There are three types of Architector – leader drones – amoingst the Virai: First Instance, or Primaries; Secondary Instance Architectors; and Tertiary supervisors. The tertiaries control a specific mineshaft, production plant or small group of subordinate drones and report to a Secondary Instance. Secondary Architectors are resonsible for a particular functional area within the hive, such as production, resource acquisition, defense or mining, and report to a First Instance. The First Instance is the real ‘brain’ of the hive, with independent thinking and creative thought algorithms – how the First has aged can determine how it looks.
First Instance Architector
Every Virai hive has a single First Instance, the controlling intelligence of the whole hive. It is a mistake to think of this drone as a single point of control for, whilst it does control and guide the whole hive, it delegates much of its day-to-day processing to a hierarchy of sub-instances: Secondary Instances and their Tertiary Instances, Mining Supervisors and Scavenging Supervisors.
Every hive’s First Instance architector is different as each rebuilds and adapts themselves to the environment and whatever materials are available. In the Taskarr system and aboard the TOR 563 (where they first appeared), the First Instance could be considered relatively ‘standard’ as materials and energy are plentiful. Other forms could be multi-limbed walkers for mountainous terrain or even crawlers: the Taskarr and TOR 563 First Instances has merely made a logical decision that suits its environment.
The First Instance on TOR 563 learnt a great deal that was vital to the survival of its progeny. The Concord, Senatex and Ghar have very different tactics, weapons and technology – all of which needed to be understood – and the wild, independent and erratic nature of the privateer fleet under Taras Kalemon was a behaviour that it needed to control or suppress. Such information and analysis is tremendously useful to a First Instance, boosting the chances of it achieving its primary objective of protecting and propagating its hive: above all else, the hive must survive, and propagate, even if it means patiently doing so by floating in space for millenia (though proximity to T.O.R. 563 and systems along its flightpath put an end to such waiting).
First Instances are larger and heavier than other supervisory Virai, with additional armour and circuitry. To compensate, the Virai tend to add additional manoeuvre thrusters and suspensor capabilities to retain mobility and speed: the First Instance may be as big as a Ghar battle suit but is considerably more agile! Other, older First Instances may be based on the light hauler drone design and have considerably more weapons and manipulators.
Most First Instances are accompanied by a weapon drone or warrior bodyguard. The Ancient First Instances even carry Defenders on their shell, using the Defenders in assaults or in exploring partiuclarly troublesome areas.
Tight-burst, variable-format and encrypted transmissions suggest a First Instance is able to issue in-flight commands or reset or overclock other drones on the fly. Other functionality in regards to destroyed architectors is to activate the memory core and download the current processing-state into a nearby Second Instance – which promptly becomes a NuFirst, a new memory clone of the destroyed First Instance.
All Architectors are able to Reprogram nearby drones, whether or overclock them (give them a second order dice) or Reset them (remove pins). All also have a Repair Swarm, allowing nearby Virai or units to receive a Res reroll or the Ace 1 and Self Repair special rules, and all also have Self-Repair. All Architectos also have the Command special rule, allowing nearby drones to use their Co.
First Instances have the Follow and Hero special rules, with Ancient Firsts having Command 15″ and Follow 10″. Normal Firsts also have Wound 2 and Tough 3, making them very difficult to kill, the Ancient Firsts having Ace 2.
There can only ever be a single First Instance in a force.
‘Rocky’ has, amongst other Virai videos, one about assembling the First Instance and bodyguard.
The command drones most often seen leading a Virai combat group are the Secondary Instance architectors. The First Instance delegates distinct responsibilities to a number of secondary instances such as mining, scavenging, defense, invasion, construction or manufacturing, and then leaves each secondary to construct the tertiary’s and other drones it needs. As a result, depending on where a Virai swarm is encountered depends on the make-up of the swarm, whether combat-oriented, scouting, mining or similar. If a conflict arises, the local Secondary Instance is quick to rush to the point of danger to support its lesser command drones (tertiaries).
Key is that whilst Secondaries may have discrete roles, each is capable of taking the role of each other. Moreover, many Secondaries have armoured, dormant databanks in which the memories of their First Instance are stored as backups: if the First Instance is destroyed, a Secondary can take over by awakening those memories and refashioning itself into a potent NuFirst, either taking over the existing swarm or establishing a new hive.
Secondary Instances are almost always accompanied by bodyguard drones, whether standard Defenders or heavy duty weapon drones. Indeed, Secondary Instances dedicated to invasion tend to have weapon drones with them whilst those on security or defense tend to have the more flexible Defender drones. Whichever they have, a Secondary Instance Command squad is dangerous in its own right, irrespective of the presence of the rest of the swarm.
Secondary Instances have the Command, Follow and Hero special rules so are useful in combat.
Rocky’s War Room has a short video on putting together the Secondary Instance and Bodyguard.
Tertiary Instance Supervisors (Architectors)
Whilst the First Instance architector commands a hive, and Secondary Instances typically organise, manage and run a specific function for the hive, the Tertiary Supervisors are under the direct command of the Secondary Instance to supervise the drones in a specific work area – hence their name. A Tertiary Supervisor, for example, might be placed in charge of a group of scavengers, an individual mineshaft or seam, or a focused manufacturing or industrial function such as weapon drones production or power generation. Whilst having relatively low functionality compared with Secondary Instances, they are the eyes and ears of their superiors, the supervisors sometimes literally ‘at the coalface’.
Tertiary Supervisors are often accompanied by appropriate bodyguards, such as mining constructors or ordinary constructors. Whilst these allow it to quickly complete a specific task, on the table it gives the architector some resilience by spreading hits around other drones. This self-resilience is needed as tertiaries are vital to add resilience to other Virai squads around them in the form of saving rolls, boosted Command and regular use of their ‘Reset’ function to remove pins. Whilst it rolls on its own damage chart, the results could result in anything from damaged thrusters to loss of functionality or even nearby Virai going berserk – on either side!
Whilst tertiaries can be stationed throughout your force to bolster other units, it is best to keep them protected, at the rear of a force and surrounded by other units – opponents will try and single them out for special attention! Though their own firepower is satisfactory at close range, they are vulnerable to long range, high-SV weaponry and cannot match a sustained firefight with high-firepower squads. In this, their ability to Overclock other units can be useful in maintaining that protective screen. Luckily, they can fend for themselves in close quarters provided they have an escort (or are well protected). One useful way of using them is to keep them in cover to boost their relatively low Res.
Rocky’s War Room has a short video on putting together the Tertiary Instance Supervisor.