So a friend sold me one of his factions he got from Kickstarter, so I figured I should get off my butt and try it!
Relic Knights is a Miniature Skirmish Battle in an Anime Universe. Figures are the ever-popular 28mm-ish scale with multiple races/disciplines in this futuristic Sci-Fi environment.
The galaxies are disappearing and finally, there is only 1 left. Can you help stop the “Darkspace Calamity” from claiming the last Galaxy or will you encourage the destruction. Only time will tell…
If you are a fan of Anime, you’ll recognize the basic outlines of the various Factions very quickly. They’re VERY stereotypical.
- Doctrine: the Wizards and Magic folks, trying to control “Esper” rather than “Winds of Magic”
- Cerci Speed Circuit: Think “Speed Racer” and all those other futuristic race cartoons. Happy go lucky racers fighting against each other and the syndicate as they try to entertain their audiences and earn credits to keep on racing. Saving the Universe just happens to be part of the fun…
- Shattered Sword: All those virtuous Knightly Orders and Paladins trying to protect the innocent and save the day.
- Black Diamond: Your Mercenary Guns for Hire with some being honorable, and some, well, we’re not sure. Sometimes you gotta take a dirty job to put rounds in the mags, ya know?
- Noh Empire: The REALLY ugly alien monsters that want to destroy or take over everything. The 2nd biggest threat to the Universe after the Deadspace Calamity.
- Star Nebule Pirates: Of course there’s those loveable rouges that rob from the rich and keep for themselves. One of the Pirates is ‘Captain Harker” – need I say more?
Rumor has it, a new version will be released soon, with more options for the original Factions as well as possibly more Factions!
Models are plastic / resin that I never really investigated further. Wash the figures before painting and you should be good. I’ve only used Zap-A-Gap and it works fine.
Model Detail is decent. I’m not a master modeler or painter, but there was enough detail for me to paint interesting figures and not so much as to overwhelm me. They look like 3D Anime figures – which is what they’re supposed to be!
Overall, I like the models. They’re easy to file / shave / customize. Painting is normal and up to the painter’s imagination. These figures pass the 2’ rule; if painted well, they look great from across the table – 4 out of 5 stars.
Warning: There is a lot of controversy about the figures released by Relic Knights. Some people will consider some of the figures “Mature”, bordering on Adult. The controversy is North American perception that Cartoons should be “Family Friendly”. Japanese Animation, on the other hand, has NEVER been restricted just to Children’s fare as it has in North America. Adult themes in Anime is common and some series / movies are specifically written for adults. As a result, certain factions use a lot of “Fan Service” poses: Skimpy and tight costumes, poses that may/may not show panties, figures that appear naked or almost so. Add some of the paint jobs being displayed by some of the more imaginative adult painters out there and Voila! Extreme Over-reaction.
If you are not offended by Games Workshop’s Slannish or other companies’ “interesting” figures, then you shouldn’t have an issue with Relic Knights. If you are bothered, review the site’s figures carefully before purchasing. Don’t let younger kids play with your figs so there aren’t any “interesting” questions asked, either!
This is the most unique play style I’ve played so far.
First, there are no dice to this game. Everything is done using “Esper” Cards. There are 6 “Colours” of Esper. Each colour represents a different aspect of esper: Law, Creation, Corruption, Entropy, Chaos, and Essence. Each Aspect has certain properties and can be used to do different things by those with the ability to manipulate it. The most powerful manipulators become Knights.
The Esper deck contains 42 cards that are shuffled and dealt or flipped to get your random results. Most cards have 2 circles of different colours, one larger than the other. The Larger circle is worth 2 Esper points of that colour, the smaller only 1 Esper point of its colour. There are also “Wild Cards” that are worth 1 Esper of any type and “Void” cards that aren’t worth anything. Also note – each Esper type is strongly affiliated with a Faction. At the beginning of the game, a player has a hand of 5 Esper Cards to start using their abilities.
Players form Cadres, consisting of at least 1 Knight (larger games can support more) and their Cypher (think Spirit Guide with extra abilities), Minions and Uniques. These Cadres draw random missions and attempt to carry them out. Whomever earns the Minimum required points to finish a game first, wins. Wiping out the enemy Cadre is an automatic victory as well.
The other unique aspect is that this is not a Turn-based game! Unlike You-Go-I-Go, Relic Knights uses alternate Activations. Players activate a unit, then the other player activates a unit. Unlike Spartan games, instead of going through all your units once before repeating, you can “Stage” your units in almost any order you want. With limitations. Players place their units on a “Dashboard” with a Ready Queue. Dependent on the number of points in the game, your queue grows in size. As you finish activating a card, you throw it into an Idle Section and advance all the cards in your queue forward one space, then select a unit card to go from the Idle Section to the Ready queue. (Very simplified and not quite correct – there’s an “Active” slot you move to, but it’s basically all the same.)
For example, a Start Box game (~35 Points) has a queue of 2. A 50 Point game has a Ready Queue of 3 slots. Large Battles (100 Points) have Ready Queues of 5 Slots.
This means you need to plan in advance what unit(s) you want to play when and try to have the required Esper cards ready for them by the time they activate! It’s not always that easy!
Units all have 2 cards: 1 “Tracker” card that is used to track damage and place within the Idle or Ready Queue & 1 Reference card that shows the various capabilities of the units and how much Esper (and what types) are required to perform them.
Best way to explain the game is to play the game!
Wer decided to play basic box sets, no extras. So Mike brought his Black Diamond Boxset while I brought my Star Nebula Corsairs.
Black Diamond Force:
- Questing Knight Leopold Magnus
- Cypher Static
- M8-Blitz Auto-Tank
- 5 X Diamond Corps (Basic Line Troopers)
Black Knight’s Missions:
- Secure Perimeter (Primary Mission – 5VP)Team must place Secure Tokens on their Primary Objective and on both enemy Secondary Objectives. Tokens must be on all 3 at the same time.
- Defense of Life (Secondary Mission – 3VP)
Opponent picks a unit and that unit must deposit a token on the farthest board edge from the unit’s starting position.
Star Nebula Corsairs Force:
- Questing Knight Captain Harker
- Cypher Caeser
- Broadside (Portable Cannon thingee!)
- 5 X Corsairs (Basic Line Troopers)
- Secure Perimeter (Primary Mission – 5VP)
Must destroy either 1 Enemy Primary Objective or 2 enemy Secondary Objectives.
- Anarchy (Secondary Mission – 3VP)
Place Sabotage Tokens on 5 different objectives, enemy or friendly.
We placed our Objectives, then our units, alternating placement between the players.
So, after drawing some random cards, Diamond’s got first Activation.
I put the 5 Corsairs in my first Ready Queue and Harker in the second. The Broadside & Cypher in the Idle pile.
First Activation, the Diamond Corps moved towards the Corsairs, picked 1 Corsair model as a target (All models within 6” of the target and LOS were fair game) and fired on them using PR-12 Rifle Burst, playing 2 points of Purple (corruption) Esper. The Corps then drew an Extra 2 cards (using the first value of the shooting icon) and “pressed” Piercing on the shot – reducing armour by 1. With only 3 models able to see the Target, the Corsairs suffered 5 points damage (3 Points + 1 point for each extra shooter) and reducing armour to None from 1. The Corsairs drew 2 Esper cards from their own deck (2nd number of the Shooting Icon) but didn’t have enough of the correct Esper to do anything in defence. Corsairs are worth 3 hit points each so I lost 1 Corsair and another took 2 wounds. After applying damage, the Diamond Corps did their Follow-up move. The Diamonds then moved their Corps to the Idle pile and both players did their “house-keeping” (Both players needed to “return” to 5 Esper Cards in hand, the “Active” player dumping any they don’t want and the Non-Active only dropping extra or filling their hand – no dumping of unwanted cards. Active player advances all their Ready Section 1 slot and grabs a card from “Idle” to put in the last slot.)
The Corsairs were not pleased and vented on the Diamond Corps. The Corsairs moved forward, 3 in contact with one model and declared No Quarter - a melee attack using 2 Orange (Chaos) Esper. I then drew 2 extra cards and was able to “Press” with 3 Red (Entrophy) Esper to increase the damage to 7. With 3 models in contact, I got a bonus 2 damage for a total of 9 Damage! The Corps drew 2 cards and were able to power-up Force Screen increasing their armour to 2. This dropped my damage back down to 7, but it was enough to kill 2 Corps members and damage a 3rd! I then made my follow-up move towards the survivors. During clean-up I dumped some cards I didn’t want and brought my hand back to 5, Moved Harker to 1st Ready Queue and added Broadside to the 2nd while the Corsairs went into the idle pile.
And that’s how play basically works…
Diamond’s Cypher, Static cast Electroshock over by Harker. It did no damage as it was an Area of Effect, but when Harker Activated, he would trigger the AOE effect and lose any Buffs he had as well as suffer Damage 4.
Harker activated (and got Zapped – took 4 damage) and Gained a Held Esper as he could draw Line-Of-Sight to his Cypher. Held Esper can be used as 2 Esper points of any colour you chose, when you want it. Harker then ran towards a friendly Objective and placed a Sabotage Marker on it, then hid behind a container during his follow-up move.
The Diamond’s Tank activated, moved forward, shot at and damaged the Broadside (5 Damage) then scooted behind a canister for cover.
The Broadside moved behind a container of his own and shot back at the Tank, but due to my screwy rules reading, I misunderstood how cover worked and ended up reducing my damage output BADLY! I only managed to put 1 damage point on the tank!
(READ THE RULES!!!)
The Diamond Corps took another shot at the Corsairs, and killed 2 more Corsairs.
The Corsairs shot right back and killed 2 more Corps Members.
Magnus activated and Gained a Held Esper as he could draw Line-Of-Sight to his Cypher. Magnus then moved towards Hawker and once he could draw LOS, he used Esper Overload to cause Hawker extra damage as the Pirate had Held Esper – causing another 8 Damage points, leaving Harker VERY hurt (I think I had 1 or 2 Damage Points left)!
Harker Activated but couldn’t see his Cypher this time, so no extra Esper for him. Harker moved out and shot the last Corps member using I’ll Take That – then pressed Reave & Lifeleech which allowed Harker to recover 3 Damage Points (that felt better) and gained an Extra Held Esper for killing the model.
The Diamond’s Tank came out from cover and blasted the Broadside (it had only 1 damage point left – I hadn’t even bothered to pull it from the Idle pile as I knew it wouldn’t last long enough to do anything). The tank then took cover behind another cargo container.
The Corsairs moved out and placed another Sabotage token on an Enemy Secondary Objective.
Magnus moved towards the Corsairs and target them with Electric Blast – killing one Corsair and pushing the other 4” away.
The Cypher Caesar activates and stole a Held Esper from Magnus, then flew out of sight!
The Tank continues driving towards the opposite table edge, and finally completed its move to the Opposite Board Edge, dropped their Life Token and claimed the Secondary Objective complete (3 VPs).
Harker moved out to get a Clear Line Of Sight and in desperation fires Command Shot, then presses it to increase the damage to 9 points. The Tank’s armour reduced the damage down to 6 – not enough damage to stop the tank! The Attack used up the last of Harker’s Held Esper.
Magnus then used Esper Overload on Harker again. Fortunately, by dumping his Held Esper previously, Harker saved his own life – though he was down to 1 damage point!
The Last Corsair took a shot at Magnus with Lead Tooth, and damaged the Diamond Knight.
<I lost track of an activation here – my tablet’s power died and I changed over to my cell’s note app. Sorry!>
Harker Activated and charged Magnus with Relentless, pressed the attack for 7 damage and overrun 6”. (Overrun pushes the target away, then the attacker follows the same distance – maintaining contact.) The attack wasn’t powerful enough – it only did 5 damage Points due to Armour and left Magnus Alive!
Magnus wasted no time. Cast Esper Overload on Harker and kills the hapless Corsair Knight. With his master down, Caesar flies away and left a single, solitaire Corsair on the battlefield.
I conceded the game at this point.
Black Diamond Victory!
So, First Game, very different, lots of Fun!
I Like the Esper deck mechanic. I’ve simplified things greatly here, but you should get the general idea how things work. The models are nice. The rules seem complete. The basic rules are simple, but there are a bunch of Minor rules or “Abilities” to try to learn and remember. The good news is that they’re all together in the back of the rule book – you don’t have to go digging through multiple sections for them. It sounds complicated at first, but once you start getting into it, the activations go quickly.
The Basic Boxes all include 1 Knight, a Cypher, a unit of multiple Minions and a single Minion (plus the Tracking and Reference cards for each). More importantly, you get the Esper Deck (with reference cards for Scenarios, various special rules and Esper Manipulation, damage card for the Objectives and a Token Tracker) and a bag of tokens – giving everything you need for a game – EXCEPT TERRAIN!
Speaking of which, Relic Knights is a very terrain intensive game. If you’re familiar with Infinity (and why aren’t you?), then you’re looking at that scale or DENSER! They recommend 2-3 pieces of terrain per Square foot! Half of it tall enough to block larger models (Humans are Size 2 – they recommend blocking LOS for Size 3).
Most of the box sets seem ok – I can see why you want to buy more units quickly. The Knights are usually ok, but some of the other units are “Meh” to Poor. For example, the Broadside for the Corsairs has a poor reputation, but everyone seems to like the versatility of the Corsair unit and recommend multiple units.
No matter what Faction you chose, I would recommend everyone get the basic box set. Play a game or two, then start filling out your army.
Bonus Marks Soda Pop Miniatures for additional support. They’ve released a Cadre Builder and Digital Dashboard for use on both Android and Apple Tablets & Phones. The cost is quite reasonable and you can purchase the Digital Rulebook as well for extra. I don’t know if they will extend this to Windows, but we can hope so.
Screen Shots of Digital App On Android!
Anyway, I like the game and I'm going to recommend it. I’m looking forward to my next game!
Hope you enjoyed this write-up!