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The Zerg So Far

Even though the Protoss and Terran factions in StarCraft 2 are almost completely fleshed out at this point, we still know virtually nothing about the Zerg. Blizzard obviously knows that their fans are eagerly awaiting any piece of information regarding the Zerg, and will likely use them to give a final push to the hype machine, close to the game’s release date. In this post, we will go over the little information we have gathered about the Zerg up until now.

 

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The Zergling: We’ve already covered the Zergling, one of the units most identified with StarCraft and the Zerg race, in a previous post. Unfortunately, we haven’t learned much about this unit since.

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To recap: The Zerglings are expendable, cheap, fast units which only work well in large numbers. They are able to burrow, just like in StarCraft 1, allowing them to ambush enemy units or avoid battles if detectors aren’t present in their vicinity.

The StarCraft 2 Zerglings have gone through two notable changes:

1) Wings. Their purpose is currently unknown, but it is speculated that they might be used to traverse terrain obstacles in a manner similar to that of the Terran Reapers.

2) Morph into Banelings. The Zerglings can encase themselves in protective shells, in which they slowly evolve to Banelings. They emerge as suicide attackers, exploding on contact with enemy units, dealing heavy splash damage – very reminiscent of the StarCraft 1 Infested Terrans.

 

The Mutalisk:

The Mutalisk, another very recognizable unit from the original game, is one of the first units to be introduced in StarCraft 2.

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The Mutalisks are very fast, well rounded aerial assault units. They are capable of attacking both ground and air forces. They are relatively cheap to produce, and while they’re relatively low on hit points, their strong attack makes them very powerful hit and run attackers. Another distinct feature of the Mutalisk is their attack – the “Glaive Wurm” projectile bounces off the Mutalisk’s target, dealing additional damage to two more close by enemy units. This attack has returned in StarCraft 2, and can be seen in the first gameplay video.

The Mutalisks were the first units to have a “morph” ability, something that is now synonymous with the Zerg. In vanilla StarCraft, they were able to evolve into the Guardian, an aerial siege units. The Brood War expansion added the ability to morph into Devourers, heavy anti-capital ship units, but those were not used frequently in battle. We do not yet know if the StarCraft 2 Mutalisks will be able to morph into other units, but since this feature has become very popular and completely identified with the Zerg, this is almost completely certain.

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These Mutalisks should morph into Devourers (click for big)

Due to their “small” size category, stationary defenses, which all dealt “explosive” damage, were relatively ineffective against them – making the Mutalisks ideal for raiding the enemy worker line. The “Muta rush” was one of the first famous, widespread strategies used on battle.net. It was so effective, in fact, that balance changes soon nerfed it.

The Brood War expansion added another counter to the Mutalisk problem – the Corsair. These deal splash damage, which is almost too effective when it comes to dealing with the low-health Mutalisks. The Mutalisks’ role was reduced and they became even rarer on the battlefield.

It will remain to be seen whether the Mutalisks return to their old glory in StarCraft 2, but this is not likely – there already exists a very powerful Protoss counter to them in the form of the Phoenix Overload ability.

 

Nydus Worms:

These serve as replacement for the StarCraft 1 Nydus Canals. The old canals had to be placed on creep on both ends, just like any other Zerg building. These new worms can apparently pop out in any location, delivering Zerglings (and perhaps other units) anywhere on the battlefield. Right now, it seems that they will function similarly to the Ghost’s Drop Pod call down ability, though it is not yet known what their range, or any other limitations, are. However, they will likely serve to increase the Zerg’s overall mobility, as we have suggested in our “Changes we want to see in StarCraft 2” article.

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Unfortunately, this is all the information we have at the moment – everything else is only speculation.

There are rumors about Blizzard showcasing the Zerg before the end of this year in a similar fashion to the introduction of the Protoss and Terran forces in the Worldwide Blizzard Invitational event and in BlizzCon, but there has been no official word yet. One thing is certain, however: Even though we haven’t seen it yet, the Hydralisk IS going to make a return in StarCraft 2.

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