Let’s get to know the latest Dark Age Saint.
Isaac is the newest Saint Canonized in the world of Samaria. While the other saints of the Forsaken were raised up by the will of the people, Isaac’s elevation was handed down by a military council. More of an Engineer than a warrior, Isaac’s importance to the Forsaken lies largely in the technological advancements he’s brought forth in recent years. His robots serve useful roles on and off the battlefield.
While Isaac’s genius should not be discounted, it’s important to note that he’s less an Inventor than a salvager. Whether it’s the smaller Centipedes or the larger Promtheuses (Promethei?), Isaac didn’t actually invent the robots that won him renown. What he did do was improve them and perhaps more importantly figure out a way to make these pre-fall relics work without being susceptible to the influence of the C.O.R.E. In a world where food and water are scarce, finding a new source of soldiers and workers that require neither seems like a pretty good way to get yourself canonized.
While Isaac wields some of the most advanced technology of all the Saints, he’s spent much less time exposed to the horrors of Samaria. This isn’t to say he’s completely naive however. His mother died with a body full of tumors when he was still very young. For reporting a superior for sending a dangerous weapon into the field untested, she had been punished to serve in the dangerous radioactive core of the Port City power plant. This early lesson in the cruelty of his people was surely a formative moment for the young saint. As to how it may affect his loyalty to the Forsaken ruling council, no one can say but Isaac.
Isaac definitely plays differently from the rest of the saints. His role is more of a supporter/debuffer than a damage dealer. All the cards for Dark Age are available on line so you can go ahead and check out Isaac’s while you read this. To me, the first thing that stands out about the Saint is the Superior Maintenance (3) ability. I’m usually happy to shell out 75 points for a Weaponsmith just to get access to Superior Maintenance (2). Having those points to spare for other things seems like a huge boon for Isaac players.
Next there’s the Controller(3) ability. So far this is unique to Isaac and his pals, and represents their influence over the robots in an Isaac force. His robots can spend his Control Counters to activate special abilities on their cards. The fact that he has 3 tokens alone is great, but he also has Commander 6. If he squadlinks with some of the other controllers you can take in an Isaac list you can really go nuts and crank his robots up to same insane power levels.
Other than those two things, what Isaac really has going for him is his gun. Lightpiercer as it’s called isn’t as good at killing things as some other guns in the game, but it does have several abilities to choose from and all of them can really frustrate opponents. Disruption is probably the meanest among them. Many of the best weapons in the game already have low Mal values so making them more risky can really hurt. Stun is a Forsaken staple but it’s always helpful. And as for Plasma, who doesn’t like setting things on fire? The downside is that the gun is only RF 2, so you can’t disrupt an opponent’s Mal value enough to guarantee their weapon blows up in their face – at least not just in one turn. The counters do have a 50/50 of hanging around.
Even if you’ve only been loosely following the new Dark Age releases, you probably will have caught on to the fact that all the saints have mounted and unmounted versions. The Ajax robot suit is Isaac’s equivalent of a mounted version. While the other Mounted Saints will bring along their signature weapons and usually some of the same abilities, Ajax suit Isaac is almost completely different.
Controller 3 is replaced with the paltry Controller 1 ability, and Superior Maintenance is out completely. Instead of a gun that’s largely used for debuffing, we have the devastating blister gun that you can keep on shooting until you run out of AP. The Duel (yes that’s probably a typo but we’ll just pretend they’re used for duels) Flamers are an even more devastating weapon but you only get to shoot them once per turn. This, combined with the increase in Armor and Wounds make this model every bit the juggernaut as the rest of the mounted Saints.
Captain Cora is Isaac’s character companion. She’s great with that gun, but also has Controller 2 to offer assistance to her robot helpers. With Guerilla tactics, whatever robots she’s squadlinking with can get close enough to the enemy to do their job without her having to get closer than you want her to.
These Controllers are helpful little grunts. Their guns alone make them almost as good at ranged combat as the generic Forsaken ranged staple the Coils. Of course they wouldn’t call them Controllers if they didn’t have the Controller ability like Isaac and Cora. While they only have Controller(1) it still means that in addition to being decent combat troops, they can assist your force’s robots.
So after all that talk about Isaac’s robots, lets finally look at some. The Centipedes are some handy little guys. They have a stream weapon. These are strong not just for all the models it can potentially hit, but also because they can strike up to ten inches away without any loss of accuracy. The Centipedes also have the Conduction program on this weapon to give it a little bit more bite against heavily armored fores. Or you can go for the Free Move Action Program to line up an angle where you can get even more models under your template. The downside is that the gun just has RF 1, so you can only shoot it once per turn. Fortunately the Centipedes do just fine in melee, with the AS and PW to wipe out weaker enemies, and Stun to add a little debuff against stronger foes they can’t manage to bring down in one go. They are a little squishy, but with the Stealth Counter Program you can make them almost immune to enemy shooting for a round.
Each Prometheus is a labor drone refitted for combat purposes. They’re almost as destructive as the Ajax suit, armed as they are with similar Duel Flamers. With a program to give these weapons +2 PW, they can lay waste to just about any foe. And with the Quick Draw program they’ll be able to hit just about anything as well. You can even take two of the monstrosities. The downside is that they are a wee bit squishy for a 150 point model. DEF 6 and ARM 18 will see you taking wounds faster than you might expect. But its hard to match these robots for raw offensive potential.
If any of this sounds too good to be true, know that there’s an inherent weakness built into all of Isaac’s forces to balance it all. Every weapon the Followers of Isaac carry has at least some risk of malfunction. Additionally there are low MAL values across the board with 17s and 18s being common. If you take Isaac out of the suit, his Superior Maintenance ability will help to mitigate this. If you field Ajax, you will definitely need to set aside 75 points for a Weaponsmith. Even then you will likely find yourself burning through Maintenance counters quickly. And you can’t take a second Weaponsmith until you get to 1,000 points.
With the rest of the Saints its fairly easy to adapt an army list to include a mounted or unmounted version. Usually you can just drop or add a single 50 point model. But with regular and Ajax Isaac being so different, fairly different lists need to be planned around their strengths and weaknesses.
For regular Isaac, my first thought for a 750 point list is to run him with two Prometheus robots, Cora, two Centipedes, and a Medic. This configuration will allow you to make a massive squadlink with six powerful models and five control counters to hand out in the process. The Medic seems like the best way to spend that last 50 points since, strangely, nothing in the text for Restoration prevents it from being used on Isaac’s robots. Since keeping up with the pack might be hard for her, you could also consider a single Haniel in her place. His Sunder Armor ability won’t be needed too badly, but it can never hurt.
Ajax Isaac has been a little trickier for me to pin down. I’m inclined to go with the following: Ajax, a Weaponsmith of course, two Controllers, two Centipedes, two Strikes, and a Strike Leader. This list will give a lot of good melee and ranged support. Strikes are great models. They function well and pretty much everyone seems to love the new sculpts. But most importantly their weapons won’t ever Malfunction. That lets the weaponsmith keep his two Superior Maintenance Counters for Ajax or perhaps the Centipedes.
~What do you guys think of Isaac?