Age of Wonders: Planetfall – Dev Diary #17: The Kir'ko Faction Unleashed

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Hi there, welcome to this week’s Planetfall Journal! Following last week’s Kir’ko spotlight and next week’s Kir’ko gameplay stream we present you with the Kir’ko development Journal.

Conceptualization. One of the design pillars for Planetfall is that all major content is linked to the shattered galactic empire of the Star Union in one way or another. The deeper, the better for the main races. More importantly, we also wanted something truly non-human among the main races. Insectoid races were a favorite, but it needed an original twist. This is how the Kir’ko we’re born: A bug race that the empire enslaved, seeking to mend their broken hive mind. After the collapse the slaves are freed, and the Kir’ko must find a new path: reconciliation or retribution. The Kir’ko can be a likeable underdog (actually one of my favorite races) or a menacing swarm; with the faction resembling the origin story of a faction like the Zerg or the Buggers in Ender’s Game.

Illustration_Race_Kirko_d11_t16-10.jpg

The Kirko Unleashed (click for wall-paper sized image)


History: The Kir’Ko were the first sentient xeno life form discovered within the reach of the Star Union. Terratech, the biotech and terraforming conglomerate, discovered the pre-industrial insectoid species on a jungle planet, where a thick globe spanning Growth harbored man eating flora and a priceless neuroactive Nectar.

Here the termite-like colonies survived through natural resilience, hard work and coordination through their psychic hive mind. The first expedition to the Kir’ko homeworld went badly. Those who weren’t eaten, went insane from the psi fields or succumbed to the lure of the Nectar.

On their mission to secure this precious Nectar, the Kir’Ko were seen as both a threat and an opportunity. Imperial Xeno non-intervention policies were quickly brushed aside when faced with the psychic, profit stalling, toxic monstrosities. Terratech’s bio engineers genetically lobotomized the hive queens, changing them to mindless breeders. Having taken out the psychic threat of the Kir’Ko gestalt consciousness, they evolved casts of slave workers and hardened warriors through rapid epi-genetics.

Most Kirko meekly took up their new roles, but their will wasn’t totally broken. Terratech’s tinkering made them quickly adapt to the hive-less situation. Some Kir’Ko ran off and lived life in the fringes, selling the Nectar derived drugs, others made a living as skilled assassins or practiced their psionic powers in secret.

After the cataclysm, the Kir’ko managed to come up on top in various worlds. Through quick evolution, and learning their former masters technologies, they seek retribution for the horrors that have befallen their species and restore the power of their hive mind.

Branding_Race_Kirko_01_.jpg

Fight the Power


Kir’ko Heroes

The presence of human like intelligence varies per caste; with the bipedal heroes and commanders being the most human, as they were the most suited to operate in human society.
KirkoGender.jpg

The trained eye can discern female Kir’ko (on the left) – the earth tones are female, the cool tones are male.


KirkoOutfits.jpg

Retribution or Vengeance? You can wear your intentions on your sleeve (or head). Like this decorative human skull.

Kirko Techs

Here are some excerpts from the Kir’ko tech tree and doctrines. It is themed about their reawakening, their search for retribution or reconciliation and the formation of a new society.

  • Unshackling: A starter tech that grants basic unit mods for melee damage and vision, as well as a powerful tactical operation to clear dangerous status effects.
  • Vigorous Emergence: A mid game tech that gives you a world map operation to summon the Kir’ko Emergent, and another that heals an army whilst giving them a powerful boost to melee damage.
  • Metamorphosis: An end game tech that grants powerful genetic enhancements to your units. Accelerated Metabolism makes light units faster, as well as giving them a free additional turn if they manage to kill a foe, while Adrenal Response Glands gives heavy units a stacking buff each time they take damage during combat.
  • Structure Brood Cluster: This unique Kir’ko colony upgrade provides a bonus to Unit Production based on the colony’s food income.


TechTree.jpg

Start Part of the Kirko Tech tree with Bio and Psionic Weapon Groups


Kir’ko Doctrines: (note: we specifically removed exact modifiers as designers are still working on them.) Doctrines are empire wide bonuses that require limited Doctrine Slots.

  • Dream Sharing - By developing the psionic links that naturally occur between all kir’ko, they can share experiences, accelerating their XP gain in combat.
  • Preserving the Future – Policies that focus on population expansion to protect the future of the Kir’ko race give all Kir’ko colonies increased supply income.
  • Planetary Swarming – A doctrine focused on mass production of lower-tech units allows the Kir’ko to reduce the upkeep and production costs of all light units in their army.

Kir’ko Units

The Kir’ko species has a wide range of castes, some have a natural origin, some are mutations caused by the meddling of the Terratech scientists.

  • Emergent – Small, primitive burrowing worms, which can evolve into more powerful Kir’ko units once they collect enough XP.
Unit_Emergent.jpg

  • Abyssian – A tunneling, beatle like creature that can expel a thick wax onto it’s enemies, paralyzing them for short periods of time
Unit_Abyssian.jpg

  • Barrager – A lumbering, biological artillery unit that specializes in hurling multiple biochemical over a large area.
Unit_Barrager.jpg

  • Engulfer – A powerful air unit that can drop corrosive smoke bombs onto ground units, doing damage and providing area denial.
Unit_Engulfer.jpg

  • Tormented – One of the most powerful psionic units, this partially re-awakened hive queen can channel its pain and frustration into devastating psionic attacks.
Unit_Tormented.jpg

  • Deep One – A high level, naval unit that attacks with a sort of Psionic plague that can spread across an enemy fleet over multiple turns.
Unit_Deepone.jpg


Kir’ko Gameplay / Summary / Strategy

Through rapid evolution, the Kir'Ko seek to restore what was broken and will find retribution for the terrible fate that has befallen them. Their doctrines also reflect this choice, with a split between highly aggressive bonuses and those which encourage faster population growth and making peace with other factions.


On the world map they prefer the lush, fungal biodome and get bonuses from fighting and settling within it.

They have access to the powerful Psionics weapons tech, Psionic powers bypass a unit’s armor defense completely and have powerful debuffs and damage switching mods. Psionics can set targets on fire, drive them insane, or poison them with Biochemical damage. Mechanical units all resist psionic damage however, which can be a dangerous limitation to have.

KirkoWmap.jpg


They also make heavy use of Biochemical weapons, which allow them to melt armor and weaken biological units. For example, the Blight Infection mod allows units to infect targets with a disease that causes them to violently explode when they die. The Ionic Infusion mod gives them more flexibility, by switching the damage type of their attacks to Arc, helping them against pesky mechanical units.

In combat they are more melee focused than other races, their ranged options are effective, but tactically limited compared, relatively speaking. They also have access to the unique Swarm Shields mechanic, which grants their units extra protection when they are adjacent to each other. This can be very useful against single target attacks, but leaves them vulnerable to area of effect weapons, like artillery and grenades.
 
Last edited:

Jean-Luc

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Is "supply" a different name for food?

Will Reconciliation and Retribution significantly affect the endgame or maybe lead to different victory conditions? Are those two paths mutually exclusive?

In any case looks great. :)
 

Fenraellis

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As usual the lore, both in the Dev Diary, and the unit panels, is wonderful to read.

Metamorphosis reminds me fondly of the Wild Magic spell Spontaneous Mutation, and the Brood Cluster is a nice affirmation finally of a faction-unique building. Their Techs and Doctrines shown really support the 'swarm' concept quite well.

Thanks for showing the Barrager, Engulfer and Deep One. The first naval unit, too, and with a somewhat odd amount of health, at 63, rather than the increments of 5 which we've been seeing so far. All with fairly neat abilities, especially the chaining ability of the Deep One.

It's also neat to know that Biochemical can convert to Arc, which means Amazons will have access to Kinetic(almost definitely), Thermal, Biochemical and Arc(converted) damage channels. That Blight Infection mods just sounds like fun, since who doesn't love corpse explosions? (risky for melee units, but I digress)

Altogether, I am more fond of them than I am of Vanguard, for both playstyle and aesthetic. I'll certainly play Vanguard, but everybody has their preferences, you know? I've just never really enjoyed playing the Humans/Terrans in Fantasy and Sci-Fi games, even if can acknowledge them to be a good choice.
 

BloodyBattleBrain

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I'm enjoying the unit descriptions and images.

I like these.

Next up, can we hear about the Kir'ko food?

I hear it comes in easily accessible and stored metal cans...

Mah'hegrib sounds a bit like Ham Binger with his fortunate escapes.
 

Fo Ren G

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Ooh, I guess the Vanguard and Kir'ko unit types are not that dissimilar, I wonder if that's going to be the case with the other factions as well.

So, judging by that description of their Weapon Groups at the end there, the Weapon Groups now have only a few options of damage type switching mods? As in Psi can only be converted to Thermal and Biochem, and Biochem can be only converted to Arc?

Does the Abyssian not have a melee attack?
 

TibblesTheCat

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Very nice stuff! The Deep One looks very colorful and I really want to see the rest of it.
I like the hidden face on the forehead of the emergent :3
upload_2018-10-18_17-36-28.png

Looks quite ready to fight :D
 

Alex646

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I'm interested why mechanical units have resistance against psionics? Mech units have crew or no? Is metal can enough to protect living crew from psionics? Robot resistance is obvious, but what about units with crew? Also Biochemical type of damage. This is not poison from AoW3. Corroding materials should work good on any machine.
 

Tomipapa

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Most Kirko meekly took up their new roles, but their will wasn’t totally broken. Terratech’s tinkering made them quickly adapt to the hive-less situation. Some Kir’Ko ran off and lived life in the fringes, selling the Nectar derived drugs, others made a living as skilled assassins or practiced their psionic powers in secret.
And we got our answers about how independent the Kir'ko are. If some of them manage to become some gangsta drug dealer then i think we can say that they are quite independent. :)
 

Fenraellis

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I'm interested why mechanical units have resistance against psionics? Mech units have crew or no? Is metal can enough to protect living crew from psionics? Robot resistance is obvious, but what about units with crew? Also Biochemical type of damage. This is not poison from AoW3. Corroding materials should work good on any machine.
Yes, they specifically mention about Biochemical attacks shredding armor from targets, and Mechanical units tend to be heavy on the Armor stat in particular(and technically all units will have Armor eventually, if produced in colonies with the Military Engineering Guild structures). Of course, with the option to convert to Arc damage, Biochemical attacks might circumstantially be even more effective against Mechanical units, while possibly still retaining any shredding properties of their original ability(and possibly other Biochemical mods, presuming they can then still be mixed with a converted attack).
 

mr_stibbons

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As usual the lore, both in the Dev Diary, and the unit panels, is wonderful to read.

Metamorphosis reminds me fondly of the Wild Magic spell Spontaneous Mutation, and the Brood Cluster is a nice affirmation finally of a faction-unique building. Their Techs and Doctrines shown really support the 'swarm' concept quite well.

Thanks for showing the Barrager, Engulfer and Deep One. The first naval unit, too, and with a somewhat odd amount of health, at 63, rather than the increments of 5 which we've been seeing so far. All with fairly neat abilities, especially the chaining ability of the Deep One.

It's also neat to know that Biochemical can convert to Arc, which means Amazons will have access to Kinetic(almost definitely), Thermal, Biochemical and Arc(converted) damage channels. That Blight Infection mods just sounds like fun, since who doesn't love corpse explosions? (risky for melee units, but I digress)

Altogether, I am more fond of them than I am of Vanguard, for both playstyle and aesthetic. I'll certainly play Vanguard, but everybody has their preferences, you know? I've just never really enjoyed playing the Humans/Terrans in Fantasy and Sci-Fi games, even if can acknowledge them to be a good choice.

On the strange hp of the deep one, it's trooper rank instead of recruit.
 

The Masked Man

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Really excited for bugs. I have a few questions though, among them particularly. I remember during the original reveal of the Kir’ko “Hidden” unit, in the Combat Units dev diary, I believe they mentioned that Kir’ko females are the ones with naturally psionic powers? Does this effect your own Commander?

Anyways I think i’m really excited about this race, then again I am a sucker for insects. I think my final question for the moment is....

Can we get a hint for what their T4 is? I understand if you aren’t ready to show it but we already know the Vanguard have Drone Carrier.
 

Fenraellis

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On the strange hp of the deep one, it's trooper rank instead of recruit.
Huh, so it is. I wonder if that's +3 or +8. I'm kind of guessing the latter, since +3 sounds low, even for this system, but who knows?

This is presuming the base health is 55 or 60(highest we would have seen yet, for a T3), of course.
 

Ridixo

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I don't repent, the only good bug is a dead bug :mad:

Great faction still, the choice they have, retribution/reconciliation, is a good one and very good choice lore-wise. Will other factions get something similar? I know that not the Vanguard at least, but maybe the Assembly or the Dvar?

Also where is the Dev Diary: Colony Development Part II?
 

BloodyBattleBrain

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Someone suggested a type of Queen for the T4 unit, that produces larvae (emergents) on the strategic map and can massively boost other kir'ko units.


I think that's a great idea.

Vanguard Drone Carrier should/could be flying imho, basically the Protoss Carrier.


DVAR has the multihex war machine, basiclaly the steam tank/juggernaut I believe.

Amazons?

Syndicate should obviously get a magic carpet !

Assembly should be a unit that has no innate attack skill but basically adds bits of other units, incorporating their abilities. So kills a Amazon rider, gets to choose one of it's mods or base abilities. This means you really want one of them only to get all the goodies, and you don't want to stack them.
 

Tombles

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With regards to Psionic damage and mechanical units, you need to look at it from 2 perspectives:

Lorewise: Psionic powers do not interact very well with inert (i.e. non-living) materials. This is a double edge sword, on the one hand trying to protect yourself with these materials is pointless, since the psionic power tends to go straight through it. On the other hand, however, for something which is mainly made of these materials, actually affecting that thing just doesn't work very well. This is represented in game by mechanical units having a large (4 atm) resistance to psionic damage and effects. Most mechanical units do have living crew, so the status effects will work, however they are still resisted due to the difficulty of actually making contact with those minds (the psionic attacker can't easily "see" thje mind inside the machine). Robot units have the "mindless" attribute, which makes them completely immune to those status effects (though you can still damage them with psionic power).

Mechanically: Psionics powers are really strong: Bypassing armor gives a huge bonus against half the units in the game, while psionic debuffs (mind control, panic, etc) can have battle winning consequences. We need a counterbalance to stop them simply outclassing everything else, and limitations against mechanical units (about 1/3 of the game's units) is a good way of doing that. Right now, this is just done with the resistance, in the future we might make them immune to psionic status effects too. It all depends on how balancing goes during the beta.

As for biochemical attacks, they are effective against mechanical units, there are no special resistances or anything. However, most biochemical status effects are things like Poison and Disease, which do not work against mechanical units. This makes biochem very good at damaging machines (especially with the arc damage mod), but not very good at manipulating them.

The end result of this is that Kir'ko are just not very good against mechanical units, they do have options, but a smart player may want to pick a secret tech that gives them an extra boost in that area.

I remember during the original reveal of the Kir’ko “Hidden” unit, in the Combat Units dev diary, I believe they mentioned that Kir’ko females are the ones with naturally psionic powers? Does this effect your own Commander?

No, Commander's are the Kir'ko elite, and the males have been genetically modified to allow use of psionics!
 

Fenraellis

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Someone suggested a type of Queen for the T4 unit, that produces larvae (emergents) on the strategic map and can massively boost other kir'ko units.


I think that's a great idea.

Vanguard Drone Carrier should/could be flying imho, basically the Protoss Carrier.


DVAR has the multihex war machine, basiclaly the steam tank/juggernaut I believe.

Amazons?

Syndicate should obviously get a magic carpet !

Assembly should be a unit that has no innate attack skill but basically adds bits of other units, incorporating their abilities. So kills a Amazon rider, gets to choose one of it's mods or base abilities. This means you really want one of them only to get all the goodies, and you don't want to stack them.
I would imagine a Queen to have large scale Psionic abilities, except focused on notable buffs/debuffs rather than damage, opposite of what a Tormented does. I do like the idea of spawning Emergent, but perhaps as a Tactical Ability usable every few turns(or contingent on the usage of another ability to circumstantially reset it), rather than a Strategic one. That way you can create them, but not without getting into combat at least, rather than simply being a strategic map Emergent factory.


As for the Drone Carrier, I wouldn't say this looks like much of a flyer unit, but maybe ;)
unknown.png



Dvar we already know the general idea of, as you said, although I doubt it will be as offensively capable as a Juggernaut, if they follow through with their vaguely stated plan to make T4s closer to super-support units.


On some level, I would like it if the Amazon's T4 wasn't a giant creature(possibly with a rider), which it seems likely to be, but was instead a super-/mad- scientist, who could perform genetic experimentation on the fly, both buffs for friendly units and debuffs for enemies, due to her personal advanced technological gadgets. I'm almost imagining things like a 'shrink ray' which temporarily changes a Heavy unit into a Light, and disables any requisite Mods, lowers Stagger Resistance, and reduces Armor rating and damage. That seems a bit too silly, though, so Biochemical-based buffs/debuffs of various sorts would be more likely.

Just to defy tropes of the beast-tamer type of faction having a huge creature(or creature rider) as their top end, by adding another one.


For Syndicate, it would likely be either a slave beast of some sort, or a slave master(it actually makes a bit more sense for the Syndicate T4 to not be 'monstrous', or appropriately large sized, than any other faction).


For Assembly, an amalgam unit similar to a bone collector as you describe would be scary... to program. :p
Also, quite a scary unit as well. Uhm, I'm not sure how possible what you described would be, or remotely able to be balanced, but some sort of unit that recycles parts seems like a neat idea.
 

Liberty_Valance

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A cool journal!

An opportunity to consider if this is a caste based race would be to give the male and female heroes potential opportunity to gain different traits,
like the female becoming queens themselves and could gain a reproductive system and the males could become drones with wings enabling them to fly. (although this is based of ants rather than termites so it could be something else)

The Abbysians look a bit like cockroaches which is very fitting considering they are the termites ancestors.