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StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void introduced Co-Op mode, where two human players can choose 1 commander each out of multiple choices to represent them in the battlefield. Each commander has his/her own advantages and disadvantages. The missions are all timed ones, and players can choose them manually, or allow a random selection (for a slight experience boost). The two human players will battle a random race, along with hybrid units.


Each race is represented by at least six commanders (though more are planned), and experience for each commander is tracked separately. Besides random mission selection, players can play at higher difficulties for greater experience gain. Levels gained through experience unlock more passive and researchable upgrades for the commanders to utilize. Raynor, Kerrigan and Artanis are playable commanders for players that did not purchase Legacy of the Void, the other ones being exclusive to it. From Abathur onwards, players would have to pay to access new commanders.

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    All Commanders 

  • Alternate Timeline: This is a byproduct of co-op's Loose Canon. The game handwaves the appearances of commanders who canonically died in the campaign, such as Tychus and Zeratul, as them surviving in this continuity instead. Tychus' teaser pretty much spells this out.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: All commanders can build on creep, which means Zerg allies won't get in the way of base building. It's also the main reason Stukov gets away with spreading creep at infinite range from his Infested Command Centers.
  • Color-Coded Armies: Each commander now has their own personal unit colors; prior to this, the game defaulted to Blue And Orange Contrast.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: All commanders with a Hero Unit will automatically revive at their base 60 seconds after dying. The exceptions are Fenix, who instead has to deploy in a new shell body while the old one is repaired, and Tychus, who must either be paid minerals at Joeyray’s Bar like any other Outlaw that’s already been deployed or dropped in the Odin where he’ll come out for free upon its expiration regardless of his condition before it was called down.
  • Divergent Character Evolution: The tech trees of the commanders differ greatly, so while they may command the same race, they play very differently.
  • Faction Calculus: One for each faction
    • Terran: Raynor (Horde), Swann (Balanced), Nova and Tychus (Powerhouse), the Horners (Cannon/Powerhouse) and Mengsk (Subversive).
    • Protoss: Artanis and Fenix (Powerhouse), Karax (Balanced), Vorazun and Zeratul (Subversive), and Alarak (Cannon).
    • Zerg: Kerrigan (Balanced), Zagara and Stettman (Subversive), Abathur and Dehaka (Powerhouse), and Stukov (Horde).
  • Friendly Fireproof: Averted. While units from both armies naturally don't attack each other, commanders can order them to. This only applies to basic unit attacks, however, and they will stop once their target(s) died, but this is apparently enough for a majority of the playerbase to decry it as griefing potential.
  • Loose Canon: While the missions are ostensibly set during the campaign of Legacy of the Void, there's no way that, say, Kerrigan and Swann went to Shakuras to defend the Xel'naga Temple, or Zagara and Vorazun went to Kaldir to destroy Amon's supply shuttles. invoked Word of God is that they don't pay attention to continuity or story when developing missions, as trying to do so would just hinder the types of missions they could create. It's also the mentality they use to justify the inclusion of canonically dead characters like Tychus and Zeratul as commanders.
  • Magikarp Power: As they level up and learn Talents, each commanders gets more upgrades and units available for production. A Level 15 commander plays very differently from a Level 1 one, and is much more powerful. In addition, beyond Level 15, all commanders gain access to a Mastery skill tree, allowing them to make specific aspects of their kit even better.
  • Mechanically Unusual Fighter: In general, all commanders have various quirks that make them differ from the multiplayer versions of their races, giving them each a unique playstyle. The later a commander is introduced, the more divergences they tend to have; compare the earliest commanders like Raynor and Artanis, which generally stick to kits and units from multiplayer or their respective campaigns, to commanders like Tychus and Zeratul, who have entirely original setups.
  • One Steve Limit: Only one player could assume the role of a given commander in a match at once. On a more literal level, as commanders are identified solely by their last names if applicable, the introduction of Arcturus Mengsk makes it a bit complicated for his son Valerian, who's also been datamined as a playable commander.
  • Recursive Adaptation: Many abilities of the commanders appeared for them in Heroes of the Storm and have now been re-adapted for this mode. The developers have even acknowledged this — Abathur was to be able to have Symbiotes to latch onto units to give them special abilities, just like he has in Heroes, but they realized that type of mechanic works better in a MOBA like Heroes than it will in an RTS like StarCraft, where players are commanding dozens of units at once and probably won't want to or can't keep track of the Symbiote. As such, the Symbiote made it into the mode as a passive upgrade for Abathur's super-units.
  • Revenue-Enhancing Devices: On free-to-play accounts, only Artanis, Raynor, and Kerrigan are playable. Buying the game unlocks Vorazun, Swann, Zagara, and Karax for play, and if you want to level any of the others beyond 5, you'll have to shell out some more money. Note that none of the commanders are designed to be inherently better than any other; you simply have less variety in playstyles.
  • Superpower Lottery: In Heart of the Swarm, the player had to choose between one of three upgrades for each of their zerg units. Zagara, Kerrigan, and Abathur have no such restrictions and can get two or even all three of those upgrades on their units (this is balanced out by the fact that there are some units/upgrades they cannot have whatsoever).

Terran Commanders

    James Raynor, Renegade Commander 
"Now that's what I call victory!"

Jim Raynor specializes in Barracks units, building armies of Marines supported by Medics, Firebats, and Marauders. However he also has an impressive arsenal in the Factory and Starport. Raynor's talents lend him to a Zerg Rush strategy, as he has three particular themes — building units fast, boosting their attack speed, and using drop pods to reploy them to their rally point instantly. This means Raynor can quickly build up a massive army with great damage output, and then keep reinforcing them in greater numbers than they fall, to overwhelm the enemy through sheer firepower. As a calldown ability he can bring in a squadron of Dusk Wing elite Banshees to support, or summon the Hyperion, his Cool Starship that supports units fighting in range of it.

Provides examples of:

  • A Commander Is You: Given that he's the main character for the Terran race, which is advertised as being the all-around race, it should be no surprise that he follows the Generalist doctrine. More often than not, Raynor will be relying on Marines and Medics, Vultures and Vikings, or Battlecruisers.
    • More advanced strategies put him firmly in the Economist territory. His armies are fairly mediocre on their own, and are devastated by Area of Effect attacks. However, his Orbital Command's MULE calldown can exceed the standard "3 workers per mineral patch" mining limit, and there's no limit to the number of Orbitals he can make. As such, he can pull in resources so fast that even though he suffers enormous losses fighting many enemy compositions, he army can be replenished faster than the enemy can kill it.
    • Numbers-wise, he's the biggest Spammer among the Terrans. Unlike the other commanders, Raynor's units are lacking in significant bonuses, making them relatively weak. However, he does have the best economy among them; with good macromanagement, he can make up for his units' relative weakness by simply producing them in enormous numbers.
  • Balance Buff: His 15% training speed bonus was eventually increased to a 50% bonus and applies to all his units (Previously, it only applies to his infantry; missions where his infantry were unsuitable left him at a disadvantage with his Factory and Starport units). His mechanical units also costs less gas to build. In Patch 3.7, his Medics were given the ability to heal mechanical units, and units being healed take reduced damage.
  • Boring Yet Practical:
    • As detailed under "Zerg Rush" below, Raynor is best at rapidly building a large army of Marines with variable support from Medics, Marauders, or Firebats as needed, and his other tech options are workable but less impressive. Fortunately, the classic MMM (Marine, Marauder, Medic/Medivac) has long been one of the simplest but most efficient strategies in Starcraft II on both the campaign and multiplayer fronts, so this strategy is perfectly viable for most every Co-op mission too.
    • His workers gain an ability to complete construction of Supply Depots instantly. Nothing fancy, but when you're pumping out an army as quickly as Raynor can, getting supply blocked is a real problem.
    • His Vultures can replenish their supply of Spider Mines at small mineral costs, allowing a small force of Vultures to create an utterly massive mine field. Given that many Co-op maps rely on defending key objective points and/or have enemy attack waves coming at you from predictable land paths, this is perfectly effective for quickly obliterating the enemy if you know the mission well enough to anticipate where they'll strike.
    • The Orbital command can call down a MULE, which harvests minerals a few times faster than an SCV for a time, and then breaks down and a new one can be called. However, they are immune to the normal limits of miners per mineral patch, and there is no limit to the number of Orbital Commands a player can build. As such, a Raynor player can achieve a resource income more than double that of a normal commander, allowing for We Have Reserves levels of attrition.
    • He can instantly deploy his units to the rally point of his construction buildings, making it much easier for him to mass units since he doesn't have to worry about his infantry's squishy selves getting picked off in transit. This also allows him to bypass the normally-dreaded fog of war that blocks the use of calldowns and targeted transports, letting him deploy behind enemy lines with ease.
  • Cast from Hit Points: Raynor's Marines and Marauders can spam Stimpacks to gain a whopping 75% increase to their attack speed at a slight ding to their HP with each use. A savvy Raynor player would be having scores of Medics on hand specifically to remedy this small issue on top of keeping their men alive.
  • Death from Above: Jim can call down the Hyperion or Dusk Wings (advanced Banshees) to help out in the battlefield for 60 seconds. He also gets an upgrade to deploy his trained Barracks and Factory units to the rally point instantly via drop pods.
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts: His marines aren't any stronger than normal ones. Instead, they gain +15% base attack speed, an extra 25% on stimpacks on top of their normal +50%, and when they spawn, they can temporarily be even faster resulting in even a single marine performing an obscene number of attacks. And Raynor doesn't use single marines.
  • Defog of War: Raynor's Orbital Command centers can use Scanner Sweep to reveal any location on the map on top of acting as his sole method of active detection.
    • His Orbital Drop Pods talent lets him plop down units anywhere on the map regardless of fog and/or vision.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: On higher difficulties, Raynor can struggle to get anything done, usually due to his (usually) very mineral-focused bio army bottlenecking without the use of large amounts of MULEs, usually provided by 3-4 (sometimes more) Orbital Command centers, and his army is quite fragile without the ability to quickly replace them. In addition, it's easy to get tunnel vision and forget to build tech beyond a Factory to back up the bio units with the likes of Siege Tanks, Banshees, and/or Vikings to deal with threats that his bio army would simply melt against. On the other hand, he also needs as many production structures as he can get, or he ends up sitting on a large bank of resources that he simply can't spend fast enough to remax if something goes horribly wrong. Overcome both these obstacles, and Raynor becomes one tough customer.
  • Gunship Rescue: He can call down the Hyperion or a squadron of Dusk Wings fighters to invoke this trope.
  • It's Raining Men: At Level 8 his units are spawned from their structure's rally point via drop pod for Barracks and Factory units. Starport units don't bother, settling for a Dynamic Entry instead. Units deployed this way have the added bonus of being able to drop down anywhere that's solid ground (and Starport units, everywhere), without needing line of sight and/or visibility, allowing Raynor to quickly setup offensive positions from wherever he so chooses, or strike at targets entrenched deep behind enemy lines, making him especially versatile when playing certain mutations.
  • The Medic: Gets Medics to keep his and allied units fighting fit. They can also repair mechanical units.
  • More Dakka: Raynor's last commander perk is to increase infantry attack speed by 15% He also has a superior brand of stimpacks that increase rate of fire and movement speed by 75% rather than 50%. The Marines will be doing this.
  • Magikarp Power: Raynor's units are fairly weak in the early game, as outside of calldowns their only advantage over their main game counterparts is the free, less damaging stim. By the lategame those units are... still fairly average, but backed up by an economy so strong that one can make it rain marines faster than they can be killed.
  • Nostalgia Level: Most of Jim's arsenal hearkens back to Brood War, with only Marauders, Vikings and Banshees from Starcraft II.
  • Stone Wall: He gets both Bunker upgrades from the campaign (Shrike Turret and Reinforced Bunker) along with upgrades to increase Bunker capacity and armor by 2. This makes his Bunkers obscenely tough when fully loaded, and gives Raynor a powerful defensive line. Throw in some Siege Tanks and a few Vultures for laying minefields, and very few enemies can break through.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Raynor's only means of detection is through Orbital Command scans. If his Orbital Commands are out of energy, he's out of luck. While this can be circumvented through building more Orbital Commands, he still needs to rely on manual detection scans as opposed to dedicated detector units that everybody else uses, forcing him to stay on his toes lest he take massive losses to cloaked enemies.
  • We Have Reserves: He WILL lose a huge number of units against most enemy compositions, second only to Zagara and Stukov. Due to his incredible resource collection rate, it doesn't slow him down much.
  • Zerg Rush: In perhaps the greatest instance of Irony in the Koprulu Sector, Raynor's kit allows him to emulate the doctrine of his greatest foes perfectly. His first Talent lets him build Barracks and train units faster. In tandem with a comparatively shallow pool of Factory and Starport units (though what he does have is perfectly effective), this results in him leaning towards a large army of (relatively) cheap, rapidly-built infantry units that will likely die fast, but can be replaced easily en-masse.

    Rory Swann, Chief Engineer 
"Hey, not bad for a wrench-jockey, eh? Haha!"

Rory Swann specializes in the mechanical stuff; he can only produce Factory and Starport units, fielding an army of Terran vehicles and starfighters. His mechanical army is slow to build and upgrade, but Swann has several ways improve his efficiency, including drones to boost his Vespene mining, utilizing multiple SCVs to build structures faster, and Tech Labs to build two units at once. The comparatively high costs, supply, and build times of his forces, along with the many upgrades they have, means Swann needs time to get momentum going, but once he does he has a very powerful, versatile deathball that can roll over the enemy. Swann also gets the Drakken Laser Drill at his base, which will automatically attack enemies around the map and can be upgraded for increases damage and to unlock Swann's calldowns. Without infantry and Bunkers for defense, Swann can build automated turrets, with three kinds to choose from that together form a very sturdy defense network.

Provides examples of:

  • A Commander Is You:
    • Numbers: Elitist, by Terran standards. His basic unit, the hellbat/hellion, costs the same in minerals and supply as a Protoss zealot, for instance. However, his units are all pretty beefy, and the hellbat can be upgraded to do massive damage to light units and get an excellent armor rating.
    • Doctrine: Brute/Ranger/Turtle/Industrial/Economist, with a side order of Unit Specialist. His army isn't very sophisticated, but he has many ways to boost their health, heal them without expending minerals and even bring them back from death in some cases. Fully upgraded, several of his units boast missile attacks with impressive range. His army is also generally quite slow, apart from the hellion and the Hercules dropship, and his static defences are, obviously, static. But when fully upgraded a mass of turrets can become a self-sustaining firewall capable of attacking and holding off any kind of unit in any quantity. His SCVs can be upgraded to build buildings more quickly by joining forces, and repair mechanical units at no extra cost. His Vespene Harvester drones can also kickstart his and his ally's vespene economy, allowing their more powerful units to join the fray earlier.
  • Back from the Dead: His Thors and Siege Tanks can be rebuilt in the field when destroyed, provided the wrecks aren't destroyed themselves.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • Swann's Vespene Harvester allows him to increase the speed of vespene extraction from all friendly extractors AND gives 50% of the increased haul to his ally. With how hungry players often are for vespene, the boost is very effective.
    • He gains the ability to allow his buildings to self-repair up to 50% of their maximum hitpoints if they go below that, which removes the Achilles' Heel of Terran buildings burning down when in the "red" zone. On top of that, he also has the Tech Reactor, which combines the advantages of a Tech Lab and Reactor into one add-on building.
    • All of his air units besides the Wraith. The Hercules is not a dramatically-powerful unit, being a transport and all, but if it gets its cargo to their destination it's already done its job, and the ever-helpful Science vessel is basically a flying medic for mechanical units, which means he can repair his forces for free.
  • Cool, but Inefficient: Wraiths are generally agreed to be the weakest unit in Swann's roster, costing the same as a Goliath while boasting inferior DPS against both air and ground targets. The only thing they have going for them is their stealth, and with enemy detectors not exactly in short supply even that isn't a strong recommendation.
  • Death from Above: The Combat Drop, which drops ARES war bots onto the target location.
  • Difficult, but Awesome:
    • Swann is notorious for being one of the hardest commanders to use effectively due to his abysmal early game. He takes an awfully long time to come online due to his high costs and most of his units only being effective in large numbers, rendering him The Load early on. Even when he does get the ball rolling, it takes some fancy micromanagement to use his army well. However, a good Swann player can be an absolute beast on both offense and defense.
    • Hercules + Siege Tank is the preferred strategy of high-level Swann players, but ignored in the lower levels due to the ulcer-inducing amount of micro involved. Nonetheless, it still has the highest damage output of any army Swann can field, and a player that can use this strategy well will turn Siege Tanks of all things into a highly-mobile force capable of vaporizing everything on the ground.
  • Elite Army: Swann has a wide variety of mechanical units, almost every one in the game in fact. Coupled with each of them having at least one unique upgrade, in addition to some universal upgrades that affect all of them, this makes his army expensive to build and upgrade, but very effective once he does so.
  • Frickin' Laser Beams: The Drakken laser drill. It has unlimited range and can be upgraded twice. Its one weakness is that it has a minimum range, which is where Swann's turrets come in.
  • Healing Factor: One upgrade allows his Factory and Starport units to heal slowly over time.
  • Hypocritical Humor: One of his responses towards discovering Terran enemies: "Great...enemy Terrans. Hate these guys..."
  • I Call It "Vera": His upgraded defensive turrets are named Spinning Dizzy (missile turret), Flaming Betty (perdition turret), and Blaster Billy (devastation turret).
  • Kill It with Fire: Flaming Betties and Hellbats/Hellions are Swann's main defences against swarms of small units.
  • Long-Range Fighter: Swann's main combat units, the Goliath and Thor, both can be upgraded to nearly siege unit ranges, letting him gun down enemy defensive structures from outside their range and have his entire army open fire on an enemy despite his force's large footprint. To say nothing of the range of his Siege Tanks.
    • Exaggerated with the Laser Drill. It's a turret that can't move, but it's range is literally global, allowing it to open fire on anything that it can see.
  • Mechanically Unusual Fighter: He can't build Barracks or train infantry at all, instead skipping straight to Factories. His Factories have no Vespene cost to make up for his dependence on them.
  • The Medic: His Science Vessel is a mechanical version. It can also heal protoss mechanical units.
  • Mighty Glacier:
    • Without the use of his Hercules dropships, Swann's army isn't very fast (save for the Hellion). However, they hit hard and they can take many hits.
    • Swann's army also has one of the slowest ramp-up times in the game, meaning that he'll take quite a while to get his army ready for combat. But once his army is fully built and upgraded, they can simply trample anything in their way.
  • Robot Master: Every single one of Swann's units is mechanical, and he specializes in building and upgrading armies of mechanized troops.
  • Sentry Gun: He has perdition turrets, missile turrets, and the Co-Op exclusive devastation turrets, giving him a versatile and effective system of static defenses.
  • Support Party Member: While not as support-oriented as Karax, Rory's free vespene is nothing to scoff at, and combined with free repairs for any other mechanical-heavy army, especially protoss ones who can't repair, he's quite useful even without counting his heavy artillery.
  • Wave Motion Gun: The Drakken laser drill has two abilities as it upgrades that do devastating area-of-effect attacks across the entire map.
  • Why Won't You Die?: Rory's Thors, and to a lesser extent every other mechanical unit in his army (That is to say, all of them), are very hard to put down for good. His SCVs repair for free, he has Science vessels with Nano-repair (which costs no energy after one cheap upgrade), and can project shields onto his units, and if they actually do go down, his Thors and Siege tanks can get back up.

    Nova Terra, Dominion Ghost 
"They never saw us coming."

Nova takes the field herself as a hero unit, commanding an army of powerful Spec Ops units that have higher stats than normal. Her units build differently from normal Terrans, producing "charges" at her production facilities that she expends to call units in immediately via drop-pods. This allows her to rapidly summon large numbers of reinforcements in the field and quickly adapt her army's composition to best suit the flow of battle. As a downside though, Nova is limited to 100 supply, limiting how large her army can grow. Furthermore, her units are more expensive than most other commanders' and their "charges" have long cooldowns, requiring extra care to be taken to keep her handful of troops alive; fortunately, she has defensive drones and bio-mechanical repair drones for just that.

Provides examples of:

  • Boring, but Practical: As always, Automated Refineries, but it's even more practical for Nova. When you only have 100 supply, saving twelve of it by not needing SCVs to harvest vespene is extremely useful.
  • A Commander Is You:
    • Numbers: Elitist. Nova's forces are among the strongest Terran units in the game, but they're prohibitively expensive and she is capped at 100 supply and 1 of each production facility. Furthermore, her production structures use charges, making her unable to mass-produce units quickly and forcing her to conserve her forces as much as possible.
    • Doctrine: Research/Technical/Generalist. With a limited army size, Nova needs to make good use of abilities and calldowns to keep them going for as long as possible. This also frees up resources for researching her units' various upgrades, making them more effective in the field. Nova's production mechanics mean that she usually can't mass one or two unit types, forcing her to invest in multiple different units. Fortunately, her arsenal has options for dealing with any enemy.
  • Crossover: With the Covert Ops DLC; her army consists of units she has in that campaign and they have the same upgrades as well. Nova likewise has many of the same abilities and equipment from the DLC.note 
  • Death from Above: As a Ghost, Nova of course can call down nuclear strikes. She can also call in the Griffin to strafe an area.
  • Death Is Cheap: Instant Regeneration allows Nova to be revived on the spot for a mineral price. With a store of minerals the player can revive her several times in succession to keep fighting. Stops being cheap if she keeps dying repeatedly, however.
  • Deflector Shield: She can summon defensive drones to grant a Defensive Matrix to allied units. Nova herself gets a temporary shield after using Blink.
  • Doppelgänger Attack: Nova's Assault Mode has the Holo Decoy ability, which creates a sword-wielding shade of her to help in battle. The decoy is not controllable, but it doesn't have to be; not only can the decoy quickly clear out groups of enemies, it can take quite a bit of damage as well.
  • Double Tap: Triple Tap; her Ghosts can upgrade to fire three Sniper rounds at once.
  • Drone Deployer: One of her calldowns is Defensive Drone and she has an access to Ravens Type II.
  • Elite Army: Being the Spec Ops commander, Nova focuses very much on quality over quantity. All of her units are much more powerful than their normal counterparts and have resistance against stun effects, and she also gets a selection of defensive abilities to keep them alive along with the ability to research upgrades more affordably and quickly. However, she only has a 100-supply limit to work with and her units are more expensive, which means she won't be getting the large armies other commanders can.
  • Flash Step: Nova gets the Blink ability to teleport a short distance. It also stores up to three charges.
  • Foreshadowing: Unintentionally; as her army and abilities are all based on the Covert Ops DLC, her Blink ability turned out to be this; she only acquires it in Part 3 of the campaign, which was released after she was added to Co-op.
  • Gunship Rescue: She can call in the Griffin to strafe an area with bombs, or to pick up her army and transport them somewhere else.
  • Healing Factor: Nova's Ravens can deploy drones that heal damaged friendly units, and her Marines can be upgraded with a Super Stimpack that heals them instead of being Cast from Hit Points. Nova's unit regeneration mastery also provides passive healing to all units when not engaged in combat.
  • Hero Unit: Nova herself is controllable in the field.
  • Mechanically Unusual Fighter:
    • She trains units instantly and deploys them via drop pods, and then the production facility then takes time to recharge; this overall makes her production facilities function similar to Warp Gates.
    • She can only build one each of the unit producing facilities.
    • Her supply is limited to 100, but she has no need for Supply Depots.
    • Her calldowns all cost minerals to use.
  • Money Sink: Players throughout Starcraft often wind up with far more minerals than they know what to do with. Not Nova; all of her calldown skills require minerals to use, with the Griffin airstrike costing 1000. This coupled with its short cooldown, and of course her other mineral-using calldowns, means she always has a way to get rid of excess minerals in ways that don't involve upgrading and expanding the army.
  • Nerf: Patch 3.8 changed her Strike Goliath's Lockdown Missiles so they no longer stunned Heroic units, preventing her from turning Void Launch and the bonus objective on Rifts to Korhal into a Curb-Stomp Battle.
  • Odd Name Out: She and Tychus are the only Terran commanders to be referred to by their given names. The rest of the roster are identified by their last names instead.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: In her Assault Mode she wields the Hellfire Shotgun, allowing her to blow away enemy infantry en masse.
  • Squishy Wizard: Nova isn't the most powerful hero unit in direct combat. Naturally she favors stealth and subterfuge, infiltrating enemy bases to soften them up by disabling key enemies before her army comes in to mop up the rest. In Assault Mode she has heavier firepower but is still not very effective as a direct attacker.
  • Stance System: She can switch between Stealth Mode, which allows her to remain permanently cloaked and has abilities based around subterfuge, and Assault Mode, which disables cloaking but makes her a more capable front-line combatant.
  • Stone Wall: Her elite units have much more health than their regular counterparts (for example, her Elite Marines have 100 more health than Zealots, counting shields), but their firepower advantage is generally much smaller in comparison, meaning while her small ball of units is quite resilient, it has difficulty matching the firepower of say, Raynor's hundred-something marines.
  • You Nuke 'Em: She has the ability to call down nuclear strikes, but only in Stealth Mode.

    Mira Han and Matt Horner, Mercenary Leader and Dominion Admiral 
"Right. Now I must say my goodbyes, Mira. It's been fun... sort of."

With the Dominion decimated by Amon's attack on Korhal, Matt Horner has to call in some help from his "lovely wife" Mira Han to bolster his forces, forming an army comprised of both ruthless mercenaries working for Han and Dominiom militia under Horner's command. The two field Assault Galleons, mobile assault ships that manufacture Han's units — the Reaper, the Hellion, and the Widow Mine — on the move, while Horner calls in Dominion air units from an Elite Starport at their home base. Han can deploy Mag Mines to track and destroy enemy units that stray close, and "Space Station Reallocation" lets her smash a pirate space station into enemies with the force of a nuke. Horner can call down precision bombing strikes against targets of interest and summon the Dominion fleet to bombard a large area from orbit.

Provides examples of:

  • Achilles' Heel: No ground-to-ground defensive structure. Not Raynor's bunkers, not Swann's perdition and devastation turrets, not Nova's railgun turrets, not even Tychus' piddly little autoturrets. This can make them very vulnerable to early game enemy waves that catch them unprepared.
  • Badass Navy: Matt Horner commands the best ships in the Dominion Navy, which are stronger, tougher and better equipped versions of base Starport units.
  • Battle Couple: As much as Matt tries to avoid the matter, they are married after all, and work together as a single commander.
  • The Battlestar: Assault Galleons, flying airships that can fight enemies themselves and automatically manufacture automated drone fighters to fight as well, to say nothing of producing Reapers and Hellbats to fight on the ground.
  • Call-Back: Their large focus on air units and space fighters references the Heart of the Swarm mission "With Friends Like Theses" where Horner and Han fight each other while using only spacecraft.
  • Cannon Fodder: Han's units all die quickly, but are quick and cheap to mass up.
  • Colony Drop: Han can teleport an entire space station to crash into enemies and deal heavy damage.
  • A Commander Is You:
    • Numbers: Han is a Spammer, while Horner's an Elitist. Han's army is comprised of cheap units that hit hard but die fast, and can train very quickly with one of her talents; furthermore, their ability to salvage resources from destroyed units allows her to recoup some of the units' cost. Horner, on the other hand, uses highly expensive units with much better stats than their regular counterparts which can only be produced in a trickle.
    • Doctrine: Technical/Guerrilla/Ranger. Han and Horner work best when using their calldowns for making precision strikes, then sending in their army to mop up. Horner can also Tactical Jump his air force to key locations to help facilitate this tactic. Some micromanagement is naturally required to help minimize losses due to their lack of reliable healing and Han's units being innately squishy, as well as to use Strike Fighters and Mag Mines efficiently.
  • Composite Character: Han's Hellions can be upgraded with Tar Bombs, which have a slowing effect like the Marauder's grenades, and their normal attack deals bonus damage to armored enemies like the Marauder.
  • Crutch Character: Han's army in a nutshell. Her units are cheap and fast to build and her Assault Galleons pack a decent amount of firepower, so you'll be relying on them for the early game. When the game goes late, their lack of survivability starts to show, but by that point, you should have enough of an economy that Horner can take over with his Elite Army.
  • Death from Above: Three of their calldowns are some form of aerial attack.
  • Elite Army: Horner's air units are all upgraded with superior stats over their normal counterparts, but also higher costs.
  • Foil: To Raynor. Both commanders focus on massing infantry and backing them up with mech support and can aggressively deploy troops on the battlefield, but while Raynor has more options for setting up a defense line, the Horners favor overwhelming offensive power. Raynor's mech units are more of a supplement to his infantry backbone, while Matt's air units take equal importance to Mira's mercenaries. Raynor masses infantry by generating a huge economy and getting lots of production structures, while Mira masses infantry by scavenging resources from lost units and training units very quickly off a limited number of Assault Galleons.
  • Glass Cannon: Han's ground units have much higher power than their normal counterparts, but their HP is lower.
  • Kill It with Fire: Han's Hellbats not only use flamethrowers, but can be upgraded to set enemies on fire upon death. Horner's precision bombardments can be upgraded to use napalm rounds.
  • Last Ditch Move: Han's units all have upgrades that trigger a final attack that is automatically used when they die. Hellbats ignite the terrain to scare enemies, Hellions boost the attack and movement speeds of allies, and Reapers and Widow Mines launch a final flurry of explosives at their killer.
  • Mechanically Unusual Fighter: And how! Again, they're functionally two separate commanders that are played as one.
    • Han commands the ground units while Horner commands the air power, and this is an important distinction to make for how their talents affect either unit.
    • Instead of Barracks and Factories, they build Assault Galleons, mobile production facilities that train their ground units and deploy them on the move, and can also fight themselves.
    • Instead of Starports, they build Strike Fighter Platforms, which are used to accumulate charges for their Precision Strike calldown. Air units are exclusively trained at the Elite Starport they begin with.
    • Han's units drop resources that can be collected when they're killed.
    • Their ultimate talent grants Han's units an attack speed buff the more of Horner's units the player controls; Horner's units get an HP buff the more Han units there are.
    • They lack any dedicated healer unit, relying on SCVs for repairs, or in the Reaper's and air units' case, passive healing outside combat.
    • They also lack Siege Tanks, a unit that, until now, all Terran commanders (including Stukov) made use of.
    • They share infantry and mechanical upgrades that are researched at the Armory, while their Engineering Bay researches unit-specific upgrades for Han's units like a traditional Tech Lab would.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Horner's Sovereign Battlecruisers can be upgraded to change their attack to a single powerful shot, much like how Battlecruisers attacked in the original StarCraft.
    • Horner's Call in the Fleet, which summons the Dominion Fleet for a strafing run, is extremely similar to one of Raynor's heroic abilities in Heroes of the Storm, where he calls in the Hyperion to do the same.
  • Orbital Bombardment: Horner's ultimate, Call in the Fleet, calls in the Dominion fleet to scourge an area from above for a short time.
  • Power Floats: A major point for Han's Reapers; they can upgrade to supercharge their jetpacks for a short time, letting them take off into the sky and be air units, including the ability to shoot back at enemy air.
  • Spikes of Villainy: Well, Spikes of Punch Clock Villainy: Han's units and structures have spikes integrated into their design to play into the "rough and tough mercenary" theme.
  • Tele-Frag: Space Station Reallocation does this with, well, a space station, dealing massive damage to Heroic units and a One-Hit Kill to anything else. An upgrade turns it into an improvised nuclear bomb, allowing it to do even more damage after it's appeared.
  • We Have Reserves: Mira's units compensate for their frailty by being insanely fast and cheap to train and unleashing Last Ditch Moves on death. Special mention goes to her Hellions, which you actually want to die first in an engagement since they give a hefty attack speed buff to nearby units when destroyed.

    Tychus Findlay, Legendary Outlaw 
"I'll drink to that. You're buyin'."

What If? Tychus survived the end of Wings of Liberty, reformed the Heaven's Devils, and reconciled with Raynor to fight together against Amon's forces? Tychus favors quality over quantity, commanding only the aforementioned Devils in the field and compensating for their lack of numbers with a variety of useful gadgets, psionic skills, and plenty of guns. To make up for their lack of mobility, the Devils can call in Medivacs to reposition themselves rapidly, and when the time comes to call in the big guns, Tychus can bring in the mighty Odin to fight.

Provides examples of:

  • An Adventurer Is You: The Outlaws run the gamut, being partially inspired by World of Warcraft and RPGs in general
    • The Guns, are primarily DPS.
      • Tychus is an Archer, with much of his value coming from his monstrously powerful minigun and armor-shredding bullets. His shredder grenade lets him dabble in Area of effect nuking and crowd control.
      • Crooked Sam is the Nuker, focusing on taking out single important targets with his demolition charges, while also dealing decent, if not particularly spetacular damage with his pistols. With upgrades, he also stun enemies he sticks his charges to, and dabble in trying to be an Avoidance Tank.
      • James "Sirius" Sykes is the Minon Master of the Heaven's Devils with his turrets, which can output even more damage than Tychus when they're all out on the field, while also serving as the Mezzer with his fear-inducing attacks and nuking air units.
    • The Muscle are primarily tanks.
      • Blaze is the Mitigation Tank with his ability to reduce damage he takes to at most, 30, as well as the DoT Master thanks to his powerful upgraded oil spill.
      • Rattlesnake is a Jack of all trades with the second-best healing of all the Outlaws, decent damage output, especially against armored enemies, the ability to buff everyone's attack speed, deal splash damage, and slow, while being a fairly bulky character all make Rattlesnake one of the most popular Outlaws.
      • Cannonball serves as a Meat Shield and Regeneration Tank with his ability to self-revive upon taking fatal damage every minute and his massive health pool. He also acts as one of the Mezzers in the Devils with his area-stunning charge move and a Blademaster Melee DPS with his ultimate gear.
    • The Fixers, then are mostly Support Party Members
      • Lt. Nikara is the purest Healer in the Devils and has some aspects of the Premptive Healer
      • Nux is an area of effect oriented DoT Master that can also reduce the cooldowns for everyone. As the Outlaws don't use any resource but Cooldowns this makes him their Resource Master
      • Vega a combination of Petmaster and Mezzer. She can dominate enemy units to turn them to your side temporarily, increasing their damage and possibly attack speed and letting the snowball potential of all her stolen heavies crush otherwise overwhelming foes. One niche ability that lets her force air units to fall to the ground, immobile, lets her serve as a situational further Mezzer, especially useful if you're using multiple muscle.
  • A Commander Is You:
    • His Hero Unit-only playstyle is basically Elitist taken to its logical extreme.
    • Doctrine-wise, he's Gimmick due to only using hero units. As he needs to pick the right mercs for the job and use their abilities well to make up for the lack of numbers, there's some Technical in there as well. Given his forces slow movement and powerful crowd control and durability, he'd be classified as a Powerhouse, Finally, he falls under Research as he focuses on upgrading his squad through upgrades rather than recruitment, since he's hard-capped at five units in the field.
  • Action Bomb: James "Sirius" Sykes, the Warhound, can get an upgrade to explode for area damage on death. While letting him die just to use the ability is generally not a good idea, it also applies to his turrets, which are much more disposable.
  • A Day in the Limelight: One of his mercs is a Warhound, which marks the first time in years that this unit has been playable without the use of mods.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit:
    • Despite his posse consisting of eight mercenaries in addition to himself, Tychus can only bring three, at most four into each mission, up to a maximum headcount of five. Additionally, he has to wait to bring out a new one, though there's no in-universe reason given.
    • His supply is capped at 100, except that unless the player builds far more SCVs than they neednote , they'll never be in danger of supply capping because Tychus' army just isn't big enough even with the large supply cost each one has.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Odin itself sees rather little use if the player is reasonably competent. While powerful, it's far from a gamechanger. The Odin's main utility is to provide the player with a one-shot crowd-control attack, and an instant nuke if upgraded. That, or a quick response to their base being sieged. Unless in a pinch, most players will usually stick to the default Five-Man Band for most of the game, while putting the Odin on the backburner until a quick fix is needed. On his own, Tychus is a lot more mobile, attacks faster and can spam Shredder grenades constantly.
  • Badass Crew: Tychus literally only has access to the Devils, with no regular troops available to him. And yet, he and four of them are able to do as much work against Amon's forces as the armies that the other commanders can bring.
  • Canon Immigrant: One of the Devils Tychus can call upon is Miles "Blaze" Lewis, the Firebat first introduced in Heroes of the Storm.
  • Can't Drop the Hero: Regardless of who you pick for your group of Devils, Tychus himself will be present in every party, being the first Devil out of the bar, automatically and for free.
  • Character Class System: Tychus' forces are classfied as "Guns" (Glass Cannon DPS), "Muscle" (Mighty Glacier damage tanks) and "Fixers" (Support Party Members).
  • Color-Coded Characters: Unlike other commanders, who have a single faction color, the Heaven's Devils each have their own unique color scheme to make them stand out from each other.
    • Tychus: Blue
    • Crooked Sam: Cyan
    • James "Sirius" Sykes: Brown
    • Miles "Blaze" Lewis: Orange
    • Rob "Cannonball" Boswell: Pink
    • Kev "Rattlesnake" West: Green
    • Lt. Layna Nikara: Turquoise
    • Vega: Yellow
    • Nux: Purple
  • Combo: Tychus' upgraded Shredder Grenadesnote  plus Nux's fully upgraded Ultrasonic Pulse equals a thoroughly dead attack wave. Add Cannonball or Blaze for flavor.
  • Contractual Boss Immunity: Both Crooked Sam's demo charges or Blaze's oil to severely weaken them while he tears them down, giving Tychus an exemption on it.
  • Cool, but Inefficient: One of his achievements requires you to acquire ultimate gear on all 5 of your heroes by the 20-minute mark; doing so requires the ability to expand very early and completely forsake building anything that isn't the Devils' tech structures and a Command Center + refineries, as well as ignore his more practical engineering bay upgrades.
  • Crippling Overspecialization:
    • Tychus' kit is heavily geared towards aggressive attacks, while leaving him with very little in the way of defensive options. This, coupled with his small number of units, makes him struggle on more defensive maps like Temple of the Past and especially Dead of Night. He also doesn't have much to react to an unexpected attack other than a quick Medivac ride to intercept them, or calling down the Odin.
    • Lt. Nikara provides incredible amounts of healing to Tychus's crew and nothing else; unless you need absurd amounts of healing for a Mutation or are focusing hard on the squishier mercs, Rattlesnake usually provides all the healing you need and has the bonus of more utility (such as anti-Hybrid damage).
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: The nature of Tychus' kit encourages players to pretty much command his entire squad as a single unit with very light micro needed, if at all. While this isn't normally a problem, players using Lt. Nikara in their build will be in for a nasty surprise should they prefer A-moving over precise micro, as she will always, repeat always, go wherever she is told to at all cost, sometimes charging ahead of the squad and getting shot along the way. This is because she lacks a basic attack, and thus interprets "attack-move" as "move here".
    • Additionally, each member's ability is tied to a different hotkey based on which order they were hired, which will change as you adapt to game, "W" might be Rattlesnake's big heal, in another it'll be Crooked Sam's demo charge or Sirius's turret.
  • Death Is Cheap: Both literally and logistically, since downed Devils can be redeployed for 250 minerals a pop. Considering how most Tychus players will be literally sitting on a cache of minerals in the late game with nothing to spend on, this is much more practical to spam than say, Nova's Instant Regeneration.
  • Disc-One Nuke:
    • Miles "Blaze" Lewis, one of the four starting mercs, is pretty much all you'll ever need if you know what you're doing. His Oil Spill ability becomes frighteningly useful when upgraded to spread fire to nearby enemies when a burning target dies, making him a huge asset in crowd-control. If done right, Miles by his lonesome could clear out much of the Dead of Night map just by spamming this one skill, since burning enemies will daisy-chain to one another when they die and potentially spreading fire to the infested structures as well. Since fire doesn't need line-of-sight, enemies within the fog of war could burn to death even before players go anywhere near them.
    • Another starting merc, Crooked Sam, could be upgraded to cause demolition charges to stun an enemy on hit while also temporarily disabling their detection capability. While this sounds rather lame compared to Blaze's ability, it could potentially save the crew's lives in a pinch, as currently Heroic and Massive enemiesnote  are not immune to the stun. Drop a charge on an enemy Hybrid Behemoth and watch as it melts under the combined fire of Tychus and co. Did we mention he can carry up to three charges at most and there is only a negligible cooldown between each use? Crooked Sam's ultimate gear also has a chance to reduce charge cooldown substantially with each attack, making it highly spammable.
  • Fighter, Mage, Thief: Tychus's three categories of Hero Units form this dynamic. The Muscle are about soaking damage and wreaking havoc on the front lines, the Guns are built for dishing out damage from the rear, and the Fixers boast useful support abilities.
  • Foil
    • Is one to Nova. Both have 100-supply limit that focuses on quality over quantity, however, Nova relies on upgraded tech to boost her Elite Army. Tychus relies on his connections for his crew and the skills they have.
    • Is one to Fenix. Both commanders have access to unusually large amounts of Hero Units compared to the other commanders, but while most of Fenix's heroes are empowered by having other units that are of the same type as the hero, his Champions being extraordinary Protoss warriors honored for their prowess and courage by the rest of Protoss Society, Tychus has no other units aside from his heroes; his heroes instead make use of upgrades from his structures and a variety of abilities on top of their dramatically increased stats to keep up with the armies all his allies use, as his Outlaws being renegades who broke from the rest of Terran Society to strike out on their own.
  • Gatling Good: Tychus wields a minigun as big as he is on the battlefield.
  • Goomba Stomp: The Odin damages any enemies underneath it when deployed into battle.
  • Grappling-Hook Pistol: Rob Boswell, the HERC Muscle, retains his base unit's signature ability to grapple to an area.
  • Herd-Hitting Attack: To compensate for their low numbers, several of Tychus' units have special abilities that hit multiple units at once, with upgrades focused on increasing the damage, radius and duration.
  • Hero Unit: Easily the epitome of this trope among the commanders, as they are literally all his army consists of. They are divided up into three categories: the Guns, the Muscle and the Fixers. Specifically:
    • The Guns:
      • Tychus himself: Carried over almost wholesale from the "Belly of the Beast" mission in Wings of Liberty. Tychus is a Marine using a chaingun who also packs Shredder Grenades to hit a wide area of lightly-targeted units.
      • Crooked Sam: A Reaper who carries Demolition Charges, special grenades that can be thrown at a single target to deal heavy damage after a small duration.
      • James "Sirius" Sykes: A Warhound. Deploys turrets, which gain upgrades to their damage output and range alongside him.
    • The Muscle:
      • Miles "Blaze" Lewis: A Firebat. His special abilities focus on spreading his flame attacks around and dealing damage over time, which other flamethrower-wielding units such as Hellions can synergise with.
      • Kev "Rattlesnake" West: A Marauder. Can deploy Revitalizers, special structures designed to heal and augment friendly units in their vicinity over time.
      • Rob "Cannonball" Boswell: A HERC. Incredibly bulky and has the special ability Heavy Impact which pulls him to a target location, stunning and damaging enemies on impact.
    • The Fixers:
      • Vega: A female Ghost. Specializes in using Mind Control abilities to cause disruption and confusion amongst enemy ranks.
      • Nux: A Spectre. His unique ability Ultrasonic Pulse is specially-designed to hit large groups of enemies for major damage over time.
      • Lt. Layna Nikara: A Medic. Naturally, she lacks offensive output in favor of powerful healing single-target healing and a Restorative Burst that heals allies in a wide area.
  • Humongous Mecha: It just wouldn't be Tychus without the Odin.
  • I Call It "Vera": In-game tooltips reveal that several of the mercs have named weapons. Tychus's minigun is named "Sweet Talker", Crooked Sam's pistols are "The Negotiators", Cannonball called his flash welder "Meteor Smasher", and Sirius's main gun is "Big Tom" while his turrets are "Little Tom".
  • In-Series Nickname: Several of them have one, with Crooked Sam, Vega, and Nux being Only Known by Their Nickname.
  • Jack-of-All-Stats: Kev "Rattlesnake" West, the Marauder. He starts with slightly above average health on par with Tychus and Sirius, has respectable damage for a Muscle (especially against armored enemies), and can deploy Revitalizers to heal, letting him do a bit of everything except anti-air. However, he's not the best at any of those; Lt. Nikara has better healing, the Guns have better damage and can hit air, and the other two Muscle are more specialized for tanking than he is.
    • Tychus himself leans more towards damage dealing, but has comparable health to Kev, a hard-hitting rapid-fire weapon with extremely high damage that's good against both single tough targets and swarms of smaller ones, and a grenade that lets him handle early game waves by himself and can be upgraded into a powerful crowd control tool.
  • Kill It with Fire: This is Miles "Blaze" Lewis' MO. Being a Firebat, it is a given that his kit revolves around devastating use of fire to burn his enemies to a crisp. His Oil Spill ability amplifies the burning damage received by his enemies, and can be upgraded to cause his victims to explode and spread even more fire around them when they die.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Due to the Firebat's nature as a melee-ranged combatant, Miles "Blaze" Lewis will frequently charge ahead into mobs of enemies in order to burn them. This normally isn't a problem, being one of the tank options for the crew, but if this isn't properly managed or the crew is short on healing abilities, he may die very fast, resulting in the rest of the crew being down a tank to draw aggro away from them.
    • Surprisingly, and perhaps frustratingly, Lt. Nikara can be especially guilty of this if the player prefers A-moving the entire party over using micro. Despite, or perhaps because of, her inability to attack, the Lieutenant will always go where you A-move her to instead of standing at a safe distance and engage the enemies like any sensible combat unit would. This means that placing an attack-move command into the middle of a base will see the Lt. obediently strolling up to wherever she was told to and getting perforated like an idiot, while the rest of the group is held back by the bulk of the enemies to slowly die because they are now down a Medic. This behavior is, incidentally, a side-effect of giving Nikara identical unit AI to the medics fielded by Raynor; the difference is that unlike Raynor's medics, Nikara doesn't usually have to heal units constantly; if Raynor's units took fights as efficiently as the Heaven's Devils tend to, his own medics would do the exact same things Nikara does when A-moved with the army.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Rob "Cannonball" Boswell starts out as a Stone Wall, but once upgraded he has the second highest damage output of all the Outlaws, after Tychus, a powerful dash that stuns enemies, shares the highest health pool with fellow muscle, Blaze and can revive himself on death once per minute, making him a veritable one-main wrecking ball. Unfortunately his Redline power cells take a while to spin up and his clumsy focus on single hard-hitting attacks with critical hits on top of that makes him waste much of his damage output.
  • Mauve Shirt: The Heaven's Devils have some unique abilities, names, and some have slightly modified models, but they aren't very distinct as individuals and, aside from generic unit quotes, have no unique lines to flesh out their personalities.
  • Mechanically Unusual Fighter:
    • Tychus does not field traditional units, but instead takes to the battlefield along with up to four of his fellow mercs as a party of beefed-up hero characters, each with their own upgradable gear and unique abilities. The idea for this unusual playstyle came from the Belly of the Beast mission, in which the player controls a band of similar hero units.
    • Aside from the usual damage/health upgrades, which are researched normally, Tychus and his cronies each have up to four unique pieces of kit that can be bought from their respective buildings. Said upgrades are prohibitively expensive, but are researched(or, more accurately, purchased) instantly.
    • Similar to, but also different from Nova, when either Tychus or his men bite it, they don't respawn at the Command Center after a set period. Instead, they are teleported back to Joeyray's Bar and stay there until the player shell out the minerals to bring them back into the fight.
    • In a subtle but critical difference, Tychus' command card doesn't work like normal. In other gameplay modes when the player has selected multiple unit types, the Tab key shifts between the unit types in the command card to allow the player to view their upgrade and ability icons and use the latter. To ease microing of Tychus and his forces, any time they're selected together, the bottom row of the command card is always their activated ability, so you don't need to Tab between them constantly. This also means that Tychus' command card and hotkeys change in every mission; the bottom row in the command card has Tychus' grenades hotkeyed to Q every time, and then as you bring in his forces one by one, their ability is added to the row and it fills in left to right.
  • Mighty Glacier: As a whole Tychus and his men are very tough, able to tank a lot of damage and rapidly kill pretty much anything they come against. Even without major health and damage upgrades, a competently-played crew could go toe-to-toe with late-game mobs on Brutal difficulty with little trouble, provided their core passives are unlocked. Their primary weakness is their mobility, or lack thereof — Tychus has no air units, and all of his ground units are pretty slow. He is thus completely reliant on his Medivac pickup calldown to move his troops around the battlefield, or else they take a looong time to get there on foot. Subverted once he gets the ability to build three Medivac platforms, which actually gives him phenomenal army mobility that only the likes of Kerrigan and Fenix can match.
  • Mind Control: Vega, the Ghost, can use Dominate to take control of enemy units for a short time.
  • Money for Nothing: Unlike other commanders, Tychus is finite in what he can build and research, so if a game lasts long enough, the player could hypothetically run out of upgrades to purchase and end up sitting on a large cache of resources with nothing to spend on but more SCVs and auto-turrets. However, each individual upgrade for Tychus' men costs 700/250 (lowered to 600/150 with a Talent) and their ultimate costs 1200/400, so you'd have to purposefully drag a game out in order to research all of them and still have money left over.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Tychus' playstyle takes cues from the Belly of the Beast mission in Wings of Liberty, where the player commands a small pool of elite units. Tychus even has his Shredder Grenades from that mission.
    • He also takes a lot of inspiration from Heroes of the Storm; each of his hero units has a single special ability that they "upgrade" like Talents, and their individual upgrades research instantly like such. His units also all each have an "ultimate" upgrade that unlocks once their first three have been purchased, like a Talent.
  • Odd Name Out: He and Nova are the only Terran commanders to be referred to by their given names. The rest of the roster are identified by their last names instead.
  • One-Man Army: On their own, each of Tychus' friends is basically a hero unit from the campaign. With their kit fully upgraded they can solo entire attack waves and come out on topnote ; together, they're virtually invincible.
  • Only in It for the Money: Lt. Nikara's explicit reason to join up with Tychus and co. is to get paid, as mentioned in her bio.
  • Overt Operative: Unlike the regular Spectre and Ghost, Nux and Vega cannot cloak.
  • See the Invisible: Cloaked and/or burrowed enemies can be temporarily revealed by splashing them with Blaze's Oil Spill, in addition to traditional detection offered by the Fixers via an upgrade.
  • Stone Wall:
    • Miles "Blaze" Lewis, the crew's designated Firebat tank. While Blaze already has a staggering health pool compared to the next biggest merc on the teamnote , his tier 4 upgrade also reduces all incoming damage to a maximum of 30. Unfortunately, as he lacks Cannonball's auto-revive, he's more reliant on healers than his fellow Outlaw, and takes bonus damage from anti-armored weapons, making him more reliant on healing to keep him alive.
    • Rob "Cannonball" Boswell, the HERC. While his damage output is average at best, he has a very large health pool on par with Blaze, and one of his passives gives him a full heal when his health runs out, making him even harder to kill in most scenarios. That said, he becomes a significantly harder-hitting fighter with his ultimate gear and fully stacked Redline.
    • As a whole, Tychus and his crew struggle to match the damage output of larger armies, even with the most dps-oriented outlaws like Cannonball, Sirius, and Sam. However, their durability and many forms of powerful crowd control allow them to pull out on top anyway.
  • Taking You with Me: Researching James "Sirius" Sykes' D99 Detonator allows him to self-destruct his Warhound on death to deal 300 damage to anything caught within the blast. His turrets can also do this when destroyed, albeit only doing a sixth of the Warhound's explosion damage.
  • Throw Down the Bomblet: Tychus chucks grenades as his special ability, dealing splash damage in a large area. Crooked Sam, the Reaper, chucks demolition charges to a target that explode after a period of time.
  • The Turret Master: James "Sirius" Sykes, the Warhound, specializes in spawning auto-turrets.
  • Token Good Teammate:
    • Unlike a majority of his fellow crooks, Kev "Rattlesnake" West is a rather upstanding member by Heaven's Devils standards, having been honorably discharged from the Dominion Armed Forces instead of going AWOL. He also lives by his own moral code, and refuses to accept any job that would entail collateral damage, no matter how big the pay.
    • Mild pyromania aside, Miles "Blaze" Lewis is surprisingly tame for a Firebat. He isn't a resocialized criminal and in fact used to be part of Raynor's Raiders, doesn't smoke, dislikes the smell of napalm in the morning, and appreciates the opportunity to do good while setting things on fire.
  • Up to Eleven: Weapon and armor upgrades usually max out at 3; Tychus can go to 5 (although the level 4 and 5 upgrades are so horrendously expensive that you'll usually just stick with +3/+3).
  • What If?: Explicitly the mantra used to justify Tychus as a commander, playing on the Broad Strokes nature of the co-op missions. His appearance as a co-op commander is handwaved as the result of an alternate continuity where Tychus didn't die by Raynor's hands on Char, and lived to reform the Heaven's Devils into a mercenary unit to aid in the war's efforts against Amon.
  • You Nuke 'Em: The "Big Red Button" upgrade, unlocked at level 15, can be researched at Tychus's engineering bay, which will replace the Odin's Barrage ability with a nuclear missile.
  • Your Mom: Tychus' nickname for the occasional Hybrid. Interestingly, this line is currently only used on Temple of the Past, meaning it's addressed towards Rohana.
    "Aww, you didn't tell me your mama was comin'."

    Arcturus Mengsk, Emperor of the Dominion 
"Sons and daughters of the Dominion, we march ever onward."

What If? Arcturus Mengsk wasn't killed at the end of Heart of the Swarm, and brought his brand of propaganda warfare to the war with Amon? Instead of SCVs, Mengsk trains Dominion Laborers to build structures and gather resources, and can conscript them into the Dominion militia as Dominion Troopers. Troopers can be upgraded for more specialized weaponry that will be dropped on the field if they die, allowing another Trooper to grab it to continue the fight and keep the Dominion war machine chugging. Mengsk can also field his Elite Guard, powerful advanced troops with high stats and special abilities that gain experience and level up to grow stronger. To maintain his control over the populace, Mengsk's "energy" for his calldowns takes the form of Imperial Mandate, generated by deploying the Elite Guard and using support units to spread propaganda among his Laborers — as Mengsk inspires loyalty to generate Mandate, he can use more powerful versions of his calldowns in exchange for consuming more Mandate to use them.

  • A Commander Is You: Combines elements of Brute, Industrialist, and a little Technical.
    • Mengsk has hands-down the strongest economy in the game, as his workers are not only cheaper, they're built much faster and can rush his structures. With a Mastery to give him an extra 30 Imperial Mandate at the beginning of the mission, he can call a Supply Bunker loaded with Troopers that can then switch over to Laborers, letting Mengsk get six extra resource gatherers immediately and thus rapidly begin building his economy.
    • His economy supports a combination of Spammer Troopers and Elitist Royal Guards that together form the bulk of his army, which he uses to crush enemies with mupltiple area-of-effect attacks, overwhelming calldowns, and sheer firepower. Mengsk also supplements this with his massive Earthsplitters, which flatten entire enemy defensive fortifications by drowning them in artillery shells.
    • His downsides are primarily in that his main army is _slow_ to get around and has very few tools that can move it faster, and he has difficulty replacing losses in his Royal Guard, being the only Terran commander with no way to repair his high-cost mechanical units besides standard repairs (which cost resources).
  • Anti-Frustration Features: His Troopers and Laborers have to report to a Supply Bunker or a Recruitment Center to switch between roles. For this reason, his Troopers retain the ability to erect a few structures themselves, including Supply Bunkers, and can still work together to do so rapidly. This means if you need Laborers and are a long way from home, your Troopers can quickly erect a Supply Bunker and use it to switch over.
  • Affably Evil: While Mengsk is still, well, Mengsk, this version of him is significantly more gracious and cooperative compared to his campaign self. While he's still ruthless in his strategies, he's not above complimenting his allies if they perform well, and expresses gratitude should they help him. One should not forget, however, that Mengsk is a Manipulative Bastard who only helps others if doing so benefits him in some capacity, so all of this could very well be an act.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: Heavily implied. At low levels of Mandate, his Laborers and Troopers are clearly hesitant at whatever they're doing, only performing their roles because they're being watched and don't want to be punished for slacking off.
    Trooper: I'm complying, *hushed voice* stay calm...
  • Bling of War: His Royal Guards are all incredibly ornate, sporting golden decorative plates on their armor as well as fancy uniforms. Even the lowly Laborers and Troopers are significantly more blinged-out than the standard SCV.
  • Continuity Nod: Mengsk has unique quotes for when playing with either Raynor, Kerrigan, or Tychus, all of which reference specific events that took place throughout StarCraft and StarCraft II.
    Mengsk: You are a nightmare come to life!
    • If playing with a Raynor partner and they call in the Hyperion, Mengsk will warn them to be careful with his ship. At the very least, he's relieved that Raynor's Raiders have been using the ship for more than just booze in the cantina.
    Mengsk: Be careful with MY ship, Jim!
    • Mengsk would be quick to remind a Tychus player that he's still technically operating under the Emperor's thumb.
  • Continuity Snarl: Despite its adherence to Loose Canon, the co-op storyline had always made it clear that Valerian Mengsk took over the Dominion after Arcturus' demise at the conclusion of Heart of the Swarm, and is acknowledged by various characters as its current sitting Emperor. Now, with Arcturus being revealed to still be alive in-setting without even the slightest handwave, and is still the Emperor, this complicates the narrative quite a bit.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: The Aegis Guard and Emperor's Shadow, Mengsk's own version of Marauders and Ghosts, cannot enter Supply Bunkers. Players who are used to entrenching their standard variants inside normal Bunkers will be in for a nasty surprise when an enemy rush comes, and they try to get these expensive units inside cover, only for them to stand out in the open and get killed. On that same note, Supply Bunkers share the same hotkey as regular Supply Depots, so Terran players who were used to playing as Raynor are likely to experience some awkwardness.
  • Death from Above: Comes in two flavors: a battery of Earthsplitter Ordnance he can build on the field to flatten enemy armies and launch toxic shells from, and a literal barrage of missiles, topped off by a nuke.
  • Defog of War: Mengsk's ability to deploy Troopers and Laborers direct to the rally point with drop pods, combined with his calldowns, let him pick a heavily defended point on the map he otherwise can't see, deploy a single unfortunate Trooper there, and then once they give him vision unleashing a horde of Zerg or a nuclear bombardment. With Earthsplitters he doesn't even need the Trooper, as Earthsplitter shells grant vision as they fire.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Fitting with his callous and cold attitude towards his troops, Mengsk plays rather a lot like a Zerg commander — his town hall structure produces both worker units and combat units, and his Troopers are comparable to Zerglings in that they are very weak and easily killed, but cheap and fast to produce in numbers. His usage of Imperial Witnesses is also like Queens and Overlords, parking a few around his base to maintain his infrastructure and bringing a few with him for support in the field. He can even summon actual Zerg with the "Dogs of War" ablity.
  • Early Game Hell: At level 1, a Mengsk player is liable to have an extremely bad time playing as him, due to his Imperial Mandate gain being abysmal, and he won't have Earthsplitter Ordinances to rely on for static defense. His Troopers are also restricted to using only assault rifles, making them below-average at both offense and defense, and even worse at taking hits for the more expensive Royal Guards. Once levels 2 to 5 roll over, however, Mengsk suddenly receives a huge leap in power, particularly at level 5, which grants him significantly increased Mandate gain through the Unquestioned Authority talent.
  • Enemy Mine: In this timeline, Mengsk was willing to throw in his lot with Raynor, Kerrigan and Artanis in order to fight against Amon, instead of standing his ground and perishing at Augustgrad. He still states in no uncertain terms his utter contempt for his newfound "allies", however, only reasoning that they are lesser threats that could be dealt with later.
  • Expy: Many of his units have abilities that are intentional references to War Craft III or other real-time stategy games.
    • The mechanics of his Laborers and Troopers are an intentional callback to the human Peasants and their Call to Arms ability. Unlike Peasants, however, Laborers converted to Troopers don't automatically "expire" and revert after a certain amount of time, and the player must perform the change manually.
    • His Shock Division tanks can be upgraded to fire at air units in siege mode while being towed by Imperial Intercessors, similar to how Night Elf archers could mount Hippogryphs and gain flight.
    • Mengsk's Dominion Supply Bunker combines a Supply Depot with the defensive capabilities of a Bunker, not unlike an Orc Burrow.
    • His Promotion mechanic is based on the Veterancy mechanic from the Command & Conquer series, with units gaining new abilities, with the new abilities similarly to those in Tiberian Sun or Red Alert 2, while the third level often vastly increases the unit's rate of fire, similar to how units in Tiberium Wars or Red Alert 3 would double in fire rate at heroic (the final rank) veterancy.
    • Another mechanic, Imperial Mandate, is similar to the "Global Resource" mechanic in Dawn of War II, most notably the Imperial Guard's Command and Space Marine's Zeal. It's generated by training troops, using propaganda, and generally engaging in combat, and used to activate powerful calldown abilities.
    • His Earthsplitter Ordnance call to mind the heavy stationary artillery of Supreme Commander with it's massive range, area of effect, and random fire pattern.
    • His forces dropping their weapons, allowing others to pick them up is similar to the way units in Company of Heroes could pick up more powerful weapons after an ally (or even an enemy) drops them.
  • Elite Army: Mengsk's Royal Guard are prohibitively expensive, but are even more powerful than Nova's Covert Ops and Horner's Elites.
  • Foil
    • To Raynor. Like Raynor, Mengsk relies on sending waves of disposable infantry at the enemy and building them in bulk, and they can reinforce their armies on-the-go since they're deployed via drop pods. But where Raynor has a diverse army of infantry units for a well-balanced army, Mengsk only has one kind and equips them with different weaponry to suit the enemy they're fighting. Bunkers make up a big part of Raynor's playstyle, while Mengsk's Supply Depot-equivalents all double as Bunkers, so he'll have a lot too, and he can build more instantly via orbital drops just like Raynor can (though for Mengsk it's calldown, not a talent).
    • To Stukov. They both have tech trees with small numbers of powerful specialist tech units and otherwise rely on waves of expendable infantry; Stukov's infantry are general purpose while Mengsk can upgrade his for specialized purposes.
    • To Karax. Both have army units with high costs that makes it difficult to build them in large numbers, but they have many calldowns to support their ally without having to field an army, and they both have ways to increase the rate at which they generate energy to use those calldowns. While Karax uses Orbital Strikes to blast enemies apart, Mengsk can bombard an area of effect with Earthsplitter Ordinances, and appropriate they function like a high-value stationary turret, which Karax specializes in.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: His Laborers and Troopers have different quotes at different levels of Imperial Mandate. When the level is low, they're Sour Supporters who complain about everything. As the level rises, they become more and more enthusiastic and fanatical.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Despite Mengsk being the, you know, Emperor of the Dominion, nobody relevant has any special quote to address him specifically. This gets especially weird when playing Part and Parcel, as General Davis will acknowledge Valerian as the current sitting Emperor, despite ol' Arcturus being alive and well in this continuity. Likewise, other Dominion personnel such as Corporal Faraday and Sergeant Bama "Hammer" Kowalski are similarly mum when Mengsk is playing on their respective maps.
  • It's Raining Men: His Recruitment Centers can be upgraded to deploy Troopers and Laborers directly to their rally points via drop pods. Prior to this upgrade, freshly trained units will walk to the rally. Also, his first calldown power is him airdropping a Supply Bunker loaded with six Troopers directly onto an area.
  • Interface Screw: Unintentionally. Mengsk uses a similar shade of red for his army as the enemy faction always does, so Mengsk's teammate may not be able to easily tell them apart on the minimap without turning on Friend/Foe colors.
  • Irony: Despite being bitter enemies, Mengsk actually has very strong synergy when paired with a Raynor or Kerrigan partner.
    • A Raynor teammate could support Mengsk's Troopers and Royal Guards with Medics, on top of providing on-demand detection with scanner sweeps, while Mengsk can return the favor with the buffs provided by Imperial Witnesses, Prides of Augustgrads and Blackhammers while tanking for Raynor's squishy army with Aegis Guards.
    • Kerrigan provides his units with great protection in the form of her own Hero Unit, extra resources with Assimilation Wave, as well as extreme map mobility and detection with Omega Worms, offsetting Mengsk's expensive Royal Guard and slow army, while Mengsk's Defog of War and powerful indirect fire weapons offset Kerrigan's vulnerability to large enemy formations.
  • Last Chance Hit Point: At commander level 15, his Sky Furies could be upgraded to automatically enter Assault Mode and barrier up as they take fatal damage.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: Aptly named "Nuclear Annihilation", in fact. It starts with 20 miniature tactical nuclear payloads being showered onto a designated area, to 40 with the Complete Annihilation talent. These are then followed by a standard big nuke.
  • Magikarp Power: All of his Royal Guards start out rather lame, with only the most basic of powers and slightly above-par stats. Keep them alive for long enough for them to reach Rank 3, however, and their power level increases dramatically.
    • Mengsk himself plays like this in general, as noted under Early Game Hell.
  • Mechanically Unusual Fighter:
    • Mengsk doesn't train SCVs or Marines like most Terran commanders. Instead, he conscripts large numbers of cheap Laborers, who could be equipped with light armor and weaponry to serve as Troopers. His Troopers are also trained from Recruitment Centers, his own version of the Command Center, rather than at the Barracks.
    • With his Dogs of War, Mengsk is the only Terran commander to make use of Zerg units.
    • His Earthsplitter Ordinance is sort of like a long-range Siege Tank-type turret, where the player targets it at an area within range (50 base range, 75 with an upgrade) and it will continuously bombard that area with shells, but it fires slowly. But like a Bunker, the Earthsplitters can be loaded with up to four Troopers or Laborers, each increasing its rate of fire.
  • More Dakka: His level 15 talent, Promotion Granted, unlocks the final promotion level for his Royal Guards. Most of them receive tremendous boosts to their fire rates. The Pride of Augustgrad in particular could fire its Yamato Cannon thrice in rapid succession.
  • My Country, Right or Wrong: Played with. While his laborers and troopers have this as their mantra, it's more of an appeasement and show of fear rather than actual loyalty.
    Trooper: My Dominion, right or wrong!
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Mengsk's Royal Guard units are named after his Elite Mooks from the final campaign mission of Heart of the Swarm.
    • His ability to allow his Siege Tanks to fire on enemy air units is a sly call-back to Uprising in which Mengsk had Siege Tanks prepped inside the Hyperion's loading bays to fire broadsides at the Norad II as neither Battlecruiser had any broadside-mounted armaments.
    • One of his Tier 2 mastery upgrades is called "Terrible Damage".
    • His Sky Fury Vikings have a +6 damage boost to Massive, which rises to +25 at rank one. invoked Word of God has said this is a reference to the Heart of the Swarm opening cinematic, and a particularly mocked moment when a Viking lands to fight an Ultralisk rampaging through Augustgrad and gets trampled for his courage. Now, seeing the stats of Mengsk's Sky Fury Vikings, a player can understand how a pilot might think they could win that confrontation.
    • The Emperor's Shadow unit seems to have been designed after an early concept art of Mengsk with a Ghost-esque operative standing in his shadow, bearing the same gear and all. It's especially noteworthy, considering how the concept is almost twelve years old at the time of Mengsk's debut as a co-op commander and actually preceded the release of StarCraft 2 by nearly three years.
  • Nerf:
    • Mengsk used to be able to start with up to 60 Mandate with his tier 3 mastery. This gave him one of the strongest economic openers in the entire mode by allowing him to instantly deploy two supply bunkers as soon as the match started, letting him clear expansions almost immediately, and then converting the free twelve Troopers that come with them into Laborers to prop up an auxiliary base in no time at all. This was later reduced down to 30 starting Mandate at most, which would still let him drop one bunker, but effectively cleaving his opening strength by half.
  • Patriotic Fervor: As part of Mengsk's Propaganda Machine, he appeals to the state pride of the Dominion in multiple quotes, and his Troopers and Laborers spout nationalistic slogans.
  • Power-Up Letdown: Despite being Elite Mooks, Mengsk's Emperor's Shadows are actually slightly weaker initially compared to Nova's Ghosts. They are somewhat superior statistically at promotion level 3, though it takes a while for them to actually get there, and they don't start with their full skill set. Their repertoire makes them more akin to Squishy Wizards than your run-of-the-mill Ghosts.
    • They actually fire tactical missiles instead of full-sized nukes. Compared to other nuke-type "ultimates", such as those of Nova, Tychus' Odin, and the final explosion of Han & Horner's space stations, they only deal a fraction of the damage, but with the upside being that they can be called down multiple times in rapid succession, and are only limited by the number of Royal Academies you have.
    • Cloak has also been removed, effectively making them Overt Operatives. The only way they can turn invisible is getting hit once at Rank 1, which hides them for 10 seconds and runs on a whopping 30 second cooldown. Unless backed up by a Red Shirt Army of Troopers, they are bound to die fast.
    • They also can no longer snipe, with this ability being replaced by Pyrokinetic Immolation, therefore making them better at handling mobs of squishy enemies bunched up together, but substantially worse against tanky targets that would have otherwise been melted in an instant by normal Ghosts.
  • Propaganda Machine: Mengsk's rule relies on a secondary resource called "Imperial Mandate", which is a gauge of how loyal his men are, and how much the population of the Dominion "approves" of his radical methods. To increase Mandate, Mengsk needs to make himself and his Royal Guards look good, while reminding his workforce that they're risking their lives for the good of the Dominion. In layman's terms, this means whenever he deploys and levels his Royal Guards, and/or has wide coverage of Imperial Witnesses among his mineral lines. Mandate serves as his "energy", as well as a measure of strength for his calldowns, with additional effects being bestowed at high Mandate counts.
    • His Imperial Witness unit is a literal one. Apart from being detectors, they could enter Patriot Mode where, with the Unquestioned Authority talent, they could Indoctrinate nearby Laborers, Troopers, and Royal Guards to enable and double their Mandate gain. They do this by blaring Mengsk's propaganda messages through loudspeakers and giant TV screens attached to their sides, culminating in a huge hologram of the Emperor delivering his speech when upgraded.
  • Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: Occasionally, Mengsk would assure his men via Imperial Witnesses that no, he's not dead, and the him strutting around isn't a clone.
    Mengsk: Whatever nonsense you might hear, I am not a clone.
  • Red Shirt Army: Mengsk's troopers and laborers are literal Red Shirts, being fragile as napkin and quite visibly wearing red armor padding regardless of commander color.
  • Remember the Alamo: When facing Protoss enemies, Mengsk may implore his troops to "Remember Chau Sara!".
  • Sigil Spam: Wolves and eagles, especially the former. As in the main campaign, wolves are all over Arcturus' units and structures, and most of his units have a wolf's head somewhere on their model. His secondary motif, the eagle, is less prominent but still appears in menu icons. This is most apparently with his calldown interfact, where an eagle head adorns the counter for the Imperial Mandate his Troopers and Laborers generate, and a wolf head is on the counter for what the Royal Guard generates.
  • Stance System:
    • His Laborers can be equipped with gear to transform them into Troopers, Mengsk's equivalent of Marines, but nowhere near as durable. Troopers can be switched back into Laborers at the player's discretion.
    • This also applies to the weapons he can outfit them with. The assault rifle does double the damage of their standard weapon and can attack ground and air units, the flamethrower deals even more which is doubled against lightly-armoured targets but can only attack ground units and the rocket battery can only attack air units but does so at absurdly long range and does extra damage to armoured-type enemies.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Twenty to forty missiles followed by a nuke may seem a bit excessive, but when you see how heavily populated and defended enemy bases can be, it becomes justified.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Pretty much the sentiment of all Laborers and Troopers at low levels of Imperial Mandate. Considering their Red Shirt nature, they aren't wrong.
    Laborer: This... could go bad.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Mengsk is the only outright evil member of the entire Terran co-op roster. Everyone else is an Anti-Hero at worst.
  • Underground Monkey: Aside from some new additions, his Royal Guards are composed of many of the unique variants of standard units seen at the end of Heart of the Swarm like the Blackhammer, Aegis Guard, Pride of Augustgrad, Shock Division, and so on. Additionally, the Imperial Witness is simply a Raven with a new model and lacking offensive abilities.
  • The Unfettered: Unleashing brainwashed Zerg on the enemy, calling down a nuclear bombardment, sending hundreds of Dominion Troopers out to fight and die in the field — no strategy is too ruthless or too unethical for Arcturus, if it means the Dominion (and him) are safe.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Mengsk relies upon cultivating this image via his Propaganda Machine so that even when he's unleashing hordes of brainwashed Zerg and dropping a hail of nuclear ordnance, the people of the Dominion believe it is all for their good and continue to support him.
  • We Have Reserves: Zig-zagged.
    • His Troopers are very cheap and expendable, so much so that a single weapon system costs about four soldiers combined, but these armaments are valuable and infinitely reusable. If a Trooper dies while carrying a weapon, another can pick it up and use it. His troopers know this, especially if they come under fire while carrying weapons, but can't exactly do anything about it.
    Trooper: [upon taking damage] Hey! I'm not expendable.
    • On the flip side of the coin, his other units, the Royal Guards, are expensive and valuable.
    • And then we get to his Dogs of War, in which Mengsk throws upwards of 105 supply's worth of stock Zerg units at any problem. They're on timed life and despite their sheer numbers, are one of the faster call-downs when it comes to recharge timers.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: His Royal Guards are indeed powerful, but they are also slow and vulnerable to Zerg Rushes, both the literal and figurative kind. Unless backed up by large numbers of Troopers and Intercessors, they're going to die fast. Their high costs don't exactly help matters, since their numbers are going to be small to begin with. They are also vulnerable to cloaked units, as Mengsk's only option for a mobile detector is the defenseless Imperial Witness.
  • What If?: Kerrigan made sure that there was no trace of him in Augustgrad by blowing him up. His appearance as a co-op commander is handwaved as the result of an alternate continuity.
  • Why Am I Ticking?: At commander level 15, his max-ranked Emperor's Shadows receive a buff to their Pyrokinetic Immolation that also causes the victim(s) to explode when they die.
  • You Don't Look Like You: His co-op units use new skins and don't resemble their campaign versions in the least.
  • You Nuke 'Em: Taken Up to Eleven compared to other nuke users; see Macross Missile Massacre above. At commander level 14, his Emperor's Shadows could also be upgraded to drop nukes instantly without having to sit in one spot to target.

Zerg Commanders

    Sarah Kerrigan, Queen of Blades 
"Nothing can stop us."

Kerrigan fights in the battlefield as a hero unit, using powerful abilities to crush enemies while her army supports her. Fully upgraded, Kerrigan can take on entire enemy attack waves by herself and come out unscathed. Kerrigan's forces are the highly evolved Zerg breeds, like the Raptor, Lurker, Brood Lord, and Torrasque Ultralisk. This means her army is expensive to mutate and upgrade, but once she accomplishes this, Kerrigan can bring swift wrath to all that oppose her Swarm. Kerrigan has no calldown abilities, just her own unique powers, like an Assimilation Aura to absorb resources from fallen foes, or an Immobilization Wave to stun and damage all enemies in a large area around her.

Provides examples of:

  • A Commander Is You:
    • Numbers: Balanced. Kerrigan doesn't field the impressive numbers that Stukov and Zagara can put out, nor does she have the powerful bruisers of Dehaka and Abathur. Her units are generally the closest to the vanilla Zerg faction in terms of stats and techtree.
    • Doctrine: Brute/Guerilla. Kerrigan's army has no micro-intensive abilities and mostly just A-move through the enemy; even her Hydralisks' Frenzy ability is set to autocast. However, the Omega Network gives her ground army the advantage of being able to pop up anywhere on the map in an instant, letting her easily strike the enemy where it hurts. With her gas cost and evolution Masteries, she can add Industrialist and Economist to the mix. In tandem with her low-cooldown Assimilation Aura, these Masteries allow her to build her army much faster and offset their run-of-the-mill stats by quickly and cheaply getting all of their upgrades. Furthermore, Kerrigan's ridiculous early-game power means she can forgo early combat units in favor of building up her economy and tech.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • Kerrigan's Level 15 talent simply increases her energy regeneration rate. Given how much energy she burns through, this is a very welcome boost, and combined with an upgrade that decreases her abilities' energy costs, this allows her to inflict much more damage without worrying too much about her energy running dry.
    • Assimilation Aura yields resources from slain enemies. The stronger the unit, the more resources. This can be a huge game-changer, especially when it comes to harvesting gas. Just pop this in the middle of an enemy base immediately before Immobilization Wave for massive profit.
    • Her reduced vespene cost and Expeditious Evolutions (reduces cost and research time of upgrades) masteries makes building her armies much easier, while allowing her to upgrade them very quickly.
    • Immobilization Wave, when compared to other "ultimate" abilities. It doesn't affect the entire map and isn't the most damaging thing ever, but it has a fairly low cooldown (2 minutes 24 seconds when upgraded compared to the 4-6 minute cooldowns for similar abilities used by other commanders), meaning that Kerrigan can have it up for every major push and can comfortably use it to defend without any real penalty.
  • Composite Character: Kerrigan's Hydralisks can evolve into Lurkers that have an Anti-Armor property to their attacks, like the Impaler.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Kerrigan can single-handedly tear up almost anything on the ground, but she sucks at anti-air. Her only real options for dealing with large numbers of air units are to call in the Hydralisks and Mutalisks or committing an Immobilization Wave.
  • Dash Attack: Her Psionic Shift ability returns, letting her charge through enemies to deal damage.
  • Death Is Cheap: If Kerrigan dies, she respawns at base for free in a short time. She also gets Torrasque-strain Ultralisks, which can periodically revive after being killed.
  • Dig Attack: Ultralisks can be upgraded to perform burrow charges, tunneling through the ground and throwing around enemies they emerge under.
  • Disc-One Nuke: Out of all the commanders with hero units, Kerrigan is hands down the most powerful right out the gate, with abilities that allow her to easily engage and escape fights while shredding early waves. Later in the mission, she remains fairly potent; only a Dehaka with large amounts of Essence is stronger than a well-controlled Kerrigan.
  • Elite Army: Kerrigan's units lean more to the offensive side of the Zerg spectrum, with Raptor-strain Zerglings, Torrasques, Lurkers, and Brood Lords that are very powerful but have higher costs to mutate and upgrade than other units. Additionally, she has a mastery to reduce her research times and costs, letting her reliably pick up every upgrade for her units and making them extremely effective.
  • Glass Cannon: Most of Kerrigan's units can tear through enemies incredibly quickly, but die just as quickly under enemy fire. Her Torrasques are the one exception.
  • Hero Unit: Kerrigan herself appears to fight in the field. There are passive and researchable upgrades which increases her effectiveness.
  • Herd-Hitting Attack: In addition to doing exactly what it sounds like, Kerrigan's Immobilization Wave also deals significant damage to all nearby enemies. Most smaller units may die outright, while larger enemies will have considerable chunks of HP shaved off. There's also her standard Psionic Shift, which decimates anything in her travel path.
  • In a Single Bound: She retains her Leaping Strike ability from the campaign and can double its range with a Talent. At a jump range of 12, she can leap further than most units can see, allowing her to move around easily and engage or flee from enemies in an instant.
  • Life Drain: As a holdover from Heroes of the Storm, Kerrigan gains temporary shields whenever she deals damage to an enemy.
  • Nostalgia Level: Kerrigan's units are mostly from the original StarCraft and Brood War, the StarCraft II Queens being a re-worked unit, while the Brood Lord is an upgraded Guardian.
  • One-Woman Army: Kerrigan's abilities revolve around her doing a lot of damage by herself. Fully upgraded she's nearly unstoppable. In fact, using only Kerrigan as the sole damage-dealer unit along with some Omega Worms for mobility and detection is key to winning many tougher mutations. That being said, by her lonesome she somewhat struggles against mass air without Hydralisk or Mutalisk support.
  • Shock and Awe: Kerrigan attacks with blasts of Pure Energy that take the form of electrical bolts.
  • Simple, yet Awesome: Using Kerrigan herself to wipe out early enemies and attack-moving an army of Zerglings, Hydralisks, and Ultralisks later on isn't a very sophisticated strategy and doesn't have too much complex micro involved, but it works just fine. This makes Kerrigan a very beginner-friendly commander.
  • Superpower Lottery: In the campaign, Kerrigan had to choose between one of three abilities divided into tiers. Here she has no such restrictions, and the result is that many abilities on the same tier can now be combined. On the flipside, other abilities or powers are rendered unavailable when they otherwise would have been in the campaign.
  • True Sight: Her Omega Worms also provide passive detection on top of being a highly-convenient Tunnel Network.
  • Tunnel Network: Kerrigan has access to Omega Networks, upgraded versions of the Nydus Network that can instantly deploy Omega Worms to any visible part of the battlefield. They also unload units much faster than the regular Nydus Network, letting Kerrigan quickly and safely move her army around the battlefield. As an added bonus, Kerrigan's ally can also use Omega Worms, which can be highly beneficial for low-mobility commanders like Karax and Alarak.

    Zagara, Swarm Broodmother 
"We are the Swarm. There was no other outcome. "

Zagara fights in the battlefield herself as a hero unit. However, unlike Kerrigan as a One-Man Army, Zagara's abilities revolve around summoning minions to do the fighting for her. Zagara bombards enemies with waves of disposable troops including the suicidal Baneling and Scourge, then rapidly mutates more to keep up the assault. Her combat units cost less minerals than normal, but she is limited to a 100 troop supply cap limiting how large her army can be. However, thanks to Swarmling-strain Zerglings, Scourge that mutate two at once, and the ability to rapidly produce more larva at her hatcheries, Zagara's army can still be plenty large enough to relentlessly assault the enemy.

Provides examples of:

  • A Commander Is You: Spammer and Brute. Zagara's very small pool of throwaway units leads to one simple strategy: start up your economy quickly, mass up a horde, A-move them through the enemy, rinse and repeat.
  • Boring Yet Practical:
    • Her suicidal Banelings and Scourge deal heavy damage, and the Scourge can be upgraded for splash damage and lowered Vespene costs. This makes them fairly quick to mutate, effective at killing clumps of enemies, and cheap to produce in large numbers.
    • Her Zerglings, when fully upgraded, can pretty much tear up anything on the ground, and they mutate quickly and cheaply in large numbers.
  • Cool, but Inefficient: Using Banelings and Scourge so much rapidly burns through her resource cache; a Zerg player on a two-base economy just can't afford to throw away units like Zagara tries to. A cluster of Banelings and Scourge can rapidly kill enemy attack waves and quickly hunt down mission objectives, but relying on them exclusively is a good way to go broke.
  • Crutch Character: Zagara's explosive economy and cheap waves of suicidal cannon fodder can blow apart early enemies with ease. Unfortunately, her low supply cap, lack of supply-efficient units to begin with, absence of anything resembling a late-game powerhouse unit, and the constant bleed on her resources to replace her forces leads to Zagara running out of cash trying to keep her suicidal tactics up against increasingly powerful enemies. Ideally, her partner should be able to take over before then.
  • Glass Cannon: Zagara's army as a whole has huge damage potential, but she tends to take massive losses if the enemy so much as sneezes on them. The backbone of her army being composed of suicide attackers doesn't help.
  • Hero Unit: Zagara herself appears to fight in the field. As noted above, her abilities revolve around summoning minions to do the fighting for her.
  • It's Raining Men: Infested Drop, which calls down numerous drop pods filled with Roaches on the targeted location.
  • Magikarp Power: At low levels, Zagara is weak, as her Banelings and Scourge attacks are very costly. As she obtains the ability to get free Banelings from the Baneling Nest periodically and the Scourge Vespene discount, building her army becomes much easier.
  • Mechanically Unusual Fighter:
    • Her max supply is set to 100 instead of 200.
    • Instead of the standard Spire, she mutates Scourge Nests to unlock and upgrade her air units.
  • Mook Maker: Zagara's abilities all spawn units to aid her in combat.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: As her Baneling Nests spawn free Banelings periodically, Zagara is limited to 1 active Baneling Nest to prevent her from simply massing Banelings at no cost.
  • One-Man Army: Played with. Like Kerrigan and Alarak, Zagara can fight enemy waves without an army backing her and win. However, she'll do it by using her abilities to spawn units to fight alongside her for a short time; on her own, she's relatively weak as far as hero units go.
  • Suicide Attack: Banelings and Scourge. She gets upgrades that make her Scourge cheaper and grant her free Banelings from their Nest.
  • Unstoppable Rage: She can incite this in both her own army and that of her ally with Mass Frenzy, which boosts their attack and movement speed.
  • Weapon of Choice: Banelings. She has a talent that makes her Baneling Nest periodically spawn free Banelings, an Aberration upgrade that births two Banelings upon death, and her Baneling Barrage ability spits a bunch of Banelings at enemies.
  • We Have Reserves: Lives and breathes this trope. She specializes in throwing cheap, disposable, and often suicidal units at any given problem until it goes away, and their reduced costs and mutation times, along with her early talent to double the number of larvae injected by Queens and ability to create Drones two at a time to quickly set up a healthy economy, all mean that she'll be able to field a lot of reserves.
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer...: Zagara has a very small pool of offensive units, and two of them are suicide units. Her army is mostly going to consist of Zerglings, Aberrations, and Corrupters, with smaller numbers of Banelings and Scourge, but those aren't exactly micro-intensive units and usually just attack-move crushing anything in their way. Thus, Zagara's strategy can pretty much be broken down into a very simple decision tree: "Mutate lots of Zerglings and attack the target. Is the target dead? If not, mutate some more Zerglings, add in some Banelings, Aberrations, Scourge, and/or Corrupters as the enemy unit composition demands, and attack again."
  • Zerg Rush: Zagara's combat units are cheaper, she gets an upgrade that boosts the number of Larvae spawned by the Queen's Inject Larva, she has a preference for suicidal units, and her Zerglings upgrade into Swarmlings. This overall means Zagara is going to spend her time bombarding enemies with disposable units, and then rapidly replacing them to keep up the attack.

    Abathur, Evolution Master 
"Evolution continues. Swarm grows stronger."

The master of Zerg evolution brings his talents to the field. While Abathur is in play, enemy units slain drop biomass, which his units can collect for stat boosts. Once they collect 100 stacks of biomass, they evolve into the most dangerous of Zerg breeds — his ground units evolve into Brutalisks and his air units into Leviathans. However, even without these mutations, picking up biomass will seriously buff Abathur's Zerg to be far stronger than would be expected of their strains. Abathur's army is comparatively simply, mostly relying on Roaches and Mutalisks with support from Swarm Queens, Vipers, and Swarm Hosts as needed; his Roaches and Mutalisks can further mutate into Ravagers, Guardians, and Devourers, for more specialized roles. Because his army is expensive to mutate and slow to build up power, he can deploy Toxic Nests to help with defense, explosive sacks that detonate when enemies pass by, and he can use Mend to heal his entire army in large battles.

Provides examples of:

  • A Commander Is You:
    • Numbers: The most Elitist among Zerg commanders. His basic army unit is the Roach, which is relatively expensive in both resources and supply compared to the standard Zergling. The biomass mechanic means that Abathur is actually discouraged from building excessive numbers of units as a mineral sink, as having more units means splitting biomass between them, making them individually weaker.
    • Doctrine: His army is the most Brute-ish of all commanders, focusing heavily on big tanky units that simply mash into enemy forces and power through with their high stats and lifesteal. He also has shades of Guerrilla with Mutalisks and the Deep Tunnel ability on his Brutalisks and Swarm Hosts. Finally, he also has some Technical aspects, namely micromanaging units to collect biomass, using Vipers, and spreading Toxic Nests in strategic locations.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: For no adequately explained reason aside from Competitive Balance, Abathur is capped at three Brutalisks and three Leviathans.
  • Brought Down to Badass: Abathur's Leviathans don't have any of their various abilities from the campaigns, but are still plenty powerful in their own right.
  • The Bus Came Back: Brings the Devourer back from Brood War after it made no showing in any of the three campaigns.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: The Viper. It's a very powerful unit that can sow confusion and harass enemies to death if used right, but Viper relies on extensive micro to be truly effective. This makes it pale in comparison to Abathur's other option where he can just steamroll over his enemies using brute strength alone. However, effective use of Vipers can make Abathur's steamroller tactics much more effective, especially if he opts for Mutalisks, as they can easily shut down and pick off dangerous enemies like Hybrid, Battlecruisers, and static defense.
  • Elite Army: Contrary to what you'd expect from the Zerg, Abathur's supply and resource costs for his Roaches and Mutalisks, and especially their evolutions, means he prefers to operate with a comparatively small force, using his biomass mechanic to power them up to make up the difference in lost numbers.
  • Elite Mook: His biomass mechanic lets his ground units evolve into Brutalisks and air units into Leviathans. However, he can only have three of each.
  • Foil:
    • To Zagara; both are Zerg commanders that focus on overwhelming enemies with brute force, but go about it in very different ways. Abathur focuses on keeping a small number of units alive and collecting biomass to power them up, resulting in a small army of very powerful units to crush the enemy with raw strength. Zagara, on the other hand, focuses on throwing masses of cheap, disposable units at the enemy and overwhelming them through sheer weight of numbers. Zagara takes to the battlefield as a Hero Unit with abilities focusing on offense, while Abathur stays out of the fight and supports his army with abilities focused on defense. Abathur makes use of a relatively wide pool of specialized unit types, while Zagara only fields a very small number of basic unit types. Zagara's explosive economy and limited techtree means that she excels in the early game but falls off later on, while Abathur's biomass mechanic means he starts out weak but gets exponentially stronger in the late game. Finally, Abathur's ground army consists entirely of ranged units while Zagara's consists entirely of melee units.
    • Also one to Dehaka. Abathur's biomass mechanic is very similar to Dehaka's essence mechanic, where destroyed enemy units drop a pick-up that they use to evolve into more powerful forms. However, Abathur gathers biomass for his army to mutate them into brutalisks and leviathans, while Dehaka collects essence for himself to level up and grow his skilltree of abilities. Dehaka also relies heavily on his Hero Unit and calldowns of pack leaders, while Abathur, again, has no hero unit and his reliance on calldowns is heavily downplayed to the point he can ignore them if he wishes.
  • Healing Factor: His units get Mend, he has Swarm Queens from the campaign that can use Rapid Transfusion, and one of his talents heals his units every time they inflict damage.
  • Magikarp Power: As his units consume biomass, they grow much more powerful, with hundreds of HP and rapid regeneration. And that's before they hit 100 and turn into Brutalisks and Leviathans.
  • Mechanically Unusual Fighter:
    • He can't build Zerglings or Spawning Pools, skipping to Roaches and the Roach Den. For that reason his Roaches cost no vespene and he gets an early game defensive structure to help out.
    • His biomass mechanic causes enemy units killed to drop biomass that his units can collect. Gathering biomass gives them stat boosts and eventually allows them to evolve into Brutalisks and Leviathans.
  • The Medic: He has the ability to heal all friendly units on the map over time, and it affects both biological and mechanical units. His Swarm Queens also automatically heal units over time, as opposed to regular Queens who must manually heal their targets.
  • Mighty Glacier: It takes a while for Abathur's army to go from place to place. His Brutalisks and Swarm Hosts can circumvent this by deep tunneling to locations, and his air units are decently mobile, though.
  • Took a Level in Badass: He has it as a game mechanic; enemy units killed drop biomass that Abathur's units can collect for stat buffs, and collecting enough lets them evolve into Brutalisks and Leviathans.
  • Trap Master: He can plant Toxic Nests on any visible location on the map, which explode when an enemy approaches. A talent doubles the biomass dropped by Toxic Nest kills, giving Abathur a way to easily fend off early attack waves while quickly gathering biomass for his units.
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer...: Abathur's army is mostly going to consist of Roaches, Mutalisks, and their evolutions, with some support from his Swarm Queen and Viper casters. Fortunately for him, used properly these units work just fine, and all can evolve into Leviathans and Brutalisks.
  • Why Won't You Die?: His army can be surprisingly hard to kill, carrying both the medic-esque Swarm Queens from the campaign, and an affect-all version of Kerrigan's Mend ability.
  • You Will Not Evade Me: Abathur's Vipers can use Abduct to fish enemy units into range of their allies for a brutal beatdown.

    Alexei Stukov, Infested Admiral 
"My favorite horror stories are the ones where the monsters win."

The former UED vice-admiral, now Infested Terran in alliance with Kerrigan, Stukov combines the power of the Terran army with the biological warfare of the Zerg. Stukov starts every mission with an infested colonist compound that automatically generates infested colonists with timed life, and through upgrades he can produce dozens of them every few minutes. In tandem with infested marines from his Barracks and Bunkers, and Stukov can overwhelm enemy through sheer, unrelenting masses of infested troops. If this isn't enough, Stukov still has higher-tier tech, able to build Factory and Starport units to break more fortified enemies. He can also call down a Cyborg fusion of Zerg biology and Terran technology, the Apocalisk, to fight for him, or bring in the Aleksander, the UED flagship, to bombard enemies with eggs that hatch into yet more infested terrans.

Provides examples of:

  • Abnormal Ammo: His siege tanks can fire volatile infested in siege modenote , which is essentially them shooting banelings into the enemy's face. The Aleksander meanwhile launches infested eggs at enemies that hatch into more infested units.
  • A Commander Is You:
    • Numbers-wise, he's the second biggest spammer in the game. Most of his front line consists of cheap infested colonists and infested marines, which can produce in huge numbers but are really weak and die after a while. His production structures also work like hatcheries in that all units are built independently of each other, letting him produce in waves rather than a slow trickle like most Terran and Protoss production works, so even if you lose a lot of soldiers, it's never a crippling blow.
    • In general, he follows the Brute doctrine, since there's not much you can do with his marines, civilians, and troopers, which make up the bulk of his army. However, he's got shades of quite a few other doctrines in there.
      • Gimmick — He's got Terran units, but with Zerg's burst production. He also can't micro his more basic units, which will go directly to the psi emitter and attack anything in their way. He's also in that all his structures can lift off and move, so that his timed life units can remain relevant on missions that force you to push across the map.
      • Generalist — Comes with the Terran package. His Factory and Starport units can give useful support depending on the mission and enemies.
      • Ranger — Another part of the Terran package.
      • Unit Specialist — his tech tree comes in two tiers, "Buttloads of zombies and zombie soldiers" and "Zombie machines that each have some sort of somewhat niche use to complement your buttloads upon buttloads of stronger zombies and zombie soldiers. Oh yeah, and SC1 queens too."
      • Siege tanks supplement your main buttloads by adding variable buttloads of broodlings depending on how many buttloads of tanks you brought. They can also load up their butts with your buttloads to heal a buttload of health, and launch buttloads of volatile infested while in siege mode to load the enemy buttloads' butts with butt payloads. note . If your butt is too loaded, they're basically a combo of siege tanks and swarm hosts that can consume infested infantry for use as healing purposes and their siege mode attack.
      • Diamondbacks are able to move while attacking, which allows them to constantly kite enemies. More importantly, however, is their ability to ground air units, allowing all of Stukov's units to attack it, sans liberators.
      • While they lose their defender mode, Liberators are the only unit besides infested marines that can hit air (read: Stukov has valkyries).
  • Action Bomb: The Volatile Infested that spawn as ammo for his Siege Tanks and from Infested Civilians with one of his masteries, essentially Infested equivalents of Banelings.
  • Bad Boss: He infests his own men to conscript them into service to the Swarm. Alternatively, if his men are already infested to begin with, he still sends them in mass-attacks with little regard for their own safety.
  • Balance Buff: His mech units saw a variety of buffs in Patch 3.10 to try and make them more appealing to use — in particular having the cost of Diamondbacks and Siege Tanks being reduced, the tanks getting the Deep Tunnel ability and the Diamondbacks a range increase — and one of his masteries being replaced by an attack speed buff for his Factory and Starport units.
  • Base on Wheels: Stukov's structures can uproot like Zerg Spine and Spore Crawlers, allowing him to move his production facilities closer to the front line to counter the timed life of his Infested units.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • The fact that his Command Centers passively generate creep without limit means that a Zerg ally no longer needs to worry about using Creep Tumors to expand creep.
    • Infested Marines in general, as they can be produced en masse at a cheap cost.
    • Infest Structure can repair friendly structures and disable enemy ones. This can really shine against Pylons powering up buildings like Photon Cannons.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: The Aleksander can take control of enemy air units it attacks.
  • Call-Back: The Aleksander was the UED flagship Battlecruiser in Brood War, whose fate was unknown after Gerard DuGalle shot himself in its quarters.
  • Composite Character: Due to his forces being comprised of infested Terrans, he has units that combine Terran and Zerg traits, such as infested Siege Tanks with Spine Crawler-esque tentacles in place of turrets and Bunkers that can transform into some form of Zerg abomination.
  • Cyborg: His Apocalisk evokes this trope, being an otherwise normal Ultralisk with a functional Thor husk attached on it, as well as a pair of flamethrowers mounted on its scythes.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Most other commanders sound distraught when a large swath of their army is taken out. Stukov hardly breaks a sweat when it happens to his. After all, he's got way more where that came from.
  • Expy:
    • Since they lack Defender Mode, Stukov's Liberators are essentially the UED's Valkyries in all but name.
    • Stukov's Diamondbacks are similar to Warcraft III's Crypt Fiends, as they are capable of bringing down air units to allow ground units to attack them.
  • Foil:
    • To Nova, the commander released immediately before him. Nova relies on a small pool of elite units with customized upgrades, and she can only build one of each production facility to balance out their power; Stukov relies on endless waves of infested terrans, and has to build multiple production facilities to generate them in larger numbers. If Nova is the extreme micro-intensive Terran, with her base management mechanics simplified so the player can focus on commanding her army in the field, then Stukov is the extreme macro-intensive Terran, focusing on building up and optimizing the layout of his base structures while his infested auto-attack without the need for direct supervision.
    • Also to Raynor. Like Raynor, Stukov relies on building up a massive army of infantry units from the basic Barracks, and usage of Barracks and Bunkers makes up a big part of his strategy. However, Raynor then relies on Medics and Stimpacks to improve his army's potency, while Stukov sends his infantry at enemies with no support because he can quickly replace them if they die. Additionally, Raynor can call down the Hyperion Battlecruiser which has a passive ability to boost the range of nearby troops; Stukov can call down the Aleksander infested Battlecruiser which has a passive ability to reduce the damage taken by nearby troops.
  • Fusion Dance: His "Apocalisk" is an Ultralisk with Thor armor melded onto it.
  • Gradual Grinder: invoked Word of God is that he's intended to be a more passive commander than others, unleashing waves and waves of endless infested troops on enemies to wear them down until he just overwhelms them.
  • Gunship Rescue: He can call down the Aleksander, the UED flagship, to attack.
  • Healing Shiv: His ability to infest ally structure is actually a helpful ability to said ally since it spawns broodlings for instant defense and in addition repairs them.
  • Interface Screw: An unintentional example - because Stukov has so many units out at the same time, he's somewhat notorious for being the leading cause of lag in Co-op Missions simply because the game engine has trouble keeping up with his army.
  • Magikarp Power: Stukov is widely considered one of the worst commanders at low levels, as it takes time for him to build up his infested waves before they pose an actual threat, and even when he does peak, his troops aren't very threatening. Once he levels up and unlocks more upgrades, he can start fielding much bigger waves backed by powerful calldowns. With access to his Masteries, he can even throw Volatile Infested into the mix, which are leagues more powerful than his regular infested infantry.
  • Mechanically Unusual Fighter: Being an infested terran means that Stukov brings a unique mix of Terran and Zerg racial mechanics to the game (although the game still classifies him as a Zerg commander). As his preview trailer says, "my forces are unorthodox... but effective."
    • Instead of Supply Depots, he mutates Overlords to provide supply, and while he has a Command Center with SCVs for his home base, said Command Center spreads creep like a Hatchery.
    • His Terran structures spit out eggs that mutate into the selected unit to build, like Zerg larvae sans the actual larvae.
    • Like the Terrans he can move his buildings around, but they uproot to move like Zerg defensive structures instead of lifting off.
    • His Infested Bunkers are particularly strange. They cost 4 Supply and 300 Minerals to build, because they construct with four Infested Marines already loaded in them. His Bunkers will automatically spawn an Infested Marine every 30 seconds, which will fill up any empty slots in the Bunker, or if the Bunker is full it'll pop out and follow Psi Emitter commands like a Marine from his Barracks. Finally, the Bunker structure is actually a unit itself; when uprooted to move around it reveals itself as a Zerg creature that has its own melee attack, while the Infested Marines inside it keep shooting.
    • His Banshees can Burrow; keep in mind Banshees are air units. The animation naturally depicts them landing and sinking into the ground.
    • In a more benign instance, his Command Center spreads creep with infinite range. Give him enough time and the entire map will be coated in a permanent layer of creep; contrast normal Zerg play with the need to use Creep Tumors to slowly expand the creep's reach.
    • Unlike most commanders, the majority of his units (infested infantry) at any time are commanded by a Psi Emitter instead of through selected (they can be directly selected though and given commands that way). Furthermore, these Infested infantry cannot be selected by the "select all military units" command.
    • His Overseers require the Starport to be constructed as a prequisite to making them. Other Zerg commanders can make them sooner. In addition, his Overlords cannot transport troops as his units without timed life are quite mobile on their own and does not require transportation.
  • Night of the Living Mooks: His key skill is his ability to create an endless supply of infested terrans to continually assault enemies.
  • Ramming Always Works: When the timer on the Aleksander expires, it doesn't warp out like the Hyperion does. Instead, it crashes into the ground, ejecting more infested infantry until it blows up.
  • We Have Reserves: The point of Stukov's infantry: they're cheap (free in the case of Infested Colonists) and numerous. A fully upgraded civilian compound will eventually generate 64 Infested Colonists every 60 seconds, his Infested Marines only take a few seconds to mutate, and his Infested Bunkers will passively generate Infested Troopers periodically. Capping all of this off is that his Infested Colonists don't cost supply, so at the end of most missions the 'unit produced' statistic will show Stukov having produced well over a thousand units. so the enemy will inevitably run out of troops before Stukov runs out of Infested. While he does have a second tier on his Tech Tree, the units it produces are largely supplementary to Stukov's army core: weak, cheap waves of infested terrans.
  • Zerg Rush: Stukov's "quantity over quality" playstyle stands out even among the other Zerg commanders. He produces endless waves of infested infantry for free with both Infested Bunkers and the Infested Colonist compound and his Infested Marines cost a pittance to field and can be deployed in huge numbers, his Infest Structure generates a flood of Broodlings, and he can even research an upgrade to make his infested troops drop more Broodlings when they die.

    Dehaka, Primal Pack Leader 
"We are a tide. The enemy is driftwood."

The leader of the Primal Zerg leads his pack into battle personally, commanding a hero unit that absorbs essence from slain enemies to grow stronger. As Dehaka collects essence, he levels up and players can choose how to power up his abilities to fit the mission at hand, eventually growing him into a One-Man Army Kaiju. For his army, he commands "Primal" Zerg that can fight each other to evolve into more powerful, specialized forms, such as Hydralisks that turn into Mutalisks. Dehaka also brings with him three more Primal Zerg pack leaders who can join the fight under his command after their respective dens have been summoned as buildings.

Provides examples of:

  • A Commander Is You:
    • Numbers: Elitist, for a Zerg. His Zerglings spawn solo and cost the same in Minerals and Supply as a Marine, and combine into Ravasaurs who collectively cost the same as a Zealot. To compensate they are much beefier than anyone else's. In general his units cost more to field but have more fighting and staying power.
    • Doctrine: Brute/Gimmick/Industrial. His units in general all have special abilities designed to directly damage enemies or passively augment their allies in battle. Some of his units can only be created by existing, separate units combining themselves into each other. He does not have to spawn Overlords and starts with 200 Supply naturally. Unlike most other Zerg commanders, he does not produce combat units at his Hive structure and instead spawns them at separate buildings, letting him build up his armies quickly. He also techs up through the use of separate buildings rather than relying on the Hive.
  • Anti-Armor: His Ravasaurs can be upgraded to deal +5 damage to armored-type enemies.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: As the strongest of the Primal Zerg, the other Primal pack leaders follow Dehaka's will.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: He starts roughly the same size he was last time but gets bigger as he levels up. After reaching level 6 as a unit, he emerges from a chrysalis an all-new zerg and continues growing to gigantic size until he towers over any other unit in the game.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Devour is the only ability in the game that can instantly kill Hybrid, which can be extremely powerful. However, its cooldown is dependent on the HP of the devoured unit, and since Hybrid universally have high HP, it'll likely be unusable for the next minute, and not having your main heal for that long makes Dehaka much more vulnerable.
  • Big Eater: Exaggerated. Dehaka can use Devour to instantly eat any enemy unit whole in one gulp, which can be quite a sight to behold. Eating Marines, Zerglings or Zealots is at least semi-plausible. But Siege Tanks? Ultralisks? Colossi? Never mind the implausibility of swallowing whole a Battlecruiser, Leviathan or Mothership.
  • Breath Weapon: Scorching Breath creates a wave of flame across an area of effect. When Dehaka consumes an air unit, his ranged attack comes as a beam of fire. His Primal Roaches can evolve into Primal Igniters, who have short range flame breath attacks.
  • Cannibalism Superpower: Fitting the Zerg's Adaptive Ability, Dehaka gains temporary bonuses from Devoured enemies based on their attributes.
  • Co-Dragons: The other Primal Zerg pack leaders to Dehaka.
  • Contractual Boss Immunity: Zigzagged. On one hand, Dehaka's Devour ability ignores the Heroic tag, allowing him to one-shot Hybrid (among other things); on the other hand, it doesn't work on mission objectives, for obvious reasons.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: Dehaka's production structures used to count as army units when uprooted for re-positioning, which occurs regularly as the frontline moves forward during offensive missions. Players who habitually select their entire army to do anything will be in for a rather nasty surprise when they move their units only for their Primal Wardens to slowly waddle across enemy territory as well and get perforated.
    • Patch 4.9 was released to address this issue, effectively averting the trope.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Dehaka can feed on Drones to speed up his regeneration if he's killed. With enough reserve Drones for him to munch on, he can reduce the timer to 0 and re-enter the fray immediately. And if he's killed again, he can go back to eating Drones.
  • Defog of War: Greater Primal Wurms can be summoned in areas where Dehaka has no vision, as long as it was previously explored. This makes them great for setting up a pack leader summon or Dehaka's Deep Tunnel.
  • Derivative Differentiation: Primal drones are still consumed when creating buildings. The difference is that their building animations consist of the drone faffing about on the ground for a time until the structure dramatically erupts from the ground, eating the drone as a light snack.
  • Discard and Draw: The various evolved forms his Primal Zerg evolve into have distinctly different abilities and stats from the base forms, making them entirely different units in practice.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Dehaka is not a picky eater. Devour lets him happily gobble up anything not nailed to the ground or is a mission objective, be that a small squishy zergling or a gigantic Mothership comprised of mostly metal and crystals.
  • Fashionable Asymmetry: Averted. While Dehaka begins like in the campaign — two claws, one on either side, missing — he regrows them as he evolves and takes on a more symmetrical form.
  • Fast Tunnelling: Dehaka gets the Deep Tunnel ability to quickly travel around the map. His Primal Wurms also get the ability, letting them be used offensively. Finally, Glevig has a version of the ability with no cooldown to offset his inability to move otherwise.
  • Fighter, Mage, Thief: The three pack leaders Dehaka can summon form this dynamic.
    • Glevig is the Thief, with high damage output and a zero-cooldown Deep Tunnel that lets him get around the map quickly, but also the lowest health out of the three.
    • Murvar is the Mage. She relies heavily on summoned minions to attack enemies and has a supportive ability that disables enemies' attacks and abilities.
    • Dakrun is the Fighter. He's built for sponging damage, with massive health, high armor, and abilities that let him charge into enemies and damage anything that attacks him.
  • Foil: To Abathur.
    • As Abathur's units absorb biomass from slain enemies to evolve, Dehaka absorbs essence from slain enemies to evolve.
    • Both of their armies can evolve into stronger forms. However, Abathur's units evolve by killing enemies; Dehaka's evolve by killing each other.
  • Healing Factor: Can be unlocked as a talent for Dehaka as his army levels up, although in a twist it regenerates the health of friendly biological units around him as well. It's the only way for Dehaka's army to heal his own units.
  • Hero Unit: Dehaka fights on the front lines, forming a key component of his army. Unlike other hero units, Dehaka can collect essence from slain enemies to become stronger over time. He also spawns in much faster than most heroes, deploying 1 minute into the mission compared to the standard 4 minutes.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: Justified because that's how Primal Zerg work.
    • Snacking on an enemy instantly restores some health to Dehaka regardless of their size.
    • When he dies, the player can feed him Drones to speed up his regeneration.
    • The flip side to this is that eating enemies will only restore a set portion of Dehaka's health regardless of unit size, therefore making a behemoth of a Leviathan only about as nutritiously effective as a lowly marinenote .
  • In a Single Bound: Dehaka can use Leap to quickly get the jump on enemies, moving to the target area and stunning and damaging nearby enemies.
  • Kill It with Fire: Igniters breathe fire as their weapon, and can be upgraded to do extra damage to lightly-armored foes.
  • King Mook: The Tyrannozor, even moreso than the Ultralisk, which makes it appropriate that they are created when Ultralisks enter Primal Combat. It has incredibly high ground DPS, its none-too-shabby air attacks negate the Ultralisk's Achilles' Heel of being vulnerable to air-to-ground assault and it can be upgraded to gain a smartcast AoE ability and grant +2 armour to friendly units around it.
  • Large and in Charge: A late-game Dehaka is bar none the single largest unit on the battlefield provided he's well-fed, and is often the tip of the spear when invading entrenched enemy positions, ''if'' he feels the need for an army, that is.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Invoked. To evolve, units must fight each other to the death.
  • Logical Weakness: As of the 3.19 update, Dehaka can now be targeted by anti-air attacks once he reaches level 10, severely weakening his ability to trample enemy bases, especially Zerg bases before the Co-op nerf to Spore Crawlers that removed their bonus damage against biological units.
    • Inverted with one of his talents, Deadly Reach, which lets him attack air units with his standard attack. Once he hits the required level, he's become big enough that him swatting air units out of the sky is a logical progression.
  • Kaiju: How big can he get? With an upgrade that requires him to be level 10, he gains the ability to melee air units.
  • Magikarp Power: At Level 1 Dehaka is slow, weak, and easily killed. As he consumes essence and grows he becomes the most powerful hero unit in Co-op, with devastating abilities, thousands of HP, and an attack power in the three-digit range.
  • Make Me Wanna Shout: Intimidating Roar slows the movement and attack rate of nearby enemies. At higher levels, it also disables energy-based abilities and reduces armor.
  • Mechanically Unusual Class: As befitting a representation of the Primal Zerg, several of Dehaka's mechanics are extremely unusual:
    • Unlike any other Hero Unit in Starcraft, Dehaka can level up, gaining new abilities and growing in size as he does so.
    • Dehaka's tech tree as a whole functions as a combination of Zerg and Protoss mechanics; his Primal Wardens generate units by storing charges like a Warp Gate or Stukov's structures, and evolving his pack leader dens unlocks stronger units for the Wardens to build while also providing the upgrades for them.
    • Dehaka's Primal structures can uproot to move and gain an attack while doing so, also counting as army units in this form. His Primal Hive is used to construct Extractors by entangling nearby gas geysers.
    • Dehaka's units evolve into more powerful ones by fighting each other.note 
    • Dehaka does not use Larvae; his Drones are spawned directly from Primal Hives and his combat units are produced by Primal Wardens.
    • Dehaka's structures neither produce nor require Creep.
    • Dehaka starts out with 200 supply baseline, and never needs to morph Overlords or build other supply structures; his structures (the Primal Hive, Warden, and Wurm) also cost supply.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: Dehaka originally had four arms, but in the campaign he lost one on either side in a battle. Here he can evolve to get them back, so having all four of his arms back is a sign of how evolved and dangerous he's become.
  • One-Man Army: He puts even the other hero commanders to shame; at Level 15 Dehaka deals 160 damage, has four armor, 1500+ HP (his HP will continue to increase as he keeps collecting essence, with no limit to how high it can go), a healing aura that boosts life regeneration for all nearby units including himself, detection, can attack air units, and his various abilities. Other heroes can solo enemy attack waves; Dehaka can solo enemy bases.
  • Power Copying: Devouring an enemy gives Dehaka temporary buffs depending on the type of enemy. Devouring an air unit gives him a ranged attack, Psionic units create an explosion and lower the cooldown of his abilities, Massive units cause damage to attacking enemies, and so on.
  • Rent-a-Zilla: At max level Dehaka is the biggest unit in Co-op, dwarfing Hybrid Behemoths, Brutalisks, Motherships...
    • A cheesy fanfare even plays when he reaches max level that wouldn't sound out of place in a 1950s Kaiju flick.
  • The Social Darwinist: Dehaka's units kill each other to gain the power to evolve into stronger forms.
  • Spiritual Successor: Dehaka himself more strongly resembles Warcraft III heroes than other Co-op ones, gaining essence (experience) from defeating enemies to level up in combat, which grants stat increases and new abilities.
  • Summon Bigger Fish: He can summon the three pack leaders he commands to fight alongside them. Each of them is in their own right a boss unit with several thousand HP and powerful attacks and abilities.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: The three Primal pack leaders he commands reuse the forms of the pack leaders in the Heart of the Swarm campaign, and are directly stated to have taken control of those packs they used to lead. Glevig replaces Yagdra, Dakrun replaces Kraith, and Murvar replaces Slivan.
  • Took a Level in Badass: The more enemies he kills and essence he devours, the bigger and stronger Dehaka becomes.
  • True Sight: One of Dehaka's passive upgrades is this, which alleviates the need for detectors and Primal Wurms.
  • You Don't Look Like You: Dehaka's in-game model uses his Heroes of the Storm form, and like in that game he regrows his severed arms as he grows stronger, but he retains his portrait from Heart of the Swarm. His army units meanwhile use a mix of Primal Zerg models and modified Swarm Zerg models, due in part because a few of his units were just Swarm Zerg breeds that the Primal Zerg copied.
  • You Will Not Evade Me: Whatever unit outside of his reach, Dehaka can just stick them with his Overly Long Tongue and reel them in for a quick snack.

    Egon Stetmann, Hero Genius (Henius) 
"The servants of Bel'Shir are invincible!"

After years of being stranded on Bel'Shir and driven a little bit kooky by terrazine exposure, former Raynor's Raiders boy genius Egon Stetmann joins the fight against Amon throughout the Koprulu sector. Stetmann sends out a swarm of Mecha-Zerg, robotic fascimilies of Zerg that have abilities adopted from Terran and Protoss technology. Fueling this bizarre mash-up of ideas is "Egonergy", a power source only Stetmann seems to know how to use. All of his Mecha-Zerg have some sort of passive ability they can use in combat, but doing so costs them Egonergy. Egonergy doesn't regenerate by itself, but that's okay, because Stetmann can deploy "stetellites" on the field, creating a power network he can use to restore Egonergy, heal wounded units, or boost their movement speed. With his best friend and favorite harvesting bot Gary to lead the Mecha-Swarm, Stetmann is ready to show the enemy what he's capable of — and between his questionable sanity and unquestionable genius, that could be almost anything.

Provides examples of:

  • All Your Powers Combined: A mecha-Zerg swarm built from Terran technology and empowered by Protoss power fields and such. Sure, why not?
  • A Commander Is You:
    • Numbers: Taking the crown previously held by Stukov, Egon Stetmann is the biggest Spammer in the game, period. Not only can he field an excruciatingly large amount of regular units at a time, his Mecha Infestors spawn a large amount of temporary miniature Mecha Roaches, plus miniature Mecha Ravagers with an upgrade at the Mecha Infestation Pit. With his Infestors alone casting the roach spawning ability, he can end up with over twice as many units as Stukov has. Incidentally, both characters tend to cause a lot of lag. Without Infestors, Stetmann is less of a Spammer than Stukov as his army is roughly equivalent to the one fielded by Kerrigan, but unlike Kerrigan, Stetmann can reconstruct destroyed units by gathering scrap.
    • Doctrine: Gimmick/Technical. His Stetzones, while having functions similar to zerg creep, isn’t actually zerg creep, nor does it provide power to structures like a real protoss power field. Almost all of his units have active abilities, very few of which are autocast; the sheer amount of active abilities in his army makes controlling said army surprisingly difficult even compared to other parts of the game.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Stetelites cannot be destroyed once fully set up, only temporarily disabled. Once they've repaired themselves, the fields will pop back up. They are still vulnerable when initially deployed, however.
    • By their nature, Stetelites are virtually immune to being destroyed by lava or spouts when deployed over them in The Vermillion Problem, or in sectors about to explode in Cradle of Death. However, as mentioned under Hell Is That Noise and Interface Screw, this feature could end up backfiring in particularly hectic maps.
  • Ascended Extra: From a background character in Wings of Liberty to Mission Control for a Co-op map, and now he gets to be a playable commander.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Battlecarrier Lords have the capabilities of Brood Lords, Battlecruisers, and Carriers put together... but also cost about as much as the three put together, require extensive research and tech to make them worth that cost, and are horrendously slow if you don't have FAST configuration going with a lot of Stetzone coverage. But once you make a handful, they can steamroll any ground composition.
  • Bad Boss: Stetmann would occasionally threaten to dismantle Mecha zerg units who don't pull their weight. It stops there, however.
  • Companion Cube: Gary, Stetmann's favorite harvesting bot — it's in-game rank is "Best Friend".
  • Composite Character: Several of his units combine a base zerg units with elements of another from the terran and protoss armies.
    • His Mecha Drones function largely like the usual type, except that they can repair friendly buildings and mechanical units, like terran SCVs.
    • His Mecha Zerglings have a barrier ability that reduces incoming damage to a flat rate, similar to an ability formerly used by protoss Immortals.
    • His Mecha Hydralisks have an upgrade that translates to extra long-range Anti-Air missiles that do extra damage to airborne Armored-type enemies, much like the terran Goliath.
    • His Mecha Battlecarrier Lords are Brood Lords that can deploy interceptors and fire their own version of the Yamato cannon.
  • Cooldown Manipulation: So, so much of Stetmann's kit revolves around breaking the limits of allied units' attack and cast rate. For instance:
    • FAST Overload allows affected units to attack 25% faster.
    • UMI-C Charging Protocol for the Mecha Infestor allows the target unit to rapidly charge up energy as well as have 20% reduced ability cooldowns.
    • JUICE Config and JUICE Overload provide dramatically increased energy regeneration, especially when combined. Combine these with the UMI-C mentioned above and you can have a single unit generating energy as fast as Kerrigan or Nova.
  • Death Is Cheap: Mecha Swarm units will drop remnants upon death, allowing them to be instantly rebuilt at their base structure once enough has been collected. Morphed units drop double their base unit's remnant, and zerglings and banelings drop double the remnant compared to other units. Ergo, banelings instantly reincarnate as zerglings upon death.
  • Developers' Foresight: If you take him into "Mist Opportunities", where Egon is your Mission Control, he still is, but his transmissions are now framed as him talking to Bel'Shir, Gary, or just himself. Gary instead serves as the player character.
  • Dig Attack:
    • His Mecha Lurkers can quickly tunnel to a new location and deal damage to any ground unit within their travel paths. This also burrows them automatically, letting them start attacking as soon as they reach their destination.
    • Mecha Ultralisks can perform a burrow charge ability like Kerrigan's ultralisks, with the added bonus of being able to stun mechanical ground units when they emerge, courtesy of an upgrade.
  • Disc-One Nuke:
    • Mecha Zerglings and Banelings. Not only are they dirt-cheap and easy to mass, both are also incredibly strong when amplified with enough Egonergy that they could tear apart anything on land in large enough amounts. Since both are Cannon Fodder, they also drop plenty of scrap to rebuild them with, so reinforcing a strongpoint is rather simple. And to sweeten the deal, a level 13 talent lets them drop double their usual scrap amount. Their only weaknesses are hard-crowd control and air, which can be remedied by bringing Gary and some Mecha Hydralisks with them, along with switching your Stetfield to HUGS.
    • Mecha Hydralisks. They are available to him from the get-go, and possess two very powerful upgrades at the Den even at commander level 1. A sizable mob of them backed up by Gary and fitted with those upgrades could make very short work of nearly anything, even the normally-dreaded Terran air composition. Really, the only things you'll need in a normal Brutal game are upgraded Mecha Hydralisks, Gary, and maybe some Mecha Battlecarrier Lords to provide fire support against Hybrids.
  • Foil:
    • Is one to Han and Horner, with how slain units drop scraps that can be collected to construct new ones. Unlike H&H however, units rebuilt from scraps are free and are spawned immediately from their respective structures.
    • Is one to Stukov, with how they present themselves as Zerg commanders; while Stukov has gameplay similarities to Terrans and is, in fact, an Infested Terran himself, Stetmann is a regular Terran using robotic Zerg units and buildings, which are made up of a hybrid of Terran and Protoss technology. They can also both make use of Zerg Rush tactics; Stukov with masses of disposable Infested Marines or Infested Troopers, and Stetmann with large amounts of nearly anything in his arsenal, but commonly Mecha Roaches and Mecha Ravagers spawned by Mecha Infestors.
    • Is also one to Kerrigan. Kerrigan is a powerful solo combatant on her own merits, even at the higher difficulties, but can be made far more effective when she has an army backing her up, and she is a ground unit. Gary, on the other hand, is actually pretty weak on his own and absolutely needs an army behind him to be effective. He's also an air unit, making him very weak to enemy anti-air compositions and static defense. They also have a nearly-identical arsenal, the only difference being Corrupters vs Mutalisks.
  • Fun with Acronyms: His three top bar powers are Fun Accelerator for Speedy Transportation (FAST), Health Uptick Generating System (HUGS), and Just-in-time Uninterruptable Input for Charging Egonergy (JUICE).
  • Healing Shiv: Mecha Infestors can be upgraded with UMI-C Charging Protocol, Stetmann's take on the Neural Parasite. This provides the target allied unit with instant health and energy, as well as charging even 'more' health and energy over time, and provides faster ability cooldowns for its duration.
  • Hell Is That Noise: His Stetelites emit a global audio cue when disabled, that sounds like a high-pitched chirping noise. The thing is, every Stetelite under threat will make this sound, so if many are being attacked at once, which is a likely occurrence considering the need to spread them out, their alarms will create a cacophony of chirps and beeps that gets old really fast, especially when you're dealing with some more urgent threats elsewhere. Thankfully, patch 4.9.1 lowered the volume of this alert sound, but it could still be irritating to hear at times.
  • Hero Unit: Stetmann himself doesn't make a field appearance. Instead, his favourite terrazine harvesting bot will assume this role
  • Humongous Mecha: The Mecha Ultralisk and Battlecarrier Lord, natch.
  • Hurricane of Puns: The names of so many of his units and talents are puns.
  • Identical Stranger: His entire Mecha Swarm is this to Project Simulant. Despite their similar concepts and practically identical unit skin sets, they are part of two entirely separate projects.
  • Interface Screw: His Stetelites cause insane levels of lag when deployed in large numbers. Made worse when playing on maps with huge numbers of units on the screen at once like Dead of Night and Miner Evacuation. Paired with a Stukov partner, this could lead to unplayable levels of stuttering at times. And that's even without the mini Roach and Ravagers spawned by his Mecha Infestors.
  • The Last of These Is Not Like the Others: It's very awkward to slot him into a specific category. On one hand, the man himself is obviously Terran, but the units he control are (mechanical) Zerg, some of which have Protoss upgrades like Hardened Shields on top of regenerating health. The game treats him as Zerg, though.
  • Made of Iron: While at first his army seems relatively fragile, combinations of certain abilities and upgrades are capable of making even Zerglings nigh-unkillable.
    • Mecha Zerglings might seem weak on paper, but the Hardened Egonergy Shield upgrade lets them shrug off hits that would instantly kill a normal Zergling. And this is before they regenerate their health thanks to the HUGS Stetzone.
    • Mecha Ultralisks make for prime targets of HUGS overload, granting them a constantly-replenishing shield, in addition to their health drain and a flat 25% damage reduction when upgraded.
    • Mecha Battlecarrier Lords, being siege units, are capable of sitting outside the range of enemy weapons while their minions take all the damage (and deal it). In addition, they share their bulk with the Terran battlecruiser, meaning it takes 2 Yamato cannons (3 if they're shielded via HUGS Overload) to put them down.
  • Magikarp Power:
    • On their own, Stetmann's units aren't anything remarkable, even more so when they're out of Egonergy to use their abilities. When complemented with full Stetelite coverage, unique upgrades, plentiful Egonergy to spend, and support from Gary, however, they make for an extremely durable and powerful mechanical tide, capable of flattening most bases with relatively few losses.
    • Gary in his default form is rather squishy and deals unremarkable damage. Once transformed into Super Gary, however, he became much more powerful, and can even generate a temporary Stetzone around himself while on the field.
    • The commander himself plays like this. Stetmann is rather weak during the early-to-mid-game and around the early levels, where his options are limited and the necessary talents haven't been made available yet, and so he relies quite heavily on his allies to cover his weaknesses while ramping up. Once his Mecha Swarm has hit critical mass with all the vital upgrades and full Stetelite coverage, however, he can steamroll over almost anything with ease.
  • Mecha-Mooks: The Mecha Swarm is made up entirely of robotic Zerg units.
  • Mechanically Unusual Fighter:
    • Stetmann's mechanical zerg doesn't spread nor benefit from creep, but a form of power field called Stetzones. Stetzones are spread using Stetelites similarly to Creep tumors, and aren't required to build anything other than more Stetelites, since Stetmann can plop down his structures anywhere. Rather, Gary and other mecha zerg units within the fields have access to combat buffs, and Gary can teleport units within range to himself to a Stetelite like Vorazun's Dark Pylons. They also act as conduits for Stetmann's top bar powers, so full map coverage is encouraged.
    • He is also the only Zerg commander who has to repair his structures to keep them up. Stetmann's buildings don't regenerate health like other zerg, and will rapidly burn down when at 25% or less HP (like Terran strutures in fact).
    • On the same note, unlike any zerg unit, none of his units regenerate health naturally. But this is a very minor issue as his Stetzones can bring them back to full health faster than the natural Zerg regeneration or he could use his Drones to repair them.
  • Mighty Glacier: Mecha Battlecarrier Lords are the epitome of this amongst Stetmann's army. They're his slowest unit even in a maxed-out FAST field, but are capable of unloading massive amounts of damage with the combination of thrown broodlings, locustceptors, and up to six Stetmato Cannons (with mastery) one after the other per unit.
  • Mission Control: Stetmann pulls double duty if playing on Mist Opportunities. Justified because he's crazy.
  • Mook Maker: His Mecha Infestors can spew out Mecha Roach eggs (don't ask how it works), which will then hatch and attack nearby enemies.
  • Promoted to Playable: Gary went from being a minor harvesting bot to a Hero Unit.
  • Stance System: Stetmann's top bar "powers" are actually three different settings for his Egonergy field: FAST greatly increases friendly units' movement speed, HUGS slowly heals them, and JUICES refills their energy.
  • Token Human: Technically, Stetmann is Terran, though the game considers him Zerg for the purposes of commander faction affiliation. This makes him the only "human" Zerg commander, Kerrigan and Infested Stukov notwithstanding, as they are more Zerg than Terran at this point.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Gary, going from a near-defenseless harvesting bot to a potent mobile support unit.
  • True Sight: Gary gains this upon upgrading to Super Gary.
  • Underground Monkey: All of his Zerg units are more powerful versions of existing Zerg units seen in the multiplayer. Even the Mecha Battlecarrier Lord still fights like a Brood Lord, though with upgrades it also makes use of Interceptors like a Carrier, and a Yamato Cannon like a Battlecruiser.

Protoss Commanders

    Artanis, Hierarch of the Daelaam 
"None can resist the might of the Templar."

Artanis utilizes the power of the Templar to crush enemies in a torrent of powerful Protoss forces. Artanis' army is not very micro-intensive, but has high stats and power, encouraging a deathball playstyle where he just hits critical mass and flattens anything in his way. He can use the Protoss' warp capabilities to their fullest, able to upgrade all his structures to warp in units anywhere with pylon power, and storing multiple warp charges for them, thus even a small number of structures can quickly yield a fair-sized army. To aid in this, Artanis can create a power field anywhere on the battlefield, and use it to constantly reinforce his army on the offensive. And to keep them fighting, he has Shield Overcharge to grant them a damage-absorbing barrier, and Guardian Shell to temporarily shield critical health units. With his frontline reinforcements and resilient army, few enemies can stand against the Templar.

Provides examples of:

  • A Commander Is You:
    • His numbers are a mix between spammer and elitist, though he heavily favors elitist.
      • Artanis' core damage comes from reavers or tempests, both of which cost 300 minerals, 200 gas (a small fortune in co-op without Swann), and 6 supply per unit. Robotics-based compositions also rely on immortals, another costly unit, to soak up damage. The other primary composition uses high templar instead, which cost 150 gas apiece (and also appreciate immortals for protection). All three of these cores are found at the apex of the tech tree, requiring a specific building to be available (fleet beacon for tempests, robotics bay for reavers, and templar archives for high templar).
      • However, Artanis' core units are often complemented by cheaper gateway units (excluding immortals). Zealots are almost always used due to being an effective mineral dump, and most ground compositions use dragoons to deal with enemy air. Additionally, his power field calldown—along with all his production structures acting like warp gates—lets him instantly reinforce any position where he's got vision.
    • Doctrinaly, he's mostly a brute who excels in simply plowing through any opponents, thanks to the sheer longevity provided by guardian shell and the fact that the few units that do fall can be replaced instantaneously. He also has shades of unit specialist; except for reavers and high templar, his units generally don't overlap (immortals provide anti-armor power and soak up hits, dragoons are cheap anti-air support, HTs and reavers deal ludicrous splash damage, etc.), so Artanis benefits from using multiple units to complement each other. Or just massing tempests.
  • Ascended Meme: The mass warp-in of Zealots at the end of the Legacy of the Void opening cinematic prompted jokes about it being a "200-gate proxy all-in" or Artanis being low on Vespene gas. This is a legitimate strategy in Co-op: Artanis gets 200 supply right off the bat, instant warp-ins for all units, a power field that can be deployed anywhere, and a mastery option that gives his units a temporary Status Buff when they first warp in, so Artanis can get away with constructing a lot of production structures and warping in a massive army on the enemy's doorstep, a lot of which will likely be Zealots given the abundance of minerals and shortage of gas in Co-op Missions.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • His power field ability is a literal proxy pylon that lets you warp in units (first Gateway ones, then units from the Stargate and Robotics Facility) onto any visible area of the map. This makes it easy to warp in reinforcements to the front lines rather than having to wait for them to trek all the way from your production buildings. It can also serve to power up structures without the use of a Pylon.
    • His Level 15 talent makes him start with 200 supply. Nothing fancy, but it saves a couple thousand minerals in pylons you don't have to build and generally lets you focus on climbing the tech tree and pumping out units quickly.
  • Construct Additional Pylons: Averted upon reaching level 15.
  • Death from Above: Two of his abilities call in orbital bombardments from the Spear of Adun.
  • Force and Finesse: The brute and straightforward Force to Vorazun's subvertive and stealthy Finesse. With the exception of the High Templar and the High Archon, Artanis basically builds a lot of offensive units, upgrades them, and attack-moves them into enemies crushing all resistance. Additionally, his Plasma Shield upgrade and the fact that Psionic Storm in Co-op is friendly-fire proof means that even when using High Templar and High Archons as part of his deathball, they can cast Psi-storm with impunity.
  • Jack-of-All-Stats: Overall, Artanis comes across as this. His mass warp-ins and lack of supply limit let him max out quickly, but he doesn't spam as quickly as Raynor or Zagara due to his lack of economy boosts and his maxed army doesn't have the late-game power of, say, Swann or Abathur. His Zealots and Dragoons give him a solid early-game, but not at the same level as hero commanders like Kerrigan. Even his calldowns reflect this, as he can use them to either protect allies or demolish enemies from above, but they're not quite as potent as the calldowns fielded by the likes of Nova, Karax, or Dehaka.
  • Magic Knight: His Archons can be upgraded to regain their High Templar abilities in addition to their powerful attacks.
  • Nostalgia Level: Save for the Phoenix, Immortal, and Tempest, all of his units are from the original Starcraft: Zealots, Dragoons, High Templar, Archons, and Reavers.
  • Sequence Breaking: His level 15 talent, Glory of the Daelamm, sets his starting supply to 200, removing the need for him to make Pylons to provide supply. In tandem with his Power Field calldown to create a power field anywhere he likes, Artanis can skip Pylons in his tech tree to build a Gateway or Forge right away, before coming back to build one so he can put his power field elsewhere. Artanis can potentially forgo Pylons completely if partnered with a Protoss ally, since they share power fields.
  • We Have Reserves: Not in-universe, but it sometimes feels like this. Thanks to his power field ability and warp production structures, he can literally reinforce and replace units instantaneously. As in, the game explicitly says "Warp your army instantly into battle.""
  • Why Won't You Die?: Guardian Shell shields allied units for 5 seconds when they take a fatal hit, keeping them alive a bit longer. A mastery further grants them brief HP regeneration for the shield's duration. Coupled with Shield Overcharge to give allied units a 200-point shield, and Artanis and his teammate's units are surprisingly hard to kill even as they hang on with single-digit HP.

    Vorazun, Matriarch of the Nerazim 
"As one, we are unstoppable."

Vorazun brings the stealth and subversive tactics of the Nerazim to the forefront. Vorazun's army lacks in the pure power of some other commanders, but she makes up for it with an array of debilitative moves, with Centurions that can stun enemies, Oracles that can set statis wards to freeze them, and Corsairs that can deploy Disruption Webs to halt attacks. The pinnacle of this is the Dark Archon, which can confuse enemies and even take control of their minds to fight for Vorazun. Vorazun has many talents and upgrades to grant benefits to cloaked units, which she can make great use of since almost all of her army units can cloak in some way, and she can summon Dark Pylons that cast a cloaking field over all allied units and structures in their radius, and can Recall armies out of harm's way or to defend the base from an unexpected attack. Striking from the shadows to disable and destroy in the blink of an eye, the enemy has as much chance of evading Vorazun's wrath as they could their own shadow.

Provides examples of:

  • Achilles' Heel: As you'd expect from a stealth-based army, and yet with more than a little irony, detection is one of Vorazun's biggest weaknesses. Enemy detectors can negate the stealth attack advantage her units enjoy, and since most mobile detectors are airborne only one of her ground units, the stalker, is equipped to deal with them properly. Meanwhile, although she does have photon cannons for defence, her lack of a Robotics Facility means she cannot deploy Observers to spot cloaked or burrowed units. Her only option for a mobile detector is the Oracle, which is a semi-late game unit deployed from the Starport. It is very fragile and, due to its high speeds, has a tendency to zoom ahead of everyone else in an army and get blasted to bits unless micromanaged appropriately. If the enemy has infiltrated units that are making life hell for her units and Vorazun doesn't have an Oracle ready, she's in a real bad place.
  • A Commander Is You:
    • Vorazun is a Balanced commander adhering very much to the Guerilla doctrine. Stealth is the bread and butter of her Glass Cannon army, who for their cost can't last as long in a melee and don't have the advantage of overwhelming numbers on their side.
  • All Your Powers Combined: Her Dark Templar combine powers of all their variants from the campaign; they have the Shadow Fury ability, the Void Stasis of the Blood Hunter, the Blink ability of Zeratul, and one of her talents gives all friendly cloaked or burrowed units (the Dark Templar being permanently cloaked) the Emergency Recall ability of the Avenger, though recalled units don't regain full health and shields unlike in the campaign.
  • Balance Buff: Her Dark Templar has more shields than the average, all the abilities of their variants from the campaign, a passive 15% boost to damage courtesy of a Talent and cost 50 less vespene to warp in. This makes them much more effective in combat and much more economical to use.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • She can use the Spear of Adun to remotely harvest vespene from Assimilators, both eliminating the need for probes to do the job and allowing remote geysers to be harvested quickly without the need for a nearby Nexus.
    • The Black Hole ability can force an army into a tiny spot, making it a prime target for a single strike (such as a Spear of Adun attack, or a Nuke). Vorazun herself lacks any significant area attacks to make use of this; her ally, on the other hand...
  • Brought Down to Badass: When Legacy of the Void was first released, Vorazun was the best commander and by far the best one due to her overpowered army. Numerous patches have since nerfed her in various ways; she's still a very effective commander and still considered one of the best.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Her abilities overall focus on disabling enemies and striking using cloaked units.
  • Force and Finesse: The subversive and stealthy Finesse to Artanis's brute and straightforward Force. While her units are perfectly capable in a fight, she has several casters that let her disable enemies, and cloaked units to attack the enemy's vulnerable points.
  • Forgot About His Powers: Unlike in the campaign, Vorazun's Dark Templars cannot be merged together to create Archons. Or Dark Archons, for that matter, who exist as a separate unit choice deployed from the Gateway.
  • Glass Cannon: Vorazun's army has alarmingly high damage output, but none of her units can take a hit. Of course, if played well, the enemy won't get a chance to hit back.
  • Heel–Face Brainwashing: Enemy units hit with her Dark Archons' Mind Control are permanently transferred to her control. Unlike other commanders with similar abilities, enemy units mind controlled by Dark Archons do not expire after a certain amount of time, though they will also take up their own weight in supply which she has to compensate for with her own pylons.
  • Heroic Second Wind: Once the appropriate Talents have been unlocked, dropping a Dark Pylon on the battlefield will boost the damage of all friendly units in the area of effect by 15%, and grants them the Emergency Recall ability.
  • Invisibility Cloak: Her Dark Pylons cloak nearby units and structures, she has Dark Templar, and she can upgrade her Corsairs and Oracles with permanent cloaking. Her Stalkers can also be upgraded to briefly cloak themselves upon Blinking.
  • Mass Teleportation: Her Dark Pylons can use Recall to warp masses of allied units to their location.
  • Mechanically Unusual Fighter:
    • She can't build the Robotics Facility or any of its units. In lieu of Observers, her Oracles act as her detectors.
  • Mind Rape: She has the Dark Archon, which use Confuse and Mind Control to disable enemies via mental manipulation.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: Aside from the numerous other nerfs she got hit with over time, Patch 3.6 added rocks over the vespene geysers of expansions that must be destroyed to build mining facilities. Players quickly noted that this doesn't affect most commanders, since those expansions already had rocks blocking the construction of town halls and that coupled with the build time for them meant that the geyser rocks doesn't really affect the time it takes to expand. Vorazun is the exception to that, as she could build her automated assimilators over them to mine from afar and now could no longer do so. invoked Word of God is this change was to hit Vorazun and Swann (who could build unmanned Refineries and set harvesting drones on them), but it affected her far more than him.
  • Teleport Spam: Combined with Flash Step and Blade Spam. Her Dark Templars (and Shadow Guards) inherit their campaign counterparts' Shadow Fury ability, which lets them zip rapidly around an area of engagement and deal heavy damage to mobs of enemies.
  • Time Stands Still:
    • Her ultimate ability is Time Stop, which freezes the entire map in time for 20 seconds. That's not an exaggeration - it even pauses objective timers and delays enemy attack waves.
    • Her Oracles also have the ability to place cloaked stasis wards on the ground which, upon detonation, will trap nearby enemy units in stasis for 30 seconds. When upgraded, units can continue to attack enemies affected by stasis.
  • Useless Useful Stealth: Subverted. While enemies on higher difficulties will frequently bring along Detectors, Vorazun has Talents which boosts the damage of all cloaked friendly units by 15%, grants them the Emergency Recall ability, and increases the recharge rate of their shields by 400%. In a fierce battle, the strategic dropping of a Dark Pylon on the right units can turn the tide, as seen in the Heroic Second Wind entry above.
  • Weapon of Choice: Though not as prominent as Zagara's Banelings, Vorazun is known for commanding the Dark Templar in the story, and her talents and their effectiveness means she's usually going to be warping in lots of them with support from air units as needed.

    Karax, Khalai Phase-smith 
"That is the power of a phase-smith properly applied."

The Khalai phase-smith embodies the mechanical brilliance of the Khalai Caste and fights with an arsenal of Purifier units and robotic supporters, and can upgrade the Spear of Adun to use its powers more often. While his army is incredibly expensive and slow to deploy, Karax possesses some of the strongest defensive capabilities of any commander, devastating enemy attack waves with powerful Khaydarin Monoliths and Shield Batteries to supplement his Photon Cannons. Karax can also use the Spear of Adun's Reconstruction Beam and his Carriers' Repair Drones to fix up mechanical units and deploy a Chrono Wave to greatly increase the efficiency of allied structures, making him a valuable supporter in any mission.

Provides examples of:

  • A Commander Is You: Karax's ridiculously strong defensive line with instant-warp Photon Cannons and Khaydarin Monoliths alongside the Spear of Adun, along with the very long time it takes for his army to come online, make him the biggest Turtle in the game. He also has elements of Industrial (once again, instant warp-ins on turrets, which can be combined with Orbital Strike for ridiculously fast expansions) and Research (can upgrade much faster with Chrono Wave, has a ton more upgrade options than most commanders in general).
  • Ascended Meme:
    • A probe in the opening cinematic of Legacy has led to the meme "Probe OP". Karax's Probes are actual Game Breakers due to the factor listed under Ridiculously Fast Construction below. A single probe can literally set up a functional defence (or offense) post, complete with shield recharging and siege capabilities in less than 10 seconds.
    • The strategy also is a close resemblance of the cheese strategy of Cannon rushing, which entails getting a Forge as quickly as possible to seal the enemy in their own base with Photon Cannons. Naturally, Karax's instant-warp Cannons make this a legitimate tactic most of the time.
  • Back from the Dead: His Sentinels can be upgraded with the Reconstruction ability from the campaign, allowing them to revive themselves upon death once every two minutes.
  • Beam Spam: He has the same Orbital Strike as Artanis, but his only costs five energy a blast and there's no limit to how many he can call down, allowing a Karax player with a good energy reserve to rapidly bombard an area with continuous fire. To facilitate the spam, Karax can research upgrades to increase the rate at which he gains energy.
  • Benevolent A.I.: He specializes in Purifier units from the campaign, robots that fight alongside the Protoss against Amon.
  • Boring, but Practical: The way he uses Orbital Strike; he doesn't need to be committed to using five shots each time he needs to use it, making it far more economic than Artanis' version.
  • Death from Above: Three of his commander abilities call down orbital attacks from the Spear of Adun.
  • Elite Army: His units all have their costs increased by 50% to make up for the fact they have powerful support abilities. Additionally, his best units are the Immortal, Colossus, and Carrier, which all have high supply costs, so his army isn't going to be as large as other commanders. One of his masteries can offset the cost penalty; at max points his costs are just a fraction higher than the standard rates.
  • Foil:
    • To Swann; they both have a tech tree made up of mechanical units, have a unique building to upgrade their calldown skills and help out on the offense from afar, have economy-boosting abilities, and use static defensive structures prominently. The difference is that Swann leans more to building and upgrading a powerful army and vespene harvesting, while Karax focuses more on his calldowns and defenses and accelerates production with Chrono boosts.
    • To Fenix; they both primarily use Purifier units which have a high cost in making them. However, Karax plays it safe with a Stone Wall doctrine with instant-warp Pylons and Cannons alongside the Reconstruction Beam. Fenix, on the other hand, has no means of healing his forces, forcing him to charge in with bulky units.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Upgrading the Spear of Adun for him at the Solar Forge has no affect on an allied Artanis or Vorazun, despite the fact they're all using the Spear of Adun for their calldown abilities (and in the case of Artanis, he and Karax have the same calldown).
  • Healing Factor: He has the Spear of Adun's Reconstruction Beam to slowly repair his (or his ally's) mechanical forces.
  • Heel–Face Brainwashing: His Energizers can take control of enemy robotic units, but causes them to blow up once the duration timer runs out.
  • Kill It with Fire: Has the Colossus and the Spear of Adun's Solar Lance to scorch enemies with beams of fire. He can upgrade both of them to set the ground on fire in their wake, dealing more damage to enemies that pass by the site.
  • Mighty Glacier: Aside from the Sentinel, all of Karax's units are a bit on the slow side, but are very powerful and have high stats. Also comes into play with Karax himself; his high unit building costs and the many upgrades he needs to make them viable, along with the upgrades he needs to optimize his calldowns and turrets, mean he takes a while to get momentum going, but once he does he's quite powerful.
  • Ridiculously Fast Construction: Another specialty of his. Once he has reached the appropriate level, Karax can warp in Pylons, Shield Batteries and his defence buildings instantly.
  • Robot Master: All of his units are mechanical constructs run by AI programs, with the exception of the Immortal and Carrier that have biological pilots.
  • Sentry Gun: He gets Photon Cannons along with the Khaydarin Monolith and Shield Battery from the campaign. He can further upgrade the former two for greater range and attack speed, and the latter with a barrier ability that lets it shield structures from damage. This gives Karax far and away the best defensive line of any Protoss commander, or any commander in the game, period.
  • Support Party Member: Karax as a whole is designed to be this.
    • His high unit building costs and high tech units mean that while he can field a powerful army if required, it takes a lot of time and resources to get them together and struggles to rebuild if they're lost. He's more useful for his Chrono Boost-type abilities that boost production times for the whole team, and using his calldown abilities to support his ally on the offensive without actually being on the front lines with them.
    • His basic Gateway units are the Sentinel, a mechanical Zealot variant that can rebuild itself when destroyed, and the Energizer, which can cast Chrono Beam on an ally to give it an attack and speed boost equivalent to the Marine's Stimpack. In a battle with an ally's units also present, Karax's Sentinels are durable meatshields to defend the rest of the army, while his Energizers rapidly buff the group to improve their combat efficiency.
    • He's the only Protoss commander with Shield Batteries and the ability to repair mechanical units on his own; pairing him with other Protoss commanders will give them the chance to recharge the shields of their units while in combat and allow on-the-move repairs for mechanical units. Pairing up with a Terran commander means that they don't have to worry about structure fires and repairing defensive lines outside of combat.
    • His ability to warp in his turrets and shield batteries instantly allows him to create a functional defense or offense post in seconds with a single probe. Provided the ally can distract the enemy for a second, Karax can rapidly create a line of turrets to help them out.
  • Time Master: He has several variants of the Chrono Boost ability that lets him speed up production time for himself and allies, and his Energizers can use Chrono Beam to boost the movement and attack speeds of allied units.
  • The Turret Master: Not only does Karax get Khaydarin Monoliths and Shield Batteries to complement his Photon Cannons, but he also gets an array of upgrades for them and can warp them in instantly. It's not uncommon for Karax players to go an entire mission without training a single combat unit, instead relying entirely on turrets and the Spear of Adun.
  • Wave Motion Gun: One of his talents allows him to fire a Purifier Beam from the Spear of Adun. A second talent increases the beam's speed and damage.

    Alarak, Highlord of the Tal'darim 
"I don't see why they needed two of us. I could have done this alone."
The Highlord of the Tal'darim, Alarak takes the field himself to slaughter enemies personally. He absorbs the life force of his victims to rejuvinate his health and shields, and if the battle is too pitched, he'll resort to doing the same to his own allied units to keep himself alive. Alarak's Supplicants eagerly give their lives for his glory, and not just for him — Alarak's Ascendants are powerful psionic spellcasters that can consume the life of a Supplicant to restore their energy. Rounding out Alarak's forces are his robotic arsenal, the Slayer, the Vanguard, and the Wrathwalker, and he can also summon the Death Fleet to scour the enemy with a fleet of Destroyer Void Rays led by a Mothership. Alarak will be the first into battle and the last to leave, and his armies will support him to the death, theirs or the enemy's, by the will of the Highlord.

Provides examples of:

  • A Commander Is You:
    • One of the more Technical commanders in Co-op. Proper ability use is vital to getting the most of Alarak and his Ascendants, while his robotic units' slow attack rates mean a lot of careful target-firing.
    • In terms of numbers, he's a weird cross between Spammer and Elitist. While he warps in lots and lots of Supplicants over the course of the game, they're meant as death fodder to fuel Alarak and his Ascendants, and he relies on a relatively small force of powerful units to actually kill things.
  • Badass Boast: "I am as strong as any army!", "Witness the might of the Death Fleet!", and plenty more.
  • Bad Boss:
    • One of his passive abilities absorbs health from nearby allied units to heal Alarak when he gets at low HP, even to the point of killing them if he must. Quote Blizzard: "His passive, Soul Absorption... allows him to steal the souls of his allies whenever he is near death — with no cooldown. Alarak WILL be the last one standing!"
    • One of his reaction quotes to taking heavy losses in his army is to snark that "[his] weakest warriors have been culled"; his tone makes it clear he isn't too broken up over their deaths.
  • Balance Buff: In the campaign, Alarak was unable to attack air units. His hero unit here is given an air attack to keep him from being helpless against air power.
  • Boring, but Practical: His Structure Overcharge isn't anything flashy, but it's very effective at clearing out expansion rocks or defending against unexpected attacks, especially since Alarak isn't good at repositioning his army in a hurry.
  • Cannon Fodder: His Supplicants, who aren't much in a fight themselves and basically exist to power up Alarak and his Ascendants, who have abilities that rely on having Supplicants nearby to support them. Supplicants themselves in turn are cheap and expendable since supporting Alarak and his Ascendants is their primary purpose; the AI is even coded to sacrifice them first if Alarak needs to restore his health. They also qualify in the traditional sense: with the offensive capabilities of a wet noodle but a decent amount of shields and an almost obscene amount of armor when fully upgraded, they make fantastic damage sponges for Alarak's actual attacking units.
  • Continuity Snarl: Kind of. While co-op runs with Loose Canon in mind, it would be quite hard to believe Alarak would be on Shakuras defending the xel'naga temple. Despite first appearing in Forbidden Weapon, Alarak's official debut and Heel–Face Turn took place during Artanis' exploration of Ulnar, which happened way after Shakuras went kaboom in Last Stand. Although possibily similar to how Tychus and Zeratul of all people survived to join the co-op roster, Shakuras itself might not have been blown up in this continuity, thus justifying Alarak's defense of it.
  • Cooldown Manipulation: Alarak's final talent, Wrath of the Highlord, resets both of his basic abilities' cooldowns when a Supplicant is sacrificed near him. Note that Alarak doesn't have to do the sacrificing - the Ascendant's Sacrifice ability also triggers the talent. By cycling through Alarak's abilities and Sacrifice on his Ascendants, Alarak can dish out spell damage at an alarming rate, especially with Empower Me active.
  • Crutch Character: Slayers. They serve as Alarak's primary anti-air unit at early levels, but when he unlocks the more powerful Ascendants, he'll be using his resources and Warp Gates for those instead.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Especially prominent since Alarak gets the Tal'darim skins for all his buildings and units and his style of gameplay would fit an Evil Overlord well, but Alarak is still on the same side as the other commanders and fighting to stop Amon.
  • Death from Above: He can bring in the Death Fleet as a calldown, summoning a Mothership and several Destroyers to attack.
  • Developers' Foresight: Taking him into "Chain of Ascension" prompts different dialogue from Ji'nara, since she's his second-in-command.
  • Easter Egg: Clicking the red jewel where other Protoss commanders would have their Solarite count prompts amusing quotes from Alarak.
  • Foil: To Artanis, fitting given their interaction in the campaign. Both Artanis and Alarak can summon massive armies quickly through warp-in (Artanis via his instant warp-ins and his structures storing up to three charges, Alarak by warping in Supplicants two at a time), but while Artanis aims to keep his army alive with his Guardian Shell and Shield Overcharge, Alarak sacrifices his troops to keep himself alive. It's even shown by the Zealot and Supplicant's creation quotes: "My life for Aiur!" versus "My life for the Highlord!"
    • Also to Vorazun. While they both lean towards Glass Cannon units, Alarak leans towards overwhelming the opponent with sheer firepower while using Supplicants to sponge damage while Vorazun favors combat pragmatism with cloaking and disruptive calldowns, preventing the opponent from returning fire at all. Their armies also have heavy emphasis on high-tier Gateway units (Dark Templar for Vorazun, Ascendants for Alarak). Finally, they're both locked out of a production building: Vorazun can't build the Robotics Facility, while Alarak is unable to use Stargates.
  • Frontline General: Rather literally; since Alarak's combat units are ranged and Alarak himself is a melee fighter, Alarak is probably going to charge headfirst into battle ripping up enemies while his army supports him from range.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: One of Alarak's abilities allows his nearby units to psionically empower him, a tactic he previously used in his Rak'Shir duel with Ma'lash. The graphical effects for it are even the same as in that mission, a swirling vortex of psionic power surrounding Alarak.
  • Glass Cannon:
    • His hero unit is not as durable as others, with only 200 shields and HP. He instead relies on overwhelming enemies with powerful attacks to swiftly crush them, and using his Soul Absorption passive to heal himself in the meantime. This makes Alarak very good at quickly killing enemies, and rather vulnerable when he can't.
    • This status is highlighted by his ultimate ability, Empower Me. It grants him an attack buff that increases as more allied units are nearby; with enough of them, his abilities can deal several hundred damage and his normal attacks deal almost one hundred splash damage. However, it has a cooldown of several minutes and only lasts twenty seconds, so it must be used wisely.
    • The Ascendant, Wrathwalker, and Vanguard are all very powerful units, but tend to die quickly if not protected.
    • Alarak's playstyle as a whole. Between Alarak himself and his attacking units, he's really good at annihilating anything that strays into his army's effective range; however, that's all he really can do, as his army dies easily and is expensive to replace while his mobility is limited to the timed-life Death Fleet.
  • Hero Unit: Alarak appears in the battlefield himself to fight in the front lines, with abilities focused on dealing heavy damage to enemies.
  • Ineffectual Loner: Ironically, Alarak isn't the most effective solo combatant: Empower Me requires him to have an army at his side, and if things get hairy, he needs Supplicants nearby to sacrifice in order to replenish health. He's still powerful on his own, but he needs units backing him up.
  • Life Drain: A variant: Alarak drains his own units' health to restore his own. He also retains his ability from the campaign to restore health by killing enemies.
  • Mechanically Unusual Fighter:
    • He's the only Protoss commander that doesn't get Zealots or a variant thereof, using the Supplicant instead. As a result, only Alarak himself uses melee attacks, his entire army uses ranged attacks.
    • His Havocs act as his Detectors, making him the first commander with a ground-based Detector unit (and still the only ground Detector that's not a Hero Unit). This is also unique to the franchise in general — previously Detectors have been buildings, air units or hero units.
    • He's unable to build Stargates, his aerial arsenal limited to the War Prism built from the Robotics Facility and the temporarily summoned Death Fleet. This also gives him the unique quirk that his Cybernetics Core researches upgrades for the Havoc instead of air upgrades, and his weapons and shield upgrades apply to both ground and air units.
  • Nerf: Alarak's Vanguards and Mothership have much less powerful attacks than their campaign counterparts. Additionally, his Mothership possesses a much weaker (but much more spammable) Thermal Lance and trades its other two abilities for the ability to teleport itself and nearby units, making it more of a support unit than a frontline attacker.
    • A patch made it so that the weapon and armor upgrades at his forge are now for both ground and air units; this severely weakens the early-game power of his Death Fleet, as prior to the change they basically had 3/3/0 for free.
  • Not the Intended Use: Structure Overcharge is meant to be for defending your base. Many players instead use it on a flying Terran structure as ghetto battlecruiser, or against rock formations that block resource spots. A patch acknowledged its offensive potential by letting Alarak Overcharge his War Prisms in Phasing Mode, basically giving him makeshift Siege Tanks.
  • One-Man Army:
    • Like Kerrigan, Alarak takes the field himself to fight and has numerous abilities to boost his combat potential, allowing him to take on enemy armies alone and come out on top. When activating "Empower Me" he even lampshades this.
    • His Ascendants have the potential to become this as well, due to an upgrade that allows them to gain a permanent stacking bonus to shields and ability damage each time they sacrifice a Supplicant. It takes a lot of Supplicants to get there, but you can eventually get an Ascendant with several Archons worth of shields that can One-Hit Kill a Battlecruiser with Mindblast.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: His Slayers don't have much place in his army, due to how they're the Jack-of-All-Stats units that have to compete with Supplicants and Ascendants for supply and Warp Gate usage, and those two units are much more critical to Alarak's playstyle. Even as anti-air, ostensibly their intended niche, a couple of Ascendants with Psionic Orb and Mindblast in conjunction with Wrathwalkers will do far more damage to an enemy air fleet than several Slayers could.
  • Pet the Dog: Enforced by one of his achievements, which is rewarded by killing enough enemy units using Structure Overcharge on an ally's buildings; in essence, you earn the achievement by using the ability to defend an ally's base for them. That being said, his voice lines for casting Structure Overcharge fall squarely into Kick the Dog territory.
    "Your base is becoming a liability!"
  • Some Dexterity Required: Alarak needs a lot more than just F2, A, and left click. To play him to his fullest potential, you need to be able to cycle through Alarak's abilities and those of his Ascendants and focus fire key targets with his Wrathwalkers instead of wasting shots on Marines, all the while keeping up a steady stream of Supplicants to replace the ones that get sacrificed over the course of regular gameplay.
  • Spikes of Villainy: Alarak's units and buildings use the Tal'darim skins, making everything extra spiky, though subverted since Alarak is at worst morally grey.
  • Support Party Member: He gets one in the Supplicant, a unit that exists to grant Alarak power rather than be effective by itself. He also gets the Havoc from the campaign, which is a Detector in addition to its usual kit to compensate for his lack of Observers.
  • Unique Enemy: Unlike any other commander up to his introduction, Alarak has three units exclusive to his Co-op arsenal that don't appear anywhere else in the game: the Supplicant, a sacrificial meat shield used for recharging Alarak's health and giving energy to his Ascendants; the Slayer, a Stalker variant with the Mirage's Phasing Armor and the ability to deal bonus damage after blinking; and the War Prism, a Warp Prism variant that can attack enemies in transport mode.
  • We Have Reserves: Basically Alarak's approach to Supplicants. It helps that they warp in two at a time and only cost a handful of minerals, of which Co-op players generally end up having far more than they know what to do with anyway.
  • You Will Not Evade Me: Alarak has multiple ways to keep enemies from fleeing; his Slayers deal extra damage after blinking, his Havocs can drop Force Fields, and he himself can use his Destruction Wave to send the enemy army straight into his army.

    Fenix, Purifier Executor 
"Nothing is as exhilarating as glorious combat."

A Purifier war machine bestowed with an AI replication of the Templar warrior of the same name, Fenix commands the fearsome Purifiers in battle. Since his true being is a formless AI, Fenix can transfer his consciousness between three distinct forms at will — an experimental Immortal prototype armor that excels at melee combat, a Dragoon shell powered by Solarite with powerful ranged attacks, and an Arbiter vessel with support skills. Fenix also commands Purifier AIs based on six legendary Protoss heroes. While deploying his forces, Fenix's AI heroes will take up residence in the shell of an appropriate unit and command them to battle, and if their current shell is destroyed their AI will transfer to another available shell and keep fighting. Coupled with Talents to play fast and loose with the Protoss tech tree, and Fenix can field a versatile, powerful army of units backed by his AI lieutenants.

Provides examples of:

  • Alpha Strike: The Solarite Dragoon's Arsenal Overcharge ability temporarily removes all cooldowns on its other abilities, letting Fenix unleash about ten seconds worth of concentrated Beam Spam to blast everything around him into smithereens. However, doing so will heavily deplete the Dragoon's energy reserves, leaving it low on energy for the next few minutes.
  • Body Backup Drive: The six heroes can transfer their consciousness to the body of another unit of their type upon death.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • While Fenix can skip tech outright using Operational Efficiency, his level 10 talent, going up the regular Protoss tech path while taking advantage of Operational Efficency's bonuses enables Fenix to open up all of his tech options a lot quicker than his fellow Protoss commanders, and makes fielding armies full of Gateway, Robotics Facility, and Stargate units a breeze, whereas most other Protoss commanders usually only have enough time to commit to one or two tech paths due to how expensive their tech buildings are, and how much time it takes for them and their requisite buildings to warp in. Doing this allows Fenix to cover almost every weakness each of his units has by having all of his units out at once, and more importantly, lets him deploy all of his Hero Units as quickly as possible.
    • One of the bonuses he can put his Mastery points towards is starting supply, which will significantly reduce the amount of pylons he requires to reach his 200 supply max. Considering he tends toward high tier units, and even his Zealot variant costs 3 supply, this goes a long way toward helping him in the early game.
  • Came Back Strong: The level 11 talent, Avenging Protocol, grants his hero units a brief period of increased attack and movement speeds when they enter a shell after their previous one is destroyed. Especially noticeable on Kaldalis, whose leap attack means he'll almost always be the first into the fray and subsequently the first to die, only to come back and tear enemies up even faster.
  • Canon Immigrant: As seen in Easter Egg, Probius can appear among Fenix's probes after all 6 champions are researched. While Heroes of the Storm describes Probius as the probe from the Legacy of the Void opening cinematic, the aforementioned MOBA was also the first time Probius was actually given a name, let alone a personality, before its cameo in StarCraft II's Co-Op.
  • Can't Drop the Hero: Averted. While most commanders' representative Hero Unit (if they have one) is deployed automatically within the first 4 minutes of the mission, Fenix spawns via a calldown instead. A sufficiently competent player can complete whole missions without ever having to use him.
  • A Commander Is You:
    • Numbers-wise, he's Balanced, at least compared to the armies of Artanis and Karax or Zeratul. His armies are more expensive than Artanis's armies and he can't field as many units, but the armies of Karax and Zeratul are even more expensive.
    • His doctrine tends toward Brute, though there's some Technical mixed into his army via Conservators, Disruptors, and Fenix's own deployable suits, which each have abilities that make either themselves or the units around them more potent in one way or another.
  • Competitive Balance: Each of Fenix's shell bodies serves different purposes in battle.
    • Praetor Armor: His Stone Wall armor, using Shield Capacitors to constantly recharge his shields for sustained combat on the front lines. However, he can't attack air units and is a melee fighter.
    • Solarite Dragoon: His Glass Cannon armor, with area-of-effect damaging abilities and a powerful long-range attack normally, but it isn't suitable for prolonged usage as it'll quickly run out of energy for its abilities.
    • Cybros Arbiter: His Support Party Member armor, with handy support abilities to aid armies, but by far the weakest offensive potential of his three suits.
  • Continuity Nod: All six of Fenix's subordinate heroes are established characters: Kaldalis is the Zealot from the Legacy of the Void opening cinematic, Talis was the Adept who sacrificed herself to let Zeratul escape at the end of the prologue missions of the same, Taldarin appeared in a mission in the Nintendo 64 version of the original game, Mojo and Warbringer appeared in the Enslavers campaign, and Clolarion was the Purifier executor who Artanis negotiated with in Legacy of the Void.
    • Special mention for Kaldalis, his charge ability is a perfect replica of his namesake's leap at the end of the Legacy of the Void opening cinematic. Doubles as a Call-Back. And if you pay attention to his portrait, he's still missing an eye even as a Purifier (although it's not the same eye that was scarred over in life, and his unit model still has both eyes).
  • Death Is Cheap: Played with. Fenix's combat suits can be destroyed, but as an A.I. construct transferring between shell bodies, he can't really die. The result is that Fenix can instantly deploy in another body the moment his current one is destroyed. However, his three shell bodies take longer to regenerate when destroyed than if they are heavily damaged, thus it's still better to switch bodies beforehand and not let that happen.
  • Disc-One Nuke: Fenix's ability to bypass the techtree lets him roll out an Immortal or Colossus right off the bat and then upgrade it with the corresponding champion AI. With their heavy area damage, Taldarin and Warbringer can easily solo early attack waves, clear out expansion rocks, and probably do a number on the first objective as well.
  • Doppelgänger Attack: Fenix's Adepts create Shades that can attack enemy units.
  • Easter Egg: Once all six AI personalities are researched, Probiusnote  will appear among his probes as the next probe created. Unfortunately, he is exactly like his fellow probes, the only thing to distinguish him from them being the glowing ring behind him like the other Champions have. If he dies, he won't transfer to another probe.
  • Elite Army: Fenix tends to high-tier tech options for his army, and even his basic zealot variant, the Legionnaire, has increased supply and resource costs (though it has higher stats to make up for it). This means he can't get the biggest armies, but they'll be quite effective.
  • Fighting a Shadow: Once a hero's AI has been researched, it's completely unkillable: killing its physical form just lets it download into another Purifier and wiping every last one of their specific type out still lets it take control of the next to be built. The same applies to Fenix: killing one of his bodies just means he can transfer to another and killing all three only means he needs to wait for one to be repaired.
  • Foil: To Karax. While both specialize in Purifier units, their armies and playstyles are almost complete opposites: Karax specializes in providing support with static defense and calldowns as his army and upgrades get quite expensive and most of his units are relatively weak for their cost, while Fenix has stronger units than the norm and gets reduced costs on his tech structures and units, but has weak static defense and no real calldowns to fall back on. Incidentally, this also makes them a fairly strong combination in-game as they cover each other's weaknesses perfectly.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: Lore has long established that Carriers have personal armaments for purifying planets infested by the Zerg, but this has never come up in gameplay. Clolarion ends that distinction by having a Wave Motion Gun on his Carrier in addition to Interceptors that is visually identical to how Carriers have been shown using their weapons before, though only as an anti-air weapon.
    • The Legacy of the Void campaign established that the Purifiers were made with a synthetic replication of the Khala, causing them to function more efficiently while in close proximity with one another. This is represented in gameplay by Fenix's ultimate talent, Tactical Data Web, which directly empowers the abilities of each champion for each unit of their type you control.
  • Hero Unit: The Commander. Fenix has a grand total of seven hero units consisting of himself and the following six: Kaldalis (Zealot), Talis (Adept), Taldarin (Immortal), Warbringer (Colossus), Mojo (Scout), and Clolarion (Carrier).
  • Large and in Charge: While controlling a body, the six heroes grow larger than normal units of their type.
  • Mass Teleportation: The Cybros Arbiter naturally retains the Mass Recall ability, giving Fenix a way to quickly reposition his and his ally's armies.
  • Meaningful Rename: In-universe example, carried over from the campaign; patch 3.14 added a forge upgrade – costs about 25 of each resource type by default – that changes the Fenix hero unit's name to Talandar, which means "one who bears a strong heart" in the protoss native language. This does not appear to affect him in any gameplay sense, but it does serve as a nod to his Character Development throughout the Legacy of the Void campaign he debuted in.
    Fenix/Talandar: I am honored to choose my own name. It will be... Talandar.
  • Mecha-Mooks: His army is based around the Purifier faction and everything in it is robotic.
  • Mechanically Unusual Fighter:
    • Unlike other hero unit commanders, Fenix has no energy regeneration in the field, and no way to recover HP once his shields fall. His two shell bodies that he isn't currently using regenerate energy and HP while inactive, thus players need to keep cycling out his bodies to let them recover to full power. Also, Fenix himself is a calldown, so players can instantly deploy him anywhere in the field with a click of the mouse.
    • One of Fenix's talents allows him to bypass tech requirements for buildings and removes the Vespene cost of his buildings: this lets him build anything he wants, any time he wants. A Fenix player can hypothetically skip right to Stargates or Robotics Facilities and ignore Gateway units entirely, or warp in Photon Cannons without a Forge for a super-early expansion or defensive effort.
    • He controls not one, but a total of seven hero units.
  • Mighty Glacier: Outside of his air power, Fenix's combat units tend to be rather slow, but they're terrifically powerful.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Fenix's Dragoon body is an obvious reference to the eventual fate of his namesake.
    Fenix: (swapping into Solarite Dragoon) I am a Dragoon once more!
    • In the first StarCraft, Taldarin was a Dragoon and Warbringer was a Reaver; here, Taldarin is an Immortal (who in the lore are upgraded Dragoons), and Warbringer is a Colossus (who take the Reaver's role as the Protoss siege unit).
    • The six heroes are an update of the Hero Unit concept in Starcraft, where a Hero Unit tended to just be a more powerful version of an existing unit (the original Fenix as Zealot and Dragoon, for instance).
    • The Scout was originally planned to be the Purifiers' starfighter in the Legacy of the Void campaign before being replaced by the Mirage. Here, Fenix uses Scouts as his primary air superiority unit.
    • As stated in Easter Egg, Probius will appear once as the next probe trained after all 6 heroes have been researched in the Purifier Conclave. If he dies, though, he's gone for the rest of the mission.
    • As Kaldalis' leap has a longer range than the standard Zealot charge, he'll still end up "the tip of the spear", and quick to die. Avenging Protocol makes this useful mechanically-speaking as well.
  • Nerf: Being the nigh-unstoppable force he was in the campaign, Blizzard reduced his Praetor Armor's potency in co-op by increasing the cooldown of his Shield Capacitor and giving the armor an energy limit to counter-balance the fact Fenix will likely be on the field for far longer than 30 seconds. His energy will also not recharge while he's deployed, encouraging him to switch to a different shell for a while if he runs out.
  • One-Man Army: It's entirely possible to drop Fenix in his Praetor Armor to open a can of whup-ass on the enemy on his own for a while, just like he does in the campaign, and in his Solarite Dragoon form a barrage of area abilities can decimate even the largest attack waves.
  • Sequence Breaking: Operational Efficiency removes all techtree requirements on Fenix's production buildings, letting him do things like getting Immortals and Carriers before even building a Gateway. In fact, one of his achievements requires you to get Clolarion and four Carriers within a time limit, pretty much forcing you to rush out multiple Stargates right off the bat.
  • Stance System: Fenix's bodies act like this, each giving him access to different abilities.
  • Teleport Spam: Fenix's suits can be deployed anywhere on the battlefield, and on a very short cooldown for each. The end result is generally akin to this trope.
  • Unique Enemy: Like Alarak, Fenix has a few unique units: the Legionnaire, a tougher Zealot that Kaldalis can possess, and the Conservator, which can become a power field like the Energizer and deploy a shield that reduces all incoming damage. Fenix himself also counts; while his Praetor Armor was seen in the campaign, his Cybros Arbiter and Solarite Dragoon were not seen anywhere before his reveal for Co-Op.
  • Villain Override: A heroic example. The way the six heroes work is that once researched, they automatically take control of a unit of their specific type on the field, and upon death, they immediately possess another unit of that type. If you have none remaining when they die, they will take control of the first you produce.

    Zeratul, Dark Prelate 
"I have crossed the threshold of destiny... and lived to see it."

In an alternate timeline where he lived to see the End War unfold, Zeratul calls upon the wisdom of the Xel'naga to guide him in battle. He commands an army of Xel'naga Remnant warriors with increased life and damage as well as additional abilities compared to their Protoss counterparts. With his Prophetic Vision ability, he can hunt down fragments of a Xel'naga Artifact scattered around the map, and as he collects them his forces grow stronger, with upgraded stats and new abilities, and new calldowns for the player to access. Zeratul's army is small and limited, with a handful of unit choices and a supply cap of 100, but their power is enough to make up the difference, provided Zeratul is quick to locate the artifact fragments to unlock their full combat potential.

Provides examples of:

  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • When Zeratul is in play, the map's terrain is revealed similar to a multiplayer game rather than the mode's norm of covering it in black until it's explored. This is to benefit Zeratul's Prophetic Vision ability during his artifact hunt; the way it works is it shows a real-time image of the area the next artifact piece can be found, and if it were to be covered in black like normal, this picture would be worthless to the player. Additionally, repeated uses of Prophetic Vision eventually point out the specific general region of the map the fragment is hidden within and gradually reduce the indicated area as it keeps being used.
    • Zeratul's Abrogators (Xel'naga Disruptors) are low on the command card priority when selecting the whole army, but are capable of auto-casting their own Purification Novas. The Purification Nova is also treated as a basic attack, which prevents the Abrogators from wandering to the front of Zeratul's army and dying.
  • Balance Buff: Zeratul's hero unit has much more powerful attacks than he did in the campaigns, and he can now attack air units.
  • Blown Across the Room: At two collected artifact fragments, Zeratul's Enforcers gain a knockback effect to their anti-air attacks that pushes struck air units backwards and stuns them.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • Zeratul's Nexus will automatically construct automated assimilators over nearby vespene geysers, meaning that he'll never be short on gas.
    • His Level 12 Talent reduces the supply costs of his supporter units (reducing Void Arrays to 1 supply each and Watchers to 0). Not very flashy, but when you have only 100 Supply to work with, it's very useful.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Zeratul's units and structures have a "Xel'naga" skin to them and new names to go with them, even though they are immediately recognizable as that same unit with the same abilities, just slightly different. Instead of Stalkers, he builds "Xel'naga Ambushers", instead of Gateways he builds "Xel'naga Passageways", and so forth.
  • The Cavalry: His three possible Legendary Legion calldowns all summon allies to fight alongside him. He can choose from a legion of Zealots lead by a High Templar, a fleet of Void Rays, or a number of Dark Archons.
  • A Commander Is You:
    • As far as numbers go, he's the most Elitist protoss commander in the game, with a 100-supply maximum and Glass Cannon units that are prohibitively expensive.
    • Doctrine-wise, he's very deceptively Technical; many of the abilities his units make use of are set to autocast. Some of these autocast abilities, such as the Ambusher's Blink, tend to be more efficient when manually cast due to a damage dealing property acquired after certain amounts of artifact fragments are collected.
  • Construct Additional Pylons: Soundly averted, as Zeratul starts with 100 supply right off the bat and can warp in structures anywhere he desires.
  • Continuity Nod: Telbrus and Zoraya, the hero High Templar and Void Ray that Zeratul can call in, are both taken from a tie-in short story for Wings of Liberty.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: Most hero units have their abilities bound to QWERT for ease of use. Zeratul does not, and in fact will mess with the Blink capabilities of his troops when selected along with everyone else (he Blinks together with Void Templar, but not Ambushers).
  • Deflector Shield: His Shieldguards can be upgraded to create a small area of effect where 50% of incoming projectiles are reflected back towards their source.
  • Defog of War: A hidden passive of Zeratul reveals the terrain of whichever map he's currently playing on to facilitate the use of his Prophetic Vision, which also (kind of) reveals where certain important map objectives are (e.g. infested structures in Dead of Night and evac ships in Miner Evacuation have their locations revealed on the minimap). Mag Mines also show up as red blips on the minimap when playing certain mutations.
    • Zeratul can use his Void Seeker to transport himself to any point on the map regardless of vision.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: While both Zeratul's Ambushers and Void Templars are nothing to sneeze at by themselves, making the most of their kits requires a good level of micro to control their Blink(s). This means the player will need to sort them into their own control groups, and then control those groups separately, as selecting the entire army will override their Blink with Zeratul's own, making them less effective overall.
  • Doppelgänger Attack: Zeratul's Ambushers can be upgraded to leave behind copies of themselves upon Blinking, that can attack once for 200% of their parent unit's damage before dissipating.
  • Elite Army: Zeratul is fixed at 100 supply, meaning that his army size is limited; they offset this disadvantage by being more powerful than regular units. They're also exceptionally expensive compared to regular Protoss units.
  • Fetch Quest: At the start of each game, three Xel'naga artifacts are scattered across the battlefield for Zeratul to retrieve. The exact locations are random and must be revealed via Prophetic Vision, which displays an approximated area where a fragment may be, and using the ability again in its proximity reveals the shard itself.
  • Foil: Is one to Nova. Both have a 100-supply limit that focuses on quality over quantity, however Zeratul's units are all Glass Cannons that can be quickly trained, while Nova's combat units are Stone Walls that she can only deploy in staggered amounts.
  • Glass Cannon: Most of Zeratul's offensive units have terrifically better power than their normal counterparts, but about the same HP and shields, resulting in an army that hits very hard but isn't very difficult to kill.
  • Hero Unit: Zeratul himself is controllable on the battlefield. His gameplay revolves heavily around this by making you move out with him and search for the three artifact fragments hidden on the map. Furthermore, his Legendary Legion calldowns all incorporate a hero unit.
  • Humongous Mecha: His final calldown ability allows him to summon either the Avatar of Form, a psionic expert specialised in dealing direct damage, or the Avatar of Essence, a force multiplier that buffs the attack speed of nearby allies and "regresses" nearby enemies to lower tier units.
  • Magikarp Power: Zeratul's units, while beefed up compared to their standard brethren, are still relatively easy to kill from the get-go due to their unupgraded armaments and lack of abilities. After collecting all three fragments, however, the difference becomes night and day.
  • Mechanically Unusual Fighter:
    • Zeratul doesn't use Pylons; he can warp in buildings anywhere he wants, and has 100 supply to begin with. This also means that his Gateways (or rather, Xel'naga Passageways) can't be upgraded to Warp Gates.
    • Zeratul's Assimilators are warped in by the primary Nexus in their resource cluster instead of by Probes. If an expansion is already cleared of rocks when a Nexus finishes warping in, it will automatically construct Assimilators over the geysers.
    • Instead of researching upgrades, Zeratul's army is upgraded as he collects artifact fragments. These upgrades do not need to be paid for and have no wait time. Similarly, his calldowns are gradually unlocked with each fragment he collects.
    • Zeratul's top bar features up to three separate options for each of its four available slots, allowing him to tailor his calldowns to suit the mission at hand instead of being stuck with a fixed set.
    • Zeratul is the only Protoss Commander who cannot use zealots of any kind (barring Telbrus' legion); his basic combat unit is the Xel'Naga Ambusher, equivalent to the Stalker.
    • His level 12 talent removes the supply cost of his observers.
  • Mighty Glacier: Despite their prevalent use of Blink, Zeratul's units can take a rather long time to get anywhere at all depending on the current map. Good thing he has his Void Arrays to rely on.
  • Money for Nothing: Despite his slow ramp, once Zeratul has managed to shore up a sizable army he's all but invincible, and requires little to no reinforcement during the late game due to his units' absurd survivability at three Artifact fragments. Unless one deliberately let their units die, a Zeratul player will end up sitting on a huge cache of resources in the late game with nothing to spend on except Legion calldowns and mass turrets.
  • Mundane Utility: Players quickly took to using the Legendary Legions to break any expansion-blocking debris in the early game.
  • Mythology Gag: His Legendary Legion calldowns are based on Zeratul's tendency to encounter allies on his quest, such as Karass and Talis, who usually end up dying for his sake. The Legions can't be controlled directly (like most of said allies) and can only be attack-moved to locations, which usually means that they end up fighting to the death.
  • Portal Network: He has access to the Xel'naga Void Array, a unit that essentially combines the Warp Prism and the Nydus Network, letting units load at one and unload at another. With enough of them set up, Zeratul can easily move his army around the map.
  • Ridiculously Fast Construction: One of his later talents cuts his units' training speed in half, compensating for his lack of warp-in.
  • Teleport Spam: Blink is the bread and butter of Zeratul's army, so much so that many of his talents and upgrades focus on reducing the cooldown between each use, on top of allowing himself and his Ambushers to store up to three charges at level 15.
  • Underground Monkey: His army is made up of Xel'naga constructs based on regular Protoss units.
  • Weaponized Teleportation: One of the Ambusher's upgrades leaves behind a shade that attacks once for double its weapon damage upon blinking, and the Void Templar can be upgraded to damage any enemy it blinks through.
  • What If?: Like Tychus before him, Zeratul's existence as a commander in Co-op is justified by the presence of an alternate timeline where he survives the botched retaking of Aiur.
  • Why Won't You Die?: Fully leveled, almost all of his units have ways of avoiding death: Ambushers blink whenever they take damage to their actual health pool, Shieldguards recharge friendly shields and can reflect projectile attacks, Enforcers gain a barrier that absorbs three times as much damage and heals them to full, and Void Templar gain an Auto-Revive on a three minute cooldown.

How well does it match the trope?

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