At the moment I'm having problems (as Zerg) against Protoss and Terran players who turtle up inside their base (either inside their starting position or inside their first expansion). I know that when I see this (typically I scout with my 13th drone) my reaction should be to take the investment in static defenses as a sign that they are not going to attack immediately and use the opportunity to get an economic advantage over my opponent, so I place a couple of zergs outside their defenses as an early warning and take a second (or possibly third) expansion.

The problem comes when I try and take advantage of my economic lead. I've tried a few different things to break through their turtle but nothing works that consistently

  • Avoiding their defenses and harassing with mutalisks works some of the time, however its easily countered by opponents who know its coming and build air defenses
  • Attacking the wall directly with higher level units (hydralisks or even just roaches) sometimes works, however I generally take fairly heavy losses if it does
  • I've tried attacking with banelings however again I find this is fairly inefficient

As a result I now tend to just contain them inside their walls, harass when I can and prevent them from expanding. Against Terran players I tend to do OK (especially against those who fail to invest in air defense), although it feels like I'm taking a long time to kill off my opponent. If I wait long enough then Protoss players tend to go for Void Rays which gets me every time.

What should I be doing in this situation?

5 Answers 5


By going for an economic advantage, you are on the right path. As you mention in the question however, you're no utilizing that advantage correctly.

First, a very basic piece of advice. Always build drones unless you have 30 per base. Never let your base sit idle, even for a few seconds, unless your minerals and gas are saturated. This alone can send a bronze player to the gold league, and without it there's no point to getting many bases.

Harassing is generally pointless against a turtle, especially with mutalisks - a player with a single base can just move their army to the mineral line, and harass depends on being faster than the enemy and forcing them to stretch themselves between two or more locations. There's also little point to it - it's done if you're behind and need to catch up economically, or if you're even and want to demolish the opponent. You already have the economic lead and thus, harassing is a waste of your APM.

Economic advantage lets you, obviously, have more resources. More resources mean more units, earlier. This is further exacerbated by the enemy's need to use a big part of his income for cannons, if we're talking about a protoss. There's no reason for someone to defeat you with massed void rays if they're turtling - you should either have reached the unit cap far earlier and steamrolled them, or you should have twice as many units as they have void rays, again eliminating their army. Especially if you are scouting them - which, since they are on the defense, should be easy to do - you should already know what unit they're massing and what unit to build to counter them. Now, newbies have trouble scouting, but in such a situation it is an afterthought - you should have a huge materiel advantage anyway. A good army can break the back of any turtle - a dozen cannons can't even slow a group of units whose population consumption is in the triple digits.

Your problem, then, is production. For some reason you end up with less units than the enemy despite your income. Master larva injections and don't let your queens build up energy - this is hard, but it is another ability that directly translates into better play. Make more hatcheries in your base, without them being next to minerals, just for the larvae. Never get above 1000 minerals, and if you do, make even more hatcheries (and try to get better at using up larva and injecting). Get an overwhelming materiel advantage and crush his base, but don't kill your progress early on by sacrificing units in pushes that inflict no meaningful damage. There's no reason to struggle against an enemy with less resources than you - Starcraft is almost always won by the player with more drones.

Having many hatcheries with a queen each should also help with void rays a little bit - queens are very powerful against air units. Try it - kiting on creep should be relatively easy, and mistakes (which you shouldn't be making) can be mended with transfuse anyway. Having 4 or 5 queens is a given and generally enough to fend off any early void aggression, and they can be mass-produced if needed later on - the hatchery queue is generally empty anyway.

Boxing your opponent in is the entire battle, really. An enemy who has to resort to turtling is a defeated one, and the entire game is about forcing the other side to limit their drone and base count. Someone who does that voluntarily is just a step short of pressing "resign" themselves :)

  • As an addendum, the premier high-tech max-army versus max-army zerg composition is made up of purely broodlords with a varying number of corruptors thrown in. Your initial corruptor supply should easily deal with a reasonable number of void rays even with somewhat low unit production, and brood lords just happen to demolish static defenses, siege tanks, and most ground units, often without taking a single point of damage themselves. Just remember to cackle maniacally as you throw broodlings from outside his turtle's firing range.
    – Fadeway
    Commented Jul 8, 2012 at 17:19
  • Why a downvote? Did I make it too long?
    – Fadeway
    Commented Jul 9, 2012 at 18:52

When a player turtles then he has usually 2-3 bases, depending on the map, and he has no map control.

You can exploit this by:

  • Go for pure macro, with very few fast units like Zerglings or Mutas and build pure Drones up to 70 or 80 supply.
  • Get 4-5 bases and saturate Minerals and Gas.
  • Tech ASAP, get +3/+3, all upgrades, Infestation Pit, Ultralisk Den and Greater Spire at the same time.
  • Build even more macro hatches.
  • Build many Spinecrawler as you have the money.
  • Eventually you opponent has to attack, as he will get low on Minerals. That is your timing to crush him.
  • Your army should consist of high tier units like Broodlord, Ultralisks, Infestors etc.
  • Once your stuff dies rebuild with fast backup units, like Zerglings or Roaches and flood the battlefield with your units.

Usually this way your opponent will crumble.

  • Very nice tips! This is indeed the way to break a turtled opponent.
    – Nick122
    Commented Jul 9, 2012 at 18:00
  • No, you don't wait for your opponent to attack. You want to attack them so you're able to remax most effectively.
    – Decency
    Commented Jul 11, 2012 at 3:02
  • I agree with @ayckoster here wait for him to attack since he is the one with the limited minerals. As zerg you can have about 4 expansions + some hatcheries in your main so you can get all the units back before he can even say: 'hasta la vista'. Commented Apr 29, 2013 at 11:44

I would recommend scouting well before your 13th drone. Depending on the size of the map you're on, send out your Overlord ASAP and then use the 8th or 9th drone to scout. The earlier you send that drone out, the sooner you can come up with a proper reaction.

Turtling is not that difficult to deal with, especially as Zerg. Banelings can bust down any wall-ins (I HIGHLY recommend getting the Baneling speed upgrade before trying anything, and make sure to send more than three or four up there) that Terran or Protoss players might have, Nydus Canals or Overlords can be used to drop units directly into their base, or your Mutalisks can fly right around the encampment and harass their mineral line, as you said.

It's also worth mentioning that Zerg deals the best against turtling opponents...because that gives them free reign to explode upon the map. Once you've thrown up another Hatch or two, start throwing your units at him. Pressure your enemy until he cracks, and enjoy your victory.


If they turtle up as Zerg, you should take map control. Don't let them out of their wall and take all the bases you can. This way, they'll deplete their resources while you're going to have plenty.

Even if they win the first attack, you should be able to recover very fast (because you're going to have at least 3 bases) and attack again.

Don't forget to make a queen for every base you have and to upgrade your units whenever you have resources.

If you want a good build to start, check out this Roach rush. Even if you don't understand French, you're going to understand what you have to do.

One last thing: don't forget to have fun! :)


Liquid TLO Shows how its done. Day nine casts and goes into depth about how these mechanics are sooo gooood. i sugguest you watch all 3 vids. will take about an hour! this will help!

  • 2
    Can you please highlight and add to your answer the relevant parts of the video that apply to the question? Just dumping a video and going, "Watch this!" is not a very good answer.
    – Frank
    Commented Nov 1, 2012 at 18:58

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