starcraft 2 big picture


In the past few weeks, there has been much discussion on the current macro elements in StarCraft II. The discussion over MULEs, Larva Injection, and the Obelisk garnered much of the attention of the StarCraft community neglecting many of the other gameplay elements. With several Battle Reports officially released by Blizzard along with a number of YouTube videos from conventions, the StarCraft community is able to dissect the units and balance of the three races. By reviewing each unit, as well as discussing the specific roles the units play, we can gain a better understanding on how Blizzard designed StarCraft II. Although the stats may change throughout the beta period, the purpose of this article is to look at the basic stats, the role the unit is playing, how it differs from the original StarCraft, how it meshes with StarCraft II's new damaged system, and thoughts on how well the unit fills its particular role.

Besides the lipstick job and fancy new graphics, the new version of StarCraft features a new streamlined damage system. Instead of remembering what type of damage a particular unit does - normal, explosive, concussive - and the targets' armor/unit type, - light, medium, heavy - the new damage system uses base damage plus an additional modifier. Although the old system was far from complex, Blizzard's update to the damage system allows players along with spectators to jump into the game without memorizing damage types. Before we review the new units of StarCraft II, lets first look at the new damage system in action.



StarCraft II Damage System: Case Studies

Terran Protoss Zerg
- Barracks
- Factory
Siege Tank
- Starport
Medivac Dropship
- Gateway/Warp Gate
High Templar
Dark Templar
- Robotics Facility
Warp Prism
- Stargate
Void Ray
Brood Lord

(Editor's Note: keep in mind that this article does not discuss every unit in StarCraft II)


StarCraft II Damage System: Case Studies

The Reaper has a base damage of 4 (x2), with a bonus of +4 vs light units. Here is a quick breakdown for two scenarios which show how the math for the damage system could work with the modifiers. The damage modifier can apply to each pistol shot for a total damage bonus of +8 or be a flat modifier with a total bonus of +4. The charts below should better explain the subtle differences between the two damage systems.

Now remember the base damage of the reaper is times 2 - this comes from the dual pistol attack of the Reaper, similar to the Zealot's attack. There are a number of scenarios below with two potential explanations for the damage modifiers.

System 1:

The top row shows the unit being targeted, its armor and hit points. The left column shows the attacking unit.

  Zergling 35 hit points 0 Armor Zergling 35 hit points 1 Armor Roach 160 hit points 1 Armor
Reaper - 4+4 with +4 vs Light Units 12 damage per round- 3 total shots to kill 10 damage per round- 4 shots to kill 6 damage per round-27 shots to kill
Marauder - 15 with +6 vs Armored 15 damage per round- 3 total shots to kill 14 damage per round- 3 shots to kill 20 damage per round-8 shots to kill

System 2:


  Zergling 35 hit points 0 Armor Zergling 35 hit points 1 Armor Roach 160 hit points 1 Armor
Reaper - 4 with +4 vs Light Units (x2) 16 damage per round- 3 total shots to kill 14 damage per round- 3 shots to kill 6 damage per round- 27 shots to kill
Marauder - 15 with +6 vs Armored 15 damage per round- 3 total shots to kill 14 damage per round- 3 shots to kill 20 damage per round- 8 shots to kill


The math from System 1 assumes that the +4 vs light units applies to the total effect of Reaper damage. Because the Reaper damage is split to 4 damage per pistol shot and the Reaper holding two pistols is firing two rounds at a time the total bonus +4 is split to +2 for each pistol.

The math from System 2 assumes that the +4 applies to each pistol thereby giving the effect of +8 per attack. Although the damage system is not finalized, StarCraft II is using System 2 as it coincides with weapon upgrades system. Those familiar with StarCraft will recall that it takes a non-upgraded Zealot 3 rounds of attack to kill a Zergling while it only takes 2 round when the Zealot has the weapons upgrade, making weapon upgrades an important part of the early game. By making upgrades an essential part of StarCraft II, players will have to think carefully on how to invest their Minerals and Gas.

The following chart shows the difference between the numbers in System 1 and System 2, assuming a weapons upgrade from the Reapers, for a battle against a Zergling.

  Zergling 35 hit points 0 Armor
System 1 Reaper with weapons upgrade (5x2) +4 14 damage per round, 3 rounds to kill a Zergling (5 Shots)
System 2 Reaper with weapons upgrade (5+4) x2 18 damage per round, 2 rounds to kill a Zergling (4 Shots)

Because the designers of StarCraft II want to make the option of upgrading units useful, it's likely that System 2 is accurate.

With changes to the damage system, there will undoubtedly be changes to how units are effected and used in the field. The next table shows the effect of the new damage system compared to the old damage system with the classic Siege Tank.

  Marine 40 hit points 0 Armor - Light Unit
Orig StarCraft Siege Tank - Siege Mode - 70 Explosive Damage Effective Damage, 70/2 = 35 Damage - Total hits 2
StarCraft II Tank - Siege Mode 50 Damage +50 vs armored Effective damage 50 = Total Hits 1


The new Siege Tank is more effective than its predecessor against light units as it does more damage to light units before they get within its minimum range. In addition, the new Siege Tank is also extremely effective towards heavily armored units found later in the game. With this basic understanding of the new damage system for StarCraft II, we have a basic understanding of the building block Blizzard uses to have a unit fulfill a particular role. Now we can finally look at each individual unit, their abilities, and how the new upgrades will change the game.

A quick side note on shields - the shields in the original StarCraft always took full damage, regardless of the damage type, Explosive or Concussive. It appears the shield system has drastically changed from the original StarCraft. Now there is no difference between how shields absorb damage compared to the base hit points of a Protoss unit. The shields are essentially an extension to the Protoss hit points with the added bonus of being able to naturally regenerate at a higher rate compared to Terran or Zerg units.




Marine -


  • Small versatile unit with strength in numbers
  • Weakest of the tier 1 units in open combat
    • Keywords: Biological, Light
    • Damage Modifiers: None
    • Targets: Air,Ground

The Marine is the basic bread and butter unit of the Terran army. A dozen Marines adds strength and depth to any Terran army. One of the original strengths of the Marine in StarCraft was its size, a small unit, along with its ability to deal normal damage. The majority of high damage units from the original StarCraft used an explosive damage type, making the attack half as effective against a Marine. With the move to base damage, the Marine is no longer as effective once high damage units are introduced. In order to compensate for this, Blizzard gives the Terran Marine a Combat Shield, giving the Marine an additional 15 hit points. The additional hit points makes the Marine more durable by not being able to be one hit killed from a Siege Tank as shown above, as well as the ability to take extra hits from Zealots and other melee units. The Combat Shield makes the Marine more powerful against other early game units and makes up some lost ground in the mid to late game with changes to the damage system.

Reaper -


  • Effective against light units with the ability to jump cliffs
  • Effectiveness tapers off quickly after armies transfer to high tiered units
    • Keywords: Biological, Light
    • Damage Modifiers: +4 vs Light
    • Targets: Ground

The Reaper replaces the Firebat from the Original StarCraft as the anti-light unit produced from the Barracks. At the additional costs of 25 Minerals and 25 Gas over the Firebat, the Reaper is designed to harass mineral lines and take on light infantry units such as the Zealot or the Zergling with added mobility. To further enhance the Reaper as a hit and run unit, the Reaper was given the D-8 charge ability. The D-8 Charge is a timed non-mobile land mine that can be thrown and will detonate once the timer has been reached. Unfortunately the Reaper loses much of its effectiveness once the game goes beyond the early game. Although the Reaper has the potential to harass throughout the game, the Reaper is easily destroyed when fighting higher tier units. Against non-light units with an armor value greater than one, the Reaper’s double pistol attack does not have the base damage to be effective, for example, when a Reaper fights a Roach as noted earlier in the damage portion of this article. On the bright side, with the move of the Zerg Hydralisk to a light unit, as there are currently no medium units in StarCraft II, the Reaper will be effective against them as well.

Running through the simulations, the Reaper shares more in common with the Vulture than the Firebat. It is a potent threat of harass with its ability to move across the map quickly, doing a good amount of damage to light units and pressuring undefended mineral lines. The Reaper shines against light units doing an impressive 16 damage with while doing a respectable 8 damage against non-light units before accounting for armor.

Ghost -


  • No single unit can do as much damage in a short period of time
  • Expensive while requiring a lot of extras to be truly effective
    • Keywords: Biological, Psionic, Light
    • Damage Modifiers: +10 vs Light
    • Targets: Air,Ground

The Ghost returns as the land-based caster for the Terran army. Although it maintains two out of the three abilities from the original StarCraft, it is no longer purely a late-tier tech unit. With the Ghost Academy, a tier-two building available after the Barracks, similar to the Factory, Ghosts become available. The Ghost receives two additional abilities, Snipe and EMP, while losing Lockdown. With the removal of the Science Vessel, the EMP Shockwave ability was transferred to the Ghost making it particularly deadly to Protoss bases by using EMP on buildings to remove their shields and following it up with a nuclear launch to devastate the Protoss base. Snipe, a new ability to StarCraft II, allows the Ghost to deal 45 damage from a distance per shot while ignoring armor to an organic unit. This makes the Ghost a perfect counter to expensive land-based casters who generally have low hit points. While the 45 damage may seem low, the casting cost of Snipe only requires 25 energy, making it easy to spam and pick off key units early in a battle.

The changes to the Ghost, although minimal, may drastically change the game. No longer is the Ghost limited to Terran and Protoss games for Lockdown or the occasional Nuclear Launch. The one limiting factor at this time for the Ghost is that it requires a large amount of Minerals and Gas: 150/150 per unit. Although the Ghost is poised to be a potent early land-based caster, it is doubtful the Ghost will be playing a meaningful role outside of Nuclear Launches until its cost is revamped. Its costs are astronomically high when considering what the player gets in return. The Snipe ability does an impressive 45 damage against a biological unit but the current Ghost attack already does extra damage to light units making Snipe only truly effective against armored biological units, the Marauder, Roach, Ultralisk and the Zerg air are the only units that currently come to mind and their base hit points make the Snipe ability rather useless unless a Terran player masses a large number of expensive Ghosts.

Marauder -


  • High damage unit coming from Barracks
  • Loses versatility as it can not attack air units compared to a Marine
    • Keywords: Biological, Armored
    • Damage Modifiers: +6 vs Armored (Slowing)
    • Targets: Ground

Of all the units to grace us from the Barracks, the Marauder deserves special attention. The Marauder opens new ways for the Terran to counter Protoss in the early game and gives the Terrans' a high hit point heavy infantry unit earlier in the game. Instead of being forced to get a quick Factory and add a Machine Shop to pump out Tanks, Blizzard gave the Terran army a unit from the Barracks with a damage bonus to armored units. Marauders coupled with Marines have the ability to do a lot of damage to not only the mineral line but the opposing army as well. Its slowing attack is simply icing on the cake for this Terran unit as it can chase down fleeing units by slowing down their escape. The Marauder is a great transition unit from the early game and will see a lot of play to counter Protoss Stalkers and Zerg Roaches. If the an opponent techs to higher tier units, the Marauder grants the Terran army enough time to transition away from the early game and a way to deal with heavy armored units. The new M+M for Terran may just be the Marine and Marauder push.



Hellion -


  • Easily produced from Factory and effective against low tier units
  • Tier 2 unit that really counters tier 1 - may become ineffective by the time they are available
    • Keywords: Mechanical, Armored
    • Damage Modifiers: +5 vs Light
    • Targets: Ground

The Factory gets an upgrade with the addition of the Hellion. The Hellion replaces the Vulture as the basic unit from the Factory and is an upgrade compared to the Vulture with higher base damage while fulfilling its role as a mobile anti-light infantry unit. Although the Hellion does not have Spider Mines to counter armored units, the Hellion's speed along with its splash damage rewards players who decide to tech quickly with a cost effective unit early in the game. The Hellion's fast movement speed allows it to scout and disable expansions quickly. Because the Hellion does a base damage of 10, instead of the concussive 20 damage of a Vulture, which ended up dealing 5 damage to heavily armored units in the original StarCraft, the Hellion is a stronger unit dealing high damage to light units and does respectable damage to all other types as well.

By examining the Terran Tech tree, one will notice a number of units that share similar roles. Once a player constructed their first Barracks, they can choose to build a Factory to get Hellions and continue further into the tech tree or build a Tech Lab/Merc Compound allowing them to produce Reapers. Both units complete similar roles, although via different methods, and it will be interesting to see how these units will be balanced to make sure one unit does not outshine another.

Siege Tank -


  • Longest ranged attack in the game
  • Increase in cost over the StarCraft Siege Tank
    • Keywords: Mechanical, Armored
    • Damage Modifiers: +10/+50 vs Armored (Depending on Beta Build - In Siege Mode)
    • Targets: Ground

The new Siege Tank is an upgrade over the original Siege Tank from StarCraft, but changes to the damage system while in Tank Mode does reduce its effectiveness over units that were previously medium sized in StarCraft, the Hydralisk and Vulture. With all that said, the Siege Tank in Siege Mode definitely shines brighter than its predecessor. With 50 base damage and an additional 50 damage against armored units, the Siege Tank will single-shot non-upgraded Marines with ease while still shelling out 100 damage per volley against heavily armored units and reduce buildings to rubble in mere moments

The new tank does come with some drawbacks. To keep everything in balance, the new Siege Tank now costs 200 Minerals, 150 Gas and takes up 3 supply, making the new Siege Tank more difficult to mass. It still is too early to tell if the large Siege Tank battles in TvT is a thing of the past until the game is in the hands of highly skilled players. Even with the changes to the base damage, cost and supply of the Siege Tank, most players should find the new Siege Tank to be in the same spirit as the original.

Thor -


  • Large Damage against ground and air
  • Slow movement speed with and a large footprint
    • Keywords: Mechanical, Armored, Massive
    • Damage Modifiers: None - Ground Mode / +4 vs Light against Air
    • Targets: Ground and Air

The Thor is the perfect addition to the Terran Mech strategy as the Terran army needed a strong unit that was capable of dealing and receiving damage. The Thor is a bipedal mechanized behemoth and is the older stronger brother of the Goliath from the original StarCraft. Although the Thor is an extremely powerful assault unit able to take down large number of ground units, the Thor truly shines when combating highly mobile light air units. The Mutalisk harass was one of the most feared strategies in the Zerg arsenal. The Goliath was simply to weak to combat the highly mobile Mutalisk army effectively as the Goliath explosive armament was ineffective against the light armored Mutalisk. The Thor however receives an impressive +4 damage against the Mutalisk effectively giving it +16 damage when considering that the Thor has 10 (x4) ground-to-air attack. The Thor with its bonus damage to light air units gives the Terran army a significant advantage in combating air units.

In the original StarCraft, there is no Terran land-based unit with more than 150 hitpoints. This was a weakness to the Terran army as the Zerg had the Ultralisk and most Protoss units had 150 hit points except for the Dark and High Templar. The Battlecruiser doesn't count as units can run past them to get to the weaker units underneath them. A well placed Psi Storm or unnoticed Lurkers would lay waste or severely damage the Terran ground forces before a player could properly respond. With the Thor, players are forced to deal with the Thor in order to get to the Siege Tanks or other lower hitpoint units behind them, assuming the opponents were trying to use Zerglings or Zealots. With its high hit points and impressive anti-air armament, the usefullness of the Thor doesn't stop there. In addition to its superb anti-air and its formidable ground attack, the Thor comes with 250mm Strike Cannons that deals 500 damage over 6 seconds. The destructive power of the Thor in addition to its high vitality gives the Thor the necessary survivability and destructive power the Terran army was missing in the original StarCraft.



Viking -


  • Great air to air attack
  • Cliff jumping ability not that good - continue reading for other issues and personal thoughts on the Viking
    • Keywords: Mechanical, Air (Air Mode), Armored
    • Damage Modifiers: None - Ground Mode / +10 vs Massive Air Mode
    • Targets: Air in Air Mode / Ground in Ground Mode

The Viking is a welcomed addition to the new Terran Army. Although the Viking does have a ground mode and an air mode, the Viking will mainly be used as an anti-aircraft unit since the Reaper shares similar function to the Viking while coming much earlier in the tech tree. Replacing the original Wraith, the Viking is designed to counter large capital ships with bonus damage to massive units. The Viking is superior in terms of damage in comparison to the Wraiths and its ground support mode is more effective as well. With its move from the Factory to the Starport though, the Viking loses its ability to be a potent early game harasser. The Reaper is earlier in the tech tree, presumably easier to mass and is just as effective as the Viking to get into expansions. Looking over the base stats, the Viking is truly an air-to-air combat unit that does a neat trick and fights the ground as well.

Although the Viking is an interesting unit, compared to its original purpose, the Viking falls short compared to the rest of the Terran army. The Viking was originally created as an upgrade over the Goliath, as the Goliath was a great counter to air units. Unfortunately, the Goliath was always slow in chasing down fleeing air units, hence the introduction of the Viking. As it stands, the Viking's anti-air armament, although good, is too similar to the Wraith from StarCraft and if the Viking is supposed to be the new and improved air-to-air superiority fighter there must be some advantage given to the Viking to fill that role. When comparing the abilities of a Wraith to that of a Viking, the ability to cloak an air unit to deal more damage while hidden is more useful than converting my air to air fighter into a land-based harassing unit. If the Viking changed its land assault mode to be similar to the Goliath while upgrading the Viking's air mode be more of an air-to-air combat pursuit mode, the Viking would fulfill its original purpose more fluidly. By giving the Viking a powerful ground-to-air attack, the Viking will be as effective as Goliaths in ground-to-air while the “pursuit mode” would overcome the Goliath's weakness of not being able to chase an enemy once it hides behind a cliff. Any time the Viking was used to counter a particular situation, the Wraith would have been equally as effective if not more with its ability to attack while cloaked.

Raven -


  • Early Detection coupled with effective abilities against all races
  • Loses Irradiate and Defensive Matrix compared to Science Vessel
    • Keywords: Mechanical, Air, Armored
    • Damage Modifiers: None
    • Targets: None

The Raven replaces the Science Vessel of StarCraft and does the job beautifully. Terrans' lack of detection in the early game and reliance on Scanner Sweeps and Turrets is a thing of the past. The Raven, which only needs a Starport with a Tech Lab, is much easier to produce than its original counterpart. Although many will miss Irradiating Mutalisks, the Raven’s Seeker Missiles is effective and packs a large punch, especially in TvT matches where the game often turns into a Siege Tank war, the sieged/non-mobile tanks will become easy prey for the Seeker Missile needing time to track and lock on its target. The Auto Turret and Defense Drone round out the rest of its abilities. As with all caster units, it is difficult to know how it plays until it is used but so far the Raven is a great support unit and makes a great addition to any army. But one thing is for sure, being able to get a Raven early means the Dark Templar will no longer be the bane of the Terran army.

Battlecruiser -


  • New attack more effective against lower tiered units, able to upgrade to take on other capital ships
  • Upgrades are unique to each Battlecruiser and become costly
    • Keywords: Mechanical, Massive, Air, Armored
    • Damage Modifiers: None
    • Targets: Air,Ground

The Battlecruiser did not see enough play compared to the Protoss Carrier and Blizzard noticed this and made significant upgrades to the Terran flagship. With its upgraded laser battery, it is now a much more potent threat against larger swarms of units instead of a single charged attack towards one unit. Its basic attack now resembles the attack of the Protoss Carrier more than the previous Battlecruiser. The Yamato Gun makes a return as well if the player wishes to specialize his Battlecruiser in destroying individual targets as opposed to a swarm. Finally the Missile Pod upgrade is still in a shroud of mystery as we have yet to see any footage of it in action. Perhaps the Missile Pod will offer a small amount of splash damage over the current laser battery attack of the Battlecruiser. Recent gampleay videos have shown a Battlecruiser attacking while on the move; however according to Blizzard, the Void Ray will be the only unit capable of attacking while moving.

Banshee -


  • Splashed missile damage against ground units
  • No Air to Air attack.
    • Keywords: Mechanical, Air, Armored
    • Damage Modifiers: None
    • Targets: Ground

Although the Banshee lacks the air-to-air attack, the upgraded land-based attack with its splash damage focuses the Banshee into a very specific and effective role. The Banshees attack along with its ability to cloak lends itself towards harassing Mineral lines that have no static defense or detection. Although the Banshee does show some promise in the actual battlefield, in actual combat there are other units who can fulfill the same tactical role and be more cost effective.

Medivac Dropship -

  • Transport vessel coupled with the ability to heal organic units
  • Later tier unit designed to heal early tier units
    • Keywords: Mechanical Air Armored
    • Damage Modifiers: None
    • Targets: None

To the astonishment of many the Dropship and Medic will not be returning to StarCraft II. The Terran army now has the Medivac a hybrid healer that acts as a transport vessel and medic that performs both jobs beautifully. Looking at the Medivac and the transport vessels in StarCraft II as a whole Blizzard has expanded the role of all transport vessels. Rather than give the Dropship the ability to attack which some may remember during the original StarCraft beta the Medivac can now heal biological units in the battlefield. This is definitely a welcome addition as the Dropship from StarCraft was essentially useless once the troops were deployed unless a tactical retreat was in order. Although the Medivac may need some additional balancing the drop rate of the Medivac found in Battle Report 4 was extremely fast. It's very likely that the Medivac will open up a number of strategic options for the Terran players.


Gateway/Warp Gate:


The Gateway/Warp Gate changes in and of itself deserves some special attention. The Warp Gate is a definite upgrade to the Gateway from the original StarCraft universe. The Warp Gate deploys units to any location as long as it has Pylon power. A proxy Pylon becomes a major threat as it may have the power of 3-6 gateways within its queues. This enhancement gives Protoss the much need mobility it was missing from the original game. Keeping track of early Proxy Pylons is now a must when playing against Protoss in any match up.

Zealot -


  • Strongest of the Tier 1 units
  • Expensive and slow without upgrades
    • Keywords: Light Biological
    • Damage Modifiers: None
    • Targets: Ground

The Zealot comes back with very few changes. Their base stats are the same and the Zealot is essentially the same unit with a new ability called Charge. The Zealot continues its reign as the strongest initial unit of the races while being the most expensive. The new charge ability is a definite give and take. The most casual players who only played on BGH will find the slower overall walking speed of the Zealot to be detrimental while ladder players will enjoy the survivability of the Zealot as it charges at its target. The players who loved the versatility survivability and strength of the Zealot are rewarded with the same unit in StarCraft II.

Stalker -


  • Blink ability and movement speed leads to strong hit and run tactics
  • Damage weaker compared to the Dragoon counterpart
    • Keywords: Mechanical Armored
    • Damage Modifiers: None
    • Targets: AirGround

The Protoss Stalker is similar in form and shape to the Protoss Dragoon but users will quickly find that the Stalker does not have the same staying power as the Protoss Dragoon. The original Protoss Dragoon did 20 explosive damage per hit. This translates to 10 damage a shot to small/light units - Zerglings Zealots Marines - 15 damage to medium units - Hydralisk Vultures - and a massive 20 damage to heavy units - Siege Tanks Ultralisks - Dragoons. The Stalker with its 10 damage and no modifiers is as strong as a Dragoon in the early game but loses its punch as the game progresses. The Stalkers Blink may make up for this loss in firepower as Blink has been shown to be a potent offensive and defensive ability since troop movement is important in any battle.

Disruptor -


  • Early land caster with good spells and an attack
  • Slow movement speed limited to mostly base defense
    • Keywords: Light Mechanical Psionic
    • Damage Modifiers: +3 Biological
    • Targets: AirGround

The Disruptor is a land-based casting unit available to the Protoss army very early in the tech tree. Its spells and abilities do not directly do damage aside from its basic attack nor do they provide a buff as commonly found in other RTS games. With the Force Field the Disruptor can tighten off choke points deny reinforcements or prevent retreats while Hallucination can feint a much stronger position and deny an attack all together.

High Templar -


  • Most feared energy-based spell in the game
  • Mostly useless once energy is depleted
    • Keywords: Light Biological Psionic
    • Damage Modifiers: None
    • Targets: None

The High Templar is a late tech unit that happens to be produced from the Gateway/Warp Gate. Essentially this allows the High Templar along with its shadier counterpart the Dark Templar to be produced in large numbers once the single tech building is produced as opposed to needing to mass produce a newly available building. For example it doesn’t matter how many Terran Barracks a player has if he wants to mass produce Tanks he will need multiple Factories. In contrast if massproducing Zealots and Stalkers early in the game the Gateway/Warp Gate will transition into production of High and Dark Templar's relatively easily. The Protoss acts as the middle ground between production styles between the Terran and Zerg in this respect. Although the High Templar is capable of being warped in the High Templar reliance on energy and lack of a standard attack makes it unsuitable for in field tactical deployment with the Warp Gate since the High Templar must wait until it has gathered enought energy. Although the High Templar has not changed much between StarCraft II and the original the new casting system will make High Templars much easier to use. Multiple High Templars belonging to the same control group will not cast multiple Psi Storms effectively saving energy by not casting unnecessary Storms.

Dark Templar -


  • Cloaked unit with strong melee attack
  • Detection units much easier to produce making them less effective
    • Keywords: Light Biological Psionic
    • Damage Modifiers: None
    • Targets: Ground

The Dark Templar the bane of the Terrans in StarCraft makes a return to StarCraft II. Its permanent cloaking ability coupled together with the Warp-In ability allows for covert tactical deployment. The Dark Templar stays true to the original and could pose a large threat had it not been for the changes to the Terran and Protoss tech tree. The mobile detectors from the Terran and Protoss army are now readily available and come early in their tech trees. The Observer is produced at the Robotics Support Bay but no longer requires an Observatory for production while the Raven is produced at the Terran Starport but does not need a Science Facility for its production. Blizzard may have realized that the Dark Templar and Lurker were negatively impacting users who were new to the game and adjusted the tech trees to combat the situation.


Robotics Facility:

Observer -


  • Perfect detection unit - cloaked
  • Low Hit points and shields - easily destroyed
    • Keywords: Light Mechanical Air
    • Damage Modifiers: None
    • Targets: None

The Observer makes a cloaked return to StarCraft II. As mentioned earlier the Observer is built from the Robotics Facility without any additional supporting buildings and now comes earlier in the tech tree.

Warp Prism -


  • Threat with drops and Warp-In giving the Protoss army mobility
  • Stationary when in Phase Mode
    • Keywords: Mechanical Psionic Air Armored
    • Damage Modifiers: None
    • Targets: None

The newly designed transport unit for the Protoss army shares nothing with the Shuttle from StarCraft except for the fact that it can transport units. Although the Warp Prism does not have an attack the Warp Prism's secondary ability immobilizes the Warp Prism as it converts to Phase Mode. Phase Mode provides Pylon power to un-powered Protoss buildings and allows the Warp Gate to Warp-In units where ever the Warp Prism may be located. The Protoss threat of scouting Warp Prisms coupled with instant deployment of units to the active battlefield makes the Warp Prism an excellent support unit.

Immortal -


  • Hardened Shield provides extra durability in late game for higher tier fights
  • High cost and four supply makes it difficult to mass
    • Keywords: Armored Mechanical
    • Damage Modifiers: +20 vs Armored
    • Targets: Ground

The Immortal is a welcomed addition to the Protoss army as it lays waste to heavily entrenched positions. Those who have tried to break a Terran front door with Dragoons know the result is normally a lot of blue/green Dragoon life-support goo. The Immortal however looks to rectify that particular situation with its enhanced shields extra life and bonus damage against armored units. The Immortal gives the Protoss player a land-based option for sieged tanks and and a way to counter with static base defense. Its hardened shield limits damage dealt to the immortal and reduces all damage to 10 effectively requiring a Siege Tank to use over 30 shots to destroy one Immortal assuming the overshield is always active and not only when an Immortal has shield points. Its features are not without costs. The Immortal costs an amazing 4 supply and requires a heavy Mineral and Gas investment per unit. (250 Minerals 150 Gas)

Colossus -


  • Area effect splash damage rips through lower hit point units - Cliff walking makes it a threat against mineral lines
  • Its height makes it vulnerable to anti air fire
    • Keywords: Armored Mechanical Massive
    • Damage Modifiers: None
    • Targets: Ground

The Colossus is arguably the most feared and powerful unit seen through the numerous Battle Reports and BlizzCon stage matches. The design team didn't pull any stops with the Colossus as it easily rips through any light unit army. Although there have been some discussions about the Colossus traversing cliffs for quick surprising attacks the Colossus ability to traverse cliffs may be its saving grace to protect itself from danger and get out of harms way from overwhelming ground forces. The Colossus currently does an impressive 23(x2) damage from the most recent concrete numbers enabling it to cut through Marines and Zerglings like a hot knife through butter. Lets hope the the weakness of being vulnerable by air attacks will be enough to balance this behemoth.



Phoenix -


  • Graviton Beam immobilize land targets
  • Lack of overload and splash damage makes it ineffective vs swarms
    • Keywords: Light Mechanical Air
    • Damage Modifiers: None
    • Targets: Air

The Phoenix replaces the Corsair as the light air-to-air combat vessel. The Corsair with its quick pulsing splash damage attack was highly effective against large groups of Mutalisks and other low armor air units when massed. However the redesigned Phoenix is more effective with less numbers with a base damage of 11(x2) and no additional modifiers. Its quick pulsating laser barrage will quickly take down all but the most heavily armored capital ships. The most recent versions removed the overload ability from the Phoenix but Blizzard decided to introduce a new mechanic for the Phoenix. Those familiar with WarCraft III will equate the Graviton Beam to the Dragon Hawk Riders' Shackle with a little twist. Currently the Graviton Beam has the ability to pick up land-based units and freeze them in their tracks. Although the beam does not have a damage over time ability it does open up the unit to anti-air fire and works well with the focused attack of a Void Ray.

There is still much mystery surrounding the current Graviton Beam ability however. Are Siege Tanks mounted to the ground or are they able to be picked up as well? Is the Graviton Beam ability able to effect friendly targets? If an Immortal is getting surrounded by Zerglings can he be lifted for protection as Zealots take care of the swarm? Can the Graviton Beam be used on other flying units? Will it act like a tractor beam? What happens when I try to Graviton Beam burrowed Lurker or any burrowed Zerg unit? All these questions have yet to be answered and will greatly effect the usefullness of the Phoenix.

Void Ray -


  • High damage against land and air targets
  • Weak initial attack
    • Keywords: Armored Mechanical Air
    • Damage Modifiers: None
    • Targets: AirGround

The Void Ray is a new high damage air unit for the Protoss Army. Rather than simply giving the Void Ray a damage modifier towards massive or armored units and building the Void Ray's damage mechanic does more damage the longer the Void Ray is focusing on a single unit or building essentially making the Void Ray effective against high hit point units regardless of armor type. Once the final numbers are released charts and graphs will show a natural progression of damage done over time. Without doing the complete analysis as the final numbers for the Void Ray have not been released the Void Ray will be ineffective against units with less than 50 hit points moderately effective against units with 50 - 200 hit points and will ultimately shine against units with over 200 hit points as the Void Ray will spend more of its time in the higher damage range.

Carrier -


  • Capital Ship of the Protoss fleet - able to deal a large amount of damage and has excellent range with Interceptors
  • Cost of Interceptors - needs additional time to build Interceptors before true potential is reached
    • Keywords: Armored Mechanical Massive Air
    • Damage Modifiers: None
    • Targets: Ground Air

"Carrier has arrived" as the classic capital ship of the Protoss Fleet. Not much has changed on paper compared to the original StarCraft. Its gameplay iconic status and powerful imagery has left the Carrier pretty much untouched. The few upgrades and changes offered in the latest edition include a speed upgrade for the Interceptors of the Carrier itself. The number of Interceptors each Carrier holds looks to be the same but only time will tell. With the changes to damage system the Carrier will be highly effective against Tier 1 and Tier 2 units while losing battles to the anti-massive units found later in the tech trees.



Zergling -


  • Cheapest unit in tier 1 - (25 Minerals)
  • Only effective once it swarms its target
    • Keywords: Light Biological
    • Damage Modifiers: None
    • Targets: Ground

The Zergling makes a return with no enhancements or changes whatsoever. The important thing to note is the improved pathing built into the StarCraft II movement engine. Those familiar with the Zergling and its effective swarm style tactics will love the infinite control group as the player can control 200 supply's worth of Zerglings with one control group.

Baneling -


  • Effective against low tier units and extra damage vs bases
  • Slow movement speed and high Gas cost make it cost prohibitive to mass
    • Keywords: Light Biological
    • Damage Modifiers: +20 vs Light
    • Targets: Ground

With the evolution of the Zerg the most basic Zergling now has the ability to morph itself into a suicide zapper unit called a Baneling. The Baneling is a potent threat to the early game. The Baneling with its large splash damage and damage bonus when attacking buildings gives the Zerg an early unit capable of destroying key structures early in the game. The Baneling is not without its faults. Due to its size it moves slower then its pre-evolved counterpart. Its slow movement means it will be focus-fired on or avoided at all cost until proper countermeasures have been completed.

Hydralisk -


  • High utility unit attacking land and air with 1 supply. Small unit. Easier to swarm with than Stalker.
  • Doesn't excel at one particular role.
    • Keywords: Light Biological
    • Damage Modifiers: +4 vs Armored
    • Targets: Ground Air

The Hydralisk makes a triumphant return as the ranged Zerg unit. Its utility of being able to hit both land and air coupled with its low supply cost makes the Hydralisk a viable option throughout the game. With the removal of the medium size unit type from StarCraft II the Hydralisk is now a light armored unit. Although this would normally change much of the balance with Zerg as a race with the removal of the Dragoon and Vulture few will notice the difference in the Hydralisk armor type.

Lurker -


  • Able to attack and do splash damage while burrowed
  • Movement to Tier 3 on the tech tree makes it difficult to produce
    • Keywords: Armored Biological
    • Damage Modifiers: +15 Armored
    • Targets: Ground

The Lurker makes another return to the Zerg army but joins the party late. The Lurker is no longer available at Tier 2 and has been pushed down to a Tier 3 late game siege unit. This is most likely to remove the negative play experience many players felt when there army was destroyed by a unit they could not see. With the move to Tier 3 the Lurker receives a number of upgrades. The most impressive of these upgrades being the upgrade in its attack to siege range.

Although the Lurker is still a powerful unit its movement from Tier 2 to Tier 3 is perhaps too much. Now that the Lurker is a late tier unit the Zerg losses a lot of fire power from its once impressive Tier 2 arsenal. According to Blizzard Zerg is currently the weakest race as they are lacking a strong punch at Tier 2. If the Lurker moved back to Tier 2 but had an attack similar to the Sunken Colony from the original StarCraft it would give the Zerg another viable option at Tier 2. At Tier 3 the Lurker could receive an upgrade on its attack to splash similar to the original Lurker from the original StarCraft and an increase to siege range.

Roach -


  • High regeneration rate and traveling while burrowed gives extended survivability
  • No attack vs air - vulnerable to focus fire.
    • Keywords: Armored Biological
    • Damage Modifiers: +8 Biological
    • Targets: Ground

With the addition of the Roach each race receives a strong anti armor unit that can only target ground units. The Roach is a natural progression of the Zerg army with its effectiveness coming from sheer numbers as opposed to individual strength. As mentioned earlier during the damage explanation of this article the Roach excels at attacking biological units while being a heavily armored biological unit itself. In recent updates the Roach also received the ability to move while burrowed giving the Zerg a ground based harrasing unit.

Corrupter -


  • Dedicated air-to-air unit from Tier 2
  • May be micro intensive as it needs to destroy a target to corrupt it into a turret.
    • Keywords: Armored Biological Air
    • Damage Modifiers: None
    • Targets: Air

The Corrupter is the Zerg's dedicated air-to-air combat unit. The Corrupter gives Zerg an early anti-air unit without having to tech to the Greater Spire. It's important to note that Corrupters don't immediately destroy their targets. When a target would normally be destroyed it is converted into a stationary unit able to destroy other air units. With this ability the Corrupter can quickly overcome large groups of enemy air units similar to how the Dark Ranger in WarCraft III can build up a large army quickly.

Brood Lord -


  • Extra long range attack from the air
  • Slow movement couple with high cost as it mutates from another unit
    • Keywords: Armored Biological Air
    • Damage Modifiers: None
    • Targets: Ground

The Brood Lord replaces the Zerg Guardian from StarCraft. In addition to the base attack for the Brood Lord its attack also spawns Broodlings once it hits its target. The Brood Lord mutates from the Corrupter and requires a Greater Spire similar to how the Guardian mutated from the Mutalisk in the original StarCraft. An unnoticed group of Brood Lords will quickly destroy an enemy position as it is overwhelmed by Broodlings. The spawning of Broodlings makes the Brood Lord particularly effective against Terran Siege Tanks. Siege Tanks hit by a Brood Lord would spawn Broodlings which would cause nearby Siege Tanks to fire catching the original Siege Tank in friendly splash damage and perhaps destroy it.

Infestor -


  • Neural Parasite and other spells quickly change the course of a battle
  • No natural attack ability
    • Keywords: Light Biological Psionic
    • Damage Modifiers: None
    • Targets: None

The Infestor is a new unit to StarCraft replacing the Defiler and receiving a completely new set of spells. The default spell for the Infestor Neural Parasite mind controls a target for up to 10 seconds quickly changing the course of a battle. A burrowed Infestor can Mind Control a Colossus or Thor to quickly turn the tide of a battle. With the evolution of the Zerg the Zerg have captured enough Command Centers to allow the Infestor to spawn Infested Terrans. The new Infested Terran is no longer a sapper unit meant to take out entrenched positions but a Marine with slower movement. Finally Fungal Growth resembles the Ensnare ability of the Zerg Queen in StarCraft while being able to completely immobilize the target after six seconds. A well timed Fungal Growth would easily separate an attacking army into two or prevent a weakened army from retreating.

Overlord -


  • Easily massed and acts as the air transport unit for the Zerg
  • Loses detection ability
    • Keywords: Armored Biological Air
    • Damage Modifiers: None
    • Targets: None

The Overlord makes a return as the flying farm in StarCraft II. In order to produce additional units in StarCraft the player must have enough supply to support those units. Similar to how the Terran Supply Depot and Protoss Pylon allows for the production of additional units the Overlord allows additional Zerg units to be produced. For balance reasons the Overlord lost the detector ability. To make up for this shortfall the Overlord was given a number of new abilities. The Overlord now has the ability to spawn creep anywhere on the map enabling the Zerg to fortify a position with Spine Crawlers or Spore Colonies before the Hatchery is completed or even perform a Spine Crawler rush with a few hidden Drones. The Overlord once again retains the ability to act as the transport unit for the Zerg army.

Overseer -


  • Flying caster unit able to detect cloaked and burrowed units.
  • Loses the abilities to transport and spawn creep
    • Keywords: Armored Biological Air
    • Damage Modifiers: None
    • Targets: None

Overseer is a mutation from the Overlord. Although it loses the Overlord's functionality the newly granted spells and the detector ability easily make up for the lost utility. The Overseer can protect fleeing Zergs from being hit by blocking line of sight with the Fog ability or do early scouting with the Changeling ability. At this time there are no reports on whether or not the Overseer loses its ability to act as a farm.

Queen -


  • Early land-based caster with critical abilities to the production of the Zerg army
  • Extremly low movement speed when not moving on a creep.
    • Keywords: Light Biological Psionic
    • Damage Modifiers: None
    • Targets: Ground

The Queen has been the focus of more discussions than any other unit in the StarCraft II universe. The Queen returns to StarCraft II in name only and does not resemble the original Queen from StarCraft. The Queen is now a land-based unit available at tier 1. The Queen is the most important part of the Zerg army with its ability to Spawn Larva. The Spawn Larva ability creates an additional 3 larva at a single Hatchery after 25 seconds. With this ability the Queen essentially doubles the Larva output of a single Hatchery. One of the greatest weakness of the Zerg army was its reliance on Larva production from a Hatchery. With the Spawn Larva ability the Zerg army can quickly generate and early rush or replenish Drones quickly. With the ability to double the Larva production from a single Hatchery it is no wonder why the Queen is an integral part of the Zerg army.

Ultralisk -


  • Strongest melee unit in the game with a large number of hit points
  • High Gas and supply cost
    • Keywords: Armored Biological Massive
    • Damage Modifiers: None
    • Targets: Ground

The Ultralisk returns as a bigger badder 300 Minerals 200 Gas 6 supply melee unit. Its rather weak 20 damage per attack is offset by its ability to splash the damage to surrounding targets. In addition the Ultralisk gets a nice damage upgrade when attacking buildings with a 60 damage headbutt. The ultimate melee unit which would overrun opponents' positions with a simple attack-move command is back.

Mutalisk -


  • Fast movement speed and harassment
  • High cost and micro management
    • Keywords: Light Biological Air
    • Damage Modifiers: None
    • Targets: Ground Air

The Mutalisk is every bit as potent as the original in StarCraft. The Mutalisks unique movement and attack animation leads the unit to be stacked and controlled. Now that players can have an infinite number of units in a single control group stacks of 18+ Mutalisks may be possible and deadly. Without Irradiate and Corsairs to slow down stacked Mutalisks the flying harassment unit from StarCraft may return with a renewed vengeance.



This is a StarCraft: Legacy ( editorial.


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