UPDATE: I have a more current thread with a more detailed analysis and comparison of different pool first builds in this thread:
A Second Look At Zerg Openings
General Build order:
(Note: I said general. This is simply the optimal build from a purely economic standpoint. You can get gas at any point you feel comfortable. I want to avoid making an extremely flexible build less flexible by making assumptions about strategy.)
Submitted by Lomilar, modified by jdseemoreglass
10 Extractor trick
11 Pool (finishes @ 2:38)
18 Hatch (finishes @ 4:44)
28 Maynard 7 drones
After doing countless empirical tests regarding the most economical Zerg opening in my previous thread, we were surprised to find this 11 Overpool build doing extremely well economically. It has so far tested only slightly behind the current standard builds in optimum economics.
The true strength of this build however, lay in it's incredible flexibility and safety. It can easily hold off a 6pool, 2rax, 2gate, or any other kind of rush build you can think of. If you scout your opponent playing a macro game, you have the flexibility of choosing whether to punish him with a sudden attack or keep up with his economy just fine. Likely even surpass it!
There is a real psychological value to this build as well. Once your opponent scouts your 11pool, he will likely overcompensate by playing more defensive and less macro-oriented. This of course is due to the widely held misconception that a 10 pool build "must do damage, or it is behind in economy." We have proven this to simply not be the case with this specific build.
It also negates the value of early scouting by your opponents, because this build can transition into anything: heavy eco, 1-base all-in, you name it. This will force your opponent to scout consistently, which will be made all the more difficult by early lings you can get.
This build will get you more larva out by the 6-minute mark than any other tested, so it does great at holding off 4gates or other mid-game pushes.
The more I look at it, the more reason I think this should be the new standard build for Zerg. I see no obvious reason why you would choose a different build, on any map, against any opponent.
I have been testing this on the diamond ladder (2300+)... These are the first 6 games I played (I won 5/6). This build is so flexible, I really made things up as I went along and had no trouble adapting it to whatever I wanted to accomplish. I think these replays really illustrate the power of this build.
+ Show Spoiler +
The first game illustrates how flexible this build is in reverting to an all-in attack. I scout my opponent opening hatch first, so that is exactly what I go for. Going hatch first or 14 pool would prevent this sort of pressure, and would potentially negate what is for me an easy victory.
Game two illustrates how well this build can hold up against a 4gate. This felt like the easiest 4gate I have ever held off because I had many units out quickly. At first I assumed my opponent was making a mistake, or was possibly going 3gate-expand, but the replay shows he did fairly well in keeping his resources low and drone count high.
After holding off two attacks I prepare for a mid-game timing attack before his late expansion can reap dividends.
In this game my opponent opened with a 7 roach rush into expansion. I thought at first the 18 hatch would be vulnerable to such a rush, but I held it off fairly well with only minor damage taken. If you look at the harvester count after the attack, you will see we are even despite my having lost several drones. If I had cut a couple drones I think I could have held off the attack even better.
From there it is a +1,+1 roach timing push ftw.
This is the game I lost. I did not anticipate how quickly the attack was coming. If I had just a few more seconds to complete the third spine crawler and roaches, I think this could have gone differently. Protoss does a good job of showing how to exploit a window of opportunity when at close positions.
In this final replay, I faced something that has become quite common since Foxer GSL... a 2rax marine-scv rush. Even with an 18 Hatch down, I survive. I have to pull drones to defend, but the lings get out just in time to clean up, and I counter attack. Here I made the unfortunate mistake of thinking his barracks had a clean wall-off, when it is clear to me now they didn't. I retreated from 1 marine when I could have won outright.
From here Terran expands and walls in his natural fairly well. I decide he has over-extended himself too much, and decide to punish with a baneling bust. Stream after stream of zerglings rush to the front, and he does well barely surviving again and again. Eventually, I kill off enough SCV's to justify the attack just as he bunkers himself in.
From there we switch to a macro game. His mid-game push is just not enough to hold off the swarm. Overall a pretty exciting match.
By request, a slightly more macro game. Toss builds 3gates and expands at close positions. I quickly surpass him in worker count, and by the 14 minute mark have enough units to kill him outright. I double-expand and easily defend-counter attack, killing his expo and leaving him on 1 base to my 4.
Again, by request, and to appease many of the (absurdly exaggerated) concerns regarding gas/speed timings, as well as viability in ZvZ, I have provided another game. Yes, this build has EARLY GAS! And I'm happy to announce there was no apocalypse or baby seals bludgeoned as a result of it.
I can't remember the build timings precisely, and I am sure it is not a perfect build since I made it up on the spot and even mistimed an overlord, but these are close enough.
He goes 15 Hatch 15 Pool with an immediate gas following. I go 11pool 14 gas, and I think around 20 Hatch. I run speedlings to his base, morph in a few banelings, it is a quick win.
Note: I start my ling speed at 4:00, he starts his at 4:50.
Note: when I began producing lings, we both had exactly 17 drones. I wasn't behind a drone, or half a drone, or whatever...
Note: I didn't catch up in drones due to a queen, I was caught up before I started my first inject!
Note: At every point from 1:30 until 4:30 when I began making lings, I was AHEAD in minerals mined!
I'm sure you guys will enjoy poking holes in this one too, but it provides at least a glimpse of what is possible (and how wrong many people's assumptions are about this build. There is no substitute for actual data).
The key to playing this build in ZvZ imo is quick lings. You will have a faster pool and much more early larvae than most opponents, so you can guaranteed put the pressure on your opponent from the very start. This will either win the game outright, or at least buy time to get gas/drones/speed/etc...
In this game, I want you to take a close look at the production tab... We are doing the exact same build! Has this player been reading TL recently?
The builds divide when I block his expansion for a few seconds. We start the game with speedlings, but end up transitioning into roach play. He gets infestors, which is a very popular ZvZ strat these days, but I think they are honestly terrible. I haven't lost a game yet to any infestor play. I think the gas is much better spent in hydras or upgrades, but that is just my 2cents.
Anyway, thought it was pretty funny to encounter this build already on the diamond ladder. I know variations on this have existed before, but perhaps this thread is making some ripples?
Turns out he did get the build from here. We did a practice match to compare his old standard, 13 pool, 13 gas. I posted for anyone who wants to analyze the differences between these openings.
As I said in a previous post, I think it is a little risky to put down the 18 Hatch if you are against a 1-base zerg. I have been trying to make it work however. It is certainly possible on maps that have a ramp that can be defended by a few roaches, allowing you to drone hard on two hatches.
I played this strat recently on the ladder, and it was fairly effective. Opponent opened speedling/baneling, which I held off with a few slowlings and roaches, and walled myself off. I am a very greedy zerg so I pumped tons of drones and took a slight risk against the coming mutas. Against fast mutas I like to distract them with a roach attack while I get spores and hydras in base.
Anyway, just wanted to provide some more food for thought. Here is the rep.
So tell me what you think. Will you be trying this yourself on the ladder?
jacobman has been running a thread which has a much more precise and consistent method of testing: AI scripting. This method produces replays that can be analyzed, using the AI to test each build, which is a solid empirical method I can agree with. I do not know exactly how consistent the results are, but you can find all the information you need regarding the method in this thread:
I have updated my data and graph to reflect the superior results he has come up with. I will not comment on the meaning or implications of this data -- I will simply allow you to analyze it and form your own conclusions regarding the relative merits and economic efficiency of each build.
+ Show Spoiler +
This build is really starting to catch on and make some waves out there. I want to thank everyone who is contributing to this build.
Here is a video I found today, of PsyStarcraft covering a player who went "some teamliquid economic build." Don't knock it till you look it up and try it Psy. And it's not a 10 pool, it is an 11 Overpool, get it right.
Crixus yet again does a great job demonstrating the power of this build by winning his second game against iEchoic. This game is very similar to the 2rax-expand game I posted earlier in the OP. Enjoy.
We have our final game from crixus here. I want to thank him for doing a great job showcasing this build against high-level opponents. He went 3-0 until he finally lost to HasHe. The early game clearly favored crixus to win his fourth game, but a poor battle engagement and a few macro mistakes allowed HasHe to claw his way back to a win.
CricketStarcraft recently made a youtube cast of my game against the 4gate. Go check it out and subscribe if you like.