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Starcraft 2 Zerg Strategy Against Bunker Rush

Updated on May 8, 2012

Starcraft 2 Wings of Liberty

What's a Bunker Rush?

A bunker rush is a Terran strategy that's meant to punish a Zerg player who is early expanding.

There are 2 forms of bunker rush:

  1. Contain: Two bunkers at the bottom of the Zerg's ramp.
  2. Prevent expansion: near the Zerg expansion, or behind the mineral line.

... and both are very annoying and require different counters.

Double Bunker at Ramp
Double Bunker at Ramp | Source

Countering a Bunker Rush #1: Timing and Micro

In Starcraft 2, bunker rushes need to be handled with proper timing. That is, depending on when you scout the bunker rush, and what stage of construction the bunkers are at, you need to react differently.

You need to look at:

  1. Whether you can kill the SCVs making the bunker(s)
  2. Whether you can prevent the marines from getting to the bunkers
  3. Whether you can destroy the bunkers with the forces you currently have, without taking too many losses, or if you need to wait for more forces to spawn
  4. Whether you can prevent reinforcements from getting TO the bunker(s)

The key part that many players forget is #4. If you have a few Zergilngs, do not throw them at the bunker - they will just get killed, and the bunker will simply be repaired. Instead, send them towards the enemy base, and put them on a path where they can intercept and kill the marine reinforcements before they can reach the bunker. Fighting individual marines in the open is far better than fighting them when they are inside the bunker!

Using drones and good micro, you can often chase off the single marine and kill the SCV making the bunker without losing more than 1-2 drones. If you can do this, it often slows the bunker rush significantly, or even halts it completely if you can intercept the next SCV he sends before it reaches the marines hanging outside your base.

Once you have a queen and at least 8 Zerglings, you can try to push the bunker and destroy it. If you do this, it is VERY IMPORTANT to kill the SCVs first, so they can't repair the bunker! You should also lead with the Queen, so that she absorbs the initial damage while the Zerglings get into attack position.

Double bunker at Natural Expansion
Double bunker at Natural Expansion | Source

Counter to Bunker Rush #2: Change your Build Order

But I don't want to change my build order, you exclaim! Well, in that case, see Counter #1. If you want a different solution, try making your Roach Warren before your first queen, and pump out 3-4 Roaches. Roaches in small numbers eat small numbers of marines for lunch, cost-for-cost.

While this doesn't work in larger battles, Roaches have several benefits at this early stage:

  • Low larvae cost
  • Ranged attack
  • Can take a lot of damage
  • Are worth healing with Queen Transfuse
  • Can be micro'ed individually (unlike Zerglings)

Other build orders include a 14 gas 14-pool Speedling Expand, where you expand at 20 supply and have Speedlings on the map to pick off incoming SCVs and individual marines, or the more greedy 15 pool 16 hatch, which at least gives you your Spawning Pool before your Hatchery, and tends not to lead the Terran opponent to bunker rush when you already have the ability to pump Zerglings.

Defending a Bunker Rush


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