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Black Widow Guardian

Single Player:

  • Easy: 2000
  • Medium: 3000
  • Hard: 4000
  • Nightmare: 5000
    + 500 Power Shield

Co-operative Play

  • Easy: 2000
  • Medium: 3500
  • Hard: 5000
  • Nightmare: 6500
    + 500 Power Shield

Single Player:

  • Easy: 2800
  • Medium: 3800
  • Hard: 4800
  • Nightmare: 5800
    + 750 Power Shield

Co-operative Play

  • Easy: 2800
  • Medium: 4300
  • Hard: 5800
  • Nightmare: 7300
    + 750 Power Shield

Attack Damage



Spawned Stalker:

  • Blaster: 5
  • Claws: 5-9
Found in

The Black Widow Guardian is the final boss of Ground Zero. She is encountered in the last level, Widow's Lair, protecting the Gravity Well and must be defeated in order to plant the anti-matter bomb and finish the game.

The Black Widow Guardian is undoubtedly the most challenging foe in any Quake II game. Somewhat like Jorg and the Makron, the battle has two stages - when her first form is defeated, she will teleport away and soon return in a new form with more powerful weapons. Her own combat abilities are formidable, and she has the ability to summon an endless supply of Stalkers to aid her in battle (though only a certain number at a time). She also has the unique ability to use certain power-ups in response to power-ups used by the player - see the Power-ups section below. Finally, her health is dependent on the chosen difficulty setting. Her first form ranges from 2000 on Easy to 5000 on Nightmare, and her second form ranges from 2800 on Easy to 5800 on Nightmare. However, on Nightmare she also gains a Power Shield, which drastically increases her durability.

First Form (Humanoid)

Blaster: The Widow will fire multiple green blaster bolts - either in a sweeping arc around the player's location, or a sustained volley directly at the player. She'll sometimes start charging towards the player while firing her sustained volley. If the player continually strafes, then the sustained volley will miss - but a few bolts from her sweeping arc might connect.

Railgun: The Black Widow is equipped with a Railgun, which deals 50 damage per hit (the same strength as the railgun wielded by Gladiators). Like those other railguns, it will fire directly at the player's position but if they are strafing at the time, it is likely to miss. However, it does fire with less warning than you get from a Gladiator.

Kick: If the player gets close to the Widow, she'll kick with her mechanical legs, delivering around 55 damage and knocking the player backwards.

Summon Stalkers: She can spawn Stalkers to assist her in battle - the maximum number of which depends on the difficulty level and, if in coop, number of players. She will spawn stalkers in pairs, so as long as there are at least 2 slots open, the Black Widow will continue to spawn more Stalkers. When the Widow's first form is defeated, any remaining Stalkers will continue the fight. The Black Widow Guardian and her Stalkers are not susceptible to infighting.

Difficulty SP Stalker Max Coop Stalker Max
Easy 3 3
Normal 3 3 (1 player) - 6 (4 players)
Hard 4 4 (1 player) - 6 (2 players)
Nightmare 6 6

Power-ups: See the Power-ups section below.

Second Form (Spider)

Once her first form is defeated, she will teleport away. After a delay of around 25 seconds, she will return via the large red door in her second, spider-like form. Her second form is larger, has more health and is equipped with new weapons. She retains her aforementioned ability to summon Stalkers and her ability to mirror the player's power-ups.

Plasma Beam: Much like the player's Plasma Beam, the Widow can launch this powerful beam with unlimited range and pinpoint accuracy. The Widow can either use the beam in a sweeping motion or aim it at the player continuously. Strafing will reduce the damage taken.

Disruptor: This unique weapon launches multiple balls of dark energy which home in on the player, much like the Vore's explosive pod from the first Quake game, but a lot faster and harder to see in the dark arena. Each projectile deals 20 damage but the Widow will launch a number of them in succession. They are difficult to dodge by strafing if you're in mid-to-close range - either stay as far as possible and circle-strafe, or use cover when you hear the sound of the weapon. Like the Disruptor available to the player, it completely disregards the target's Power Shield.

Pincers: The Widow's melee attack now involves the giant pincers on her new spider legs. If the player gets too close to the Widow, she may fire a tentacle-like appendage which can drag the player into melee range (rather like the ranged tentacle attack of the Brains) where they will be sliced n' diced by her pincers.

Summon Stalkers: Same as in her first form, except for the fact that once the Widow's second form is destroyed, any remaining Stalkers will die along with her. However, the aforementioned limits of the number of Stalkers apply to each of the Widow's two forms separately - any remaining Stalkers from her humanoid form will not count to her spider form's limit. Because of this, it is possible for up to twelve Stalkers to be in the arena at once.

Power-ups: See the Power-ups section below.

Power Shield (Nightmare only)

On Nightmare, the Black Widow Guardian's already substantial health is boosted by a Power Shield. It functions the same way as the player's Power Shield does, essentially reducing the amount of damage suffered by the Widow's health at the cost of consuming some of the shield's cells. Her humanoid form has 500 cells for its power shield to augment its 5000 health, and her spider form has 750 cells to augment its 5800 health.

When struck by a non-energy weapon, one-third of its damage will be suffered by the Widow's health, one-third will be suffered by her cells, and the remaining one-third will go to waste. So, for example, a Railgun shot that normally deals 125 damage will deal 41-42 damage to the Widow's health and drain 41-42 from her power shield, with the remaining 41-42 damage going to waste. Her first form has 5000 health and 500 power shield cells; therefore, it would take 13 Railgun shots to deal enough damage to fully deplete the power shield, dealing around 500 damage to her health in the process. In other words, it would take around fifty Railgun shots in total to defeat her first form.

Energy weapons are more effective against a target with a Power Shield; one-third of the damage will be suffered by the Widow's health, and the remaining two-thirds will be suffered by its cells. Therefore, your Hyperblaster, Plasma Beam or BFG10k can deplete the shield more quickly, and none of the damage goes to waste as it does with non-energy weapons. For example, the Plasma Beam normally deals 15 damage per hit, but against the Black Widow Guardian on Nightmare, each hit will deal 5 damage to her health and deplete 10 of her cells. Therefore it would fully deplete her first form's 500 cells in 50 hits, also dealing 250 damage to her health in the process, and then she would have 4750 health remaining, and no Power Shield. Note that while there are some Cells in the arena, if you use too many of them on the weapon shots, your own Power Shield will suffer eventually. A Disruptor might be a better choice.


Depending on the difficulty setting, the Black Widow Guardian can use certain power-ups, namely the Invulnerability, Quad Damage, Double Damage and Power Shield. However, she will only use these in response to the player using certain power-ups themselves (except for the Power Shield she has on Nightmare difficulty anyway, as described above). Consult the table below; the left column is the power-up the player uses, and the other columns are the power-up the Widow will use in response, on each difficulty setting. Note that a player can use their own Power Shield or a Defender Sphere without provoking the Widow to use a power-up in response.

Player uses Easy Medium Hard Nightmare
Invulnerability Nothing Power Shield (250 cells) Invulnerability Invulnerability and Power Shield (750 cells)
Quad Damage Nothing Double Damage Quad Damage Quad Damage and Power Shield (750 cells)
Double Damage Nothing Nothing Double Damage Double Damage and Power Shield (750 cells)

However, the Power Shields mentioned above cannot be depleted until after the player's power-up has worn off; she'll simply keep renewing them as long as your power-up is active. In other words, if the player activates a Quad Damage on Nightmare difficulty, the Widow will activate a Power Shield that can't be depleted for 30 seconds, and then will have 750 cells to deplete at the end of those 30 seconds (she'll activate her own Quad Damage too)

The Widow will only use these power-ups in response to power-ups activated by the player. On Nightmare difficulty she has a Power Shield as part of her basic equipment anyway, but this power-up response ability allows her to activate another even after her original has been depleted.

The implications of this are firstly that your Invulnerability power-up is only really worthwhile on Easy or Medium difficulty. On Hard difficulty, It's debatable whether it's worth saving the Invulnerability artifact for this fight or not; if you activate Invulnerability, then so will the Black Widow Guardian and there will be a 30-second period during which neither of you can harm the other. This isn't completely useless since it allows you to safely resupply on health or ammo during the fight, but it's dubious whether that is really the best use of the Invulnerability, compared to some of the more difficult battles earlier in the game, such as certain Medic Commander encounters. On Nightmare difficulty, Invulnerability is actually a bad thing - when you activate your Invulnerability, the Black Widow Guardian will activate her own Invulnerability, as well as an additional Power Shield with 750 cells. Therefore, once both of the combatants' Invulnerabilities have worn off, the Black Widow's durability will be higher than it was before you used your Invulnerability. You can still activate in just after killing the 1st form to be safe from the Stalkers for the time being.

Your Quad Damage and Double Damage are comparatively less useful on Nightmare difficulty, since activating it not only increases the player's damage output but also increases the Black Widow Guardian's durability, dividing the damage suffered to her health by three. So, in the case of Double Damage, the increased durability gained by her extra Power Shield outweighs the increased damage gained by your Double Damage, so it's actually a bad thing unless you are using the Disruptor, since this weapon disregards the Black Widow Guardian's power shield altogether, or unless you use Quad Damage and Double Damage at the same time. In the 2023 remaster they now stack with each other; the Black Widow Guardian's additional durability is no match for your weaponry when their damage is multiplied by eight.

In summary:

  • Invulnerability is a good thing on Easy and Medium, not all that much use on Hard, and useful only in the interlude on Nightmare
  • Quad Damage is progressively more dangerous to yourself on the harder difficulty settings, and less effective to your own damage output on Nightmare unless you are going to use the Disruptor.
  • Double Damage is a good thing on Easy and Medium. it's a mixed blessing on Hard since it increases the Widow's damage output as well. On Nightmare it only works you're going to use the Disruptor or both Quad and Double simultaneously (strongly suggested).



It's wise to have each of the following powerups in your inventory by the time you reach the Black Widow Guardian. The last opportunities to collect each of them are as follows:

*See the Power-ups section above; some of these power-ups lose some of their effectiveness or are downright counterproductive on the hardest difficulty settings.

Bear in mind the above locations are the last chances to collect each - so, for example, feel free to use a Defender Sphere whenever you feel the need, until you reach the Ammo Depot - but once you pick up the one in the Ammo Depot, save that one for the Black Widow Guardian. Also bear in mind that the player's capacity for each power-up (except the Power Shield) depends upon the difficulty setting; three on Easy, two on Medium, one on Hard/Nightmare. However, the Ground Zero campaign only includes two Quad Damage and two Invulnerability.

You also want to be maxed out on cells and bullets, and have plenty of railgun slugs. Bear in mind that if you're playing on Nightmare difficulty, then the Black Widow Guardian's durability is very substantially increased by her Power Shield; see the Power Shield paragraph above. In the 2023 remaster, the best weapon by far is the Disruptor, with nothing else coming close; the Disruptor is a new weapon with a higher overall damage output than even the Chain Gun; furthermore, it has the unique ability to disregard the target's Power Shield, making it particularly effective against the Black Widow Guardian especially on Nightmare difficulty. Under the effect of Quad Damage, it can defeat either of her two forms within ten shots, only taking a few seconds to achieve (and about half of that with 8x damage). As a bonus, the Disruptor has the ability to hurl its target backward, thereby pinning the Widow against a wall.

Don't worry too much about armor in preparation for the final boss, because there's a suit of Body Armor in a secret at the end of Unit 4, just before you take the Gondola to the Widow's Lair; and there's another suit in the Widow's Lair itself immediately before you drop down to fight the final boss, so you'll have 200 Body Armor as the fight begins. There's also a megahealth just before you drop down into the arena, so assuming you picked up enough medikits at the end of Unit 4 to keep you on the good side of 100 Health, you can start the final boss fight with 200 Health and 200 Body Armor.

It is certainly wise to activate your Power Shield for this fight.

General principles

  • Quad Damage and Double Damage can be very helpful, but depending on the difficulty setting, these power-ups come with certain downsides - see the Power-ups chapter above for details. On Nightmare, if you have the 2023 remaster, simply use Quad Damage and Double Damage at the same time (preferably against the 2nd form, which is arguably more dangerous). With Quad Damage and Double Damage activated together, either of her forms can be destroyed with around 60 hyperblaster shots, around 150 bullets from the Chain Gun or around 5-10 Disruptor rounds (depending on the aiming and blocking by spawns). On lower difficulty settings, you may prefer to use one of the two damage power-ups against her first form and save the other for her second form, whichever way around you prefer. (In the original release of Ground Zero, if you activate both at the same time they do not stack with each other; instead, you'd simply benefit from Quad Damage but the Double Damage would have no effect. However, this has changed in the 2023 remaster to allow them to stack, multiplying your damage by eight)
  • The Defender Sphere is an invaluable power-up against the Black Widow Guardian because unlike the Invulnerability, Quad Damage or Double Damage, it does not provoke the Widow into using one of her own power-ups in response. It reduces all incoming damage by 50% for 30 seconds, essentially being a weaker version of the Invulnerability, but is much more useful against the Black Widow Guardian than Invulnerability simply because it doesn't provoke her into using one of her own power-ups. On the harder difficulty settings, you may wish to use the Defender Sphere at the same time as you use your Quad Damage/Double Damage, since the Black Widow Guardian's damage output will be increased as well; the Defender Sphere helps to mitigate it.
  • Tesla Mines are useful to distract and delay the Stalkers that will be spawned during the battle. A Tesla Mine stands no chance against the Black Widow Guardian herself, but it can occupy a Stalker for some time, preventing it from attacking you for a while as you focus your own gunfire on the Black Widow Guardian. If you drop into the arena and the Black Widow Guardian hasn't seen you yet, consider laying a few Tesla Mines between you in advance before beginning your attack, in preparation for when the Stalkers will approach. You can do the same thing after the Widow's first form is defeated, before her second form emerges.

First Form

  • Collect all the items that surround the hole in the floor before dropping in - once you drop down, there's no coming back. You can hear the Black Widow stomping around beneath you in a circular pattern. It's wise to wait until she's further away before dropping down into the arena (judge by the sound of her foot-stomps), so you'll be further apart as the fight begins - this will initially put more distance between you and the Stalkers she'll summon. The player will fall into a very large round shaped room with pillars, similar to Armagon's Lair. There are numerous ammo pick-ups around the outer wall, and medikits next to some of the pillars. The Widow will be patrolling the inner circle until she sees the player. Her most common attack is her Upgraded Blaster, occasionally she'll fire her Railgun as well, and she'll quickly summon a number of Stalkers that will start hunting you (depending on the difficulty setting, from two Stalkers on Easy up to six on Nightmare). Strafing will help to avoid most of the damage from the Widow and the blasters of the Stalkers, but keep your distance, using the pillars for protection. If you're playing the 2023 remaster, don't use Quad/Double now, but instead just use the Disruptor to soften her and leave about 10 rounds left for the 2nd form, and then use energy weapons or Railgun/Rocket Launcher to finish her.


  • When the Widow's first form is defeated, there will be significant delay between her teleporting away and her returning to the battle in her second form - around 25 seconds between her teleporting away and her second form emerging from the doors. This is another opportunity to resupply on health and ammo from around the arena, although there may still be some Stalkers to dispose of in the meantime. Do be sure to dispose of any Stalkers which remain after her first form is defeated, because her second form has its own separate "Stalker limit". You can also use this time to set up a few Tesla Mines some distance in front of the doors, to intercept the Stalkers she will soon summon - but don't bother putting them too close to the doors, because they'll just be crushed by the doors swinging open.

Second Form

  • If you use both Quad and Double damage at the same time (in 2023 remaster), your Disruptor will kill the 2nd form in about 5-10 shots (i.e. extremely quickly and efficiently). Energy weapons will also be quite effective if you're out of Disruptor rounds.
  • If you're not playing the remaster, use Quad, Defender Sphere and energy weapon of your choice.
  • See above for her new arsenal of weapons. Shouldn't matter if you use the 8x strategy since you'll kill her in a matter of literal seconds.

Alternative Strategy

  • It's possible to stay in the upper room and deal damage to the Black Widow Guardian without dropping down into the main area. This strategy works best if the player has a good amount of Grenades for the Grenade Launcher and some Tesla Mines. You'll need to get her attention first - the best way to do this is to carefully fire a prox mine to the ground by the pillar below, close enough to where she will walk past that she'll trigger it. Once the Black Widow Guardian is focused on you and takes position roughly underneath you, you can safely lob grenades down the hole without exposing yourself to her return fire - you won't necessarily hit her with every grenade, but you can cause a fair bit of damage without taking any in return. Once you're out of grenades you can do the same with Tesla Mines. On the harder difficulty settings you can expect to run out of both before her first form is defeated, in which case you can continue to fire down the hole with other weaponry, but now you'll need to peek down the hole to aim, and dodge her return fire (the Rocket Launcher is a good option here), and once you've run out of suitable ammunition you'll need to jump down and continue the fight on ground level. Obviously there is a risk here, since the Widow and her attendant Stalkers will be at the bottom of the hole. This is a good time to use the Invulnerability (except on Nightmare), allowing you to land safely and move to a safer distance, as well as collect some ammunition from the arena if necessary. If you do destroy her first form using this alternative strategy, then it may be wise to drop down before her second form emerges, depending on how much ammunition you have left.

Appearance statistics

Campaign Any difficulty
Quake II -
The Reckoning -
Ground Zero 1*
Quake II 64 -
Quake II PSX -
Call of the Machine -

*Each of her two forms appears once.


  • When her first form is defeated she teleports away, but her legs still stay on the ground and then explode. The remains of her second form can be gibbed. While most bosses in Quake II explode when they are killed, leaving no corpse that could be revived by a Medic (or Medic Commander, or Repair Bot), the spider form of the Black Widow Guardian is an exception - it's theoretically possible for her spider form's corpse to be revived by those Strogg which possess the resurrection ability, although there are no official levels in which any of them appear alongside the Black Widow Guardian, so there is no opportunity in any of the single-player campaigns for it to happen.
  • Like the Tank and Tank Commander, the Black Widow Guardian's humanoid form is one of few Strogg who have a "victory pose" of sorts; she will rear back and laugh sadistically if the player is killed.