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Friday, March 15, 2013

Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm - Speedrun Version

An attempt at completing each mission as fast as possible on Normal Difficulty. Unlike Wings of Liberty, there isn't an achievement for doing a speedrun of the campaign. (Although there are more achievements for completing certain levels under a certain timeframe, listed under the 'Mastery' category, they won't be covered here.) Too many people were doing playthroughs on Hard / Brutal and I wanted to try a different approach.

Replays will be published somewhere between now and by the end of the month, and this page will be updated / links will be posted as they are uploaded.


  • All of the maps are played using Master Archives game mode, since it allows me to configure units to work the best for specific maps without the need for multiple playthroughs, and some levels are difficult or impossible to speedrun otherwise before that point.
  • Demos were made on WinXP, the sound quality is reduced a bit. There's also a performance hit on some maps especially with a large amount of units onscreen, but it shouldn't matter much (I have a GTX 670 and i7 2600K, so it isn't the card...)
  • I tend to go for econ over rushing as it tends to help in the long run in most cases.
  • Evolution missions are not counted.
  • Maps with no links to videos are ones which I am attempting a faster run at.
  • I will attempt Brutal difficulty speedruns of this campaign at a later date.

Other Thoughts:

  • The new settings with the expansion has 'select neutral or enemy units' toggled OFF by default. If it's on, it will explicitly tell you that you can't control the unit when you select it (which is kinda annoying, since you probably knew this beforehand). I find it helpful to check stats of enemy units and such.
  • I don't need tips from Izsha reminding me to get anti-air, telling me I don't have three drones on a extractor, etc.
  • Some game elements were changed only for the campaign without too much explanation. None of your units except Spore colonies have detectors, but it's not like you need them since enemies don't cloak and nukes aren't fired using ghosts.
  • The infestor's neural parasite is equivalent to a DA's Mind Control only in the campaign. Combine that with Consume and it can control a lot of the enemy army quickly.
  • Some other key units like Nydus Worms are unavailable, transports can't be made to ferry units around, the only upgrades you can research in-game are weapon/armor upgrades, and the cap for larva at a Hatchery is much higher, making this a non-representative multiplayer SC experience.

Individual Level Notes:

Lab Rat

  • Fairly standard build, though a large enough force was needed to go through w/o reinforcements.

Back in the Saddle (around 17 mins)

  • The map was fairly linear here, so there's not much to optimize in this level.

Rendezvous (15:59)

  • Note that this mission has a fixed timer - you are forced to wait for reinforcements to arrive before you can attack the main base since the bridge isn't lowered before then. The best you can do is to destroy every building on your side (doing this on Hard gives you an achievement) and camp at the other end of the bridge.

Domination (3:37)

  • Kerrigan's Dash move works well in collecting those eggs at the start, and she's healed to full after collecting them. Note all the units you have control over is guaranteed to cause lag.

Fire in the Sky (7:52)

  • Although tumors were used to expand and such, having a drone to build a Hatchery near each nest that doesn't have creep and then using a Queen to put a tumor in place is much faster than spreading creep slowly towards the nests. Although it seems nice to activate all the nests at once, there's a delay between the time one battlecruiser gets destroyed and another one pops out.

Old Soldiers (8:29)

  • After several runs through the map it was concluded that Swarm Hosts work the best, since the locusts also draw fire from the base defenses. The drones that get dropped when you defeat the base with Rich Mineral Fields doesn't matter much.

Harvest of Screams (4:46)

  • If you have the Zergling speed and Raptor upgrade, it becomes possible to destroy all three spires before the first flash freeze passes, Kerrigan destroying one single handedly with Banelings (the ones that she summons do 160 damage each with the right upgrades).

Shoot the Messenger (3:24)

  • Note that Kerrigan's Leap ability will work leaping on cliff edges IF you have vision, so an overload was used for a spotter. Summoned banelings have a 90 second lifetime, the cd to summon is 30, and you need a bit more than 6 to destroy a bay, so two summons were used for each bay. The last bay was a one summon + damage from Kerrigan for the win. Note that harder difficulties places additional units near the bays and you can't use a cheese strat on one of them since they will kill most of the banelings before they can explode.

Enemy Within (11:24)

  • The level is fairly linear and you'll have to kill everything here (some areas release units on a fixed timer) so there's not much to optimize for the map, other than decreasing the time it takes to destroy some generators using some increased speed Zerglings.

Waking the Ancient (7:27)

  • The enemy only sends out units to attack the first drone that started harvesting, so you can safely harvest a few of them in the same area without worrying about drones being killed. After that (when the other locations are revealed, or the 3:40 mark, whichever comes first) the computer only specifically sends a wave of units after harvesting a specific location, and two mutas + guardian on the others. The ETA that enemies get to them is at the 40 second mark, so you could be defending other locations when harvesting starts. Destroying them allows you to safely move on; while the drone is unprotected there usually won't be more forces coming after it.

    It's similar to the SC2 Map 'Welcome to the Jungle' except the boss at the end.

The Crucible (around 26 min)

  • This level also has a fixed time limit so there's not much in terms of speedrunning this map.

Supreme (7:01)

  • The reinforcements that you pick up are automatically teleported to you when boss battles start and Kerrigan is healed to full when the boss battle starts and ends so there's no sense fighting between bosses.

Infested (7:57)

  • Infestors work well on this map. Ignore the first virophage being attacked, it's not necessary to win.

Hand of Darkness (19:09)

  • No comments yet.

Phantoms of the Void (13:12)

  • No comments yet.

With Friends Like These (10:13)

  • No comments yet. I've heard of a 8 min completion time so this is definitely not the fastest.

Conviction (7:47)

  • The first half requires that certain or all units must be destroyed in an area in order to advance, so there wasn't much in time optimizations here. Other than that I had units pick up the pace by constantly attack moving.


  • This is actually a scripted mission based on the timer, so a speedrun can't be done on this map.

Death From Above (7:41)

  • Dehaka can rush directly into the generator and destroy it without being killed, saving some time in the opening. Near the Psi Destroyer, if you have enough infestors you can mind control every strong unit defending it and take it down before the field powers up. (Normal mode has 1500 HP, Hard and Brutal have 2500)

The Reckoning (13:43)

  • The quickest solution to winning was to pump out Infestors as fast as possible and neural parasite (mind control) every unit in range. Problem was the energy cost (125). Consume worked to a certain extent, but left units injured. The best solution was to MC medics, consume hp from other infestors and convert them to energy and work on mc'ing other units while the medics heal them.