You Don’t Like 2 Hour Swarm Host Games? Here’s One Solution


Swarm hosts are not a bad unit. Let me clarify, though, before everyone stops reading this post: swarm hosts are a horrible unit for the current state of Starcraft 2.

I think most people would agree with that statement. Swarm hosts replaced broodlords as being the nightmare unit that Terrans and Protosses (and sometimes Zergs) dread. When swarm hosts first came out, they seemed interesting and everyone thought they could possibly change the meta of Starcraft 2; they certainly did, although currently not in a way anyone (except maybe Stephano?) is happy with.

What are the current problems with swarm hosts? Some would focus on the damage they do with free units, but I instead want to focus on the problem of mobility. Swarm hosts reduce the mobility of the game, consolidating the action to choke points via slow siege warfare. The hay day of TvT siege warfare looks spectacularly more interesting in comparison (even though many of us bemoaned the state of GOMTvT at that time). With static defense and endless swarms of locusts, games drag to a grind.

The slow siege is particularly painful in ZvZ (as evidenced by Stephano vs Petraeus at the Lone Star Clash 3) where spores shut down the most obvious harassment unit available to zergs against swarm hosts: mutas. Ground runbys are pointless as they will get destroyed by the locusts before they cause much damage. Looking at other match ups, in ZvP,  it might be a painful siege, but at least there are tempests to break the line, while in ZvT swarm hosts are largely ignored except when Zergs face mech; if zergs try to use swarm hosts against bio, they can expect disastrous drops all over the map.

So, how do you fix swarm hosts?

Like I said earlier, they are a horrible unit for the current game of Starcraft 2–the meta game at the professional level and at the higher spectrum of play. The tough thing that Blizzard has to do, and that we as a community tend to forget, is that they have to balance both for Jaedong and XxX666PoolRushXxX in bronze league.

My proposal is to make a change that will simply shake up the meta. Give the pros something to ponder that will spice up the game a little bit and, most importantly, open up new options.

Nydus worms. We were told there would be changes to nydurs worms in Heart of the Swarm; it was teased and then axed, much like the warhound (RIP). Whether it would be a deployable turret or spread creep or whatever, Blizzard said they wanted to do something with nydus worms and then never did. And I think now is the perfect time to try a change. A simple experiment that the community has requested for a long time: don’t restrict the number of nydus networks that can be built at one time.


Think about it: in ZvZ, the biggest problem is that swarm hosts can just sit back and send out their locusts. There are no incentives to move them. Siege lines move because one person has more swarm hosts than the other, or there is some reason to divert some locusts away from the main point of conflict. Mutas are out of the equation because of spores, and the ground is pretty much dominated because of the locusts. Currently, if nydus worms are built in ZvZ, the enemy will spot them and quickly dispatch a wave of locusts or pull drones to kill the worm. If more than one nydus network could be built at one time, though, this becomes infinitely harder for the slow-moving locusts and swarm hosts. Suddenly, more army supply has to be reserved for mobile units, and swarm hosts can be used as they were intended: to supplement armies instead of being the army.

In general, buffing nydus networks is a long overdue change. Zerg is a race that’s all about mobility, and the swarm hosts destroy that for the most part. Nydus networks are still a low-risk threat to other match ups, as both Protoss and Terrans have higher mobility even in a swarm host-siege situation.

So, the pros as I see it:

1) In ZvZ, this will force Zerg opponents to invest in a more mobile army to counter possible nydus worm networks popping up on various sides of the map.

2) Swarm hosts themselves can be more mobile, popping up on different parts of the map, sieging for a moment, and then slipping away. This might be unbalanced and would require further testing, but it certainly doesn’t make for 2 hour long snorefests and might help balance the game in other ways.

3) More innovative play. Nydus networks are one of the most underutilized buildings/strategies in the game, typically only reserved for cheese play. The only building used less often is probably the fusion core.

Maybe instead of just making a change to the overall design of nydus networks, an upgrade ability (maybe available at lair, maybe hive) could be added to the game. This would allow further tweaking to nydus networks until a balance is found.

I am not a Master-level player. I play Zerg at the diamond level on the North American server. I am not going to pretend that I know everything about Starcraft. But making things viable seems like a good goal. A change to the nydus network might help break up the monotony of play. I know I for one am extremely tired of swarm hosts and their current role in the meta. Maybe this will imbalance the game, but honestly, I think most of us would prefer shaking up the metagame than enduring more of these mind-numbing swarm host games.

What are your thoughts on the swarm host situation in Starcraft 2? Do you think the unit can be saved by rebalancing it or other units? Or do you think it should be taken out completely?

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