Drop-verse Faction Intro: Shaltari
Do you like the idea of being an enigmatic duplicitous hobbit with a sense of inherent superiority?* Do you like the idea of manipulating lesser races into fighting each other for your amusement? Do you wish your body was covered in little hedgehog spikes? Then boy, do we have the Drop-verse faction for you!
*Credit to Drasnighta for this excellent line.
Welcome to Shaltari, a secretive and tribal alien race with highly advanced technology well beyond human and Scourge capabilities. They have shields, weapons of immense power, teleportation technology, and the ability to jump between systems without the use of the jump nodes every other race depends upon. A tribe of Shaltari were the ones that first established humanity on the Cradle Worlds, which turned out to be an attempt to use humanity as a meat shield against another faction of Shaltari. While there are some things that unite the Shaltari, unending rivalries between the Shaltari tribes is a main feature of their society. They view this as a strength of their society, as they feel it drives innovation. Those rivalries often break out into open war, though the battles are usually kept small scale. Their purpose is more to satisfy honor and preserve Shaltari strength. After all, there is no greater opponent than themselves, so periodic skirmishes hone the Shaltari’s martial strength. Shaltari themselves are functionally immortal, having invented consciousness transfer ages ago. When a Shaltari nears the end of their natural life (about 300 years), their minds are transferred to artificially grown bodies to start all over. Death by old age simply does not happen in Shaltari society. There are Shaltari that are millenia old. However, the Shaltari birth rate is very slow, so their population remains relatively small in number. The race has an odd dichotomy where they have a pathological fear of the “final death” on one hand, while also venerating martial achievement above all else on the other.
Never has cultural and technological superiority come in such an adorable little package
In space, Shaltari have the most unique mechanics in the game. They have universally low base signature values, but with a catch. Shaltari have two sig and two armor values. The first value in the respective characteristic is for when the shields are down. In this state, Shaltari ships operate just like any other. When the shields go up, however, the Shaltari’s armor becomes a passive save, meaning it is immune to critical hits. The expense is a massively increased sig value. For example, a Shaltari Amber Cruiser with the shields down has only a 3” sig and a rather pitiful 5+ armor save. With the shields up, that save increases to a 4+ passive save, but with a 16” sig. Putting the shields up also reduces Shaltari point defense, normally quite high, to zero (though you can still boost it back up with fighters). Managing your shields is probably the single most defining aspect of playing Shaltari, one that can take quite some time to master. Shaltari ships also have absolutely horrifying weapons. They have the largest scan values in the game by quite a bit. Their lowest scan value is 12”, outpacing the next closest faction (PHR) by a rather significant 4”. Many of their weapons bypass key defense. For example, a close action beam weapon bypasses point defense. Particle weapons ignore both armor and passive saves. Put all these mechanics together and you have a faction that excels at the alpha strike.
SEE! FLYING SAUCERS ARE REAL!
Shaltari drop assets are also very unique. They do not have dropships or bulk landers like other factions. Instead, they use their teleportation technology to deploy their troops directly from their motherships to the surface via void gates. This allows Motherships to hang back much further than conventional troopships. You can even chain multiple void gates together to increase the Mothership’s standoff range. You can also use gates to transfer troops laterally between clusters, making Shaltari the only faction able to dynamically redeploy ground troops without help from command cards. The catch is Shaltari can only land single bases of infantry or armor. They can’t put down a lot of infantry in quick succession like bulk landers can. However, void gates also double as defensive batteries. Their simple presence within 6” of a cluster makes landing opposing assets in the area much more difficult. It keeps the fight on the ground much more limited than other, more conventional, games of Dropfleet, which is just how the Shaltari like it.