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Starcraft 2 Unit Spotlight: Zergling
Cost: 50 Minerals
Supply Cost: 1 Supply (0.5 supply per Zergling)
Build time: 24 game seconds
The fast and agile Zergling is the most basic unit of the Zerg. Individually weak, the Zergling embodies the fundamentals of the Zerg: strength in numbers. It is a Hatchery-tech unit only requiring a Spawning Pool to build and it costs 50 minerals. The Zergling spawns two at a time and costs 1 supply (each Zergling is 0.5 supply each).
Zergling upgrades can be found in the Spawning pool. The first is the Metabolic Boost upgrade also known as Zergling Speed. While relatively fast on its own, Metabolic Boost gives the Zergling wings increasing its speed exponentially. This is extremely useful and is almost mandatory as it increases the cost-efficiency of Zerglings by allowing for faster surrounds and retreats. As with all upgrades in Starcraft 2, the upgrade is retroactive; zerglings you have before the upgrade finishes are automatically given the speed upgrade. Zerglings with speed are usually called speedlings.
The second upgrade is Adrenal Glands. It is available as soon as the Zerg reaches Hive Tech. It increases the attack speed of the Zerglings by 20% therefore increasing its damage. It is less important than the Metabolic Boost and is only usually researched when the Zerg has a surplus of minerals or is going for a Zergling heavy late-game composition. Unlike the Metabolic Boost upgrade, Adrenal Glands does not have a visual effect on the unit. Zerglings with Adrenal Glands are called Cracklings.
Banelings are morphed from Zerglings if you have constructed a Baneling's Nest. The Baneling is a splash damage unit that deals bonus damage to Light enemy types. Once morphed, the Baneling cannot morph back into a Zergling. Since Zerglings are faster than Banelings, using Zerglings in conjunction with Banelings is a must. Zerglings surround the enemy and prevent them from escaping while the Banelings detonate on them.
As they are cheap and fast, Zerglings are excellent scouts. Usually, a Zerg sends a lone Zergling to spot for expansions and army compositions. Zerglings are also used to cover flanking routes and along with Overlords, used to gain vision of the map.
Which race has the most cost-efficient basic unit?
Zerglings are extremely useful in the ZvT match-up. Zerglings with Banelings can take out a force of Marines and Marauders with relative ease. Zerglings usually surround a Terran force to prevent them from running away while the Banelings deal deadly splash damage. To counter this, Terran players will split their Marine-Marauder force to minimize the damage of the splash. When he does this, Zerg must control his Banelings manually targetting the largest clumps of units for maximum efficiency.
Against Hellions, it is wise to avoid being kited unless Zerg have a lot of Zerglings to compensate. Be sure to surround Hellions to minimize the splash. If possible, engage on creep as Zerglings can catch up to Hellions while on creep. Hellions are Light units and take bonus damage from Banelings so if the Hellion count gets a bit too much, Zerg can always morph a few banelings.
With its wide angle of splash attack, Hellbats are extremely deadly to Zerglings. There is no cost effective way to engage Hellbats with pure Zerglings at the moment unless you outnumber the Hellbats by a gross amount. Morph Banelings to engage Hellbats.
Widow Mines and Tanks are a bit trickier. These two types of units can take out clumps of Zerglings with ease. When engaging into a minefield or a siege line, be sure to send a few Zerglings before your army to absorb the splash.
In ZvP, a pure Zergling army is very rarely used because they are not cost-efficient against Zealots. Zealots with an upgrade advantage can decimate a Zergling army. To compensate for this when going for a heavy Zergling style, the Zerg gets the melee and carapace upgrade relatively quick.
While weak against Zealots, Zerglings are effective against Stalkers and Sentries. Stalker heavy compositions such as the Blink Stalker All-ins are usually countered by Zerglings provided you can surround the Stalkers. Zerglings are also effective against Immortals and also used to fight Immortal heavy compositions.
When engaging a Protoss with Zerglings, flanking is almost a requirement. Zerg should always attack from two sides if possible in order to surround faster. Chokes are particularly deadly and Zerg should never engage in a choke.
In the Late game, Zerglings can be used for counter-attacks to abuse the typically slow army of the Protoss.
Along with Banelings, Zerglings can be used in early game aggression in ZvZ. Since Banelings kill un-upgraded Zerglings with one hit, many games are won and lost in a single baneling hit. Many Zergs dislike this part of match-up as it is extremely micro-intensive with a single mistake potentially costing the game.
Zerglings are used as map control especially when the opponent goes for a Roach opener. The threat of a counter attack prevents the opponent from moving out while you macro up. As the game goes on, Zergling counter attacks are going to be frequent and can be used in denying expansions among and killing off tech buildings.
- Delay your opponent's expansion by burrowing a Zergling in the middle of a potential expansion site. Delay him even more by dropping creep via Overlord as well.
- If you burrow on a lowered Supply Depot, the Terran will not be able to raise it.
- Always have Zerglings on watch towers.
- In a ZvZ, when you both go Mutalisks, Zerglings absorb some of the attack from the Mutalisks allowing your Mutas to live longer.
- When going for a Zergling heavy composition, Larva injects are going to be key. Missing injects can potentially lead to losses. If you are not up to scratch on your larva injects, consider making macrohatcheries.
Zerglings are Light units and are very weak against units that deal bonus damage to Light. As they are numerous, splash damage are extremely effective versus Zerglings as well. Zerglings are weak against the following:
- Widow Mines
- High Templar's Psi Storm