Roach (Heart of the Swarm)
- This article is for the Heart of the Swarm multiplayer version, for the Wings of Liberty version see: Roach (Wings of Liberty).
With the Tunneling Claws upgrade, the Roach becomes one of two units (the other being the Infestor) that is able to move while burrowed. This is also indicated by the appearance of crystals on the backs of the Roaches.
The Roach is useful in all three match-ups because it can absorb large amounts of damage. Roaches have very high HP values considering their cheap cost. This is augmented by its ability to regenerate its health at a tremendous rate while Burrowed. A Roach can heal itself from 1 to full health in 14 game seconds after the Burrowing and Tunneling Claws upgrades are purchased.
Roaches are extremely common in this match up. In quantity, they're able to hold their own against most Protoss ground units excluding the Immortal. Most Zerg players open with Roaches against Protoss because it is the only unit which can tank all of Protoss's T1 units and, coupled with Zerglings, is considered a solid counter versus the popular 4 Warpgate Rush. Roaches are vital in any Zerg mid~ or late game army as cost-efficient "tank".
Roaches are particularly useful against mass Sentry play as they can deal with Force Fields by using the Tunneling Claws upgrade. With this ability, Roaches can burrow and tunnel underneath the Force Fields. The fast regeneration will help the Roaches tank some of the damage they may take while doing this, if the opponent has detection.
Roaches have a variety of roles against Terran, but their use depends primarily on player preference. Generally, they are seen irregularly, primarily due to the Marauder - a strong counter unit at the same tech level. That said, Roaches are excellent against heavy Hellion openings, even when mixed with Marines. They are also a useful, though somewhat inefficient, way to deal with Mech strategies. In addition, if Terran forgoes detection, Zerg players can research Tunneling Claws, which will allow the Roaches to become a great harassment unit until Terran is able to build enough Missile Turrets to cover his base.
Roaches were originally very common in ZvT due to the popularity and strength of Reaper openings. Due to their low cost, Roaches are better used for early- and mid-game trades. However, given the effectiveness of stimmed Marines and Marauders with Concussive Shells against the low damage and short range of the Roach, Zerg players found it difficult to make cost effective trades against Terran. When "magic boxing" was discovered, the Mutalisk quickly became the primary unit in ZvT and Roaches were abandoned almost completely.
Roach use didn’t see a significant resurgence until Hellions increased in popularity. Reactored Hellion openings offered Terran players a way to scout and apply consistent pressure to the Zerg player while expanding, teching, and gearing up for the standard two base Marine/Tank push. Even then, however, Roaches were a stylistic decision, some preferring to depend on Speedlings to defeat the Hellions. Often, the Zerg needs to scout mass blue-flame Hellions before starting to make Roaches. Even against such heavy Hellion play, mass Roaches may not be the right answer as Hellion harass frees gas for teching into Banshees or Marauders.
Right now in the meta-game, roaches are used in the mid to early-late game against mech before the zerg can afford higher tier units such as Brood Lords or Swarm Hosts, as Zerglings get absolutely decimated by Hellbats, and Hydralisks are too quishy for their cost. They are also good at for counter-attacking and drops, since they are relatively inexpensive in mineral, gas and larva count, and they deal with mech's fastest unit, the Hellion.
Roach openings are extremely popular in this match-up. It is a tier one tech that offers the best HP/cost ratio and easily counters any Zergling/Baneling rush. Players who use Roaches spend far less gas than those who pursue Banelings and, as such, usually reach Lair tech faster - especially due to the two upgrades available to Roaches at Lair tech.
Many Zerg players, in the face of mass ling/bane compositions, will quickly get 100 gas and pump out 4 Roaches, which, combined with a Queen for transfusions and a few Zerglings, can easily hold against a typical mass ling/bane rush. They will also be able to seal off small ramps or similar chokes.
Typical mid-game ZvZ consists of Roach/Infestor, constantly trying to catch enemy Roaches out of position and using Fungal Growth on their units for additional damage and to prevent them from forming a good attack arc.
- Roach's sounds (video and sound) - YouTube video.
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