This is the third in a series of anonymous reports that mysteriously appeared overnight on the desk of the Editor. These redacted versions were approved by the Senate for immediate publication, so they can be read by commanders of each respective race in order that they can review their own vulnerabilities in the face of the unknown external threat that commissioned the studies. In this dispatch we focus on that faction known as the Empire of the Birds: its strengths, its weaknesses, and how best to defeat it in battle.
Ease Of Command: Master
Difficulty To Defeat: Moderate
General: The Empire of the Birds is an ancient and highly structured civilization with access to some of the most advanced ships in the cluster. Naturally gifted in the techniques of stealth and espionage, Birds specialize in the art of the surgical strike in preference to direct confrontation, and have been known to defeat weaker factions without ever engaging their main war fleets.
Identification: You will never see them coming. Your first intimation of the presence of a Bird neighbor will be a sharp pain in the center of your forehead, followed by a strange wetness and blurred vision. You will be dead before you know what hit you.
Alternately, they might send you a polite note. (Bet it’s poisoned?)
Fleet Composition: The Dark Wing Class Battleship is the only cloaking battleship in the Echo Cluster, and one of its deadliest threats. The Resolute, with its heavy armament and large fuel tanks and cargo hold, makes the ideal fleet support vessel — and it too cloaks. Several other cloaking vessels of various strengths fill secondary duties, and two light carriers provide fighter transport services.
Strengths And Weaknesses:
Economic: The Bird Empire relies on having top-end hulls, engines, and weaponry on their ships. They also are notable for having no appreciable economic advantages. Moreover, the lack of a heavy carrier (or, for that matter, an effective light carrier) places them at a disadvantage should the Ship Limit arrive late.
Military: The Dark Wing is among the most deadly battleships, and most of the war fleet has the ability to cloak; they are also Loki-immune, vulnerable only to the Glory Device and web fields — neither of which is wielded by a race with even a heavy battleship. In many cases, this means they will only fight you if they choose to. Additionally, even the most primitive Bird faction has the ability to create vulnerabilities in enemy minefields.
NOTE: The Bird Empire has advanced factions that can exploit diplomatic relations to gain access to secure information. Certain splinter groups have the ability to sabotage starbase defenses, preventing fighter launch. Their Enlighten-class can work wonders on natives. As well, their access to cloaking technology is rumored to extend to personal cloaking devices for their agents.
- The Birds, in all but the most advanced factions, lack any efficient method of defeating starbases in the end game. A wall of 200/60 starbases is an excellent defense.
- Due to low-end beam weapons, Birds are often stymied early on by mine and web fields.
- As a cash-poor race, Birds often have poor defenses.
Trade and Alliances:
- The Resolute Class Battlecruiser is one of the best fleet support vessels available, with an Advanced Cloaking Device, a vast cargo hold, large fuel tanks, and masses of gun emplacements. Everyone wants to trade for it.
- The Swift, the Deth Specula, and many other cloaking vessels are also in high demand.
What the Birds lack and desperately need is cash, both early and late. An alliance with a “free-fighter” race will benefit them in the long term by permitting intricate defenses, while those with access to cash-generation advantages can often demand a high price for their services.
The Empire of the Birds, if expertly led, are one of the most deadly threats in the cluster. Their reputation is one of treachery, but it is perhaps unjust; the Birds have their share of honorable commanders. Rather, treachery from a Bird is far more likely to be effective than from most other factions. In war, expect them to strike your supply lines and production facilities; in peace… prepare for war.
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