It’s past time I discussed the newest faction book for Dark Age.
First I think I should point out that what I’m going to discuss in this article really only covers about 5% of what’s in this book. The Forsaken book is primarily a book of background, with rich descriptions about every character and unit – except the Prevailers who just had a whole book to themselves last year. It also has a great narrative that continues to expand the ongoing story that is the centerpiece of all the latest Dark Age books. I plan to cover this in a future article. For now I’m going to do some general Forsaken stuff, plus a bit on some of the changes in the book. If you want some background on the Forsaken just scroll about halfway through this article.
Overall the Forsaken are a pretty straightforward faction. They don’t worry about things like Scavenge counters or Psychogenics or Technomancy to win their battles. They just hit and shoot. They are by far the biggest faction with regards to the number of troop choices they have. Like most of the armies in Dark Age, not all models are available to every list. There are a number of Generic options you can always take, but if you want access to some of the more characterful and powerful models you have to pick one of the subfactions. You can only have models from one chosen subfaction. That’s where the cool stuff like all the Saints and Archangels comes in. There are also a dozen different bounty hunter options that will work with any subfaction.
The generic options are one of the Forsaken’s biggest strengths. They have great choices for both shooting and melee and even some that are alright at both. If you want to engage head on, you have your choice between tankier models like Banes or agile hard to hit Strikes. If ranged is more your game, the Firestorms have flamethrowers that can cover multiple models with their templates. Or you could go with coils, whose disk launchers have a chance to wound even the toughest models. The more elite Ravages can throw grenades or charge in, depending on what the situation warrants. You can even load up on the cheap bodies with Flock and Militia. All Dark Age cards are available free online so if you want a closer look at these models click here. And if you want to look at the subfactions just use the Downloads Drop down on the Dark Age homepage to pick whichever you want to see.
There’s nothing to stop you from running only the generic models, but some of the most interesting Forsaken choices are in the subfactions. There are the mounted Saints of course, each one of which is a walking tank with multiple weapon options for every situation. Then there’s the Prevailer Council with their Archangels that are some real head turners. You can even take Johann and his giant pet Scorpius if you’re more interested in the mad scientist types. Additionally the Saints and Prevailer Council all have very different personalities for those of you who find the narrative part of gaming important. This is reflected somewhat in the feel and playstyle of the special troops they get as well as in their own rules. If you want to see the breakdown of all the subfactions this is the document you want.
If you already play Dark Age, you may be more interested in what changed in the new book. The answer is: a whole lot of things. There are so many choices available to Forsaken players that covering it all individually would be beyond the limits of most people’s patience. Fortunately there are some noticeable patterns across the board.
The point costs of all models have been streamlined so that everything is now in nice simple 25 point increments. So for example the super cheap Flock and Militia are both 25 points. More Elite single wound models are 50. Any model that costs 75 points will always have 2 wounds. Elites like Ravages and Strikes are in this category and so are lesser lesser characters like Zuriel or Judah. Even more Elite models like a Warwind are 100, and all the saints are a nice even 150 (even Johann). There are a few exceptions among some characters but the really important part is that list building in Dark Age has never been simpler. Everyone seems to have had their abilities adjusted to match their new points cost, but it’s not like I’ve playtested all of them.
All the generic unit leaders (Bane Leaders, Ravage Leaders, Strike Leaders, etc.) now cost the same as the models they lead – but you can only take them if you have at least one of the regular versions. They have identical stats to non-leader versions, but (as always) impart a special ability to their underlings.
Ranges have been reduced across the board. The Forsaken used to be able to bring death from afar. Ranges of 12 were rather common and there were even some 16s here and there. Now 8 is the average with 12 being high. Mounted Saint Mark’s signature gun now has the longest range in the faction with a 14. I’m a huge fan of reduced ranges in games. Nothing is worse than having your entire army get shot to death before it makes it across the table. It’s also rather boring to be the one with the guns and never have to move a model.
The downside to this reduction is that most of the other factions in the game are still rocking much longer ranges. The Skarrd Bola for example (range 10) now has a longer range than the Coils with (range 8). Fortunately Dark Age has emphasized objectives for as long as I’ve been playing. You can’t score objectives if you’re lurking in your deployment zone. This, combined with the cumulative distance penalties suffered by all ranged weapons mean it shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
The Commander ability has replaced the Command ability and it also shows up a lot more frequently. This rule first appeared in Outcasts and gives a model “all squadlink keywords.” Only models that could already link can be linked with this ability, and all the usual restrictions apply. All the linking models have to share the same keyword. So St. Luke could link with Coils one turn and Arsenals the next but not both at the same time. All the Saints now have Commander (6) and a lot of other models have the ability too. It makes them a lot more versatile and really makes you want to consider all the options you can take with a Saint. Think of how hard St. John will hit if he and 5 Flock are all in combat with the same model, or how many sprays you’ll get if Saint Mary Squadlinks with four Firestorms.
One thing that isn’t consistent is whether models lost abilities or gained them. The Strikes for example have a lot more rules, while the Ravages lost a key ability: they may no longer throw Smoke Grenades.
Outside of changes, we also have two brand new saints to think about. Mary’s buddy Joan has grown up and is a Saint herself now. She’s the first Saint with Psychogenic abilities, and given the versatility they give her I think they make up for the fact that she’s probably the least effective Saint in combat. Her special troops are an effective bunch with abilities that combo nicely off one another to create a synergistic playstyle that differs greatly from the other Saint’s more straightforward approach. There is no mounted Joan, which is a bit of a bummer. Instead she has a very expensive friend in the Grey Lady – a 175 point killing machine. Joan’s character concepts are some of the most bizarre in the faction, and if they all end up looking as cool as the Death Knights, I may find myself collecting another subfaction. Fortunately it should be awhile. Here’s a link to her cards if you want to check them out.
Isaac is our other new Saint. He’s unique in that he lacks any melee attacks. His gun is decent with some cool abilities that make up for it’s mediocre hitting power. If that was all Isaac brought to the table he’d be pretty meh, but he also hands out lots of Control Counters which his robot pals can use to buff themselves. Additionally he has Superior Maintenance 3. Instead of a mounted Isaac we have a version of him in his Ajax suit. Robo suit Isaac is significantly different from regular Isaac. He lacks the supportive abilities and unleashes lots of ranged death. Isaac’s special troops also bring a great ranged game, but even if you bring regular Isaac, you might want to bring a Weaponsmith. You’ll be rolling a lot of MALs with their weapons. Here is a link to Isaac’s cards.
~Hope you enjoyed the article. What does everyone think of the changes and the new Saints?