"That's not a dog, Zeke, that's a zergling." - Anonymous Terran

The Zerg are a playable race in the game Starcraft by Blizzard Entertainment. The Zerg were a creation of the Xel'Naga, a superior race of super-intelligent beings. After their failed experiment, the Protoss, the Xel'Naga drifted to another planet, Char. There they found an inferior race of animal like beings. They decided that this would be their next experiment. They created a large, immobile being with an exoskeleton as thick as the hull of their ships and an intelligence to rival even their own. They imbued this creature with a telepathic link with all the other creatures on Char, but unlike the Protoss, this telepathic link was not two ways, the large creature (the Overmind) completely controlled the actions of the other creatures. The inferior creatures on Char had little to no intelligence, however the Overmind could "see" through their mind and had all the intelligence each creature required.

The race that was linked with the Overmind was the dominant race on Char, however it was not the only. The Overmind recognized this, and recognized his race could be that much greater if it had the characteristics of the other races. Hence, the Overmind sent out its minions to absorb the other races into theirs. After the Overmind's minions were done, the early beginnings of the Zerg race had begun.

Soon the Overmind had the ambition to leave the limits of Char, and so he created a strain adapted to Vacuum, without the all-seeing Xel'Naga even noticing. When the Overmind sent out these inter-planetary flyers he noticed the Xel'Naga ships orbiting Char and decided it would not do. He directed his flyers to attack the Xel'Naga ships and absorb the Xel'Naga into the Zerg race as he had all the others. The Xel'Naga were ill prepared, and when the Zerg entered their ship and began absorbing them there was little they could do. The Xel'Naga were wiped out while rejoicing over their greatest creation.

After this the Overmind spread his minions from world to world, completely converting the planet's Ecology with a biological layer, dubbed "Creep", which spread over the ground. The "Creep" provided nutrients so that the Zerg creatures and biological "structures" could be planted and live off of it. After many, many millennia, the Zerg race had absorbed over a million species. The Overmind had siphoned out the less useful, and promoted the most useful, capturing the best aspects from all. The Overmind bred simple larvae creatures at hatcheries, the staple of the Zerg race. These simple larvae held the basic DNA strain for every other Zerg creature, and at the will of the Overmind could go into gestation and would, in time, be born the creature the Overmind willed. The result was a highly complex hierarchal society, much like an ant society, with Warriors, Gatherers, Drones, Queens etc.

As the Overmind's race spread it became increasingly difficult to control every single creature, and so the Overmind used the drones to construct creatures similar to himself in every way, except less intelligent and undying loyalty to the Overmind. The Overmind then transmitted his orders to these "Cerebrates" rather than the individual creatures. As the Zerg race continued to spread, even these Cerebrates found it hard to control their individual portions of the Zerg race, so they in turn created Overlords. Overlords were un-intelligent, flying, squid-like creatures with telepathic capability. Great numbers (over a thousand) were required on each world, and they relayed the orders of the Cerebrates to the underlings.

For the next few hundred years the Zerg race simply spread and evolved no more. The Overmind was about to give up hope, when he found the Protoss. This race was even mightier than his, and had unbelievable telepathic capabilities, which exceeded even his. He launched attacks against the Protoss, but was continually driven back. The Zerg race was just not strong enough. Then the Overmind discovered the Terran race. This race was inferior to both the Zerg and Protoss races, however they had some characteristics that may give the Zerg race the edge needed to defeat and absorb the Protoss. So the Overmind invaded the Terran planet of Chau Sara and began going about absorbing the Terrans. In an effort to stop the Zerg from ever becoming strong enough to defeat them, the Protoss razed the Terran planet of Chau Sara. Hence, the story of Starcraft begins.

The Zerg are a deadly race, and my personal favourite, as they are extremely cheap, fast and build with the greatest speed of all the races. Albeit, they are the weakest, four basic Zerg units (Zerglings) are required to defeat one basic Terran unit (Marines), and six to eight to defeat a basic Protoss unit (Zealot). Despite this, they have distinct advantages. In a swarm the Zerg are rather difficult to defeat, and if they encroach on any other races land that race can no longer build on any creep that may grow. The Zerg are the easiest race to rush with, as an army of 100+ can be contructed in under ten minutes. They recover far quicker than other races, as they build quickly and have cheap constructs, however some strategy is required with the Zerg, as a full frontal assault on a Protoss base will end in defeat.

Long live the Zerg!

Zerg Units

Ground Units:
  • Larva

    larva are the pre-unit of the Zerg. Each Hatchery, Lair, or Hive will pump these out on a fairly regular basis, with up to 3 larva around each building. The larva will then wander back and forth next to their Hatchery until they are ordered to mutate into a unit. This allows the Zerg to make a large number of units in a small amount of time, earning them the nickname of The Swarm.

    Vital Stats:
    Hit Points: 10
    Armor: 10 (they don't die quickly)

  • Drone

    A Drone is the worker unit for the Zerg. They gather minerals and Vespene gas which the Zerg use to grow more powerful Warrior breeds.
    Drones are also necessary for the creation of all Zerg buildings. However, instead of constructing or warping in buildings like other races, a drone must morph itself into the building. This gives the Zerg a slight disadvantage, but one that is offset by the shorter training time.

    Vital Stats:
    Hit Points: 40
    Armor: 0
    Attack(Ground): 5
    Mineral Cost: 50

  • Zergling (see excellent writeup there by mfk
  • Hydralisk
  • Lurker (Brood War only)

    This creature is morphed from a Hydralisk. It is unique in that it can attack only when burrowed underground. This makes it invisible to most units when attacking, but also makes it helpless when moving around.

    Its attack consists of shooting out a line of spines from its position, damaging all enemy ground units in that path. This makes them very good for dealing with masses of units, and ideal for base defense. The time it takes for them to set up, combined with their immobility when attacking, however, make them poor attackers, except with large numbers of backup.

    Vital stats:
    Hit Points: 125
    Armor: 1
    Attack (Ground): 20
    Mineral Cost: 50
    Gas Cost: 100

  • Defiler

    A spell-casting unit in the. It has 3 special abilities, and no regular attack.

    Dark Swarm
    Energy cost: 100
    It is not necessary to research this spell. It acts to protect ground units from air attacks, and is often used later in the game in combination with cracklings.

    Plague
    Energy Cost: 150
    Mineral Cost: 200
    Vespene Cost: 200
    Truly devastating for all races. It affects all units in a small radius of the casting site, covering them in a red goo. This goo will leech away the unit's hit points until it wears off, the only has a few hp left, or Restoration is cast. As a side-effect, a cloaked unit will be visible as long as they are covered in the goo.

    Consume
    Mineral Cost: 100
    Vespene Cost: 200
    This spell will kill one of your own units, and raise the Defiler's energy by however many hit points the victim had. A common tactic is to keep a few zerglings handy for Consuming.

    Vital Stats
    Hit Points: 80
    Armor: 1
    Mineral Cost 50
    Gas Cost: 150

  • Ultralisk

    With the addition of two new upgrades in Brood War, this unit rules the ground. Its strong attack and high hp is offset by the fact that it has no range and cannot attack air units. Still, sending a batch of these into an enemy's base is almost sure to do some damage.

    Upgrades

    Chitinous Plating
    Mineral Cost: 150
    Gas Cost: 150
    This upgrade adds a large amount to the Utralisks' armor. Combined with the normal zerg ground unit armor upgrade, this can make the Ultralisk virtually immune to many attacks.

    Anabolic Synthesis
    Mineral Cost: 200
    Gas Cost: 200
    This speeds up both the Ultralisks' attack and movement, effectively doubling damage dealt. A must-have for anybody planning an attack with Ultralisks.


    Vital Stats

    Hit Points: 400
    Armor: 1
    Attack (Ground): 20
    Mineral Cost: 200
    Gas Cost: 200

  • Infested Terran

    Unlike other Zerg, the Infested Terran is not trained at a Hatchery. It is trained from any Infested Command Centers you manage to grab. It is a kamikaze ground unit, good for one very strong hit with splash damage.

    Vital Stats

    Hit Points: 60
    Armor: 0
    Attack (Ground, Splash, Suicide): 500
    Mineral Cost: 100
    Gas Cost: 50

Air Units
  • Overlord
  • Mutalisk
  • Guardian
  • Devourer (Brood War only)
  • Scourge
  • Queen

The Queen has no attack, but does possess some handy special abilities. I have found it most useful as a scout, due both to its quick speed and the Parasite spell.

Queens have the following special abilities:

Spawn Broodlings
Energy: 150
Mineral Cost: 200
Gas Cost: 200
This will instantly kill any organic ground unit (which seems to include every Terran ground unit). Adding insult to injury, two units called Broodlings will replace the deceased. They are very weak, and even a worker unit can kill them. However, if the enemy has, say, a batch of Missile Turrets with one SCV guarding it, they can cause quite a bit of damage before their short life spans expire. Due to the fact that it requires a large amount of micromanaging, this spell is usually not used a lot.

Ensnare
Energy: 75
Mineral Cost: 100
Gas Cost: 100
Covers all units in a certaing radius of the target site with green goo, slowing their movement. Additionally, any cloaked units will be visible while goo covered.

Parasite
Energy: 75
Mineral Cost: 100
Gas Cost: 100
IMO, the most useful of the Queen's arsenal, although it deals no damage. This will allow you to see anything that unit can see. Especially handy if the unit is a detector or a transport. In multiplayer, players will usually send their parasited units on suicide missions. But if they don't notice...

Infest Command Center
When a Terran Command Center is sufficiently damaged, a Queen can fly in and infest it, putting it under the control of the Zerg player, and letting him/her train Infested Terrans. Very nice.


Vital Stats

Hit Points: 120
Armor: 0
Mineral Cost: 100
Gas Cost: 150

Heroes
  • The Overmind
  • Zerg Cerebrates
    - Daggoth (Not yet noded)
    - Zasz (Not yet noded)
  • Infested Kerrigan

"They stand outside our gates. I say 'they', but truly, 'it' is more fitting. We had thought we stood a chance, but instead we were hounded, hunted, only barely able to retreat to this lonely tower that was our brief refuge. We immobilized many, but still they came, a vast worm with its head cut but the rest still ravenous. We ran, but nothing could outrun the forces that drove them to impossible speeds, nor escape the magic they crudely wove to ensnare us. Fully half of our number perished before we made it to our last holdout in Albion.

And even this will soon fall. Siege weapons are rolled forward by the lucky few almost capable of independent thought, watched blankly by the rest. All are slack-jawed, dull-eyed, single-minded. Hundreds, waiting for a piece, a morsel of our desperate few. I doubt any one of them is aware of what they are doing, that any one of them understands just why they stand there. They wander aimlessly, those at the edges circling out and around the seething mass. They have no knowledge, no cunning, no plan. But in concert, they display a will, a hunger, the knowledge that we are here, and that sooner or later, they will have us." - Bubblybongwater, Level 50 Warden, upon facing the Albion Zerg.

Starcraft is (correct me if I'm wrong) largely a dead game now. It has been overtaken and replaced by newer games in the RTS genre. But its memory lives on, in an entirely different genre, one where the Zerg is alive, well, and terrifying.

In mmorpgs, particularly in Dark Age of Camelot and World of Warcraft, the mmorpgs I have experience with, zerg is used to describe the mass of players that results when a lot of people are fighting over something at once. Its not a guild in that it's not permanent, and not a party or group in that it has many more people than just a group can hold. It’s essentially a big mob of players looking for someone to beat up. A zerg, singular, is a group of groups, usually not more than 40 in WoW (40 is the limit of a raid group, the next step up from a group), or in DAOC, as many as 200. That's 200 per side. There are 3 sides. DAOC is all about the zerg.

How do they start? In DAOC, you don't need an excuse, just the desire to wreak some havoc and take a keep or two. Players will meet at a gathering place, yell for a group, ask for or create a chat channel for communications, and if there are other groups, follow those around until they find some filthy Albs / unclean Hibbies / dirty Mids. Smash, rinse, repeat, capture keep. WoW doesn't need the gathering place per se, but generally they need a specific target, usually Hillsbrad. Players fly into town, ask in general chat for an invite to a raid group, run up to where the fight is and go at it.

Once the zerg actually gets rolling, it tends to be in a couple situations. In World of Warcraft, it's limited to 2. Advancing on an enemy town for temporary control of it, usually the Hillsbrad towns of Southshore and Tarren Mill, or as the main attack force in the Alterac Valley battleground (Which I don't have experience with). Hillsbrad zergs tend to acquire an opposing zerg, and hours are passed as they bounce back and forth between towns, trying to gain a significant advantage.

I am surrounded by fools.

I write this to you, my dear, in the lull of battle - We have retreated from our meaningless assault to make camp at the foot of a ruined tower, long since abandoned. Again and again we have been thrown back because of idiocidy, and as many times pushed back before our opponents, who possess half a shred of intelligence between them, vanish in the face of the Southshore guards. They... Perhaps this shall make more sense if I describe my arrival.

I had heard through the grapevine of Horde incursions against Southshore, and knew that the Forsaken encampment of Tarren Mill was the Banshee Queen's newest pet project, with thousands of gold pieces going to its defense, but even so, I was not prepared for what I felt. From the moment of my arrival from Menthil, it was clear that a mighty battle raged - the energies of magick were constant, a wave of distortion roiling to the north. It played with the very fabric of time, casting my awareness into a sort of slideshow, blips of sight static in my mind. It is unpleasant, but fading, and I was determined not to allow the Horde another step towards my adopted town. So I journeyed northward, found a group that would take my perhaps underage self, and went into battle.

Let no one fool you - The war in Hillsbrad is a far different beast from the war against the Dragonmaw orcs, or even the small parties of Horde scouts intent on crippling our future strength. There are dozens here, on both sides, and it is as if the sheer weight of our numbers depresses our intellect. My first sally against the Horde was a disaster - I leapt into range to hurl a fireball into their ranks, but instead barely escaped with my life. You always say I don't have enough scars, but I could have done without the one I got from THAT mistake.

My next would have gone better, save for the fact that my allies are entirely too dim to live. I followed just behind the front line of a charge, hurling shards of fire into the retreating horde ranks, only to again face near-death at the hands of the rotting corpses that serve for guards at the Mill. The standing Horde army cowers behind their allies, and none of my elders seem interested in stopping the squads of guards that cut a swath through our ranks, only in defeating a few of their cowardly army. Weakened and thinned by the guards, we were pushed back, past the broken tower I now write at, back into Southshore. Then, they ran. Before they even aroused the ire of the defenders of Southshore. As I said, cowards.

These first few battles set the tone that has not abated, and established a pattern I see no signs of changing. I would escape this idiot's hell, but I have seen the bodies of those fellow youths who sought to escape this madness, cut down by the thieves who watch us from the shadows for any poor fool who exposes himself. Nonetheless, this message shall reach you. By the Titans... they come again. Curse this battle. - Calar, 34 mage, on his first and last encounter with the Hillsbrad Zergwar.

DAOC zergs are a bit more varied in their individual actions, but have a singular purpose - to take towers, then keeps, then relics. They usually attempt to cut a swath through a defender's land, taking whatever is least defended until they meet opposition, whereupon they dig in and fight until the separate members of the zerg are called back to real life. DAOC zergs are especially fearsome things, thanks to runspeed spells, which have an upgrade only hardcore players can acquire granting simple AOE speed to everyone instead of just to one's group. Coupled with the especially fast runspeed spells that are also hard to get, this directly helps the zergs, whose huge mass of people means more chance people will have that upgrade, and essentially granting the bigger group of players the better chance at the speed edge. Crowd control counters the ferocity of the zerg to some extent, but remember that they'll definitely have the same abilities.

In DAOC, zergs have a lot to do with luck. Namely, whether you're lucky enough to have a core of smart, hardcore players on your side. In this sense, zergs are mainly a delivery mechanism for people who know what they're doing, providing protection and concealment until the zerg reaches a tower, keep, or fellow zerg. In WoW, players are more independent, with no runspeed spells, no powerful crowd control, no extremely hard to get gear that confers highly useful abilities, and so the main benefit of the zerg is the power of numbers. In both cases, though, zergs are chiefly a group of individual players who have a vague idea of what to do, and are following everybody else until they find someone to fight.

Pretty much the only way to stop a zerg is to get together a zerg of your own, and send it against the opposing zerg. Where they meet will determine the nature of the battle. Open field battles, more common in WoW, can typically occur in two ways.

The straight charge, wherein one or both sides just run in and start hacking away at each other is the rarest. Typically, these occur when one zerg has managed to come within striking range of the other while the second was unready or looking the other way.

More commonly, they see each other at the same time, and end up in a stand-off, standing just of range of each other's ranged attacks, some players moving just inside range to get a shot off before running back. Stand-offs take awhile, and result in melee classes standing around waiting for the mages to stop screwing around and give them cover for a charge.

Sieges are usually the way of things in DAOC, as one side tries to take a keep, but cannot before an opposing critical mass of players arrives. Sieges are much like stand-offs, except one side gets walls and height, as well as a few siege weapons mounted on towers, and the other gets (they’d better have, or they’re screwed) lots of siege weapons. The DAOC siege is today largely a function of whether or not the attackers can break a few holes in the walls before the defenders push them off their siege weapons, and it becomes a largely even fight once the attackers have a foothold inside.

The victor in general depends on two factors, numbers and how well members of the zerg avoid ‘zerg mentality’, essentially the diffusion of responsibility among many players who often have troubles working in concert anyway.

If you play in either WoW or DAOC, you’re probably going to end up in a zerg at some point, if only for self-defense. The main thing to avoid is that dissipation of responsibility. If there’s no one in the zerg who knows how to command, it might have to be you. If not, though, there are other things to remember.

There are other things to be done besides killins. Everyone loves to blow things up or go choppy choppy, we know. But generally, the prevention of damage trumps damage dealing classes. If your healers aren’t healing, you’re in trouble. They might not be healing because they’re getting smacked, in which case you need to keep bad guys off your healers’ backs. Or it might be because they’d rather be using their damaging abilities, in which case you need to find some extra brains for them. You’re better off mezzing a big group of enemies than tossing a few bolts at them, preventing the damage they could do while you deal with their friends. If you’re a dotting class in DAOC, those dots shut down casters, interrupting with every tick, and that’s way better than just the damage they do, so spread the dots around, instead of stacking them on one guy.

You need to have a plan and an objective, both clearly explained. Otherwise, everyone’s just gonna get lost and die. Doesn’t need to be a complex plan, because the most important part is that everyone stays together and realizes that it’s better to focus on keeping allies alive than getting a couple kills. But enough of one that the enemy can’t predict what you’re going to do, and to keep your zerg cohesive. Stay smart and don’t let the horde think for you, be responsible for your allies, have a plan, and you too can engage in successful and enjoyable mob beatings!

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