One of the nice things about writing these pieces is that it gives me some impetus to look through my collection, pick out some of the more interesting or lesser known games, and then to put a bit of effort into painting or playing. As all I seem to have painted recently is red power armour, I wanted something a little different to focus on and Tor Gaming’s Relics looked like just the thing.
Relics is set in a post-apocalyptic fantasy world where the survivors struggle for domination in the aftermath of a titanic spell explosion which decimated the population, warping bodies and minds and unleashing chaos in its wake.
The figures have a lovely style quite their own – currently available are the Britanans (Napoleonic Sack Puppets sewn by a mad human king), Orcnar (mutated Orc-like creatures) and Vaettir (spirits/elementals which put me in mind of Watcher from Darksiders). Nuem (clockwork androids) are next on the release list.
In the accompanying photos you can see the Britanan army starter set. As long as you’re buying from a retailer (rather than direct) the basic starter sets (larger ones are also available) each come in a can, which will either make them stand out nicely on the shelves or drive whoever does the merchandising round the bend. This starter contains 9 Troopers, 3 Grenadiers and 2 Dragoons – enough to give you three units to play with. There wasn’t a great deal of clean-up required, although I did need to do a bit of filing to create clean joints for glueing the Troopers heads. No pinning was needed, though.
After a long public beta test, Tor Gaming recently released the final print version of the rulebook. I’ve not had chance to look one over yet, as I’m still going from the preview PDF version in conjunction with the current free version of the rules. The free rules are actually 34 pages long and are a cut down version of the full rulebook, just missing the rules for command, morale, magic and most of the profiles. Apart from that you’re looking at pages taken directly from the main book, which gives a very good idea of what you’re getting.
Crucially, the free rules contain everything you need to play using any of the basic starter sets. They could do with an editing pass to correct some spelling mistakes and to clear up a few references to things which are only in the full book, but as a freebee they do an excellent job of selling the system. It’s also nice to see plenty of background alongside the rules, with a mixture of history, short stories and poetry accompanying some lovely pencil illustrations.
Relics is an alternating action system, so players take turns activating a unit. That unit can then move and/or take an action, before play passes back to the other person. Some thought has clearly been given to ease of play, and the rulebook spells out things like cover, terrain and targeting – I didn’t notice anything too complicated or obscure.
Of particular note is the dice mechanic. Attacks (melee or ranged) consist of rolling 2 or more D6 and looking for doubles – each double counting as a success. Spells use the same system with units having a pool of dice to cast from, choosing to make several attempts with a lower chance or throwing more dice in the hope of success.
Careful positioning is important, as units are able to combine their attacks to make it easier to hit tougher targets, but whilst only figures in base contact are able to strike in melee excess damage caused can spill over to nearby models. This goes quite a long way towards simulating the feel of a sprawling battle and the ability of powerful models to cut swathes through weak opponents, without neutering rank and file troopers.
With my starter painted up and ready to go its time to play – look out for a battle report in the second part of this article.
In the meantime you can download the free rules from Wargame Vault (you’ll need to sign up for an account), and if you like what you see you can buy the full version PDF for a little over six quid. The figures are available directly from Tor, or one of their distributors.