Wednesday, May 23, 2007




The Zerg are a vaguely insectoid race in the StarCraft universe. The Zerg are separated into a number of broods that are named after monstrous mythological beasts, almost always from Norse mythology. Each brood serves a specific purpose and is controlled by a Cerebrate that is physically incapable of disobeying the Overmind who rules over the Zerg as the leader of the Swarm.
Due to the Zerg's unique use of overwhelming numbers of relatively weak units, rather than smaller numbers of stronger units, the term "to Zerg", (verb) "Zerg Rush" or "Zerging" is the act of using mass numbers to achieve an objective. Furthering this usage of "zerg" is a tactic used by players controlling the Zerg race. Players controlling the Zerg race are able to create massive numbers of "Zerglings", the initial offensive unit, far quicker than most players of other races can produce enough units to counter the "Zergling Rush". It has become widely accepted in a variety of other games, including Planetside, Warcraft III, World of Warcraft, Dark Age of Camelot, World War II Online and other multiplayer games.


The Zerg are played far differently than the Terran or Protoss in StarCraft. Instead of workers constructing buildings (the Terran's method of construction) or the workers warping them in (the Protoss's method of construction), the Zerg gatherer, the Drone, morphs into the soon-to-be structure and it constructs (or perhaps more accurately, grows) the building over a short period of time. The Drone is lost in the process which is unique among the races in the StarCraft universe. When the Zerg need more "control" in order to create more units, they build an Overlord, a unit, instead of a building. In order to build units, a Zerg player must go to a Hatchery controlled by him or her and select a Larva and change into a certain type of unit. After picking the unit to transform into and paying the corresponding amount of resources, the Larva changes into an egg in which, after a short time, the new unit will hatch for service in the Swarm. The Zerg's most popular military strategy is to build far more units than your opponent and overwhelm the enemy with large numbers of weaker units, instead of smaller numbers of stronger units.


The history of the Zerg in the StarCraft universe began when the ancestral Zerg species was discovered on the irradiated, unstable planet of Zerus, by the ancient and mysterious Xel'Naga civilization, shortly after they had abandoned the Protoss on Aiur as a failure. The ancestral Zerg organisms were small and weak larva-like creatures, but they contained the purity of essence sought by the Xel'Naga race, being capable of surviving and thriving in a staggering variety of environmental conditions.
With the help of Xel'Naga's gifts of proto-genetic manipulations, the Zerg survived the horrendous firestorms of their world and thrived. As the Xel'Naga pushed their development, they eventually began to develop the ability to burrow into the spinal columns of some stronger creatures on Zerus, parasitically merging with their nervous systems. These new bodies would then be used to manipulate their surroundings as the old bodies once did. The Zerg began to assimilate the genetic strains and processes of these host animals. However, as the Zerg had an undeviating drive to consume only the most advanced species they encountered, they eradicated lesser, weaker species. The Xel'Naga were surprised to find how quickly the Zerg could steer the evolution of their host creatures. Some of the things the Zerg developed in their hosts were armor-piercing spines, razor-sharp limbs, acid attacks, upgrades, and ultra-dense carapaces within only a few generations of controlling new species.
Wary of the chaotic infighting that had enveloped the Protoss, the Xel'Naga created the Overmind, an enormous brain-like entity, to bring order to the Zerg. At first it was only a semi-sentient entity created from the instincts and collective sentience of the Zerg, but it quickly evolved.
The Overmind did not directly communicate orders to its minions. As new species were added to the Swarm, it began to relay orders through Cerebrates, giant versions of the Zerg larvae acting as subordinates to it. Orders were relayed through Overlords, which were then given queens to allow for the Zerg to operate in the most efficient manner possible.


The Overmind began to think of its future. In order to continue finding new species to assimilate, it needed to leave Zerus and travel to new worlds. Extending its senses into space, it discovered enormous space-faring organisms. It lured them to Zerus with its psychic abilities and assimilated them into the Swarm as the Zerus races had been. Soon all the Zerg had the ability to travel between worlds with reinforced carapaces to counter the vacuum of space. The Xel'Naga considered this a triumph. The Zerg had not only overcome their weaknesses, but had also retained the purity of their terrible overriding essence.
The Overmind extended itself further into space, becoming aware of the Xel'Naga Worldships in orbit above Zerus. The Overmind then had its psionic link with the Xel'Naga severed — the Overmind effectively hid itself from their view.
The Overmind sent its minions into space, attacking the unsuspecting Xel'Naga. The hapless Xel'Naga tried to pull away from the planet. Despite the ancient race's best efforts, it was overwhelmed as the Zerg crashed into the hulls of its ships, destroying them. Within a few hours the Zerg had laid waste to the Xel'Naga fleet. The greater whole of the Xel'Naga was consumed by the raging, genetic whirlwind of the Zerg, and the Overmind gained their knowledge and insights. Processing thousands of sentient beings into itself caused the Overmind to grow much more powerful. It learned the secrets of the sacred Khaydarin Crystals, and began to incorporate the energies of these Crystals into its own. Through the knowledge gained from the Xel'Naga, the Overmind was able to increase the level of sentience in many of the higher Zerg strains, while still keeping them fully under its control, ironically helping to achieve the goal of the Xel'Naga that it destroyed.
The Overmind dissected the memories of the Xel'Naga experiments with the Protoss, learning of the failure, success, and the great benefit in assimilating such powerful race. The Zerg then devoted their energies to seeking out the powerful Protoss in the hope of absorbing them into the Swarm, uniting purity of form and of essence to create amazing possiblities for development and evolution of the Zerg.

The Determinant

The Zerg did not know the exact location of Aiur, homeworld of the Protoss, but they were able to travel towards it, adding new species (such as the Mutalisk, Hydralisk, Lurker, and Zergling) to the Swarm from various planetary genepools along the way. However, the Overmind despaired; how could it defeat the Protoss with their powerful psionic abilities, when its own were so limited? This question was soon to be answered.
A Mutalisk
In the shadow of the Protoss lay the Koprulu Sector, a patch of space inhabited by the Terrans. This species had been discovered by Zerg deep space probes. Normally the Zerg would not be interested in such a weak species, but they exhibited a powerful psionic potential. Their probes discovered Terran living on over a dozen worlds.
The Zerg slowly made their way towards the Terran worlds, infesting multiple planets and slowly evolving due to exposure to raw vespene gas. The journey lasted for sixty years, but eventually the massive, extended Zerg Swarm reached the outskirts of the Koprulu Sector. According to StarCraft: Uprising, the Zerg infested a number of Fringe Worlds upon their arrival. The Overmind first subtly infested the surface of the Terran Confederacy colony of Chau Sara with Hive Spores. Then it sent its minions down to the surface to infest the Terran themselves. The Terran were defeated and largely enslaved or killed.
The Zerg were surprised at the Terran response, and were defeated by a sudden attack by the Protoss, led by Executor Tassadar. The Overmind told its minions not to fight back, in order to observe Protoss attacking for the first time. The attack sterilized all life on the surface of Chau Sara, effectively ending the Zerg infestation.
The Terrans did not warn their compatriots on other worlds, enabling the Zerg to infest Mar Sara virtually unopposed. It is at this point that the StarCraft game begins.

New Units

As with the Terran and Protoss, the Zerg gains new units in StarCraft: Brood War.
  • Lurker- Evolved from the Hydralisk, the Lurker is a large insectoid creature that attacks with a row of subterranian spikes, causing linear splash damage. Two unique features about Lurkers are that they have the burrowing ability without the player needing to research it first, and that they attack from underground, making them a very ideal as a ground-based defensive unit.

  • Devourer- Available as a secondary evolution for the Mutalisk (the other being the Guardian), Devourers are air-to-air units that attack with acid spores. Though slow-firing, the acid spores cause targets to take more damage and have a slower fire rate. Acid spores can also be "stacked", with a single enemy unit having up to as many as nine spores.

Plot advancement in StarCraft

As Episode I begins, The Zerg have infested Mar Sara and are killing the native Terrans. They conquer the planet, but the Protoss fleet under the Executor, Tassadar, destroyed all life on it. Though the Zerg were used by the Confederacy to attack disloyal worlds, the Sons of Korhal turned it against them by using Psi Emitters to attack the Confederate capital world of Tarsonis itself. During the attack, they take Sarah Kerrigan to infest her and turn her into Infested Kerrigan. This ends the Zerg participation in I.
In Episode II, the Zerg take the Crysalis that holds Infested Kerrigan to the planet Char where it hatches. After this, the Zerg destroy most of Tassadar's forces and invade the Protoss homeworld of Aiur. After taking Xel'Naga crystals and gaining a strong foothold on the planet, Episode II ends.
In the final part of StarCraft, Episode III, the Zerg begin to lose ground. They are halted in their advance and have Tassadar and the Dark Templar escape their custody on Char. After this, two of their Cerebrates are killed and next, the Overmind itself. With the death of the Overmind, Episode III and StarCraft completes itself and goes on to StarCraft: Brood War.

Plot advancement in StarCraft: Brood War

The Zerg were originally controlled by the Overmind, who was destroyed by the Protoss, Tassadar (at the cost of his own life) at the end of StarCraft Episode III.
By Episode IV, it was revealed that the Zerg had formed a new, young Overmind on Char, the adopted Zerg homeworld, but it was captured by the United Earth Directorate in Episode V. In Episode VI, the final act to date, Infested Kerrigan, the self-claimed Queen of Blades, a former Terran Ghost telepath soldier who had been infested (transformed) into a Zerg/Terran Hybrid, had the second Overmind killed and claimed leadership over the entire Zerg Swarm.
With the Terran Dominion decimated, the expeditionary fleet of the United Earth Directorate destroyed, the Protoss home world Aiur conquered by the Zerg with the survivors fleeing to Shakuras, and every Zerg under Infested Kerrigan's command, the Zerg currently stand as masters of the StarCraft universe.

Zerg Control

All Zerg are directly subject to the will of the Overmind. In fact, it is a biological impossibility for them to oppose its directives. Only Cerebrates, Infested Kerrigan, and possibly Overlords and Queens, have sentience, and control individual armies (called Broods), using Overlords as lieutenants to directly control the warriors and workers. The lesser Zerg minions are wholly dependent upon the Cerebrates and the Overlords for order. Should a Cerebrate die, its brood may run amok; the animalistic natures of individual Zerg emerge. When an Overlord dies, a Zerg player loses control points and must create more Overlords to replace the loss. Without these control points, additional Zerg units cannot be built until existing units die or more Overlords are created. Even Zerg buildings are living organisms and aren't built but grown. They act as organs in the body of the Zerg Hive Cluster.
Though Zerg are incapable of disobeying their masters, their masters can change. When the Overmind died, the Cerebrates had freedom to do as they please. Though the Cerebrates themselves chose to remain loyal to Daggoth, Infested Kerrigan did not and fought with the Cerebrates for control over the Zerg. However, the minions under each Cerebrate were completely loyal to it and followed all orders even to fight another Zerg.
Zerg's broods are mostly named after Norse mythological monsters (Jormungand, Garm, Surtur, etc.). However, at least two broods have been named from another source. The Leviathan Brood was named after the Leviathan, a Hebrew mythological sea monster and the Grendel Brood was named after Grendel, the evil monster in the epic poem, Beowolf.

Comparison of Zerg to Other Fictional Species

The Zerg share many characteristics to many species in science fiction novels or other computer games. The Zergs' design is most likely based on Tyranids in the fictional universe of Warhammer 40,000 which has been around since 1987. They bear strong resemblances in physical form, intelligence, hostility, and hierarchical authority, with the xenomorphs from the Alien film series. They share many characteristics with the Borg of Star Trek in that they roam the galaxy assimilating species they encounter into themselves. Lastly they share a hive mind ruled by the Overmind, much like the Borg Queen, as well as the Formics from Ender's Game.

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