Starcraft Collective

Groups of animals get special collective nouns1, some of which are familiar (e.g., a pride of lions, a gaggle of geese) and others that are less known but equally evocative: a crash of rhinos, a charm of hummingbirds, a prickle of porcupines, a loveliness of ladybugs, a cackle of hyenas, a glint of goldfish, a parliament of owls.

Starcraft units aren’t too far off from animals — Zerglings are reminiscent of dogs, ultralisks elephants, and archons big, white fluffy bunnies — so what collective nouns would capture the spirit of each? Searching the web, I found that the question had been posed before, with lots of ideas but no consensus.

I conducted a survey to settle the matter2. Each SC2 unit was given five options (plus “other”) that were culled from various sources. In all, 764 people (40% Zerg, 27% Protoss, 19% Terran, and 14% Random) took the survey over the span of three days.

Results

The top vote-getters for each unit are summarized below.

Terran Zerg Protoss
crew of SCVs swarm of drones cluster of probes
pack of MULEs batch of larvae legion of zealots
squad of marines brood of broodlings league of stalkers
band of marauders cluster of overlords force of sentries
pack of reapers swarm of zerglings watch of observers
company of ghosts harem of queens assembly of immortals
gang of hellions horde of hydralisks spectrum of warp prisms
battery of siege tanks brood of banelings sweep of colossi
battalion of thors congress of overseers plume of phoenix
squadron of vikings infestation of roaches cloud of void rays
convoy of medivacs host of infestors conclave of high templar
congress of ravens outbreak of infested terrans brotherhood of dark templar
brigade of banshees flock of mutalisks ball of archons
fleet of battlecruisers cluster of corruptors armada of carriers
network of nydus worms cloud of interceptors
stampede of ultralisks fleet of motherships
eclipse of brood lords

Some Notes

The most consensus was for “pack” of MULEs. Ravens were the other unit named for an animal; its official collective (unkindness) actually came in last place, while it received the most write-ins with “murder” and “flock.”

The most contentious units were banelings (#1 and #4 separated by 6%), immortals (#1 and #2 by 2.4%), phoenix (#1 and #3 by 2.0%), and colossi (#1 and #3 by 1.4%). Protoss units in particular seem far from settled.

For Zerg units, “swarm” fared well both as an option and as a write-in. Should all Zerg units simply be considered “the swarm”?

Generally one can’t have more than one mothership in-game, which led to some interesting write-ins: paradox, singularity, singleton, FOREVER ALONE.

“Other” honorable mentions: a flower of vikings, a nevermore of ravens, a clutch of larva, a grack of zerglings, a useless of hydralisks, a gaggle of mutalisks, a bronze league of observers, a gathering of immortals, an imbalance of colossi, a wing of phoenix.

Finally, a creative exercise for the reader: given the units of your domain, can you come up with collectives that capture their spirit?

Appendix

Here are the full results for Terran, Zerg, and Protoss.

  1. A longer list of animal collective nouns can be found here.
  2. The solicitation can be viewed here.

2 comments Write a comment

  1. I didn’t know you were into StarCraft! That’s awesome. If you’re interested, we have a StarCraft 2 community/team that plays in the Collegiate StarLeague, which is open to US/Canadian colleges and universities.

    Here’s our Facebook page, if you’d like to follow things 🙂 Our Facebook posts are mirrored on Twitter if you’d prefer that.
    https://www.facebook.com/drexeldragoons

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