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"The zerg are nature in all her fury."

After the Xel'Naga left the Protoss and Aiur, they found the planet Zerus, where they found a race of small insectoid aliens that could parasitically control their hosts, and assimilated genetic data from them to evolve and grow stronger. The Xel'Naga chose this race to continue their experiments, believing they possessed "purity of essence", and created the Zerg Swarm. As part of their experiment, the Xel'Naga created the Overmind, in charge of a Hive Mind that reigned in many of the Zerg. The Overmind eventually turned on its creators and destroyed the Xel'Naga, and its Zerg departed to the stars.

Under the Overmind's control, the Zerg Swarm began a mission to infest and assimilate all life in the galaxy — knowing of the Protoss, the other creations of the Xel'Naga, the Overmind deemed their assimilation to be the race's destiny. The Zerg not controlled by the Overmind remained on Zerus and evolved into intelligent, independent beings with a pack mentality, the Primal Zerg.


During the Second Great War, Sarah Kerrigan returned to Zerus, and the two halves of the race were made as one under her rule.

  • Zerg Swarm note 
  • Other Zerg note 

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    Race as a whole 
  • Absurdly Sharp Claws: Zerg DNA selects for maximum lethalness in its physiology, leading to things like claws or talons that can tear through Siege Tanks.
  • Acid Attack: Several Zerg units use acid-based attacks.
  • A Commander Is You:
    • Numbers: Spammer. Their units are extremely weak and fragile, but make up with a lot of mobility and numbers. Zerglings are incredibly weak and very expendable, but are fast, cheap, and spawn with another Zergling
    • Doctrine: Guerrilla, Industrial, and Turtle. With their ability to burrow, as well as a structure to allow units to be anywhere in the map, the Zerg can make up for their fragility with high mobility and abilities that preserves them. They also possess burst production through Larvae, letting them rapidly build up workers and expansions while using Queens to spit out more Larvae and defend against early harassment so that they can use the economic lead to do what they're best known for: throwing Zerg at the enemy until it folds (or using that early production to rush the enemy with early Zerglings). Their Creep mechanic means that Zerg get a significant Home Field Advantage on their turf and can quickly respond to enemy threats; marching onto a Creep carpet without a plan will get you rapidly swarmed by Zerg from all sides. The flipside is that Zerg are relatively slow to make big pushes, since their effectiveness at chasing and kiting goes down quite a bit off Creep, and Creep Tumors take a while to spread.
  • Arch-Enemy: To the Protoss. Word of God has even said that their DNA is antithetical to each other and the psionic powers of the Protoss reject the Zerg Hive Mind. Thus it is impossible for the Zerg to infest a Protoss, or for natural hybridization to occur between them. This is why Duran had to resort to genetic splicing to artificially create his hybrids. It finally gets subverted a bit in Legacy of the Void when Artanis and Kerrigan enter an Enemy Mine situation in the war against Amon; one mission even has the Protoss and Zerg forces fighting alongside each other.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies/Insectoid Aliens: With the exception of the Zergling, your average Zerg breed towers over Terrans, giving the terror of giant reptilian insects.
  • Bizarre Taste in Food: The canon reason they harvest resources is that they drink vespene and eat mineral crystals, because 1) vespene has an extremely high energy content, and 2) they extract the metals from the crystals to strengthen their bones and teeth.
  • Divergent Character Evolution: In Heart of the Swarm's campaign, players can permanently upgrade a Zerg unit into one of two advanced forms in the single-player campaign, either form emphasizing different aspects of the base strain; usually one has higher damage potential or a cool new special ability, denoted by green markings, or it's spamming capabilities are enhanced, denoted by purple markings.
  • Fangs Are Evil: A recurring physical trait of Zerg breeds is a fragmented mandible covered in fangs for a lower mouth, with a particularly large pair of fangs on the end. Among other units, the Queen, Hydralisk, Roach and Swarm Host all have this trait. A design note from Blizzard states that the design of a zerg unit starts with "lots of teeth."
  • Fast Tunnelling: Their Burrow skill, though the Lurker and Ultralisk take a second or two longer to get underground than others.
  • Healing Factor: Even if you take them down to 1 HP, the Zerg will eventually restore themselves to full health, provided you give them enough time.
  • Hive Mind: Played with. During the Overmind's rule the Zerg played this straight, all Zerg connected by a communal psionic link. Due to the complexity of overruling all the Swarm, it assigned autonomous agents called Cerebrates to assume direct control of their respective broods. the Cerebrates are still telepathically linked to the Overmind and can never disobey it. The Hive Mind aspect was subverted by Heart of the Swarm due to Kerrigan's invention of Brood Mothers, who themselves possess free will.
  • Horde of Alien Locusts: Probably one of the most famous examples of the trope.
  • It Can Think: The Zerg are much more intelligent and cunning than their appearances would have you believe, particularly due to their hive mind allowing Kerrigan or the Overmind to control individual Zerg directly if needed. In novelizations characters often remark at the glimmer of a higher intelligence in the eyes of what seems to be a feral beast. Not bad for something whose brain is the size (and approximate shape) of your average finger.
  • LEGO Genetics: Apparently, acquiring DNA or "essence" from other species allows the Zerg to pick out useful traits and modify the next generation as they see fit. This makes them dangerously strong at adapting genetically as well as growing stronger with each species they consume.
  • Living Structure Monster: Their "structures" are actually sessile or semi-sessile monsters.
    • In II, certain Infested buildings can unfold like a hermit crab, walk to a new location, and dig in.
  • Metamorphosis: This is how they produce their units and buildings.
  • Metamorphosis Monster: Start off as little caterpillars, then morph into monstrosities, themselves sometimes able to mutate into even worse abominations.
  • Might Makes Right: How Zerg generally operate: any challenger to the current broodmother has to subjugate her and take over.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: The Zerg mostly resemble reptiles and/or insects, but many units combine aspects of both.
  • Monstrous Mandibles: Many varieties of Zerg have them. Most are simply affairs of pincer-like bone, but the more recognizable form on hydralisks is in the form of a secondary lower jaw that splits apart into a set of spiked mandibles.
  • My Brain Is Big: Inverted. The brain of your average zerg is actually very small, with only the parts needed to run the body. They don't need to think for themselves, so they don't have frontal lobes. The Cerebrates play this straight, being nothing but brain and caterpillar legs. The Overmind is an even bigger brain.
  • Not So Different: With the Protoss; see the entry in the Protoss section.
  • Order vs. Chaos: The Chaos to the Protoss' Order. They also have an internal example, in the Hive Mind Swarm Zerg (Order) versus the individualistic Primal Zerg (Chaos).
  • Organic Technology: Zerg have no concept of technology in the way Terrans and Protoss do; instead, they use evolution and mutation to create biological weaponry, down to mutating their own drones into organic buildings and using giant flying Zerg as spaceships.
  • Regenerating Health: All Zerg units and buildings have Gradual Regeneration that slowly recovers their HP. The recovery is very slow though, usually only effective for hit-and-run units like the Mutalisk who can attack, then retreat to lick their wounds before striking again.
  • Theme Naming: "-lisk" and "ling" are a common suffixes for many of their units. For the former there's the Hydralisk, Mutalisk, Ultralisk, Brutalisk; the latter includes the Zergling, Baneling, Broodling, and Changeling.
  • The Symbiote: Parasites. Certain Zerg have other, smaller Zerg living inside them.
  • The Unintelligible: With the exception of Infested Terrans and, in the sequel, some major characters, all Zerg units only speak in growls, snarls and grunts.
  • Unstable Genetic Code: The Zerg have this trait, along with a hyperactive metabolism that can rapidly replace most of a particular creature's body. Background details in Starcraft II explain that a Zerg organism is essentially composed entirely of highly mutable stem cells of two types: "Type A" that experience rapid mutations, and "Type B" that hunt them down and destroy them. The surviving Type A cells go on to create the next generation of Type B, leading to evolution at a cellular level that quickly spreads through the entire organism. Combined with their psychic Hive Mind, this leads to the rapid "mutations" that serve zerg forces as in-game upgrades and unit production. Then there's the Primal Zerg introduced in Heart of the Swarm, who are the Zerg who never left their homeworld of Zerus and are not part of the Hive Mind; their cells are just as mutable, but they mutate by fighting, killing, and devouring each other, with the winners absorbing desirable traits from their prey.
  • The Virus: How they assimilate species; they can propagate a virus that will gradually mutate said species into Zerg-like hybrids under the control of the Swarm. The process is referred to as "infestation". While Protoss are immune to it, due to their genetical code being too drastically different than the Zerg's to be assimilated, Terrans aren't so lucky...
  • Xenomorph Xerox: The Zerg tend to have elongated craniums, Gigeresque exoskeletons, and drooling maws lined with fangs; in addition to reproducing by infecting other species with a virus that gestates a Zerg possessing traits of the host.
  • Zerg Rush: They're the Trope Namers for a reason. As a whole the Zerg are not as durable as the Terran or Protoss units, but they have lower resource costs so they can produce more units. Their Hatcheries also function differently, creating larva that mutate into units at the same time, rather than having a training queue that trains units one at a time like the Terrans and Protoss, so with several Hatcheries stored with larvae, a Zerg player can mutate an army to serve them much quicker than the other two races.
    • This is reflected in the single-player campaigns by having a great deal of missions against the Zerg being simply holding out against never-ending waves of them. In the Heart of the Swarm campaign, several characters reveal that this isn't actually tactic, it's simply how the Zerg think. Losing millions at a time means nothing if your numbers are almost infinite, and any battle where even one Zerg survives is one where the entire Swarm can grow back. The campaign doesn't even have a "units lost" counter unlike the other two, since you're expected to drown the enemy in bodies and take correspondingly hefty losses.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: The Zerg tend to do something like this to Terrans, as the ones who aren't immediately eaten or killed get infested and become zombie-like creatures. There's also the unsettling implication that despite being directed by the Hive Mind, said infested Terrans are still aware of what's going on.


Hatchery-level breeds


The Zerg worker, in charge of gathering resources. Can lay down on creep to mutate into the Zerg structures.

  • Action Survivor: As with the other worker units, they are not made to fight but they are able to defend themselves if base raiders come.
  • Living Structure Monster: Becomes structures of the hive cluster, rather than building them
  • Power Floats: They hover over the ground slightly.
  • Ridiculously Fast Construction: Justified; Drones do not build buildings, they mutate into them in the same way a larvae mutates into a Zerg unit. It's still very fast, but the Zerg as a whole have Hyperactive Metabolism so the speed of construction is not out of place.
  • Worker Unit: The Zerg's way to gather resources and construct buildings.


A flying unit that provides the ability to control Zerg, any Zerg player should have far more of them than needed. They provide numerous other skills including detection and unit transport.

  • Drop Ship: Overlords can be upgraded with the ability to transport units, making them the zerg equivalent.
  • Giant Flyer: They're massive; cutscenes from Starcraft: Ghost show a Terran is about the size of their head.
  • Happiness in Infestation/Not Brainwashed: Gargantis Proximae—the species from which the overlord's genetic code was assimilated—willingly summoned the Zerg swarm in the face of starvation. There are some hints that they are still sapient, and the few remaining Gargantis most certainly are.
  • Living Gasbag: They're filled with helium and move with psychic power.
  • Lovecraftian Superpower: They generate Creep by digesting and excreting their own internal organs, which instantly grow back.
  • Nerf:
    • Overlords lost their Detector trait in the second game. They have to evolve into Overseers to regain it.
    • In Legacy of the Void, the Overlord upgrade to acquire the ability to carry units now has to be done individually for each Overlord, instead of it being an universal upgrade.
  • Non-Action Monster: Have no offensive capacity whatsoever. They also have no defensive capacity besides flying away, but they're too slowly to realistically escape anything without an upgrade.
  • Power Floats: They're with the Queen as the only Zerg with psionic skills, they use them to help fly.
  • Power Glows: In the sequel.
  • Red Shirt: Given how Overlords are the only supply counter that can actually move (and fly, no less), they make for great early game scouts. Unfortunately, low speed and an inability to attack means any Overlord used for scouting (especially against a Terran foe) is unlikely to survive.
  • True Sight: They can detect burrowed and cloaked units in the first game. In II, they need to morph into Overseers to do so.
  • Units Not to Scale: Eight Zerglings fit inside? Well comparing the Zergling model to the Overlord, passable. Four Hydralisks? Maybe if they cram in. Two Ultralisks? Yup, this trope must be in effect. Most of these are a bit more excusable when you look at the Field Manual, which shows that Overlords are massive and probably could fit two Ultralisks in them, and many more than eight Zerglings and four Hydralisks.


The basic Zerg unit, a velociraptor-like creature arms with fangs and claws to tear apart anything they can.

  • Armor-Piercing Attack: In co-op missions, Kerrigan and Zagara have an exclusive Zergling upgrade that lets their attacks reduce the target's armor to 0.
  • Boring Yet Practical: Individually, they're the cheapest units in the game. Much like the Marine and Zealot, simply mutating a massive force of Zerglings can be a perfectly viable option if the opponent isn't prepared.
  • Depending on the Artist: The Zergling's appearance varies from product to product that it appears in, though it could simply be differences between strains or simply showing how the zerg are constantly evolving.
  • Divergent Character Evolution: The Zergling upgrades into either the Raptor or the Swarmling in StarCraft II. Raptors leap up cliffs and jump at prey at short distances to quickly close in, while Swarmlings produce three from an egg rather than two and mutate instantly.
  • Fragile Speedster: Their base speed is already higher than either a zealot's or marine's, the Metabolic Boost upgrade almost doubles their speed, and the speed bonus of creep makes them the fastest ground unit in the game. However, they're 35 HP melee units with no armor, so they die fast.
  • Glass Cannon:
    • With their movement and attack speed upgrades, a pack of Zerglings can quickly tear through an enemy base and chase down stragglers from the opponent's army. However, they still only have 35 HP, no base armor, and are reliant on being able to close in on enemies and surround them — a fair-sized enemy force in a good defensive position can hold them off without much trouble.
    • The Raptor strain gains 2 extra base damage and the ability to leap cliffs, giving them vastly improved mobility, but they are still just as fragile as a regular Zergling.
  • Mascot Mook: Subverted. They're one of the most famous units of the Starcraft franchise thanks to the Zerg Rush meme being known even outside the RTS realm, but most official material uses Hydralisks to represent the Zerg.
  • Metamorphosis Monster: They can mutate into Banelings in StarCraft II.
  • Power Gives You Wings: In the sequel, they sprout locust-like wings upon completion of Metabolic Boost.
  • Sequence Breaking: The act of spawning Zerglings as fast as the game allows BEFORE a proper economy can be set up is what lead to the original instances of Zerg Rush. Nowadays people are wise to early rushes and start setting up defenses accordingly.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: In Wings of Liberty, Donny Vermillion claims they are allergic to lemon juice. At first, this seems like more propaganda, but Abathur confirms this in Heart of the Swarm.
  • Wings Do Nothing: For obvious reasons their wings in the sequel don't actually let the Zergling fly. Averted in Heart of the Swarm's campaign; the wings are exclusive to the Raptor, who leap up cliffs and jump at enemy units.
  • Zerg Rush: The Trope Namer and Trope Codifier. The Zergling's low cost and the fact they hatch two from an egg makes it quick and cheap to get a massive army of them, but they have only 35 HP and die quickly. The Swarmling in Heart of the Swarm makes them even better at this trope, mutating in seconds and mutating three from an egg.

    Queen (ground)
A ground-based unit that specializes in supporting the development of the base with various abilities and providing a pinch ranged attack against early raids.

In Heart of the Swarm, her abilities undergo another change for the campaign. Now called the Swarm Queen, she's the only source of spreading Creep via her Creep Tumors ability, and she's lost her ability to induce hatcheries to produce extra Larvae (since hatcheries now produce up to nine instead of the original three).

  • Balance Buff: In the Heart of the Swarm campaign, the Swarm Queen mutates almost twice as fast as the usual Queen, moves much faster off Creep, and their Transfusion ability is auto-cast, though it heals much less HP. The short of it, rather than a Squishy Wizard base supporter, the Swarm Queen is more a combination Hydralisk and Medic, and a potent supporter for armies on the frontlines.
  • Boring, but Practical: The Creep Tumors they can spawn. They do absolutely nothing other than generate creep, provide vision, and have the ability to spawn another Creep Tumor. However, and since Creep Tumors are burrowed, they are incredibly cost-efficient scouts (they only cost 25 energy from a Queen, or the single Spawn Creep Tumor use each tumor has) as you can keep track of anything the enemy is doing while on creep (and know if they are bringing out Detectors), while also giving your Zerg army extra mobility and build radius.
  • Combat Medic:
    • While not their main role, Queens have the ability to heal biological units or structures with Transfusion, and can work as an emergency ranged attacker.
    • The Swarm Queen from the campaign and Co-op mode are much more suited for this role than the regular Queen, as it's much faster off creep, has Transfusion as an auto-cast ability and lacks the ability to have hatcheries spawn additional larvae. This makes Swarm Queens far more involved as support units in an army, rather than staying behind to increase unit production.
  • Geo Effects: Can plant "creep tumors" for additional creep spread, which give a speed boost to zerg units.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: Before Kerrigan, the Zerg were controlled by the Overmind through Cerebrates to Overlords and then to individual Zerg units, with the Queens playing only a minor support role when needed. Since Kerrigan became the new Queen of the Swarm, it makes sense that these Queens are omnipresent and more directly involved in the organization of a base - they're Kerrigan's physical manifestation and the new foundation for the Zerg organizational structure.
  • In Name Only: Bears a very vague physical resemblance to the original Queen...and that's about all they have in common.
  • Kryptonite Factor: Not being over creep makes Queens extremely slow, and an easy pick for pretty much any unit.
  • Mook Maker: Indirectly, she can cause a Hatchery to spawn extra larva.
  • One Steve Limit: While the two remain simply "Queen" in certain game modes, generally the ground-based Queens are called "Swarm Queens" and the flying Queens are "Brood Queens". This became necessary in Heart of the Swarm when the flying Queen was added into enemy unit compositions in the campaign and Co-op Mode.
  • Progressively Prettier: A rare monstrous example. The modern Zerg queens are a lot less hideous, yet still grotesque, compared to their airborne counterparts. Granted, the Zerg as a whole neglected its development on its growth and self-control, up until Kerrigan gives the queens semi-independence and by extent a significant facelift.
  • Squishy Wizard: Always a target of opportunity because Queens have a high cost and huge build time, especially in the early game, and they aren't all that durable and make huge targets.
  • Support Party Member: Can heal units and structures, create Creep Tumors that spread creep and have hatcheries spawn additional larva. Don't expect them to fight well, however.


The Zerg ranged fighter, tensing its muscles to snap out needle spines from its shoulder plates as fast as any bullet.

  • Anti-Air: Their main purpose is mobile anti-air though they're seen backing up Roaches fighting ground forces.
  • Balance Buff: They regained the ability to mutate into Lurkers, and got a small increase of 10 HP in Legacy of the Void.
  • Ballistic Bone: Their spines are missile-shaped bones that they shoot by tensing their muscles.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: The Slothiens from which the Zerg developed the Hydralisk were originally caterpillar-like herbivores.
  • Jack-of-All-Stats: In the original game, Hydralisks have all-around decent HP, damage and movement speed, effective upgrades, and usable cost.
  • Glass Cannon: In the second game, the new damage system means they no longer have damage penalties against any unit (and their damage was increased by 2) and their HP was slightly increased. On the other hand, they are now Tier 2 units, meaning their HP and (lack of) base armor make them very frail for their tech requirements and cost.
  • Mascot Mook: Used to represent the Zerg faction.
  • Metamorphosis Monster: They can mutate into Lurkers in Brood War, the Heart of the Swarm campaign, and Legacy of the Void. They can alternatively evolve into Impalers in the Heart of the Swarm campaign.
  • Nerf: The Hydralisk became a Tier 2 unit in the second game, making them significantly more costly (from 75 minerals, 25 vespene and 1 supply in the first game, to 100 minerals, 50 vespene and 2 supply, alongside the added Lair pre-requisite to be able to make a Hydralisk Den).
  • Ornamental Weapon: Their claws, which, despite being thoroughly displayed in cutscenes, are rendered useless in the original game: They always use their ranged attack. In the sequel, Hydralisks use them in melee combat as a purely cosmetic attack note  with the same effective damage and upgrades as their ranged attack.
  • Poisonous Person: Well, for a given value of "person," being little more than an Attack Animal. Their spines are poisoned, and in one co-op mission, Abathur cooks up Noxious Hydralisks, who have the Ultra's Breath Weapon.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Definitely emits a snake vibe.
  • Sinister Scythe: Has preying mantis-like arms with blades extending from them.
  • Spike Shooter: 30 cm long spikes to be exact.
  • You Don't Look Like You: The in-game sprite has centipede legs, whereas the cutscene model is snake-like and lacks them. They lost them in the sequel, being replaced by more spikes.


An evolution of the Zergling, they're rolling suicidal bombers that explode on impact.

  • Action Bomb: They roll into enemies and explode to damage them.
  • Bilingual Bonus: In the latin american spanish translation, the Baneling is called Uetzi. Uetzi means "to roll over" (Which is what Banelings do with the movement speed upgrade) in Nahuatl.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: Stands out even amongst other Zerg units, as the descriptor for the Splitterling upgrade mentions that further splits (beyond the first) "result in acidic fluid of limited sentience", implying that the giant exploding sac of acid is actually the baneling's brain.
  • Booby Trap: The detonation can be triggered manually whilst burrowed.
  • Combat Medic: In Heart of the Swarm, one of the Baneling mutation choices allow them to take on this role; Flavor Text from Abathur explains that the acid spewed from a Baneling explosion dissolves necrotic tissue of nearby Zerg.
  • Divergent Character Evolution: In the campaign they can upgrade into Hunters or Splitterlings. The Hunter jumps over cliffs and leaps at targets to explode, while the Splitterling splits into two smaller, weaker Banelings when it dies. They also evolve out of zerglings, as mentioned above.
  • Glass Cannon: A handful of them can cripple an army, and they move decently fast, but are easily slain. They have even less health than a Zergling, but they also lose the Light attribute, so certain units like the Hellion actually take more hits to kill a Baneling than a Zergling.
  • Hollywood Acid: What they release when they explode.
  • Nerf: Compared to the campaign versions, Banelings in Legacy of the Void multiplayer deal significantly less damage to everything except Light units. Most significantly, they lost their bonus damage against structures.
  • Splash Damage: What makes them so effective at dealing with enemies. Small clusters of troops are going to be pulverized.
  • Suicide Attack: Banelings don't survive the blast of their attacks.
  • Taking You with Me: In sharp contrast to the Infested Terran, the Baneling still does splash damage when destroyed, so simply gunning it down before it gets to you won't guarantee your safety.


An aptly-named tier-one-point-five ranged attacker, they spew acid to attack and get a major boost to Regenerating Health whilst burrowed. They can also move while burrowed.

  • Breath Weapon: Sprays of acid.
  • Divergent Character Evolution: The Zerg campaign allows Roaches to be permanently upgraded into Corpsers or Vile Roaches — Corpsers cause units they attack to Spawn Broodlings when killed, while Vile Roaches slow down the move and attack rates of their targets. Legacy of the Void lets them evolve into Ravagers.
  • Healing Factor: Properly micro'd, Roachs definitely live up to their name if the opponent has no detection, because when burrowed they heal very quickly, especially with the Tunneling Claws upgrade that allows them to move while burrowed and increase health regeneration.
  • Hollywood Acid: Their acid can eat away at anything, including zerg carapace, Terra neosteel, and Protoss plating.
  • Homing Boulders: When Roaches attack something on a higher elevation than them, an interesting quirk of the physics engine causes them to spit diagonally upward at an angle... until it crests the cliff, at which point the acid bends in mid-air to move parallel to the ground.
  • Secondary Fire: A "hidden" melee animation that is otherwise the exact same as their ranged attack. In a bit of Developers' Foresight, this secondary melee attack however doesn't trigger point defense or range-attack reducing effects.
  • Spawn Broodling: the Corpser strain has eggs in its saliva globules, allowing it to spawn two "roachlings" from any unit it kills.
  • Turns Red: In Heart of the Swarm one of their campaign upgrades grants them +3 to armor when at 50% health.

Lair-level breeds


An evolution of the Overlord, they can disable enemy buildings in the process of building or researching something, and spawn Changelings to spy on enemies.

  • Interface Screw: In Heart of the Swarm their Changelings inflict an unfortunate case of this on the opponent, because they're not selectable. So if you order your troops to walk around and you see one that's following but can't be selected or added to a control group, you know it's a Changeling.
  • The Mole: Their Changelings, which shapeshift into enemy base units to infiltrate them. Unlike other stealth units, they are invulnerable to detection and you have to find them yourself.
  • Not the Intended Use: If a player has a large number of Overseers, they can spawn large numbers of changelings and use their Interface Screw powers to box in enemy units with the hold position command. The opponent has to manually order their units to attack each changeling to escape, or use area effect attacks such as Psionic Storm.
  • One-Hit Point Wonder: While Changelings actually have 5 hit points, the effect is the same - they die in one hit to anything, including workers.
  • Put on a Bus: Initially in Heart of the Swarm in favor of the Viper. The Bus Came Back when the Viper was retooled and Blizzard decided to tweak the Overseer to be more useful on its own.
  • Eyes Do Not Belong There: It has far too many eyes in far too many places it shouldn't.
  • True Sight: Can see hidden units like burrowed Zerg and cloaked enemies.


An evolution of the Hydralisk, they're defenseless above ground. But once burrowed they can unleash waves of spines along the ground to impale enemies from below. In Heart of the Swarm they're diversified into the Lurker and the Impaler. The Lurker returned to multiplayer in Legacy of the Void, just as effective as ever.

  • Achilles' Heel: Detectors of any kind, obviously, but especially flying detectors which they can't attack because they can only attack ground units.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack: The Impaler deals extra damage to armored targets.
  • Combat Tentacles: The Impaler's attack, compared to the Lurker's spines.
  • Composite Character: The multiplayer and Co-op Lurker combines the campaign Lurker's area damage with the Impaler's anti-armor property.
  • Divergent Character Evolution: In Heart of the Swarm the Lurker is but one of the Hydralisk's two evolutionary paths. The other is the Impaler, which attacks just like the Lurker, but attacks single targets and does bonus damage against armor, while the Lurker chews up clumps of light units.
  • Giant Spider: Their design aesthetic, though not with eight limbs.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: The fate of units they attack.
  • Siege Engines: They have greater range in Legacy of the Void from the original game, letting them out-range base defenses.
  • Splash Damage: If you don't have detection, that Lurker will kill your Marine/medic deathball in moments.


The standard Zerg flier, they move fast and attack enemies by spewing Glaive Wurms at them, which bounce off the initial target to harm nearby enemies as well.

  • Armor-Piercing Attack: A potential evolution for Heart of the Swarm's campaign.
  • Crutch Character: Highly effective at making an enemy's life hell early on, especially against non-Terrans since they don't have Marines for easy anti-air. Less useful once heavier anti-air splash damage units like Thors take to the field, though they still remain useful for combined-arms attacks and for harassing any base that's lightly guarded.
  • Bloody Murder: Canonically, their blood is acidic.
  • Divergent Character Evolution
    • Before every breed began doing it in Heart of the Swarm, the Mutalisk could evolve into the Guardian, an anti-ground siege unit, or the Devourer, an anti-air armor-corroding support unit. The Mutalisk served as the Jack-of-All-Stats to the two.
    • The Heart of the Swarm campaign diversifies them into the Brood Lord or Viper strains, and similar to the Guardian and Devourer, the Brood Lord is an anti-ground siege unit and the Viper is an anti-air support unit.
  • Fastball Special: Their ammunition is a parasite they launch out of their tails.
  • Fragile Speedster:
    • Their hit-and-run tactics makes them deadly in the hands of a skilled player, and a fleet of Mutalisks can level an enemy base, but in a straight-up fight they're likely to get killed since like most Zerg they aren't very durable, and against larger armies they'll likely be shredded unless backed up by more durable units.
    • Interestingly, they are not this case in the first game thanks to damage types: Most air units are considered "Large" by the game, and as a result most Anti-Air attacks are considered "Explosive", which deal full damage to them, but have their damage halved against "Small" units... and Mutalisks happen to be the only attacking "Small" air unit (Apart from the Scourge). While units that could deal full damage to Mutalisks (Marines, Corsairs and other Mutalisks being the most notable) make short work of them, only a handful of such units exist.
  • Hit-and-Run Tactics: They're infamous for this. Any player that doesn't know to cover their mineral lines with some anti-air versus Zerg will learn very quickly why that's a good idea.
  • Just Desserts: Mutalisk wings are served at terran truck stops, and are somewhere between ribs and chicken wings in terms of presentation.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: In the first game at least, it is dangerous to leave them unsupervised, as the instant they see anything they can attack, they will hare off to do so. Even if it's, for instance, the entire enemy team.
  • Metamorphosis Monster: The basis of a full 75% of Zerg air power is derived from these guys; they can mutate into Guardians or Devourers, specialized ground and air attackers respectively. Ironically, as of Legacy of the Void they're among the few basic Zerg units in multiplayer that can't mutate into anything due to their mutated forms being shelved, though the Heart of the Swarm campaign lets them evolve into Brood Lords or Vipers depending on the strain you pick. In Co-op Missions, Kerrigan's Mutalisks can morph into Brood Lords, while Abathur's get back the ability to become Devourers and Guardians, or if they collect enough Biomass, Leviathans.
  • Pinball Projectile: Does 9 damage to the first target, 3 to the second and 1 to the third.
  • Splash Damage: And a campaign upgrade in Heart of the Swarm lets them hit even more enemies with it.
  • The Symbiote: Their weaponry is a shiruken-like parasite forcibly launched from their mutated ovipositor.
    • According to Word of God, they have specialized mitochondria that consume their cellular wastes and produce oxygen, making it so they can survive in space.
  • This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman: They invoked this between the base game and Brood War. Air unit stacking was a glitch and not intended to be part of gameplay, but it made Mutalisks particularly dangerous because they could be massed the easiest of the air units and their splash damage wreaked havoc. This is why Brood War introduced a new air unit for each faction that did splash damage to air units, giving each race a response to help with Mutalisk harassment.


Suicidal dive bombers, they sacrifice themselves to inflict heavy damage to enemy fleets.

  • Action Bomb: They attack by ramming themselves into units and exploding.
  • Glass Cannon: Only 25 HP, but 110 damage...
  • One-Hit Kill: Or at least one volley. In II, Scourge Nests are activated in order to take down the Gorgon Battlecruisers with a swarm of these (so huge they take no damage from regular units).
  • Taking You with Me: At 110 damage, they heavily weaken whatever they hit and make it easy to finish off.
  • This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman: In Heart of the Swarm Kerrigan brings them in since they're the only artillery she has that can beat the Gorgon battlecruisers.
  • Violation of Common Sense: Amusingly, they can't dive-bomb into ground targets for balance reasons, even though this presumably wouldn't be a difficult tactic for them.
  • Zerg Rush: An anti-air version, since they also spawn two at a time and rather quickly.

    Queen (air)

The Zerg flying spellcaster, she supports the swarm with various delibitating abilities.

  • The Bus Came Back: In the Co-Op mode in Legacy of the Void, Stukov can deploy these, under the name "Brood Queen".
  • Crazy Enough to Work: Using Parasite on critters. Since the AI never targets them (and, with enough luck, the human player may not be aware of them), they work as invincible scouts.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: In the lore the Queen was always like the Starcraft II Queen, overseeing the base and helping the development of the swarm from behind the front lines. This original Queen was a support and harassment caster unit.
  • One-Hit Kill: Spawn Broodling instantly kills any non-robotic, non-psionic ground unit. Only Archons, Dark Archons, Probes and Reavers cannot be targeted by Spawn Broodling, making the spell more versatile that it could seem at first.
  • Projectile Webbing: They can barf up a mass of sticky green substance over an area that greatly slows any units caught in it. It also reveals cloaked units, making it useful against Ghost nukes.
  • Seeing Through Another's Eyes: The Parasite spell lets the Queen's controller see what the targeted unit can see, and it can be used on cloaked or burrowed units, keeping them visible while the parasite lives. Using it on detectors reveals any cloaked or burrowed units. It can only be removed by a Medic's Restoration.
  • Squishy Wizard: With Ensnare (Slows down a group of enemies), Parasite, Spawn Broodling and Infest Command Center, the Queen's spells can be very powerful on the battlefield, but it cannot attack and has as much health as a Mutalisk.
  • Spawn Broodling: Trope Namer.
  • The Symbiote: The various parasitic beasties she hosts are the basis of her powers
  • You Will Be Assimilated: Their Infest Command Center ability, which does exactly what you'd think.


An advanced form of the Infested Terran, they attack with claws and are barely recognizable as being human once. They start out as a special enemy unit seen in a handful of campaign missions in Wings of Liberty, then become a full-fledged Zerg unit in Heart of the Swarm.

  • Armor-Piercing Attack: In the Heart of the Swarm campaign.
  • Balance Buff: In Wings of Liberty, they're just Elite Mooks seen in a couple missions. In Heart of the Swarm, they have more HP, get an impressive damage buff against armored enemies, and can walk over smaller units.
  • Body Horror: These... things... are the ultimate evolution, thus far, of Infested Terrans.
  • Captain Ersatz: To the Ultralisk, which does appear in Heart of the Swarm's campaign but not until potentially the last mission before you go to Korhal. The Aberration gets to fill in the role of the heavy frontline unit for the early game, and even after Ultras come into the picture it's Not Completely Useless since it's cheaper, has slightly longer range, can be made on Lair tech, and can out-damage Ultralisks when it comes to attacking single, armored units (which Aberrations get a bonus against and Ultras don't.)
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Their eyes glow orange.
  • Simple, yet Awesome: in Heart of the Swarm. They are Lair-tier units, but they're effective Lair-tier units; they get a nasty attack with bonus damage to armored units and are pretty durable for Lair-tier units to boot. In the words of Abathur:
    Abathur: "Analyzing genetic strand, sloppy...but effective".


A support caster, they can take over the minds of enemies, spew eggs that hatch into Infested Terrans, and use "Fungal Growth" on enemies to pin them in place and a bit of damage. Like Roaches, they can move while burrowed.

  • Captain Ersatz: Basically the second game's equivalent of the original Queen, with its ability to disable multiple enemies or take a single one away from the opponent.
  • Festering Fungus: Fungal Growth.
  • Herd-Hitting Attack: Fungal Growth's area-of-effect damage and slow make it a great answer to enemy infantry balls.
  • Mook Maker: Spawns Infested Terrans.
  • Puppeteer Parasite: Neural Parasite. Infestors thus inherit the Dark Archon's ability to capture an enemy's Worker Unit in order to build another tech tree, though it's even trickier here because of the limited duration and you don't get the benefit of separate supply limits.
  • Squishy Wizard: Has awesome spells, but a measly 90 hit points. They also have no basic attack.
  • The Symbiote: see below.
  • The Worm That Walks: Described as more of a colony of aliens living in a hollow, slug-like shell than an individual organism.

    Swarm Host

A siege unit added with Heart of the Swarm, they can take root in the ground and unleash hordes of small locusts, continually and freely spawning attackers on enemies.

  • Balance Buff: In Legacy of the Void, the spawn time for their locusts is significantly increased, and they can now spawn locusts while moving and can upgrade them to fly. This makes them much more aggressive and proactive than before.
  • Body Horror: Apparently its design managed to invoke trypophobia in some players. Completely not helped by how it "births" the locusts.
  • Divergent Character Evolution: To the Creeper or Carrion in the campaign — Creepers produce creep when rooted and can Deep Tunnel to move to creep-covered areas instantly, while Carrions produce flying locusts that move faster, do more damage, and of course fly.
  • Gradual Grinder: Locusts do not move extremely quickly, their small size makes them extremely vulnerable to splash damage because so many can be hit at once, have to get in close to attack, and have no armor at the start and only 65 HP. Against a well-fortified enemy, it's likely only a handful will manage to get in attack range and squeeze off a few shots. But the fact that there's always more where they came from (provided the Swarm Hosts are kept safe) and their ludicrously high fire rate and damage-per-shot means that bit by bit they can chip away at an enemy's strength. Further compounded with the Viper, which can use Abduct to pull units out of safety.
  • Mook Maker / Spawn Broodling: Rather like the Queen from the original Starcraft, it's their only way of attack — unlike the Queen, however, the Swarm Host constantly produces small, hard-hitting locusts at regular intervals, rather than needing to implant enemies.
  • Nerf: The base Swarm host in the campaign is weaker than it is in melee games- without an upgrade it is visible when activated, and its locusts have a much lower dps.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: In Heart of the Swarm it was this towards the Lurker, as a unit that can only "attack" while burrowed, and did so constantly. With the Lurker's return to multiplayer in Legacy of the Void, Swarm Hosts got a significant rework to prevent redundancy, by reducing the frequency in which Locusts are spawned, and also adding upgrades to allow Locuts to fly, or spawn while the Swarm Host isn't burrowed.
  • The Symbiote: Has larvae as part of its immune system.
  • You Have Researched Breathing: Oddly, in the Heart of the Swarm campaign, Swarm Hosts cannot burrow when they root to the ground, and instead need a specific mutation just to figure out how to burrow (which all Zerg can do innately). In multiplayer, on the other hand, Swarm Host have always been able to stay borrowed when rooted, without the need of an upgrade.


An anti-armor flier, they act as a counter to heavier air units that Mutalisks can't compete with.

  • Armor-Piercing Attack: With their Corruption ability.
  • Damage-Increasing Debuff: Corruption causes enemy units to take 20% extra damage.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Heart of the Swarm's campaign mode states the genetic data needed to have larvae mutate into Corruptors was lost. However, Kerrigan's forces include them in the first mission in the Whispers of Oblivion short campaign.
  • Lost Technology: As of Heart of the Swarm, it's stated that the genetic information needed to make Corruptors became lost after the events of Wings of Liberty. As a result, the only way to get Brood Lords was evolve your Mutaliks to transform into them instead. Weirdly enough, Kerrigan's forces have them in Whispers of Oblivion, and zerg broods possessed by Amon still have corruptors.
  • Lightning Bruiser: They move quite fast, do good damage, and have a lot of HP.
  • Siege Engines: in Legacy of the Void the Corruptor swaps out Corruption for Caustic Spray, a channeled ability that deals increasing damage over time (7 damage per second for the initial 4.3 seconds and then increasing to 35) to an enemy structure. When you see a swarm of Corruptors heading for your Hatchery/Nexus/Command Center, it's probably a good idea to call in the Anti-Air.
  • The Topic of Cancer: In the same spirit as the Defiler, Corruptor tentacles are laced with tumors. As these tumors devour their tissues, they generate the electromagnetic field that Corruptors use to fly. However, they must use their parasite spores in order to regulate their cancer, lest it devour their own tentacles.
  • Violation of Common Sense: Corruptors eventually learned how to attack ground targets, but are only allowed to target structures, even though this logically means mobiles wouldn't be much of an issue. The only way around this is to morph them into Brood Lords who can attack all ground targets but have no Anti-Air.


A new spellcasting flier in Heart of the Swarm, they can lash enemies and pull them out of place, or do the same to allies to pull them to safety. They can also spit clouds to limit enemy attack range, and regenerate energy by leaching health off friendly structures.

  • Armor-Piercing Attack: Get a damage bonus against armored enemies.
  • Captain Ersatz: Has an anti-air attack in the campaign which functions similar to a Corruptor's, letting them fill a similar niche on account of the Corruptor genetic material becoming lost. They're also Heart of the Swarm's equivalent of the Defiler due to their Dark Swarm/Blinding Cloud ability that renders ranged attacks useless.
  • Expy: A flying Defiler.
  • Grappling-Hook Gun: Its main ability. Very nice for pulling key enemy units out of position and into a swift death.
  • Life Drain: And convert it into energy, causing your buildings to Cast From Hit Points. The campaign lets them drain other units instead.
  • Squishy Wizard: Has no basic attack outside of the campaign. While Parasitic Bomb takes care of flying units and Blinding Cloud deals with ground-based Anti-Air, if its energy runs dry then it's out of luck.

Introduced in Legacy of the Void, the Ravager is an artillery unit evolved from the Roach. They launch deadly bursts of Corrosive Bile onto their foes from above.
  • Anti-Air: While Ravagers can't shoot down air units, they can hit them with Corrosive Bile.
  • Barrier-Busting Blow: Corrosive Bile is capable of breaking a Sentry's Force Fields.
  • Crosshair Aware: Corrosive Bile's target location is designated by an orange marker visible to both friend and foe. It's generally not a good idea to stand there.
  • Death from Above: The Ravager's Corrosive Bile rains down from on-high to deal high damage.
  • Giant Mook: They're much bigger than most similar Zerg units.
  • Glass Cannon: Ravagers actually have less health than Roaches, but can dish out much more damage with good aim.
  • Outside-Context Problem: In regards to the game's Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors, Ravagers are only classified as Biological, and do not take any extra damage from anti-armor or anti-light attacks.
  • Siege Engines: Ravagers can be used as low-cost artillery, as they have a higher range than Roaches (and most non-Siege units), and can use their Corrosive Bile against structures, which cannot dodge it.
  • Spikes of Villainy: Their backs are covered with jutting, bony spikes.
  • Super Spit: Terrans can't seem to agree on whether the Ravager's bile counts as puke or excrement. The one thing they know for sure is that it hurts. They also spit acid as their basic attack.

Hive-level breeds


A specialized Zerg strain laying at the top of their tech tree, Defilers can support the swarm with the various toxins it can spew.

  • The Bus Came Back: They return in Nova Covert Ops.
  • Evolution Powerup: According to the "Leviathan Brood" skin pack, defilers evolved into Vipers, or at least, the majority of their DNA has been intergrated into it.
  • Herd-Hitting Attack: Plague damages all enemies in an area of effect.
  • Hollywood Acid: Plague is said to be very corrosive.
  • HP to 1: Plague can't kill affected units. If its damage per second would kill the unit, it will instead leave them at 1 HP.
  • Monstrous Cannibalism: Devour, which kills a friendly zerg and converts it into 50 energy.
  • No-Sell: Units under a Defiler's Dark Swarm are immune to ranged attacks (they can still be affected by Splash Damage, though).
  • Poison Is Corrosive: Plague wears down armor plating and steel supports. It also ignores Protoss shields.
  • Squishy Wizard: A well-placed Dark Swarm or Plague can punch a nice hole in the enemy's defenses, assuming the 80 HP Defiler can get the ability off safely.
  • The Topic of Cancer: On top of being hideously acidic, Plague is also a carcinogen. Defilers are described as "cancer factories"; In fact, the Defiler Mound is said to be little more than a giant tumor so virulent that it poisons mineral crystals. Apparently the zerg are so adaptable they eat cancer for breakfast and then cook up a way to ruin someone's day with it.
  • The Symbiote: Dark Swarm is the result of launching a massive ammount of Zerg bacteria that live on the Defiler's back at the enemy.
  • Universal Poison: Nothing is immune to Plague. Terran Marines, Protoss Photon Cannons, enemy Zerg — all get infected and damaged at the same rate.


A massive Zerg breed that looks like an elephant if it was designed by Satan, they cleave enemies apart with their Kaiser Blades.

  • Absurdly Sharp Claws: Per fluff, they have a monomolecular edge.
  • Achilles' Heel: All that raw power and it still can't attack air units. Air-to-ground attackers can have a field day bringing it down unless its commander is savvy enough to send Mutalisk or Hydralisk air support.
    • In the original game, they could only attack one target at a time and had a rather slow attack, making it a good idea to surround them and attack all at once. Perfectly shown in the first mission of Brood War where a single Ultralisk was surrounded by four Zealots, which would result in its death and all of the Zealots still alive.
  • Auto-Revive: The Torrasque strain in Heart of the Swarm can revive itself when killed, provided it hasn't done so in the last 60 seconds.
  • Balance Buff: Consistently so; every game they get stronger and stronger.
    • Between the original game and Brood War, they got upgrades for their armor and speed.
    • In the sequel, they got to deal splash damage, along with an HP buff and an ability to make them immune to enemy attacks that would stun them, along with the ability to burrow.
    • In Heart of the Swarm, they got a damage buff. The campaign does not apply the buff, but gives them the mentioned Divergent Character Evolution along with the awesome Burrow Charge ability. It also got an immunity to movement-impairing effects alongside those it got in Wings of Liberty.
    • In Legacy of the Void, the armor bonus provided by Chitinous Plating was doubled, letting Ultralisks have an Armor of up to 8.
  • Divergent Character Evolution: In Heart of the Swarm they diversify into the Noxious Ultralisk, which emits toxic gas with its attacks to deal even more Splash Damage, or the Torrasque which enters a cocoon when killed and regenerates.
  • Life Drain: In Heart of the Swarm, they have a mutation that allows them to eat the tissue their kaiser blades scrape from enemy mooks, whick precipitates them healing from it.
  • Elite Mook: They're basically the Zerg's ground-based answer to the Battlecruiser and Carrier. Abathur calls it "ultimate expression of Swarm evolution".
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: The Brontoliths who were mutated into the Ultralisks were originally Gentle Giants.
  • Giant Mook: A cutscene in Heart of the Swarm shows them stomping siege tanks.
  • Herd-Hitting Attack: They deal Splash Damage when attacking in StarCraft II.
  • The Juggernaut: In the sequel. Trying to hold out an Ultralisk with several weak units like in the first game? Splash Damage would like to have a word with you. Stunning it? Mind Control? Snaring? No-Sell. The only way to neutralize an Ultralisk is to kill it. Oh, you're playing the Heart of the Swarm campaign? Meet the Torrasque strain, the Ultralisk that just got killed is getting back up!
  • Lightning Bruiser: As befits the name, they hit hard and take a lot of damage, yet still move quite quickly. In Brood War, they are given a speed upgrade making them about as fast as zerglings, in Heart of the Swarm, they are given a burrow charge ability to quickly close with enemies.
  • Nuclear Nasty: the Ultralisk Cavern is said to contain radioactive materials.
    • Tarrasques are evolved by mutations from an experimental Enhanced Fallout Weapon.
  • Poisonous Person: Noxious Ultralisks live in symbiosis with a toxic mould, which allows them to spew poison gas.
  • Ramming Always Works: In the Wings of Liberty campaign, the Ultralisk can ram buildings for extra damage.
  • Resurrective Immortality: Tarrasques, just like their namesake.
  • Sharpened to a Single Atom: Their blades are said to be this as per Absurdly Sharp Claws.
  • Sinister Scythe: The aforementioned Kaiser Blades.
  • Splash Damage: In the sequel.
  • Stealthy Colossus: In the first game, the Ultralisk was the only Zerg ground unit that couldn't burrow. In the sequel, not only can it burrow like the other units (as can its building-sized King Mook counterpart the Omegalisk), it even has an attack where it burrows when a short distance from the enemy and emerges in the enemy's midst.
  • Your Size May Vary: One Ultralisk in the Heart of the Swarm trailer is large enough to stomp over Siege tanks and ignore their shots. Another in the Legacy of the Void one is small enough for an Archon to grapple with it.
    • Possibly justified, in that the former was actually an in-story dream sequence. Alternatively, it might have been an Omegalisk instead, a creature that looks like an Ultralisk, only several times its size (see the Omegalisk article for details).


A massive and slow-moving unit evolved from the Mutalisk, they fire globs of acid to destroy grounded targets from out of conventional ranges.

  • Balance Buff: The Brood Lord of the sequel is essentially the Guardian with more HP and the ability to Spawn Broodlings when it attacks. Additionally, the Primal Zerg Guardians fought in Heart of the Swarm have the ability to attack air units as well.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: While most Zerg are insectoid or reptilian, the Guardian carries a crustacean vibe with it.
  • Glass Cannon: Zig-Zagged: Long range. High damage. 150 HP. Terrible movement rates. It's advised players fly their Mutalisks to the attack location and mutate them into Guardians there, because it'll take a long time for the Guardian to get from your base to the enemy's. However, they gain a weakness to Anti-Armor weapons often making their hitpoint gain a net loss since Mutalisks (120 HP) resist 50% of explosive damage. This makes units like Goliaths able to melt through them like butter & even match their range. They're also completely helpless against enemy air. However, Glass Cannon Marines fight them at a disadvantage due to the Guardian's extra armor and longer range.
  • Hollywood Acid: Unlike the Defiler's Plague, it doesn't actually seem to corrode anything. The acid causes immediate damage more like a missile explosion.
  • Siege Engines: An airborne variation.

Another strain derived from the Mutalisk, they launch corrosive acid at enemy fleets that eat away at them and slow them down.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: A weakness of the Devourer: it's entirely specialized to deal with enemy air, so once the Zerg player has air superiority Devourers are dead weight as they cannot attack ground units at all- the player must keep this in mind if he/she decides to use Devourers, as to not waste too many resources. They were replaced with Corruptors (in Melee) as a result, who can either attack structures or enemy airborne, or morph into a Broodlord who can only attack ground targets and do so outside of the range of base defenses. Mutalisks meanwhile became a stand-alone unit.
  • Hollywood Acid: Similar to the Guardian, the acid does immediate damage, but also leaves an "acid spores" debuff like the acid is weakening the integrity of the unit hull/carapace and is making them more vulnerable to damage. This is akin to real corrosion such as water rusting-out iron over time only it's temporary.
  • Mighty Glacier: They move more slowly than the Mutalisk but do much more damage.
  • Splash Damage: A curious variation, while in Brood War the Terrans and Protoss got the Valkyrie and Corsair to add this to their fleets, the Mutalisk already did Splash Damage, but it wasn't that strong. Solution: the Devourer itself doesn't do splash damage, but when it attacks the target and nearby units are splashed with acid spores that cause them to take additional damage and attack slower, the Mutalisk is powered up. Their spores can also reveal cloaked units hit with the splash, letting them serve as alternatives to Overlords for detection.
  • Support Party Member: See above.
  • The Bus Came Back: The Devourer returns as an unit exclusive to Abathur in Co-Op mode in Starcraft II.

    Brood Lord

An evolution of the Corruptor, it produces Broodlings from its body which it then hurls at ground targets, not only damaging them heavily but leaving the Broodling down there to wreak further havoc on their own.

  • Abnormal Ammo: Fires broodlings (which then proceed to gnaw on your enemies) instead of simple projectiles.
  • Expy: The evolved form of the Guardian.
  • Fastball Special: As seen above, they launch broodlings at enemies.
  • Mighty Glacier: Does much more damage with its broodlings than the original Guardian, but is still very slow and not good to respond to threats a distance away. This is one the major risks of massing a large number of Brood Lords into one group.
  • Mook Maker: Broodlings fired at the ground count as units and keep going.
  • Siege Engines: One that leaves behind a unit to keep attacking enemies in addition to just doing damage.
  • Spawn Broodling: Literally — they attack by shooting Broodlings at enemies, leaving the Broodling to keep attacking the enemy on the ground.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Averted compared to the Guardian of the first game. All they have in common is that they are slow, flying Siege Engines. The Brood Lord has 50% more health, each Broodling launched hits as hard as the Guardian's attack (And it hits up to twice) and it has more uses than sniping units from afar - from example, its Broodlings are a nightmare to Siege Tank lines, similar to what the Queen could do in the first game.
  • The Symbiote: Like Swarm Hosts and Larvae, the Brood Lord has a bunch of Broodlings living in it.

Specialized Zerg breeds

    Infested Terran
"Live for the Swarm!"

Have a Queen infect a Command Center and this is the result, a Zerg-controlled Terran that will sacrifice his life for the Overmind. In StarCraft II multiplayer, they are instead spawned by Infestors.

  • Action Bomb: A very dangerous one at 500 damage.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: As described under Glass Cannon below, they're too fragile to be of any real use, and that's assuming you can even infest a Command Center to use them in the first place, which requires inflicting considerable damage to it, but not destroy, and then send a queen to infest it, which costs time and resources.
  • Balance Buff: They're far more useful in Stacraft II and not just because they're spawned by a Mook Maker this time around. They're basically buffed up Marines with higher damage and HP. Their major flaws are their timed life and low speed, both of which are forgiveable if you use them properly.
  • Body Horror: Just look at them.
  • Cutting the Knot: Their one appearance in the original campaign has them acting as what amounts to living land mines in an installation level — mines that will one-shot any of your troops they see. Fortunately it's a Protoss level, and the Infested Terrans can't tell the difference between a Zealot and a hallucination of one created by Tassadar.
  • Driven to Suicide: In II, if you look closely when their timer runs out, you see them put their guns to their heads and blow out their own brains (literally; it can be seen tumbling free of the corpse).
  • Elite Zombie: Original Flavour infested terrans are Boomer subtypes, and they hit like nukes.note  Abberations fit the Brute subtypes, and Infested Marines are still in possession of their gauss rifles; now loaded with stingers instead of steel spikes. Infested colonists, fit the Person Zombie subtype; albeit barely, since they're still lucid enough to beg to be killed. All types of infested terran fit the Regenerator subtype due to the Zerg Healing Factor. The non-canon Tabletop rpg exclusive Mutates fit into Test Subject and Person Zombie.
  • Eye Scream: In the sequel, they have two tentacles that seem to emerge from their eye sockets.
  • Fastball Special: Infested Siege Tanks in II launch them instead of artillery shells.
  • Glass Cannon:
    • With 60 HP they aren't going to survive long. With 500 Splash Damage as an attack, the same can be said of their target if they can get there.
    • Likewise in the sequel. They are weaker than fully-upgraded Marines (But still effective if in enough numbers and with Neural Parasite support) and they are very slow at moving across the battlefield.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Their response to being twisted into horrific parodies of themselves (at least, going by their Stop Poking Me! lines in II)? Call in sick with a touch of the flu.
  • Parasite Zombie
  • Put on a Bus: In Legacy of the Void, the Infestor's ability to spawn Infested Marines was eventually removed from multiplayer.
  • Serial Numbers Filed Off: In Brood War, they're functionally like Warcraft II Dwarven Demolition Squads and Goblin Sappers, due to their function as suicide units that inflict colossal damage.
  • Sinister Schnoz: Their noses are mutated into a tarpir-like trunk.
  • Taking You with Me: Nothing in the campaign takes 500 damage in one shot and survives save for the Torrasque and the Dummied Out Archon Hero. If the Infested Terran explodes on its target, that target is dead.
  • Technically Living Zombie: They aren't technically undead, just living humans infected with Zerg parasites. Sometimes they're still conscious.
  • Took a Level in Badass: In II, ANY Terran building or unit can be infested. However, only Stukov can use the infested version in non-campaign play.
  • Up to Eleven: In II, there are infested siege tanks and cruisers as well. Moreover, any Terran building can become infested instead of just the command center. In the co-op campaign, Stukov can even use infested Diamondback tanks and Liberator frigates.
  • You Will Be Assimilated: They've suffered this fate.
  • Zombie Gait: Only move half as fast as regular Marines.

"Evolving Brutalisk. Threat level maximized."

A massive special Zerg breed and terribly powerful, it appears as an optional foe in some missions, yielding valuable DNA for research when killed.

  • Bonus Boss: As mentioned, whenever it appears its as an optional objective, and for good reason.
  • Elite Mook: They have huge HP and power.
  • Mighty Glacier: Brutalisks have enough damage to rip apart armies. Movement speed is not so impressive.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: Your guess is as good as ours what DNA strand(s) the Brutalisk was mutated from.
  • Spikes of Villainy: Spikes emerge all over its body, far more than the normal Zerg units.
  • Summon Bigger Fish: Late in the Heart of the Swarm campaign, the objective is to find and kill several stronger-than-normal hybrid in succession. Conveniently, the same mission's bonus objectives are to free and take control of two of these.

    Nydus Worm 
"Warning: Seismic disturbance detected. Nydus Worm inbound."

Technically more of a building than a unit, the Nydus Worm is produced by the Nydus Network and bursts out of the ground anywhere in line of sight. There it can disgorge any units "garrisoned" in the Network or pick up units.

  • Awesome, but Impractical: Can transport a whole ground army across a map but is vulnerable while emerging, has a fairly significant resource cost and relatively low HP, requires good timing and micromanagement to get any real benefit, and makes a very distinctive scream whenever it emerges.
  • Balance Buff: In Legacy of the Void they're now invulnerable when surfacing.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: In one cutscene Kerrigan rides on a worm's head as it rises out of the ground and grabs an enemy in its mouth. Nothing like that is possible in the game.
  • Lamprey Mouth: Their mouths are designed this way.
  • Living Structure Monster: Basically a living bunker complex.
  • Portal Network: Acts like a biological portal network.
  • Sand Worm: Seems inspired by the Graboids
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Of the Nydus Canals of the first game.
  • Swallowed Whole: It pretty much swallows units and regurgitates them out of another head.


Another massive Zerg breed only seen in two missions, it is incredibly strong and takes a lot of firepower to take down.

  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Omegalisks are huge; they dwarf even the Ultralisk in size.
  • Elite Mook: An utterly huge Ultralisk.
  • Giant Mook: One of the largest Zerg ever seen. The titanic monster from the Heart of the Swarm intro cinematic that is usually considered to be an Ultralisk might actually be an Omegalisk instead. It's large enough to destroy Siege Tanks by stepping on them, a feat its in-game model could pull off as well if the devs had given it such an ability.
  • King Mook: To the Ultralisk. The Omegalisk is actually based on scrapped Ultralisk designs that had them much bigger, and in-game is represented by a scaled-up Ultralisk model.
  • Lightning Bruiser: They're beefed up Ultralisks with more HP and power and no loss of speed for it.
  • Sinister Scythe: Attacks with the same kaiser blades as Ultralisks.
  • Use Your Head: They can ram targets to smash them apart.

"Leviathan: largest of Zerg. Powerful evolution."

An utterly huge breed of airborne Zerg, tasked with defending Char in the final battles. In Heart of the Swarm, Kerrigan uses one as her base of operations between missions and can choose to summon a weaker version as her final ability.

  • Breath Weapon: Spews bio-plasma both as an attack and an ability.
  • Combat Tentacles: Its four tentacles can lash out to attack enemies.
  • The Dragon: To Kerrigan in Wings of Liberty. Depending on which mission you take, you either fight it in the penultimate mission, or it attacks you in the final mission. One of her ultimate abilities in Heart of the Swarm summons a Leviathan to serve her once again.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: In the story, they're described as moon-sized, can carry entire Zerg armies to drop onto planets, and act as Kerrigan's base of operations. However, in Heart of the Swarm Kerrigan gets the ability to summon them in combat, but they attack ground units with tentacles and their drop-pod Mook Maker ability is nowhere (it's a separate ability). They are still highly formidable in killing Battlecruiser fleets, though.
  • Mook Maker: Spits out Brood Lords and Mutalisks.
  • One-Man Army: Can take out dozens of units alone.
  • Space Whale: Adapted the ability to survive in space from these.
  • Units Not to Scale: It is gigantic and definitely one of the biggest units you'll see in the campaign, but in Heart of the Swarm cutscenes a Leviathan acts as Kerrigan's base of operations, and is so massive that the Hyperion battlecruiser looks tiny, but even the Spear of Adun dwarfs it. In the lore they are described as moon-sized.
  • Your Size May Vary: Even the game models vary in size, but in one mission Kerrigan has to "infiltrate" a terran ship and received reinforcements from her Leviathan. The Leviathan uses it's tendrils to deploy these reinforcements, each of which is the size of a Nydus Worm. When you summon it in any other context, these tendrils are instead the size of a Sunken Colony's spike.

"Sir, we've just had a whole cargo-ship full of whoop-ass dumped on us! We ran into a new strain of Ultralisk and it took a lot o' pepper to bring it down."

The elite strains of the Ultralisk, featured in only a handful of missions. And in all of them it steals the show as one of the most powerful forces in the campaigns. In Heart of the Swarm the Torrasque returns as a variant strain of the Ultralisk only available to the player in the campaign.

Provides examples of:

  • Ascended Extra: In the base game it was just another of one of many generic hero units that took part in the Enslavers mini-campaign. Brood War saw it worked into normal missions, and then Heart of the Swarm made it an Ultralisk upgrade.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The reason why it was Put on a Bus in Wings Of Liberty was due to the enormous amount of energy it required to resurrect, something that the Overmind used to provide, but after the Brood Wars, Kerrigan seemingly could not provide the same energy as easily, so the strain was abandoned.
  • Badass Normal: Short of the Dummied Out Tassadar/Zeratul Archon and boss units with modified stats, it's the most powerful unit in the entire base game. Depending on some variables, it can take on Kerrigan and probably Zeratul in a one-on-one fight. This is despite having no psionic powers or special abilities. It's just got really high stats.
  • Brought Down to Badass: The strain recreated in Heart of the Swarm is just a normal Ultralisk with the ability to reincarnate, they don't get the original Torrasque's increased stats. But, they're still plenty strong anyway.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: The strain's trademark trait is that the Torrasque reincarnates upon death. In the two missions where you face one, they're reincarnated by their Cerebrate when killed and a few minutes later will be back for more, and in Heart of the Swarm they spontaneously generate a cocoon around their corpses on death and rapidly regenerate tissue to revive.
  • I Love Nuclear Power / Nuclear Nasty: In Heart of the Swarm, Abathur manages to recreate its strand by having Ultralisks drain radiation from one of Arcturus' experimental nuclear weapons and use it to mutate.
  • The Juggernaut: It already had one of the best armor ratings in the game at 4 in the base game, but with Brood War it got the Ultralisk's armor upgrade for an extra 2. That's a total of 6 base armor, 9 when fully upgraded. At that level of power most units won't even faze it, and the few that can get to enjoy whittling down its monstrous 800 HP which, as with all Zerg, regenerates.
  • King Mook: To the Ultralisk.
  • Lightning Bruiser: 800 HP, a 50 damage attack, and base 6 armor. It moves fast, hits hard, and takes a lot of firepower to bring it down.
  • One-Man Army: It can single-handedly rips your base to shreds.
  • Recurring Boss: See Death Is a Slap on the Wrist.
  • Shout-Out: To the tarrasque from Dungeons & Dragons, traditionally considered the single most powerful creature in the game. Ultralisks look very similar in design to the tarrasque, and like tarrasque, its inspiration has ridiculously powerful regeneration abilities, to the point where it can regenerate from death without any assistance.

    Hunter Killer 
"Cerebrate, take these, the deadliest of my minions."

The elite strains of the Hydralisk, they are the finest creations of Daggoth and are only used a handful of times. They return in a couple missions in Starcraft II, though harder to notice without their unique coloring as in the original game.

Provides examples of:

  • Ballistic Bone: Its attack, as with the original Hydralisk.
  • Elite Mook: For the Hydralisk, the Hunter Killers are never deployed in numbers as great as normal Zerg but are far more dangerous without the numerical advantage.
  • King Mook: To the Hydralisk.
  • Lightning Bruiser: They're Hydralisks with more armor and double the HP and attack power.
  • Praetorian Guard: They're Kerrigan's guardians in both the original game and sequel, accompanying her in almost all their depictions and defending her base from enemies.

    Devouring Ones 
Similar to Hunter Killers (Hydralisks) and Torrasque (Ultralisk) they are the Hero types of Zerglings.

Provides examples of:

  • King Mook: To the Zerglings.
  • Lightning Bruiser: 120 HP and 3 base armor makes Devouring Ones them very sturdy for Zerglings. In terms of offense, they have 10 base damage. That, alongside the trademark high movement and attack speed of Zerglings, means Devouring Ones can rip through forces at an alarming speed, even though the Adrenal Glands upgrade isn't available in the only time the player can use them.
  • One-Shot Character: They make a total of just one appearance. In the second Zerg mission of Brood War, Kerrigan comes across a group of three Devouring Ones that she obtains using the Psi Emitter.

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