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Why do people worker rush (right when a match starts, you send all your SCVs/probes/drones to the opponent's base to attack their workers)? I have had this happen a couple times in 2v2 matches, and it just ended in messy games where they either lost immediately or lost eventually. I would never consider doing this in my own games, and I always wondered what the compelling reason would be.

Since there is almost no decision making at this early stage of the game, there is no advantage to play from really. So, what could the rationale possibly be? Here are my theories:

  • In low levels of play you could hope that your opponent doesn't know how to attack with workers, so your own workers attack with no repercussion.
  • If you expect a 6-pool, maybe you can have an advantage in worker numbers because they cut all drone production?
  • Maybe you are just messing around doing something senselessly
  • Maybe you have to go soon, so this is at least SOME action instead of a cold surrender.

As for defending a worker rush, see these other questions:

Best strategy against Worker Rush cheese in 2v2 and other matchups

Drone Rushes: Counter for each race

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5 Answers

up vote 20 down vote accepted

I'm going to tell you a story, and I hope it illustrates why people worker rush.

Back in 2003 MBC did a champions play off, and in the finals SlayerS_Boxer faced off against [NC]Yellow (probably the best player to never win an MSL). Boxer spawned in the 11 o'clock position and Yellow in the 7 o'clock position. Boxer scouts south and Yellow scouts east (missing the scouting SCV). Boxer goes for a 2 Rax opening and Yellow a FE... except Boxer scouts the Hatchery as it goes down and, in what would be one of the most memorable moments of pro Starcraft, he pulls his SCVs to back his only two marines... and RUSHES!

Even in retrospect it is an amazing game to watch (even more amazing than FruitDealer's 6 pool in the finals of GSL1 2010), but it illustrates the power of the move; Worker rushes (and all other early rushes) are designed to punish your opponent for over extending himself to try and gain a lead. Many players (even pro players) will cut corners in their builds to gain a Macro advantage (TLAF'Ret is a huge fan of this). In these cases the early rush serves to keep these players honest.

This same concept extends to 2v2 matches, except instead of a Macro advantage being conveyed by Fast Expansions, its conveyed by not joining armies. If you can stop your opponents from joining their armies together you have the advantage of fighting two 2v1s (which is easier than one 2v2). A very early double worker rush provides for the ability to do this as many 2v2 teams do not help eachother out in this situation.

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this is a good story, and I guess it shows also that there are advantages to exploit with a worker rush. If zerg builds a building, he loses a drone. Likewise, if terran builds a building, his SCVs are spread out and the building one is very vulnerable. That building SCV could be a quick snipe by the rusher, giving a quick advantage. –  tenfour Feb 23 '11 at 12:20
    
+1 for linking the most epic pro SC vid around. –  Cory J Feb 23 '11 at 22:48
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They are doing it because they are achievment scumming.

Say you need to get 50 wins for some portrait or another. Which is easier, going through roughly 100 legitimate playthroughs that take an average of 15 minutes, or doing 400 playthroughs at 90 seconds a piece where you have maybe a 25% chance of winning?

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They also go into lower league (due to low win rate) and as a result become to win more often with such strategy :) –  Budda Feb 24 '11 at 20:25
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People do it because they see it as a way to get an easy win.

A Worker rush is both simple to execute, and brings the possibility of a quick victory (however cheaply earned).

I would imagine players generally execute worker rushes because they're either expecting to take neophyte opponents by surprise (and thus gain an easy win), or because they don't care about win rates, and just want to have fun with an unorthodox strategy (for for them, anyway, when it works).

Don't forget: psychological warfare is perfectly valid in Starcraft 2 -- if you can throw your opponent off their game with unexpected tactics, they're more likely to get frustrated, and frustrated people make mistakes (or outright rage-quit -- Idra's done this a few times, I know).

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Not to mention that in a 2v2 match if your teammate doesn't respond to help quickly enough you will most likely lose. 2 sets of workers will beat 1 set of workers almost every time. –  Crag Feb 23 '11 at 1:46
    
-1 for tone. I realize that a worker rush may be frustrating but denigrating people for choosing to do so is out of place here. –  tzenes Feb 23 '11 at 7:14
    
@Tzenes - I hadn't intended that, but in hindsight, I agree with you. Tone admonished. –  Raven Dreamer Feb 23 '11 at 7:38
    
That happened exactly once to me. Zerg attacks me immediately with all his drones, and I reacted a split second too late and it was game over. He was all "muHAHAHAHA", but I didn't want to give him the satisfaction of ragequitting, so I flew my command center into the corner of the map and got myself a sandwitch. I hope we both learned a lesson that day :-) –  jdm Mar 22 '13 at 14:45
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There is no single reason why people do this.
As I can imagine there could be:

  • their mid-game is really bad and they almost always lose in this stage;
  • they have a little time to play (I seen such things on some stream when the streamer had to go);
  • they are playing to have fun / offend opponent (of course with chat like 'OMG nooB!').
  • you're playing against good players and they know what they're doing (they will execute such rushes on maps with long distance between you and teammate, leave one SCV on base to build an economy while messing you up)
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2 days ago I read that question and thought: it is necessary to be pretty stupid to start a worker rush... And yesterday I was killed with rush of such kind. It was not a clean 'worker-rush', my opponent build 4 rax, produced 5 marines, get all SCVs (around 15) and went to my base. He also had 3 marines in progress and 1 mule working on minerals.

It was LT map, I detected something suspicious when he just start to come out... in 10 seonds I booked 2 bunkers on my ramp. I had 3 marines - that provided vision on Naga Towers - they died for nothing... Also I had 1-2 marines at home, 1 hellion and around 19 SCVs. Also I had 2 factories and 1 barrack.

When he come into my base I began to panic, actually, don't know why... I get around 15 SCVs (that was pretty reasonable), surrounded my Hellion, give them order auto-repair and ordered "Stop" command. I had marine/hellion in production... My hellion began to fire...

The 1st bad thing: bunkers where destroyed before completion/cancelling (so I lost 200 minerals for nothing). The 2nd: his worker were not dieing too quickly... but marines still firing my SCVs, and I did fatal mistake: send workers to attack... my hellion become naked, quickly surrounded by opponent SCVs and killed... that's it...

So, it was done pretty well from opponent, and pretty bad from my side. If I was A LITTLE bit more accurate, put bunker not on choke but a little bit far away, was a MORE accurate with keeping my hellion alive - I would won...

So, why they attack! it is very exciting, I guess. And if opponent is not prepared - it is hard to defend from that...

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