Unit Spotlight: Baneling

Statistics

  • Cost
    • Morph from Zergling 25 Minerals 25 Gas
    • 14 second morph time
    • 0.5 Supply
    • 0.5 Larvae
  • Combat
    • Weapon 1
      • Damage 20 Splash Damage (+2/upgrade)
      • +15 Damage vs Light (+2/upgrade)
      • Range Melee with 2.20 radius AOE
    • Weapon 2
      • Targets buildings
      • Damage 80 (+5/upgrade)
      • +15 Damage vs Light (+2/upgrade)
      • Range Melee with 2.20 radius AOE
    • 30 HP (+5 with centrifugal hooks)
  • Sight: Range 8
  • Speed: 3.5 (+0.63 with centrifugal hooks) 4.55(+0.82) On Creep
  • Cargo Size: 2
  • Tags:
    • Biological
  • Upgrades
    • Centrifugal Hooks
      • 150 Minerals 150 Gas
      • Requires lair tech
      • 79 Seconds to complete
      • Increases baneling movement speed to 4.13
      • Increases baneling health to 35
  • Abilities
    • Explode
      • Baneling detonates where it is standing damaging all enemy units/structures in a 2.2 radius
    • Enable/disable building attack
      • Can enable banelings to target structures like other units target structures
      • Default disabled

Strengths

The Baneling is an incredibly powerful Zerg unit that does massive damage to anything clumped close together, especially light units such as marines, adepts or zealots. They force enemies to back away and split up their units, or risk losing large sections of army in seconds. This power to zone back enemies is incredibly powerful through forcing Protoss players to keep they charge zealots back and not attacking or by forcing Terran armies to move backwards and stop shooting, or split and be surrounded by zerglings.

Since all workers (Probes, SCV’s, Drones) are also light units, Banelings are powerful counter attack or multiprong attack tools since a few of them can decimate worker lines. This is especially true once +2 melee attacks upgrade is done because single banelings will kill full health probes. To take advantage of this ability to kill workers, many zerg players will make speed overlords with the ventral sacs morphed and drop 4 banelings on a mineral line. This is especially effective while something else is occuring in the game such as the enemy is engaging the zerg army and not paying attention to their worker line, or as a multiprong attack with multiple baneling drops.

This was popularized by Dark in the finals of SSL season 1 2016 against stats

Another strength of banelings is that they can be detonated while burrowed underground. Here are a few games where burrowed banelings made a crucial difference:
Scarlett vs Bomber Group A, Game 3 Red Bull Battle Grounds

Dark vs INnoVation GSL S3 Semi-finals 2017 Game 3

Weaknesses

Banelings have a few weaknesses including a low health pool, awful speed without the centrifugal hooks upgrade (and only average speed with it), as well as requiring to be in melee range to deal damage. This makes them weak against anything with a high speed, or long range. In addition to this, due to splash damage being so crucial to banelings and them dealing much more damage to light units they are very weak to units with large health pools and large hit boxes since they will affect less units.

Ground units that are good at fighting banelings include:

  • Roach
  • Lurker
  • Infestor
  • Ultralisk
  • Immortal
  • Stalker (although these are weak to zerglings and hydralisks)
  • Archon
  • Colossus
  • Thor
  • Siege Tank
  • Widowmine
  • Marauder
  • hellions

With this being said, banelings are so powerful that they will still deal a lot of damage if the enemy units are very close together.

When using banelings it is very important to consider enemy splash damage, especially units like the widow-mine, siege tank, or lurker. These units have the ability to decimate groups of banelings in very short periods of time.

Further Analysis

Generally speaking, unit compositions with high numbers of banelings are powerful ones. Hydra/Bane is a powerful composition in both the ZvT and ZvP match-up and banelings in numbers of 30+ are not uncommon to see at professional levels. They allow zergs to push back enemy forces while hydralisks damage priority targets like archons, immortals and medivacs. Good baneling connections are things that can completely turn a game around into the zergs favor, or just outright win games that are on even footing.

Banelings have a lot of utility when combined with speed drop overlords. They can be used to drop onto unsuspecting worker lines, but they are also good at being dropped onto armies in general. You can surprise enemy zerg players by hovering a drop overlord on a ramp and dropping banelings onto attacking zerglings, or by sending banelings over force fields to target high priority Protoss units like sentries and high templar.

Art credits to Phill Gonzo, Deviant Art

One Reply to “Unit Spotlight: Baneling”

  1. Hey just wanted to tell you, that you provide awesome content. Really well written and insane how much content you create. I am a terran player but stuff like the unit spotlight help a ton to understand the game better even as non-zerg.

    Keep up the good work!

    Liked by 1 person

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