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Starcraft 2 Zerg Strategy Against Cannon Rush

Updated on September 29, 2014

What's Cheese?

In Starcraft 2, "cheese" is any strategy where, if detected by the opponent, is easily stopped, but if NOT spotted, will virtually guarantee you a win. Cheese relies on the opponent's ignorance or lack of correct reaction based on what he sees, or what you don't let him see.

Examples of cheese builds in Starcraft 2 include:

  • Zerg 6-pool
  • Protoss Cannon Rush
  • Terran Bunker Rush

There is some debate even amongst these fairly cheesy builds whether they are considered cheese. Either way, they are very annoying to lose to.

This article will cover what common builds each race uses as "cheese", and what can be done against them.

Zerg Weaknesses Against Cheese

In Starcraft 2, Zerg is a race that is particularly weak to some early cheeses, simply because they cannot easily produce ranged units early, and their first units are individually very weak and rely on surrounding their opponents to do sufficient damage. Worse, they suffer from difficulty in scouting walled-in opponents, and cannot wall-in their own base with their first buildings.

Zerg also has to decide what buildings to produce and what tech to research. Sure, all races need to do this, but because Zerg needs to be up one base against his opponent, and because his ability to make both units and workers depends on having more hatcheries and Queens, Zerg must get those going fast. Unlike Protoss and Terran, both of whom can 1-base and have a decent economy, Zerg cannot. Thus, if Zerg's early defenses are unnecessarily strong, the Zerg player will lose in the midgame because his economy is behind.

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Zerg Against Cannon Rush

Zerg's main defenses against cannon rushes are Overlord placement and creep. Because of creep, the opponent can't position a cannon as close as he might like, because the Zerg player could see it with his creep, and also because the cannons may not get close enough to hit the Hatchery from some angles.

Preventative Measures:

As with all cannon rush defense, you should be sending a scout to your opponent's base on 9 supply. Yes, this hurts your economy a bit, but it's worse to be ignorant of the coming cheese.

If you see a probe come into your base, send one of your workers to attack it. You most likely won't catch it, but that probe won't be able to build anything with you seeing it with your drone. If you let the probe wander away, it could find a suitably hidden spot and start building cannons.

Don't build your spawning pool on an "approach path" for a cannon rush. Cannon rushes typically come at your from a "dark corner" of your base. Try to build your spawning pool behind your mineral line or up against a "dead edge" of your base, where there is no cliff below.

Things to look for in the Protoss base:

  • Forge before Gateway
  • No Gateway
  • No Assimilators
  • Fewer probes
  • No buildings except the Nexus!

What to do when you see pylons going up:

  • Don't panic
  • Make Spawning Pool ASAP, in a safe place
  • Send 2 Drones to attack the probe
  • Make 2 Spine Crawlers in a safe place
  • Keep mining and macro'ing
  • Scout the other side of your base too
  • Move your Spine Crawlers up to attack cannons/pylons, supplement with Zerglings when Crawlers are planted.

Your priority should be to kill the probe! Chances are that your cheesing opponent hasn't brought more than 1 probe, because he wants to continue to mine at home. If you kill this first probe before too many cannons go up, you'll have some time before another one reaches your base. Better yet, the probe won't be able to build anything more, so you can continue destroying what he HAS built, before he can put down anything else!

If the Cannon Rush continues:

  1. If there is no follow-up of Zealots, and especially if the Protoss build the Forge in your base, send your 4 Zerglings to his base. He may not even notice as you decimate his entire worker line. If he DOES notice, micro your Zerglings such that he can choose to chase your Zerglings OR mine minerals, but not both. If you simply let your Zerglings fight his drones, the Zerglings will lose.
  2. Be ready to abandon your base and start again. Save up enough for another Hatchery before he kills your existing one with cannons, mine for as long as you can, and get everything out of there. His base is virtually empty, and he has nothing to attack you with elsewhere other than more cannons. He will also likely not have too many workers himself. TIP: Unless your natural is quite far from your main, don't restart there. It IS possible for him to walk his cannons to your natural, too.
  3. Consider an all-in base trade. There is a new rule in Starcraft 2 now where if neither player builds or mines anything for 5 minutes, the game is a draw. Thus, if you can kill his entire worker line and/or his Nexus, while having at least 1 Extractor yourself (25 minerals), you will tie. He will eventually run out of minerals to build anything, and as long as he doesn't have enough drones to kill your units, game over. At least you didn't lose...

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Countering the Cannon Rush as Zerg


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