Zerg Scouting Guide
For the Zerg, scouting is probably more important than with any other race, since the Zerg are so highly specialized. If you know what your opponent is building, you can easily counter it, but if he has the slightest advantage he can demolish you in battle. Becoming familiar with a good Zerg micro strategy is also crucial to generating and helping your scouting units survive. Use these strategies in conjunction with this extremely effective Zerg expansion strategy to dominate your opponent!
A great general Zerg scouting strategy is to continually harrass your enemy while also scouting him. This strategy allows you to see the enemy army and therefore see what units you need to build in order to counter him. Zerg’s can use Mutalisks combined with Zerglings to continually harrass an opponent while spying on him.
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Zerg Scouting – Early Game
Scouting early game will generally not tell you much about your opponent’s tech tree, but will let you know if you’re going to get rushed or not. For example, if you’re scouting Terrans and they have a working refinery up before they’ve completed their Barracks, you’ll probably be attacked by Reapers. If you’re fighting Protoss and they have 2 Gateways completed before their Cyber Core is done, and there is no gas, then you should prepare for a Zealot Rush attack. It’s important to be familiar with Terran strategy and Protoss strategy before entering into combat with them, so you can scout their builds and anticipate their attack strategy.
Generally, your Overlord can do the early scouting to ensure you are not being rushed, so you don’t need to Drone scouts. In 4 player maps with close air positions, it is a good idea to send a Drone scout if your Overlord cannot find the enemy base.
A great trick that is effective against all races is to send 1 or 2 Drones to the enermy base early and look around like normal. As soon as they are under the threat of dying, make an extractor in your enemy’s base. Every time your opponent is about to kill it, just cancel it and make another one. This can really tie up your enemy’s gas income and slow down his tech upgrades. Make sure to cancel your extractors quickly though – if you don’t you’ll lose both the Extractor and the Drone (75 minerals total).
Zerg Scouting – Mid-Game
Generally for mid-game Zerg scouting, you’ll either sacrifice an Overlord, use your Zerglings, or use a Changeling.
It’s always a good strategy to keep Zerglings near your opponent’s ramp so that you can see what units your enemy is stockpiling near his ramp. If he doesn’t have any units there, you can really do some damage with your Zerglings that are holed up near his ramp.
Sacrificing an Overlord is generally well worth it, and can sometimes save you from losing the game. While sacrificing the 100 minerals it takes to scan can be frustrating, it beats losing 270 minerals as a Terran to scan (although Terran scans are generally more effective so the price difference makes sense).
A third strategy which I don’t really recommend unless you’re very careful is to use a Changeling. An overseer is gas-expensive if used just for this purpose, and most really good players will spot a changeling before it has a chance to do any scouting.
Zerg Scouting – Late game
Good Zerg strategy late in the game will either have a lot of Overlords surrounding the enemy or will involve you spreading your Creeps everywhere, which is a great late game scouting tool.
Zerg Scouting vs. Protoss
Protoss is easy to scout with an Overlord, since they can’t build any ranged units until their Cyber Core is completed. Remember that if your Overlord is moving slowly, you can tech up to Lair and upgrade them to make them move faster. You can also upgrade an Overlord into Overseers after you get your lair.
Zerg Scouting against Protoss will really change after they develop the Cyber Core. I’ve successfully been able to steal my opponent’s gas for 2 full build turns and then use that Drone to scout my opponent again.
Zerg Scouting vs. Terran
Scouting Terran opponents probably requires a very fast Drone or Zergling scout. Try to hide your scout in a corner of their base if possible, and after a couple of minutes bring it out and scout with it. The short time that it will live can show a Starport with a tech lab, a bunch of Barracks, a Reactor Factory, a Refinery, and a number of other possible builds. If your scout is found and killed before he learns anything, use the Protoss strategy of getting a fast Overlord to scout. A great strategy is to place to fast Overlords on either side of the base and have them go in together – that way they will take much longer to kill and their combined vision will allow you to learn much more.
Another good idea is to use a Zergling to test their ramp (even if it’s blocked), because you can usually see if there will be an add-on swap that could indicate signs of early aggression close to the barracks blocking the ramp.
Zerg Scouting – Defending Against Enemy Scouts
As a Zerg it’s tough to defend against enemy scouting. You should hide your buildings behind your mineral line and keep Zerglings there to defend it. Also, make sure to keep your first few Overlords near your ramp to see if anything enters and make sure to check at your door by your minimap constantly. You should also become familiar with Protoss scouting techniques as well as Terran scouting techniques so you know how to defend against them.
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