|This is a /v/ related article, which we tolerate because it's relevant and/or popular on /tg/... or we just can't be bothered to delete it.|
StarCraft is Real Time Strategy video game, made by Blizzard. Despite being THE most balanced asymmetrical RTS ever and the South Korean national religion, StarCraft is most famous in neckbeard society for the "It's all stolen from WH40K" holy war.
Long story short, there are rumors, denied by both Blizzard and GW, that StarCraft was initially developed as a WH40K game, until GW for some retarded reason rescinded their permission to use the 40K universe (
like they don't want a part of the bazillion tons of money Blizzard tend to earn for their gamesback then PC gaming was something only a handful of nerds did, compared to consoles, and Blizzard wasn't an established powerhouse, yet; 1998 was the year PC gaming started booming with HL, SC, etc.). /v/ tends to accuse GW of stealing Blizzard's ideas, which sounds silly at first, until you see the current Tyranid design. Prior to SC, the nids looked very different, as in, they looked even sillier than the Space Marines do now.... until you then realize that the Zerg also looked really different pre-Starcraft 2, looking more bizzare and alien like the original Tyranid designs, whereas Starcraft 2 made the new Zerg very Nid-like (As the new Tyranid aesthetic had been established before Starcraft 2 was even announced officially) and , with things like segmented carapaces and draconic features in the new bugs, whereas the old Zerg were generally even more insectoid than the Tyranids of the time (Who were more giger-esque, rather then the weird dragon-dino-bugs we have now). And you wouldnt want to be a /b/tard who confuses the difference between the massive art and design shift from 2nd to 3rd edition that is clearly accidental in being after the release of Starcraft with graphical (and tabletop model detail) as neither species of alien locusts got any real design (non-crunch) differences since then, unless growing 4 more spikes is as big of a change as going from this to this.
To be fair, there is a lot in common between the Starcraft and 40k universes; but if you remove your fanboy glasses it's obviously because both settings are shameless rip-offs of the entire sci-fi genre with less then 0.1% original content - it's not like there weren't human space marines, ravenous, rapidly adaptable bug monsters, and psychic alien warriors before 40K. Deep inside your heart you know it to be true.
Besides, anyone who takes the time to play both games will immediately notice that the actual rules and gameplay are radically different, even when ignoring the fact that one is a video game and one is a tabletop game. StarCraft is very much based around the collecting and spending of resources, shifting army compositions, microing individual units, scouting, etc. 40k on the other hand has you pick out your army before a game even starts, uses randomized elements (dice), and most of the decision making is in how you position your units and engage the enemy. Yes, there is overlap, but a lot of that is simply because they're both strategy games. There is also a huge emphasis on scouting and counter-scouting in StarCraft, where gathering and denying information and outright deceiving your opponent makes or breaks matches, while in 40K like only two armies even have the ability to hide anything (and it's only a minor details, like whether your Deathwing deep strikes turn one or two), and denying your opponent any information is against the rules. Regardless of whether Blizzard ripped off GW, or GW ripped off Blizzard, or both, the actual gameplay experiences are quite distinct.
TL;DR: If you're a fan of 40k or SC, stop bitching about all that "stolen" shit. Doing it marks you as a fool, and by doing it you make all your fellow fans look retarded. 40k is a blatant Mega crossover fanfic, 90% ripped off from 2000AD, Dune, Foundation, Doom, Alien, Starship Troopers, Star Wars, 1984, Event Horizon, Hyperion (not this one), H.P. Lovecraft, Anime about Mecha and so on, all pasted straight onto Warhammer Fantasy anyway. Recent studies show that people are unconsciously "inspired" by things far more than we know and that it's possible to plant and predict "original" ideas from people down to pretty detailed levels, all the while they think they just came up with a new idea. So next time you want to complain, try to remember the last time YOU had a truly original good idea, and not one heavily influenced by the media you enjoy.
The Story in Brief
Starcraft takes place in the Koprulu sector, a distant part of the galaxy where abandoned human colonies
are disrupted from their usual routine of civil war and internecine piracy find new ways to continue with their usual routine of civil war and internecine piracy by the sudden attack of a race of alien lizard-bugs that take over and mutate planets to suit their needs, determined to infest the galaxy. Things only get worse when a bunch of stuffy psychic aliens show up, determined to destroy the aforementioned lizard-bugs - and not caring much if they kill humans in the process. Havoc ensues.
Terrans are the "jack of all trades" of the three factions. They use a combination of specialized power armor suits, tanks, fliers and mecha in battle, and are the only faction whose vanilla trooper is a ranged fighter rather than a melee fighter. Terrans are the absolute champions in turtling up and defending, and tend to have great counter-attack and drop tools, but on the other hand their defense is reliant almost entirely on units, which means they must leave parts of their armies at home if there is harass threat, while other factions can just spam defensive buildings. Their core buildings can actually take off and fly to new terrain to move the entire base, though they are slow as molasses. Their unique racial tactic is to launch base-annihilating mini-nuke missiles with the aid of a Ghost or Specter, a telepathic invisible sniper rifle-wielding super-commando.
Right around our current present in the Starcraft universe things went cyberpunk before hard veering into being Starship Troopers. The United Power League, later called the United Earth Directorate, is the latter and they began to genocide all other genres of humanity resulting very quickly in 400,000,000 deaths until suddenly deciding to gather them up the remaining 40,000 that were physically fit and sealing them into four massive ships along with cryogenically frozen sperm, egg cells, and cloning technology on top of it and sending them all into the Koprulu System to colonize it.
In reality it was more of a social and evolutionary (since many mutants and the first psychics were in the population) experiment than actual planned colonization. The result is most Terrans being somewhere between well-dressed lunatics, dirty space pirates, and rednecks in power armor (Starcraft 1 was almost entirely made up of the latter two, the third mostly disappeared or cleaned up a great deal by Starcraft 2).
Two ships crashed on the jungle planet Umoja, the occupants of one all dying leaving the other with a surplus of resources. They formed the “wealthy, democratic, heroic” factions (which you never get to play as). One ship crashed into the “desolate but rich” planet Moria forming the “industrious corporate” factions. One crashed on Tarsonis, becoming the “evil and roguishly heroic” factions (which you almost entirely play as). Specifically Tarsonis became the Confederacy, which was aggressive and resembled an Alabama version of the UPL. They skirmished back and forth with the other factions and put down insurrections constantly until encountering the Zerg and Protoss at around the same time.
In the original Starcraft, you play as a planetary magistrate assigned to the remote world of Mar Sara. There, with the help of local Marshall James "Jim" Raynor, you encounter the first attack of the Zerg, and witness nearby planet Chau Sara being Exterminatused by the Protoss fleet for being infested with Zergs; in your flight to escape the planet before the Zerg devour all humans, you are abandoned by the ruling Terran government, the Confederacy. This leads to you allying with the rebel group known as the Sons of Korhal, and turning on the Confederacy... only for the Sons' leader, Arcturus Mengsk, to backstab you by using the Zerg as a living weapon to overthrow the Confederacy, proclaim himself Emperor Mengsk of "The Terran Dominion", and abandons one of his own agents, Sarah Kerrigan, to the Zerg. Raynor, who was kinda sweet on Kerrigan, turns on Mengsk and runs off. By the Protoss campaign you learn that Raynor and his band of pirates have become the buddies of a diverse group of Protoss united to stop the Zerg regardless of the rest of their race’s bullshit politics, and he stays behind on a suicide mission to give the Protoss a chance to escape their dying homeworld.
In the expansion, Brood War, you play as a ranking captain in the United Earth Directorate fleet, subordinated to Admiral Gerald DuGalle, sent to investigate what became of the lost colonists and bring them back under Directorate control and pacify the Zerg and the Protoss. The mission was partially successful until the Terran colonists, Protoss and Zerg formed a desperate alliance and defeated the UED. You and the rest of the UED expedition force are ultimately wiped out to the last man by Kerrigan(more on her later) in the final episode of Brood War. In the Zerg campaign you find Raynor is alive and well, and bring his pirates into the aforementioned alliance before it breaks apart.
Novels and comics fill in the gap. The Dominion gets ad evil as it can be, Raynor turns to heavy drinking, and a lot of small stories that don’t tie into anything bigger after the story ends occur other than multiple ones creating and expanding on the character Nova who becomes the secondary main Terran character after Raynor.
In the Terran-focused sequel, Wings of Liberty, you play as James "Jim" Raynor, leader of Raynor's Raiders. They're a rebellion group that seeks to bring down the Dominion and destroy the Queen of Blades (or well..sort of. Despite Jim swearing he'll kill Kerrigan in Brood War after betraying and killing his Protoss buddy Fenix, he now downgraded to saving her instead. This is mainly due to the lack of any other alive zerg characters in the setting). Raynor builds up the strength of his pirate militia into an actual faction again, agrees to listen to his Protoss buddy Zeratul regarding some prophesies, then greatly reduces Mengsk’s political power and destroys his alliances by revealing information on how exactly Mengsk took power. He ends the campaign by helping Mengsk’s son attack the heart of Kerrigan’s Swarm and de-Zerg her like Zeratul told him to do. Because Blizzard loves introducing Cheese, the player gets access to lots of campaign exclusive stuff like stronger versions of each unit and campaign exclusive upgrades. They featured a few too many units in the campaign with some being useful only for missions they were introduced, something fixed in later campaigns.
Terrans feature heavily in the Zerg and Protoss campaigns of SC2 as well. Kerrigan Zergs herself up again, but without any ancient gods mucking around in her brain (see the Zerg entry) after she thinks Raynor is dead. She starts fighting the universe again, coincidentally mostly through insane factions of cultists from both Protoss and Terrans, this time just to regain her strength then finds out Raynor is alive and rescues him. He swears to kill her again, then a few missions later he joins her in killing Mengsk. Mengsk’s son takes over and turns the Dominion into a more morally grey faction. The Terrans later all join up with the Protoss to kill the ancient god shit (see Protoss entry). In the Co-Op Starcraft 2 content which take place during the Protoss campaign it was stated that the events are non-canon (since you can play as characters like Mengsk and Tychus who would be dead and characters like Alarik who are still enemies at that point) but the general events are supported by content that actually is canon. More lore is revealed in the paragraph-long text blurbs for cosmetic items as well as some short stories and comics. The general gist is setting up Starcraft 3 plots like Raynor’s chief scientist starting a Terran/Protoss cult worshiping a sapient planet, intelligent Zerg seeding Terran worlds and seemingly starting to slowly make intelligent hybrids, and Mengsk’s son setting up a more united humanity since the United Earth Directorate is still big enough to wipe out the sector and will eventually return. There is also a Protoss/Terran shared colony, a faction of renegade robots with humanlike AI, a faction of robot Zerg, and new factions rising in newly colonized worlds. Raynor is missing and his pirates have merged into other factions especially Mengsk’s son’s Dominion, so Nova is the main character now.
Most of the Terran aesthetic comes from Chris Metzen, far more than most Blizzard properties. As a teenager he apparently wrote stories and made art about some story about a cowboy marshal during the second American civil war, this time in space. Most of the ideas were recycled into Starcraft, with the exception of the main character who was split between Jim Raynor and much later the character Soldier 76 (the original character name) from Overwatch. So if you wonder why there is a Confederacy that is full of toothless hillbillies in space wearing grey fighting the blue guys, that's why.
The Terrans also feature the most hilariously underpowered variant of the Power-armoured soldier in space-archetype in all of Sci-Fi, where for some reason guys (and gals) in powered armour the weight of a truck are even less effective than a Guardsman of the Imperial Guard and this is decidedly not the result of the opposition being as batshit overpowered as in 40k.
SCV: A utility exosuit used to mine minerals, transport refined vespene gas, construct buildings and repair damaged structures and machinery. This unique ability to heal mechanized troops makes them incredibly useful.
MULE: A mining drone introduced in SC2 as a summon from an Orbital Command. It can mine faster than a SCV but has a timed life, and mastering its deployment greatly helps your economy.
Marine: A generic grunt in powered armor armed with a gauss rifle that launches hyper-velocity spikes at people. Can take combat drugs that let it boost firing and movement speed in exchange for health, and in StarCraft II can take a shield that boosts survivability. Is notable for being the only starting troop that is a ranged attacker and can shoot air units.
Firebat: Arsonists and pyromaniacs strapped into specialized powered armor outfitted with flamethrowers. They specialize in burning through hordes of lightly armored organic units such as Zerg infantry, and like Marines, they can also do combat drugs to speed up the burninating. Their suits were bulked up in the sequel, making them much more durable but taking up more slots in the bunker and losing their stimpack ability. Their lore states that the gases used in their flamethrowers leak into the suit and drive the trooper nuts, so if they weren't pyromaniacs beforehand, they will be after a tour of duty. They were replaced by the Hellion and subsequently its Hellbat transformation but are still available in SC2's campaign.
Medic: Power-armored nurses who can heal organic troops... and that's it. They buff the survivability of other troopers, but can't fight themselves. They had a few support abilities in Brood War like their optical flare that reduces their target's vision to the minimum while disabling detection capability, and the ability to purge any negative effects from friendly units.
Ghost: Brainwashed psychics who can telepathically cloak themselves for invisibility and use telekinesis to give themselves the super-strength needed to wield hyper-powered sniper rifles. Used as assassins and covert troops. Their special gimmick is the ability to target nuclear bombardments. They died too easily in the original and had upgrades that were too expensive to be worth using. The sequel gave them better abilities, while only requiring their invisibility to be researched, put them much lower on the tech tree while making the more durable so they were much more useful.
Marauder: An SC2 retrofit of the Firebat that swaps the flamethrower for twin grenade launchers; they specialize in smashing structures and armored foes, but are kind of crappy against lightly armored grunts, in a reverse to the Firebats. Shockingly, they are the most sane and socially well-adjusted of Terran infantry in spite of their enthusiasm in blowing shit up.
Reaper: Murderers and scumbags strapped into jet-propelled power armor, armed with dual pistols and explosives, and deployed as suicide-trooper scouts and fast attack squads. They are most often used to harass worker lines and damage your foe's economy, jumping up and down cliffs or rushing past defenders to get at the lightly armored workers.
Spectre: A Ghost upgraded with a psy-enhancing chemical, burning out the brainwashing mojo and giving them enhanced psionic attacks. Exclusive to SC2's campaign as an alternative to Ghosts.
Vulture: Grenade launcher-toting hoverbikes used as scouts and hit-and-run troopers. Can be upgraded to deploy spider mines which, instead of waiting for someone to step on them, suicide charge into nearby enemies. While replaced by the Hellion, it is usable in SC2's campaign where you can upgrade it to replenish its mines for a small mineral cost.
Siege Tank: Big badass tank that can also shapeshift into an immobile but more powerful mortar unit. The cannon in their mobile mode packs a decent punch but they are mostly used immobilizing themselves to fire their big gun, which has the highest damage of non suicide and non ability attack outside of campaigns. It also has range that actually extends beyond the tank's line of sight so you need a spotter to take full advantage of it.
Goliath: Sentinel-like combat walkers outfitted for anti-ground and anti-air capabilities, later replaced by the Viking and Thor but available to be used in SC2's campaign.
Hellion: SC2 replacement of the Vulture; a hyper-speedy land rover outfitted with a powerful flamethrower. Later became a transforming mech able to shapeshift into the humanoid exosuit mode "Hellbat" which functions similarly to the Firebat.
Thor: A humongous heavy artillery walker specialized in anti-air missile barrages. Initially had the ability to immobilize itself to briefly fire cannons that would destroy almost any ground unit, but expansions replaced that with the ability to switch between anti-air missiles for groups of weaker air units and big guns for single big air units. Is also infamous for its numerous canon conflicts with regard to its origin, where you face one in a secret enemy lab despite it only being developed the previous day in the previous mission by your own chief engineer.
Diamondback: Hovertank armed with twin railguns that rape enemy armor and is one of the few units that can fire on the move. Exclusive to SC2's campaign.
Predator: A robotic panther that attacks with an area of effect shockwave around it, but is too fragile and expensive to consider using. Exclusive to SC2's campaign as the alternative to the Hercules.
Wraith: Standard Terran starfighter that also sports a personal cloaking field; fragile, but hits like a brick to the head against enemy air unit and a wet noodle against ground units. Replaced by the Viking in the sequel but is playable in the campaign.
Science Vessel: Non-combat space station that can penetrate enemy cloaking efforts, deploy protective forcefields, and coat enemies in a toxic radiological fog. In SC2, they gained the ability to repair nearby mechanical units too but are exclusive to the campaign as an alternative to the Raven, which you'll never take since the Science Vessel's repair beam is too good to pass up. Humorously, it's one of the largest units in fluff but looks barely larger than a Siege Tank in game.
Dropship: Basic flying transport with no gimmicks unlike the speedy Protoss Shuttle or the invisibility detecting Zerg Overlord.
Valkyrie: UED-designed anti-air frigate that takes down masses of light enemy flyers with clusters of missiles, but can't deal with heavily armored vessels and is defenseless against ground units.
Viking: Anti-air flyer that can transform into a ground-based anti-
infantryarmor combat walker. Its lore makes it known for its a steep learning curve and high attrition rate claiming the lives of many trainees trying to master its transformation sequence, which makes you wonder how it became the new standard fighter jet in the sequel.
Banshee: A cloaked anti-ground aerial bombardment VTOL that is flexible in both base raiding and dealing with enemy ground forces.
Raven: AI-controlled support craft replacing the Science Vessel as the Terran's detector-spellcaster flying unit, which can create and deploy various drone units for different purposes.
Medivac: SC2 replacement for the Dropship and Medic, combining both into a transport that can also heal biological units like a Medic.
Warhound: Badass anti-armor mech that was too strong and unable to be balanced and was thus cut from the game, but still shows up as enemy units in the campaign.
HERC: Asteroid miners conscripted into the military. Armed with a grappling gun that can pull itself into the fray or up cliffs, and a highly specific immunity to Zerg suicide bombers, they didn't make it into the main game since the Hellbat fulfills the same niche of tanking hordes of lightly armored units. Exclusive to the Nova Covert Ops DLC campaign.
Widow Mine: The descendant of Spider Mines taking heavy inspiration from the Zerg's burrowing capabilities. You get a drone that can burrow itself and shoot airburst missiles over nearby enemies, dealing massive damage to clumped up enemies. However, they will deal friendly fire so be wary of engaging fast melee enemies near them.
Cyclone: Missile truck that can lock onto an enemy, firing a continuous volley of missiles while still being able to move as long as the enemy remains in range, making it ideal for "kiting" and dismantling slow armored enemies but it can't deal with masses of cheap units or heavy long ranged firepower.
Hercules: Massive and incredibly tough, but also very slow, flying transport. Unlike other transports, its passengers deploy almost instantly and will make an emergency landing albeit taking some damage if it gets destroyed. Exclusive to SC2's campaign as the alternative to the Predator.
Liberator: Flying artillery unit that can switch between anti-air and anti-ground missile barrages, making it sort of a lovechild between a Valkyrie and a Siege Tank. Unlike the Siege Tank, it can only rain death upon units inside a player-designated killzone and doesn't do splash damage.
Battlecruiser: Fuckoff huge warship armed with batteries of lasers and a mega-energy cannon. In LotV, it also gains the ability to warp jump to any point on the map. SC2 has a few missions with a version called the Gorgon, the biggest and most powerful ship used by the Terrans. When first fought as the Zerg they are immune to all conventional attacks and abilities. The only way to destroy them is to use a nest of full Scourges. You sorta get control of them in a DLC Terran campaign where you have a calldown ability that sends Gorgons in a straight line to shoot everything in their path. They aren't indestructible in this level but they have more than six times as much health, double the armor, more than triple the firepower of a normal battlecruiser and as much range as a Siege Tank. It's easy to see why you don't get to directly control these monsters.
Terran Confederacy (defunct): One of the initial Terran powers in the Koprulu Sector, they are ostensibly modeled after the Confederate States of America down to using its battle flag to represent itself. A corrupt, decadent and feudalistic power from Tarsonis, they are aggressive against their neighbors and deal with dissidents using excessive force, such as the nuking of Korhal, which ended up being their undoing. Despite being overthrown by Arcturus Mengsk, Confederate holdouts continue opposing the Dominion or sell their services as mercenaries. They were known to have conducted experiments on Zerg to use them as potential bioweapons and on psionic humans to turn them into Ghosts, both of which were turned against them by Mengsk.
Umojan Protectorate: Another one of the initial Terran powers in the Koprulu Sector, they control the smallest number of planets and rely on highly advanced technology over mass conscription or material wealth. Opposing the militaristic Confederacy, they aided the father of Arcturus Mengsk and later his Sons of Korhal rebel group, until they realized that Mengsk was no better than the Confederates and withdrew support. They are willing to cooperate with his son, Valerian Mengsk, who is much less of a power hungry madman that his father is.
Kel-Morian Combine: The last of the initial Terran powers in the Koprulu Sector, they own many planets rich in resources and function more like a corporation than a country. Despite being brought low by the Confederacy, they nevertheless continued amassing wealth and remaining neutral, even when the UED entered the fray. Lacking a large military force, they rely more on subterfuge and diplomacy over brute force, paying off rivals to leave them alone and even hiring pirates and mercenaries for more underhanded work. After the games, they are looking to contest the now weakened and still recovering Dominion for territory.
Terran Dominion: The main antagonistic Terran faction replacing the Confederacy, it was formed by charismatic ex-Confederate officer Arcturus Mengsk after overthrowing the Confederacy in revenge for assassinating his family and nuking his homeworld. Revealing himself to be no less tyrannical than the Confederates he overthrew, Mengsk turned the Dominion into a strong but dystopian empire, where his propaganda laden speeches are played regularly and citizens live in fear of being resocialized or conscripted for wrongthink. Ultimately, Arcturus was overthrown by Jim Raynor and Sarah Kerrigan, and his son Valerian took over his position as Emperor, repealing many oppressive laws and introducing many social reforms to show that he isn't a tyrant like his father, most notably turning the military into a volunteer force rather than relying on resocialized criminals and conscription.
United Powers League (defunct): The ruling government of Earth, they were a fascist, atheist one world government obsessed with human purity and led many bloody purges against dissidents, cyborgs, mutants and others deemed too degenerate from the human form that were covered up by the media. They kickstarted the Terrans' story when one UPL scientist, certain of new resources outside the solar system, collected 4 colony ships worth of prisoners and sent them to colonize an outlying planet. However, the ships missed their destination and crashed in the Koprulu sector, their passengers forming the major Terran powers in the sector.
United Earth Directorate: After knowledge of the Zerg and Protoss reached the United Powers League on Earth, the squabbling factions decided to band together against the potential xenos threat. They sent an expedition fleet to the Koprulu sector with the intent to subjugate the Terrans under the UED's banner, establish control over the Zerg and use them to purge the Protoss. Through some clever tactics and brute force, they managed to overthrow the Terran Dominion, enslave the new Zerg Overmind and usurp Kerrigan's control over majority of Zerg forces and beat back the Protoss. Only a desperate alliance between the Terrans, Protoss and Kerrigan managed to defeat the UED before Kerrigan betrayed her allies, then finished off the UED expedition fleet when they in turn allied with the angry Terrans and Protoss against her. The remaining UED forces, now stuck in the Koprulu sector, have been absorbed into the Dominion or became mercenaries, and the main UED government continues to plot its next move in the background. They are hinted to have highly advanced technology that they didn't bring to the Koprulu sector due to...BEING TOO ADVANCED. To the point they had to use the same type of equipment the Terrans use because there was absolutely no facilities in the Koprulu Sector that would've maintained their own tech.
A race of alien space-locusts armed with biological weaponry, the Zerg travel from world to world, killing all independent life and assimilating its genetic code in order to produce new strains and species of Zerg, all in hope of achieving genetic perfection. In their wake, they infest worlds, terraforming them to sustain the Zerg's constant expansion of its terrible Swarm. Individually sentient, but linked by a crude telepathic network, all Zerg are bound to the will of a singular sapient will, who use this hive-mind to enforce their dominance and command their legions as extensions of themselves.
It was eventually revealed though, that the Overmind's actions were not solely to OMNOMNOM delicious genetic information of the protoss like their voracious cousins, which the Zerg could probably give a run for their money if it wasn't for the difference in galactic wide numbers, but as his way of opposing a Xel'Naga named Amon by creating a force powerful enough to resist them. This all culminated with the creation of Kerrigan(we're getting to her, hang on...), one who could freely control the Zerg like the Overmind. It should be noted that he still wanted the zerg to eat everything, but not if it means Amon will just take control of them and dispose of them afterwords. The Overmind "tricked" the protoss into killing him to get Amon out of the zerg hive-mind.
Zerg are the "fast 'n' flimsy" faction; cheap to get up and running, very easy to spam units for, but the absolute squishiest of the three factions. Zergs rely on drowning enemies under wave after wave of cheap, quick-moving troops, expending their resources faster than any other faction because they're certain to die anyway. Unlike Terrans or Protoss, Zergs grow their bases quite slowly, as they have to sacrifice basic workers to create new buildings, and they can only grow buildings on a specialized, slowly-growing terrain mat they produce called "The Creep". On the other hand as their base buildings are very cheap compared to other factions, and also double as their unit-production buildings (with all others being "unlocks" for certain units or upgrades), Zergs are encouraged to expand faster and wider, generally having more resource-harvesting bases. This also corresponds to their ability to switch their army production from one composition to another in almost an instant, while for example if Terran wishes to start producing mechs instead of massed infantry he needs to build a lot of factories first, which takes resources and most importantly time.
In competitive play the Zerg are generally regarded as the baseline against which the others are compared. They are consistently good. They are the fastest of the three in terms of responding to immediate unit demands and their units don't tend to need micromanagement. Relative to the Zerg, the Terrans have a stronger midgame, and the Protoss are the kings of endgame if they can form their deathball.
In the original Starcraft, and Brood War, you play as a Cerebrate; a massive psionic maggot-thing that is second in the Zerg's mental hierarchy only to the Overmind itself. You are charged with protecting and serving the Overmind's latest and greatest creation; the Queen of Blades, a human Ghost (psychic assassin) named Sarah Kerrigan(told ya we'd be getting back to her!) whom they captured and assimilated into the Swarm instead of just eating her. After spending some time helping Kerrigan grow into her powers, the Overmind tasks you with invading the Protoss homeworld of Auir so he can manifest physically on the planet. When the Overmind is destroyed at the end of the first game, in Brood War, you play the only Cerebrate to remain loyal to the Queen of Blades, helping her in her quest to take total dominion over the Swarm - up to and including destroying an attempt to create a second Overmind. The campaign ends with you taking back Char and kicking the collective asses of the Dominion, the UED, and Protoss off the planet. The Queen of Blades is also notable for her combat heels which do FUCKING NOTHING as well as her bony "wings" which in the first game produce a whipping noise and cause things to blow up into sprays of gore and in the second do all of jack and shit because somehow she can fly in literally only one scene which they seemingly do nothing to cause; maybe they're hollow and full of pressurized Vespene or some shit.
In the Zerg-focused sequel, Heart of the Swarm, you play as Kerrigan, the Queen of Blades, and only surviving zerg character from sc1 (Duran was something else) who voluntarily rejoins the Swarm to destroy the Dominion and to prepare for the coming of Amon. Kerrigan can be customized with different abilities which makes her really broken, and if she dies she can just be brought back at a hive cluster. All your units, non-campaign exclusive at least, have options for campaign exclusive abilities, and you'll get the option of one campaign exclusive upgrade for each of the main units.
Larvae: The basic form of all Zerg, a squirming maggot-thing that is produced at your capital building (Hatchery/Lair/Hive) and which is mutated into all of your individual units. Because of this, Zerg are unique in that they generally require multiple capital buildings in order to be able to really pump out troops at an accelerated rate.
Drone: The worker unit of the Zerg. Gathers minerals and vespene gas. Is also physically mutated into all Zerg structures, so Zerg as a faction are unique in a) the cost and time needed to erect structures (first you gotta mutate a larva into a drone, then a drone into a structure), and b) the high turnover rate of their worker units.
Overlord: A kind of secondary worker unit, the Overlord is a slow-moving flyer and one of the few "sapient" breeds of Zerg, reinforcing and broadcasting the will of the Overmind to lesser strains. As such, the Zerg player needs to pump these guys out continually in order to boost up their population cap, letting them produce larger swarms. They also double as detectors against invisible units and transports... at least, in the first game; in StarCraft II, you need to choose between keeping them as transports or upgrading them into Overseers to make them detectors again.
Zergling: Basic melee trooper, a six-limbed raptor-thing that is fast moving and hits hard, but can't take a lot of damage. Incredibly cheap, fast-developing, and spawns 2 to the larva; the term "Zerg Rush" comes about from the fact that a good Zerg player can easily overwhelm a less-skiled player in the early game by just spamming zerglings. In StarCraft II, they can also be mutated into Banelings; living acid bombs used for suicide strikes.
Hydralisk: A weird mishmash of a xenomorph, a snake and a giant mantis, this is the most iconic Zerg unit. Despite the fuck-off huge claws, it's actually your basic ranged trooper, shooting organic railguns mounted in its head at people. Can be evolved into a creature called a Lurker, which was the only burrowing Zerg unit that could attack whilst burrowed until StarCraft II, but on the downside can only attack whilst burrowed and only attack ground units.
Queen: A support unit that changes rapidly between the first game and the sequel. The first game depicts the Queen as a flying support unit that can spray a slowing, invisibility-cancelling sticky web over areas, infest enemies with a fog-of-war nullifying parasite, implant a parasitic embryo that insta-kills the host after a timer, and corrupt a Terran Command Center so it produces Infested Terrans, but can't attack (don't bother with this, you need to damage but not destroy building and the Infested Terrans are too expensive and die too easily). The second game reimagines them as a slow-moving base guardian that can spread the Creep, heal Zerg units & structres, and beat shit up that gets too close.
Roach: A secondary ranged trooper and alternative to the Hydralisk introduced in StarCraft II. Spews acid, dealing less damage than the Hydralisk but is much tankier and regenerates at stupid speeds while burrowed. One of two only units that can move while underground, making them powerful infiltrators. Can also evolve into the Ravager, which is basically the Zerg's answer to the Siege Tank; a living acid mortar.
Scourge: An aerial equivalent of the zergling; a cheap, rapidly produced anti-air unit that works as a flying kamikaze bomb.
Mutalisk: The basic Zerg aerial unit; a flying worm-thing that launches ricocheting biological ammo called "Glaive Wurms". In the original StarCraft, they can be evolved into both Guardians, which are slow-moving air-to-ground acid-spewing crab-things, and Devourers, which are anti-air focused. In StarCraft II, they can instead mutate into either Vipers (flying scorpions focused on a combo of anti-air and spellcasting) or Brood Lords (anti-ground flyers which attack by raining down showers of short-lived broodlings).
Aberration: An evolved form of the Infested Terran only seen in StarCraft II. Hulking deformed spidery humanoids that are basically fit the midpoint between the Zergling and the Ultralisk as a mid-tier melee trooper.
Infestor: Support caster unit only seen in StarCraft II. Can paralyze enemies with fungal growth, take over minds with neural parasites, and spawn Infested Terrans as expendable grunts, but can't fight on its own. Can move while burrowed.
Swarm Host: A siege unit introduced in StarCraft II; a revisitation of the Lurker concept, this Zerg burrows into place and then spawns an endless wave of expendable suicide minions called "locusts".
Corruptor: A heavier anti-armor flyer introduced only briefly in StarCraft II. For some reason deals more damage to larger targets, also mutates into Brood Lords.
Defiler: Scorpion-like caster unit only seen in the original game. Has no attack, but uses energy-fueled Dark Swarm and Plague special attacks to ravage wide areas of effect. Can also insta-kill allied Zerg units to replenish its energy immediately.
Ultralisk: Most powerful melee trooper the Zerg have, a demonic elephant-thing that slices foes apart with huge scythe-blade talons. Deceptively fast despite how big it is but its bulk means it can get stuck.
Infested Terran: Terran Marines consumed by Zerg parasites. Gimmicky suicide bombers in the first game. Expendable ranged troopers produced by Infestors in the second game.
Nydus Worm: Blurring the line between building and unit, a giant worm introduced in StarCraft II that can basically act as a kind of fast transport for Zerg units.
Highly advanced psychic warriors, the Protoss are an ancient and highly technologically advanced race, possessing access to teleportation tech, forcefields, cybernetic exo-suits, robots and energy weapons. They are divided into two primary factions: the Khalai and the Nerazim, but derogatively called by the Khalai as "Dark Templars". The difference is more cultural than anything: Khalai draw their psychic energy from "The Khala", the collective mental energy subconsciously produced by all Protoss, which they mentally tap into and use for communication or psionic energy storms. Nerazim abandoned the Protoss homeworld of Aiur generations ago over their belief that the Khala was unnatural, and brought the risk of reducing Protoss to mindless drones in a great mental hive. Metaphorically and literally severing themselves from the Khala, they are instead able to tap into "the darkness between the stars", allowing for more shadowy psi-powers like invisibility and teleportation. Khalai generally tend to be lawful stupid, full of self-righteousness, glory, honor, noble sacrifice and burning heretics, while Nerazim are more pragmatic, cynical and bro-tier, if a bit sinister. The sequel introduces a third faction, the Tal'darim, who left Auir before the invention of Khala and thus have no external source to empower their psychic powers - they compensate by using psychic drugs and taking power from their subordinates. They worship Xel'Naga and built an insane society based on social Darwinism and strict hierarchy - less Dark Eldar, more Sith Order(complete with edgy black clothes and red lightsabers) with more straightforwardness and less backstabbing.
Protoss are the "slow 'n' tough" faction; they're extremely expensive and slow to produce, but they can take a hell of a beating, thanks to all their units and buildings coming with forcefields as standard (for example in direct confrontations their basic warrior the Zealot in both games will win against its counterparts the Marine and the Zergling if equal resources are put into them, not taking into account other supports). They fall between Terrans and Zerg when it comes to base building; uniquely, they teleport their buildings into place so they need fewer builders, but they need established power-grids, otherwise their buildings won't work. This also gives them a key infrastructure weakness, as it means you can cause buildings to stop working if you destroy the (conveniently fragile) generators powering them. Protoss armies tend to be "deathballs" relying on a single concentrated fist brutally plowing through the enemy defenses, while casually soaking up incoming damage, although vulnerable to being simultaneously attacked from multiple directions or being outmaneuvered, with enemy armies bypassing said deathball and attacking the Protoss base directly.
In the original Starcraft, you play as a Khalai Executor (A Templar commander, confirmed to be Artanis) seeking to defend Aiur, the Protoss homeworld, from the coming Zerg invasion. Things go not as planned by the end of the campaign due to internal strife.
In the Brood War, you play as an Executor (speculated to be Selendis, a student of Artanis) seeking to help the Protoss survive after they have been driven from Aiur by relocating them to the Dark Templar world of Shakuras, which is more problematic than it sounds due to the fact that Khalai Templars see the Dark Templars as heretical outcasts (although the Dark Templars themselves were more than welcoming of their holier-than-thou brethren). If you thought the first campaign was filled with political dissent since Tassadar's shenanigans, this has as much, if not more intra-species conflict.
In the Protoss-focused sequel, Legacy of the Void, you play as Artanis (the Tassadar fanboy) reuniting all the Protoss groups, retaking Aiur, blowing up Shakuras cause fuck you and making the preparations for the final showdown against Amon. Easily the darkest of Starcraft II's campaigns with about the first half being mostly pyrrhic victories against Amon, till Artanis goes on the offensive and starts getting some real (if a bit costly) victories. Eventually, they get Kerrigan to kill Amon, and let her hoof it to the dark corners of space with her boytoy Raynor.
Like Heart of the Swarm, you get variants for units. This varies from what you get normally to lots of campaign exclusive units, which includes lots of OP stuff like cloaked warriors that can comeback if killed. But the real fun comes from this giant ship called the Spear of Adun that can do anything from kill enemies with giant guns or giant lasers, to automatically constructing an additional pylon wherever you want and warp your army straight to it.
Probe: The Protoss' worker unit. Its unique gimmick is that it summons structures into place, so rather than needing to devote multiple workers to building like the Terrans and Zerg, a Protoss player can have a single little robot running around and planting magical energy bubbles wherever the player wants buildings to pop into existence.
Zealot: Basic melee trooper; a Protoss warrior who punches things with daggers of concentrated hate. Is the strongest of the basic units, being the only one that can survive a hit from a Siege Tank's big un.
Dragoon: Basic ranged trooper; a mortally wounded Zealot stuck in a walking life support unit mixed with a plasma-blasting turret, ala a Dreadnought. Largely absent for most of StarCraft II, replaced with the newly invented Immortal (much tankier, and with twin dual-linked blasters meant for punching through armor) and the Stalker (the Dark Templar analogue, able to teleport short distances).
Adept: Female Protoss warriors armed with teleportation and psi-powered blasters. Introduced in StarCraft II.
High Templar: Protoss mystic that can't attack, but can cast a number of useful spells, including blasting an area with a psionic lightning storm. Two High Templars can merge into an Archon, an elemental of pure psionic energy that has great shielding, but shitty health, and has no spells, but instead blasts ground and air targets with psi-beams. In recent balance patches High Templars gained an attack that does as much damage as a thrown water balloon.
Dark Templar: Perma-cloaked Protoss assassins with beefier versions of the Zealot's psi-blade. Initially appeared as campaign only units in the first game before the expansion. Gains teleportation in StarCraft II. Two Dark Templars can merge into a Dark Archon in StarCraft II, which is like an Archon that has the spellcasting abilities of a High Templar. It's a bit weaker than the regular Archon but still powerful.
Sentry: Robotic support drone that can broadcast protective energy fields to make allies tankier, block off paths with forcefield walls and project illusions of protoss units that can fly around and see things independently, making them great scouts.
Reaver: Slug-like robotic tanks that need to build its ammunition - kamikaze robot drones called "Scarabs" - individually. Packs a hell of a punch, but expensive and slow moving.
Colossus: Giant walkers with insanely long legs that rake the ground with heat rays. They are so tall they can casually walk up and down cliffs, but are vulnerable to anti-air fire. Only found in StarCraft II.
Disruptor: Robot drone that can launch exploding bolts of pure psionic energy. Only found in StarCraft II.
Observer: A Probe reworked into an invisible scout and detector of cloaked enemy units.
Shuttle: Basic Protoss transport ship. Replaced in StarCraft II with the Warp Prism, which can both teleport units across the map and act as a fill-in pylon.
Scout: Basic Protoss aerial unit, able to attack both ground and air targets.
Corsair: Dark Templar-created aerial support caster that has (pitiful) anti-air attacks but the ability to paralyze ground units. A key component of Protoss's tendency to dominate the late game.
Carrier: Protoss battleship armed with a fleet of AI-controlled drones, called "Interceptors". These can be shot down and must be manually replaced, so they require a fair bit of micro-managing. While an iconic unit they suffered from attempt to make them viable due to the lack of damage from the Interceptors, to the point where SC2 just kept them around for the iconic status while the Tempest was meant to take up their role. Legacy of the Void finally made them viable since their Interceptors are made much cheaper and can be sent out away from the Carrier without it having expose itself to fire, meaning it can actually function like a real world aircraft carrier.
Arbiter: Support vessel only found in the original StarCraft and Legacy of the Void's campaign; can teleport allies, freeze enemies in an area, and passively renders nearby allies invisible. The last ability doesn't work on other Arbiters so you don't get to a invisible army with them.
Phoenix: Fast-moving anti-air skirmish ships with the ability to use a Graviton Beam to levitate ground units into the air so they can then blow them up. Slightly less obnoxiously OP than the Corsair it replaced.
Void Ray: Secondary offensive battleship that uses a focused laser beam attack; the longer it concentrates on one target, the more damage it does.
Tempest: Protoss battleship that acts as a very long-ranged siege unit, staying well out of harm's way and hurling destructive energy bolts.
Oracle: Aerial support caster that actually has surprisingly decent attack against Light type units, it detects hidden units, can peel back the fog of war, and paralyze things with its Stasis Ward. Only found in StarCraft II.
Mothership: The ultimate Protoss battleship... in theory. In practice, it had so many things going against it that the game eventually shifted to let you play with a wimpier version called the Mothership Core first that could then be upgraded into a proper Mothership. Actually, Motherships aren't battleships but support vessels. They replace Arbiters in StarCraft II as unit that cloaks and teleports allies. As a nice bonus can project fields of slowed time to reduce enemy movement speed and fire rates.
A highly advanced alien race... and the cause of all this misery. See, they helped shape the Protoss into the powerful psykers they are today, and then got booted off of Aiur. They then created the Zerg, and got eaten for it - but one of them survived (though he died too, he was just revived). Amon secretly manipulated the Overmind into seeking out the Protoss, and serves as the big bad of the Starcraft II trilogy, with his plans to create an army of Zerg/Protoss hybrids and then annihilate all life (and energy, rendering everything dark and still) in the galaxy, so he can start over from scratch.
The background revealed that the Xel'Naga always wanted the Protoss and Zerg to meet and merge and form into the new Xel'Naga, it turns out the Protoss didn't kick them off Aiur they were just done with them. Amon's just an asshole who messed up the Zerg before they were done. In addition, the Xel'Naga never really put Terrans into account, in part because they never directly toyed around with humanity (since they developed psychic powers through mutation during spess travel, rather convenient) and in Amon's case grossly underestimated mankind throwing a wrench into his plans. Terrans also make the perfect slaves to build the machines that create the Hybrid.
The Zerg are controlled by an independent feminine Overmind that calls up the humans and Protoss on the phone sometimes in order to have peace because Mommy Kerrigan told her to, humanity is clearly evolving into something far stronger and is increasingly incorporating nanomachines and crystal tech into their bodies as well as zerglike manifestations of mutation, and the Protoss civilization has no clue what its doing in the future because every time they run out to the grocery store for milk and eggs they come across another group of exiles from their race with radical new ways of looking at things that skullfucks their current understanding of their own civilization sideways. Oh yeah, and the UED may still be watching everything going on in the Koprulu sector because they have nothing else to do
So...happy ending for now?
As of October 2020, Starcraft 2 has been put into maintenance mode, with Blizzard announcing that they would cease any content updates in the future. Many saw it coming as Starcraft 2 dropped a lot in popularity once the MOBA games took off in popularity (much to Blizzards anger) and most content packs after the release of the last expansion for the game itself were met with mixed success. Blizzard made a last attempt at putting SC 2 in the spotlight again by turning it into a Freemium-Game in 2017 with equally mixed results.
fixed for accuracyWhile accurate, note that Starcraft's Marines are the Guardsmen, more specifically the Penal Legion cannonfodder unit in their universe, and Space Marines are the most elite fighting force of the Imperium asides from the GK and Custodes. Almost all Marines are either so dumb they barely know what side of their gun the bullets come from, are brainwashed and mindraped and drugged up until they're like angry robots, or are disorganized pirate mercenaries.