Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Relic

RELIC

by Fantasy Flight Games

Published in 2013

Relic is a board game set in the awesome Warhammer 40000 universe - to me, that pretty much is enough to make me buy the game!

The game is built on the well-known mechanic from the game Talisman. The game board has a number of spaces that are organized in three tiers. On their turn, player rolls a die and moves their character clockwise or counterclockwise, and then resolves whatever it is that their destination space has to offer.
The victory condition awaits the players in the middle of the board.

Relic is not meant to be played as a single-player game. The rules doesn't offer much in terms of player interaction, but there are a few cards that refer to "another player", and a game of Relic is essentially a race towards the middle of the game board... and racing alone is boring!
But my desire to play this game solo was great enough to make me write a single-player variant on top of the Relic game rules. The following session is played using that variant. A link for the variant can be found from the end of this blogtext.


Relic has 10 characters, heroes if you will, each representing a strong individual belonging to the Imperium of Man. These chracters are sent to investigate a distant Antian Sector, where a Warp Rift has opened and brought evil forces into our plane.
During the course of their adventure, the heroes must battle numerous enemies from the Warhammer 40k universe, including Okrs, Eldar, Tyranids, and the forces of Chaos. And as they gain more experience and influence, they become stronger and stronger until they are ready to travel through the Warp Rift and face the final challenge...

The character for this adventure is a Ratling Sniper, serving under the command of the Imperial Guard.

The Sniper is a very crafty fighter, capable of evading enemies he doesn't want to face.
Those enemies he do decide to fight, he usually kills, as his sniper rifle allows him to deal critical hits more often than most other characters.

The Ratling has a high cunning, making him very strong against the Eldar... but his willpower, and especially his strength are low. This means that the brutish Orks and the terrifying Tyranids are likely to offer much more difficulties if faced in a combat.

The characters have missions to complete. The first mission for the Ratling Sniper is to "Cleanse the Hive World". The communications are down in the Hive World Vaulgast, and someone needs to go there and clear the threat.
Through completing missions, the characters will eventually gain access to Relics. A Relic is needed to travel through the Warp Rift, but the Relics also grant powerful abilities to their owners.

A part of the single-player variant is a "dummy player", that will be referred to as The Rival. The Rival will also be present at the Antian Sector, and he will also try to reach the middle of the sector...

The final challenge that the Ratling must overcome is a creature named Corruptis.

Corruptis, A Daemon Prince, awaits at his citadel deep within the Warp Rift, and spreads corruption through the Antian Sector. If the Ratling Sniper ever reaches the citadel, he will have to fight a desperate battle against this monstrosity, but in order to get that far, he must be able to resist the daemonic corruption that will constantly try to take him over...

THE GAME BEGINS:

The Ratling Sniper starts from the Burning Mountain, and begins to make his way towards the Hive World Vaulgast.
He stops at a location called Soul Trap, and meets an Apostate Preacher. The Sniper kills the heretic with a relative ease, but while fighting him, the Ratling already begins to feels the corruption spreading! Nothing major yet... but every bit of corruption is going to make the final battle against Corruptis that much harder.

The Sniper continues, only to face a Chaos Fury. With great cunning, the Sniper effortlessly destroys the Daemon.

The Sniper reaches the outskirts of the Hive World. A group of Plague Heretics engage him in a battle of willpower. The Hero wins.
Defeating these heretics, the Ratling gains some influence. He also completes his mission.

He immediately receives a new mission: "Survey the Area". This mission sends the Sniper to survey two specific locations; Vaulgast Spaceport and Omnissian Shrine. Luckily these locations are nearby...

While trying to get to the designated locations. The Ratling comes across another Daemon, A Flamer of Tzeentch.
The Ratling determines this enemy to be a little bit too powerful for him, so he uses his stealth skills to evade the Daemon.
Just a moment later, the Rival comes forth and destroys the Flamer...

The Sniper reaches the Vaulgast Spaceport.

No threats can be found from there, so the area is easily surveyed. A useful piece of armor is also found - a Hexagrammic Ward. This piece of technology will help the Ratling to endure future attacks against his willpower.





Pushing towards the Omnissian Shrine, the Hero finds himself in a Core Cogitator. There he is attacked by a champion of the Thousand Sons traitor legion, and a Fallen Inquisitor. The heretic Inquisitor is evaded, but the Chaos Space Marine is not so easily tricked.
A furious battle is fought, but the Sniper manages to kill the Thousand Sons Chosen with his Iron Discipline.
This act earns the Sniper his first level! His cunning improves.

Still looking for the Omnissian Shrine, the Sniper searches the Vaulgast Spire in the middle of the Hive World.
Another Chaos Space Marine - an Emperor's Children Noise Marine is found and evaded.
The Ratling Sniper feels Corruptis' corruption spreading... Luckily no visible effects are yet to be seen.

But then something bigger appears! A greater Daemon of the chaos god Slaanesh, Keeper of Secrets, attacks the Hero. The ensuing battle is a battle of cunning, so the Sniper has a chance, but the enemy is very powerful indeed...
When abominations of this magnitude are faced, old feuds must be put aside: The Ratling calls for his Rogue Trader Rival to help him. The Trader answers the call, and together they manage to fight off the Daemon.
Both of them receive a great deal of honor from this deed, and as such, the Ratling may soon be able to claim his first Relic...

After the encounter, the rivals part ways again. The Sniper finds some some Orks from the wastelands of Vaulgast, and attempts to kill them.
But these Deathskull Mekboyz fight back and manage to drive the Ratling away, injuring him and sapping away some of the power from his Hexagrammic Ward.
Generally, the Ratling should avoid Orks... Their strength-based fighting techinques make is very difficult for the physically weak Ratling to fight back.


Finally, the Omnissian Shrine!

The Ratling is about to complete his second mission...





But the Shrine was occupied.
A heretic known only as "Warp Dabbler" is inhabiting the location, and he opens up a gateway to the Warp! A Seeker of Slaanesh comes through, as well as a Feral Chaos Renegade.
A battle of cunning begins, and the Ratling is confident, for none of the enemies seem particularly strong.

However, the Sniper doesn't manage to slay his opponents. The enemies are unable to damage him as well, but the mission will have to wait... The Omnissian Shrine is full of enemies, and they must be dealt with first.

The daemonic energies of the Seeker of Slaanesh causes strange things to happen to the Ratling Sniper! The spreading corruption causes the Ratling to receive Unnatural Vigour, imbuing him with a durability far beyond his normal limits...
The powers of Chaos are strong - without a doubt - but with what price..?

Retreating from the Omnissin Shrine, the Ratling faces a Tech-Witch heretic. This enemy is easily killed and a powerful Force Sword is found from the dead heretic's possessions.
This sword will come in handy when facing enemies in willpower battles.

There is no rest for the Heroes of the Imperium of Man:
A Howling Banshee attacks the Ratling. The horrific battle cry of this Eldar Aspect Warrior nearly ends the fight before it even starts, but the Sniper's high cunning allows him to find a way...

The Eldar loses the battle.

The Hero gains another level.


But somewhere far away, the influence of Corruptis can be heard... The Ratling's physique gains more unholy abilities, this time a Rapid Regeneration! Some of the Ratling's wounds seem to close themselves with a supernatural speed.
So far the corruption has only given more power to the Hero, but how much more can his mind take before it succumbs to the Chaos?

A sudden Warp Storm wreaks havoc across the outer tier, banishing all the current threats... The Rival may have somehow triggered this...

The Ratling spots a Tyrant Guard. Cautious as he is, the Sniper decides to evade this massive Tyranid, and continues towards the Omnissian Shrine once again.

The Sniper visits the Grey Knights Envoy.
These mysterious Space Marines help the Ratling to power up and to ready himself for the future encounters against the enemies of the Mankind...






At a Titan Manufactorum, the Sniper is attacked by a Corrupted Servitor. He easily defeats this mechanical opponent, and manages to load his Force Sword with some more charges.

Back at the Omnissian Shrine!

Thanks to the Warp Storm, there is no sign of the Warp Dabbler or the demons...
Instead, an extremely dangerous Biel-Tan Autarch, an Eldar who has mastered the art of warfare is found at the Shrine. Playing it safe, the Ratling evades the Autarch and finally completes his surveying mission.

This rewards him with his first Relic - he is given the Reverent Fist, an item that greatly boosts his strength.
This will surely be useful, considering the otherwise weak physical strength of a Ratling.

The Sniper receives a new mission: "Navigate the Phantom Stars". Phantom Stars is the name given to an area located in the middle tier of this sector - an area that currently houses one of the Space Hulks. Something is going on at that area and the Ratling must investigate...

The Sniper comes across an Eldar Falcon Squadron. Fighting the Eldar is a Sniper's speciality, and so the Ratling decides to try and take out the Squadron's leader, the Farseer. His attempt fails, however... The Farseer damages the Hero and flees to her Craftworld.

A word spreads that the Rival of the Ratling Sniper has just reached the middle tier... The Ratling should hurry after him.

There are some ways to get to the middle tier.

The Ratling consults the Battlefleet Antias for this.
He donates the practically unused Hexagrammic Ward -armor to the battlefleet, and in return the fleet transports him to the Antian Shrine World, which is located in the middle tier.
The Phantom Stars -area is very close...

Before exploring the Phantom Stars, however, the Ratling has some unfinished business. The Eldar Craftworld is not too far way, and the Sniper knows that this is where the pesky Farseer fled after humilitating the Hero back in the outer tier.
The Ratling enters the Craftworld, very carefully evades his enemies, and assassinates the Farseer! This heroic act rewards the Ratling with a level, which further increases his cunning. He also finds an ally from the Craftworld:
A Navigator had been imprisoned by the Eldar, and the Ratling decides to take him along.

The Ratling returns to the Antian Shrine World to pray. He feels the corruption weighing heavily on his mind, and the prayer does seem to ease the corruption a little bit.

The Sniper enters the Phantom Stars. He explores the Space Hulk and faces a number of threats:
He easily kills off a group of heretic Plague Cultists, then evades an imposing Death Guard Hellbrute, and finally meets a Possessed Psyker. The Pysker doesn't exactly attack the Hero, but his psychic presence still manages to subdue the Ratling, interrupting the mission... The Ratling loses some valuable time trying to recover from the Psykers influence.



The Psyker also exposed the Ratling's mind for more of Corruptis' corruption. To fight off the corruption, the Sniper visits the Apothecarium Sepha located nearby. There some of his corruption is treated, easing the Hero's burden and allowing him to endure more chaotic influence.

Back to the Phantom Stars. This time the Ratling explores an asteroid belt named Tebian II. There he finds Lucius the Eternal, champion of Slaanesh and the Chaos Lord of the Emperor's Children traitor legion.
This immensely powerful creature beats the Sniper in a fight, but the Sniper still completes his mission.
The corruption-induced unnatural vigour keeps the Ratling in a great shape, despite the fact that his body have suffered deadly wounds...

Another mission is given to the Sniper. Two more locations to survey: Shadowed World right next to the Eldar Craftworld, and Blasted Nebula, which is located at the territory of the Ork warboss Deffsnaga, close to his massive Kill Krooza.

The Shadowed World is easily reached.

After defeating some of the lesser Eldar troops found from the site, the Sniper completes the survey on this area.

The Ratling gains his fourth level.





The Ratling reaches the Blasted Nebula, only to be fought off by a Flesh Hound of Khorne. Forced to move on, the Ratling visits Blackstone Fortress. There he spends some of his considerable influence to learn new tricks with which he can outsmart and defeat his enemies.

After recuperating at the Blackstone Fortress, the Ratling heads back to the Blasted Nebula to fight the Flesh Hound again. This time the creature is destroyed.
The Sniper completes his mission and gains a level.
His next mission is "Find the Traitor". This mission charges the Ratling to find the Rogue Trader and to investigate his level of corruption. However, it may be difficult to catch this man...

But an opportunity arises quickly: The Ratling finds another Greater Daemon, a Masque of Slaanesh... And just like earlier with the Keeper of Secrets, the Rogue Trader arrives to help the Ratling in the hopeless fight...
The Sniper and the Rogue Trader aren't able to defeat he Daemon, and the Ratling's unnatural vigour is tested once more, as the Daemon injures him.
But in the midst of all the fighting, the Ratling manages to come up with his report about the Rogue Trader's intentions - the mission is completed.


The Ratling gains another Relic, a powerful artifact known as Telican's Wellspring.
This Relic will keep the Ratling powered up for the rest of his days...







The Ratling kills another Chaos Space Marine, but the time is running out. He should soon start thinking about moving into the inner tier, through the Warp Rift, and to begin his mission to slay Corruptis...


Another level is gained, but the Ratling isn't ready yet...

A couple of more levels are needed to give the Ratling a fighting chance against a mighty foe like Corruptis.

Yet another Chaos Marine - a Death Guard Missile Launcher - attacks the Sniper. The Sniper draws his Force Sword and defeats the foe - and another level is gained.

The Ratling then visits the Antian Shrine World again. This time he finds his Rival there as well. The Ratling steals some valuables off from the Rogue Trader, and then begins to pray again. The prayer "cures" the Rapid Regeneration out from the Ratling, but at the same time his level of corruption becomes relatively low...
Maybe now is the time to face Corruptis.

The Rival leaves the Shrine and enters the Warp Rift, reaching the inner tier.

Fighting through ranks of lesser enemies, the Ratling earns his eighth level.


The only way to the inner tier is through the Warp Rift, guarded by Eldar warriors.

As the Ratling approaches the rift, a Warp Spider appears and tries to stop him, but the Ratling easily kills the enemy.





The Ratling makes haste through the Rift.
He uses his influence and his experience to move fast through the first few of the wretched places that lurk behind the Rift, racing past his Rival, and finally stopping at Daemon World Braxas. There his ally, the Navigator rescued from the Eldar Craftworld, is lost.

Now the Hero must withstand the Ruinous Powers, one after another, to reach the middle of the inner tier where Corruptis is waiting...


Palace of Slaanesh. This is where the Prince of Pleasure will try to make the Hero lose their way with his Whispers of Desire.
The Ratling's high cunning allows him to push through...

Garden of Nurgle. Here the Plaque Lord's Pestilent Miasma will ravage both the body, and the mind of a Hero who tries to make his way through.
With great effort, and some help from his Telican's Wellspring -relic, the Ratling passes unhindered...

Fortress of Khorne. In this maddening fortress, the Blood God's Fury will destroy any Hero foolish enough to come this far.
The Ratling Sniper suffers grievous injuries, but survives...

Maze of Tzeentch. The Changer of Ways has laid his Web of Lies to make the Hero lose his resolve and be forever forgotten.
The Sniper gets lost... Time passes, his powers wane, and the Rogue Trader reaches Corruptis first...

But there is still time - the Ratling comes to his senses, and charges after his Rival to challenge Corruptis.

The first strike is a successful one. Corruptis suffers damage, and the Ratling feels his corruption giving up!

And another successful attack!

The Sniper lost many of his powers to the Maze of Tzeentch, but the Telican's Wellspring empowers him with new ones.

With Iron Discipline, he fights against Corruptis.

The Ratling is now free of corruption! Damaging Corruptis causes the corruption to withdraw from the Ratling's mind and body.

But then Corruptis fights back, and injures the Sniper... The unnatural vigour is long gone, and now he is really beginning to feel all the damage that his body has sustained.

More damage! Corruptis is turning the tide of the battle against the Ratling. The daemonic onslaught of Corruptis causes the Ratling to fall into a Blood Rage...

Then it's all over!
The Rogue Trader delivers a killing blow and ends Corruptis' reign of terror. All the glory is taken away from the Ratling Sniper, while his Rival, the Rogue Trader claims to have defeted the Daemon all by himself.

However, the sector is saved, even if the Ratling Sniper failed to achieve his goal!
A game lost, but the Mankind saved!


CONCLUSION:

A very close call! I could have just as easily defeated Corruptis and won the game, but then my luck changed at the end. So I would say that this was a tough and a very interesting game, although maybe a little one-sided; I didn't find many encounters, and most of the enemies I fought were creatures of Chaos or Eldar. There are a lot of cool Ork and Tyranid enemies in the game, and I didn't get to see them at all in this session.
But then, maybe that's just good strategy! The Ratling Sniper is all about killing Eldar...

The luck-factor in Relic is high, there is no denying that. After all, the threats are mainly dealth with dice rolling, and the threats themselves are randomly drawn from the decks. Still, there is an element of strategy somewhere behind all the dice rolling: My performance in this game has significantly improved over the time.
Actually, I can't even explain it very well, as the game rules do seem to point towards a simple, luck-based game with a little chance for actual strategizing... Somehow I have gotten better in this game, and it means that there is much more to Relic than just luck.

The game components are very nice - I especially like the chracter boards, where the character sheets are inserted and the skills of the character are tracked by some really nice dials. A very clean, cool and - above all - effective way to keep track of your character's progress.
The cards have very Warhemmery artwork in them and serve their purpose well.
The game board is interesting... I think I'm going to write; the game board is a mess! But it is a very thematic and artistic mess. It has a lot going on, but after looking at it for some time I begun to like it.
Somehow it seems to represent the Antian Sector very well - a huge, chaotic and colorful place!

RATING:  8 /10

SOLO RATING:  7 /10

While Relic definitely is not the best of games to be played solo, it can be done. Practically Relic could be played solo even without any variant rules, but I would imagine that to be a bit dull... However, a decent solo variant can be made, in which case the game becomes enjoyable even without other players.

The single-player variant used to play this particular solo game can be found from this link:

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