Let’s part the covers of the Dragyri book for Dark Age and peer deeply at the darkness within.
This is a long overdue review. The Dragyri book came out last November, but the dang thing just kept selling out. I finally grabbed one at Adepticon.
The quality is the high standard I have come to expect from Dark Age books with over 200 high quality full color pages. Each is packed with content. Every unit has a detailed description explaining it’s fighting style and place within the culture of its caste. The gallery section in the back does a great job showing off the amazing new Dragyri models. Every Dragyri card is also reproduced within so they’re easy to compare to one another and have for quick reference. Of course the part I was most interested in was catching up on the ongoing Samarian narrative.
The events of the story revolve mostly around the book’s titular race with the game’s new subfaction, the Shadow Caste, getting particular attention. If you read my last article on the Dragyri, you’ll recall that many believed the Shadow Caste to be extinct. The reality is far more sinister. Shadow began rising as its own element centuries ago before being pushed out of Dragyri society by the first Grand Arbiter, Odur The Rahbas.
The second Grand Arbiter, paranoid and ruthless, helped shape it into it what it is now. Cy’Fen’Gar wanted a secret force to help eliminate his enemies and the Shadow Caste agreed to help him. In addition to aiding him specifically, the newly formed Shadow Caste were tasked with causing strife among the Dragyri people in order to keep them strong.
Using their mastery of darkness members of this cabal have become masters of assassination and espionage. True to their purpose, the Shadow Caste are largely responsible for the fractured state of the Dragyri race. For centuries they manipulated the other castes from behind the scenes, starting wars, eliminating leaders, and ensuring chaos among the four primary elemental factions. Amabilia, Arbiter of Chaos, leader of the Shadow Caste, has begun to crave more power for herself. She has judged the time right for her people to take their place in the open.
No Grand Arbiter has been selected in recent times – a deliberate consequence of the Shadow Caste’s disruptive activities. Thanks to Amabilia, things are momentarily stable enough for a new Grand Arbiter to emerge. Of course she’s put herself in the running. Her manipulations have ensured that there is only one candidate from the other clans eligible to challenge her bid: Yovanka – her sister.
No one will be surprised to learn that the new Grand Arbiter is chosen through trial by combat. The journey to this inevitable clash is where the events of the book take us. On the way you will find plenty of Dragyri political maneuvering and assassination attempts. The poor Forsaken manage to get swept up along with it too. Bad stroke of luck building their capitol right beside the ancestral Dragyri circle of ritual combat.
Of course Amabilia’s machinations go far beyond just the matter at hand. We also see the impact of her latest schemes on the Slavers of Chains Barrow and the Kukulkani. She’s even helping with the rise of a disturbing new power within the Skarrd. It’s a fun read so I’d hate to spoil it for you. Just be sure you make it all the way to the end so you can see what’s going on with the C.O.R.E. You’ll even learn the fate of the Earth Caste.
“But what about the rules for the Dragyri?” you ask. Well, as I always point out in these articles, you can go download all the model rules for free from the Dark Age website. But hey, let’s go over some of the basics anyway. The Dragyri themselves remain elite models. They all have at least two wounds and cost at least 75 points. Like nearly every other faction, their points cost are all now in multiples of 25; 50, 75, 100, etc. Makes list building soooo much easier. While we’re on the subject of list building, your Dragyri force may now include 150 points from another Caste.
Out of all the changes I was personally most curious about the Slave models. These have always been some of the lowest point cost pieces in the game. But the points system has been changed since the last time the Dragyri got an update. Now the cheapest models in any faction cost 25 points. Would the slaves have their terrible stats increased to justify a 25 points cost? Or would the designers make an exception, and keep the slaves cheaper? The former turns out to be the answer. Since I prefer consistency I’m completely comfortable with these new elite slaves that can go toe to toe with Forsaken Flock and Skarrd Buzzblades. Another change to slaves is that their weapons all function slightly differently depending on what caste they belong to.
Many models also have Focus powers they can tap into to gain abilities or boosts to their already impressive stat lines. Speaking of Focus, one of the more interesting changes for the faction involve the Spirit Lords. Each faction’s Spirit Lord has a different ranged weapon. Additionally they all have the Psychogenic Resolve 3 ability which allows models to re-roll psychogenic malfunctions. Very handy with all the potential focus users in a Dragyri force.
Elementals are also mostly the same in scope. The larger variety are horrifying monsters that will cost you 200 points to put on the table. With the exception of the Fire Caste Embers, you can no longer summon them during the game. Speaking of Horrifying Monsters, the Arbiters of the various Castes are impressive pieces in their own right. Additionally each arbiter possesses a powerful once per game ability that they can use if they pass a PS check.
This is one of those few times where I don’t really agree with a Dark Age concept. If an ability is going to factor into a model’s point cost, you should be able to count on it. All the Arbiters have high PS, but how can you plan for an ability that won’t work twenty percent of the time? If it’s too powerful to be 100% reliable then weaken it enough that it can be counted on.
Dragyri Ice Caste
The next thing to discuss would be how all the subfactions work. The Ice Caste remain tough and hard hitting. Some of them also hand out debuffs that seem appropriate for their frigid element. Stun, Immobilize, and Paralysis don’t evoke feelings of cold by name alone, but their effects definitely give you that feeling of soldiers frozen in place or too well chilled to perform at full efficiency.
Luck’Kit’Kai, leader of the Ice Caste has 20 armor with 4 wounds, and has Unstoppable. You’ll probably have to kill him a couple of times. His mighty Frostcleaver will also bring the pain. Its stats and abilities are powerful enough to threaten anything and everything. His once per game ability Now Is Our Time will win you the initiative but Luck’Kit has to go first. Not as flashy as some of the others but as everyone who has played a game like this knows, winning the Initiative at the right time can be game changing.
Dragyri Air CasteAir Caste continue to be the masters of high defense. The majority of them have Defense 2, with the correspondingly lower armor values you’d expect. They don’t hit quite as hard as Ice, but may have abilities like Critical Strike to increase their likelihood to damage. Some have RE to provide more maneuverability which makes for a worthy trade-off.
They play the best ranged game outside of Fire Caste. Whispers and Disc Slaves can hurl Chakrams around, and the inexpensive Zephyr has a Blast attack. While some of them are still a little faster than most other models, the faction doesn’t seem to have quite the speed advantage it used to. Of course, if you take Yovanka in your force, she can give up to 6 friendly trueborn a free move at the start of the game.
Speaking of Yovanka, the leader of the Air Caste seems a little fragile for a 200 point model – even with Defense 2. Then you read her Sidestep special rule. It gives her a special save of 12 or under against melee and template attacks. To top it off, the Master of Air rule means models receive no charging or gang up bonuses against her. So get those ranged attacks ready and hope you roll low.
Dragyri Fire CasteFire Caste have retained their balanced defensive stats. They have respectable Armor and Defense stats rather than tending towards extremes of one or the other like Air and Ice. Many of their ranged attacks are now sprays and they still love spreading Fire effects all around. Of course those ranged attacks are more likely to Malfunction than the weapons used by other castes. This is the reason why Fire Caste has the Artificer of the Alteghran. This is the only Dragyri model with Superior Maintenance. Easily worth setting aside 50 points for this guy.
Rath’zi, the arbiter of the Fire Caste, is a little easier to bring down than the rest. He has no special saves against hits or death. But if he can hang on to one last hit point he can use Fueled by Combat to fill his health back up. His once per game ability allows all trueborn in his force to re-roll charge attacks, which could make it one of the strongest in the faction. His melee attacks also spawn little Ember fire elementals. That’s a trick none of the other Arbiters have.
Dragyri Shadow CasteShadow Caste mix it up more than any of the other factions when it comes to stats with an interesting mix of high Armor and Defense models. The Shadow Caste recruits its members from those that the other castes have sent away, so this certainly seems appropriate. Only two models in the entire faction have ranged attacks: the Spirit Lord of Shadow and the Shadowfinder bot. Yes that’s right, the CORE have permanently integrated some of the less Sophisticated CORE into their forces. The Shadow Caste pass out a lot of Poison and Toxic Counters. They can also play the psychological warfare game with the Victimize and Sadistic rules on a few different models.
Their Arbiter, Amabilia, is very similar to Yovanka as you might expect from her twin. Their profiles are identical and they share that super powerful Sidestep ability. Amabilia’s once per game feels quite a bit stronger than Yovanka’s however. It allows her to place up to 4 Blind Counters on enemy models. If you can pass that PS check you don’t have to roll to hit or anything. Four enemy models will now have -4 AS making them nearly useless for a turn. Definitely a potential game winner.
Dragyri Earth Caste
Jza’Mhi on the right is technically Fire Caste.
While this article is overdue, it arrives just in time to include some brand new models. During the weekend of the CMoN Expo, the Earth Caste cards went online for the first time. It’s not just the cards either – a full fledged Earth Caste Background Document also went up. I’m pleased these guys are finally getting models. They have been part of the game’s story since at least 2012 when Dark Age Apocalypse was released.
For now, you can’t technically field them as a faction. That doesn’t mean they don’t have some great abilities to add to the other Castes though. Ghrakun could do great in a fragile air caste force since he’s so hard to kill. Oh wait – they’re all pretty hard to kill. Personally I see the Pillars as having the most utility for all the factions. Their Psychogenic can keep enemy models from running away. When there’s a Dragyri Arbiter staring them in the face, that’s exactly what they’re going to want to do.
~Hope you enjoyed the article! Seriously even if you don’t play Dark Age you gotta love these minis right?