Wednesday, December 28, 2016

2016 Year in Review: Dark Age

Continuing our Year in Review, I wanted to offer up a new game to us, but one that has been around quite a while. Dark Age is a 32mm true-skirmish (only 5-10 models needed) that is based on the art of Gerald Brom.

Dark Age has been on my radar for a while - I always see the sweet models at AdeptiCon and on the CMON store, but I've never actually seen anyone play. However in the last year or so it seems that CMON is really pushing Dark Age to grow and there is a playerbase growing here in Michigan.

What do I like about Dark Age? I'll break it down into a few sections.

The Models

Obviously any miniature wargame is going to stand on its miniature line, and Dark Age really shines here. They have a lot of 32mm sculpts (larger for more detail) that are absolutely beautiful. Some include:

Old Ma might be my favorite. She's got a really cool alt sci-fi style to her with all the straps, big tough boots, and jumpsuit on. She clearly looks like she's ready to fight and doesn't take nonsense.

The Dust Bull is for my faction, Salt Flat Nomads. You purchase him and put him in your force and he runs across the board ready to gore people. I really like the 'animal' nature of the force - you can basically herd a bunch of angry animals across the board and sprinkle in some humans. This dude is HUGE, by the way.

The Oathpourer collects water and other resources and hands them out to her allies. This model is just really evocative and unique. She's crudely fashioned a staff from a faucet, she's carrying water bottles on her back, etc. 

Another herd animal, these dinos can fly jump over their enemies and hit them with a charge attack. I love the model, the only grief I have with it is that the feather arms fall off and get easily lost.

The Berserker is a beast in close combat, and he really gives you that apocalypse feel - crudely fashioned shell armor, weapons made from claws, bindings and wrappings all over. I really love the mottled shell work they did here on the studio model.

I said earlier I really like Old Ma but Mongo is probably my favorite. This dude is HUGE and has strapped concrete slabs onto his fists. He's a beast in the game and he'll be fun to paint.

The Aztec feel from the Kukulkani is amazing. They're super inspired and all of them look like they're ready to spring out of the jungle and destroy you. The middle model is HUGE. 

Some of the other models I really like. The CORE aesthetic is really cool - robots in the future who have gone from working machines to killer machines. The Brood Howler (big yellow/orange thingy) is such an amazing model - its huge and well detailed and gives you the idea its ready to strike. The Abomination for Skarrd was enough to almost make me start that faction instead of Outcasts. 

The only downside I have with the models are that some of them are very spindly. They have tiny pieces and most are pewter so they can break easily.

Alternating Activations

Going forward, I think I could only play games with alternating activations and I wouldn't miss anything. It truly is the superior way to play a wargame - you don't get blown off the board, you don't get combo'd into history, its just strategic one after another where you have to consider what you want to do and when.

Simple Rules

The rules for Dark Age are simple, and they're free. Note that simple does not equal dumbed down - it is simple yet strategic. There are no base arcs, for instance. Each model will have special rules, but they're easy to understand and they're all on the (free) cards. 

Another example of simpleness - if you move into contact with an enemy, it counts as a charge, and you do your attack. You don't have to move double your speed, roll random distances, etc. It just happens. 

The only drawback here is that the game involves a ton of tokens. I think after a while of playing you'd get used to it and not forget, but there will be a learning period.

Intriguing Universe

Dark Age seems to be a post-apocalyptic setting with some sci-fi and magic thrown in, and it works really well. There are some models that I'm not huge on with the BDSM stylings, but I can play other factions. 

The Salt Flat Nomads scrape by in the desert by herding animals and fighting for scrap materials. When you look at their models you really get how desperate their survival is.


The rules and cards for all your models are free online to download and print. This is another modern wargame trend - produce great rules for free as a loss leader that then drives sales of your models. Obviously this wouldn't work for some companies, such as TFL or Studio Tomahawk, who only produce rules and no models.

It also allows the company to update cards and rules and players don't have to pay out of pocket for it, which is the best way to go.


Dark Age is definitely a Skirmish game. You need 5-10 models depending on point costs of each one. That is really nice and makes the game really accessible - you don't need to remember a ton of special rules.

The only drawback here is the cost of the models. If you're coming from some games where you have larger model counts of plastic minis, you're paying two or three dollars a model. With Dark Age, you're going to be paying 10-20 dollars a model. It balances out since you don't need many, and the starter packs are really good values to get you going.

That's it for Dark Age - check back in 2017 for a lot more on this really cool game!

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