Every year during con season, and especially before Gencon, there is a  storm of information around  each company, and what they are going to release. With Gencon right around the corner, we are starting to become overloaded with cool things coming out.

I’ll start with a game that I don’t follow at all, but I have heard has a huge following, some game called X-wing. They are releasing an Epic Scale, if you will, game called Armada, and it looks potentially really cool. I like the concept of spaceship naval and dogfighting, and I would really like a game that enables me to play out that type of fleet action. The starter box is pretty cool, I’m not going to lie, with three capital ships, one of which is a Star Destroyer, and a quartet of fighter squadrons, but if the game really doesn’t get past that size, I’ll loose interest exceedingly fast. I want something big, massive, and fun. I’ll be keeping my eye on this one!

Next, Malifaux has released its list of box sets, Nightmare model, and Miss-model that it will be releasing this year.

Lookit alla that!

Lookit alla that!

Wyrd has been converting its entire product line over to plastic since the introduction of M2E, and this is yet another step along the way, with new, plastic, sculpts and crew boxes for Lucius, Zorida, Kirai, Von Schill, the Dreamer, and Ophelia. Also, for each Gencon, they produce a nightmare model that is a huge, alternate sculpt of one of their current models. This year they’ve decided to go with the Whiskey Golem, and I can’t really blame them! It is huge, awesome, and completely insane. Finally, as a treat for all the people picking up these models as pre-releases, every year they have a Miss-model – something you get free at a certian threshold of dollars spent. This year, they have a fantastic looking Alt. Teddy, Miss Ery.

BadTeddyRender If I played anyone who could use Teddy, I’d be all over that. Instead, there is nothing that really grabs me this year, so I’ll just wait for neat things to come out for my limited palette of models.

Infinity, too, is releasing a convention model, though I don’t know whether or not its their first time. Its gaining a lot of talk about its appropriateness, which I don’t care one way or the other about, but the model is at least passable. I don’t think the model looks particularly like the model. I also don’t play a faction that can field her, so her view on my radar is small.

Infinity Cosplay Model

Infinity Cosplay Model

 

In addition to this model, they will also have a Penthesilea Bootleg for prerelease. The bootleg line of models are supposed to be a botique style model that is made in the sculptors spare time, with an eye towards fun and beauty. The new Kum bike on her is pretty awesome, but again its not a model I can use, so it sits in the realm of neat, but not to interested

PenthesileaBootleg

Bootleg model for Gencon

Not to be left out, Relic Knights, in conjunction with Secret Weapon Miniatures, is releasing a line of colored Esper crystals. While I think they are cool, and people will definitely find a use for them, I just can’t.

Espers!

Espers!

Honestly, I think they are really, really cool, I just won’t ever use ’em

Finally, we come to the game I’ve been concentrating on for the greater part of a year now, Warmachine and Hordes. They have a trend of having big releases at Gencon, and this year the rumor mill is churning that the new Hordes book, Exigence, will be available for the purchasing, and there are tons of whispers about what it will contain. As the event comes closer and closer, we get more and more information about the next work, and even have a few tidbits from the mouth of PP itself, and with PP abandoning its long-used concurrent release concept for a more asymmetric style anything is possible.  We’ve already been privy to a pile of rules: Lesser Warlocks Zaadesh, Una, and Horgle; the Moonhound Argus and Rotterhorn Griffon, Dozer and Smigg, Borka, Vengeance of the Rimeshaws, and Fyanna the Lash. We’ve seen a combination of model, art, and concept sketch on Bradigus Thorle, A Character Satyr, Xerxis on a Rhino, a Strange Skorne Bug, Beetle Warbeast Pack, Epic Absylonia, Zuriel, Wasp Warbeast Pack, Jagga Jagga, Maximus, Meat Grinder, Sacral Vault, Swamp Gobber River Pirates,  Helga the Conquerer,  Brightblades, Neraph, and unpainted models of Troll Bandits.

Thats a TON of models with no rules or even hints, and I think that’s really, really cool. There were a ton of models that we knew everything about before the book even came out for Vengeance, and a lot of people were upset, almost as many as were exceedingly happy! Leading up to Gencon, as I said, we have some spoilers as well that have appeared. Some are substantiated, and others, well, believe for yourself

  • New Skorne Unit, Praetorian Keltarii, hinted at buy the Exigence Cover, and revealed in a Picture

    New Skorne Unit!

    New Skorne Unit!

  • Bradigus Thorle has Synergy and Wold-only Battlegroup
  • an enormous pastebin of crazy rules
  • Helga the Conqueror has Dash and Defenders Ward

Even Privateer, though, can’t resist releasing limited edition miniatures for Gencon, and just a few days ago revealed that they will have their pinup model this year as well. The Blighted Bather, a blighted Nyss bathing in a Spawning vessel. I do have to say the Shredder duckie is awesomely cute!

Blood Bath!

Blood Bath!

We’ll see what else comes out at Gencon, and whats proved unfounded. I look forward to it, and all the insanity it brings!

On Sunday I was able to get about 1/3 of a game of Relic Knights in. While not ideal, this was the first chance I had had to be able to throw down and get a general feel of the game. We had to call it early, but it was extremely enlightening.

I think I am really going to enjoy the game, honestly, because it has the feel of a fast paced simple game, while also being simultaneously deep and complex. The rules were easy to understand we only went to the rulebook a few time, if at all. It was a Battlebox game, which cut down on the complexity, but it was still enjoyable.

The Esper Deck is the foundation of the game, in my opinion, and is the second greatest resource of the game that needs to be managed – the other being the queue. There are 6 colors represented in the Esper deck, with each card having a primary and secondary Esper color. The primary color is worth 2 Esper, and the secondary color is worth 1. Each Color has six cards on which it is a Primary Esper, and six cards on which it is Secondary. The Secondary Esper on each card is one of the Primary colors allies: Blue (primary) will have either Green or Purple as a secondary, and so forth. You can tell the allies and enemies when viewing the Relic Knights logo, much like MTG

images

See, ain’t that cute?

Each faction has a color: Shatters Sword Paladins – Blue, Black Diamond – Purple, N’oh – Red, Star Nebula Corsairs – Orange, Doctrine -Yellow, and Cerci Speed Circuit – Green. In turn, each of these colors represents a vague, overall concept of the universe: Law, Corruption, Anarchy, Entropy, Essence, and Creation, respectively.

Every model has actions, and upgrades to those actions, called presses, that take the actions to 11. Declaring an action costs Esper as does declaring a press. Each model also has a set of Melee, Ranged and Psychic stats that allow you to draw cards both when making and defending against an action after the action is declared.

Thus:
Declare Action and Target
Play cards with total Esper value equal to or greater than the Esper Cost of the Actions
Discard extra Esper
Draw cards equal to your offensive or defensive stat, as determined by the attack type and your model
Attacker declares all presses
Attacker plays cards with total Esper value equal to or greater than the Esper cost of the presses
Discard extra Esper
Defender  declares all presses
Defender plays cards with total Esper value equal to or greater than the Esper cost of the presses
Discard extra Esper.

Each Faction tends to have three colors they use for their actions: Their main color, and the colors next to it. This means that my Star Nebula Corsairs tend to use Orange, with Red and Yellow as additional resources. This means that there are four card types that are completely useless to me: B/G,B/P, P/B, G/B. There are only 12 varieties of cards in the deck, which puts a full 25% of the deck into a completely dead state for me. Squall and Iron Chef can mitigate that nearly completely as they have abilities that require blue (Squall) and green (Iron Chef). There will be no card, if I have them in my crew, that could not be used.

But, outside of that it means that it is vital to have the right Esper in your hand at the start of your activation, and without it, you could completely waste your turn. Refocus isn’t always bad, but its not the preferred method of using a unit.

These! Get Them in your hand!

This all comes to a head because in the game I played, we were using the deck moderately wrong, and created a much worse play experience for me, thinking back on it, than I remembered having during the beta.

The first error was when I refocused, I was pitching my whole hand and drawing back up to five. This is not correct! Drawing 5 more cards and discarding down to 5 afterward is superbly better than the version I used. don’t try it at home, it sucks.

The second one was when, at the end of the turn, I had less than 5 cards in hand as an Attacker, I would simply draw up to the 5 cards we needed instead of pitching any dead cards and drawing to 5. This created an effect where both the defensive portion of a turn and the following activation were completely screwed!

This may be why a compatriot of mine is convinced that things die to simply, and that I am convinced that models almost never die. I was just barely scraping by enough to do damage, and he was using everything to his advantage to pull together multiple powerful attacks. I’ll have to try it the right way!

The second resource you have to manage, and the one I find the most enjoyable, is the queue. This is the selection of models you’re going to have activate, and in what order, that you have to manage.

It can be a real bear to manage, as well. You have to factor in the board state, the cards in hand, the enemy queue, the enemy actions that the models in queue are likely to take, and even what you are planning on putting into the queue next. Its a ton to manage, and its the puzzle that I enjoy trying to solve. One interesting thing that I noticed as we were playing is that the queue makes the game enjoyably susceptible to surprise. If your active unit does something that the player is completely unprepared for, they may have to wait until their third activation to respond. By then it could be to late.

Example: In the game I was playing, I was expecting the Noh Berserkers to go after my central objective, and had models there to defend against the possible threat. Instead, when he activated them, he double-moved them out towards my far objective and my broadsides. He then immediately added the Berserkers back into the queue. With my Broadsides out of the queue when I started my turn, I we traded activations and then he was able to go with his Berzerkers, stealing a token from my objective before I could even attempt to shoot him, due to the broadsides acting after his second activation with the Berzerkers.

It was an extremely awesome revelation, and one I plan on trying to figure out how to both mitigate and exploit. we currently only have 2 models in the queue, as we are playing battlebox and 35 points, but I can only see this being exacerbated when we hit 50 points, though having an extra slot in the queue delays response time, but it also delays reactivation.

Finally, I want to talk about the objectives, because they are the central focus of the game. The starter boxes come with Objective tokens and a set of standard tokens, because you’ll need a thousand. I found that the placement of objectives can really set the tone of the game and is something that really needs to be taken seriously. Placing your objectives too far from the enemy will stymie your ability to get any of your objectives completed while you run across the board, and placing them too close will enable your opponent to overrun you and complete their objectives. I think its going to be a fun and difficult mini-game trying to figure out where your objectives need to be on the table.

When I get a full game in, I’ll post up the battle report, but I am still rocking the Cephalyx. I’ve gotten 7 models painted and have some 16 more to go, including three monstrosities. I should, provided all goes right, have another Cephalyx report on Tuesday!

 

 

 

 

Relic Knights is lucky that its game play seems to be fun, different and completely cool, because otherwise, I’d have just pitched the bunch of models I’ve assembled into the trash or to someone else, because I supremely disappointed.

Nearly every model I put together was either boring, stupid, flat or some combination of the three. The saving grace of the Corsairs line is Calico Kate and The Iron Chef. Every other model falls extremely short of my admittedly low expectations that I had for them.

Battle Box:
Harker: This model is the definition of sad. His art is cool and posed well, but his model is completely static and flat. I was originally really stoked to get him, but this really tempered my enthusiasm for him.
– Caesar – This model is actually not that bad, but its really hard to mess up a bird on a sword. I do believe that part of my disappointment was that they had planted the idea that it was going to be a dude holding the bird, but due to rules, Caesar has to be a separate model

Corsairs: Man, this is a trifecta of terrible, with each model worse than the last. Lola Bunny Ears honestly isn’t that bad of a model. She’s cylindrical even though she could have easily been made more dynamic by splaying her army just a little bit. Then, we have Scoliosis Boy.  His pose is so weird it just pulls me away. Finally we have Flatso. I’m just so rottenly disappointed by this model that it makes me angry. That they give you two in a box of Corsairs, and then foist two of the units on you is just icing on the crap cake.

Broadsides: Now, here is a model that doesn’t make me want to hurl chunks. Its about as average as you can get, but that seems to be the bar set for this lineup of models. What makes this thing aggravating is that is a huge pain in the ass to assemble!

Extra Models
Kenobo and Moffet: I don’t violently hate Kenobo, His sword is a bit large, and his nose is freakishly large, but I can get over both of those. Moffet is another story. I don’t think I like anything about her. Her face is mashed, her hand lost a ton of detail in plastic, and her sword is uninspiring.

Iron Chef and Squall. I like Iron Chef, I really do, which is great because he is one of the models I expected to like the least. I might change out his strange circular weapon for a blade, but that’d be it. Squall has a strange stance, but otherwise is a really cool model.

Blowhards: Man, am I disappointed. They look nothing like the art I wanted and are extremely static. Just not my cup of tea here.

Wildspace Gabe and Fleshreaper: These models look like they have to be painted to really get a good look at them. I originally thought that Gabe had an awful face, but I think its just sculpted weird to get the effect they needed. Fleshreaper is both tiny and not terrible.

Isabeau Durrant: I’m not upset with this model for anything other than her hair being a separate piece.  Unless paint can save it, its going to look like a whig. Not ok

Calico Kate: I’m over my 500 word count, but I didn’t want to leave without stating how pleased I am with this model, the one I was most dreading. With the bomb-and-Sword pose, I think she looks really cool, though I did have to re-position her sword. She’s got that Cheesecake flair, but it doesn’t look terrible on the model. Skully, however, is freaking TINY!

the more I look over the line, the more convinced I am that there ins’t a single faction that I’d enjoy every model from, or even most models, and thats a shame. Thankfully, the game plays pretty cool, and I like both resource management systems they have going. At least for now, those rules are a saving grace.

I’m also upping my word count to 750. Jesus is 500 small! so tiny! its Fun Size, not even Bite Sized

My brother introduced me to Kickstarter shortly about a year before Relic Knights, and a short time before the Double Fine Adventure. Since that day, I’ve backed Six successful projects. In order: Wasteland 2, Reaper Bones, Relic KnightsWild West Exodus, Warmachine Tactics and Reaper Bones II. I have had fairly good success with these, and even though some have not delivered on their goods, I only really get worked up about two of them.

The key, I think, is that I view a Kickstarter as a perpetual investment into a possible product that is beyond the scope and ken of the people creating it. I don’t look at these games as pre-orders or great deals on product. I don’t expect them to ship on time, or even close to on time. I am pleased if the product ever releases, as there are enough projects out there that never deliver to make me pleased just to receive product before I die. I am also not terribly hard on the creators of a Kickstarter project, as I expect them to be completely convinced that what they are promising is both feasible and possible, while in reality none of them are.

This brings me to the two Kickstarters I feel the most about. They follow parallel, if opposite courses of frustration and aggravation. To me, they are both failures, but not for the reasons I think people expect to be attributed to each of the games. The timeline is strange, but bear with me, as I take you down the path of disappointment provided by two different companies.

The Initial Sell
Main Image

 

Relic Knights was the first Kickstarter I really backed with a group of other people. It came up through a group email, and I was heavily on the fence. I’d hemmed and hawed about whether or not I should join in, and if it was worth it for me to play another game. In the end, with my friends all talking about it, and a number of people getting into it, I joined the fray. I split a 2 player set with a friend of mine, and added all of the possible models for my faction into the pledge. I’d decided on the Star Nebula Corsairs because their look was the most unique. Well, except for Noh, but everyone was getting Noh and I have compulsive originality syndrome, forcing me to the least represented faction.

Wild West Exodus (WWX) was a bit of a different beast. I managed to find it all on my own and fall in love with the Warrior Nation models. I advertised it out to friends and other miniatures gamers and got a very lukewarm response. The models weren’t everyone’s style, and it just never clicked. though a few people said that they were going to pledge, remember only a few actually buying into the game. I got in with two other people, and we split a huge bundle three ways. I was going to have opponents and a nascent group. I’d also had a chance to look over the beta rules, but they were extremely rough and were said to be in the midst of a rewrite in order to make them better. I just couldn’t get attached to the rules. They were, though, clunky and obtuse, with some very strange interactions that I just didn’t think worked out. I was optimistic that they would sort the issues out because there was enough chatter on the beta forums for them to have to take notice. It turns out, however, that for the first time in my life I had been overly optimistic.

What really set these experiences apart for me was the initial enthusiasm. I was able to latch onto the WWX product line in a manner that was surprising even to my self, and enabled me to look past some of the warning signs of the game. Relic Knights was simply a peer pressure purchase because all the cool kids, and most of my friends, were doin’ it.

The Post-Kickstarter Insanity

Once the Relic Knights Kickstarter finished, I was able to easily hand over my money and get the products I wanted on order. My friend set it all up, and all I had to do was wait. The early updates were positive and flush with thanks, grateful that we’d pledged to support a great game. I was having a different friend who’d pledged forward me the email updates to keep me in tune with what was happening at the Relic Knights home base. Soon afterwards, however, Cool Mini or Not, one of the companies involved immediately started in on another Kickstarter, for another miniatures game. I wasn’t pleased by the development because I was, and am, convinced that you should finish what you start before moving onto something else.

Wild-West-Exodus-badge

WWX was abysmal in terms of making sure that I got the models I wanted. Each update seemed to provide a new spreadsheet with new calculations in order to get each model, in addition to the spreadsheet seemingly built by an anachronistic scribe summoned from the 14th century. It felt like it took me days to understand what the wizards tome wished me to do to unlock the awesomeness of the Warrior Nation faction, and in the end my greater persistence overcame the terrors of the Outlaw Spreadsheet. I would now be receiving, in a few short months, an enormous package of beautiful miniatures. I was frustrated, exhausted and ground down, but I had done it.

The big difference here was that I was able to pawn off all the pain of the pledge manager to another person. Without the burden of trying to sort through all the garbage that WWX made me go through in order to get their product, I was much happier at the direct outcome of the Kickstarter for Relic Knights than I was for WWX. I will say, as a side note, that I was exceedingly suspicious of the WWX backer numbers. See, the fluff has the game powered by a mysterious substance unique to the world, called RJ 1027. WWX had, exactly, 1027 backers. Some people might say that’s fluffy and funny, but I just call it unsavory.

The Beta Process

Relic Knights original beta test book was terrible. Awful even. There were problems with wording, phrasing and any number of other parts of the book that made the game nearly unplayable. Among the most egregious to me was that cover was ill defined and, as it is now, very powerful. Now, I will say that as an extremely avid Warmachine fan, I do expect a games rules to have a certain rigid fluidity to them. They say what they mean, and they mean what they say, and all is fair. This was exactly the opposite of the Relic Knights book. However, due to overwhelming beta testing from the backers and everyone who could get their hands on a downloaded copy, the game was hammered into something that is clear and concise, while still presenting the solid rules. I’ve been reading over the book since it delivered, and I can pretty much say I’ve not encountered any problems or contradictions. I am sure they are in the book, they just aren’t there at first glance, nor even at a heavy read. Soda Pop did it right by asking, receiving and even relishing in the criticism and assistance with making this game the best game as envisioned by the game designer and as it matched that vision with the consumer.

Geronimo

If you’re not familiar yet with the pattern here, I’ll just lay it out. Everything that Soda Pop did right, WWX did completely wrong. Their beta rules were a terrible pile of trash that was better served as toilet paper and scrap coding than the paper and files that contained it. The first update was exceedingly insulting, to boot! though there were changed affected by the beta players and readers, they were mostly rules clarifications and spelling errors. Where balance was concerned, and where game play came into question, I felt we were being told, in only so many words, go STFU! The biggest portion of this came to the fore when it came to the overwhelming rule. With some models having tons of action points and a pile of attacks per action, there were models that could shred entire armies of weenie troops. However, the overwhelming rule stated that for every model beyond the first that you could make attacks against, your Strikes (attacks) were reduced by one. This served, many in the community claimed, to make only the good fighters worse while not affecting all the little guys, as attacks could never be reduced below 1. It seemed counter intuitive that the game, which reveled in the glory of its characters would make its characters suffer such humiliation at the hands of the hired help. Instead of trying something else or reworking the rule to make sense to the player base, they instead told the player base they were wrong in the most passive aggressive manner possible: A call out in the rules directly addressed their gripes, and told them to take a hike; that the rule was meant to reduce the effectiveness of a nasty model, and nothing more. It was just poorly done. The rules went through a few more changed, but at this point I was already frustrated with their lack of compassion for the customer and completely put off by their obstinate predilection to go forward with their vision, flawed or not.

Both Processes were frustrating, but I find that working with a company and fine tuning the rules for balance, fun and concept to be a fantastically enjoyable endeavor. When this works well, it creates a set of rules that many of the fans of the game enjoy. When done wrong, it will drive away players in droves and hordes.

The Long Wait

The wait for the Relic Knights Kickstarter was one of joyful nothingness. It was long, which is true, but each time I got a forwarded update, it seemed to be straight forward and honest. I know that there are many who would disagree, but I don’t remember getting offended by a single report from the front. Instead, I took the absence of the miniatures calmly, as I had nearly a thousand miniatures, of witch maybe 30% are painted and I’ve put just over 60% on the table. What Relic Knights did, as each successive shipment and delivery date was set and then broken, was assure me that they would have their own day. The Reaper Bones models delivered and had their day. The Wild West Exodus Miniatures came and were assembled in a flurry of activity. Even Warmachine Tactics miniatures came, and even one was painted. Still, I had not anything from Soda Pop. Finally, the wait started to end, slowly and viscously the tracking number slid into mailboxes with the urgency of molasses on a winters morning. Then, our turn came, and my friend alerted me, almost 18 months later, that Relic Knights was on the way.

WWX had a plan, and it showed. They were constantly updating their models, putting out their masters and showing us 3d renders prior to print. Some of those renders were so reviled that they were sent back to the artists and re sculpted to make their vision more in line with the actual sculpt as the backers saw it, though there was, to no ones surprise, a model that the community didn’t like that was explained instead of changed, which would normally be just fine, except the model is so ridiculously goofy looking that it defied reason that this model would be the one they would take a stand on. It was also, to amplify the problem, after a number of community demanded re sculpts that they had given in to, so the expectation was there. The plan that WWX had, however, completely collapsed under its own weight once they received the product. With a tiny number of staff, they were overwhelmed on the first day of shipping with the sheer scope of the project, and you could tell. For me, it was at this point that the Updates started turning belligerent, blaming the customer for the delays. Maybe it was just my sensitivity, but telling us that the flexibility you allowed us in your hellish spreadsheet is causing the problems with shipping doesn’t help anyone.

Though Relic Knights made me wait almost a year longer than WWX to receive my product, I really felt the wait of the WWX product much heavier. It was, I feel, Simply the communication methods that were used and how the backers were treated. In one case, they were treated like a burden, and in the other was just constant disappointment.

The Models
Relic Knights has delivered and I am, very shortly, going to be wrapping my head around the finer points of the rules. I am, however, exuberantly disappointed in the models that I have assembled so far. This is becoming extremely crushing to me as I wanted to paint these models, but with their sub par sculpts and their bland character, they are not inspiring me to pull out the paint and put aside my current project. Instead, as I slowly assemble each one, I get deeper and deeper into a mode of apathy with the models. What was once going to be an interesting painting project has now turned into a decision on which models will ever get paint.

SNC

When the WWX models showed up, I could not wait to put them together. Each model in turn was cooler and more grandiose than the next, and though they had their flaws in a number of the models, I was excited to start painting them. Some represented a great chance at practicing flesh and skin tones, while others were going to allow me to play around with OSL or furs. Some models, though, seemed like they were foisted on me without me fully knowing what I was getting, and stayed in the sprue throughout the process. Though the enthusiasm was tempered a bit by the completely abysmal treatment of a number of rules, I was still positive I could affect change and be part of a better game.

Both lines of models seemed to crop up with problems. The plastic used by RK is not the greatest, and the resin used by WWX echos that same quality. I was, however, pleased by the WWX plastics that were very similar to the Wyrd plastics that have received so much attention. Even though Relic Knights has less models, I definitely put together the WWX models faster.

Current Times

Relic Knights still have some models in the boxes as I struggle to get the desire to assemble the models. Each one has been a disappointment that built upon the failings of the second model I assembled. Thankfully, the concept of the rules, the variety of the game, and the coolness of the Relic Knights has kept me involved. I am anxious to try out the rules set, get a couple games in and pass a judgement on whether or not I’ll actually enjoy the game. All signs point, it seems, to yes. There is a nagging worry in the back of my head, though, that the game size is too small for me. While I like the concept of 8-10 models, it is extremely hard to break the core of those models up and try different things, especially when you might only get one game a week or so. Small Squads seem to be more to my liking, and I really look forward to trying to get my friends to play 70 points!.

Today, almost all of my models for WWX are in a box as well. However, that box is now in transit to Kansas and their new owner who will hopefully enjoy them more than I. The models were great and looked to be extremely fun to paint, but I’ll most likely never bother. The rules had holes in them as large as a bus, and it was extremely disappointing to me to see a game with so much potential waste itself. I mentioned, on now-deleted posts and a podcast interview that I enjoyed 97% of the rules, but the 3% that were terrible were so bad as to drive me off. A single line of text in the rules that stated that LOS was going to be True LOS is a small fraction of a set of game rules that interacts with every game and gamer, and there were a few of those that floated around the rule set. In addition, the scenarios were, and from everything I hear are still, not balanced. Even the competitive scenarios were built from too much story and not enough fairness. One does not always want fairness, but it should be obvious if and why and by the exact amount a scenario is unfair. It should also compensate for that unfairness somehow within the rules, and I never saw that WWX did. For my vocal criticism, I was tossed out of the community, my memory excised and my texts burned. There is no history of me except for those who know where to look by my absence.

While it might not be obvious at first, these two games have followed very parallel lines of delivery with exciting Kickstarters, perilous delivery, rough rules sets, and problems with models. However, the way that each now sits in my life is extremely divergent. One could be said to have a chance, and potential excitement. The other’s excitement was slain brutally with but a glimmer of a hope still in its infant eyes.

 

Till next week’s Monday battle report, or maybe even 2!

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This day has finally come.

I knew that it would, one day, happen. I would get the call from a friend and they would let me know that our Relic Knights had delivered, and that I was to come get them. That day was last week, and I have finally gotten around to writing up something on them.

Back in 2012, when the Relic Knights Kickstarter was going on, I wasn’t as versed in Tabletop Games. I’d played 40k and Fantasy and those days were behind me. I was playing Warmachine – a game you undoubtedly know I play still, and had abandoned Malifaux to the hells of 1st/1.5 edition. Infinity had just started to sink its teeth into me, but hadn’t really gotten fully there. I was young and naive, and had some extra money to burn. A friend linked me the kickstarter and I took a look. I wasn’t impressed by the cheesecake style of the models, Its just not a thing I go for. There is a large portion of the player base that is ok with fun models, ones that are carrying a pig, or have their ass in the air or something equally as ridiculous, sexy, strange or funny. I just can’t. I’m exceedingly conservative when it comes to my miniatures, with most of the customization and model choices based on how bad ass they’ll look. This game, I kept looking, was most likely not for me.

But I kept looking, kept coming back, and eventually, I decided I’d have to get something. The concepts were pretty good and a pile of my friends were getting into it. I broke it down to Noh, Doctrine, and the Corsairs. Sadly, Noh was very popular, so they were off the table. Though they were the least cheesecakey and would fit my style of badass model, they would rub against my thoughts of not doubling up factions. Doctrine were the opposite. They were so cheesecakey, so over the top sexual that I just couldn’t justify getting them to myself. The Star Nebula Corsairs were it. They had some pretty solid models with just a little less T&A than some factions.

Once I’d decided on factions, I knew I was going to go all in. I watched the Kickstarters progress creep up and up and up, nearly hitting the million dollar mark, and as it steadily increased, the add-on and stretch goals kept being broken through. Many of the Stretch Goal add-ons were completely worthless to me, and it saddened me to see Super Dungeon Explorer models be added to this game I barely wanted and had tossed money at hoping to see models unlocked.

When the kickstarter finally ended, I tallied up my prize money, sent the check to a friend, and called it a day, waiting patiently for the models to come in. Thankfully, I am a patient man. This kickstarter was the poster child for mismanagement. many people were upset it took so long, but I was ok with it. My money was gone, and I figured I’d get product one day. It was a long wait and now that I have them, I am really happy with them.

So, What did I end up with?

Well.
Star Nebula Corsairs Starter Box, Containing
Harker
Ceaser
Corsairs x5
Broadsides Weapon

Calico Kate
Skully
Wildspace Gabe
Fleshreaper

Corsairs x5B
Blowhards x2
Moffet
Iron Chef
Kenbo
Squall
Darkspace Isabeau
Broadsides Weapon

It was a pretty solid haul for what I put in, and I think it’ll lend itself to a variety of games.

The first thing I tackled was the Relic Knight herself, Calico Kate. I really enjoyed putting the model together, and look forward to painting her up one day. The mold lines were annoying, but no more so than any other model I’ve put together on a larger than 40mm base. I did do one small tweak to the model. I didn’t particularly like the sword over the head, so I brought it down a bit and emphasized the tossing of the grenade.  I even found a use for her alternate pose that I wasn’t going to use at all.

Calico Kate

Calico Kate

Alt pose, but standing on a Slayer head

Alt pose, but standing on a Slayer head

The starter box is the Second thing I put together, and it was fairly simple. The models are the same strange resin/Plastic hybrid that I’ve had to deal with in Privateer models, but were good regardless. I have base inserts for all the models, and keep putting them on the models to make basing them harder and painting the model more tedious, because I’m just no good at this.

Harker is an enormous disappointment, and makes me sad I got the model at all. I hate being so extremely critical over a model that someone put so much time into making, but he is just so uninspired. As a person who enjoys even the Seige and Irusk poses that are static as hell, this one is just not ok. Just not an inspiring model, especially when his art was kinda good.

Capt. Disappointing.

Capt. Disappointing.

The Corsairs are a mess too, honestly, though in a different function. They are duplicate models in a 5 man unit, with two of those models being in stupid poses and/or exceedingly flat, and the other having bunny ears I’ll deal with them, as they are the common foot solider of the force, but I won’t be happy with it. having the second unit just makes me sad. The mold lines on these models weren’t excessive, again, but they are in strange places and make the models somewhat hard to clean.

The Corsair Poses

The Corsair Poses

Broadsides is an infuriating model. Unlike the rest of the models, this one comes with an extraneous stand that seems to be nothing more than a giant test of will, which I failed. The support on the model is so poorly labeled, places and instructed on how to be used that it might as well not even exist. He’s together now, but by no small feat of wonder.

The Broadsides Gun

The Broadsides Gun

I’m overall pleased, but the amount and type of mold lines is bothersome. Its just not as clean as I’d like. I’ve tolerated the PP plastics for a while now because the company has a great name behind it. Soda Pop has not built up such a good bank of will that they can spend it so frivolously at the start. We will see how the rest of the line and the models in the future make it out of production.

 

I look forward to trying these out, but not until September, after the NOVA open and I’ve finished playing my Cephalyx for a bit.

 

 

 

I know that there are some large number of people out there who are getting disappointed or aggravated with Soda Pop and Relic Knights. The story has been one of unending problems and repeated broken deadlines. They are trying, now, to get our hearts back by offering a free model to all backers: Candy Heart. They are currently running a poll for which of the two versions of the model you’d like to see go into production. They will then give all backers $15, and they can buy Candy, or whatever they like.

But I’m here to look at the rule book today. The small, digital download that’s available to anyone, right here. Now a days, this is one of my “must haves” for a miniatures game. If I wasn’t involved in Malifaux and Warmachine, I probably wouldn’t get involved today. The ability to judge a game before you buy it is crucial. This is especially true in a genre that generally has $50+ rule books, and $100+ starter boxes. You want to know what your getting into before you get bit in the ass.
I learned from WWX, boys and girls.

Now:
Relic Knights: Darkspace Calamity
The first, and core, book in the series of expansions doubtful to come in the Relic Knights franchise. With over a year of kickstarter blues, it had better be good. Thankfully, like other online books, its fairly to the point. Its simply the rules, and not a whole lot more. its 32 pages of reference, rules, and scenarios. All the pictures are reference images, and there isn’t a single fluff image. Its good to keep down the documents overall image count, as people inevitably print the book out.

It jumps right into the game, as it should, starting with the definitions, and its all standard stuff here: Models, units, cards and their associated descriptions, the Deck, Terrain and measuring tape. Where this diverges though is the Dashboard and the Objects. the game gives a rules point for objects, and lists them as anything on the playing board: Terrain, markers, models… everything. Its something that I’m surprised games hadn’t come to define yet, honestly. The Dashboard is where some of the most intriguing parts of Relic Knights shine, making a kind of mobile initiative order I really dig how this works, and it goes right into the Key Concepts, including the dashboard.

 

They include a diagram of the dashboard, because its a complicated concept.

Dashboard

From left to right: The Active slot is the card of the model you’re activating next. The Ready que is your intended order of activation after this model, provided your opponent or you do nothing to mess with it. Then you have your Idle Section, where all models that aren’t either active or ready lie. The dead, discard, and Draw piles are fairly self explanatory. The linked slot is a model that’s been dragged from the Idle pool to here because of its connection to the currently active model.  Only models with the Linked rule can do this, which is not how we play tested this. we had all Cyphers linked, and that was really, really powerful.

I really like this system because it creates an interesting dynamic in the game. The game, instead of focusing everywhere all at once, tends to focus on single “battleground” areas as each player tries to activate only relevant models. There is no benefit in this game to having units that are not immediately important activate. I really think that a lot of the dynamic of the game is going to come in when one person is applying pressure and taking the initiative, and the other person trying to resist the pressure and take the initiative back. Its chancy to let the opponent activate two models, uncontested, in a row that are trying to achieve his goals while you try and activate something across the board.

The Rule book then covers movement, and its really appropriate. One of two unique movement rules of the game is that no model, token or marker of any type may be assisted in standing. If the model can’t fit, it does not commit! The game is going to focus a heavy amount on movement and maneuvering. with unlimited ranges, and no random-chance attacks, if your vulnerable, you are definitely going to get smashed.

Oh, what, you didn’t know about the attacks? Let me help! Later on they go more in depth, but here is the low down:
there are no random factors in the game, outside from your drawn hand. I feel that this is much better execution of a card mechanic than Malifaux: Malifaux rewards card counting in order to make sure you have your opponent on a bad foot. Relic Knights does not.

this is a sample attack, pulled from the rule book:

Weapon Example

You’ll see that there is simply a cost, and then effect. You must pay 2 blue and one green Esper from your hand, and the action succeeded. Notice, as well, that there isn’t a range. All ranges in this game are based completely on LOS, so make sure you move to the right spots. You’ll also notice that there are additional costs, called presses. if you pay 2 more blue (in addition to the two you started with, not an easy feat) you get +2 damage. If you Pay 2 more green, you increase the charge by +2. All of this adds up to a game where if you can see a model, and you have the right cards in your hand, your ability just works. To alleviate that, there are defensive abilities with the same structure, so if your opponent has the ability to defend against something, its just going to be defended.

Right, back to movement!
Another key aspect of movement is that larger bases can move through smaller bases and smaller object as if they do not exists, though they cannot stop atop them. This is a very cool aspect of the game that, while not necessary, is pretty interesting for the 80mm Relic Knights. The rule book goes on to define the different types of movement types, and then starts to cover LOS. Relic Knights uses a concept I’ve not seen before, and that is the LOS window.

LOS window

Its a simple concept covering the whole of the area between the models edges, as seen above. all of the cover and to hit modifiers are based on this window. Most games use this, in practice, but don’t cover it in the rules as explicitly. They then have two pages of terrain examples, which wile confusing to read, make sense in the context of the rules and the diagrams.

page 10, about a third of the way through, introduces us to the Esper Affinity and the Esper deck. Outside of two rather cryptic messages, this is our first look.Each faction is tied to an Esper color, called affinity, and they don’t all make perfect sense. I do like that I get to play the chaos Faction, this time around. I so very often play the Lawful types.  The deck contains cards of every color pairing, as long with dead cards (void) and All cards (wild) these are what you draw, 5 at a time, to determine your hand, and if you can activate your abilities or not.

Esper Affinities

The next section is on model abilities and Esper actions. While the abilities work pretty much as you’d expect, the held Esper is essentially “double wildcard” Esper, allowing you to spend it as any two Esper you desire, but only on the model holding it. You attain held Esper by sacrificing your action earlier, so while it can be a real boon, its not perfect.

It then goes into Markers, Tokens, and AOE’s, all of which are vastly different from other games I’ve played.

Markers are boosts and objectives, and are counted as models for almost all purposes.

Tokens are flat notations of where an Zone, Item or important location is. Its not considered a model.

AOE’s are persistent effects that extend from the edge of the base in all directions. When placed, the Token for an AOE must be within the LOS of the model creating it, is considered part of the AOE, and covers 3″ from every edge of the token.

Thats the last of the basic rules, and then the book jumps, after 13 pages, to playing the game. it goes over setting the battlefield, the cards and the ready que, and also touches on deployment.

The dashboard is used to control the turn, with the ready que model moving to active, and that models turn resolving.

Models get an initial move, an action, and a follow up move (I told you this game would focus on moving!) Both moves are defined on the front of the card, and the actions are self explanatory.  A player also has the option to refocus, which takes place of the models whole turn, but allows the active player to draw five cards, and the model gains a held Esper. Once the models turn is complete, it moves to the idle pile. The player then moves the ready que over, and can choose a card to fill the newly opened rightmost spot. This means that you can keep activating the same 4 dudes over and over again, and I really see this as the main means of applying pressure.

the rule book then goes into describing what action types and troop types their are, but its all fairly typical nothing that really stands out. Formation is a strange beast, and one that I am well used to abusing from MKI Warmachine, but that is what it is.

Applying damage to squads deserves a special mention here, because its not how I am used to resolving these effects. When a unit is targeted, every model in LOS and within 6″ of the targeted model can be killed by spillover damage. I think that is going to make keeping units alive a real chore.

the final area of interest today is Terrain. I don’t see anything completely out of the ordinary here, with difficult terrain, Cover, and open ground and it vagaries pretty clearly delineated. They did decide to go with assigning an amount of armor bonus to the terrain, with dense woods granting 1 armor, all the way up to bunkers granting 4.

The book then ends on the victory conditions, scenarios, and abilities list. I’ll hit scenarios later this month, but I wanted to make it through the book here today.

Overall, I really like how the game shapes up. Its different – with tons of movement and with very little to measure outside of the movement of a model. I really can’t impress enough upon anyone that I find that this is the best way to use cards as a resource in a miniatures game. Drawing them is hard enough, having the right model to use the right ability at the right time is downright blasted hard, and THEN having to hit some number, either a defense or an activation number even if you have the required numbers is a pain. This system of having your powers simple activate if you pay for them is refreshing and interesting. The ability to move through other models and objects on the field is another really interesting aspect of the game. I don’t think it will have a ton of affect on the game, but it will indeed have enough that I’ll enjoy the rule.

While its taken them forever and a Tuesday to get these models out the door, and we are not even there yet, I’d really encourage those of you who have backed the kickstarter not to give up. Its an interesting enough concept that I think it’ll really grab hold in many places. It might not rival Privateer or GW, but It might give some of the other fringe games a run for their money!

Over the last few days, Sodapop miniatures has come another small, closer step to releasing their models. They have released starter box breakdowns and videos of the models as well.

Star Nebula Corsairs
Cerci Speed Circuit
Noh Empire
Doctrine
Shattered Sword
Black Diamond

Each of the updates has a bit of the faction story line, the battlebox, and then the contents.

I purchased the Star Nebula Corsairs because they were the least Pin-uppy of the group, and I liked the idea of playing a group of pirates. It wasn’t a large pledge, but I was pleased to be getting the game. We played a couple games with the original beta rules, and they were an overall solid game. I haven’t had a chance to go over the new preview rules, but I will need to soon, and I’ll let you know how the game plays and feels!

I was very excited to see the models when the Kickstarter ended some 2 million years ago, and when they finally showed up, I was stunned. They were not models I would like to play. They were flat, two dimensional models, and it was especially obvious next to the giant Noh Dragon.

So, while I was still excited, it muted itself fairly quickly. I’ve made worse choices in kickstarters. Then, on January 31st, they posted the update above, and it got me really pumped again. Lets go through it!

The first thing they showed off was the Card Deck. It comes with some 15 reference cards and all the Esper cards you can ever need. I hope they are of good quality, and it cool of them to include them in the starter box. Might make it more expensive to start a second faction, but it’ll be great the first time.

RK card deck

They also preview the Mini-rulebook, a growing trend in the miniatures game world. Where once you were forced to buy the story and all the fluff behind a game, now you have access to small rules manuals that leave all of the story and world behind and deliver the rules in a portable, understandable way. I enjoy the concept, personally. I don’t always like the fluff of a game, and sometimes it actually is completely boring.

RK mini Rulebook

Then they pull out all the game-related you get in the box: Piles of tokens, objective markers and a pair of objective cards, along with the cards for all the models in the box to go along with the models themselves. I find the pre-colored bases insanely strange, but I’ll take it. I’ll just prime over the damned thing anyway. Finally, they also give you a dashboard, the place where all your maintenance happens. I really expect these will end up a lot like MT:G Playmats, with huge varieties spawning, and a booming secondary market. No one likes customization and color matching like minis gamers.

RK dashboard

Then came the moment of truth: The model Video. I watched it hoping that the models would not disappoint me. Each model brought more and more hope. The two Corsairs to start our were really cool, the broadsides cannon was freaking awesome, the Third corsair was much more dynamic than I remembered. And then, Harker. He, still, is such a disappointment. He’s just so… flat. I understand certain static poses: Seige and Irusk and others have has some really great static poses. But this model is just not what I want to have in my army.

So, I am back to being stoked. Its been forever since the kickstarter ended, and a thousand failed promises on a due date, but one day, I will have space pirate miniatures, and that makes me pretty happy.
I leave you now with previews of the Relic Knight of the Star Nebula Corsairs: Calico Kate!

Calico Kate 1

Calico Kate 2

The majority of the evening last night was spent Futzing around on various forums, solving a few puzzles of my own. Now that its done, though, there should be more time to nerd. A number of things popped up, that due to the way time flows linearly, I’ve not gotten to yet. I’ll address them soon enough, but here’s the short list.

Continue reading

Welcome Back.

This week has me really pumped. There are a ton of Nerd things coming up are nothing short of fantastic:
M2e Beta (part 2)
Theros Block (MTG)
Relic Knights Rules book and cards released
NOVA Open
I’ll dedicate a post to each of these things in turn in the next few days, but man is it a good feeling to have so many things to look forward to doing.

In addition, I’ve been playing Heroes of Might and Magic VI … Or Might and Magic:Heroes VI. I don’t know. Its dumb that they changed the name, or maybe even didn’t. No one seems to know.
Oh, Shit! X-Com Enemy Within! How could I have forgotten. Announced recently, and coming out in November, Its something I am really, really looking forward to.

-Tio