The latest addition to Warlord’s growing family of 2000 AD miniatures games, Kiss My Axe! introduces the barbarian, king and hero of Tir Nan Og, Sláine. This starter game also includes a selection of other characters from the world of Sláine. In this article, we will profile those characters and examine their strengths, skills and outstanding features.
Sláine Mac Roth and Ukko the Dwarf
Our titular hero, Sláine mac Roth is a storied warrior. Fuelled by a thirst for adventure, Sláine wanders the Land of the Young (otherwise known as Tir Nan Og)in search of coin and bloody battle. He is also accompanied by the unscrupulous dwarf, Ukko.
Sláine is unique amongst all 2000 AD characters in that his profile is made up of two different stat blocks. The first is for Sláine mac Roth the human warrior, the second is for the so-called ‘Warped Sláine’, a transmogrified, grotesque and destructive distortion of Sláine.
Sláine Mac Roth
Sláine is a mighty warrior. As one would expect of such a hero, Sláine’s profile is impressive. At 6, his Move is the best a Human model can possess, making it easy to either get him into combat, capture objectives or keep him out of an enemy’s threat range. A Sprint order gives Sláine the potential to move 18”; that’s half a standard 3×3’ board in a single action! Equally, his Move also allows him move up to 12” with a single Charge order; that’s more than enough to make most opponents wary…!
…And well they might be. With a Fight of 5, Sláine can roll five dice in melee combat; this is matched only by his deadly enemy, Elfric.
Conversely, Sláine’s Shoot of 3 is average, but that reflects Sláine’s fondness for melee. If a player feels compelled to give Sláine a ranged option, however, he can be equipped with a Tathlum for an extra +6 Notoriety. This Tathlum—a hardened ball composed of human brains mixed with lime—is inaccurate (-1 Throw modifier), but it is bestowed with the Hex attribute.
A model injured by a Hex weapon should be assigned a random, face-down Hex marker. The next time the hexed model moves, the maker should be turned over and the number revealed deducted from the model’s move distance. Hex affects any movement, including giving ground. Remove the Hex marker after it has taken effect.
At 2, 4 and 5 respectively, Sláine’s Evade, Resist and Cool are also suitably heroic. Of his enemies, only Slough Feg, Elfric and the king of the Fomorians, Balor of the Evil Eye, have a higher Resist.
Sláine’s profile is rounded out by his Skills, Boons & Feats. Hero of the Goddess allows players to draw two Feat cards for Sláine at the beginning of a game. Defiance ensures Sláine suffers no reductions to his Stats when he is issued with his first injury marker. He may not, however, perform any double actions other than Charge or Recover when activated.
Warp Out is, arguably, Sláine’s defining Feat. Unique to Sláine, it gives him a +1 bonus to his Fight stat, making his prowess in hand-to-hand combat rivalled only by Elfric, and only then when Elfric uses his own unique Feat, Deadly Gaze.
However, if a player using the Warp Out Feat rolls two Special results whilst using Sláine in melee, Sláine will be transformed into the distorted monster that is Warped Sláine.
A hideous, contorted beast imbued with supernatural strength and stamina, Warped Sláine is a monster in melee. The nature of his shifting form is reflected in his Fight stat, which, at D6+3, has the potential to inflict obscene amounts of damage on opponents. His Resist of 6 also allows him to soak up an enormous amount of punishment.
Warped Sláine’s Skills, Boons and Feats reflect his hulking, chaotic presence on the field of battle. Dominator, for instance, allows him to move about the board unhindered by models which block his path. The berserk nature of Warped Sláine is not without drawbacks, however, as Warped One ensures he can only perform Move, Fight, Charge and Sprint actions.
Ukko the Dwarf
Sláine was gifted Ukko as a prize for winning a boardgame. Devious, greedy and lecherous, Ukko’s love of gold is eclipsed only by his sense of self-preservation. Despite themselves, Sláine and Ukko have developed a mutual fondness, but only after years of adventuring—not to mention bickering—with one another.
Ukko’s stats are underwhelming, but his Skills, Boons & Feats make him a valuable asset to Sláine. Coward allows Ukko to ‘give ground’ (move 2” away from an attacker) to avoid being wounded in melee. Whilst this may not seem like a particularly useful asset, it does ensure Ukko remains on the table at all times and is able to use Annoying;this skill forces opponents in combat with Ukko to follow the dwarf, driven by a continued desire to hurt him. This makes Ukko excellent at tying up opposing characters.
Lastly, Ukko can Goad Sláine into automatically failing a Cool test, thus enabling him to Warp Out. Goad also allows Ukko to use Take a Breath and Recover actions on Sláine instead of himself. Take a Breath allows characters to remove a Winded or Stunned marker. A Double Action, Recover allows characters to attempt to remove their Injury markers.
A druid in training and a dragon farmer, Nest has been on many adventurers with both Slaine and Ukko. Although only a young woman—and an academic one at that—Nest is a capable fighter with respectable stats.
Nest’s druidic training means that she can not only read and write, but also use magic. Thanks to her Druid in Training skill, players who include Nest in their warbands may draw two magic Boon cards before a game begins, consulting both and assigning one to Nest. The other is discarded.
Her adventures with Sláine and Ukko have made Nest a proficient fighter with the Capable skill. In a similar vein to Druid in Training, this skill allows players who field Nest to draw a Feat card and assign it to Nest.
Lastly, Nest’s experience as a dragon trainer gives her a +1 bonus to her Evade stat against attacks by any large monster or mounted model. It may not sound like much, but it could make all the difference!
A Drune Lord who has wielded Sour Magic for so long it has stripped him of his skin, Slough Throt is a cadaverous champion of Crom Cruach.
Although a character of only average combat prowess, Slough Throt’s Resist and Cool of 4 ensure he has the ability to remain calm whilst soaking up damage; this is just as well considering his Evade of 0 makes him easy to hit. It is as a sorcerer, however, that Slough Throt comes into his own. Sour Magic Practitioner allows him to draw two Sour Magic boon cards at the beginning of the game and keep one, whilst Champion of Crom Cruach lets him draw and keep one Feat card.
Skull Swords with Swords and Shields
Foot soldiers of Drunes, Skull Swords are brutish warriors who revel in the wanton destruction demanded by Slough Throt and his fellow Drune Lords. They wear breathing masks made from matted hair and a breathing tube; these masks allow them to withstand the fetid stench of their lords and masters.
Skull Swords’ stats are underwhelming and, when fighting alone, they present only a minor threat to any trained warrior. Their strength, however, lies in numbers. The Group (3) skill allows players to field them in units of up to three figures. In doing so, all models in the group are activated by a single Action chip and perform the same action. When attacking, one model in the group performs the attack whilst all models in the group that are within range of the target add their dice to the attack; suddenly your Attack 2 Skull Sword is, potentially, rolling six dice in attack. That’s enough to worry even the most hardened and warped of warriors…
Weirdstone and Drune Priest
Dedicated to the ascendancy of their god, Crom Cruach, the Drune have honed the ability to befoul the Earth’s mystical energies. This contamination creates a polluted form of sorcery known as Sour Magic. Drune Priests wield this Sour Magic, using it to cast spells and corrupt nature.
Weirdstones play an integral part in the Drune Priests’ plans. Whilst most are large, monolithic blemishes spread in an arcane network throughout Tir Nan Og, some are so small as to fit in a hand or pocket. Whatever their size, they bequeath certain advantages to those who worship Crom Cruach.
With its Cool of 0, the Weirdstone does not add an Action chip to the draw and can only be activated by a Drune Character, Champion or Hero within 2″ and which sacrifices its Action chip to activate the Weirdstone. When activated, the Weirdstone is able to spend Blood Points from its Sacrifice Pool.
Blood Points and the Sacrifice Pool
All players begin a game with three Blood points in what is known as their Sacrifice Pool; this pool can be used to purchase various benefits including the recovery of wounds, re-rolling failed Cool tests and more.
A Weirdstone’s Sacrifice pool is separate and entirely removed from a player’s Sacrifice pool. When a player fielding a Weirdstone gains a Blood point, that player must decide whether or not to place the point in their general Sacrifice pool or into the Weirdstone’s. Any Blood points stored in a Weirdstone can be used to perform a number of Actions, including summoning a group of Half Dead.
Fallen warriors of Drune recalled from the grave, these shambling cadavers fight for Crom Cruach once more. Note that, though there are no Half-Dead models in the Kiss My Axe! starter set, they will be available separately soon. Watch this sapce!
Feel No Pain: Injury markers placed on Half-Dead models affect only those models’ Resist stat; their other stats are unaffected.
Mindless: Half-Dead do not contribute Action chips to the draw. Action chips from other models must be placed on the Half-Dead in order to activate them.
Battle Ready: Half-Dead are considered Ready and will enter close combat with and against any enemy model that activates within close combat range.
Group: As with Drune Skull Swords, Drune Half-Dead operate as a Group and are activated with a single Action chip.
All This and More to Come
As impressive a line-up as this may be, it only encompasses the models in the starter set! When you consider how many other models are in the first wave of Sláine miniatures, it’s easy to see just how important an addition Sláine is to the 2000 AD family of games. With more of Sláine’s enemies and allies due for imminent release, this promises to be a game of mythical proportions.
In addition to the miniatures detailed above, the Kiss My Axe! starter set contains:
- 2x MDF Celtic huts and Fences
- 108-page full-colour A4 softback rulebook
- 8-page Quick-Start scenario booklet
- Full-colour, double-sided die-cut game tokens
- 4x Character cards
- 2x Unit cards
- 5x Hero Feat cards
- 13x Feat cards
- 18x Boon cards
- Plastic game tokens
- 2x Six-sided spot dice
- 8x Combat dice