In this article, Guest writer Bob Kitchen shares his thoughts on Relicbalde and why he took the plunge into the savage realms.
Bob is a middle-aged nerd who made the conscious decision not to grow up at about the age of 23 and has never regretted it. He cut his wargaming teeth on WRG Ancients in the late ’70s, before moving on to D&D and Runequest at college. Then it was a short interlude for adulting before he became involved in a Roleplaying group that lasted for over a decade. He played Rolemaster, and Cyberpunk (2013 AND 2020) as well as Star Wars RGP. That group eventually fell prey to time until it evolved into two guys and a regular board game night that lasted another 12 years. This was filled with Zombiecide, Z War 1 and Massive Darkness. Yes, it was a decade of dungeon crawlers. This overlapped with a sudden and quite unexpected passion for Bloodbowl which has taken him around the UK and into Europe (The North American Adventure being stymied by COVID-19). Now, with his regular game night buddy having decided to retire to the country he is ready for new people and new challenges. When not enjoying extended adolescence, Bob has a day job and a side quest giving guided tours of the British Museum.
So I first heard of Relicblade when a friend pointed it out. Was I looking for a skirmish fantasy game? No. I had dabbled in Warhammer, but it had never lit my fire, and I didn't fancy the outlay in army books. But I had a look and tried Relicblade out on TTS (where I was comprehensively flattened). The mechanics were interesting, and I liked the roleplaying feel of it. In Warhammer you have a few hero's and lots of costly (in real money terms) walking casualties. Yes I know that is a simplification. How about a game where you only bothered with the Heros? Voila Relicblade.
Each hero has a cost point, you can add extra abilities at a few points each, and you play 100pts aside. So basically it is your Thursday night D&D group against mine! The figures correspond to the usual fantasy tropes. So you have mages, clerics, fighters, rogues/thieves, and "others" (such as an awesome gnome on a fox) with each having subdivisions, so the Temple of Justice Fighter (TOJ) is a Knight, while the Wilderkin one is a Barbarian. Relicblade has a low entry point. You need four figures, and you are away. One slightly vexing point is that to get your four figures, you need to buy two starter boxes. Average point cost per character is about 23. So four characters and 8 points for customisation (see the next instalment). So two sets and the rulebook, less than £100.
The factions are quirky. There are the usual elves, but that is about it. The (TOJ) cleric is some sort of lizard; there is a six-legged reptile in the lizard faction, the Moldorf Bibliothocary has shades, The Deep has an Eel mage. And of course BATTLE PIGS! There are NO SPIKY CHAOS WARRIORS HERE! What we have is one person's vision made metal. Check out the range at Exit 23, if that is not enough to interest you then can I tempt you with Babylonian goblins on flying carpets (which was the new neutral faction in the latest kickstarter), if the very idea of that does not get your juices going, you are dead inside.
So I was in, but which two boxes. There are two "sides" Advocate and Adversary, The "Good guys" and the "Bad". A hero from one faction will not fight for the other. There is also the neutral dwarf faction (Moldorf) who will fight for anybody. I was tempted by the dark side, because I love the look of the Deep Faction (Fish monsters! See, what is not to like! What other game will give you a Shark Warrior?), but ultimately it was, you guessed it, gnome on a fox that decided me. So faction 1 was the Wilderkin, I was going Advocate. But what about faction two. I was split between Lone Guard and Temple of Justice. Lone Guard seem to be ranger types so would probably fit well, but TOJ has a lovely thief figure and looked to have clearly defined roles within it (Tank/Healer/Thief) So I went with that for ease.
The figures, when I had them in my hand, were charming and well made. There is a bit of pinning needed on some of them so be prepared for that. The Cleric, in particular, has his shield and forearm as a separate piece and joins at the elbow with a 90-degree turn which was a tad awkward. The castings are clean though and need a minimum of cleaning up. The figures are detailed but not fussy. They paint up easily and, given you only need four, you can be table ready in no time. Each pack comes with a variable number of cards. A card for each model (riders and mounts get a card each) and additional cards to customise the heroes. TOJ totalled 13 and Wilderkin 10
Next time I will Theory Blade a couple of forces using the above factions as a base.