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