The Zerg extractor trick allows you to start your 11th drone a few seconds faster. Does this actually help though? You gain a few seconds on that extra drone, but you lose due to:

  1. The cancellation fee for the extractor which is something like 6 mins. That's like an entire drone trip to a mineral patch.
  2. The time spent being an extractor, which is likely to be close to the time of a trip to minerals.

So I would say you lose something like 10 minerals to gain a few seconds on a drone. Is this actually worth it?

Disclaimer: I am really terrible at Zerg; I have no idea what I'm doing really.

  • 1
    tinyurl.com/4q72jqw and the 4th link: wiki.teamliquid.net/starcraft2/Extractor_trick contains beauty data from Skrag. So in short - it's not worth it
    – Meta
    Mar 9, 2011 at 11:35
  • 2
    Almost every question on Stack Exchange can be answered by other sites. There is still a reason SE sites exist though; the "About" page explains it pretty well. Thank you for the links anyway.
    – tenfour
    Mar 9, 2011 at 11:46
  • I don't think that copy-paste is a good way to fill up SE. As you can see many people answered just google question for you
    – Meta
    Mar 10, 2011 at 5:09
  • @Meta, sorry but that is not the spirit of SE. See meta.stackexchange.com/questions/8724/…
    – tenfour
    Mar 10, 2011 at 12:44
  • Would be nice to get an answer that's relevant to the current meta. I imagine the math hasn't changed, but I don't know. I can't model it in my head too well to be able to say if the modern LotV situation, with 12 drones to start and a supply cap at 14 (so hatch gives 6) changes anything.
    – mtraceur
    Jun 4, 2020 at 6:10

5 Answers 5


Economy wise, overlord at 9 is best. If you happen to create a tenth drone by mistake, go for the extractor trick as it helps you minimize economic loss.

Some people do the extractor trick just to keep their fingers busy...


Stolen from: http://www.teamliquid.net/forum/viewmessage.php?topic_id=133917

This is the tl;dr version, if you want more numbers, read the rest of Scrag's post.

I used the AI to test the various builds in a very consistent manner, to try to answer the question once and for all.

The 9 overlord is the best economic build, period. Minerals at 2:15: 370

10 overlord can be used for 10pool and overpool, but is inferior to 9OL in every other possible respect to the tune of 10 minerals, and loses the small window of advantage it gets by building the 10th drone sooner by the time 10OL finishes its 11th worker. Minerals at 2:15: 355

A single extractor trick doing the trick before building the overlord (11 drones then overlord) gives a small time window of about a 15 mineral advantage, between workers 11 and 14, but there's a cost, of around 5-10 minerals. Best case, you might be able to break even when compared to 9OL, but most of the time you'll lose 5-10 minerals. Minerals at 2:15: 364

Single extractor trick after the overlord (10 drones, overlord, trick to 11 drones) is inferior to 10-T-OL in the 11-13 worker range, and is inferior to 9OL in the 14-15 range, so I honestly see no reason to ever trick this way, UNLESS you meant to 9OL, but forgot the overlord. In that case, this is your best way to try to catch back up, because the cost is 0-5 minerals instead of 5-10. Minerals at 2:15: 369

The double extractor trick provides such a small advantage over the single extractor trick during even a smaller window that it should probably only be used exactly to 12 pool, and even then, there is an extra cost over the single extractor trick. It probably compares to the single extractor trick much like 10OL compares to 9OL, meaning that if you're doing something exactly on drone 12, you might use it, otherwise, the single trick is probably strictly superior. Minerals at 2:15: 353 (imprecise, but again, likely strictly inferior to single trick except for fastest 12pool)

(Making this answer a wiki since I just copied and pasted, and the link was from the Liquidpedia entry made in a comment by someone else. Just wanted to add more details that was too long for a comment.)


No. Team Liquid did some hard maths on it, and 9overlord is about 15 minerals better than extractor tricking.


Thats how the Extractor Trick with 2 drones looks like in the graphs. I use it to get a fast 12 pool, like mentioned before.

Extractor Trick Resource collection rate

Red bar being the tricking Zerg, blue a 8Pool Zerg.


EDIT: I'm sorry, I didn't realise that you meant the extractor trick on yourself, and not within your enemy's base (like what I experienced). But hey, just sharing, in any case.

Allow me to answer from an still learning (or some say nub) Bronze level player.

It (extractor trict working against me) irked me to such an extent that it made me lose focus, and ultimately lost to an early zergling rush.

So if you asked, it does help.

BUT a little bit more detailed analysis of its benefit are: - distracts players - prevents enemy from gaining early 2nd gas - partial view of enemy's base

As for the loss of mineral income (from possible mining process), well if you're going to send a drone out for scouting, you're losing income anyway. Bah.

  • 1
    The "extractor trick" referred to in the question is not the same as stealing an enemy's gas - the question is about building and then canceling extractors on your own geysers to free up supply, not on the enemy's geysers. Your can read more on the liquipedia link Meta added as a comment on the question.
    – Oak
    Mar 9, 2011 at 12:27

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