Kane's Wrath, the expansion to EA's excellent RTS Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars, is due to hit the UK on Friday March 28. And to whet your appetite EA has sent over a fact sheet, lovingly reproduced right here on VideoGamer.com, which details the back story and combat style of the game's brand new Nod sub factions, Black Hand and Marked of Kane. And if that isn't enough to satisfy your C&C thirst, we've got two new logos as well as five brand new Nod screens just gagging for your attention. What are you waiting for?



Back story: A cult within a cult, the origins of the Black Hand date back to soon after the founding of Nod itself. Initially established as a form of religious police, tasked with enforcing adherence to the teachings of Kane, in the ensuing years the Black Hand have seen their purview expand significantly. By the time of the Second Tiberium War, the cult had become Kane's chosen wardens of all things religious, charged with the distribution and proselytizing of his prophecies while also maintaining spiritual discipline within the Brotherhood, by force if necessary.

Yet, for all of their power and influence, until recently the Black Hand had managed to maintain a surprisingly low profile, shrouding their rituals, beliefs and, to the world beyond Nod, very existence in a veil of mystery and obfuscation. However, as the Second Tiberium War drew to a close this would all change. With Kane's "death", Anton Slavik, a respected military leader, rose to become leader of the Brotherhood of Nod - and revealed himself to be a Black Hand prelate, raised from childhood within the cult. Needless to say, Slavik's ascent drew significant attention to the Black Hand, attention that was not always welcomed.

Unsurprisingly, many within the Black Hand chafed at the cult's new public profile, with internal dissent quickly escalating into a series of impassioned public confrontations between Slavik loyalists and those who claimed the Nod leader to be a traitor to the Black Hand's true purpose. From within the anti-Slavik ranks there soon rose a figure who could stand toe-to-toe with Slavik, an impassioned, hugely popular preacher by the name of Brother Marcion. With leaders chosen and battle-lines drawn, what had started as a doctrinal disagreement had quickly escalated into a schism that threatened the very existence of Nod itself.

Despite the Inner Circle's repeated attempts to heal the rift, the situation soon spun out of control, leaving Slavik dead at the hands of an assassin and Marcion and his followers retreating to self-imposed exile in the Australian outback. These cataclysmic events splintered the remainder of the Brotherhood into countless sub-factions, each claiming to follow the "true" word of the Prophet, with, ironically, Marcion's new Black Hand as one of four surviving links to the Brotherhood's storied past.

Now, claiming himself to be the one true prophet, and, in turn, branding Kane a heretic and charlatan, Marcion sets forth to make his own mark upon the world.

Combat Style: Few who have faced Marcion's Black Hand on the battlefield have lived to tell the tale; with their fast, aggressive style and religiously inspired focus on flame-based "purification" weapons, they are truly a force to be feared and respected. Perhaps the most unusual aspect of the Black Hand is that, due to their deeply religious nature, they reject both the role of stealth and "soulless machines" in combat, preferring instead to use live, visible humans whenever possible - the key exception being their devastating, flame spewing Purifier combat mech, each of which much be blessed by a Black Hand abbot before entering combat.

Click through to page two for Marked of Kane back story and combat style



Back Story: Since the First Tiberium War drew to a close, pervasive and disturbing rumours have emerged from the Tiberium wastelands of Central Asia and the Russian Steppes. Nomadic travellers and Nod separatist colonies alike have shared tales of Nod bunkers hidden deep beneath the earth, laboratories where cultish techno-fetishists perform horrific rituals upon on the corpses of the Brotherhood's fallen - the goal, nothing less than raising the dead.

Needless to say, Nod has and continues to deny all knowledge of any such acts, and indeed most within the Brotherhood believe these tales to be little more than the mutterings of frightened outcasts. The truth, however, is far stranger. In the aftermath of his first defeat at the hands of GDI, Kane spent long days pondering how it was that Nod had been defeated. In the end, he reached a unique hypothesis - simply put, the essential humanity of his soldiers had been their very undoing. Thus, the Prophet concluded, to achieve victory he would require an army devoid of free will, of love, hate, fear and regret, of both conscience and consciousness, a legion that would willingly and unquestioningly obey his every command.

To that end, Kane initiated the development of what would come to be known as the Marked of Kane - an army of emotionless, endlessly malleable cybernetic warriors that would do his bidding without question. Knowing that such research would cause dissension within the ranks of his existing army, the Prophet sequestered this work in the hinterlands of Russia and China, where few would stumble across the project and even fewer would be believed if they shared that discovery.

The going was long and arduous, and outside a few promising developments - the most notable being the renegade cyborg armies of CABAL - far from successful. Eventually, as the Second Tiberium War drew to a close, the Marked of Kane finally neared completion. However, it was too late to save Nod and the Marked of Kane were left to slumber deep beneath the Earth, awaiting their master's call...

....a call that may soon be answered.

Combat Style: The Marked of Kane balance finesse with massive, near overwhelming force, eschewing the hit and run tactics common to Nod in favour of substantial raids capable of devastating even the strongest encampment. With a preference for both heavy arms - their most basic infantry are comparable to the elite forces of their enemies - and carefully targeted EMP and Tiberium attacks, these cyborg warriors are as judicious in their tactics as they are terrifying in appearance.

Command & Conquer 3: Kane's Wrath is due out for PC and Xbox 360 on 28 March 2008