• Dark Age Tactics - Forces of Saint Luke

    Saint Luke, machine-man of the Saints, and the most unique of the (five) four from a game play perspective. What makes Saint Luke so special? Well read below to find out.

    Mr. Black here, and today we're going to look into my personal favorite (ascetically) of the Forsaken Saints, Saint Luke. Now, before we get too deep into this, I want to take a moment to explain something: If you're picking up Saint Luke off the heels of a previous Saint, expecting him to basically be able to "sub" in to your previous list for whatever reason, understand this: No. I'm not saying Saint Luke doesn't compliment existing Forsaken forces, oh no, he certainly does, but if you think that Luke will sit comfortably in the same list as Mark and John then you've got a surprise coming to you: Luke is an entirely different beast altogether.

    Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Well, nether really, it's just different and different means variety, and variety is good. So, that being said, how does Saint Luke play, exactly? Let's take a look at these cards: Wait, why was that cards the plural?

    What witchcraft is this?! Two cards for one model? Yep, as you probably know, or will soon know, there are two different weapon load outs that Luke can choose from, basically surmounting to a close combat role or mid-ranged shooter. I would get into more details about these, but honestly we first have to look at the Saint Luke exclusive forces to really understand how Luke positions on the battlefield, so for now just understand Saint Luke is awesome, we'll look into why a bit later.

    For 80 points we're getting pretty standard stats, albeit low MV, and sadly only 1 wound, meaning that, while armed to the teeth with fantastic weapons and war gear, the Arsenal ranks itself as one of the squishiest for-the-points models in the game- this is a trend you will find with Saint Luke.

    So, how do we work around this? Well as I said above, you cannot simply play the standard "This guy is ranged and this guy is melee" role some of the other Forsaken take when employing these units. No, they require finesse, which is a fancy word of saying "Shoot them in the back whenever possible". First we see the Arsenal has Enhanced Optics and Enviro Filters, meaning Smoke is basically meaningless to them, take note, that is going to be important (if you couldn't tell), because these guys love their smoke.

    Why do I say that? Well for starters they have Breech Blast, an ability you're going to become very well acquainted with. What does it do? Well basically it allows them to drop a Smoke Cloud at their feet, you know, the one they ignore, and then pop off a shotgun round, basically combining a nice layer of cover with all the devastation of a spray attack. Lastly, rounding off their abilities we have Guerrilla Tactics, which allows for a larger coherency bubble as well as a +2 when making breakaway checks in melee- a place Arsenals most definitely do not wish to be.

    Weapon wise we continue the trend of Saint Luke equipping every scrub with the best-of-the-best, giving each recruit their own combo Shotgun/Grenade Launcher, capable of dealing damage in a wide variety of ways, but most importantly being able to Knock Prone enemies with every attack. Why is that such a big deal? Well, we'll get to that when we come to Tactics.

    Ah the Stinger, the close combat version of the Arsenal. Jumping (Pun!!... Ok, I'm ashamed of that one...) right in we see, again, the Stinger has Enhanced Optics, Enviro Filters and Guerrilla Tactics, but surrenders Breech Blast for Vault. Basically, while not getting the same use out of their equipment as the Arsenals do, one must remember these units are meant for working together as a cohesive force... Again, I will get into more details later when we hit Tactics, but for now let's look at their plethora of attacks:

    Breaching Spear: The standard attack for the Stingers, and man what an attack it is... Basically, if you want something wounded with the Stingers, it's probably going to happen, give that they have Detonate, combine that with Pierce and RE(4) and few things can even hide from a dedicated Stinger assault. Last in the AG we have Parry, which may be the most important of all, as it basically says "Hi, I ignore 35% or 1/3 of the attacks against me... Try me!". In the end it's more survivability, and at 80 points and 1 wound I'll take everything I can get.

    Spear Sweep: A simple 360 degree Knock Prone. Sure, it has 50% chance of working, but that's still an AP spent by the enemy and an easier time for you to hit, but more importantly it allows you to make a Piercing Strike, aka AG: 3, which is the big scary ED(2) attack with Pin, which gets super nasty when combined with the rest of Saint Luke's bag of tricks..

    Rounding up Saint Luke's small posse of followers we have the Sister of Wrath and their special character Marionette, both close combat machines in their own right- more importantly, however, they play a vital role in the assistance of your other troops.
    Stat-wise, again, we see nothing super impressive, save the DF 2 on each gal. Ability wise we get the staple Guerrilla Tactics, Sear which is a great utility depending on the enemy, Take Charge (Strikes), thus allowing them to nestle into a unit of already deadly Strikes, as well as Furious Charge (meaning a rather devastating AS 10 PW 7 on the charge or, in the case of Marionette, a super devastating 7x2 360 arc!)... Oh, and Marionette has Sidestep, which means over half the melee and ranged attacks targeting here will do nothing.

    Wait, what?
    Yes, basically as part of our 20 point upgrade Marionette gets Super Parry!!, aka, Sidestep. I can't really explain how good this is, you just have to play with her and see for yourself, but I guarantee you'll "get it" around the third time your opponent has shouted at you in anger... At least, that's how it worked for me.

    Weapon wise? As mentioned above, on the charge the unit will have a nice AS 10 hit with the added benefits of Cauterize (for all those Brood out there) as well as Stun, which is removing AP, and less resources for your opponent is always a good thing. Worth noting, again, as part of your 20 point upgrade, Marionette gains access to a 360 5x2 arc attack, just be weary that the MAL is 16, so tread carefully as you have a 25% chance of hurting yourself with that very same attack!

    So, that brings us to Luke himself... Huh, notice how he's a suped up version of either an Arsenal or a Stinger? Yeah... That's why I saved him for last. Because once we've discussed both units there really isn't anything left to say about the big man himself other than, well, he's a bigger, badder version of your "standard" troop. Let down a bit? Don't worry, it's not a bad thing! Sure, he doesn't have the unique gun or hammer that Mark or John have, but that's because he doesn't need it! Luke's entire force is about synergy with one another and achieving a common goal through rampant skullduggery. But I see you're still a bit skeptical, so let me put those worries to rest as we move onto our next section: Tactics, or How to Kick Ass and Look Fabulous While Doing It.

    Ok, so we've gone over the basics of what each guy does- neat, but it doesn't much help us unless we understand how it all comes together. So, how does it all work? Well Saint Luke, as I mentioned above, requires a finesse approach- his units are incredibly well equipped for their price, but are staggeringly easy to dispatch unless you know exactly what you're doing.

    The basic thing you will want to remember is this: your guys are there to harass the enemy into submission, never directly engage an enemy when mobility and pot-shots will do, never overextend your reach and remember that, above all else, each of your units is important and it's survival must be placed above all else.

    Sounds a bit weird if you know just how deadly this world is, doesn't it? But let me explain. You're core troops, the Stingers and Arsenals, they have means of keeping themselves alive, but DF: 4 and ARM: 18 only carry so far, and one average round of shooting will take them down...Unless you're sneaky...

    Synergy. That is the word you need to learn when playing Saint Luke, for all his forces, more than any other Saint, require it to achieve success. Look at the Arsenals, DF: 4 and all that... Yet they can throw down Smoke Clouds left and right and right on top of themselves, meaning that DF: 4 suddenly acts like DF: 0, as well as the handy little fact that by dropping down massive clouds of smoke you're shaping the battlefield as you see fit, which, to anyone who has played tactics games before, is a huge, huge, advantage, since you're basically giving the opponent a lose-lose scenario: Either engage me with a handicap or maneuver around the board I have created for you.
    Now, back onto the topic of smoke... Well, notice how the Stingers also ignore it? Seems like the Arsenals could help them out with that, couldn't it? Yep, as I'm sure many gathered the most basic of the basic tactics you could employ is giving the Stingers (semi) mobile cover, allowing them a safer movement up the board to engage enemy troops or objectives. Smoke is your friend, use it wisely and it will be the deciding factor in your victory, and unless half the board is clogged up in clouds then you're not trying hard enough... Ok, that last bit may be a bit extreme, but you get the idea...

    So, there you have a brief tactics overview, really it just skimmed the surface, and the reasoning for that is however much I want to give "what-if" scenarios, they will function better if we have some actual lists to look at, so let's now take a look at a few variant lists I've put together and how the units interact on the battlefield:

    500 Points
    Saint Luke (Mantis) (135)
    Arsenal x2 (180)
    Coil x2 (90)
    Coil Leader (45)
    Field Medic (55)

    The above list is a bit weird in theory, I will admit. The first several times I played it I took Luke with Dragon Style, aka Shotgun, but I found, in the end, this gave me a mere three actions per turn and only three units, which just didn't cut it. One thing the list will show, and it is a bit unfortunate, is that in order to really take the fun stuff Luke had to offer we're probably going to have to look beyond 500 points- his stuff is just too expensive!

    Is that a bad thing? Nah, while 500 point skirmishes are fun, I've always found things get interesting in the 750 to 1000 point range. This point level, however, does do one very important thing for us: it will teach us the proper resource management needed to thrive in larger games.

    So, looking at the list we find the basic strategies we spoke of earlier: using the Arsenals to deliver mobile blankets of smoke while your Stingers (or in this case, Luke) move into position. I'm actually alright with Luke being by himself in this setup, I mean, if anyone can handle it, it's him... And hey, Parrying 50% of the incoming attacks aimed at him doesn't hurt...

    In addition to the smoke tricks we've got a basic unit of Coils to help keep the ranged pressure on. This is nice because too often the opponent will focus on Saint Luke or the Arsenals, forgetting that Coils have a very impressive 6x2 POW weapon at a 12 inch range. In reality I've had them do the most damage, as people focus on the scary shot gunners and forget that 12 inches goes a long way.

    Lastly, rounding out the list, we have a Field Medic, which is one of my favorite additions to the Luke force as it (sort of) bypasses the inherent issues with having expensive one-wound units, likewise, those same one-wound units can drop down smoke clouds, which in turn protect the girl from incoming fire while in no-way prohibiting her eight inch "Don't Die!" bubble.

    The main threats you're going to face with this list are pretty simple: once people figure out that the Arsenals are the lynchpin to it all they're going to get targeted... Luckily they have ways around that- Remember, mobility, mobility, mobility. They wander too close? Try one of your many Knock Prone weapons and run away. Can't escape them? Drop a Smoke Bomb at your feet, reducing their ability to even hit you. That fail too and now you're in melee? Don't fret; you get +2 to your Disengage rolls from Guerrilla Tactics! Step back and shotgun that guy for daring to scratch your armor! And then should all that fail yell for a field medic or Saint Luke himself to jump to your aid!

    ...Or drop a Grenade at your feet; close enough as to where it won't scatter... I know that sounds, well, suicidal, and it most certainly is, but do keep in mind AR 18 can actually block some damage, and worst case scenario you do have a Field Medic on standby for just such an occasion. Am I suggesting you do this often? Not at all! But if the unit is already in danger of dying... Well, martyrdom is honorable in the eyes of the Forsaken...

    750 Points
    Saint Luke (Mantis) (135)
    Stinger (x2) (160)
    Arsenal (x2) (160)
    Marionette (100)
    Strike (x2) (140)
    Field Medic (55)

    I'm a big fan of the above list as it allows us a sampling of most all the Saint Luke forces, which in the end look very impressive and unified on the tabletop! Strategy wise, though, we're working with our same basic "cover the advance of the Stingers with smoke" plan, but now we've replaced the Coils with the melee support of Marionette and the Strikes (whom she will be Taking Charge of). Ideally I would set this up as the Strikes and Marionette covering one flank, the Arsenals marching down the center, laying down suppressive fire and Smoke Clouds where-ever needed, and lastly having the Stingers with Luke covering the last flank, turning the whole army into a Pincer-Strike.
    Of course being able to properly select targets is needed with the above: the Strikes need to go after soft targets or use their speed to snatch objectives- I say this because more often than not they will be by themselves and unable to gain the assistance of the Arsenal’s smoke, and due to the fact that, while perfectly armed to take on harder-shelled targets, we have the Stingers who, possessing their ED (2) Detonating weapons, are much better suited to the task.
    Frankly, if the Stingers can make a kamikaze run and take out the opponent's heavy threats then I'll do so, because usually what's left will be of no threat to the Strikes, who by now should have slaughtered their way through the opposing flank if the enemy. Also remember though that if something does go awry then feel free to re-consolidate your forces- once more Smoke Clouds can provide you with this much needed asset, should something unfortunate happen!

    Saint Luke (Dragon) (135)
    Arsenalx2 (160)
    Ravage x1 + Leader x1(155)
    Coil x3 (135)
    Firestorm x1 + Leader x1 (95)
    Weaponsmith (70)

    I call the above list "Operation Carpet-Bomb". Basically taking the fact that smoke is awesome and running full tilt with it I've created a list which utilizes lots and lots of smoke with the added benefit of template-weaponry. Is it as well balanced as list number one? Well, not really, but if you're opponent isn't prepared for it then it will cause some pain- more so, it's excellent at snatching objectives (provided you choose the right ones, aka tournament format!).
    The above list is really there for those who want a gun line-style army- one that will pitch out so many shots that any modifiers to range or "cover" just won't matter... I mean, in the above list you have five template weapons, access to five blasts, and to top it all off you still have the nasty 6x2 Death Disks of the Coils, now with the added benefit of a Weaponsmith to not only add just a pinch extra range assault capabilities but also keeping those nasty Malfunctions from ruining your fun!

    1000 Points
    Saint Luke (Mantis) (135)
    Stinger x2 (160)
    Arsenal x3 (240)
    Strike x2 (140)
    Marionette (100)
    Ravage x1 + Leader x1 (155)
    Weaponsmith (70)

    As you can see my basic 1000 point list is a culmination of all the different things we spoke about in the previous point lists, merely combined since we're working with a whopping 1000 point cap. Really, once you hit 1000 you should be able to field everything you wanted and more, and the tactics really just combine everything you learned from your lower point encounters into one big brawl!
    As an alternate list, however, I can propose this:

    Saint Luke (Dragon) (135)
    Arsenal x3 (180)
    Coil x3 (135)
    Coil x3 (135)
    Ravage x2 + Leader x1 (230)
    Firestorm x3 + Leader x1 (185)

    As you can see, this list is a larger variant of the "Carpet Bomb" list given above at 750, with the added benefit of containing a scary four Firestorms... The only issue here is you need to keep them spread out (hence the leader), and given the scary nature of them I would make them the center point of the army, leaving the Arsenals and one Coil Squad to take a flank and the Ravages and other Coil unit to handle the other, literally gunning down any and all threats that would approach them while the Firestorms move forth and burn the fields.
    Really though the initial 1000 point list is my favorite, as it caters well to scenario play, and once you move to that level (away from the simple "Kill 'Em All" style) you will stick with it- It's a more balanced list that incorporates better synergies with its combination melee and ranged assault, this one is really just if you want a change of pace and wish to lay down a serious amount of templates.

    And there you have it, a rundown of Saint Luke and his forces, spreading across all point levels in the game. Of course there are a number of ways to play each and every army, and Luke is no exception, the above should be viewed as a guide to "tread the waters" of Saint Luke's list. Once you're comfortable with it then feel free to experiment with whatever combination of units sounds interesting. Who knows, maybe you'll stumble across that little gem of a combo that just brings the pain to your opponents! - Mr. Black
    Comments 3 Comments
    1. Core101's Avatar
      Core101 -
      When I play with Luke I'll gladly take your advice into my list build.
    1. DannyDangerDude's Avatar
      DannyDangerDude -
      cool i just started with St Luke,thanks for the Tips!
    1. Drago0on's Avatar
      Drago0on -
      I greatly enjoy articles like this. Keep it up!