"Last, but not least, is the spawner of the swarm: the Swarm Host. These guys can create numerous pesky locusts and now, we know how. So check out all the details, and arm yourself and those around you with an understanding of one of our greatest foes."
Generated by the infestation pit, the swarm host burrows into the ground in order to provide a seemingly endless supply of locusts. A single swarm host is capable of overwhelming an entire army. The large, mushroom-shaped structure on the swarm host's back is a breeding ground that weaponizes the millions of diminute larvae inhabiting the creature's acidic bloodstream. Through a simple system of membranes for matter exchange, glands that pump the offspring full of hormones to hyper-accelerate growth, and ducts for efficient transportation to the bubbling pockets on the surface of the incubator, the swarm host births deadly, short-lived locusts to destroy threats to the Swarm. The larvae also feed on damaged tissue, sealing wounds, and destroying anything foreign that enters their domain. When the creature is threatened or engaged in combat, a subtle chemical reaction signals the larva to head for the incubator, where they are evolved into living weapons.
The swarm host is often used in defensive maneuvers. Its legs boast powerful muscles that allow them to vibrate at hypersonic speeds, not unlike the teeth of the nydus worm. Despite that, the creature couldn't burrow fast enough to adapt to shifting battlefield conditions. To correct this, a set of fragile (albeit regenerating) capillaries was put into place. Now, when the swarm host digs, the capillaries break and the creature's acid blood softens the soil, allowing it to go underground in seconds. Flexible osseous structures of varying thickness slide and lock into position when the swarm host prepares to strike. Bearing a resemblance to siege tank hydraulics, this specialized skeletal system allows the swarm host to maintain position and balance when spewing locusts or when under heavy fire. The swarm host lacks mobility however, which leaves it vulnerable to quicker enemies with area damage like the hellion.
The swarm hosts of the Leviathan Brood are uniquely specialized for amphibious assault and bear many genetic advantages that allow them to quickly move through the oceans and assail their prey.
Projenitors of the swarm hosts, named primal hosts, were first encountered by the Swarm utilized by the primal zerg on Zerus, used against Kerrigan's forces by the pack leader Brakk. Swarm host strains were incorporated into Kerrigan's Swarm soon afterwards by Abathur, adapted through primal essence. The essences of the primal host were later adapted in to create the swarm host.
Reports within the Terran Dominion have suggested that swarm hosts have developed the ability to spawn locusts without being burrowed.
As primal zerg fought alongside the Zerg Swarm, many swarm hosts strains began to merge with their primal host progenitors, creating strains with many similar traits between the two.
Swarm hosts enslaved by the Cerberus Program were enhanced with microfactories that allowed them to control locusts spawned from them with remote controlled head gear.
As of Legacy of the Void, swarm hosts can produce locusts on the move; this ability is now manually activated. These locusts are more powerful but do not spawn as quickly. In the late game the locusts can fly over terrain. The locusts must then "swoop" to attack.
Swarm hosts require the burrow ability to be researched for them. They no longer collide with locusts.
Swarm hosts require detection to locate, but reward positioning. Air units and flanking attacks are helpful against groups of swarm hosts, but leaving them unattended and attacking waves of locusts can slowly wear down an army.
In the Heart of the Swarm campaign, swarm hosts function differently. They do not burrow, instead using the root command. While rooted, a swarm host cannot move but is still visible. They do not autocast spawn locusts in the same way as in the multiplayer game. Instead, they only spawn locusts while rooted when an enemy comes into range, or the player selects spawn locusts and clicks a location.
Upgrades and Abilities
Allows swarm host to burrow. Can still spawn locusts while burrowed.
Primal sequences of swarm host resistant to improvement. Frustrating. Simple adaptations become incredible challenge. Essence constantly adapting, rejecting mutations. Aggravating. Difficult, but can enable burrow. Locust spawning will remain functional while submerged.
Locust production inefficient. Will greatly benefit from redundancy removal. Sequences are complex, wasteful. Byproduct of wild, uncontrolled evolution. Simplification of sequences will allow swarm hosts to incubate full-grown locusts at rapid speeds.
Swarm host defense reliant on locust organism. Locust secrets solvent fluids, projectiles towards enemy. Can mutate glands, increase pressure. Will allow projectile to reach incredible height. Attack both ground and aerial targets.
Abathur is able to mutate swarm hosts in Co-op Missions. Like other variants, they spawn 2 Locusts to attack, which deal a total of 16 DPS in co-op. The Swarm Host itself comes with Burrow already unlocked, and can be upgraded when Abathur reaches Level 9 with the Deep Tunnel ability so they can move around the map faster. They spawn locusts much more quickly with biomass.
Swarm host gain +3% hit points and +0.5% Spawn Locust cooldown per stack of Biomass. Can up stacks to 100 Biomass. Passive: Heal 1% hit points per Biomass.
Essence Hoarder: Swarm host can collect an additional 25 Biomass (summary 125).
The Limitless: Swarm host can collect an additional 100 Biomass (summary 200), but gain +1.5% hit points and +0.25% Spawn Locust cooldown per stack of Biomass.
The amount of collected biomass variable on difficult and the amount of supply, consumed by the killed enemy unit:
Collect 5 biomass per supply (Casual and Normal)
Collect 4 biomass per supply (Hard)
Collect 2.5 biomass per supply (Brutal)
Hit Points: +3.6 per Biomass. Up to a maximum 480 Spawn Locust cooldown: -0.075 per Biomass. Down to a minimum 7.5
With Essence Hoarder
Hit Points: +3.6 per Biomass. Up to a maximum 570 Spawn Locust cooldown: -0.075 per Biomass. Down to a minimum 5.625
With The Limitless
Hit Points: +1.8 per Biomass. Up to a maximum 480 Spawn Locust cooldown: -0.0375 per Biomass. Down to a minimum 7.5
The swarm host was expected to be available in the campaign and map editor of StarCraft II. During Heart of the Swarm, the design was revisited, but it was initially of a flying unit much like a overlord with the ability to land, burrow, and produce "swarmings." This was scaled back to a ground based unit. The idea behind its current design was to give zerg players their own siege unit, but make sure it functioned in a different manner to the siege tank or colossus.
The swarm host's current form was to give the zerg a new aesthetic, something to distinguish the unit from the usual claws and teeth that other zerg units possess.
In the Heart of the Swarm campaign, the swarm host had two unused upgrades. One increased the movement speed of locusts by 50%, the other increased their attack speed by 20%.
Balance Update #8 of the Heart of the Swarm beta increased the swarm host's health from 120 to 160.
The swarm host changed dramatically in April 2015 for patch 2.1.9. Their cost was changed from 200 minerals and 100 gas to 100 minerals and 200 gas, their supply was increased from 3 to 4, and their movement speed increased from 2.25 to 2.95. The Summon Locust ability is now manually cast with the hotkey "C", and the cooldown is increased from 25 seconds to 60. It can be used whether the swarm host is burrowed or not, which now must be researched. The Enduring Locusts upgrade was replaced with Flying Locusts, and locusts no longer collide with swam hosts.
For Legacy of the Void, patch 2.5.1 Balance Update #1 reverted the unit and supply costs to 200/100 and 3 supply, and removed the Flying Locusts upgrade. Swarm hosts could also move while burrowed, though this was reverted in the next patch. Patch 3.3 reduced the unit cost to 150/100, and 3.8 to 100/75.
Swarm hosts' move speed was reduced from 4.13 to 3.15 in patch 4.0, in order to increase the number of counter-play options against them.
Increases the lifespan of locusts by 10 seconds (to 25 seconds). This upgrade was removed from HotS in the April 2015 update, as the locust's base lifespan was increased to 25 seconds.