qxc Speaks: Fun and Interesting Changes to Zerg Units

Post written by Kevin “qxc” Riley of compLexity Gaming.


The purpose of these gameplay changes is not to address balance. The purpose of these gameplay changes is to make the game more fun and interesting by changing fundamentally how certain units work. Balance can come later by modifying numbers. These changes reflect my own personal opinion of what would make Starcraft a better game and are meant to promote discussion.

Reasons for Change:

Some units are simply boring to use. They require little decision making or skill to implement properly and while they are effective at what they do, they are boring. The Corruptor and Void Ray are good examples of this. They have little utility besides ‘a-move’, but still have a crucial role to in each race’s arsenal. I intend to make boring units such as these more interesting.

Other units are not ‘balanced’ at lower levels of play. Storm vs bio & Banelings vs bio are two situations in which a low amount of control vs an equivalent low amount of control leads to the one player getting completely dominated while at higher levels of play the relationship is much more equal.

I want all destruction to be meaningful. One of the most frustrating feelings in Starcraft is to kill a large group of ‘units’ but to have done virtually nothing to advance your own position due to the ‘free’ nature of said units. The most obvious example are locusts from swarm hosts, but this idea applies to other spells such as Auto Turrets, Point Defense Drone, Infested Terran and more. When something dies in Starcraft, it needs to mean the game is progressing in some way where progress is defined as a reduction in the overall amount of available resources.

Finally, some of the changes are to address certain types of stale/uninteresting play that is permitted by certain units. Starcraft is a competitive game of conflict. Without conflict, there is no Starcraft. Units that encourage passive play are also a target for change, regardless of their potential non-passive usage. I do not trust the player to use the unit as it was intended to use. I trust the player to use the unit as it can be used. While the Swarm Host has many interesting uses, the potential for abuse and staleness far outweigh those.

Balance will follow after the units are fun and interesting by tweaking the numbers. Starcraft is great due to the variety and interesting decision making involved, but it’s not perfect. These changes are not designed to reduce or increase the strength of a unit but rather are intended to make the unit more interesting to use and play against.

Unfortunately due to time constraints I am unable to implement these changes and see exactly how they would play out.



Corruption is now an area of effect spell that kills the corruptor upon use.
Corruption changes:
 1.5 radius area of effect
 Duration 10 seconds down from 30 seconds.
 Cast range of 4 down from 6
 The Corruptor is destroyed when corruption is cast
Currently, Corruption is not a very interesting ability. By sacrificing the corruptor on cast and also increasing the ability to an AoE, Corruption has the potential to impact the battle much more while also providing a way for Zerg players to trade out the Corruptors as needed to suit the current unit composition of their opponent.


Creep now costs minerals to spread, but spreads much faster and is much harder to stop.
Creep changes:
 Creep from creep tumors now spread faster 50% faster.
 Creep reset time has been reduced to 15 seconds from 30 seconds.
 Creep tumors now cost 25 minerals and 0 energy instead of the previous cost of 25 energy.
 Creep tumors life has been increased to 100, from 50.
These changes are designed to address the ‘free’ nature of creep. Zerg needs creep. It’s hard to imagine SC2 Zerg without it, but with some slight alterations to its basic functionality we can create a more dangerous and also more meaningful interaction as each creep tumor represents something more real and limited. Due to the change in cost (from energy to minerals), the ability to spread creep has also been increased significantly to compensate.


Queens now have a maximum energy of 150 as creep tumors no longer cost energy.
Creep queens have become an integral part to many players’ game plan as they are particularly effective defensively early on. Due to the changes in creep, queens with a maximum of 200 energy excessive since creep no longer requires energy. While this change slightly diminishes the potential for mass queen play late game, I don’t think it’s significant enough to be a concern as queens overall throughout the game will have much more energy than usual.


Creep dropped by a single Overlord spreads out to form a 1×1 area down from a 2×2 area.
This change is designed to alleviate the frustration of trying to take a base but being unable to due to an overlord dropping creep there. Dropping creep on a base is a low risk move by the Zerg with potentially large payoffs as expansions are delayed. This situation most often affects lower league players more as they have a tendency to forget to clear the Overlords ahead of time. This change does not remove the possibility of this play, and a similar pre-patch result could still be achieved, but the Zerg player will be required to use multiple overlords (thus more risk and potentially more reward).

Swarm Host:

Locusts have been strengthened but now cost minerals and cannot be spawned continuously.
 Locusts now cost 25 minerals per spawn.
 Locusts require one second to build.
 The spawn locust ability now has a 40 second cooldown.
 Only one pair of locusts can be stored at a time.
 Locust duration remains 15(+10s).
 Locust health increased from 65 to 90 hp.
 Locust attack increased from 12 to 16.
 Locust armor increased to 1.
 Locust speed increase from 1.875 to 2.25.
Swarm Hosts in their current state allow for a certain passive play style that is both boring to play and to watch. While the current swarm host does have interesting utility at times, the potential for poor usage is too great. As such, the Swarm Host now functions as a sort of forward hatchery allowing for quick reinforcements into the battle. Due to the increased cost of spawning Locusts, their power has been increased significantly. The spawn cooldown has been increased to create a larger window of vulnerability as well so that Swarm Host users must make a decision of when to summon their locusts, lest they leave themselves vulnerable to a counter attack. These changes will eliminate the possibility for stagnate play while increasing the potential for powerful Swarm Host play as well as increasing the decision making required to use Swarm Hosts effectively.

Brood Lord:

Brood Lords now store broodlings similarly to how carriers store interceptors.
 Brood Lord attack cooldown reduced from 2.5 to 1.5.
 Each pair of broodlings cost 25 minerals.
 Two broodlings are constructed every 2 seconds
 Broodlings now last 12 seconds up from 8.
 Broodlings attack increased to 6 from 4.
 Broodling health increased to 40 from 30.
 Broodlords will be able to store a maximum of 8 broodlings (where two are always fired at a time).
This change is designed to address the ‘free’ nature of Broodlords. When fighting against brood lords it can feel like no progress is being made even as units are killed. These changes turn the Broodlord more into a strategic forward reinforcement base rather than an a-move siege unit. The discrepancy between spawn time (2 seconds) and attack time (1.5) seconds should help create a window of vulnerability against the Broodlords if a player is attempting to use them as a fully continuous siege unit while rewarding players who know when to attack and when to retreat with their Broodlords.


Infestation: The Infestor spawns a small Nydus Worm that spawns in 5 seconds (normal Nydus Worm takes 20 seconds) Once the Nydus finishes, it spawns an Infested Terran every .5 seconds for 5 seconds and then dies. Each Infested Terran has the usual stats but now benefit from range & carapace ground upgrades.
 Infestation costs 100 minerals
 cast range of 9
 5 second cooldown.
 Infested Terrans now last for 2 minutes.
Infested Terrans were a sort of ‘free’ unit. The basic functionality of this ability has been altered while putting it more in line with other changes by requiring the addition of units to your army to cost resources. I hope Infestation will allow Infestors to have more potential as a harrass unit while also giving it increased utility when at low energy.

Neural parasite can now be cast while burrowed.
Neural parasite is an oft used spell. By changing it to be castable while burrowed, I hope that neural parasite sees more overall use in the Infestor’s arsenal.

Possible alternative ability:
Infest: Target area of creep now deals 5 damage per second to all enemy ground units for 10 seconds. Any area not covered by creep is unaffected. Cast range of 8. Cooldown is 20 seconds. Radius is 2.5.