Just as the Fabricators are the detritus of advanced construction methods, the Dendrites are remnants of high-technology networking protocols – a physical and logical worm infecting the processors and hardware of broken-down machinery.
All Dendrite colonies are centered around one or more Axons. An Axon is more slave than Overmind, being forced to do the drudge work of helping keep in order the collective thoughts of the distributed Dendrite organism. Axons, too, are replaceable: if destroyed, their processing tasks can be handled by other Dendrites until new Axons can be brought online.
If there is a true heart to the Dendrite collective it is the Synapse, specialized equipment designed primarily to interface with and usurp machine AI to add other rogue mechanicals to the consensus of their colony. Equipped with an array of manipulator limbs and other interface equipment, the most direct method of control is often for the Dendrite Synapseto attach to an existing mechanical and either reprogram it to accept instructions from its colony or to simply excise the machine’s processing system and replace it wholesale.
Gameplay as a Dendrite focuses on preserving and upgrading your Axons and bases, which is less mobile than the Fabricator and has no weapons of its own. However, the nature of the distributed system means that the Dendrite consciousness is harder to kill.
Dendrites tend to have lots of individually weak units that are ultimately replaceable. They also use their Synapse to buff allies and debuff enemies to tip combat in their favor. Dendrites tend to fare better if they have a chance to force enemies to crash into their lines, or disrupt enemy operations without a direct conflict. While they don’t have a single head to cut off and kill, they struggle to succeed in one-on-one fights, preferring to whittle down enemies over time.
- Assemblers are general purpose construction machines, that serve as mobile manufacturing for roving Dendrite swarms. Assemblers are not factories in a traditional sense, and reconfigure their own components to perform specialized functions. That is, Assemblers physically assemble themselves into Dendrite units or structures. Thus, the Assembler is the literal building block upon which Dendrite-driven tech is built.
- Concussors are the soldier ants of a Dendrite hive. They use sonic shockwaves to shake apart enemies. The generators used to emit these concussive blasts are Energy-intensive, and a Concussor’s damage decreases as its Energy is spent. When they die, Concussors explode violently, dealing damage to the health and energy of nearby enemies.
- The Drone Controller is one of the core Dendrite units. They produce swarms of drone units (see Shock Drones and Harbinger Drones below) to defend the more important and fragile Dendrites.
- Shock Drones are anti-caster damage soaks. Their actual damage is low (though very good for their marginal cost) but they’re tough for their cost. With each attack, Shock Drones also drain Energy from their target, making them good to use on enemy units highly dependent on Energy.
Dendrites Units – Tier 1
- Synapses are special-purpose Dendrites tasked with bringing new machines into the consensus. They serve as the host and manufacturer of a nanite swarm that is able to reprogram and re-configure a wide variety of civilian and municipal machines and computer equipment to suit Dendrite needs – they’re able to ‘convert’ enemies. Synapses can be upgraded with a variety of auras and abilities that are valuable to Dendrite combat operations. Synapses are highly specialized equipment, and deemed vital to the Dendrite cause. The loss of a Synapse is a major setback to Dendrite operations.
- The Receptor is the harvester unit for the Dendrites. They do not need to drop off resources at a storage facility, and simply harvest continually in-place. Upgrades can allow them to attack enemy units and move more quickly. Receptors have little tactical value and are mostly a liability that must be defended. However, Receptors do have the ability to temporarily scramble the electronics of attacking units, rendering them disabled for a brief period. It’s scarcely enough to defend itself, but this System Scrambler synergizes well with many other Dendrite units and abilities.
- Needlers are a specialized Dendrite anti-armor unit. They are slow and fragile, but have incredible attack range and do tremendous damage to hardened targets. They are also the primary anti-air unit in the Dendrite’s arsenal.
- Harbinger Drones are aerial DPS damage dealers. Produced by Drone Controllers, they can’t take hits nearly as well as Shock Drones, but they do much, much more damage. Additionally, their parent Drone Controller moves slightly more quickly when producing Harbingers.
Tier 3 Units – Nanotech
Nanotech armies are the largest in the game, and this tech branch emphasizes army support as well. Vulnerable to splash damage and Energy theft, Nanotech can deal tremendous damage if left unchecked.
- The Shepherd is a support unit for the Dendrites faction. It speeds up Drone production for allied units, and deals additional damage depending on the number of nearby allied Shock Drones. Also, Shepherds can consume nearby Drones to restore their Energy and Health
- Terminals are defensive specialists, building and upgrading networks of Drone Turrets which defend Dendrite holdings. Terminals additionally apply Vulnerability to their attack targets, causing them to take bonus damage from other Dendrite units.
Tier 3 Units – Quantum
Quantum Dendrites focus on limiting their opponent’s ability to fight back: reducing the effectiveness of enemy forces and setting them up for conversion or elimination. Quantum struggles to do high-powered DPS, and if caught unawares can be decimated before their potency ramps up sufficiently.
- The Suppressor is a flying support unit. Its attacks apply the Dampener Effect on its attack target and other nearby units. the Dampener Effect is a debuff that stacks on enemy units, reducing their attack speed and movement speed over time, and which can be upgraded to reduce their attack damage as well. Suppressors are useful in tipping combat encounters in the favor of Dendrite armies.
- Vespers are flying area control units for the Dendrites faction. They use Energy to attack, dealing moderate damage in a wide area. Their attack silences enemy targets, and removes stacks of the Dampener debuff in order to deal bonus damage. Vespers are fragile, but are stealthed while immobile.