Sedition Wars… The Strain!

July 29, 2011 by crew

See Video For More ImagesThe Sedition Wars miniature line is set in a vast galactic sprawl. The Vanguard patrol the Edge, the very fringe of human space. As enforcers of order, the Vanguard must face a myriad of dangers. As the Edge systems have begun to buckle under the pressure of the rebellion of the Firebrand, a new threat has emerged.

This year, Studio McVey is introducing the next faction in the Sedition Wars universe. When we knew we wanted to design the Battle of Alabaster Sedition Wars tactical board game, we wanted to make a new threat. Something that would literally be the coolest space zombies we possibly could. We looked at everything from video-games, to comics, and science fiction novels. We felt the best new faction in Sedition Wars would be one that was slick, stylish, and totally terrifying.

Some of the biggest inspirations came from the classics of modern science fiction movies. Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Ridley Scott’s Alien, John Carpenter’s The Thing, and a number of other sources. Mix in a melange of Zombie survival horror movies, inspiration from Iain M. Banks novels, and a desire to build awesome creatures for people to paint – and we cooked up the next big threat for the Sedition Wars universe.

The Strain

Using the themes of Nano-technology, infection, and an atmosphere of terror – the Strain are insidious, frightening, and tenacious.

Originally a benign nano-tech system – the Strain were created when the systems technology was merged with an ancient alien bio-organic artefact. Now it is a terrible life-form without mercy.

An unnatural force bent on mankind’s eradication!

Relying on a distributed self-governing network of creatures called exoforms, the strain preys on organic and technological systems. The sentient collective mind of the strain has become one of humanities greatest enemies. Using its grotesque exoform organisms and nano-infection as its vectors, the Strain is intent on contaminating all of human civilization and absorbing it into the Strain Construct.

The foundation of the Strain is the intelligent spore-like vector that creates them. This nano-spore can reanimate the dead, turn living hosts into new strain “constructs”, and also act as a deadly vector for infection. Without this nano-spore, the strain are crippled, unable to expand, and unable to convert the living or the dead into more Strain.

It is a key mechanic, central to what makes the strain unique. In order to prosper the strain must spread. Part of the distinct structure of the strain is that players will guide the intent and purpose of the Strain nano-cloud. The nano-cloud gives the spawn player the resources necessary to spawn new strain in the game map, shift resources to support strain special abilities, and – more importantly – provide a background count of mutagenic nano-tech fuel to keep the battle running.

The spores and the ever spreading strain infection give the Strain player the ability to reach across the map in an insidious cloud of invisible death. Infecting anything it touches, and converting the dead and the dying into exoform servants slaved to the nearest Strain – the nano-spore counters of the strain represent the reach of the strain across the battle.

The Strain infection can actually impair and over-ride the nervous systems of infected hosts, and so we have designed game effects that allow the strain player to infect and manipulate its enemies. Not only that, but the infection can mature rapidly. An infected model can go from normal to monster in a heartbeat. The Vanguard player needs to keep track of infected allies before they turn feral and convert to strain exoforms.

The other major design theme of the strain is forced evolution. Many of ours sources of inspiration had infected individuals turning into monstrosities themselves. We thought that would be a super cool way of making the strain frightening to the opposing player, whether they were Vanguard, Firebrand, or something else.

Horrific Conversion

The Strain is capable of using nano-spores to evolve lesser strain into more powerful exoforms. This forced evolution means that the strain can rapidly grow from a shambling mob, into a lethal brood of monstrosities.

To denote the evolutionary stages that the strain can go through, each type of exoform is described at its phase. We used this to classify the strain, their power levels, and their vulnerability. Each phase is a step along the way for each exoform. Some can metamorphose, while others are evolutionary dead-ends designed to serve only one purpose, infect and multiply.

Phase 1 exoforms are usually the reanimated dead, although there are other types of phase 1’s that have yet to be classified. These form the foundation of a strain mob, as the strain infection usually kills and converts base life forms to contribute to the strain construct as it evolves.

Sedition Wars The Strain: Exoforms - Phase 1 (more images in the video)

Phase 2 exoforms are converted living infected. At this stage, these creatures have become part human and part machine. Some might grow talons, fangs, and maw-like openings in their chest. Others might grow blisters resembling blaster guns or energy weapons. Some even merge with whatever gear they were carrying at the time, becoming a monstrous amalgamation of tech and tissue. These are the fertile seeds of the more powerful strain.

Sedition Wars The Strain: Exoforms - Phase 2 (more images in the video)

Phase 3 strain exoforms are well developed killing machines. Capable of lethal and co-ordinated attacks, these creatures push the strain cloud to its limits, eating up nano-resources at a tremendous rate. Their abilities allow them to threaten even the most well trained Vanguard commandos. Some are a living arsenals of blades, while others are literally walking gun platforms.

Sedition Wars The Strain: Exoforms - Phase 3 (more images in the video)

Phase 4 strain exoforms are the big daddies of the strain. Murderous overlords of the Strain Construct’s intent, these creatures are the height of Strain forced evolution. Each of these creatures is a living toxic factory capable of spawning massive amounts of Strain nano-vector. Powerfully built, incredibly hard to kill, and vicious to the end, they are the most advanced strain form seen by human eyes.

Sedition Wars The Strain: Exoforms - Phase 4 (more images in the video)

Check out more from
Sedition Wars and the Strain
at GenCon 2011!