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I recently saw an article about a 7 roach rush build that's even faster than the popular 5 roach rush build. This build gets to 7 roaches in about 4:40. How would I counter this build? I'm mostly Toss, but please suggest counters for any of the races.


Update: Apparently the original creators of the build optimization program are working on Protoss and Terran versions - http://www.teamliquid.net/forum/viewmessage.php?topic_id=160231

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As a 'random' player, this build both excites and terrifies me. –  Matt Nov 2 '10 at 17:08
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Yay for genetic algorithms! –  Raven Dreamer Nov 2 '10 at 17:33
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Related chat conversation. –  C. Ross Nov 2 '10 at 20:00
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I am more excited by the program than the build order. –  instanceofTom Nov 2 '10 at 22:08
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@instanceofTom Now we just need to extend it to the other races! –  Chaulky Nov 2 '10 at 22:50

7 Answers 7

up vote 33 down vote accepted

So there seems to be a bunch of misinformation going on here, mostly around how dangerous a 7 Roach Rush is.

I've run it a number of times, especially on very fast maps and I'll tell you right now: it is very weak.

The Build itself

As others have pointed out even though his Roaches finish around 4:40 his push doesn't come to ~5:30. For people comfortable with 3 Rax timing pushes at 6:00, this should feel very manageable. What's worse, is that if you commit to this rush you're left with 16 Drones around the 5:30 minute mark. That's usually an economic loss which is almost impossible to come back from.

What usually scares people is that a Zerg player is being very aggressive early in the game, and its something most players aren't used to. Where as early Zergling play is usually handled by a wall off, no similar option exists for Roaches. What's more with their longer range Roaches can now pick off wall ins with out taking damage. Finally, the Roach Den itself doesn't go down till 3:45, so unless you've blind committed to 2 Gate or Void Rays, there really isn't an opportunity to switch your build. This also means that he has every opportunity to switch out of his Roach rush by spotting an early second gate (or Starport).

While that may seem scary try to remember that Roaches themselves are only really strong against Zealots and Marines, and very weak against Zerglings, Stalkers and Marauders, so most standard builds will actually have decent forces in place to deal with this. Unless you're trying for some crazy Zealot or Marine only push what you build in the natural course of a 3 Rax, 3 Gate, or Speedlings, should actually be enough.

Story Time

Let's take an example:

Let's say my brother is player Zerg. My brother isn't great so he goes 14 gas 14 pool without ever scouting, delayed expansion on 22, and doesn't even notice the Roaches till they're moving out at 4:40. So he cancels his expo, throws down 3 spine crawlers and pumps Zerglings... you know when he remembers to, so like at 5:03.

Now he's playing on Steps of War, the map with the smallest rush distance where you really have to scout, so the rush arrives at 5:20! His Spine Crawlers aren't finished, and to make matters worse, his opponent has squeezed out a magical 8th Roach.

alt text

Now my brother kind of sucks so he doesn't even really micro he just sends in his Zerglings + Queen, while the Roaches take out one of the still building spinecrawlers and are even reinforced by a 9th Roach! And what happens?

alt text

He doesn't even spend those 5 extra larva on Zerglings, but opts for workers instead. Now, my brother is ahead on Workers, has those two Spine Crawlers he can use to discourage a second wave of Roaches and can expand since he has 400 minerals... that baddy.

When I say 7 Roach rush is weak I really mean it. Its not the sort of thing you even need to really make a special build for, any "normal" play really counters it.

Let me shift gears for a moment

But Tzenes... I'm a super ultra mega baddy who's even worse than your brother... what can I do?

The reason many lower level players like the 7 Roach rush is because its really spelled out for them. Do X at time Y. Very easy to execute. By comparison saying something like: Just go 14 gas, 14 pool and build a bunch of Spine Crawlers when he leaves his base... you should be fine is not easy to execute. It leaves out important details like: build your Queen as soon as the Spawning Pool finishes, Zergling speed will finish right as your first Larval injection does and most importantly if he goes around to your workers instead of your Spine Crawlers, just pull the workers away, let your 10 extra Zerglings finish and then you can catch him in the open and Speedlings destroy Roaches in the open.

So where do you learn these things you ask? By polishing a build order.

If your build order is polished, you won't be waiting an extra 23 seconds to even start your first wave of Zerglings like my brother did. You won't be supply blocking yourself at 26, and you'll get a third wave of Zerglings while the Roaches are attacking. So my advice to you is: go download YABOT, and fear 7 Roach Rush no more.

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well, i can't say i don't like story time :) Well presented info and a VERY useful link to YABOT. Thanks tzenes! –  Chaulky Nov 3 '10 at 2:18
    
@Chaulky if you're looking for a YABOT build to start you off, I might make a simple recommendation. Its not crazy powerful, but it will teach you the basics you desperately need. –  tzenes Nov 3 '10 at 2:27
    
I'm curious - the guy who seems to have started this whole hullaballoo claimed that he was wiping the floor with diamond players, consistently. Was he just playing against terrible diamond players? –  sjohnston Nov 3 '10 at 3:56
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@sjohnston being in Diamond doesn't make a player good. By comparison to Broodwars, a 1000 level Diamond is like a D+ (think standard letter grades). Half the players you find in Diamond just know how to do 4 Gate or 3 Rax all ins, and have just polished their builds. Then again if you just have solid fundamentals its not hard to hit mid level diamond with just about any build. –  tzenes Nov 3 '10 at 5:31
    
@tzenes In your example shown, the roaches can easily move around the sides and snipe off the pool and workers without dealing with the crawlers...and that is how must crawler defenses will leave you. No decent player will walk up to your static D. You can build tight but it will be hard to not leave something vulnerable to the roaches. If you think you can hold it off with spines I would be happy to test that theory... –  en1gmatic325 Nov 3 '10 at 5:44

Scout Early!

Scout early as you will need to see this rush coming, it has the following characteristics:

  • No scout drone, lings or expo.
  • A higher drone count, 17 towards 3:00.
  • A roach warren, he can't hide it because of the creep.

Harass a Drone!

If you are good in micro you can hope for drones to follow and harass a single drone.
Protoss might want to place a proxy instead, depending on how you will counter him.

Build up your defenses and go for a counter attack.

Terran:
Bunker + 3 Rax, build MM and focus on Marauders to counter the Roaches.
Then Fac + Star, create medivac(s) and do a drop near his mineral line.

Protoss:
Cannons are possible, but are bad for your economy. You have better options:

  • Early harass: Send in early zealot(s) and pick off workers, there are no zerglings!

  • Four warp gates: Create a proxy pylon, warp in 8 zealots and harass right after his roaches go out (seen with probe). In any case you can take out his buildings before he takes you out... Worst case, create a cheap building somewhere on the map. He can't do this due to his creep.

  • Stargate: Should be out around 3:30, boost it twice to create a quick void ray.
    Together with Stalkers from two gates and Phoenix later you can even handle an all-in.

  • Wall + Sentries + Cannons: See this replay, beats an all-in without Immortals.  

Zerg:
Roach openings are popular in this case, so you should be doing one too.
You won't be able to counter him with Zerglings and Banelings...

In the case of a random spawn...

If you have to search him first, the scouting might be too late. So this means that for such maps you will need to prepare part of your counter attack to counter the effect of discovering it later.

Zerg will have to search you too as he didn't scout (except for slow overlord), this is your advantage...

Source: Mix of common knowledge, comments out of your link and Liquipedia II.

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I would love to see a replay of a successful 7 roach rush defense. –  Matt Nov 2 '10 at 18:43
    
Tried looking with "7 roach" and "7RR", hard to find those except the one I listed. This strategy is young... –  Tom Wijsman Nov 2 '10 at 20:38
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+1 for an extremely well written answer, thanks TomWij –  Chaulky Nov 2 '10 at 20:50
    
You won't be able to counter him with Zerglings, not true mate. just make your initial 4 zerglings and you'll completely dominate a NR5 build. –  Mark Nov 3 '10 at 2:52
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@TomWij I think Mark's point was that you'll have your first lings before the roaches are done (No-Rush-5 since it takes ~5 min to get them). –  Andrew Coleson Dec 12 '10 at 8:22

The first thing I want to point out is that this is an all in build meaning that if you are able to hold it off, you will likely be so far ahead economically that you will easily win in the midgame as long as you keep producing workers during the push.

Scout You should notice that the pool was somewhat fast. Since they have no offensive units, you should still be in the base and see the fast roach warren at which point..

Protoss You probably already have a gateway and a cyber core wall at the front of your base. Chrono boost a sentry and plan on using a force field to keep them from breaking the ramp. You want either 1 or 2 gate and a robo. Immortals tear roaches apart. Build zealots with excess minerals (gas is going toward immortals).

Terran Go for marauders. They out range roaches and do decent damage as well. Conc shells will make the fight even more imbalanced. You'll get plenty of free shots in at the choke in your main.

Zerg I actually like building spine crawlers along with speed lings. You should start the crawlers as your opp leaves his base and they should finish just in time for the arrival. After the initial push fails, you can exploit the lack of roach speed by running directly into their base. If you scout early enough, you could plant a crawler on their creep as well.

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+1 Although, please note that there are two variations, there is also a non all-in one where the Zerg will be in an economical advantage if you don't harass him. –  Tom Wijsman Nov 2 '10 at 20:02
    
For the Protoss strategy, an execution of that exact strategy is seen in youtube.com/watch?v=lw8ZvRAQwXc but please note that the Zerg didn't perfectly execute the 7 Roach Rush which is the reason I didn't list this one in my answer, someone also points out in the comments that you're only delaying Immortals by creating that Sentry but I guess it's a matter of trying it with and without one. –  Tom Wijsman Nov 2 '10 at 20:02
    
For the Terran strategy, you might consider spending the Conc shell resources on something different. Unless you can micro excellent as Marauders have only 2 Range more but the Roaches have 20 HP more, terrain advantage might indeed help to counter that... –  Tom Wijsman Nov 2 '10 at 20:05
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For the Zerg strategy, Zerglings lose their effectiveness against more Roaches and you are sacrificing your economy by creating Spine Crawlers. Like Matt, this is one I would love to see a replay from. As the Zerglings you have left from the initial push can easily be countered, again note that 7 Roach leaves him with an economical advantage if he goes for the non all-in one (only sending 7 Roaches) instead of the all-in one (sending 7 Roaches + Queen + Workers)... –  Tom Wijsman Nov 2 '10 at 20:10
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I've had lots of success with the 7 roach rush and it's not all in by any stretch. If it's countered with immortals or marauders, the mid game transition is to add hydras to the mix to finish up the opponent. also with scouting involved and travel time, the attack doesn't hit at 4:40 but more like 5:30. –  Alan Le Nov 2 '10 at 22:39

Scout If you don't scout the 7RR you will lose, but it's very easy to scout.

DO NOT GET SUPPLY BLOCKED OR YOU WILL LOSE

If you are playing standard your scout should easily be able to stay alive because he will not have any zerglings or queens to take out the scout before the roach warren goes down. If you cannot keep up with microing your scout, shift queue a patrol ring around his base so that the probe doesn't die.

As soon as you see the roach warren go down

Protoss

  1. Stop building zealots unless you are blocked on gas.
  2. Make sure you have taken a 2nd gas geyser
  3. Get at least one or two sentries to Force Field the ramp and stall
  4. Build Stalkers OR Get a robo and chrono boost an immortal
  5. Defend with immortals then push. If you see more lings start getting zealots again.

Terran

  1. Build a bunker
  2. Stop teching and produce more barrack structures. Three total should be good
  3. Put marines in the bunker (prioritized over marauders)
  4. For the love of God, send 4-6 SCVs to repair the bunker. Also right click the repair icon so they auto-repair
  5. If you have a techlab on your Barracks, get a few marauders if not keep making marines.
  6. Defend the rush, salvage the bunker, push.

Zerg

  1. Throw down a spine crawler in his base with your scout. He won't have anyway to stop it w/o pulling drones off. Just make sure you cancel the spine crawler if it begins to take too much damage while building.
  2. Throw down 3 or 4 spine crawlers in your base and around 4-6 zerglings
  3. Keep droning.
  4. Once you hold the push you can counter attack or tech to muta. I usually pop my head in his base to see if I can end the game, but I usually assume not and tech to muta for the game closer. The high drone count and better tech makes it much more one sided as mutas come out.

As zerg, If you build a lot of ground forces to stop the push, you better counter attack because otherwise you are just waisting your larva and losing your advantage.

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As you can see here: sc2builds.com/build/764, the roach warren goes down after the queen. And it goes down late... usually the best timing is that you build the 7 roaches right after the warren finishes. So that doesn't give the opponent that much time to scout and react. –  bummzack Apr 8 '11 at 5:48

Hm, from what I read in the forum thread where this build was first presented, it's not about the rush. The guy who made it (not the build-making computer program, but the guy on the teamliquid forums) kept repeating over and over that it's not about the push and that you WANT your opponent to scout you. Either they're caught with their pants down and the push outright kills them or they know the push is coming and spend money on marauders, crawlers, or sentry/stalkers/cannons. The way you're supposed to do the build is that when your roaches move out, throw an expo behind them and in case you walk up the opponent's ramp and see fifty marauders, just back up and go back home. Keep a unit outside his base to spot a counterattack but otherwise just drone up to catch up. After the roaches, you have money for an expo AND 100 gas for lair/speed/whathaveyou. The point is if the opponent made marauders, he's not going to be tank pushing/banshee/marine pressure, and is forced to go into an MMM play, which is honestly easier to deal with than tankmarine or such. Same for zerg and protoss. What makes the build really strong isn't the rush but that it dictates what your opponent does.

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If you play zerg versus zerg, and youre a shifter, always it will end up in an early push for both sides because zergs cannot wall off. Get the first extractor at 10 and send a drone, and when half to finish of spawning pool add one more to haste to get 100 for zergling speed search. You will use remaining gases for +1 attack and banelings later. At around 18-20 start building zergs (scout with first ones to see what you need).

When i play against a zerg player, i build a second hatchery near to my first after building a queen for first one. Because of the early pushes you wont be able to defend a second base in early phase. I ever didnt get busted in early phase with this build, because you always have enough zerglings to repell any attacks in 5:00 around. Zerglings will allways beat roaches if theyre not in big numbers and they dont create a convex hull with a wall behind to keep opponent attack points to minimum.

Second, you shouldnt stop building drones (keep building a drone for each 5-6 zerglings if you dont believe that it will be your last wave %100 percent or you will be walled of by minerals with 2*(hatcheries+queens)). If you have the map control but opponent doesnt let you into his first base, crowd in front of his base with zerglings and while this build a baneling nest and a second expansion (not too advantegous for roaches but if he switches to zerglings you will need them). You can research +1 attack for zerglings, this will mean +2 for zerglings because you have two of them in each build. This makes roaches unusable against them. If youre able to, try to kill his queen, this will hurt him really. You should build queen for each hatchery you build, you shouldnt forget this ever.

You should keep pressure and always scout his base, and get informed if he switches to mutas because his only chance to expand will be mutas. Or he can get a far away expansion hoping you wont notice, which i try to scout by sending one zergling per resource location on the map.

Most important: If he comes with early zerglings which i find more dangerous from roach one because it doesnt stop coming, and if you think your forces wont be enough select all your workers and send them to middle of opponent army to help your insufficient army getting them out. 20 drones will get who comes for an early attack with the help of a small army and a queen, it doesnt matter who they are (try not to get queen killed if you can). Just relax and think clearly.

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As Protoss:

The safest thing to do as protoss is to build at least one sentry as early as possible from your first gateway. This will let it save up energy so that you can cast more force fields.

If you do this and also scout the roach rush you should be prepared to place the force field well (trap 1 or two roaches on your side of the ramp so that you can pick them off).

Since all maps except scrap station (which has a really long rush distance) have small ramps this is probably the only thing you need to do to beat it.

Is the rush really done that often? Doesn't feel very strong against protoss because since the ff at the ramp totally negates it.

As Zerg:

Scout (overlord, drone, first group of lings), zvz is the match-up where you absolutely have to know what your opponent is doing at all times, hence you should see it coming.

Plant one or two spine crawlers and build a batch of lings and you should be able to fend it off. If you think its really close: pull probes early in the fight, they're reasonably good against roach.

OR: when you see him going roach, build a bunch of lings and make him pay. Going roach without any lings first is rather risky as I see it.

As Terran:

Build a free bunker, if needed send a scv and click auto-repair.

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