The CORE have exited the assembly lines and are now working their way across the wastelands of Samaria; this week, they’re hitting store shelves and working their way into your hands as well. So, how best to use these infernal machines to create mayhem for your opponents? Read on to find out!

Mr. Black here, dear readers, and this week we’re talking about your shiny (or rusted and dilapidated, depending on paint style) new CORE starter and how best to use them to crush your enemies and see them driven before you!

What’s In the Box?

3x Menial Bot
2x Rend
1x Pathfinder

335 Pts

This starter showcases a good portion of the hard-hitting staying power the CORE can bring to the table. Unlike a lot of the other CORE additions, however, we don’t have anything too flashy here- not that that’s an issue, mind you, this starter is a solid base of Menial and Gamma Programmed bots to raise an army from! Keeping that in mind let’s take a look at some core mechanics of the…Um… CORE…

Follow the Code: When building a CORE Forcelist, it may not have more units without the Gamma Program Special Ability than those who possess it.

Foundation is Key: Every CORE Forcelist must spent at least 25% of its points allotment upon units with the Menial Special Ability.

The Code Cannot Die: All CORE units are Non-Living Units, are Immune to Poison and Immune to Fear. They are not inherently Immune to Panic however, as their command codes do understand thr tactical utility behind fleeing from destruction.

Shattered Husks: Unless noted otherwise, all CORE units with a Large size or above are not Removed From Play as normal. Instead, place a Wreck Token next to the model and leave it on the board. The model now acts as Rough Terrain that stands two inches high which can provide Partial or Total Cover.

Gamma Program: The Most basic programming due to their simple nature units with this level of programming have to use basic functions. Units with Gamma Program may not Aim in RA, and may not go On Hold. Unless there is a unit with Alpha Programming within 8” a unit with Gramma Programming must spend all AP to engage the nearest enemy unit in CA if within LoS and 10”.

Menial: Units with this SA have the following Special Abilities: Mindless and Fortitude.

Alright, that was a mouthful, but those are the key things to keep in mind when constructing from the CORE starter: It packs in it some 250 points of both Gamma Programmed and Menial bots to raise your forces from, a solid start for any robot uprising!

That out of the way, let’s take a look at the actual unit themselves:

Ah the humble Menial Bot, backbone of the CORE…

So what are we getting in his tiny 30 point package? Well we’re getting the two main abilities we talked about above: Menial and Gamma Program, meaning they will form a base for machines to come. Otherwise we’re getting relatively low stats and AP- but do keep in mind, this is all for 30 points.

Most will look at the Menial Bot and caste it aside as some useless hunk of scrap, but they cannot see the Menial for what it really is: A tiny threat that your opponent would be a fool to ignore. Basically, it’s the fact that they are Menial, and thus have Fortitude, that makes them a pain in the back for your opponent: It’s resources (aka attacks, AP, etc) that they will have to use to make sure these things stay down. No one wants to force two wounds on a unit (usually at the cost of another precious AP) to make sure it’s not going to get back up and hammer them down next activation, but the threat of it doing so will cause them to do so.

If they don’t them they’re going to learn very quickly that a even a small squad of Menials will quickly gang-up and take down much larger threats! 2x2 is nothing to sneeze at, much less when it begins to climb to 3x2 or 4x2 with the help of some Ganging-Up allies! Otherwise, the Menials do make a fantastic shield for moving the larger, more deadly, Rends up the battlefield. You’re safeguarding your better robots with ones that, should they die, will still prove useful for at least a little while longer- what’s to lose?

It is worth noting, however, that the Gamma Programing clause can cause them to be baited away from their primary goal, should a savvy opponent understand their mechanics. With the tools you’re working with in the starter there unfortunately isn’t much you can do about this except crush them under the full weight of your mechanical superiority… Wait, that doesn’t sound like such a bad option… One thing to remember when using your new CORE goodies is that, while the starter as a whole has Gamma Programing and can be led around, few model in the game want an angry stampede or robots chasing them down with the intent to kill, and fewer models can survive that!

Look at your army as an advancing wall of pure hate, the Menials just the preliminary waves. Move it together as a large meat-grinder and you’ll find few forces that can go toe-to-toe with you!

Bryan Steele posted an article not too long ago showcasing the Rends capabilities, so before I add my view let’s take a look at what he said:

Huge powerhouses of martial force, the Rends are tall and powerful war robots that were originally designed to help clear out the Dragyri-filled tunnels intersecting the CORE’s ever-expanding hive complex. With two arms that end in rock-cutting chainsaws, Rends are NOT subtle pieces of machinery – they are killers, plain and simple.

The best part is, Rends do not have to travel alone – they come in packs. Fielded in squads of one to three Units, Rends are the CORE’s equivalent to the Outcast Brutes, Skarrd Golabs, Brood Sawblades, and other large-based melee killers. They pound across the battlefield, using their human-average Movement statistic to pick their targets, driving hard toward tougher foes and sweeping through easier ones along the way through its reputation… and its Cause Fear special ability.

With armor as thick as the Kevlar a Forsaken Bane wears and sporting 2 HP each, Rends can shrug off a lot of damage as they come to bear upon their targets. Their average DF of 5 means that it will dodge a lot of lesser attacks, but the good ones will probably still find their marks. It is not a travesty if they take a damaging hit, though. Even a damaged Rend, with its terrifying basic weaponry, can make short work of even multi-HP models. Once in combat, three AP with two swings each at 4x2 PW can cut anything in the game down…anything.

Their cost can be a little daunting at first, coming in at 80 points at each, but this is only when we look at the basic Rend. Things get a lot more promising once we take into account the one thing that makes CORE models variable and adaptable to each player’s play style and somewhat adjustable based on an expected opponent – Upgrades.

Not all CORE models have access to Upgrades, but the versatile and deadly Rends do. This means that every player can make their Rend squads uniquely fitting to their needs. A Rend squad’s members must all choose the same Upgrade, but depending on which Upgrade chosen the squad will become far more efficient in one way or another. Not to mention, what CORE Upgrades can mean for hobbyist modelers out there! Of the various CORE Upgrades the army has to choose from, there are a couple that really stand out as useful for Squads of Rends, but possibly for different reasons.

- Useless to a single Unit, adding a Broadband Network to a larger squad of Rends is as easy as pinning a few pieces of wire antennae to the model, and it allows the Squad to stretch out their footprint quite a bit by doubling their coherency. This gives them an easier time finding cover as they cross the battlefield as well as gives them a greater degree of options to get those charges off and engage enemies where they want to.

- Adding a series of Flamethrower upgrades to the Rends means attaching an appropriate bit to the model, possibly shoulder mounted or underslung at the hip. Once the game actually begins however, the Rends can add an impressive spray or stream template at those “harder to reach” foes. Free flaming hits at someone is never a bad thing from a formerly melee-only Unit.

- Gyrostabilizers are easy to model with a few spare pieces of spring or wire around the legs, but giving Rends a MV of 4 means getting these bad boys in combat that much faster!

- Rends can make great use of Plasma Conduits if they are going to be used as berserkers only. Adding strength to their attacks as well as making them walking bombs means they can be a danger to each other and their friends – but it also means once they start slicing and dicing into the opponent’s lines they are just as deadly when they finally succumb to enemy attacks.

- Probably one of the most useful CORE Upgrades for most Units, adding a Self-Repair System to a Rend can really make the most out of their 2 HP by giving them Regeneration (1). While it might not save them forever, it only needs to give them time to bring those saws to bear!

In conclusion, while the CORE army can happily manage to destroy its enemies without them, having a solid squad of Rends stomping, charging and cutting their way through them is never a bad thing. The Rend as a warrior-robot is a fine example of the central CORE AI’s fantastic ability to create new models for specific purposes when the hive requires it. Whether it is crystal-energized insectoids as big as mastiffs, walking artillery pieces or chainsaw-armed ogres…the CORE is ready for anything.

Well that summoned things up nicely! All I really have to add in their place within the CORE starter:

Basically, these guys are the meat of your killing power- If that wasn’t obvious, with the giant chainsaws for hands and all that. Another factor to not ignore is the Rends are one of the new starter-level entries that have the Cause Fear Special Ability- Keep mindful of this since, once again, there are precious few resources at the starter-box level that can remove this.

After all that is said and done we have one of the strongest contenders right out of the box, the cherry on top is the ability to customize these guys to the task at hand- the proper application of said ability taking the Rends from being just another cog in the machine to a true battlefield terror- chainsaws for hands and all!

And now we come to the big daddy of the CORE starter: The Pathfinder MK1. Sporting a large 80mm base the Pathfinder MK1 is an imposing sight from anywhere on the battlefield.

Looking at its base stats we see a quick unit capable of getting to where it needs to and, once there, capable of Buzz Sawing up most any threat that comes near it. AP 3 and MV 4, combined with the Strider rule (basically allowing it to ignore terrain penalties for movement!) insure that if this bot needs to get someplace then it can damn sure get there- often a surprise for any unfortunate adversaries that viewed this thing as a big clanky piece of metal!

So how do we best utilize this guy? Well fist to note he is the only member of our start without Gamma Programming, which means he doesn’t suffer the same capabilities to be leashed around that the Rends and Menials do, so he can go where you see fit and operate accordingly- This is a luxury that other factions do not appreciate, but as a valued CORE player you will learn to respect this.

Basically, he is the wild card of your army: The other bots are going to have a specific function once they initially engage the enemy (and that function is cut and crush, obviously), but the Pathfinder can move about the board, filling in weak gaps or targeting stray units as you see fit, and that should remain his primary goal while you’re at the starter level.

Taking note of his armaments we see he has not one but two 3x2 Buzz Saws, each causing the Horrible Death effect should he kill a member of a squad- A trend you’ll see developing amongst your units- they love to Cause Fear and instill Panic in the enemy. Proper application of this trait can have a full force running from you with minimal effort, and it should not be discarded. Have your Rends move up, forcing a Fear Token on the enemy, then have the Pathfinder move in and violently rip apart a squad member, making them take a Panic Test on a -2 (due to Fear).

I know it may not seem like it initially, but the CORE value psychological combat very highly, and it’s little tricks like this that can turn the tides of battle easily in your favor without having to extent too many resources on your end- and the CORE are nothing but efficient.

Final Notes

Send in the Menials, follow up with the Rends, have the Pathfinder take care of any stray elements or threats, be very methodical in your moves and understand that the bulk of your forces should move together as one large machine, creating a kill-box that eliminates any enemy within.

One thing to remember is that your guys will stick around even after the killing blows have been struck, so while other armies would consider some moves sure suicide you have the luxury of viewing it as just another tactic: No enemy appreciates having to spend four attacks worth of damage making sure a Rend is going to stay down- and that’s even if they have the capabilities to do so! You are a machine: instill fear into your opponent’s meaty heart, force them into lose-lose situations, and don’t be afraid (you shouldn’t know fear, robot!) to throw a unit headlong into the fray if it means the rest will settle into a better tactical position!

In the end, the CORE starter is a solid foundation- one that you can expand upon to create some truly unique and malicious forces, but like any good foundation it can stand perfectly well on its own, bringing the pain to any foe that should try and stand upon it.

And if things get dicey, just remember one key element:

You are the CORE, you are perfection. They are just fuel for the cause.

-Mr. Black