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The Bird Men
Sneaky and mean

The Birdmen are a race of humanoid creatures, with typical black hair and pointy ears. Their somewhat mysterious and threatening facial expression gives away their true nature of sneaky warriors. It is believed that the Birdmen were a part of the Avian race long ago, and have somehow followed a different path of evolution. While the Avians never really developed any skills and remained a very friendly native race, the Birdmen evolved into a sneaky and mighty warrior race. The Birdmen as they are today, just love to deceit, sneak around and wage war.

It is believed the Birdmen were the first race to develop cloaking technology, allowing them to hide from enemy sensors, ships and planets. This ability perfectly matches the Birdmen nature, which is one of stealthiness and sneakyness. The Birdmen don't really like full-scale warfare, but prefer to attack where and when they want to - when they know they can win the fight.

Ages ago the Birdmen came into contact with the Federation, which at the time was allied to their longtime enemies the Fascists. While the Federation and Fascists had overcome their differences and earned eachother's trust, neither of them really trusted the Birdmen. This was fine with the Birds, who didn't give the Federation much reason to trust them either. Helping the Feds at one time and backstabbing them the very next moment, the Birdmen were waging war the way they liked it best - cloak and dagger. In a good oldfashioned divide and conquer manner, the Birdmen even managed to put an end to the friendly relations between the Feds and the Fascists.

However, being sneaky does not earn you many friends. The Birdmen have never been able to sit back and relax, feeling secured by their allies. As a result the Birdmen spent great effort into perfecting their cloaking devices, and developing a strong fleet of ships equipped with these devices. The Birdmen now have a wide range of battleships with cloaking capabilities, which sould suit them well now that they have reached the Echo Cluster.

Race advantages
The Birdmen are master cloakers, they are believed to be the inventors of the cloaking device. Many Birdmen ships can hide using a cloaking device built into the ship's hull. Cloaked ships do not show up on enemy scanners and are protected from enemy attacks. This enables the Birdmen to pick on the weak and hide from the strong - one of the reasons why the Birdmen are feared opponents and according to some the terror of the cluster. After the Federation had developed their Loki Class ship that can decloak enemy ships with it's Tachyon device, the Birdmen improved their cloaking technique to counter this. As a result, cloaked ships under Birdmen control can not be decloaked by the Loki anymore.

Race Disadvantages
The disadvantage the Birdmen have in the game is one they share with many races. One on one, they lack firepower. Especially against races that can build heavy fighter-carrying ships, the Birdmen will need multiple Darkwings against one enemy ship. Also, having designed many of their starships to be sneaky rather than powerful, the Birdmen can get into trouble when attacked head-on.

Special mission
Sneaky as they are, the Birdmen specialty is to spy on enemy planets. Using their Super Spy mission, the Birdmen can gather detailed information about enemy planets. This includes a listing of the enemy's resources at that planet and the planet's friendly code. Even more devious, the Birdmen can actually control the enemy planet's friendly code. This offers them many tactical options and advantages, such as the ability to safely travel through the enemy's minefields or to have the planet beam up all it's money to Birdmen ships in orbit.

Main battleships
The ability to cloak and only fight at the Birdmen's convenience gives the Birdmen many useful warships. When it comes to serious fighting the Birdmen rely on their two largest ships: the tech 7 Resolute Class Battlecruiser and the tech 10 Dark Wing Class Battleship. The Resolute is not too heavily armed, but can still take out most medium enemy ships. The Dark Wing is an awesome cloaking battleship. There are only two torpedoships larger than this one in the cluster, but those can't cloak. It has ten beams and eight torpedotubes, enough to take out most enemy ships. The Birdmen can also build a cloaking carrier, the Valiant Wind. Although not one of the strongest carriers in the cluster it can certainly be very dangerous when used in the right time and place.

Special ships
The Resolute and Dark Wing are equipped with advanced cloaking devices. This means these ships do not burn any fuel to stay cloaked, and can even stay cloaked inside ion storms.

Gameplay in short
Being somewhat undergunned when it comes to head on fighting, the Birdmen have to make maximum use of the cloaking capabilities and their Super Spy specialty. Relatively cheap cloaking ships can hunt down the weaker enemy ships, which -especially when done early in the game- is more often than not a serious burden on an enemy's development. The ability to sneak up on enemies without being seen and the options presented with the Super Spy mission give the Birdmen the possibility to overcome the lack of absolute strength by employing superiour tactics and strategy. The Birdmen require a lot of thinking and careful planning, which can turn the Birdmen warfleet -despite a seeming lack of firepower- into a very threatening presence in the cluster.

UP: Races of the Echo Cluster

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NEXT: The Fascists

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