It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these. Today’s unit of the dayis one that I’ve fallen in love with and terrans have fell out of love with… the baneling.
In Starcraft zerglings are introduced as the basic melee unit of the zerg. It is recognized as a mineral dump. In Starcraft there was only one mutation, mutalisk into guardian. Two if you count the spire turning into a greater spire three if you count creep colonies transforming into sunkens and those AA things.
For a race that was purely biological and was said to be ‘evolving’ you never really got to see much of it, it sort of just stayed the same. So when brood wars came out blizzard added in the lurker an underground attacker that evolved from the hydralisk. People loved this and a lot of early game tactics focused around getting a fast lurker.
But that’s where it died. It felt silly that the basic unit couldn’t become something else. People often think of zerg like an evil pokemon. You start off with some unit and it evolves. The lack of that sort of triffled a lot of players. It felt weird that you could just make your zerglings hit harder and move faster.
So the baneling gets introduced. It created a unique anti-zerg/terran unit that gets used more than almost any other zerg unit in the game.
In the campaign the baneling shows up in some odd places. If you are doing it on casual your first time running into these guys is on the second last mission where you have to chose between wiping out air or ground for the final level. You have to choose to wipe out his nydus worms in order to encounter them. They show up and the Steadman tells you to “stay away from them.” As you try to micro away one of them is bound to hit you and he tells you that you’re sort of dumb for getting hit by it.
And that’s it. If you do the casual round you’ll never see banelings ever again, until multiplayer.
You see banelings once more in Hard Mode reaper level. A reaper jumps down and destroys one and takes no damage from it, yep nothing big. I may have spotted one in The Moebius Factor where you have to destroy the buildings but I mean you’d never engage it.
All-in-all the baneling is non-present in the terran campaign probably because of how explosively powerful they are. I think blizzard had a sense of humor by making the zergling evolution into a suicide unit considering many zerg players will use zerglings as suicide units.
It’s really hard to talk about the ‘strengths’ of the baneling unit. Anything they are strong against they coincidentally die to. Banelings DO NOT do bonus damage against any types. Unlike their counter part the tank which does bonus damage vs. light units.
The baneling is mostly used against terran bio balls and zerg lings. Two other common uses for banelings is to destroy command centers and kill harvesters. Each baneling will cost you 50 minerals 25 gas (including the zergling you are morphing) so in order to make this worth while you need to kill a mere 3 units.
Banelings mix in well wit most army compositions. The most popular is the terran buster, baneling/mutalisk. But banelings also work well with just zerglings for the famous “baneling bust” where you use banelings to break open the terran door as well as baneling/hydra
Banelings have one upgrade that requires hive tech. This makes it so that your banelings will roll instead of crawl. It’s the most ridiculous upgrade but what it’s doing is increasing the movement speed of banelings. When they crawl they’re only going to be good very early game with smaller numbers of enemy troops. But once your enemy gets large mass and tanks then suddenly banelings aren’t getting to their target enough. Rolling makes them a potent enemy.
Banelings also have the ability to BURROW which is insanely cool it makes your banelings transform into land mines. This way you can plant them and detonate them as your enemy moves on you. It feels kind of anti-climatic since you can’t see the damage they deal but it does end up being insanely cool.
They’re also the only unit that has the ability to auto-unburrow. This makes them more like land mines as soon as his ball runs over it they’ll unburrow and detonate. Pros don’t do this. The simple reason is because they lose control on the vicious numbers they’re looking to kill with it.
One other powerful use of banelings is to load them into overlords and use the overlords as bombers and CARPET BOMB your enemy. Some people will use this to drop them into piles of terran units while others will use it to bomb enemy structures. It’s very challenging as you have to detonate these units as you drop them.
The obvious weakness of banelings is that every time they have success you’re going to lower your army count by one. There’s no other unit in the game that is literally trading army count for victory. So one significant weakness of this unit is a player who makes poor choices. If each baneling isn’t destroying 100 minerals worth of structures it may not be worth while.
Another weakness is that they die very easily to everything. This is part of the design function, they wanted to make it so that they are going to hurt you for trying to kill them. A lot of terran players (myself included) will bind sacrificial lambs who will absorb baneling hits making them really worthless.
Banelings as a final weakness have no other attacks other than suicide. This makes them vulnerable to every single unit in the game. They also cannot blow up air units meaning if your enemy has banshees, void rays or phoenixes maybe baneling play is over. On that note I think if a phoenix kills a baneling in the air it should do air splash damage.
And that’s the baneling!