Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm – Guide to Mutation Upgrades

Over the course of the single player campaign in Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm, you will have the opportunity to shape and customize your swarm. These upgrades can be changed between missions (unlike the evolution upgrades). It’s not uncommon to go head first into a mission and then realize that different attributes should be selected. During the campaigns, my main strategy involved creating a ton of Roaches, Hydralisks, and Zerglings to overwhelm the enemy. I picked stats that helped make them tankier and durable.

In later levels, especially ones where you’re on the clock, you may discover that you need to switch up your unit choices and attributes entirely. In those instances, I went with attributes that helped increase their damage.


Hardened Carapace – Gains +10 maximum life, an increase of 30%
Adrenal Overload – Attack speed increased by 50%
Metabolic Boost – Movement speed increased by 60%

Recommendations: Start with Hardened Carapace. As you advance toward the later levels, switch around to Adrenal Overload. The increased helps in the early game because you’ll be able to grind down the enemies easier since your armies should be able to live longer. But your enemies will start having stronger weapons and that 10 health isn’t going to help as much. Either you start mutating them into Banelings or you send them in there to do as much damage as possible before they get ripped apart anyway.


Corrosive Acid – Increases base attack damage dealt to primary target by 100%
Rupture – Blast radius increased by 50%
Regenerative Acid – In addition to dealing damage, Baneling explosions heal nearby friendly units and structures

Recommendations: I like Corrosive Acid. There’s something innately satisfying about suiciding units for bigger and more potent explosions. I didn’t find Regenerative Acid that useful for me. Could be my playstyle though. Rupture used selectively for typical base assault missions for the extra splash damage.


Hyriodic Bile – Gains +8 damage vs Light units, an increased of 50%
Adaptive Plating – Gains 3 armor when Roach’s life is under 50%
Tunneling Claws – Roach can move at full speed while burrowed. Life regeneration rate increased by 100% while burrowed.

Recommendations: Roaches are like my bread and butter ground unit. I’ll alternate between Adaptive Plating and Hyriodic Bile.


Frenzy – When Frenzy is activated, the Hydralisk gains 50% attack speed for 15 seconds. 30 second cooldown
Ancillary Carapace – Gains +20 maximium life, an increase of 25%.
Grooved Spines – Attack range increased to 6, an increased of 20%

Recommendations: I remember massing Hydralisks back in the original Starcraft. I still do it sometimes here when it becomes feasible. Recommend going with Frenzy and watch as opposition units just melt. Grooved Spines and Ancillary Carapace is nice, but sometimes the best defense is a good offense. Combine Frenzy with Kerrigan’s Wild Mutation ability to make them shoot even faster.


Vicious Glave – Mutalisk’s attacks bounce three more times, hitting up to six targets. Bounces deal increased damage and travel further.
Rapid Regeneration – Mutalisks regenerates 10 life per second while out of combat. Must remain out of combat for 5 seconds.
Sundering Glave – Gains +9 damage vs armored targets, an increase of 100%. Attacks no longer bounce to additional targets.

Recommendations: I didn’t build much in the way of heavy air throughout the campaign so Mutalisk mutations didn’t mean much to me at all. In the missions where I did use them, they were mainly in a supportive role. I stuck with Rapid Regeneration and kept a group of 12 around in case I came across units that couldn’t attack air. If you plan to make use of air units, I’d say go with Vicious Glave and “cleave” opposing armies to death.

Swarm Host

Burrow – Allows Swarm Hosts to burrow. While burrowed, Swarm Hosts cannot be seen by enemies without detection. Able to Spawn Locusts while burrowed
Rapid Incubation – Locusts spawn 20% faster
Pressurized Glands – Locusts can attack both ground and air units.

Recommendation: The Swarm  Host is one of the new units added in the expansion that’s also available in multiplayer. You can think of them as pseudo-siege units as they spawn free, temporary locusts. Since my unit choices are lacking in anti-air (other than Hydralisks), I relied on Pressurized Glands. This helped eliminate any larger air units that tried to come after my armies.


Burrow Charge – Ultralisk burrows and charges towards a unit. When the Ultralisk unburrows, all enemy units nearby are knocked back and stunned for 2 seconds.
Tissue Assimilation – Gain life equal to 40% of all damage dealt from normal attacks.
Monarch Blades – Gains +20 splash damage, an increase of 400% causing attacks to deal 25 damage to both primary and secondary targets.

Recommendation: These guys are the ultimate in front line meat shields. I use them to lead the way while my Roaches and Hydralisks contribute damage behind them. To help them last longer, I go with Tissue Assimilation. This is especially valuable in later missions when minerals or resources become more scarce. You want to try to preserve these bad boys for as long as you can.

More secrets, FAQs and guides for Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm

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How to Make Units Dance & Cheer [Easter Egg]

Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm – Troubleshooting FAQ

Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm – Cheat Codes

Guide: Kerrigan’s abilities for the single-player campaign


Guide: Evolution upgrades

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