The CORE are the focus of my final Dark Age faction article.
There’s something amazing about the sight of a CORE force on the table. A mismatched rag tag band of ancient rusting robots out for revenge and maybe a quick meal. Most of what you need to know about them you can find in the CORE faction document here. It contains more detailed information about the faction’s background with entries about every CORE unit. I’ve summarized some of it here for a quick read and included a bit more info taken from the 2012 book: Devastation. Like all factions in Dark Age, their cards and rules are free to download so you can go check them all out right now too.
Like the savage Skarrd or the inhuman Brood, the CORE are another terrifying legacy of Samaria’s pre-collapse era. While their attacks against the planet’s living population only began recently, they’d been active for centuries perfectly content to be left alone in their own little corner of the world.
Isuza Dynamics was the name of the corporation responsible for this robotic plague. Their research on the planet wasn’t specific to robots. These were already common enough at the time, and didn’t call for the top secret research facilities Samaria would become infamous for. What Isuza was trying to keep hidden was a piece of alien technology that allowed for unheard of energy yields from any complex organic material. In other words – dead remains. The CORE, or Centralized Operations and Resourcing Entity, was their first attempt to integrate this new technology with state of the art robotics and artificial intelligence. The ultimate goal was to create a self sufficient, colonizing, robotic work force. These could be sent across the galaxy to prepare any planet with life for future exploitation by Isuza. Upon landing the robots would be sent out to gather whatever fuel source was abundant before they began to replicate and harvest any other resources of value. To properly achieve this goal, the CORE was given the ability to adapt, and defend itself as necessary.
Everything was still in the testing phase when the intergalactic economy went belly up, and the planet was abandoned by everyone who could afford to leave. The robots, left behind, went on about their business gathering what scant energy sources they could find in Samaria’s barren environment. They continued maintaining the facility that created them, expanding their numbers when possible. This continued mostly uneventfully into the current era. Then the Shadow Caste attacked the CORE with devastating effect. Had they finished off their adversary, these Dragyri would have done a favor to every living thing on the planet. Unfortunately, they underestimated the CORE’s robotic efficiency. Without panicking or missing a step, the robots responded to the explosions that rocked their home by extinguishing fires and swarming the attackers. Only a handful of the Shadow Caste escaped. In the end the CORE were able to rebuild, but they were changed.
In their eagerness to destroy the attackers, the machines waited too long to initiate repairs. The CORE’s central AI was badly damaged, and many of its subroutines altered forever. Its inherent goals remained mostly the same: harvest resources. Build more CORE. Unfortunately its demeanor had taken a more sinister turn. Harvesting became an act of rage. Every living thing on the planet was now a potential fuel source. Across the continent, ancient robots of every imaginable variety awakened to swell the ranks of the CORE. For any purpose these could not fill, the CORE innovated its own designs.
The Dragyri were unsurprisingly the first to feel the wrath of this awakened malevolence. New varieties of CORE robots were created to press the attack against these powerful warriors. Revenge was not the only motivation for attacks against the Dragyri. The CORE quickly learned to adapt the Dragyri energy crystals to their own needs. Outcasts were the next to encounter this new threat. These perpetual survivors adapted as they always had, learning how to avoid and endure the new menace.
Eventually the machines reached the outskirts of Forsaken territory. The resistance they encountered from this organized and militaristic human society was an entirely new obstacle. In a cold and calculating move, the CORE launched the L1ghtbr1nger Protocol. This new initiative called for a direct strike against what the machines saw as the Forsaken’s greatest strength: their faith. Not content to simply desecrate shrines and temples, the machines created a new weapon: the Never Angel. This robot is a walking refutation of the Archangels of the Forsaken, meant to crush hope the way its counterparts inspire it. It is also a killing machine every bit the equal of those Forsaken creations. Only time will tell if this new strategy will be enough to finish off the Forsaken once and for all.
Playing the CORE
The Core are one of the most versatile armies in Dark Age with over two dozen model types to choose from. The faction’s key strategy revolves around the Controller rule. Models with this rule are always Commanders, and receive a number of Control Counters each turn to spend on activating special abilities belonging to models they squadlink with.
The combos you can create with Controllers are powerful enough that I highly encourage you take some. Unfortunately there are only three models with the Controller rule. They are Centurion, Nexus, and Ghosts. Taking all three isn’t out of the question, since they have a combined cost of 300 points. That wouldn’t leave many points for the units they’re trying to buff however. Better to take one or two with a distinct strategy in mind.
Centurion is great for folks that want to dice it up in close combat. Take it with Rends if you want more attacks, or Legionaries if you prefer some added survivability. Both models can spend the Centurion’s control counters to hit harder.
The Nexus seems designed to go with the new (so new the model hasn’t been released as of this writing) Titan Menial. The Nexus’ Control Counters will make these oversized menials hit even harder, while its Mental Link rule will make them much more likely to pass their Unstoppable checks. While these big robots are only FA2, all Menials share the same Squadlink Keyword. You can throw a regular Menial Bot into the squadlink to fill it out. It can add a Gang-Up bonus and just maybe inflict a casualty every once in awhile.
Ghosts are the final Controller model. While they are the only non-character Controller, they are AVA 1(500) so you may only take a second if you are playing above the standard size limit. Ghosts seem designed to go with Infiltrators. Both units have the Infiltrate rule, and the Infiltrators can use a Ghost’s Control Counters to unleash a devastating Burst that should leave something really hurting. Tallmen will also do well, but don’t Infiltrate so you lose out on a little something. Of course there’s nothing to stop you from taking Infiltrators and Tallmen in the same list, and having the Ghost Squadlink with whoever needs it the most that turn.
Once you’ve decided which Controller(s) you’d like to field, there are still plenty of great choices. You can add another Squadlink like the DRG-Y that excel in Close Combat but have no use for Control Counters. There are also great independent models. The Thumper can add more ranged Punch. The Churgeon is great in melee, and it will also prevent enemies from healing themselves. If you want to protect your models from enemy ranged attacks you can bring a Tsuedo for its Guard ability. Or you can put all your eggs in one basket and go with the mighty ICON-CL457. Bring the L1ghtbr1nger and the Banshee to spread misery and Panic. There are just too many to name them all. One model you should definitely consider though is the Recovery Bot. Its Superior Maintenance (3) will help you counter one of the CORE’s biggest weaknesses: almost every CORE model has a weapon that can Malfunction. They’re almost as dangerous to themselves as they are to their enemies.
Once you’ve decided how you want to fill out your list, there may still be some decisions left to make. Every model with the Upgrade ability can select a number of upgrades equal to its Upgrade stat. These are found at the end of all the CORE cards. Upgrades are a great way to fill in gaps in your list, account for otherwise powerful model’s shortcomings, or further enhance its strengths. If you do decide to take The Nexus with some Titan Menial friends, why not give him a Rock Drill to assist in melee and a Shield Generator to make his companions even harder to kill? Upgrades can help fill any gaps you think your list might have.
~Hope you enjoyed the article. What do you think of this faction of crazy killer robots?