Review: Relic / Designer: John Goodenough / Publisher: Fantasy Flight / Release Date: Out Now
Relic is an adventure board game set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, which is a space fantasy setting where everyone in the galaxy is angry about something and war is constant and inevitable. Imagine the Dark Ages, but with power armour and spaceships, but also plenty of ignorance and misery. Relic is broadly based on the classic board game Talisman, and superficially bears a resemblance to more traditional products such as Monopoly or Snakes and Ladders.
Appearances are deceiving. Though the core of the game seems simple (roll dice and get to the middle of the board), there is of course more to it than that. Players select one of ten possible characters, and each has its own unique abilities; the space marine is strong but unsubtle, the sniper hits hard and fast, the assassin has plenty of tricks, etc. Each character comes with a rather nicely sculpted playing piece, and the components for the entire game are of a high quality, with the board being attractively illustrated and on heavy card, and the other components being reasonably sturdy.
Various cards and counters are used to regulate each player’s actions and give each character a series of tasks. These have to be completed in order to reach the centre, but this is all handled in a fluid way. Mission cards encourage the players to do certain actions (such as draw encounter cards and fight monsters, or try to get to certain parts of the board), and players can also employ strategies to foil and slow down fellow gamers. Unlike the original Talisman game you can’t directly attack other characters; this is a good thing, as it would otherwise slow down the game. The fun does not necessarily end once you’ve gotten to the centre; different scenarios are possible, such as killing a demon or foiling an evil plot. Like its cousin, this is a game that is clearly meant to be expanded upon in future, and it will be interesting to see what they do with it next.
Play is fun and straightforward, but it is a dense game and it will take about 3 or 4 hours to reach the end. It’s one of those games that once you’ve played once, the rules seem pretty easy, and it’s familiar enough to most people to work as a regular board game, and can be used as a way to gently introduce the idea role-playing games to non-gamers. If you’re a fan of Talisman, or you’re after a game that will introduce people to the Warhammer 40,000 franchise, this is a great addition to your gaming shelf. Those looking for a long and engaging game to fit into an evening’s play will find Relic to be a regular choice, though it will be the only game you get to play that night.