Kilrathi Design Ethos

PSJaguar

Captain
How do, gentlemen?

Been thinking about the evolution of Kilrathi fighter and CapShip design lately, as my WC fandom picks back up. Specifically, I've been wondering if there has ever been any in-universe explanations as to why the Kilrathi adopted the asymmetrical design approach that they did between WC2 and WC3 so readily and so thoroughly in the final years of the war.

Has this been considered or discussed before?

Out of universe, was this simply to reinforce the alien-ness of the Sons of Kilrah?
 

Dundradal

Frog Blast the Vent Core!
Their ship design is influenced by psychological factors. Kilrathi ships look like cutting weapons with sharp points and angles to instill fear in their enemies. It's mentioned in Victory Streak, False Colors and if I'm remembering correctly the WC3 novelization (HotT).
 

PSJaguar

Captain
I've read that as well.

But my primary question is, why did they place this emphasis on their designs so suddenly and so quickly? From something like the Jalthi and the Gothri to the Vaktoth and Paktahn; it is quite a big change.
 

Vinman

Vice Admiral
The reason for symmetrical ships in the first few games was because the engine needed to be able to flip the prerendered bitmaps from left to right to save space and memory. If I recall correctly, the reason why the ships from Armada on were asymmetrical was simply because it was possible.

I doubt that there has been an in-universe explanation, but outside of Armada, symmetrical and asymmetrical ships didn't mix.
 

Toast

Space Marshal
I've read that as well.

But my primary question is, why did they place this emphasis on their designs so suddenly and so quickly? From something like the Jalthi and the Gothri to the Vaktoth and Paktahn; it is quite a big change.

Psychological warfare, maybe.

Ship-by-ship comparison:
At some point between WC2 and WC3, there is a big divergence in the quality of each side's starfighters. In WC1, on average Terran fighters had better speed and weapons, Kilrathi fighters had better armor and maneuverability. In WC2, the Sabre and Gothri were a very close match, but otherwise, the Terran fighters started to show an edge: the Ferret and Rapier II were more than a match for their counterparts, Terran bombers had shields that no Kilrathi fighter could approach, and the Morningstar and Wraith put practically every Kilrathi starfighter to shame. By WC3, the Terran fighters that we see - even the Hellcat V - were all-around superior to their competition despite being old designs. The Arrow, Hellcat V, and Thunderbolt VII are all quite capable of taking a Vaktoth at least one-on-one.

So if you want a non-game-engine explanation, maybe it's psychological warfare: Victory Streak notes that the sight of jagged, asymmetrical "gun-bristling" Kilrathi fighters with weapons and engines on prominent display could strike fear into rookie Terran pilots, even when they were flying technically superior craft.

Since Confed's fighters were gaining in quality, the remaining advantage the Kilrathi had lay in numbers, as it always did. But why would they just settle on numbers as the sole source of advantage? Psychology is a big part of warfare. Hell, it's just instinct. If you can terrify an enemy by making yourself look bigger than you actually are, that gives you an advantage. Maybe you can explain the jagged, sharp-edged asymmetrical designs as the Kilrathi equivalent of a cat's arched back and bristling fur, and bared fangs. When you see a hissing, bristling housecat, you back away. Even though you know it's just a housecat.
 

Lt.Death100

Spaceman
Well, the real reason is that devs wanted to show off fancy new engine. But for in-universe, I don't know, maybe similar reason to why Confed ships changed paint scheme?
 

ChrisReid

Super Soaker Collector / Administrator
Well, the real reason is that devs wanted to show off fancy new engine. But for in-universe, I don't know, maybe similar reason to why Confed ships changed paint scheme?

It's exactly the same issue. We obviously see a brand new batch of ships in most games because it's fun, but we should never assume that all the ships are actually brand new. Some of them are, some of them aren't. There's no reason to believe that Kilrathi haven't always had some symmetrical and some asymmetrical ships in their fleet.
 

Kavok

Spaceman
Possibly different Ehtos from different parts of the Empire and/or different clans. I suppose each would have a slightly different clan doctrine for warfare and would design ships to take advantage of those traits and local materials to design slightly different fighters by area (or with different principles, such as psychology, in mind).

As long as they kept commonality to a set level, for example weapons hardpoints, fuel valves, some internal parts, avionics, towing hitches etc. there could be room for good customisation. The same reason might be applied as to why we see so many different Confed types - seemingly flying in the face of logic where fewer types would lower production costs per unit. it would also serve to present a variable-geometry threat to Confed pilots used to one clan or another being presented with ships that were just similar enough to function alongside each other.

As for Toast's question about tactics, I think one would be force to notch this one up to the core of the Kilrathi psyche and mindset more than just intimidation. We know that unlike Confed, the Kilrathi had a clearly defined social stratification Thrak'ra - Kila'hra - Slave and Dishonoureds. No-one in Kilrathi high command gave a damn about a few hundred dead Kila'Hra in their Salthi / Sartha / Darkets, so this concept seemed not to evolve. And besides, why should it? Were it not for Confed superweapons and certain gifted individuals skilled enough to use them, the Kilrathi were on the brink of 'conventional' victory. To keep the heavy fighters and superfighters improving whilst the others stayed still was about par for the course with a race that would, were it not for several quirks of fate, have won the war.
 

McGruff

Banned
For a time, Confed had been on the brink of a conventional victory as well, leading to the false peace.
 

Kavok

Spaceman
I'm not so certain about that. The needs of the Hakaga programme were consuming so many resources and critically transport assets of the Empire that the attacks were effective against the rest of the fleet. The false peace wasn't so much an act of neccessity as an expression of political will to end the war in one stroke. It could have been abandoned and the products put to use in the typical sense, and the Kilrathi would not have faced the same problems.
 

ChrisReid

Super Soaker Collector / Administrator
The needs of the Hakaga programme were consuming so many resources and critically transport assets of the Empire that the attacks were effective against the rest of the fleet. The false peace wasn't so much an act of neccessity as an expression of political will to end the war in one stroke.

You're confusing things. The false peace being a desperate move on the Kilrathi's part is one of the major plot points at the very beginning of the novel. The Hakaga fleet's existence was part of a desire to end the war in a decisive action, but the false peace was never part of this plan. The only reason there was a false peace was because the Empire was afraid it would not be able to hold out long enough to complete the fleet.
 
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