Here’s a look at the pencils for the Anton Oxenuk cover of the special hardcover omnibus edition of Wild Stars! Back for a copy today!
Here’s a look at the pencils for the Anton Oxenuk cover of the special hardcover omnibus edition of Wild Stars! Back for a copy today!
Recently an online friend who knew I enjoyed wargames and weeb shit recommended Sunrider: Mask of Arcadius to me.
It’s an interesting hybrid of Visual Novel waifu game and turn-based tactical. It’s space opera with mechs, except your mech pilots are basically a growing harem.
Funnily enough, the wargame portion of Sunrider is brutally hard. Mechanically, it’s ultra-lite compared to a game like Power Dolls, though it uses the similar combination of action points that are used to move and perform attacks. Each mech has its strengths and weaknesses and utility which will determine how you should use them in your strategy.
Since all missions are in space, with the exception of a mission where sharing a hex with an asteroid reduces your chance of being hit, there’s no effect of the map on strategies. Variances in the missions are more based on when and where enemy reinforcement come from. Early missions with fewer mechs and enemy “bosses” may be a bit more interesting and flexible than the later large fleet battles. The later fights often tend to be “pick a flank, try to crush it, sweep up or down on the other side, then deal with reinforcements as they come.”
The cutscenes of the attacks get old fast, and it would have been nice to be able to disable them more easily; turning on “skip mode” does it, but it can only be toggled in the battle if a character has a line of story dialogue come up during the fight. Still, it’s fun and scratches an itch for turn-based mech space combat.
The Visual Novel portion of the game is a mixed bag. On the face of it, I actually really like the story, but Sunrider uses post-Eva and 21st century waifu tropes for most its characters; I would definitely prefer the “tough dames” of the older real-robot mech genre or at least the mil-sf aesthetic that Power DOLLS went for. But it’s personal taste…
Unfortunately, Sunrider is an episodic game, and Mask of Arcadius only contains the first two episodes. While Liberation Day updates the actual gameplay of the battles in a pretty satisfactory way, it makes the VN aspect of Mask of Arcadius something of a shaggy dog story. [You fill out a questionnaire of your choices when you start LD; which is nice that you can do that, at least, since my End-of-Game save file wouldn’t import correctly].
I’ve found a doc with the under-the-hood effect that your choices make, but they don’t appear to have much bearing on how things actually play out story-wise in Mask of Arcadius. None of the character paths had been set yet, and one character path ends up being fixed for story purposes in Liberation Day [to the groaning of many fans].
Now, because this is a waifu game, it’s only fair that I rank the characters from dumpster to Best Girl.
Claude is a trash tier waifu, who’s “UwU command me captain” shtick is old from the moment it shows up. She’s the worst the game has to offer in this regard, unless you’re really into that sort of thing.
Her utility mech has a few nice features, such as the gravity gun, which is good if you can use it to draw an enemy mech between Asaga and Icari. The deflector shield projection is useful, of course, and the shotgun is helpful to finish off any enemies your better combat units have left near dead, but it’s not enough to make me not hate Claude.
The Shinobu. Chigara’s Asaga’s best friend and one of the first pilots you get. She’s supposed to be a brilliant mechanic, and from a gameplay standpoint, this bears out nicely, as she’s the one actually doing the upgrades to your units that you purchase. Except she’s a loli with crippling self-doubt always hoping for validation from the main character, which makes her pretty obnoxious. But miles ahead of Claude.
She’s a forced romance route for story reasons in Liberation Day, which many fans grumble about.
Her mech is a support mech. One of the first mechs you get, its repair capabilities, disable attack, and deflector shield generation make it invaluable.
Cosette is a yandere loli space pirate.
Toxic chemicals from the mining colony she’s from stunted her growth and, combined with her horrible and traumatic childhood and adolescence, made her completely crazy.
Not my thing at all, but she makes for an interesting villain.
Giving all of the characters numbered flight suits is pretty spoilerific, so I’m assuming you can get Cosette at some point.
[update: you can get Cosette in Liberation Day, but I opted to just kill her instead.]
The genki girl. Also, the Mario. Asaga is the first pilot you get along with Chigara. She’s bubbly and funny. She’s a major driver of the story [spoilers: she is actually a runaway space princess]. Like her mech, she could be a lot worse, but she could also be better.
Liberation Day makes her a bit more complex [maybe even somewhat villainous? Dunno, I haven’t finished it.] She literally starts going insane with jealousy over Chigara as the romance-on-rails between Chi and the captain plays out.
Black Jack is an all-purpose mech. Battleship grade laser cannon, pulse beams, and assault rifle. As more Pact enemies get deflector shields mid-game (or when those damned Pact support mechs show up), Black Jack loses a lot of its punch and gets reduced to drawing fire and trying to pick off nearby targets that have had their armor weakened by stronger units
Teh Rei. Not an archetype I generally like, but somehow they make it work here.
She’s found in cryo-stasis in a ghost-fleet and supposedly was a mech pilot for an ancient space empire thousands of years ago.
She’s a royal bastard (literally), whose mother was tragically betrayed and forced into exile by a noble of the imperial court, making her very distantly related to Asaga.
Unfortunately, her mech is kind of boring. The Seraphim’s cannon takes up all [or almost all, if you’ve upgraded it] of the mech’s energy points to use. Still, it’s nice having one reliable big-damage, good accuracy, long range attack per turn.
The tsundere. Icari’s a mercenary you start out at odds with but who becomes your third pilot. She’s a bit of a ‘by any means necessary’ type, which puts her on your bad side on a fairly difficult early escort mission [by her logic, if a bunch of innocents get killed, it’ll accelerate one faction’s entry into the war and bring about a quicker resolution].
Icari ranks high because I like her design and her mech is actually really fun to use [provided it doesn’t get killed on the first enemy turn]. The Phoenix is a fast close-combat mech with a special ability to avoid attacks of opportunity when moving adjacent to enemy units. Its melee attack can make short work of enemy mechs, and her machine guns are good at finishing off damaged enemies, but the Phoenix has very low armor and is generally poor against ships. Phoenix is good for reducing enemy economy of action on turn one, but has a bad habit of getting shot down. The Phoenix is a big reason why I rank her over Sola.
The Sunrider’s first officer and the protagonist’s childhood friend. She’s up there for awhile as Best Girl [at least until Kryska shows up], because she’s one of the few characters who acts like she has some common sense and professionalism.
Her character could easily transplant to a more serious SF story [or maybe it’s just that the bottom ranked characters feel out of place in what actually is a more or less serious SF story].
Kryska barely takes the lead because Ava’s air of professionalism sometimes dips into the mopey as she tries to be the “one sane person” in a crew of obnoxious VN tropes. Spoilers: If I factor in Liberation Day, where she has an eye-patch and Kryska gets turned into a grabass, she may reclaim top-slot.
I was initially disinclined to like Kryska because it’s made painfully obvious up front that she’s a spy planted by the Alliance to gather data on your ship and your crew. But she has her shit together, is a professional pilot, and her mech shows up really right when you need it. She has kind of a blue-oni/red-oni thing going on with Icari, who gives her crap for being up-tight and unfeminine. Kryska and Ava are in a class of their own, though. [Liberation Day looks like it may play her up as a lesbian stereotype, unfortunately.]
Kryska’s mech is a heavy fire support mech [the Guncannon/Guntank]. At a time where Asaga’s mech is becoming much less effective against everything, it’s nice to have an extra heavy cannon to punch through capital ships’ armor. Downside is that it’s very slow, but that big damage is everything mid-to-late-game.
Overall, Sunrider is pretty niche… I think it really requires the right combination of patient-but-desperate-for-new-content wargamer and weeb to enjoy. Wargamers might find the wargame aspect weak and the VN portion cringey, while VN fans might find the wargame aspect too difficult and frustrating.
More than anything, it made me wish that it was better, either mechanically or aesthetically, but it also made me thankful that someone out there was at least trying. Still, I liked it enough to pick up Liberation Day to see how it all pans out between the Alliance and the PACT.
Sunrider: Mask of Arcadius is free on Steam and Gog.
We’ve been talking about the Wild Stars and plugging it all over the place, so we thought it would be a good idea to do a round-up post!
We’ve only got two weeks left in the Wild Stars IndieGoGo, and we REALLY NEED TO HIT THAT $8K goal! Especially if you guys want more Cirsova Magazine in 2020. This project’s will give us the funds we need to make it happen!
Michael Tierney and P. Alexander on Shane Plays:
P. Alexander on Geek Gab:
P. Alexander on Superversive SF:
If you missed it live, you can now catch the podcast version of our appearance from last Saturday on Shane Plays. Michael and I talk about his fantastic Wild Stars epic.
Also, I’ll be on the Superversive Sunday live stream with Ben Wheeler, so be sure to sub and tune in.
We really need our readers and supporters to back the Wild Stars IGG ASAP! We’ve only managed to raise $2k of our $8k goal, and… well, Cirsova Publishing REALLY needs to make this happen if we’re going to have any traction going into 2020!
Soon we’ll have the last cover from Mark Wheatley and the omnibus cover from Anton Oxenuk to show you!
We’ve got new artwork in from Mark Wheatley for the 35th Anniversary Edition of Michael Tierney’s Wild Stars. This will be the new cover for the expanded edition of Time Warmageddon:
Don’t forget that Michael and I will be live on ShanePlays with Shane Stacks on 101.1 FM the Answer. 1:00 PM CST this Saturday (July 6th)
You can tune in with your for real radio if you live in Central Arkansas or you can use iHeartRadio to stream.
Cirsova Publishing is teaming up once again with Michael Tierney to publish his all new SFF time-travel adventure set in his Wild Stars universe, Wild Star Rising!
Plus, to celebrate the 35th Anniversary of Wild Stars, Cirsova will be releasing all-new premium magazine-style editions of the Wild Stars graphic novel, Book of Circles, and the hybrid comic/novel, Force Majeure. We’ll also be reprinting a new 2019 edition of last year’s Kickstarter-exclusive illustrated novella, Time Warmageddon.
Cirsova Publishing is creating an all new standard edition of all previous Wild Stars books that will match the new release, Wild Star Rising.
Wild Stars: Book of Circles collects the early comics, Erlik (WS Vo1 1 #1) and First Marker (WS Vol 2 #1), placed chronologically within the 2001-2002 run of Wild Stars comics (WS Vol 3 #1-7)
Book of Circles tells the story of conflicting timelines and parallel worlds that culminate an alliance between a wolf-like alien race called the Brothan and alternate time-line fascists, the Artomiques, that aims to attack and destroy the earth by launching a comet at Jupiter to ignite it as a second sun.
These comics feature artwork by Frank Brunner (Doctor Strange, Howard the Duck), David Brewer (Cable, Deadpool), Dave Simons (Ghost Rider), and Michael Tierney, plus the collected editions feature additional painted works by Mary Tierney.
This new edition of the almost 300 page graphic novel will be printed in Cirsova Magazine’s standard 8.5″ x 11″ format, and will fit nicely on the shelf between your collection of Cirsovas and the rest of the 35th Anniversary Wild Stars books.
Wild Stars II: Force Majeure wraps an 83,000 word novel around 38 pages of comics penciled by Armando Gil (Conan the King, Ka-Zar the Savage), along with 50 ‘flashback’ illustrations by Dave Simons.
Seeking revenge for his defeat, Carthage kidnaps the First Marker’s infant daughter and absconds with her through time! Erlik and Daestar aid Mark Mackavicka and Akara in their search through time for their missing daughter. Except to preserve the future and prevent a resurgence of the Brothan empire, they can’t rescue Mark and Akara’s daughter until she’s already a grown woman!
This new edition of the novel / comic hybrid will be printed in Cirsova Magazine’s standard 8.5″ x 11″ format.
Wild Stars III: Time Warmageddon continues the saga of the Wild Stars as former-President Bully Bravo seeks to solve the mysteries of distant suns going missing, only to be replaced by white dwarfs, and newly discovered planets showing the apparent signs of previous human colonization, all while pursued by an evil pirate queen and a rogue time-traveler trying to create a god.
This novella featured cover art by Timothy Lim (My Hero Magademia, Black Hops: USA GI, Street Fighter), and interior illustrations and two variant covers by Mark Wheatley (Song of Giants: the Poetry of Pulp, The Flash, Blood of the Innocent).
This new edition will reprint this one-time Kickstarter-exclusive edition with new bonus content, including an additional epilogue on the whereabouts of Akara and the First Marker, two stories by Michael Tierney originally published in Cirsova Magazine, and the previously unpublished Wild Stars story, The Grimgrip.
Wild Stars IV: Wild Star Rising is both a prequel and sequel to the previous Wild Stars adventures. Looking back 75,000 years into the past to the last days of Atlantis and the final exodus to the Wild Stars led by the Ancient Warrior, Wild Star Rising unfolds the aeons-long plan to rescue the Ancient Warrior’s long-lost beloved, Phaedra, from the heart of a black hole where she was imprisoned by another powerful immortal… A sailor from earth’s distant past must join with the Ancient Warrior’s Wild Stars companions to help them navigate the great gulfs of space, free Phaedra from her black-hole prison, and stop the extra-dimensional squids that could destroy the universe if they can meet up and mate!
This illustrated novel will be printed in Cirsova Magazine’s 8.5″ x 11″ format, matching the previously released Time Warmageddon, the new 35th Anniversary Editions of Book of Circles and Force Majeure, and your collection of Cirsovas!
This edition will also contain the first-ever extensive bio-glossary of Wild Stars universe, making it a must-have for old and new fans alike!