The Zerg vs Protoss matchup in StarCraft II has always been quite contentious since the start of Wings of Liberty. Protoss has a lot of ways to exploit the squishiness of their bug counterparts, while the Zerg does well in spreading the Protoss thin and picking at the weakest points of defense. Here’s a strategy for Zerg that brings about a new way of thinking, albeit a risky one.
During Wings of Liberty, Zerg had come up with a mostly Roach-based strategy to deal with Protoss, including the ridiculous 12-minute Roach max build that hit them with the force of a sledgehammer, as opposed to the reactionary style that high-level Zerg players are used to. Then all of a sudden, upon the release of Heart of the Swarm, here comes this playing style for Zerg that makes use of a Zergling-Ultralisk composition, both sitting on far ends of the Zerg tech tree.
Well, it’s not exactly new, but this has become more viable in HotS since Ultralisks now have 35 attack, as opposed to the 15 attack with +20 bonus to armored that they had back in Wings of Liberty. This buff has made them very dangerous against stuff like Marine-Marauder deathballs and anything else that are small and bunched up due to the splash damage. Get 3/3 upgrades and Chitinous Plating from the Ultralisk Cavern, and you’ve got a bunch of dangerous giants charging into battle. All you need to do is to micro them well enough and make sure they have Zergling support so they won’t be as clumsy as they are strong.
18 Ling x2
@50-67% Second Queen: Start Third Queen
@100 Gas: Zergling Speed
44 Gas (#2)
@150 Gas: 46 Double Evo Chamber
~56 1/1 Melee Upgrades
~56 Hatchery (3)
@50% 1/1 Upgrade: Lair
@50% Lair: Gas (#3, 4)
~75 Macro Hatchery
@100% Lair: Infestation Pit, 2/2 Upgrades
@100% Infestation Pit: Hive, Gas (#5, 6)
@100% Hive: Ultralisk Cavern, 3/3 Upgrades, Adrenal Glands
This build is about rushing to Hive tech in 10 minutes and getting Ultralisks as soon as you can, defending and pressuring with mostly Zerglings as you get there. You also get early Evolution Chambers to get Melee and Carapace upgrades, then transition quickly to Hive tech and put down an Ultralisk Cavern. You skip past Lair tech most of the time, sticking with Zerglings while you can. In the end, you’ll have a sizeable Zergling-Ultralisk with 2/2 or 3/3 upgrades, which should take the Protoss by surprise and smash them to bits.
You’ll be skipping Roaches and other units that need gas as much as possible, cutting a whole lot of corners on the way to the highest tier ground unit. However, most people will find themselves making Roaches to at least stand a chance against all-ins. That’s alright if you can still get to Hive tech, but it’s worth practicing harassment and pressure with Speed Zerglings. Soon enough, you’ll get used to it and find that Zerglings have a great deal of versatility and efficacy when you catch the Protoss off guard during the first 8 minutes.
This strategy is strong against Protoss players who either don’t take their third or just take it late to tech up early. If he goes for 2-base play, then he’ll have to push out right away, and you should have around 40+ Zerglings to defend with. If the Protoss opponent does scout out the build and actually know what you’re doing, then things will get harder for you. You’ll know this when they quickly transition to Colossus or Templar tech to deal with the Zerglings. That’s when you may have to abandon the Zergling-only approach and get some Roaches or maybe even Banelings, whatever it takes to repel the attack while still being able to tech up.