Relic Knights — Several years ago there was a huge boom in new Skirmish games, it seemed like every few months something new and exciting was catching on or being Kickstarted. I'm not sure if it was because Warhammer of both varieties was feeling stale or if it was just the market was ripe for something fresh and new. Today let's take a look back at some of the stars that seem to have burned out too soon (at least in my area, if these are booming where you are let me know why).
Relic Knights was a victim of its own success. One of the early ventures from Sodapop miniatures and CMON this game took of like wild fire on Kickstarter. The initial resin/metal models Sodapop released for Relic Knights were beautiful. The kickstarter promise to get them in "plastic" with a cool card driven mechanic (Note: Malifaux was all the rage when this launched) for a fast paced Anime themed game. Making almost a million dollars the Kickstarter was slated to deliver in May of 2013 and would be the new hotness for miniature skirmish games (with a bonus cross-over market of anime fans).
Delays and production issues plagued this project delaying the delivery by over a year. CMON and Sodapop parted ways. Sadly the hype over the game seemed to disappear because of a lack of transparency on what the issues were that caused the delay.
The models that finally arrived weren't the type of "plastic" fans were used to, instead of a hard grey plastic like Games Workshop uses these were some type of weird "restic" board game miniature plastic. It didn't hold detail well on the smaller models and wasn't the easiest thing to work with because it was different. (like Reaper Bones, once you figure it out the material is great for bulk minis). In addition to material issues there were some scale problems; where some models were completely out of scale with others.
The game itself was fun and fast, however some rules issues surfaced fairly quickly that saw a certain type of play style become dominant. A new system with some easily exploitable loop holes quickly becomes un-fun when faced with a certain type of player.
I painted several factions for this game for some clients and myself own six of the seven factions that were available during the Kickstarter. With a little effort you can make them look pretty good and if you keep in mind anime of the 1980's they do look the part. Eventually I'll get my factions painted an perhaps be able to bring this out to play. I really enjoyed the game and universe but sadly when things don't catch on with your group, or in your area it is hard to play let alone create a thriving community.
Earlier this year Sodapop ran a Kickstarter for a second edition of the game. This time around the models are supposed to be "highly detailed resin" and the core game will be a two player starter box. I passed on pledging for this one. Maybe once the box is released I'll check it out, but Sodapop isreally late on several other projects I backed with them, and my confidence in the company is slipping. It almost feels like they need a capitol injection every six months with how often they pump out a new Kickstarter.
There also seems to have been a changing of the guard for the rules developers. One of the guys that was involved with second edition Malifaux (another game that flopped hard locally) seems to be developing Super Dungeon Explore (Second Edition/Legends) as well as Relic Knights Second Edition. Given my past experience with the second edition of Malifaux. this is going to be a wait and see for me.
This time period from 2010 – 2015 saw huge boom in Skirmish Games and Miniature Boardgames. Fueled by rabid backers in Kickstarter the industry seemed to really take off, with a new hotness launching every other month. I'm going to continue this series looking at more of the games that were huge in my area but seem to have fallen off.
If you're experience with games like Relic Knights is different please share your comments below. The universe seems to show some promise and I wish it would have caught on.