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Old 05-12-2008
United States XSOLDIER
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Default [Discussion] The Mystery of the Swarm Guardian

This is the only Zerg unit that's been announced, yet it hasn't been seen at all - neither in concept or in game (aside from a couple blurred screenshots LINK1, LINK2, LINK3), and the only information of how the unit functions Has been Specified in greater detail HERE by Karune. It has the same function as the previous Guardian, and it has the abilite to Spawn 2 Broodlings upon impact. There Broodlings only survive for a few seconds, and have very few HP, but spawn with any attack against units or buildings. In light of this, a lot about the unit's role has been discussed here has changed, mostly with the confirmation that the Broodlings ability will NOT be replaced by the new Infestation mechanic. I'll do my best to summarize responses to some of what's been talked about as well as bring in some new concepts and suggestions.

Keep in mind, there may be more infomation on the way when WWI Paris hits, so most of the information is subject to change.

The *Starred* box shows the current discussion (clicking will link to the post detailing the specifics) - after which the information is added to the complete section of information below. Listed there is what we know about the unit from the reveal, along with response to questions, and some speculation on abilities that the unit could/may benefit from.

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Current Thread Discussion: (click for link)
Karune Update: Broodling Attack Attribute Still Remains

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Zerg Swarm Guardian Information Compilation

What we know about the Swarm Guardian

Type: Flying/Biological
HP: 200
Minerals: 100
Vespene: 100
Supply: 2
Mutates From: Mutalisk
Requires: Greater Spire
Attack: Unknown (SC:BW Version- Acidic Plasma)
Damage: 25 Ground, + Broodlings*
Range: Unknown (SC:BW Version- 8)
Armor (type): 1 (Armored)
Upgrades:(Level 1): 100 minerals, 150 vespene gas, 100 seconds.
(Level 2): 125 minerals, 125 vespene gas, 120 seconds.
(Level 3): 150 minerals, 150 vespene gas, 160 seconds.

*The Swarm Guardian's attack is still capable of Spawning 2 Broodlings that only deal a small amount of damage, have very few HP, and die after a short duration. This HAS NOT BEEN LOST due to the fact that the Infester's Infestation ability was recently altered to produce Broodlings instead of Infested Terran/Protoss/Zerg.

(All previous statistics are still subject to change).

Responding to the Concern of "Too Many Remaining Core Units"

Firstly, let's compare numbers.

New: (8) Medivac Dropship, Reaper, Marauder, Viking, Jackal, Nomad, Banshee, Thor
Old: (6) SCV, Marine, Ghost, Siege Tank, Dropship, Battlecruiser

New: (8) Immortal, Stalker, Nullifier, Colossus, Phase Prism, Phoenix, Warp Ray, Mothership
Old: (7) Probe, Zealot, High Templar, Dark Templar, Twilight Archon*, Observer, Carrier
* I counted this, because it's just a combination of the two units from SC:BW, whereas the Immortal has an entirely new role from SC's Dragoon.

New: (7) Overseer*, Baneling*, Roach, Infester, Corrupter, Nydus Worm, Queen**
Old: (8) Drone, Overlord, Zergling, Hydralisk, Lurker*, Ultralisk, Mutalisk, *Swarm Guardian
* Evolution
** Queen's upgrades are not included, since it's similiar to adding stats and spell abilities to a unit.
*** Larvae & Eggs are not counted since they're technically a unit production mechanic

Overall, they're very close together, though the Zerg have 1 fewer new unit than the other two races - this also depends on how altered the Swarm Guardian ends up being from the original SC1 Guardian. A possible reason why the Zerg feel like they have more remaining units could be that, in part with the Queen, Nydus Worms, and individual unit upgrades, and how Infestation works, the Zerg have undergone the biggest overhaul to how they're played, so Unit replacement isn't as important. Even though it seems relatively basic, these small things set them substantially far apart from their SC1 version, and make them very different from the other races. Also - it represents how the Zerg have been strengthening, and evolving existing forces. Realistically for a race like the Zerg, it would be more natural to see a lot of the original strains appear still, and most by the same names (since even with wings, a Zergling's still a Zergling), and given Evolutions (like they were in BroodWar), while fewer new strains are inducted into the Swarm. Whereas with mechanical races like the Terrans and Protoss, it's more logical for them to scrap an existing ship, and just build a better one - or upgrade an existing one and change the name (Dual Cannons and Heavy Shields makes a Dragoon an Immortal). Keep in mind - Kerrigan did win out the battle in BroodWar, so- of all the strategies, her's would be the most likely to keep and improve what she's got rather than try to come up with new tactics, and employ a mass of new forces.

When you're looking at the Guardian's history with the Zerg in terms of lore, it was the first to be the result of a unit undergoing an Evolution - Mutalisk into Guardian. It also had the background of this mutation from lore based in the Mantis Screamer's own genetics (a change to the creature's nesting form), whereas every following evolution to a unit seems to have used this idea, and influenced an existing unit through the Zerg's Hyperevolutionary Virus. Example: Hydralisk to Lurker & Zergling to Baneling were developed after the core creature was assimilated into the Swarm, and was not part of the genetic makeup of the Slothien or Zz'gashi Dune Runner. Though it may not be as iconic as the Hydralisk or Zergling, the Guardian's evolution continues to play a very important role in how the Zerg's core mechanic has been molded - Broodwar's addition of the Lurker and Devourer using this mechanic, SC2's Baneling, and to some extent, the new Queen.

A subtle name tweak, and a fairly significant appearance change from the Guardian to Swarm Guardian, as well as some new abilities seem to fit well rather than needing to give its role to an entirely new unit. With the abilities and potential detailed throughout the section below, I think you'll see reason to keep the Swarm Guardian in the lineup rather than replace it with an arbitrary new unit filling the same niche.

Air Defenseless - Swarm Guardian Burrowing Concept

This idea was originally brought up when looking at the design for the Swarm Guardian from the blurred gameplay screenshots. Since the new Swarm Guardian has a more worm/caterpillar-like appearance, what if the unit was given the ability to Burrow? Nothing special, no underground movement, no special attack, etc. It would just allow the creature to escape AA units in a manner similiar to the Viking, except it would be defenseless and hidden. Note - that as a flying unit, the Swarm Guardian would have to target the location to Burrow, exactly like Vikings do to transform, since it would still have to retreat over land to use the ability. Thus fast flying AA units could still catch it over water, or empty space like on Installation Tileset. It's also still fully vulnerable if there's a detector in range, at which point it's now vulnerable to ground attacks just like every other Burrowed Zerg unit. This also provides a great chance for hiding a unit that can't cloak, or easily escape due to slow movement speed. If your opponent happens to have a small force or a non-detector scout coming by, and you need a way to swifty hide for a short period of time, this ability gives an excellent way to do that.

In ZvT an interesting situation, would be that - as long as there's no detector present, Vikings and Swarm Guardians would be at an impass until either side brought in reinforcements. The presence of a Terran Detector Unit could produce some very interesting battles between the two. Each side would be keeping some units in the air, and others on/under the ground. The Vikings are forced to land to attackthe defenseless Burrowed Swarm Guardians, but as they do, they become vulnerable to the Swarm Guardians remaining in the air. In the end - the Vikings have the slight upper hand that if reduced to one unit remaining, since the SG's still need an AA unit to take it out.

In the case of ZvP it's hold a different advantage. The Swarm Guardian could use Burrow in the same way that Vikings can land to escape the Overload ability of the Protoss Phoenix. Although it would be capable of escaping the damage, it would be unable to take advantage of the ability's cooldown time where the Phoenix is defenseless.

This ability could also be supported by the lore as the creature is a nesting form of the Manits Screamer, and would likely need to land and dig to build a nest. This could also help explain the reason that it has the massive claw-like appendages, as well as explain why it's exclusive to the Swarm Guardian, and the Mutalisk is unable to. The rib-like parts on each body section could be used as arms to assist the creature in burrowing below ground quickly to hide from potential threats. Not to mention it would give the opportunity to see a spectacular animation of it suddenly diving from the air and clawing into the ground. After all - even the massive Ultralisk can burrow now, it would be great to see this ability given to the Guardian.

-Final Note- The idea of the Swarm Guardian having an AA Melee attack with its massive claws has been suggested a few times, but given the unit's slow movement speed, there are few opportunities it would be able to utilize it. With this in mind, in addition to the other advantages that Burrow offers, and how it fits in with the other elements of SC2 gameplay, it seems that Burrow serves as a better primary ability instead of an AA Melee attack.

The Swarm Guardian's Anatomy & Abilities

I've made up a few concept sketches of the Swarm Guardian, to give a pretty good guess at the creature's actual appearence based on the blurred screens, original SC appearance, Mutalisk concept art & SC2 model. In addition to this, I've come up with some speculation on why it might look like it does, as well as the reason and functionality behind its attacks. The reference art has can be seen first, followed by the blurred screenshot, and then followed with my concept sketches - each with their own description.

SC1 Mutalisk Portrait

SC2 Mutalisk Official Artwork (click for full version)

SC2 Mutalisk Model (click for full size render)

SC1 Guardian Portrait

SC1 Guardian Model

SC2 Blurry Swarm Guardian Screenshot

Evolution Concept Sketch (click for full size)

The first concept sketch is really more to represent how the Swarm Guardian evolves from the Mutalisk. I referenced the SC2 Mutalisk Art, SC1 Mutalisk & Guardian Portraits, and the Guardian in-game model. Note that this is why the body is much longer than the final/correct version. As it evolves, the head takes up a much larger postion of it's body size. The whole creature becomes more broad, the face ends up being composed of the two large outer fangs, the 4 inner, finger-like fangs, and the bottom jaw. The wings are replaced by a total of 6 arms. The two large outer arms, slightly smaller inner ones, and the in-most claw-like arms that curve downwards - on the model these could easily be mistaken for the fangs, but if you look carefully, you'll notice the head is much smaller. Rib-like protrusions extend from each section, and the end section has a longer curving spike at the top from the creature's "second mouth." Due to the fact that it no longer has wings, the Swarm Guardian has a massively reduced speed, and maneuverability, and the remaining portions help control buoyancy (likely in a similiar manner to the Overlord) - thus explaining it's caterpillar-like appearance as it flies through the air. Lastly you can see the Glaive Wurm poking out of the tail opening/second mouth and sticking its tongue out.

Swarm Guardian Concept Sketch (click for full size)

This Drawing references the SC2 Mutalisk Model, The Blurry Screenshot, and the SC1 Guardian Model & Portrait. The Swarm Guardian is composed of 5 sections, If you look closely and reference between this and the blurry image, you should be able to make them out. The first section is composed of the head/shoulder area, and contains the face and 6 arms. This section is basically the entire SC1 Guardian with a few subtle changes. One note about the arms is that if you look at the bit of the color scheme vaguely discernable from the blurry screenshot, they seem to be much more solid and claw-like than the flexible, softer-looking SC1 Guardian's arms. Next take a look at the SC2 Mutalisk model and see that it has three rib-like spikes along it's sides that make up for the development of the spiney rib-like arms on the following sections. This is also the reason that there are only three main/repeating body sections of the Swarm Guardian. The final section is the 'tail/second mouth.' This section has more spikes, and an opening where the Glaive Wurms were thrown from. This is simple to understand if you just stretched a Mutalisk out like a worm, and use the Evolution image above. The vent-like patches along the body could be used for team color, and on the unit would serve the function of allowing it to control its altitude in an atmosphere by releasing gasses to affect buoyancy (almost all Zerg movement in space is just accepted that it happens.. somehow, so we'll leave it at that). The top down view allows a look at the similiarities to the SC1 Guardian that may not be as noticeable in the Evolution sketch.

Swarm Guardian Acid Attack Sketch

The SC1 Guardian attacked by spitting an acidic plasma from it's main mouth at the enemies. No longer using a seperate Glaive Wurm. It's likely that this attack is propelled by building pressure inside the Guardian's and spitting it out with significant force. The plasma-like properties keeping the acid together until is impacts the target. It's likely that this requires assistance from similiar organs to what help keep the creature buoyant (much like spitting requires the use of your lungs). This would make it too difficult for the Swarm Guardian to be effective at hitting air units, whereas hitting units on the ground that are limited to a 2 dimensional plain could be done with extreme distance and accuracy - even more supported by the fact that the Swarm Guardian has additional body sections (imaging spitting if you had 4 lungs). Thus on the animation, I have the arms drawing back, and the mouth opening. It would be interesting (though I don't know how visible) to have the body sections compress slightly as it attacks as well.

Swarm Guardian "Broodling" Attack Sketch

Though the concept of the evolved Glaive Wurm (visible in the Evolution Sketch, and the SC1 Mutalisk Portrait) is likely the explanation for the Swarm Guardian's attack spawning Broodlings. If it infact doesn't attack using acid anymore - as is likely the case, and hasn't evolved a way of Spitting out the Glaive Wurms (which seems rather awkward), here's an illustrated idea of how it's attack could function. Since the Glaive Wurms would continue to grow, and evolve with the Mutalisk into a Swarm Guardian, it's only natural that they would also change. Since the Swarm Guardian is in a nesting form - the Glaive Wurms would continue to develop in pairs, creating a harder shell around themselves - though still with the explosive properties it had before. With their tougher, more developed bodies, and working in pairs, they are now heavier and incapable of bouncing to muliple targets.

It's at this point that the Swarm Guardian could whip its body/tail down, hurling the developed Glaive "Broodlings" downwards - like using a Jai alai glove (Jai alai players can apparently throw a ball up to 188mph with extreme accuracy). The explosive impact dealing the base damage, and crasking open the two creature's protecting shell unleashing the two frail Glaive Broodlings onto the ground to attack, before - like the Mutalisk's Glaive Wurms, they slowly disintegrate and die, though not before serving their purpose.

Lore: It's possible that through a complex xvolution (like the Mantis Screamer evolving into it's Nesting Form), that the original Glaive Wurms may not have been just symbiotes, and could have fully evolved into Mantis Screamers during the nesting stage - thus enabling the creatures to reproduce a-sexually. Even if possible then, this ability has been forever lost and tainted after being Infested and adapted into the Zerg Swarm. By causing changes in the genetic structure, as well as in the chemical balance of the wurm's development. The two symbiotes remaining forever as different as a butterfly and a caterpillar. Much like that in other infested species, the Glaive Wums has become extremely volatile, and thereby molded into a frighteningly powerful attack strategy. Allowing only the Zerg Larvae to be capable of generating new forces, leaving the Mutalisks like the rest of the Zerg - forever helpless to continue to survive apart from the Swarm.

After WWI Paris - The Swarm Guardian was finally seen in clear images, and had a unit render released. I'd say I wan't TOO far off.

Outdated Suggestions.

Broodling Replacement Ability - Ensnare

****In light of the most recent update (5/22/2008) The Swarm Guardian Still posesses the Broodling ability, so a replacement mechanic is no longer required. The following information is only being saved in case changes occur.****

Since the Zerg Infester now spawns Broodlings from Infested Buildings, rather than Infested Terrans/Protoss/Zerg. There is a likely chance that if that change stays, that the Swarm Guardian has lost its only known special ability. Originally Broolings would allow the Guardian to harass the ground forces when attacking them, since they would have to concentrate on the small units spawning around them as well as the Guardian's attack. It would also help break up solid defenses, and more heavily fortified positions.

An idea about what to replace the Broodlings ability with is another SC1 Queen ability - Ensnare. Ensnare seems nowhere to be found so far, though the Terran Marauders do have a similiar ability. Giving the Swarm Guardian Ensnare (possibly under a different name), could give the Guardian a MUCH more effective role as an AtG against units. Currently, the Guardian posesses the most Zerg's most powerful (non-suicide) attack against ground units [25] and the Anti-Building niche is mostly filled by the Banelings [40], and Ultralisks [20 +5 vs. Buildings]. It would still be useful at taking out perimeter base defenses if it retains its long range, though a few flying AA units can easily destroy them. Having Ensnare would allow it to hit a group of units, and pick away at them, especially ones that could normally escape- since even though the Swarm Guardian has an extensive range, it's not capable of a good persuit due to its slow movement speed.

As an example, in ZvT you could use Ensnare to target a group of Marines, and keep them out of range from attacking you, while being able to pick off Siege Tanks with your long-range attack. ZvP it would allow you to hit and slow Zealots, and (if it holds the same function as in SC) reveal cloaked Dark Templar for as long as the duration lasts, so that you can stall them and bring in a detector to take them out. It would give the Zerg an immensely effective combat caster unit - since they lost the original Queen & Defiler, replaced with the new Base Defense Queen & Infester, they could use a bit more of their spell-like abilities on the battlefield rather than just in a passive/defensive manner. Not to mention it would make the Corruptor & Swarm Guardian a very effective pairing. In addition, this ability helps to protect your surrounding units/buildings by stalling oncoming enemy forces, so the Swarm Guardian's name would fit it a little better as well.

When it comes to the Lore - this could be explained by the Swarm Guardian attacking by using an evolved form of it's Glaive Wurm by hurling it from the secondary opening that now floats behind it - where the Mutalisk typically attacks from, since it's primary form of attack is spitting a highly corossive acidic plasma. (More can be read about this concept in the section - "Attack & Ensnare Descriptions" below.)



Last edited by XSOLDIER; 07-03-2008 at 07:27 AM.
XSOLDIER has 402 Posts

Stalker: Artwork vs. Animation (Finished: Blizzcon 10/2008)
Zerg Creep Suggestions (Finished: Blizzcon 10/2008)
Mystery of the Swarm Guardian (Revealed: 6/28/08)


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