I understang the Fast Expand concept and have employed it. However, I find myself to nervous to FE and end up doing 1 base. The problem is that I get stuck in one base and to focused on offense, neglecting to expand out. I feel if I had a better idea of when to expand, this would fix my problem.

My question is, when you scout your opponent, what are you looking for that allows you to FE or raises flags that tells you to one base for awhile? And if you one base, when is it best to expand?

  • 1
    i'm pretty sure you're required to yell kekekekekekekekekekekekkekekekekekekekekkekekekekke into your mic while doing so
    – erik
    Commented Aug 20, 2010 at 15:16
  • it didn't come up in anyone's answers, but a good time to expand is when you have map control. Any time you feel like you have him bottled, feel free to throw down a 3rd or 4th expo
    – tzenes
    Commented Aug 21, 2010 at 0:24
  • The answers to this question are interesting, because the Starcraft 2 meta-game has evolved. It's now considered very safe for Zerg to build a Hatchery first against Terran; with good control a Zerg can defeat a double proxy Barracks bunker rush.
    – Kitt Basch
    Commented May 29, 2012 at 8:45

4 Answers 4


If you see your opponent expanding, you know it's safe to expand. He's spending minerals to expand, which will delay his attack and give you time to get up defenses for your expansion if necessary.

If you see the makings of an aggressive build (early spawning pool or multiple barracks/gateways), you may want to hold back on your expansion until you see exactly what he's doing. A fast attack will beat a fast expand every time.

If you see your opponent building to turtle, then expanding is your best option. He will be stuck in his base and is essentially giving you free reign over the rest of the map. The best way to defeat a turtler is through macro.

  • +1 for the third paragraph (which I was going to answer before seeing yours) Commented Aug 19, 2010 at 19:00
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    +1 I would probably write a longer answer which would say the exact same thing
    – tzenes
    Commented Aug 19, 2010 at 19:02
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    Notice that this answer implicitly assumes you will be scouting what your opponent is doing, which is the most important part of knowing when to FE or not. Commented Aug 19, 2010 at 19:14
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    If you see your opponent building his expansion, you should go attack it. Start your own expansion just before you leave to attack. Commented Aug 20, 2010 at 17:30

One factor not mentioned yet is map size, or more accurately, rush distance. How long does it take to reach your base from theirs? The shorter the distance, the more you need to be concerned about a rush, as you will have less time to prepare. This is related to map size, but is also affected by the layout. some small maps can have a pretty long rush distance, while a bigger map with no terrain could allow a rush to run straight from one base to another. if you scout a bunch of units leaving their base on a short rush distance map, you won't have time to throw down spine crawlers or pump units instead of drones. On a long rush distance map, you can start pumping units when they push out, and have a small army when they finally arrive.

  • +1, I rely on the map much more than scouting for judging if I can FE safely. Commented Aug 20, 2010 at 18:25

Whatever you do as zerg, you WILL need a second hatchery. I usually go for the second hatch as soon as I don't have any larvas left and have 300 minerals left.

The key to fast expansion is scouting. You need to be sure that you will be able to survive an attack by your opponent. When hes building units, build units. When hes building structures, its safe to expand

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    I'd say this is false. There is plenty of one base Zerg play which can be decisive: ie. One base Muta, One base Roach
    – tzenes
    Commented Aug 19, 2010 at 18:38
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    staying on top of your queen spawning more larva is key to a one base zerg play, you can have enough larva with one base that way. On bigger maps its not always the best strategy if you are up against a strong opponent. Eventually a weak economy will catch up to you. Also, fast expand doesn't mean you have to go right for minerals. Gas is usually the hold up so its usually a good idea to get mining on gas before minerals when you do expand.
    – Mark
    Commented Aug 20, 2010 at 0:29

You don't absolutely need to know what your opponent is doing, all this emphasis on early scouting, etc, is sensible but too 'safe'.

For instance Jaedong (best zerg in the world) frequently fast expands without scouting, or even, gasps, 3 hatch before pool.

IM humble opinion in the current stage of your evolution as a player, you should practice with always fast expanding (choose bigger maps), regardless of scouting. You'll probably find yourself in a large economic advantage in 70% of your games. Because seriously, if a zerg only expands when he sees a terran expanding, THAT IS TOO LATE.

Edit: I wrote some pretty ranty comments that everyone should check out. In conclusion, people should listen to those who actually play the game at a high level rather than pay attention to the vote counts. Because in the end... an aggregate silver league opinion... is still a silver league opinion.

Edit2: You can see on the TL wiki that FE counters 1 base play.



Two years later I think I'm obviously right.

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    The standard zerg 14 pool 16 hatch FE is very very safe, and can hold off the vast majority of early game pushes (like 4 gate) as well as rushes (quick marine pressure) very easily. Unless we're talking about something like a very very aggressive cheese, in which case yes you should expend your energy staying alive rather than expanding yes...
    – Ben
    Commented Aug 20, 2010 at 6:09
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    Often a zerg player seeing his opponent fast expand will double-expand so as not to remain behind. The points in my post are still valid. Commented Aug 20, 2010 at 11:07
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    @StrixVaria Just because you can double expand doesn't mean you should delay your first expansion. FE without scouting is standard play. [edited by Oak]
    – Ben
    Commented Aug 20, 2010 at 16:37
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    @Ben FE without scouting is most certainly not standard play. Let's look at Idra (who popularized the 14 pool 15 hatch). He consistently scouts on 12-13. What's more in a 2 Gate situation he'll often sacrifice the expo as a delaying tactic. What's more a late expand for Zerg isn't as detrimental as you make it considering drone production is more rapid than probe or SCV. Try to remember builds like 2 Gate and 40 pop Marine push, are designed to counter FE, so its worth checking that out first.
    – tzenes
    Commented Aug 20, 2010 at 17:20
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    @Ben allow me to counter thus: youtube.com/watch?v=XSW0vy438_4 Two months later... with the exact same people... The truth is that Idra is an amazing Zerg player, and to show Idra coming back from a 2 Gate is like showing a video of Michael Jordan doing a through the legs dunk. It suffers from the problem that: most people aren't Michael Jordan.
    – tzenes
    Commented Aug 20, 2010 at 18:08

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