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As the current dominator in the real-time strategy world, Starcraft II has been called one of the most difficult RTS games to master.
With the sheer number of things you have to focus on at all times, from ensuring your army units aren’t wiped out by a widow mine, establishing a mineral line, ensuring a good economy, and managing multiple armies at once, it is easy to see why so many people struggle.
If you are a Zerg player who finds it hard to make it out of the low leagues in Starcraft II, then you need some solid Zerg build orders.
I’ll first explain what build orders are.
If you already know, skip down to see the best build orders you can use to get yourself to Diamond League!
This guide is focused on the Zerg race, but you can find great Starcraft II beginner’s build orders for all races here.
Understanding What Build Orders Are
Now, what are build orders in Starcraft II?
Build orders are a list of units and structures you must build in a certain order and at a certain time in the game.
Why do we use build orders, though? After all, it is an RTS game, so surely we could just come up with anything that works well and go with that.
While you could do that, you will not get very far because build orders help you automate the first five to seven minutes of a game.
Without a build order, you must constantly think about what to build next and when it should be built.
With a build order, you now free up all that thinking power to focus on everything else in the game.
So even though build orders may not seem like a lot of fun, you will become a much better player at Starcraft II by practicing them repeatedly.
How to Read Build Orders
If you are like most newer players, you have probably looked at a build order and been confused, which is perfectly understandable.
Build orders are not intuitive initially, but with a little practice, you will read them like a pro in no time!
Here is what you need to know when reading Starcraft II build orders.
Build order: Supply
Firstly, the supply number on the left-hand side represents the current consumed supply, so for example, if a build order says 6 in the supply column, that means 6 supply is being consumed.
But what about when it says a number that doesn’t make sense, like in the 16/18/17 build shown below?
Build orders have seemingly random supply numbers because they do not tell you to build drones in between main actions.
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So using the above example of the 16/18/17 build, you build an overlord at 13 supply. You then build three drones, bringing you up to 16 supply. Anytime you are not producing a certain unit or structure, you should be building drones.
A healthy number of drones is 60 – 80 by the mid-game/late-game as that will allow you to support a large army without running out of resources.
Build order: Time
Besides the supply count in a build order, many come with a time, representing at what point in-game you should be creating the next unit or structure in a build order.
Starting, you will unlikely hit the timings correctly, so instead, focus on drilling the build order until you can do it without thinking.
Build order: Unit
The final part of a build order is the action you perform on the far-right-hand side of the build order.
It could be a unit, a structure, or a specific command that you should be performing, and it is what makes up the bulk of a build order.
That is all there is to build orders but remember, a build order is only meant for the first few minutes of a game. After that, you must improvise and respond to your opponent’s actions.
Beginner Build Order – Macro Game
When looking to improve upon your basic skills and get stronger at Starcraft II, it is important to put a lot of work into learning Macro or Economic builds as they are known.
Macro builds are the best Zerg builds for beginners as they focus on building up a strong economy in the early game and typically transition into either a mid-game timing attack or can transition into a late-game army comp.
In the lower leagues (Bronze to Platinum), hitting timings perfectly should not be the main game aspect that you are working towards.
Instead, focus on the macro basics explained above, and you will find yourself easily flying through the lower leagues.
16/18/17 Quick Third Base Macro Build Order
|Supply||Time||What to Build|
|16||0:51||Hatchery (Natural Base Location)|
|24||2:09||Metabolic Boost, Zergling x4|
|24||2:10||Pull one drone from gas|
|26||2:30||Hatchery (Third Base Location)|
Additional Macro Cycle Notes
- Remember to build drones when not building anything else.
- Keep minerals under 1000.
- If your opponent blocks your natural, uphold a fast expansion by sending the second hatchery drone to your third base location and building it there.
- Pulling the drone from gas is not super important but will increase your mineral output slightly.
- Spread your overlords out to provide vision of any enemy units coming.
- The Metabolic Boost is an important speed upgrade. It upgrades Zerglings to Speedlings, which are great for harassing other players and for a fast Speedling expand toward resources.
Beginner Build Order – Cheese
If you find that playing a slower, more economical game is not your style, you may enjoy this cheese build order.
A cheese build order in Starcraft 2 means any build where you sacrifice your economy to attack quickly and early in the game.
For example, the build order you will be shown here focuses on flooding your opponent with lings within the first couple minutes of the game.
Remember, if your cheese fails, you will likely be so far behind that you will have to GG, as there will be no way to catch back up to your opponent.
That’s always a risk when you put your stake on early attacks.
The below Zerg builds are a cheese designed to give you a chance of getting back into the game if it fails as you expand with this build order.
12-Pool Expand Cheese Build Order
|Supply||Time||What to Build|
|18||1:22||Hatchery (Natural Base Location)|
Additional Cheese Build Order Notes
- When it says Zergling x a number, that means how many pairs of zerglings you make, so Zergling x6 would equal 12 zerglings since they spawn two from a single egg.
- If your opponent is also 12-pooling you at the start of the game, return home and defend because the defender often wins.
- Rally your lings into your opponent’s natural if they have one; otherwise, attack the main base.
- Try to kill off workers or pick off the natural if you can; otherwise, harass and annoy the opponent.
- Remember to drone up and keep your economy running behind your attack.
- If the opponent tries to counter-attack, build a wall at the front of your base with two evolution chambers and a roach warren. Then stick a queen or spine crawler in the opening that remains.
What to Focus on as a Zerg Player
Now that you understand build orders and have two to practice, it is important to know what you, as a Zerg player, need to focus on in a game.
Build orders are not nearly as important for Zerg players because, most of the time, you will be the reactive player, meaning you are reacting to what army compositions your opponent is building.
Good build orders are still important, but so is focusing on the following if you want to improve at the game.
- Build at least one queen per hatchery to inject and practice injecting each hatchery within the cooldown period.
- Build overlords in every injection cycle; one per hatchery is a good rule of thumb to prevent becoming supply-blocked.
- Start upgrades around five minutes unless you do a specific cheese or timing attack.
- Always build drones. If you think you have enough drones, think again. As a general rule of thumb, you should have between 60 and 80 in mid-game.
- Finally, unit production should be constant. If you have larvae and the minerals for it, build, build, build!!
Zerg units differ from the other races because your entire economy and military are based on injections and having enough hatcheries/larvae to produce constantly.
Creep spread and overlord vision are important but focus on keeping your minerals under 1000 at all times, and you will become better than most of your competition in the lower leagues.
Having a strong build order to work off from as a Zerg player is important as it allows you to focus on muscle memory and mastering your basics.
If you found this article helpful, check out the best custom gaming mouse pads. Until next time, happy gaming!
What is the best way to practice build orders in StarCraft 2?
If you’re having trouble remembering every step of the build orders, I recommend using the Overlord spawning tool.
The Overlord mod lets you copy-paste build orders from lotv.spawningtool.com directly into SC2 and gives you detailed information and voice prompts on when to build what.
Here’s a video explaining how:
Otherwise, I recommend starting with simple build orders with a maximum of 12 steps.
If you don’t want to use Overlord, you can practice SC2 as a single-player game. Have the build order list on a second monitor or a piece of paper next to you.
When you make a mistake, hit F10 and then W to rewind. Rewind the clock to the moment before you made the mistake, take control, fix the error, and keep playing from there.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jan has played video games since the early 1980s. He loves getting immersed in video games as a way to take his mind off stuff when the outside world gets too scary. A lifelong gamer, the big interest led to a job as a lecturer on game sound at the University of Copenhagen and several written articles on video games for magazines.