oracle first openings at the third base while with the european opening you can’t. The European opening is strong because it gets the second queen much faster, which helps with the initial adept defense. This is why it is recommended to open with 6 zerglings with the Korean opening. 
In the end, each opening is strong and perfectly viable, as many pro players do both. Each has its strengths and weaknesses but are strong openings as long as you are comfortable with each. If you are lower in mmr, I would recommend going with the the European opening just because it is closer to standard ZvT openings and will be easier to learn. 

Playing VS Robo First

The vast majority of the time, robo first means immortal sentry all in. To defend this, you can defend in a similar way to 2 base chargelot archon all ins that are tc first. However against immortal sentry, you want to build more ravagers and use your excess minerals on speedlings. Alternatively, you can cancel ling speed and take the fourth gas earlier so you can get your roach warren/lair faster and afford more ravagers. However I don’t recommend this because I have also played against disruptor drop builds that go robo first. In this case zerglings are often strong to add on to your roach ravager. In general robo first builds are fairly weak since you can often beat them just by playing a safer and by building more ravagers

3 Ravagers vs All ins

3 Corrosive biles will destroy a warp prism in warp mode and pretty much shut down any aggressive 2 base all in. As long as you can afford it, building 3 ravagers specifically for this purpose is recommended when defending all ins. They often either kill the prism and shut down the all in completely, force the prism to not warp in or delay the warp ins which eventually shuts down the all in or forces the prism to warp in further back, delaying reinforcements and restricting the possibility of pick up micro. 

Playing VS Robotics Bay

Robotics bay units (disruptors / colossi) aren’t seen very often in ZvP. This is because colossi and disruptors just aren’t that much more effective when considering that the immortal count will be much lower (especially against roach based armies) and they also cost a lot of gas which delays transitions to storm and eventually sky toss. However if you find yourself in the position of playing against either disruptors or colossi, I recommend going up and getting a few vipers to abduct their few key units. Alternatively against colossi you can make some corruptors and against disruptors you can go into more of a ling based army. I personally like swarm host since you can micro the locusts to land on top of colossi / disruptors which is an effective way of killing them. Lurkers can also be used against colossi defensively and then once you have adaptive talons they can be used to jump ontop of the Protoss army. 

Relevant HSC Replays

7 Replies to “Standard Roach ZvP”

  1. Much appreciated update. One question though. Is the 32 hatch a typing error? I don’t know it feels kinda weird, and after watching 2-4 replays of lambo he still does a 30 hatch.

    Like

  2. EXTREMELY useful article for me! used to play hydra-based vp and constantly lose:(
    btw the kr vs. eur and use of host is quite practical!

    Like

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