The Hydralisk is a fictional creature from the game Starcraft by Blizzard Entertainment. It is a part of the Zerg swarm, a malicious collection of highly evolved animals. It fulfils the role of a versatile medium-sized ground unit, and can be said to be iconic of the Zerg.

Appearance
The Hydralisk's body is composed of a bulky carapace with two fanged arms extending from it, and a long snake-like tail used for locomotion. Its head is armoured, and its mouth sports a second set of larger, unconnected mandibles, presumably for shredding its prey more effectively. The Hydralisk's main weapon however is its ability to fire high-velocity spines from beneath its carapace. Its total body length is about five metres, and it stands a bit taller than the average man, with the rest of its length being in its tail along the ground.
You can see a nice picture of a Hydralisk at http://www.battle.net/images/broodwar/pix/wall/zergprev.jpg .

Game Stats
The values of a Terran marine are given as a comparison.

            Hydralisk     Marine
Hit Points  80            40
Damage      10 (expl)     6
Armour       0             0
Cost        75m, 25g      50m
Marines also have a longer range and faster speed of movement than Hydralisks.

Uses
Hydralisks are very versatile combat units. Unlike as with other units there is almost no situation where they will be unable to defend themselves. They are however particularly effective against larger targets, like spaceships, which they excel at shooting down. In the end, producing a massive number of hydralisks and throwing them at the enemy will solve most of your problems provided the enemy's production capabilities and strategies are inferior, but it's not a very subtle way of going about things. Still, if you don't know where you're going in your long-term strategy just yet, they are a good unit to build.

Effective Counters
If you find yourself being attacked by massive numbers of hydralisks, there are a number of options available depending on what species you are playing as.

  • If you are playing as Zerg as well, zerglings can be effective, or simply a yet bigger mass of hydralisks. Lurkers will also mince them nicely if available.
  • If you are playing as Terran, the way to go is well-placed siege tanks. With enough of them you can shoot down the hydralisks before they come into range. A cluster of stim-packed marines will also do the trick.
  • Playing as Protoss, the high templar's Psionic Storm will usually shred them rather effectively. Zealots are also able to take care of them quite well.
The thing not to do is to put big, slow, expensive equipment anywhere near large numbers of them, especially not battlecruisers.

In the Brood War expansion set for Starcraft, the hydralisk can also transform into the lurker, a heavier creatures that shoots spines while burrowed into the ground.

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