Zerg Economic Management
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Three Fundamental Rules of Zerg Economic Management
IMPORTANT NOTE by Bakuryu:"All 3 rules are either wrong, extremely high level or completely useless, basically don't blindly trust any of those especially if you are not a good player. If you are a (beginning) Zerg player, wanting to know your drone saturation, as well as when to make drones, you can follow this general advice: "good saturation" is about 1 to 1,5 drones per mineral patch. maximum drone count should be somewhere around 70 to 80 drones, which you can divide between a maximum of 6 running bases (6 x 3 drones for gas = 52 - 62 drones for minerals). the question "when to make drones?" is not easy to answer, because it depends on both players builds and how the game developed. An easy and very effective way is to follow a macro oriented build order until the midgame and once you reach a point where you don't know if you should make drones or army, you have 1 hatch making drones and all the other hatches making army (its not perfect, but a great way to not die + increasing your economy)"
One common error of new Zerg players is to run their Zerg economy (macro) similarly to how they would run a Terran economy or a Protoss economy. This understanding however is fundamentally incorrect and leads to incorrect play.
A key to understand is that while Terran and Protoss economies are constrained by the number of Mineral patches, the Zerg economy is constrained NOT by minerals, but MAINLY by the number of Hatcheries that the Zerg player has. This is because Terran and Protoss players must make worker units at a linear rate. A Zerg player, on the other hand, can make multiple Drones simultaneously provided that he or she has enough Larvae. Terran and Protoss players usually have a limited number of expansions while Zerg vs X match-ups usually have the Zerg with map control and able to take many expansions.
Though Zerg players can make Drones with impunity and often command more Mineral patches, this does not mean that Zerg can go haywire with massing Hatcheries and Drones. The Hatchery count takes time to build, and if the Zerg player overemphasizes increasing his or her hatchery count, his or her army count will be weak. This leads to the "Hatchery Constrained Rule".
The "Hatchery Constrained Rule": Terran and Protoss plan out their economies by seeing how many Mineral patches they have, building enough workers to saturate them, and then creating production and tech buildings based on their Mineral income. Zerg players, on the other hand, plan backwards. 1- "How many Hatcheries do I need?" 2- "How many Drones do I need to support those Hatcheries?".
An example would be in a typical ZvP match-up. For every base that the Protoss has, Zerg should have 2-3 Hatcheries to keep up in unit production. For example, if Protoss has one base, Zerg needs three Hatcheries. If Protoss has two bases, Zerg needs five to six Hatcheries.
The "5 Drone Rule": Once Zerg knows how many Hatcheries to build, the next question is how many Drones to build. A rule of thumb is roughly five drones per Hatchery. For a Hatchery to constantly pump Zerglings, 3 Drones on Minerals are required. To constantly pump Hydras, the Zerg player will need 5 Drones on Minerals and 2 Drones on Gas per Hatchery. Mutas require 5 Drones on Minerals and 3 Drones on gas per Hatchery. Thus, in a typical game, it is a good rule of thumb to plan for 5 Drones per Hatchery.
When to Build Your Next Hatchery: When a Zerg player has determined that it is best to play with X Hatcheries, (let us say that X is six in this case, and that it's a ZvP in which the Protoss has two bases), the question is, when should Zerg build their next Hatchery? Zerg should always build their next Hatchery as soon as possible, as long as none of their current Hatcheries are at three Larvae. In other words, if the Zerg player lets all of his or her current Hatcheries run idle until all current Hatcheries have three Larvae each, will the Zerg player have 300 Minerals by that time? If so, then the Zerg should make another Hatchery. If not, then the Zerg player needs to build more Drones.
In summary, the basic 3 rules of Zerg economic management are:
- Hatchery Constrained play:
- Economy is constrained by hatcheries, not by Minerals. - Plan how many Hatcheries you need. Do not expand blindly.
- 5 Drone Rule:
- Five Drones per Hatchery.
- When to Build Hatchery:
If all current Hatcheries idle until they all have three Larvae, will Zerg have 300 Minerals? - If so, build your next Hatchery now, and five more Drones to support it. - If not, build up to five more Drones.
As such, Zerg economic management involves more understanding, but is not more difficult than Terran or Protoss. Keep in mind that if you build too many Hatcheries, your game becomes weak until your next Hatchery is ready to produce units. Only after winning an engagement should you decide to spend your initiative on taking another hatchery or teching to Hive.