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I'm a platinum player Zerg and I have one huge problem with ZvT. If a terran manages to sneak expand somewhere on the map and build a planetary fortress and surround it with turrets, it's very hard to react. Even more so if the expansion is in another main with a ramp/choke.

A PF with repairing SCV:s can withstand a ridiculous amounts zerglings/rouaches and same against mutas if turret repairing is done right.

Then the terran can just rest with his tank army and as soon as you try to take the PF down by brute force, he kills your main/natural.

The only ways I can deal with this is to go Broodlords or out expand my opponent, but it feels like there must be a better reaction to this.

Anyone has any clever ideas to deal with such situations?

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5 Answers

The only other and usually more surprising method to take down a planetary fortress is to use banelings.

It takes 20+ banelings to blow it up. A few less if you have upgrades, but you can never have too many banelings against terran.

You'll need to produce a few extra or just lead in with a few zerglings to take the first few planetary fortress shots until your banelings can connect. If you're lucky you'll be able to blow up a few SCVs as well.

Keep in mind this is somewhat cost inefficient, but come mid/late game you'll be able to afford to do this and sniping off an expansion in this manner is very effective if they're only down to a few mining bases.

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And the reward for killing a PF is very high. They cost 550/150, and once the PF is gone the turrets and refineries die. Plus because of what @Resorath said, they're likely to lose all the workers. And the time spent getting that expo up, and you might even supply block them. –  tenfour Nov 20 '11 at 11:13
    
I don't disagree with other answers in this questions. I agree that the reward is definitely worth it, no matter the stage of the game. The question just asked for other methods to taking the Planetary Fortress down quickly. –  Sorean Nov 24 '11 at 5:30
    
Hmm, this actually isn't bad. Banelings are easy to tech to and fast to produce. Even if the cost of the banelings supasses the cost of the PF, the potential income from the expansion is worth it! –  oskob Nov 30 '11 at 8:42
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Planetary fortresses can actually be a good thing to come up against depending on how you look at the situation.

The natural response for most players when their undefended expansion comes under attack is to withdraw their workers, and sacrificing only the cost of the town hall. The Terran player with the planetary fortress' first reaction however, is to simply repair the town hall instead. So just move your zerglings into the worker line, hold position and watch their SCVs get torn apart. Use a roach ball to tank the planetary fortress while your zerglings are doing this.

Now you have two options. Withdraw your army and let the planetary fortress do nothing (since you destroyed all the workers) or overwhelm it with zergling/roach/hydras since it is no longer can be repaired.

Banelings can be helpful, but the planetary fortress will target them first automatically before they can get in range of the SCVs, so you will need a lot of them.

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If the terran places his army between you and the PF this strat is way to weak to a counter attack. The terran will loose his PF but the counter will probably end the game if you have a large chunk of your army at the other side of the map –  oskob Nov 30 '11 at 8:35
    
You need 19 banelings to destroy a planetary fortress. That is 950 minerals and 475 gas(accounting for initial zergling cost), not to mention your supply will just disappear. Be sure its worth it. –  artifex Dec 20 '11 at 14:07
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The most common solution is to go muta. The muta's attack bounces three times, doing damage as it does so. If they mass-repair, then the glaives will kill the scv's pretty quickly.

If you really want to go ground units, ultras are probably your best bet. The splash damage allows them to tear light units to shreds and they do +20 damage to armored.

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I have nothing against mutas, but you need a lot to make that work. If the terran goes thor/marine, your mutas are worthless in an all out battle, thus again leaving you very vulnerable to counters. –  oskob Nov 30 '11 at 8:38
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Broodlords are a good choice in the late game, given the terran opponent doesn't go mass viking.

I really like Infestors to snipe/harass expansions though. The infested terrans only cost energy and they can take out a PF (or at least most of the workers there) when lobbed in in high numbers. You should have around 7 Infestors with high energy if you plan to destroy a PF. A good idea is also to attack the PF with infestors, while sending another army (lings or roaches) to another expansion. Most likely you'll be able to snipe one of these expansions this way.

Since the terran is building turrets, you should check out the situation at hand by sending in a ling or changeling. If the PF is additionally secured by marines and/or tanks, sending in the Infestors can be really disastrous as the turret will make them visible. You should try to avoid losing the Infestors at any cost.

If you can't find an angle where you can lob in the infested terrans safely, I wouldn't even bother attacking the PF. Attack elsewhere instead or just take more bases as the terran obviously uses all his army to protect his bases.

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Also a nice strat. In addition to infested terrans, maybe a few fungals on the worker line to prevent them from repairing might also help! –  oskob Nov 30 '11 at 8:46
    
@oskob: the fungal/storm tactic is common in late-game ZvT/PvT when you massacre SCVs en masse while they repair the PF under siege by e.g. Broodlords or Colossi. –  mindcorrosive Mar 5 '12 at 11:06
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You don't have to kill the PF in order to cripple the Terran heavily. Just sniping the drones is enough. A good way to do this is the Jae-Dong mutalisk way. Stack your mutas in one place and oneshot the turrets, then advance to the PF seeing that PF can't attack air. If the player mass repairs the turret, just focus the turrets that aren't repaired or focus the SCV's. One SCV does not equal 50 minerals lost. One SCV equals (in theory infinite) a lot of minerals seeing that he loses mining time when he has to construct new SCV's.

Another way is to not focus on the PF in the sneak expo but to focus on the other expos or less frequently the production facilities. Destroying a techlab or a reactor heavily cripples the Terran. (reactor takes away 50% of production).

Mass expo also works. As a Zerg you'll always have to be +1 base. (except if you've got a timing build ofc, then less bases is better because the Terran spend 550 minerals on a OC instead of 11 marines.)

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