And now for something completely different: Relic Knight demo impressions…

One Shot
Cards, minis, and a campy anime vibe. What’s not to love?!
Edit: Oops, this post wasn’t supposed to go live until tomorrow.  Planning ahead fail.  Oh well, enjoy!

Last Thursday whilst recovering from my post Nova Open/Journeyman League Warmachine fatigue, another local, Hawk, and I played a (proxied) demo game of Relic Knights.

Yes, Relic Knights, that game with the infamous kickstarter (it was getting almost as crazy as the Reaper one with the amount of stuff they kept adding!).  A lot of our local players jumped into it, which is great as we should have a decent pool of players to pull from once the models arrive.  I jumped in with Plarzoid to pick up the Black Diamond faction for myself.

Anyway, what did I think of the game and how does it work?  Read on and I’ll try my best to explain…

Our demo game looked nothing like this.
Our demo game looked nothing like this.

The gist…

So Relic Knights is skirmish game like Malifaux or Infinity in that it is a very low count model game.  We played a 35 point game and unlike Warmachine, you pay points for your “caster” or Relic Knight, so in my One Shot’s case, she cost 18 points which left me with 17 points.  We decided to actually play a 36 point game so that we weren’t left with any big 4 or 5 point gaps, so that let me also take 2 Black Dragons (think heavy infantry) at 9 points apiece. Hawk played Doctrine with Kisa, this big bruiser looking guy and a team of three (I think they were the Prefects). So 4 models on my side, 5 on his.  Infantrymachine this game is not.

The next interesting thing is instead of dice, the game is played with cards, or an Esper Deck.  This deck reminds me of an Uno deck, sans numbers.  On the cards are two colors, one more prominently displayed than the other.  Each color corresponds to an element, with one side being worth 2 and the other 1.  Each element/color corresponds to a faction, in my case playing Black Diamond, that color was purple which represented Corruption.  You use the cards to make actions, attacks, and to defend.  Which I’ll explain in a bit.

Each model has the standard movement and other stats you’d expect.  There are no ranges on weapons that use it (guns, spells, etc).  Each character is able to make a move, then an action, than another move, all determined by these stats.  For instance, One Shot could move 5″, shoot a Focused Shot at someone, then move another 4″.  Spells effects tend to stay in play the entire game unless removed by another effect or Cyphers.  So with all the movement and effects getting placed the game gets really hectic, giving it that chaotic, anime styled brawl feel that I think they are going for (hello Dragon Ball Z).

Now a little bit about actions.  Each model has different attacks and defense abilities, each one with a number and color.  So for my Black Dragons to shoot, it required 5 purple.  I would declare action, target and then throw down the amount needed from the 5 cards in my hand.  Then you draw some more cards based on a stat of your character.  You can use these cards to decide to “press” the action, giving it additional properties (Ie, cannot be dodged, etc).  The defender did the same.  At the end you discard back down to 5 cards and it’s you opponents turn to go.  Rather than moving your entire army in one turn, you only move one model at a time, which it helps with keeping the game very fast paced.

And the game goes back and forth like this.  There are lots of additional nuances that I haven’t even scratched yet, but this is a good basic overview of how the game works.

Really cool.
Really cool.


I actually thought the game was really fun!  It’s definitely different from Warmachine and won’t be replacing it, but it’s a great little side game when I want a breather.  They really are much different experiences.

The card mechanic is super easy to grasp and reminded me a lot of Hearts or something.  It gets interesting when you start pulling cards and just kind of put your faith in them (much like dice rolling).  For instance: should I discard this card with blue on it, which my guy needs to dodge, on the chance that I’ll pull a purple or red, which are the colors I need for attacks?  (Then I would pull yellows and oranges which did jack for me)

I really enjoyed playing as the Black Diamond as well, they were right up my alley.  So I made the right choice there and this makes me even more excited about receiving the models.  It’s a completely different playstyle than I’m used to in that it’s 95% shooty.

I’m also going to paste Hawk’s comments from our email chain that our Gaming Group has which has his thoughts about the game:

Great side game.  I do have concerns that their desire to be a growing and successful minis game company will cause them to release a bunch of stuff making it more complex and expensive but so far the design does seem to be more simple.  I feel it plays like a button masher 2player fighting console video game.  Warmachine is more like a 3rd person RPG+RTS+chess and infinity is well….

Its fun and the relic knights in particular are more resilient than many other minis games’ heroes.  The Kickstarter packages come with a lot more basic troops than I think most of us will use in the game size I’d like to play (50 points, half a dozen models tops).  This means we should get together with people who aren’t in the Kickstarter and plan out some trades to get the most out of the starter set stuff we won’t want and the extras we can get.
Pros: fast play, no math beyond adding to FIVE (which is a factor for speed despite the intelligence of the average gamer), resilient heroes, lots of MOVEMENT.  Different genre: this game despite being the campy side of anime has 100% stolen my sci-fi mini game interest from Infinity on the basis of rules.
Kickstarter pro: Cheap!
Cons: terrain doesn’t do that much and you need LARGE pieces to be any factor for the mounted relic knights  This will be a factor for three reasons: 1) we have to cart terrain to GP-C [Side-Note: our store does not have terrain] 2) WM and 40K terrain isn’t tall enough to block LOS for relic knights 3) without cool terrain to match the genre I fear the game won’t look as cool with people using felt square “skyscrapers”.  Second Con: some rock paper scissors in the defense mechanics.  My relic knight had a dodge which made me pretty invincible to Ron’s shooting, but my other stuff only had soaks to decrease damage taken – and Ron’s most basic shooter dude had a reliable ability to ignore this.  So basically I had either super defense or no defense.

Kickstarter con: minis not out till may 😦

So there you have it.  I know many of you jumped on the Kickstarter and may have been curious about how the game played.  I’m sorry I couldn’t touch on everything as there is a lot to any miniature game, but if you have specific questions, just leave a comment and I’ll try my best to answer it!

5 thoughts on “And now for something completely different: Relic Knight demo impressions…”

  1. Great little intro. Glad to hear you guys enjoyed the game. As far as the kickstarter amount of models, there will be some sort of squad rules. They have been sort of teased but nothing official yet. It should still stay small but let you get some of those units you bought out on to the table!

    1. That should help a lot as long as it doesn’t extend the time it takes to play a game. This is a game that seems like it is best when played in shorter bursts, like the 45 minutes -1 hour range.

  2. I honestly hadn’t thought about trying to buy someone’s kickstarter extras, but it is an interesting idea and one I’d probably go for since I didnt have the cash to get in on the kickstarter at the time.

    I watched you guys play and it did look like a lot of fun. I do like that you can play a game in an hour or so.

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