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Just as it says on the can. How do I defend early mass zerglings in ZvZ? Early being around the time my natural is finished to the time it's about half-saturated. I'm getting a baneling nest as soon as I can afford it, and make zerglings as soon as I see them coming. I block the ramp with queens, but I still can't ever hold it.

Here's a replay where a bunch of zerglings stream into my base at the 5:40 mark. My overlord sees this coming, so I try to squeeze out a spine, block my ramp with my queen, and take an extra gas so I can support more banelings. I start morphing some banelings as soon as my baneling nest is done, but there are just so many zerglings that I can't hold off his reinforcements.

In this game I attempt to go spire. This game, I made as many preemptive banelings as I could afford. I figured he would be low on the tech tree, so mutalisks would be able to deal with his tier one aggression. But he was droning behind it, and eventually overran me with ling/bane.

Here's a replay where I make it to lair. He floods my natural with lings at 8:00 but I manage to hold onto my main. However, he was droning behind it, with roaches on the way. His two bases vs my one base was a situation I couldn't recover from. I was floating a lot of minerals and idle larvae in this game though. Maybe that was my downfall?

I also have a fourth one. Same deal. He floods my base with lings, I lose. I saw he had no expansion by the time I had mine up, so I prepared some defensive lings. However, when I saw him expand later, and my overlords saw nothing suspicious, I thought he had made a hidden expansion somewhere on the map. I still made as many banelings as I could afford right when my baneling nest completed, but his stream of units still destroyed me.

I'm in gold league, by the way. Thanks for your replies!

(For future readers: this was in patch 2.0.5 in Wings of Liberty)

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Welcome to the site! As for your reputation woes, I recommend you fill your site profile for a nice rep bonus. –  Adriano Varoli Piazza Mar 6 '13 at 2:26
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I don't think it works like that. You get a badge, not rep, for filling in your profile. –  murgatroid99 Mar 6 '13 at 2:31
    
I'm assuming drop.sc/309190 is your 3rd replay I went ahead and added it. –  Halfwarr Mar 6 '13 at 2:47
    
It is, thanks. Though with all the upvotes I can edit it in myself now :D –  sorbet Mar 6 '13 at 22:54
    
Can watch a couple of these tomorrow and give feedback if no one has gotten to it yet. –  Decency Mar 7 '13 at 4:02
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1 Answer

up vote 12 down vote accepted

For a player that is in the gold league, your initial build orders seems very solid, at least a lot better than other gold zergs that I have met before.

One fundamental rule that you have to remember about ZvZ is this: Anything can happen at any point of the game. ZvZ is the most volatile matchup out of any other possible ones largely because of Zerg's capability of producing a massive amount of units quickly. For other matchups, given enough training, you are able to narrow down or at least get an intuitive feel on when your opponent may attack you. In other words, there are a definitive set of "timings" for the attacks you can expect but this simply isn't the case for ZvZ.

Consider this: For ZvT, even if you didn't know 100% of what your opponent is doing, you have the option to be a little bit greedy and pump out drones as long as you don't over do it, because it actually takes a while for the terran army to march all the way down to your base (This is why creep spread is crucial in ZvT). For ZvP, there are only a limited set of potential timing attacks that is employable by the Protoss, such as 6 gate, blink stalkers or the dreaded parting style all in. For ZvZ, none of the above I talked about applies, because it takes seconds for the Zergling army to arrive to your doorstep and they are very easy to produce.

Now I will apply the above principle to the replays you have uploaded and talk about the specifics:

1.

Here's a replay where a bunch of zerglings stream into my base at the 5:40 mark. My overlord sees this coming, so I try to squeeze out a spine, block my ramp with my queen, and take an extra gas so I can support more banelings. I start morphing some banelings as soon as my baneling nest is done, but there are just so many zerglings that I can't hold off his reinforcements.

The opener you scouted your opponent is the infamous aggressive 14/14 and happens to be my staple build order. Since you opened with a pool first then hatch, there should've been only one thing that crossed your mind: He will attack me in the vicinity.

enter image description here

And your response? You kept droning... and you waited until the last moment to start producing Zerglings and a spine crawler. enter image description here

And this is basically what ended up happening:

enter image description here

You might be thinking, "But hey, what if he didn't attack me and instead decided to heavily drone?". Well, there is an important lesson to be learned here. You need to consider both of the worst case scenarios that could happen if your opponent had put the aggression on you vs if he didn't decide to be aggressive and start droning himself.

  • Opponent Attacks: You lose the game (At the minimum, you lose drones and/or queen, putting you behind).
  • Opponent Starts Droning: Both of you are at an equal worker count.

Really, it comes down to a simple logic like that. Now tell me, being a pragmatic and a logical player, which one of those cases sound better to you? In fact, it is more likely that you would be slightly ahead in drone count even if your opponent had started to drone because you had your hatchery done first.

But what if you screwed up somehow and overcommitted with the zerglings? No problem, put some pressure on your opponent, prevent him from droning and in the process, start making drones for yourself. This process goes back and forth in this volatile matchup.

Other problems I wanted to address are your mechanics and map awareness. You state that you blocked the ramp with the queens. In fact, you didn't properly block the ramp because you sent your queen from the main down to the ramp way too late.

enter image description here

You built a baneling nest, which is a good response but during the aggression, you didn't realize the building was completed and didn't accordingly start to produce banelings.

enter image description here

In fact, because your opponent carried out the attack somewhat badly, you could've easily defended that attack at the moment the enemy lings left his base and be substantially ahead in the game.

Since I happened to have some Korean DNA embedded in my body, which means I get a racial passive bonus in ability to play Starcraft well, I am luckily able to demonstrate this point. Blizzard recently implemented a very nice replay feature which lets other players take over in any desired point of the game. I've asked my brother, who is a top master player to take over as your friend.

Now that I've extensively covered one replay, it gets easier to answer the remainder ones:

2.

In this game I attempt to go spire. This game, I made as many preemptive banelings as I could afford. I figured he would be low on the tech tree, so mutalisks would be able to deal with his tier one aggression. But he was droning behind it, and eventually overran me with ling/bane.

This one is easy. You were so severely behind when you cancelled your first hatchery that it is safe to say you practically lost the game at the moment the hatch was cancelled. The thing is, that hatchery did not need to be cancelled at all. You could've let your hatchery tank a bit and buy more than enough time to produce 2-3 sets of lings to defend that light aggression (more like scouting in my eyes).

enter image description here

3.

Here's a replay where I make it to lair. He floods my natural with lings at 8:00 but I manage to hold onto my main. However, he was droning behind it, with roaches on the way. His two bases vs my one base was a situation I couldn't recover from. I was floating a lot of minerals and idle larvae in this game though. Maybe that was my downfall?

Recall the most important fundamental rule I have reiterated over and over: Anything can happen in ZvZ at any given point of time. Ever wonder why professional players would make few banelings and a spine crawler at his natural when both players are in fact, droning? It's because of this very possibility from being overrun by the zerglings and losing the game.

enter image description here

The banelings play a critical part to buy you enough time to produce more lings and spines to defend yourself. And there's no reason that you couldn't because as you said, you were floating on a lot of minerals which is another sign that you need to improve your mechanics.

4.

I also have a fourth one. Same deal. He floods my base with lings, I lose. I saw he had no expansion by the time I had mine up, so I prepared some defensive lings. However, when I saw him expand later, and my overlords saw nothing suspicious, I thought he had made a hidden expansion somewhere on the map. I still made as many banelings as I could afford right when my baneling nest completed, but his stream of units still destroyed me.

Same issue as #1. You were droning hard when you should've been making zerglings and banelings.

Regarding your thought of a hidden expansion, you should've completely ruled this possibility out when you scouted his 14/14 build. It is illogical to build a proxy expo in the early game where each other can be scouted very easily. Unless if the sun rises from the rest and the moon turns red.

Miscellaneous

Your general understanding of the game seems to surpass that of a typical gold league. If you consistently practice your mechanics and try to logically deduce why your opponent might do A or B, then you should be able to hit platinum or diamond league asap.

Additionally, please read this matchup guide posted from Teamliquid. It should give you an insight of how ZvZ works generally.

http://www.teamliquid.net/forum/viewmessage.php?topic_id=401063#2.0

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Just to be clear, here's what I understand: vs T or P, you can drone heavily and still defend due to the time gap between his units' leaving his base and their arrival at mine. It's cheaper to defend than attack, giving me an economic advantage when I defend successfully. –  sorbet Mar 9 '13 at 8:36
    
But with ZvZ, the defender's advantage is weak; he can produce units as fast as I can. I lost those games because I assumed the defender's advantage from ZvT/ZvP would also be in ZvZ. To win in ZvZ, I need to make sure to always have marginally less units than he does in order to be able to successfully defend at any time, but drone marginally harder using the tiny defender's advantage to maintain the economic lead. Overproduced units can be used for aggression - the weak defender's advantage works for me as well. Am I getting this right, or is there something I'm missing? –  sorbet Mar 9 '13 at 8:49
    
P.S. I've already read the thread you mentioned, are there any other threads you can recommend? Anyways, thanks for such a thorough answer :) –  sorbet Mar 9 '13 at 8:51
    
@user1588857 You've perfectly understood what I said. With practice, you should be able to transition into mid game safely where things get a little bit less volatile. –  l46kok Mar 9 '13 at 10:33
    
Another thing I may add is, never be afraid of being behind in drones in ZvZ. It's very unlike PvP, where being behind by 2-3 probes can actually dictate the outcome of the match. Even if you happen to be behind by say, 10 drones, you should be able to catch up on drone count by putting pressure on your opponent, because he'll be forced to make units to defend for himself. In other words, you should always place your priority on not losing from the aggression by your opponent. –  l46kok Mar 9 '13 at 10:35
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