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Friday, 22 May 2020

New Firestorm Backgrounds

Warcradle is pushing out a fair amount of content on FSA of late (hey, it's what has got me to post again!), and a fair bit of it has been mixed concept art/background pieces. I'll cover the concept art on another post (I think it deserves it) but I'll go through the background pieces that have been put out so far as they foreshadow more than pretty pictures.

Terran Directorate

Yep, Warcradle led with this one out of the dock on their new Black Ocean Facebook page, and here's the first of the bigger departures from pre-existing fluff (let's call it "Spartan Lore"). The new Terran faction are a melding of the old Terran Alliance, Directorate, Works Raptor and Hawker. I kinda get why Warcradle did this, but as a former Directorate player, I can't say this fills me with joy. Now, without a Spartan Lore historical perspective, this is fine - it makes the Terrans a much wider faction with a LOT more ship options (as a core faction), and the Directorate were, at one time, part of the Alliance anyway, so you could almost view it as an "alternate timeline" evolution of the game. Again, as a former Directorate/Zenian player as my first choice, I'm unsure about how this will play out in terms of the game, so I will have to wait until we see some beta rules until I make further judgements.

Dindrenzi Federation

The Dindrenzi still mourn Dramos, they still use big electromagnetic rail guns and they still have big armour plates. There is some detail in here about their society and so on, but overall the flavour has not changed much as far as I can see.

Sorylian Congress

The Sorylians were always clever military tacticians, and this wasn't terribly well reflected in their gameplay on the board. Their ships were fast, in order to bring their scatter cannon into range as soon as possible, and their squadron sizes were larger due to their superior tactics. Sorylian small and medium ships were their strength, with their battleship seen as a bit of a lumberer. They weren't good at the more personal three-dimensional experience, so didn't use SRS as much as other races (consider they were waging war against the Aquans and Relthoza, who both were good at that - why confront an enemy on their strong fronts?). They were also the race that first set up a wormhole network (or at least, utilised an existing one and expanded on it), with this tech being integral to their society.

The recent fluff has them controlling drone fighters which are able to pivot about their axis and launching salvos of kinetic weapons, both as they drop from lightspeed. Their three subspecies are engineered, as they are now master geneticists (a slot previously held by the Aquans - but more on them later). They are still measured, superb scientists, and they still hail from Kerendar. Overall, I don't think the fluff changes so far for the Sorylians are much beyond trivial. Sorylians have always had long-range kinetics, though they were really something designed to harass the enemy either into closing or to strike whilst the fast frigates and cruisers closed with the enemy fleet.

Veydreth Authority

The Veydreth are now one of the eight factions of the new Warcradle FSA, and they now hail from Oroshan (which I guess means that particular faction are no more in their own right). Their ship aesthetic is VERY different from before, incorporation elements of the original Oroshan designs but they are really 100% Warcradle otherwise. Veydreth used to be fearsome centauroid creatures - now they are gangly bipedals, and the Terran moniker of "Star Dragons" comes from the look of their ships, not the creatures themselves. I think this is the only piece I am a bit disappointed with here, centauroid star dragons were interesting...gangly bipedals just seem a bit "meh" by comparison. The Veydreth fluff in Spartan Lore was "spartan", which is I suppose why Warcradle used them as the basis of creating another faction where they could run amok without annoying too many people! Much of the background is a fusion of SL Veydreth and SL Oroshan with Warcradle overlay and reimagining. Overall, I can't say that this version is particularly disruptive or upsetting to too many people.

Ryushi (part of the Storm Zone Coalition)

The Ryushi were always wanderers, and they remain so in Warcradle's iteration of FSA. Warcradle have built up the narrative in a bit more of a joined-up way (never a strong point of Spartan), and expanded it with some nice detail. The Ryushi are one of the races in the Storm Zone Coalition, which also includes the Xelocians, Sauran Guild, Rangers of Terquai, Jowrion Disciples, Illosi, Shevaka and Kedorians. I wonder if all these races will be represented by Warcradle, or we'll just get those races which already have ships....I personally would love to see the Illosians finally - the one last project at SG which was never realised before I ceased association with them.

A'quan Sebrutan

So you'll notice that the Aquans are now the A'quan, a change which I'm not really understanding - it almost seems like the GW penchant for making names they can trademark (like Orruks instead of Orks), and that may well be the case here - I don't know. Anyway, the fishy dudes are a BIG departure from prior fluff - essentially you can scrap all the fish jokes guys, because THEY'RE NO LONGER FISH. No, instead of hailing from a water world, A'quan are now sentient bi-mechanical space-dwellers, each one being located within - and one with - the ship around it.

A'quans have a very different "feel" in this new iteration - before they were somewhat benign, expert geneticists and a little "Tau" in their kind of philosophy. Now they are disruptive star-eating individuals that are kind of a galactic pain in the ass and pretty aggressive. They're space-hornets.

I'm a bit on the fence on this one. It's kind of cool, but I can imagine it's not going to sit well with a lot of existing Aquan (no " ' " intended) players. There are some other interesting snippets in the fluff here too which indicate departures in their gameplay too - gravity shears are mentioned, along with their "unique" ability to manipulate gravity...not sure what that means for you, Tarakian players... and you thought Aquans were too powerful before.... lol. another interesting thing is the mention of the "Vo'nar Holotype" - the Vo'nar being a long-mentioned but never realised Spartan race that was around Relthozan space....seems Warcradle have dusted that one off and incorporated it into A'quans now -which does make sense given their new directions.

Relthoza Unity

OK, my favourite faction, what I started Firestorm Armada out with, the spiders. Again, another BIG departure from SL here, and I must say, one I'm not really feeling. Essentially you can bin all of the Dindrenzi first contact, misunderstood cultural concepts and uneasy alliance of SL, the Relthoza never met another species before becoming the Unity. This AI cloud consciousness was once a way for the Relthoza to prevent internal wars, but became out of control, and subsumed the Relthoza into itself, becoming the Unity. It learned exponentially, and developed space travel fast etc etc - now it must bring peace to all life.

In effect, the Relthoza are now a kind of "Pathogen with a Purpose", and in fact it seems Pathogen are now merely unity ships seeking independence. Hmmm.

Now I know Stuart from Warcradle is a Rick & Morty fan, and Unity is exactly this in that series....does this make a good direction for the Relthoza? Well, for me, no. If I'd wanted to play that kind of consuming plague, I'd play Pathogen (and I have). The Relthoza, however, appealed to me both for the look of their ships, and their arachnid klingon-esque militarism. Whilst the new Warcradle concept art for the Relthoza looks fantastic, I'm just not excited by their fluff. The "Hive Mind" thing is a common, and a little tired, trope in Sci-Fi, and I think it makes the Relthoza much more bland than they were before.

Overall Takeaways

So I said before, Stuart has stated and the fluff released thus far emphasises it, Warcradle's FSA is a new game. It's NOT the SL FSA we knew, and it's probably best to come at it from that PoV. At the moment I will hold judgement until I see beta rules before I decide if it's a game that I want to learn...if it is then the fluff is not necessary, I can have whatever fluff I want for my universe, ignoring anything I don't like. Otherwise I will just use the new models to refresh and fill in gaps in my existing fleets, and play the game I already know - not the end of the world.

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