I have seen this time and again, in both lower league and higher league games, both as a Zerg player and against them, as well as on YouTube replays and during tournaments. Zerg players, far too few of you build Spore Crawlers against Protoss. At least, you don’t build them until the damage has already been done. Hence, this post. My Brotip… Nay! My Public Service Announcement to low-level Zergies out there: Keep Calm and Build Spore Crawlers.
Remember: this is a Brotip. This is for the lowbies, not Diamond and Masters players. This is a common oversight I’ve seen many, many times. I’ve been on both sides of the equation, too: my best move against the Zerg right now is to open 2 Stargate Void Rays. It’s supposed to be a harass, but I win with it fairly frequently, and I’m really bad at Protoss. So, if you already know this and do this, awesome. Maybe someone you know doesn’t, and maybe they wake up late at night with cold sweats, having flashbacks of all of those times a couple Void Rays or Phoenix zapped their mineral line into a fine mist. I mean, how the heck do Protoss manage? This post is for that person. Maybe link them here?
As a Zerg player, you are constantly under threat of stealth or air-based assaults. The other races are under a lot of pressure to keep your batch-production economy in check, and the Zerg weakness against these two forms of attack (i.e. stealth and air) is well known. Even other Zerg players know it: Mutalisk transitions are becoming more common mid-game amongst pro Zerg players in mirror matches. And the Infestor should give you some pause for thought, as well: I have managed to win several games by sneaking an Infestor or two into my opponent’s mineral line. Two Fungal Growths later, they have no drones. Likewise, as Protoss, I’ve managed to utterly kill off both drone lines of an unwary opponent with 2 Dark Templar. 2 units, and your economy is in the toilet.
Obviously, the Spore Crawler is not the only method of detection available to the Zerg. The Overseer is also a great choice. However, I’m trying to make a specific point here. Early game, Protoss and Terran (though especially Protoss) have a small but significantly dangerous number of tactics available to them where they can leverage either your lack of anti-air or lack of detection early game. These were developed by pro players primarily as a means to harrass a Zerg player, but an unprepared Zerg can be totally undone by 2 or 3 Void Rays (or a single Banshee) if they aren’t prepared for them.
Also obvious, we aren’t limited to air attacks. The more common approach is to put a big army outside your door, and dance it around like we enjoy watching Colossi do the meringue. This is to force you to build an army before you’re ready (i.e. before your economy is ramped up to the point where you can spam whatever you want ad infinitum). However, this should be fairly obvious if you’re scouting properly. At the very least, you’ll be sure to see that aforementioned big army having a moshpit somewhere near the Xel’Naga towers. So, that threat is in your face, and much brighter people than I have written articles or done videos about how to deal with 4gates or Colossus deathballs. I’m here to talk about stealth, air units, and why you Zerg hate building Spore Crawlers until you have a fleet of Void Rays sitting above your Hatchery, and your first Queen is a puddle of goo.
Remember, to get an Overseer, you need Lair tech. This is a significant investment in time and resources, and most Zerg will wait quite a while to tech up. The Spore is available early game, for a low cost. Trust me if you haven’t seen it, I’ve been on both ends of this: it is possible to get out stealth or air units before the Zerg player has Lair tech.
And that’s my point: a single Spore Crawler can be the difference between your opponent wasting precious early-game minerals and gas on a useless attack, and you losing the game. To make things worse, any decent player, and many terrible ones, will block off their ramp to keep you from scouting them, the jerks. So what’s a Zerg to do?
Build a Spore Crawler. Just one, preventative Spore Crawler. Maybe two, if you are feeling cocky.
There are some indications of when building a Spore Crawler early or predicatively will be a good idea. The easiest indication of early air pressure is when you scout double Assimilators early game, especially if your opponent isn’t fast expanding. You’ll have to keep close watch on your opponent from this point on, but getting that preventative Spore Crawler out early might be a good idea. Vs Protoss and Terran, you should also pay careful attention to the number of production buildings they have. Protoss going 1 Gate Stargate will only have 1 Gateway (wait, seriously?), and Terran going Banshees will have 1-2 Barracks, and 1 Factory (from which they’ll usually produce 1 or 3 Hellions to harass while they get Cloak).
I am not advocating the Spore Crawler as a strategy against Protoss. It is not a magical unit that can solve all of your problems, and there are situations (such as a 4gate) where building one can be a bad idea. However, there are situations where not being properly prepared for air-based attacks or Dark Templar can lose you the game outright. Learn to use the Spore Crawler and make that Brotoss waste time and resources. Just because you don’t have really great static defense, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use what you have.
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