ZvT Soulkey’s +1/+1 Roach Timing

General Overview

This opening fully saturates 2 bases before going into a +1/+1 Roach timing around the 10 minute mark to crush through any CC First, 1rax FE, or 3 Command Center builds.  Additionally, this build allows you to dictate the pace of the midgame by forcing a significant unit composition shift from your opponent.

Build Order

  • 9 – Overlord
  • 15 – Hatchery
  • 16 – Spawning Pool
  • 17 – Overlord
  • 19 – @100% Spawning Pool, start 2 Queens and 2-6 Zerglings
  • 24 – Overlord
  • 30 – @100% Queens, start 2 more Queens
  • 34 – Overlord
  • 36 – 2 Extractors
  • @100 Gas, start Lair, 2 more Extractors, and 2 Evolution Chambers
    • Build the Evolution Chambers at the natural to form a wall and help with Hellions
  • Benchmark: When your Lair starts (@6:30ish), you should have 4 Queens, and around 40 Drones
  • @100% 3rd/4th Extractors, start Roach Warren
  • @100% Evolution Chambers, start +1 Missile Attack and +1 Carapace
  • @100% Lair, start Roach Speed, start 6 Overlords, stop Drone production, and try to take your 3rd Hatchery
  • @100% Overlords, start constant Roach production
  • Push out when all 3 upgrades finish (@9:50ish) with around 30 Roaches, +1/+1, Roach Speed, and around 50 Drones at home


First scout with your initial Zerglings.  Use them to take the Xel’Naga Watchtowers or send them outside the front of Terran’s base depending on the map. If you see Terran move out with some kind of very early force, position your Queens to defend your natural and consider getting a Spine Crawler.

Your next scout will be with an Overlord as soon as your Lair starts (around 6:30).  This is just before you have to commit to performing this build, so be sure that with this scout you see if your opponent is opening with a 3 base build.  If you are not comfortable performing this build against a 2 basing opponent, then do not make the Roach Warren, and go straight into a standard +1/+1 Zergling/Baneling midgame.

The next scout will be with your initial Roach Warren attack.  Terran will be forced to defend his front with all his units, so you’ll see either Bio or Mech units to defend.  These Roaches should be able to scout and do some economic damage – all while you tech up and Drone up.


This build, if it does not win the game outright, allows you to transition into any play style quite easily both because it establishes map control and prevents the Terran from getting a strong midgame economy.  Unless you are absolutely confident that you can break your opponent with your timing attack, stop producing more Roaches, build enough Drones to saturate your 3rd Hatchery, start +2/+2, and drop either a Hydralisk Den or Infestation Pit.  Constantly scout for a Terran third base, so that you can deny it with any Roaches you have leftover after the attack.  By going into +2/+2 and a Hydralisk Den, you can either max out and attack with a Roach/Hydra composition, or go for Hive and go into a Roach/Hydra/Viper composition.

If your opponent is going for heavy Bio play, then you can get Metabolic Boost for your Zerglings ASAP and go into a Zergling/Baneling/Mutalisk or Zergling/Baneling/Infestor composition as well.  Remember to cancel your Ranged attack upgrades and start Melee upgrades when going for a Zergling/Baneling unit composition so that you keep up with your opponent on upgrades.


  • Against a Reaper/Hellion player, save your Queen energy after you start 2 or 3 Creep Tumors. Having energy for Transfuse lets you push back any early attacks without revealing your Roaches.
  • Hide your Roach Warren (and then Roaches) for as long as possible before you move out.  The less time you give your opponent to react to your build, the better your chance at crushing through their front.
  • Make 2 Overlords per inject cycle – 8 Roaches takes up 16 supply.
  • Bring an Overseer or two with your Roach attack so that you have detection against Widow Mines.  Remember to split your Roaches to avoid splash damage from either Widow Mines or Siege Tanks.
  • Do NOT keep building Roaches unless you are absolutely sure that you can push through to your opponent’s base and win the game with the attack.  Droning up your third and using this attack for an economic advantage is more important than outright winning the game.
  • Do NOT over commit up your opponent’s main ramp unless you are absolutely sure that you can push through and win the game with the attack.  Use your Overseer(s) to scout out whether you can kill your opponent quickly or have to transition into a macro game.
  • Don’t be afraid to attack into a few Widow Mines, Marauders, or Siege Tanks.  You should vastly out-supply your opponent and thus be able to muscle your way past the few units with which your opponent may be attempting to hold.

Pros and Cons

This build is incredibly strong against any player going for a fast 3 Command Center build (the current metagame), for you should be able to kill all the SCVs at their natural as well as any Supply Depots that were built on the low ground without losing much of anything.  Also, because you take your third base before moving out, it is easy to stop Roach production and saturate your third base in order to transition into a standard 3 base Zerg vs 2 base Terran macro game. Finally, assuming you have not over committed and your Roaches, you will be able to prevent your opponent from taking a third base for quite some time.

However, if you cannot do damage with the Roach attack and make too many units before realizing this, then you will be economically behind the Terran opponent.  Also, you sacrifice early map control with this build by skipping Metabolic Boost, so you will have less scouting information and be more vulnerable to very early 1 or 2 base Terran timing attacks.

Favorable Maps

This build is strongest on smaller maps with large naturals so that your Roach army gets to your opponent’s base quickly and Terran has to cover more ground at their natural to defend.

  • Polar Night
  • Akilon Wastes
  • Frost
  • Derelict Watcher
  • Bel’Shir Vestige


Soulkey beating Fantasy with this build and a Roach/Hydra follow-up in Proleague

Khaldor’s Tutorial on this build

Soulkey’s +1/+1 Roach Timing Tutorial Replay vs a Very Easy AI