It has come to my attention that many Zerg players who are in the lower leagues have a few things in common that seem to be holding them back from reaching those higher leagues. If you're a fan or follower of ROOTDestiny (when he played StarCraft), you may be aware he made a series of streams and videos getting from bronze league to platinum with the Mass Queen tactic. He did this to prove that he could beat people with such a silly army composition on the basis that his mechanics were so much better than those in the lower leagues.

In my time I've written multiple guides on how to improve at StarCraft, different ways of using units and thinking outside the box (etc). But today I'm not going to write a guide, I'm going to list and talk about a number of things that every Zerg player needs to nail before even looking at strategy. Now you may be thinking, "What exactly are these 'mechanics' you are on about?" Well they can be defined in a number of different ways. I would define them in two ways:

  1. The way you interact with the game. The information you pass in, the information you get out and how you react to it.
  2. Different technical aspects of the game that allow the race to be used during any build or strategy. The elements of the race that you will be expected to be able to carry out during every single build and game strategy.

It's so important you learn to carry out these mechanics that I (and many other people) will always suggest "use one build per match up". This isn't to interfere with enjoyment of the game, but it's to remove any element or requirement for "strategy" and enable you to carry out and practice your mechanics without having to focus on "omg what is he doing, he has no gas and it's 30mins into the game!".

Throughout most of this method and teaching post I'll be linking resources. This is not because I don't want to spend time teaching you how to do everything, but I'm not a professional player and I'm not the best Zerg in the world, so I'd much rather link you to videos or posts by people better than me and people that have already explained it in a great way. (Why re-invent the wheel?)

Drone and Larva Timings and Management

Now we have that out of the way. Let's look at some of the basic Zerg game play mechanics, it's really important to remember and realize that the Zerg race differ a lot from that of Protoss and Terran. This is mostly due to the fact that Zerg have "Larva". This is used to create all of the Zerg units, and more indirectly it is used to create every building and structure. Larva management is almost managing another resource as far as Zerg are concerned and learning to manage it well is extremely important.

As we as Zerg do not have the ability to constantly produce workers, and we must sacrifice a worker to create each structure, it's very important to know when to "Drone". This is often refereed to by many people as "Droning" or "Drone Timing". I'm going to take a brief look at how to carry out this snap decision process but I strongly recommend you look at Day[9] Daily #194 - Newbie Tuesday: Drone Timing

Even if you're not a Day9 fan, the video explains the theory and practice really well with examples and I highly recommend the video.

The main thought process that you should be considering at all points during a game is, "Am I under threat? Do I need an army right now?" Every unit you build could have the potential to be a drone and could boost your economy; and as we all know a good economy is a vital part to any well played game. If it's currently about the 5 minute mark and you've scouted his base to see he's taken both his gas and is expanding, put a drone at the front of his base and you can be pretty sure that he's not going to move out with a 200/200 army to kill you.

So DRONE! Take the watch towers with a Zergling at each and then enjoy the drone life (it chose me). By expanding and building an economy it gives you free rein to start the upgrades and tech before even having a single unit. Some Bronze or Silver league games you could probably expand twice and build nothing until around the 8-10 minute mark where you pump out a billion Zerglings with 33 and a few 22 Mutalisks to win the game. Even if he did kill your fantastic army, you can re-build it in two ticks because you have so much Larva to do so, and your drone economy is so much so, that no matter what you build you can support the constant production of it.

The way you may lose many games is not having enough drones to keep pumping out the units required to defend an aggressive attack, let alone push to their base yourself.

I'd refer you again to Day9's video. It explains how to actively do this and shows different examples and times you could be doing it during a game.

Larva Injections and Queen Usage
I can't stress enough how massively important it is to Inject Larva at every possible moment during the game, even if you're in the middle of a fight your Larva injection could well be more useful and important than your army micro!

Let us take a lovely example shall we? Your army just died what do you use to re-build a new better more improved army to defend the on coming opponent? Larva. And if you forgot to inject? Too bad you're dead.

There are two solid ways to ensure your Larva Injections improve over time. The first is to play lots of games and put a sticky note on your screen saying "INJECT!", the other is to do what our lovely British friend TotalBiscuit did and make yourself a sound file that says "INJECT LARVA!" really loud every few seconds when it comes to the exact time you should be injecting Larva. Sadly the only thing I can come up with is saying practice it. Practice it until you no longer miss injections because they are so important it can literally win or lose you games and ranks.

Moving onto further Queen usage, there's a feature as Zerg called "Creep", for those that are new to the game this is a hugely beneficial mechanic for Zerg players. All Zerg units move faster on creep, and for some units this movement speed is very significant (Hydralisks and Queens for example), and others it's less noticeable. But another cool feature is that the Creep Tumours that you can spawn with a Queen enable vision, they actually have a sight of 11 enabling you to have a huge vision advantage if you're spreading creep properly. Creep Tumor's are actually invisible once spawned unless a detector unit is around, as well as this other races cannot build on creep! You can block an expansion just by leaving an Overlord there to spew creep around, and even if they kill the overlord you have to wait for the creep to recede before building there!

Now creep spread on it's own isn't the most important mechanic to focus on, how ever it is something to be aware of and to make sure you can do it effectively during a game, even just linking up all of your bases via creep can help a lot with defense, building and map control.

Well that's part 1. Part 2 will be along soon when I compose my thoughts together over the next few days.