I first saw Relicblade at Adepticon this year. It quickly caught my attention, and after a few minutes of talking to Sean Sutter, the game designer/visual designer/sculpter/studio model painter it became clear why. The whole things oozes singular authorship. Plus it’s a straightforward fantasy skirmish game, which evoked the days of playing D&D, but as a pure miniatures experience. I bought it without a real demo, just a few minutes explanation of the mechanics.
I finally played my first game recently. The mechanics are pretty simple — each model gets a certain number of Action Dice, which can be spent to move, attack, etc. To attack you have to roll to hit a target number, then make an opposed roll against their armor to do wounds. If a model runs out of wounds, it goes down but has a chance to recover at the end of the turn. Getting attacked while down will finish you off, but you can’t attack a disabled model while it’s engaged with another model. Getting isolated will get you killed, but stick together and you just might survive.
The two-player starter pits a party of adventurers against a group of barbarian pig men. There’s something of twist, though, as the cleric is not only some kind of dragonkin, but he can summon a Spirit Hammer, represented as a separate model that can be activated alongside him.
We played the Pack Yak scenario for the first real game. There’s a mobile objective (the Pack Yak) which one player is trying to get across the board. Whoever has the most models engaged with it at the end of each turn gets to move it down (or across) the board.
It ended up being a really tight and enjoyable game. I got the Yak nearly all the way across the board before finally being overwhelmed. A turn or two of bitter fighting at the end let the pig men break away with the goods.
The suggested board size is only 2′ x 2′, which makes for an intimate game. It also doesn’t take much terrain to fill it up. The Seeker’s Handbook has a bunch of suggestions for spice via terrain and neutral monsters. The simple mechanics means there’s a lot of room to play around with scenario-specific rules.
The two-player starter doesn’t seem to be available any more, in favor of single player faction bundles of models and the rulebook. The big downside is that the 2-player starter came with a deck of upgrades (and relics!) which seems like it’s basic to the game, and isn’t currently available in physical form. On the plus side, PDFs of the deck are quick cheap.
Hobby wise, I went for bright colors to go with the cartoony aesthetic. I’m especially proud of the bases. I got a flagstone green stuff base stamp from Happy Seppeku a while ago, but haven’t done much with it. Here I put random blobs down on the bases and stamped in the flagstone. After painting, I surrounded it in AK Muddy Ground and static grass. It gives a really nice ancient road effect.
I’m looking forward to playing more Relicblade, and picking up more models.