Welcome to Samaria, Commander.
Dark Age is a sci-fi skirmish miniatures game by CoolMiniOrNot. It is generally played by two players with a half dozen or so (per side) finely-detailed 28mm-scaled models fighting over the ravaged lands of Samaria for victory or death. As a Dark Age player, you will command groups of grim survivors, savage warriors, berserk robots, cunning aliens, or perhaps…all of the above.
Dark Age does things a little bit differently than what you might be used to from some other miniatures games. For starters, the rules (in downloadable PDF form) are free. You can find them here: Rules. You are certainly welcome to buy a hardback copy of the rules – and you’ll note that they currently say 2013; that is the current rules edition. You can also find the Frequently Asked Questions about those rules here: FAQ
Don’t worry too much about reading the whole rulebook first. You can watch the game being played on YouTube to get a feel for what it looks like, here and here and here. And beyond just being entertained, there is a tutorial here: Show me how to play!
If you’ve looked around at Dark Age website, or the videos above, you’ve been introduced to some of the models and the factions that make up the game. Let’s take a better look at all of the forces you get to choose from:
“We fight for more than glory. We fight to hold back the darkness that threatens our people on all sides, that would tear down what God’s chosen people have built up. We fight for our very survival upon a world that punishes the wicked and the sacred alike. We fight because the Forsaken must endure and survive as it is God’s will that we shall.” – Saint John
“…but mostly we fight for the glory.” – Saint Mark
“Delusional fools who are led by the nose by those who care not one whit for them or their baseless faith. I regret that so many will die for the rest to learn my truth.” – Saint Johann, the Scorpion Saint
One of the human factions on Samaria, the Forsaken are trying to survive and prosper on a world where they were long ago the abandoned and dispossessed. Despite being surrounded by foes the Forsaken possess an iron drive and belief in a vengeful God that has molded them into a well-ordered and proficient force that has proven capable of facing every threat against them. The Forsaken are spoiled for choice in Dark Age – having no less than 8 subfactions and dozens of models to build forces from.
(Just a quick note – you’re going to hear a bit about “Unaligned” and “Subfaction” troopers – what this means is that many of the armies of Dark Age have warriors that will work for the entire faction, and, additionally, there are some troops that only work for specific subfactions in the faction – don’t worry, this will be clear shortly!)
Some of the strengths of the Forsaken include:
- Largest selection of models and subfactions
- High armor values
- Some of the best ranged troops in the game
The Forsaken have 8 Subfactions. These are mostly made up of different charismatic leaders who are leading armies of their own on crusades across the known world. Each of them has specific character models who are the subfaction leader and playable in game. They include:
- Followers of Mark
- Followers of John
- Followers of Mary
- Followers of Luke
- Followers of Joan
- Followers of Isaac
- Followers of Johann
- The Prevailers
If you choose to collect and play the Forsaken, you can play an “Unaligned” army, selecting only from the core troopers for the Forsaken (including models like the Banes, Coils, Firestorms, Coil Diskmaster, the Deacon, and Warwinds) and deliver the Forsaken’s salvation upon their many enemies. If you choose to, you can command a Subfaction force, and gain access to all of their troop choices and characters as well.
Playing with the Forsaken Starter: The Forksaken starter includes only Unaligned models, making it a great launching point for nearly any sort of Forsaken army you might choose to collect. It starts with an excellent core of four Banes – good, solid, frontline melee troopers who are dependable and survivable. Then you get a great support piece in the form of a Deacon who has a versatile attack with his Reckoner, and Inspiring to help improve the hitting power of your Banes. Just keep him safe behind the Banes – he is a little less armored than they are. Next is a great ranged attacker, the Coil Diskmaster, who will hurt enemies at range with Critical Strike (3), Crack Shot AND Decapitate. Then it’s some additional support from the Field Medic, who is able to keep your models alive for just a little bit longer. Finally you have an excellent leader piece, the Warwind. Generally Warwinds act as lieutenants to the Saints, and here they lead your forces to glory and victory!
“We will no longer tolerate the abuses of the Forsaken, nor the Slavers, nor anyone! We bring war to those who would see us cowed and afraid.” -Bendahrin Durshe
“Sometimes they are our friends, sometimes they are our enemies. I like them better as our friends.” – Saint Mary
“For an extra five, I’ll you bring back the head. Can’t promise it’ll be much to look at, though…” -Cesspool
The final human faction are the Outcasts. The Outcasts are a mix of types of people who reject the Forsaken leadership or have been cast out of Forsaken society, but aren’t as savage and feral as the Skarrd. They are found across Samaria, making their way through a brutally-contested world, remaining free and surviving on their wits and martial skills.
Some of the strengths of the Outcasts include:
- Models that improve during normal gameplay (through Scavenge tokens)
- A good variety of melee troops, from Wasteland Warriors through to Brutes and Mongo
- Good synergies between their varied troop types
The Outcasts have two Subfactions. Of all of the different armies in Dark Age, the Outcasts have perhaps the most restrictive subfactions – thanks to their very themed playstyles.
- The Salt Nomads
- The Slavers of Chains Barrow
If you choose to collect and play the Outcasts, you can play an “Unaligned” army, choosing from the core troopers of the Outcasts, (including the Wasteland Warriors, Scuts, Pit Fighters, Brutes, and solos such as Brute Pushers, Bullys, Manhunters, Fixers and Warchiefs) And that is just the tip of the iceberg! If you choose to, you can command one of the Subfaction forces, and gain access to most of their troop choices and characters as well.
Finally, while not a Faction per se, we also come upon the Bounty Hunters. You can add Bounty Hunters to Forsaken or Outcast armies – the other factions in the game tend to see Bounty Hunters just as more humans to kill.
Playing with the Outcast starter box: This box really gives you a lot of options for an Unaligned Outcast force, which will help you delve into either subfaction if you want, or you can continue down the straight Unaligned Outcast road. You start with a trio of Wasteland Warriors, who have versatile ranged attacks and respectable melee. They give you a solid core of dependable, if not super survivable, troopers. For assassination help you have a Manhunter, who is very capable of driving opponents crazy with his Paralysis ability on both his melee and ranged attacks. Next you have a Fixer, very helpful for ignoring Malfunction results and also patching up your wounded. Then you have your Warchief, the leader of your little band, swinging his battle mace and brandishing his Enforcer pistol. Finally, you have Blades, a Bounty Hunter with paired knives, ready to take about your opponents slice by slice. Don’t forget that most of your models benefit from Scavenge Counters – your models can improve based on the death of your own troops or you enemy’s. Although it might be sad to lose your Wasteland Warriors, the Warchief who acquires their Scavenge Counters will be that much stronger to avenge their deaths.
“Honor is the only thing in this world. What sort of creature can live without it?” – Luck’kit’kai, Arbiter of Fate
“Big danger, danger, avoid, flee, ambush, kill.” – Red Hot
“They are not our foes of legend but they die like them. We came for the Altegrans but we will gladly punish these Dragyri, their debased descendents.” – Quetzol, Crusade Captain
The Dragyri were once the sole inhabitants of Samaria, and part of a larger, system-spanning empire. However, a terrible cataclysm severed them from their empire, and changed the Altegran Masters into Slaves and the Warrior-Slave Dragyri into Masters! Don’t worry. Just brace yourself for honor and integrity and some elemental mastery and you’ll be an amazing Dragyri general in no time.
Some of the strengths of the Dragyri include:
- Focus on elemental powers
- Varied gameplay styles from Caste to Caste
- Trueborn Dragyri have at least two wounds each, making them more durable
The Dragyri have four Subfactions:
- The Ice Caste
- The Air Caste
- The Fire Caste
- The Shadow Caste
If you choose to play the Dragyri, the Castes are really the focus of their forces, and they do not share many troops among them. If it’s the Ice Caste you are going to have options like Spirit Lords, Death’s Devices, and Frostbites. If it’s Air Caste, choose from Whispers, Cyclones and more. The Fire Caste offers powerhouses like the Pyres, Infernos and Helots. The Shadow Caste will bring Keepers, Gatherers, and Spiderling Minions. And all four Castes give you their requisite elementals and their fury to take back Samaria.
Playing with the Air Caste starter: Where the Ice Caste are well armored, the Air Caste are aerobatic and lithe. The starter box features a Spirit Lord of the Air Caste, who is a master of augmenting elementals or speeding up your troops. There is a Mancatcher-armed Tempest, who will bring down her foes with high efficiency thanks to her Grab abilities, and a chakram-throwing Whisper who can kill easily from range or up close. Finally there are three Disc Slaves, adding to your ranged threat and giving you some extra numbers.
Playing with the Fire Caste starter: The Fire Caste starter box is true to the nature of the Caste: brutal and efficient. It delivers three Truborn Dragyri with great unsubtlety. The box contains two Volcanic Phalanx, who will cross the field, shields locked, and deliver their Flame Spears right into the enemy. They are assisted by a Volcanic Helot who will likewise dispatch foes with a burning hatred.
Playing with the Ice Caste starter: While you are few, you are mighty. Your armor and your weapons are the terror of many. The Ice Caste starter comes with a trio of powerhouse Trueborn. The most powerful of which is the Spirit Lord, both a melee combat monster with his twin Crystal Swords, and a Psychogenic Invoker, able to harness elemental powers of the Ice Caste. Next is a Death’s Device, truly an apt named model whose sword prowess and strength can destroy even the toughest models in the game. Finally is the Soul Searcher, whose Infiltrate ability gives you options to deploy deep onto the field and threaten objectives, or your foes.
“Destiny has brought us to this forlorn place, where we reap a crop of insignificant lives. I swear that our knives will remain wet and slick and in the name of Kukulkan, his name be praised.” – Quetzol, Crusade Captain
“Devils from beyond the stars. Fighters from beyond death. Dead or alive, they all burn.” – Rath’zhi, Arbiter of Rage
“I’ve shot a lot of the weird blue men. I wish they would learn to stay dead.” – Zuriel, the Saint’s Artificer
Of course, where you have ancient star-faring races you are bound to have their hated foes who have come back to see what happened to them. Enter the Kukulkani, another alien race come to Samaria in the name of conquest. The Kukulkani are all about the power of sacrifice and fueling their magics with the lifeforces of their enemy. Kukulkan, their God, visited Earth in ancient days and raised up some of the Mayans as his eternal servants, and their descendents fight on, even today upon Samaria.
Some of the strengths of the Kukulkani include:
- Strong synergistic play between their warriors and their Technomancer Ritualists
- The “Bio-Enhanced” ability grants your models increased power after they kill their foes
- A walking monument that grows stronger as enemies die around it
The Kukulkani do not have subfactions at the current time. They remain united in their goal of wiping out all life from Samaria – at least for now.
Playing with the Kukulkani starter: The Kukulkani starter focuses very heavily on the Bio-Enhanced capabilities of it’s primary model, the War Captain. Through killing, he becomes a true combat monster. So to help you give him kills, both your Warriors and Harvesters have the ability to Hobble opponents, leaving them easy prey for your War Captain to follow-up and turn their life energies into Bio-enhance upgrades. These upgrades take the War Captain from good to great, and he will rapidly become a terror on the table. The warband is supported by heavy hitters in the form of the Honor Guard (great for melee) and the terrifying Ah’Chu’Kuk (a mobile gun platform).
“Gather all relevant hominid resources. Violent dissolution authorized. Compliance commencing in 4.13 seconds.” – ICON-CL457
“I hit ‘em until they stop moving, and then I keep hittin’ until you can’t build nothin’ out of the scrap.” – Phadrus
“Such wonderful toys. I could make so much out of them, if not for the unreasonable homicidal killing parts.” – Lilith, Architect of Change
Another faction with a taste for murder are the CORE. The CORE are an army of robots fueled by organic material. Their wars against the other inhabitants of Samaria are for their growth and their fuel as an entity. They are guided by an AI whose sanity might be suspect but whose capacity for harvesting the living of Samaria is unquestionable.
Some of the strengths of the CORE include:
- Special upgrade capabilities that mean your force can be uniquely tailored for your wants (this should be first, it’s their key thing)
- Fearless robots that never tire or run away from their foes
- A terrifying array of bio-mechanical monsters in every shape and size
The CORE follow the dictates of their increasing erratic Artificial Intelligence. They care about the dictates of their code, not the petty empires and struggles for the bleak wastelands of Samaria.The other races of Samaria are but fuel for their entropic engines.
Playing the CORE Starter: The Core starter offers up a variety of nightmarish robot killers. Your key piece will be the “character robot”, Nexus, who can share his Alpha Program with the whole force. While the Gamma Program will still give you dominance over fleshlings, Alpha Program offers you more flexibility. Nexus also makes the rest of your models better with Inspire. Next you have a pair of Menials – workhorses of the CORE. While they don’t look too exciting, they do have Scavenge and therefore can improve their stats as other models die – think of it as “field upgrades”. Next you get a heavy hitter, the Rend. Swinging a pair of Buzzsaws left and right, the Rend will quickly carve your opponent’s models into so much quivering sushi. Finally, but by no means lastly, is the TB-13, who will create Panic among your foes every time she kills. And she will be a repeated thorn in their sides, thanks to Sidestep. It’s a box full of emotionless, tireless corpse-collecting automatons.
“We will bleed this world and the worthless vermin who inhabit it. I will sit upon a throne made of dry Forsaken husks, and at last the Skarrd will be avenged.” – Father Mayhem
“We are a mix of screaming monsters and rather articulate psychopaths, don’t you think? Still, better than being under heel of the Prevailers.” -Dexus
“Scary bastards. Hard to kill. But don’t get me wrong – I’ve put plenty of those deranged freaks into the dirt myself.”- Hoj
The next human (well…mostly) faction in Dark Age is the Skarrd. The Skarrd are a very different sort of breed from the Forsaken. The Skarrd are largely feral, cannibal savages whose exposure to the Northern Wastes of Samaria have left them…changed. Further, now allied with the exiled former saint, Johann, the Skarrd have embraced the brutal science of Grafting, melding dangerous cyber tech onto their bodies with wild abandon. Finally some of the mutations have gifted select members of the Skarrd with twisted mental powers called Psychogenics.
Some of the strengths of the Skarrd include:
- Cheap units that can overwhelm and drag down their foes
- A bevy of mutant monstrosities
- Wide use of status effects to make themselves stronger or make their enemies weaker
The Skarrd have 3 Subfactions. They are organized around cults, different philosophies about how best to deliver death and destruction to the foes of the Skarrd. They are:
- The Toxic Cult
- The Blood Cult
- The Metamorphosis Cult
If you choose to collect and play the Skarrd, you can play an “Unaligned” army, choosing only from the core troopers of the Skarrd (including the Buzzblades, Harpies, Golabs, Fetish Bearers and Tribal Fathers). A frightening collection of mutated killers. If you choose to, you can command a Subfaction force, and gain access to all of their troop choices and characters as well.
Playing with the Skarrd starter box: The Skarrd starter box is a collection of “Unaligned” Skarrd, so makes a good starting point for any Skarrd player, regardless of whether or not you choose a particular cult Subfaction. The focal point of the box is the Tribal Father. Both an able melee warrior and a Psychogenic Master, the Tribal Father will lead your troops to a glorious future. You also get three Buzzblades, the baseline trooper for the Skarrd, but through the Skarrd’s ability to grant benefits, the Buzzblades can be turned into a horde of highly-skilled killers. Finally, three Bolas round out the box, giving you excellent utility and board control – the Entangle ability on their bolas means that you don’t have to kill your foes when you can simply drain away their Action Points and leave them helpless.
“Protect survive hunger kill kill.” – Murtros
“Truly they are the spawn of Hell itself, put here as a literal embodiment of evil and monstrosity itself!” – Grand Templar Marius
“In the name of Johann, what is that repulsive thing?” – John Woe, Herald of the Heretic
Finally we come upon the Brood. The Brood are a collective of bio-engineered swamp-dwelling monsters, descended from the forbidden experiments of long-abandoned secret laboratories from Samaria’s corporate past. The Brood are the creations of the Brood Mere, and her armies are her children. While the Brood Mere herself was created by man, she hates her creator for abandoning her, and her children are the instrument of her revenge. They are the ultimate in genetically engineered, purpose-bred soldiers.
Some of the strengths of the Brood include:
- Army-wide Regeneration – the Brood do not die easily
- A variety of evolved killing machines
- Bio-gens which grant you the ability to fine-tune your chosen army
The Brood do not have Subfactions, but instead have Broodspawn options. By choosing a particular Brood leader (such as Mutros, Mean Jelly Bean, or Helexa) and a limited selection of models for your army, those models all gain special abilities not otherwise available to the Brood. There’s no requirement to play as a Broodspawn and limit your options, but it does offer some special variety for players if you choose to use one.
Playing with the Brood starter: The Brood starter is a mix of power and speed, with the super-survivability that Brood Regeneration brings you. Your most powerful piece is Mandible, who has a pair of very accurate attacks (AS 9) and then a powerful surprise when his foes manage to wound him: Acid Blood! Furthermore he has a trio of Puds who can help chew through enemies. Rachets hit hard and bring both Knockdown and Paralyzing Poison to your arsenal, reducing even the toughest of opponents needed Action Points and greatly reducing their effectiveness – giving you control options for enemy models that you might otherwise struggle to take down. Finally, you get a pair of Brood Hounds which offer speed (moving up to 12” per turn) and Infiltration. Brood Hounds are tough and fast enough to reach your enemy first and tie them up while the rest of your forces get into position. The Brood starter is evolved to be better than every other thing upon Samaria.
After you’ve spent some time playing Dark Age, getting a feel for your faction and blazing your own personal trail to victory in Samaria, why not join other Commanders in the March To Immortality? The March To Immortality (MTI) is the series of tournaments run for Dark Age where the strong prosper and the weak must learn to endure their jealousy. The crowning achievement of the MTI is the Immortals Tournament – held each year at the CMON Expo, where the ultimate winner of the Immortals is invited to help the designers of Dark Age create a new model and character that will live on in the game. Prior models created through the Immortals include:
Could yours be next? Join us and find out.
- The Game
- The Factions