The game is based on the planet of Yavaun, home to four sapient alien species who have enjoyed a long peace of sorts up until the events of the game. Players control any of the four species and follow their story in the tumultuous period. Each race plays significantly differently based on their history, culture and biology.
Gameplay proceeds in a similar manner to all 4X RTS games: Players are given a specific goal, whether it is to form a large settlement or defeat all enemy forces in the area, which they pursue by collecting and farming resources, building new structures and units with the resources and using these units to explore and eradicate the surrounding terrain and the enemies within. As well as the opposing three races, players must also be aware of the various dangers that the alien planet presents.
The Four Races
The Tha'Roon are a reptilian race that resemble Giger's Xenomorph and the Skeksis of the JIm Henson/Frank Oz fantasy movie The Dark Crystal. As expected of their fearsome appearance, the Tha'Roon have ruled the planet as cruel slavemasters for many centuries. The Obblinox and Eaggra rebel against their Tha'Roon masters, putting them at a distinct disadvantage without their slave forces, but their intelligence, resourcefulness and fierce combat prowess make up for this shortcoming.
Players in the Tha'Roon campaign have the easiest set-up, as the Tha'Roon have established themselves as the richest and most technologically-powerful race on the planet. Individual campaign battles focus on quickly building-up their most powerful structures and units and overwhelming the enemy forces with their prowess. The ultimate goal of the Tha'Roon are to once again subjugate the other three races and re-establish their old empire.
Best combat units; vast wealth with existing settlements everywhere, including the most strategically important locales; Has the best technology available of the four races.
Low numbers; Slow construction ability (as all labor was performed by the Eaggra for them prior to war); Has the most expensive units and structures.
Obblinox are an elephantine race whose greatest trait is their immense strength and durability. Their old role was as a vassal race of the Tha'Roon, who performed as their military and slavers to the Eaggra. Once the Eaggra emancipated themselves, the Obblinox found the perfect time to rebel against the Tha'Roon in unison.
The Obblinox are limited in how far they can progress technologically, but as the most physically powerful race the player controlling them can use their military might to quash all enemy resistance. Their campaign starts off as stealthy raids on the Tha'Roon to undermine their power, before breaking out in all-out war. Their ultimate goal is to depose the Tha'Roon utterly and gain their freedom.
Skilled warriors; Has the most training and weapons; Units cause the most damage overall; Moderately strong construction ability.
Very slow; Limited in their use of magic.
The Eaggra, a vine-like plant race, have been oppressed as the slave race of the Tha'Roon for centuries. Striking out in open rebellion, the Eaggra have their vast numbers, labor-intensified endurance and knowledge of the resources of the planet to hold out against the stronger military might of the Obblinox and Tha'Roon.
Players controlling the Eaggra should expect a difficult start as they break free from their powerful supervisors and establish themselves. Though they breed quickly, Eaggra often have the worst starting positions of any given map and very little technology. They play very much like the Zergs of Starcraft, using vast numbers and durability to overcome opponents in lieu of technology. The ultimate goal of the Eaggra is nothing short of the complete liberation of their species and the establishment of their own homeland.
Large numbers; Greatest construction ability of the four races; Best scouts; Resistance to movement modifiers in difficult terrain.
Weaker units; Poor starting positions; Fewer structures initially.
The idealistic Shama'Li, a race that resembles the eponymous extra-terrestrial from 1982 movie E.T., are a race of spiritual monks who only wish to re-unite the planet's races in a fair and just brotherhood. Though not eager to join the fighting, they see the injustice of the current civil war and do what they can to help.
The Shama'Li have some combat strength but very little technology, choosing instead to focus on their mystical abilities. They are able to transform and shape nature around them to assist their activities. They prefer to focus on stealth rather than all-out aggression. They are the hardest race to win the game with, due to their lofty ideals and ultimate goal: To bring back the all-powerful entity of the planet Naga-Ram.
Immense magical power; Strong hand-to-hand focused combat; Exceptionally stealthy; Unit training and advancement among the cheapest of the races.
Weak cybernetics and technology; Limited ranged combat ability; Low defense and endurance.
Each of the four races have six basic unit types, with each performing a specific ability either in combat or in construction.
The most important unit, the Clan Leader is the one that directs all the others. They tend to have powerful combat and construction abilities and special abilities unique to their position. They are considered the best of their particular races and have abilities that reflect what those races consider essential (e.g. The Eaggra's clan leader unit "The Prime Mover", has exceptional ability when building structures).
The main grunts, the workers are responsible for construction and gathering resources. They're the cheapest units to produce and are usually not proficient in combat.
The mounted warrior, who uses mounts or vehicles to supplement their combat ability. They are cheaply produced and can quickly move to their destinations.
A weaker warrior unit suited for exploration. Scouts often have some way of concealing their presence, allowing them to move around quickly and unnoticed.
The shocktroopers of any given race, the warriors are the most combat proficient of any normal unit type. They are often slower than the mercenaries as a result, but are otherwise absolutely deadly in the right circumstances.
Mages are the token ranged unit, using spells or powerful technology to fight from afar. Physically weak in melee, they are best employed at a distance while Warriors and Mercenaries keep enemies away.
As well as these universal units, each race also has units unique to them:
The Tha'Roon employ these powerful scouts to remove troublesome units using stealth and powerful combat ability. Suited for taking out other Clan Leaders, Mages and unique hero units.
The psionics take advantage of the Tha'Roon intellect to mentally project magical attacks at enemies. They can also use these powers to psychically take over enemy units and have them fight for the Tha'Roon.
Jump Troopers are powerful hand-to-hand units with unparalleled defense. Strategically employed at locations of importance, they can hold out against many enemy attackers at once.
An Obblinox stealth expert, promoted from their Scout units. Like the Spies of the Team Fortress world, their greatest ability is being able to pass themselves off as friendly units in enemy locations.
The strongest Obblinox warrior unit, the Colossus is an Obblinox that has been transformed partly into a tank. Possessing fantastic combat ability, they are used in the front line of any conflict.
Eaggra mages focus their magics on the planet's natural resources, creating devastating effects on the landscape.
Eaggra's ranged units often employ explosives, and the Grenadier is unique in the distance they can cover with their attacks. When kept at the back of a massive Eaggra army, they can be devastating.
Shama'Li mages are unique in that they're the only units in the game able to use healing magic. Vital in a support role, due to Shama'Li being overall weak in combat.
The Shama'Li's scout is proficient in stealth, close combat and magic ability, making them the most versatile Shama'Li unit.
The Shama'Li juggernaut is a literal force of nature, able to bat aside most enemy units. Uncharacteristically for the Shama'Li, they focus entirely on offensive and defensive combat ability.
Similarly to the units, each race has the same basic structures with their own unique architectural style.
The most vital structure, Courthouses are used to processes resources necessary for the creation of every other type of building. If it doesn't already exist in a scenario, it should be first priority.
Inns are used as meeting places for basic units, such as the Worker and Mercenary, which can be hired. Special Hero units can also be hired from these Inns.
Homes are necessarily for housing units. For every four or five units, a home must be build to house them. Though small and cheap to build, many are needed if the player wants a large army of units.
These are required to build more complex structures. They can also provide bio-upgrades to units that can use them for a price.
For the stronger Warrior units, Workers need to be sent to these locales to train them up. They should be built quickly if the scenario is focused on military strength.
These special structures are necessary to train mystical units such as Mages. Further research can produce new spells for the Mages to use. Important for players who prefer ranged units.
Walls & Roads
As well as buildings, construction workers can create walls to surround and defend territory and cut off enemy advancements. They can also build roads, which allow units to move around faster. They can also build bridges over difficult or impassable terrain such as rivers and ravines.
The Obblinox and Tha'Roon especially build these special units for various tasks. They include Transports and Ferries for moving units around faster, as well as War Barges and Attack Cruisers for attacking from the sea.
As well as vehicles, races can create these flying units for both scouting and attack.
Each race has specific "hero" units that the player can hire if their influence is high enough. Some specific heroes will only appear in the final scenario of that race's campaign.
Ptasha Selver: Hired for the right price, this proficient female assassin will fight for the player and increase the morale of the group. She will only appear if the player has amassed a small fortune.
Taybius o'Mort: An intimidating individual, Taybius is a powerful psionic who will join the player if they've killed over ten units in the current scenario. His scary presence actually reduces influence.
Prime Minister of Death: The most powerful mortal in the world, the Prime Minister of Death is the Tha'Roon ruler and only joins the player's forces in the final scenario if it is going well. He can reveal the entire map and is exceptionally powerful in combat.
Eva the Old: A wise old Obblinox matriarch, who will join any Obblinox suffering many losses. She raises influence and is able to increase the military might of those around her.
Ramita Abad: A powerful Obblinox wizard who is able to fight capably too. She costs a lot of resources to hire.
Haggus JheroFreed: An Obblinox legend, she appears in the final scenario to help the "underdog" clan; i.e. the one that has suffered the most losses. Her presence vastly increases influence and morale.
Jynni Creeper the Sovereign: Jynni appears if the player has amassed a large force of units. She is a capable scout and tracker, though not amazing in close combat.
Tolk Barkborn: An Eaggra bard and storyteller. He can't fight particularly well, but his mere presence lifts everyone's spirits. He will disappear after a short time and requires no resources to hire.
Tywald Chainbreaker: The Legendary Hero of the Eaggra, thought to be the first Eaggra to lift a pickaxe in rebellion instead of labor. As well as boosting influence, research and being a powerful fighter, he can also work three times faster than any other Worker. He's almost unkillable to boot.
Grandmaster 'leo Cau'Shue: A powerful venerable monk of considerable stature. He increases influence and can assist in training units. In true Jedi style, he vanishes upon death instead of falling to the ground.
Jyo the Helper: A travelling good samaritan, he helps clans with small numbers of units. Though his assistance is free, he doesn't stick around for long. He can heal and use powerful ranged attacks.
NagaRom the Original One: The deity of Yavaun, NagaRom combines the best of all four race, looking like an amalgam of each. He briefly appears at the end of the Shama'Li campaign and cannot be fought. His presence is said to herald the end of conflict.
Ecology and Geology of Yavaun
As well as each other, any given race must be wary of the planet itself. Its various flora and fauna can be troublesome to a scenario if not dealt with.
Bonca are social animals that resemble rhinos. Domesticated Bonca are used by the races for various tasks (the Shama'Li, for instance, ride them into battle). Wild Bonca are mostly docile unless riled, in which case they become powerful nuisances. Large, strong and very durable, Boncas and their young are best left alone.
Scavengers attracted to shiny objects, Dinge Vermin keep themselves hidden with a hard-to-see transparency until they get close. They can often be found raiding Courthouses for the resources of the player. It's usually best to wipe out any that can be seen nearby.
Able of resembling the local flora, these quadrupedal menaces lie in wait for harvesting units (usually Workers) to walk past and then attacks them. They are hard to spot and quickly kill weaker units, so a player might not even know they're there until a Worker mysteriously vanishes on the way back to base.
Small animal/plant hybrids with conical noses, usually met in groups. They use ranged attacks to attack anything they consider prey.
A hideous biological terror, created by the irresponsible genetic waste produced by the various technologies of the races. They hide in swampy areas, ambushing units that pass by. Their attacks can sap life energy directly to feed themselves, making them hard to defeat without a larger force.
These small animals give off powerful ion pulses, disrupting any technologies in the area. Any vehicles, drones or robotically-enhanced units must stay clear or be deactivated. Their corpses can be valuable, so it's worth destroying them whenever possible.
In certain ruined cities, these giant rock monsters have taken up residence and will attack intruders that come close. Since it is made of rock, it is very difficult to destroy and are hard to notice until unlucky units get too close.
A fearsome presence, these huge six-legged lizards are a major problem if they happen to live nearby. Fortunately, they are more or less docile unless riled. They amass large amounts of treasure at their lairs, but are generally not worth the trouble they bring when incensed.
An utterly bizarre anomaly, the Countenance is a colossal face that raises out of the ground destroying structures, roads and bridges in the process. It is currently unknown if it itself is a sentient creature or some sort of manifestation of the planet itself. It cannot be removed without great losses, so it's best to just leave it alone.