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Starcraft 2 Strategy Zerg Larvae Management
In Starcraft 2, the Zerg race has an interesting mechanic which involves spawning little worms, individually called "larva", which can morph into any unit, regardless of size. Unlike the other races, where specific buildings make a restricted array of units, Zerg Hatcheries can make anything.
What does this mean? Well, the main point that every Zerg knows is that he needs to decide whether to make Drones (economy), Overlords (supply), or military units, at any point in time. Because Zerg can spit out any of the above in mass quantities, WHAT he builds is extremely critical.
The Dilemna: Drones or Units?
The heart of every Zerg Strategy is: do I build units, or drones? How many drones before I start building units? Which units do I make, and what do I need to make them?
These questions ask everything a Zerg player needs to decide to pick an opening build order.
What haunts a Zerg player is:
- Did I make too few Drones?
- Did I make too few units for an upcoming push?
How can Zerg combat against these uncertainties?
Maximizing Drones While Making Units
What Zerg needs to do early on is get some Larvae-cheap defenses or units while maximizing drones, and wait for his economy to outstrip his opponent's.
How does one do this?
Day9 once coined the term "Power Units". Simply put, these are units that are better at deterring pushes for that stage in the game than their larvae cost AT THAT TIME in the game.
For example, 3 early Roaches and a Spine Crawler (4 larvae total) will deter most early harassment, whereas 8 (slow) Zerglings won't even come close to having the same effect. Queens don't take ANY Larvae, and can defend against both air and ground forces, especially with good creep spread.
By the midgame, Roaches are easily overwhelmed, and a common Power Unit becomes Infestors, who can slow an attack almost to a halt with repeated Fungal Growths on the advancing army. Harassment with fast units or air units can be similarly dissuaded with Fungal Growth and Infested Terrans.
The reason to make these units is to allow you to continue to grow your economy while not worrying that a sudden strike will cripple your economy or destroy you outright.
Don't Make An Army You Don't Need
If you're going to make units for defense as Zerg, your strategy needs to be: how few units can I make, and how can I spend the least larvae getting them? Note that THIS INCLUDES STRUCTURES. You don't want to have tons of options and no way to build anything in enough quantity, or with enough upgrades. Sometimes, forcing an opponent to react to YOU, and build to your tune, can make your army and upgrades much more efficient.
Here's an excellent quote from Day9 on this subject:
“If you are vomiting larvae often enough, you will feel that you have more options that you actually do, at the start of the game, because you won’t have larvae to make drones, so you build other structures, to use the money. More structures makes you feel that you have build options, but later, you won’t be able to use them.”