Strat Corner #2: LzGamer’s Mutalisk and Swarm Host Style in HoTS
The Heart of the Swarm approaches its end as March 1st is just around the corner. With plenty of balance whine going on about the revitalized void ray all-ins against terran and hellbat medivac drops against, well anything, it’s time to look at one of the consistent and solid styles that have developed over the past couple of months.
In this feature, our strategy analyst Chris "Cyniko" Messer examines LzGamer's powerful mutalisk/swarm host style in all its fine details: how to get to it, how to play it correctly to punish the protoss, what are the characteristic tech switches of it and how does it fare in a real battle.
Finally, some legitimate HotS gameplay
For the most part, we’ve only seen gimmicky builds and WoL-esque gameplay in the HoTS beta. In steps ex-EG LzGamer and his play has already been picked up and analyzed by former teammate Axslav on MLG’s “Rules of Engagement.”
I’ll be analyzing that same style here, a flexible mutalisk swarm host style that’ll have your opponents crying “wow, this is a very well-thought out and strong style of play, gg wp’d” on ladder.
The (typical) opener
Zerg: Standard triple Hatchery with first two geysers at ~6:10
The current meta-game in HoTS ZvP has protoss commonly opening phoenix. With slightly increased range on the phoenix and more flexibility out of the Stargate tech tree overall, it’s now the go-to opener for Aiur and his bros.
This seems like it wouldn’t bode well for a mutalisk-style opener, but in fact it’s just the opposite. Because the protoss will typically commit to phoenixes, it gives LzGamer ample time to get his three bases fully saturated off of minimal units, only utilizing speedlings unless he really must get roaches for huge gateway aggression. Don't be shy about throwing down those spores and continuing to drone behind it.
The ten-minute techer
If you can get yourself into this spot as a zerg player at the 9:55 mark, you're in great shape. If you're learning this style, consider this your benchmark of what success starts to look like. This is not an uncommon spot at ~10:00 in high-level ZvP in HoTS right now. The protoss has his third base established, and Lz has done a little poking with his small pack of speedlings. You'll want to start your lair at around the ~8:30-9:00 minute mark, or essentially ~1 minute before you think your third hatchery will be fully saturated with gas.
Now, it’s all about this tech switch and methodical progression. Here’s the chain of events for our zerg player once the protoss has shown his hand in taking a third.
1. Get your three bases established and (if safe) begin to take your fourth hatchery + macro hatchery (which you can see in the production tab).
2. Throw down an infestation pit and a spire at around the same time. You should have ~1k gas banked, even after throwing these structures down.
3. Immediately research the Locust Swarm Upgrade and produce only mutalisks for as long as you get away with it, and also start +1 air attacks.
4. Begin to mix in Swarm hosts after ~15-20 mutalisks are on the field, and have overseer and speedling support.
5. Only after the mutalisks are out, throw down double evo chamber and begin your melee upgrades (this is actually preference, Lz will get double evo before mutalisks as well, it just depends on the game)
Once you have a healthy composition of mutalisks, swarm hosts, speedlings, and a few corruptors to fend off phoenixes, this is what your mix should look like:
In this particular game, Lz takes out the protoss’s fourth base with only the Locusts from the Swarm Hosts. Yes, the DPS they output is that good. If the protoss army lacks splash, the constant pressure and great trades your locusts will have with a stalker/sentry/immortal/phoenix/void-ray based army is always good.
Notice how the mutalisks are covering the Swarm Hosts, this is very important. With an overseer to spot for observers, their job along with three corruptors (it seems to be Lz’s magic number, feel free to find your own) is to fend off any phoenixes and void rays that want to ruin all the fun.
You also have to account for slow-pushing with the Swarm Hosts sometimes, and it’s a skill that you’ll have to acquire to effectively use this style. They only need to burrow for a short time to spawn locusts, and you can then un-burrow and continue pushing from there.
The Style in Action
Honestly, it’s great writing about this style, but seeing it in action is a different story. It needs to be seen to reveal just how strong it is. In the video portion, I’ll show you a brief example of Lz using this composition offensively. I’ve also seen him use it defensively, it’s a flexible unit comp that is very strong. So enjoy guys, and don’t abuse this style too much on ladder!