Today is my birthday! I've been able to ladder a bit recently since finals ended, so I decided to take a little time out of my week to write a short yet interesting guide on my favorite opening for PvZ. I came up with this all of the below information on my own, so I don't actually know what other players are doing recently, and some may even be doing exactly what I detail here. Just a heads up. This is not a build order, just an opening. I'd define an opening as:
- Opening: The particular portion of a build that involves the earliest stages of the game. Usually lasts only the first few minutes, and is what "sets you up" for the entire game. Openings can often be decoupled with builds and lead into many different mid and late-game scenarios.
The idea is to get a fast Stalker and Zealot and press the early game lings away from your Natural, and follow with a Nexus and two more Gateways, for a 1 Gate Fast Expansion. You must be careful with your Speedling research timing to pull this off!
I love this opening because it puts a presence into the middle of the map, and you can keep this presence throughout the entirety of the game. In the replays section you'll find games where I just outplay my opponents since the very beginning of the game; this opening gives you a good chance to assert skill against your opponent from the get-go.
So why use this rather than a traditional 1 Gate FE? Well I find that this allows me a higher degree movement early on, and I can usually get a free Overlord with the early Stalker, force extra lings, or force and extra Spine Crawler (sometimes all three). This sort of opening over faster Sentries allows me to get ahead of an inferior opponent faster than another build would, in my opinion. I also feel active openings like this are great for those trying to improve, as you really benefit from pushing yourself to multi-task your Stalker/Zealot + Macro.
Here is the basic outline in terms of supply in which to order or place what (assuming constant probe production):
- Pylon -> Chrono Nexus twice @100%
- Cybernetics Core
- @100% Core: Stalker (Chrono'd); WarpGate Research (Chrono'd); Pylon on bottom of ramp
- Sentry (constantly produce Sentries from Gateway until WG research finishes)
- Chrono WarpGate Research
- @400 Minerals: Nexus
- Stop Probe Production
- 2 Gateways at Natural Expansion
- Resume Probe and Pylon Production
- Assimilator (finally)
What this opening lets you do is get out a very fast Zealot + Stalker. You use these two units to assert presence onto the middle of the map, and by anticipating a potential overreaction from your opponent you can enter into the Mid-Game with a very solid lead!
Pylon on Low Ground + Other Sim Cities
There are two different sim-cities that need to be known. The first is the Pylon on low ground. This Pylon is on the low ground at a slightly unusual time; it's early, before your Zealot even finishes. What if lings attack it? Well I'll tell you what, you want lings to attack it. Observe the following pictures:
Zealot + Pylon Unit Sim-City
Common Early Game Unit Sim-City
These two sim-cities will prevent lings from running up your ramp! Since your first Stalker is Chrono'd it will arrive in time to chase lings away with ease. Once you pull your Stalker and Zealot back in time to defend against speedlings (more on this further down), you can put a probe on hold in front of your Stalker to cut it's surface area down, and a Sentry will be just about to finish! This sim-city is perfect for just before or just as the Nexus is placed.
Next is the Gateway placement. Observe:
Important Low-Ground Sim-City
This sort of Gateway placement allows your Sentries early game to be in range of your ramp in the event of an attempted ling runby, but more importantly protects your units from a ling surround while being in range of the ramp and Probes. There should be one tile of space between your two gateways. It should be noted that this setup is great for Xel'Naga caverns, but for Shattered Temple you should have that single tile of space between the second Gateway and the Nexus.
Your Zealot is covering the front, and a poor player a-moving their lings at your natural will be frustrated as all their lings dance in front of the two Gateways. A single well-placed Force Field will also do the trick in stopping all ling movements around the Nexus through the mineral fields.
It should be noted that after you get 4-5 Sentries + whatever else you warped in, you should move your army into position in your Probe line, or wall entrance such that you won't lose any probes to a quick harass of lings, or fast banelings.
First Zealot + Stalker
You need to know when to return to your Natural Expansion. Speedlings are the real danger. A Zerg opponent can have ling speed finished, at the fastest, 3 minutes and 15 seconds after their first Extractor is placed. Knowing this, you can know when your opponent cannot have Ling Speed. You need to be back before this time hits! If you lose your first Stalker (the Zealot is probably okay to lose, but you really shouldn't unless you get into their natural) it's basically going to be game over.
Most of the time your opponent should do a speedling expand with 14 Extractor and 14 Pool. If this is the case speed will be done around 5 minutes 15 seconds. If you see no Extractors anywhere, Chrono out more Stalkers from your first Gateway instead of Sentries and keep up the Stalker aggression.
The Pressure Worked! I Feel an Allin Coming...
People allin me all the time from falling apart to a couple early Stalkers, or losing an overlord and overmaking lings, or whatever mistake they make early game. So in anticipation of an inevitable allin, you need to be prepared. After your first couple Warpins from your three Gateways and chronoboosts on your Nexuses, you should have enough money to invest into something. Your options are: tech, Gateways, Expansion. I suggest getting a tech structure and two additional Gateways if you feel an allin is coming at about this time. The safest would be a Forge + Cannon, and two more Gateways. This gives you some detection, but also allows you to invest into the later portion of the game with an upgrade.
On maps like Antiga and Shakuras I actually often opt for an earlier third base or fast Tech off of just 3 Gateways due to the narrow choke protecting me from Allins. This is something to consider. On maps with a wider natural such as Xel'Naga you will likely need to opt for more Gateways before anything if your opponent is not taking their third base.
In order to tell if the opponent is going to allin you or not, the best way is to get fast Hallucination and look for a third base. No third base means they are making units. If you feel confident, like I usually try to be, you can scout around the map with a probe or lone Zealot movements in search of a third base -this cuts the cost of Hallucination granting you 100 Vespene leave.
I usually like to follow this opening up with more map presence during the early to mid game transition. This will likely force Spines + Roach/Ling and let you keep their Drone count out of ridiculous ranges. From then on the sky is the limit! Just be sure not to be too passive, and don't blindly billow all the across the map with a rabble of Gateway units.
The time in which you should have the resources to invest in your next move should be after a couple Warpins from your three Gates and chronoboosts on your Nexus. Your options are: tech, more Gateways, or Expansion. Any can work depending on the situation. For instance you can tech and try to punish the Zerg's third and lack of tech, or expand and use defender's advantage against a mid-game allin.
- http://drop.sc/packs/391 - 3 Replays
- http://drop.sc/76362 - Loss vs allin followup; playing way too greedy by attacking rocks, and overprobing + teching at the same time.
- Please post up replays of trying out this opening! Discussion from examples and interaction with the original post by example is a great way to help create a quality thread. I'll post replays you submit to this list!