Give In to the Darkfield

A unit that has Stealth can’t be targeted by Ranged or Psychic attacks as long as they have Cover. In Relic Knights, Cover is not an inherent feature of a terrain piece that a unit can claim by standing in or close to it. Instead, Cover is a function of drawing line of sight, and it only exists when line of sight is drawn from an attacker to a target, and the attacker need only draw one unbroken line from anywhere on its base to anywhere on the target’s base. It means units with Stealth often have a difficult time claiming its benefit as they can’t just place themselves by a terrain piece which always gives them Cover. Enemy units can usually position themselves in such a way that they can get a clear line of sight.

The Darkfield is a 4pt boost that grants Cover and Stealth to friendly units within 3″. It is the only instance in the game where Cover is an inherent feature rather than a function of line of sight, so it means units stood close to a friendly Darkfield always have Stealth, even against attacks that do not require line of sight and thus would normally bypass Stealth. It makes the Darkfield an invaluable purchase for important units that lack the durability to survive long on their own.

There is a downside to hiding a unit in a Darkfield, in that its range of movement becomes very limited if it wishes to continually benefit from it. Consequently it is best used by static units and by squads. In the former case, the likes of Togan & Cecilia and CSM Alex-117 can be set up in a Darkfield along with supporting units that trigger their Officer ability, and be used as a static gunline whilst all the units benefit from the Darkfield. A Serpent Priestess can often afford to remain static and be used for her Compel and esper generation without needing to have her run objectives. A Darkfield can also be used to protect one of your objectives, which is especially useful if your opponent has flipped Tear It Down, or if you need to interact with them for your own victory conditions.

Squads are the other big beneficiary of Darkfields. As only one member of the squad need be in the area of the Darkfield for all to claim the benefit, then they can be strung out in a line to collect and/or deposit tokens. They can leave the Darkfield in their initial move if needs be and return to it with their follow-up move. As squads can be very vulnerable to damage from collisions and falling, a Darkfield can make them a viable choice where they otherwise would not be. Act As One squads derive even more benefit as they can cover all of the board whilst still benefiting. It means Suspect 7 can freely roam the board with no fear of Ranged or Psychic attacks.

Dealing with a Darkfield can be very difficult, but it can be done. As it benefits from its own buff, then the Darkfield itself can never be targeted by Ranged or Psychic attacks. If you want to destroy it, you’re going to have to get into melee with it. It has 8 Health and 2 Armor, and as you won’t want to be wasting too many activations on it then ideally you’ll want to be able to take it out in one go, so having a mobile unit with a high damage Melee attack is a very useful anti-Darkfield choice. It can also be directed at the units hidden the field. If you can do it, killing CSM Alex-117 is better than destroying the Darkfield which is hiding him.

It is possible to switch a Darkfield off by switching off buffs. The Chaos action, Miscommunication, can be placed directly under a Darkfield preventing any enemy units gaining Stealth from it until they can remove it. Moving it is another option as this can reveal the units hidden within it, at least temporarily. It can’t be moved by Ranged or Psychic attacks for obvious reasons, but Melee attacks can, as can the Essence action, Stand Back, as it’s a Support action, and Viper’s Saboteur action too.

Even if you can do any of these things, always consider the cardinal rule of Relic Knights first and ask yourself whether you actually need to do it. If you can complete your victory conditions sufficiently quickly even if your opponent is using a Darkfield, then trying to deal with it will only slow you down needlessly.

 

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Attacks With Benefits

Combat actions in Relic Knights are not only useful for destroying enemy units. Many of them come with additional abilities attached which can help you win the race. Tow, Push, Pull, and Compel have already been discussed in the context of repositioning enemy objectives, and they also can be used to make enemy units take longer to travel to their destination. Bear in mind you’ll be using up one of your own activations to do this, so make sure you’re not just trading off one activation for another. If your unit is itself traveling the board and has the action free to do something with it as it goes, then it can be well worth using it to move an enemy unit.

Blast can break up enemy defensive position or force squads to lose coherency. Charge doesn’t just have to be used to get a unit into melee, but can be used to give the unit additional speed with any damage caused by the attack incidental. Feint gives even more speed.

Knockback can be another good way to mess with the opposing cadre. It can be used to keep your opponent’s best units from activating as often, or make those transporting tokens take longer to reach their destination. Be a little careful when using it, though. If the unit is in the last queue slot then Knockback won’t do anything as it can be placed straight back in, notwithstanding actions such as Glimpse of the Void. Also, if you do use Knockback on a unit, then the other enemy units behind it in the queue will move up and activate quicker. So sending a unit carrying a token out of the first slot in the queue can move up the enemy relic knight in its place.

Finally, a unit carrying a token will drop it if it takes any damage. Target an enemy unit carrying one and you can force it to sacrifice most of its initial move to pick it up again. There’s no need for the attack to be able kill the unit, so even highly durable units can still be hindered by your attacks.

Much of what was said in the second Surgical Strikes post applies here too. If you do want to trigger these abilities then make sure you pick your targets carefully. A Guard will cancel these effects in just the same way as it cancels damage, but a unit lacking in attack prevention has no way of preventing them from taking affect.

Make the Mountain Come to You

Many of the victory conditions, including all bar one of the primary conditions, require you to either transport a token between two points, or to interact with different points on the board. In the main these comprise one or more of friendly objectives, enemy objectives, and the table edges. The ability to travel as quickly as possible between these points maximises your efficiency and minimises the number of activations you need to reach the VP threshold.

There are two ways you can go about doing this. One, the obvious one, is to have units which have a high Speed stat. The magic number is an initial move of 9 or higher as that will allow the unit to reach an enemy objective on its first activation, though there’s not many units in the game which can do that. There are other ways of speeding a unit up. As a Relic Knights table is meant to be terrain-heavy, then Fly and Thrusters can considerably cut down the number of activations a unit needs to travel the board. Large units can also ignore terrain smaller than they are. Squads can take advantage of their 3″ cohesion limit to spread out and cover a large distance, effectively adding this to their movement. Act As One squads can spread out as they please, enabling them to retrieve a token at one side of the table and deposit at the other all in the same activation. Then there are unit-specific actions such as Pounce, Thrusters, and Spirit Walk which help boost a unit’s movements.

There is another way to minimise the number of activations it takes to interact with these points on the board, and that is to reposition them. The table edges are obviously a fixed point, but the objectives aren’t, and enemy objectives are particularly susceptible to being moved. Objectives are units, and as such can be targeted just like any other unit, but they can’t defend themselves. So any attack or support action which has Push, Pull, or Compel can be used to move an enemy objective. Tow can be used in the same way, and in the case of the Royal Wrecker you don’t even need to use an action to get the Tow.

So if you’ve flipped, say, Heist as your primary condition, you could use a Push 6 action to send the enemy primary objective 6″ closer to the nearest board edge. The one activation you spend on doing this can save you several activations of transporting Heist tokens. Likewise, if your opponent has placed an objective at the top of a tall structure, then rather than scaling it, you could just Compel it to ground level.

There are some actions which can move your own objectives, though these are rarer. Far better just to deploy them as efficiently as possible, though you can use these actions to move them into less convenient places for your opponent to reach.

If you wish to prevent your own objectives being moved by your opponent then you have some options. A unit suffering a forced move will stop when it hits another object on the table, so you can deploy it next to terrain and/or with a friendly model or two to make sure it can’t travel very far before hitting something. You can also deploy a Darkfield within 3″ of it, which will prevent it from being targeted by Ranged or Psychic attacks, cutting down the number of actions your opponent can use to move it.

When putting your cadre together keep an eye out for actions and abilities which make your units more mobile, and consider taking at least one unit with a forced movement action you can use to reposition the table to your advantage.

Surgical Strikes: Part Two

Part One of this post dealt with how you decide whether to try and kill a given enemy unit, this part deals with how you go about doing it.

In Relic Knights, there are two ways you can deliver damage to an enemy unit, and two ways they can go about stopping you. The first way you can deliver damage is by a Melee, Ranged, or Psychic attack. Most of these, though by no means all, have a Damage value attached to them, and if the target can’t prevent the attack then the damage gets applied. The other is basically any damage which is not from a Damage value on an attack. It can include damage from AoEs, from forced movement off or into an object, from being caught in a Minefield boost, Belligerent, Line attacks, and so on. These are collectively known as Passive Damage.

The two ways a unit can defend attempts to damage it are attack prevention and damage prevention. Each of these breaks down into two different types. For attack prevention there are Guards, which cancel the attack outright, and Redirects, which transfer the attack to a new target (which cannot then use an attack prevention itself). For damage prevention there is Armor, which reduces the damage before it is applied, and Recover, which heals the target after damage is applied. Attack prevention abilities can only be applied to attacks, whilst damage prevention can be applied whenever a unit takes damage from any source.

In addition to these is the Overcharge mechanic. Some attacks have Overcharge, and some attack prevention abilities have it too. If an attack has Overcharge, then it automatically bypasses any attack prevention that lacks it. So an Overcharge Psychic attack cannot be cancelled by a Guard without Overcharge, even if the Guard could ordinarily cancel psychic attacks.

Understanding these mechanics is key to understanding whether you can reasonably kill a given enemy unit. You need to match up the ways you can deliver damage to the ways each unit can prevent damage.

For example, Moffet has a Guard with a press to give it Overcharge. She has 10 Health, no inherent Armor or Recover, but can pay for 2 or 4 Armor via Essence Master. If you attack her then she can defend it and cancel the attack, even if the attack has Overcharge. If you can cause her to take Passive Damage, however, then she can’t use the Guard to cancel it and will take all the damage unless she can pay for Armor, and even then she can still take some damage. It will likely take several instances of Passive Damage to kill her as they don’t tend to do much damage, but as each bypasses her Guard than you can kill her if you need to. Two or three Esper Storms can do the trick on their own. If you have an attack that bypasses Guards, such as the M8-Blitz Auto-Tank’s SIK3 Rail Cannon, then those attacks pose a serious threat to her.

The Dahon is a unit that has no attack prevention. It cannot prevent any attack from succeeding against it. It does, however, have 14 Health, 2 Armor, 2 Recover, and access to 2 or 4 additional Recover (with Backlash to boot). As Passive Damage effects tend not to do much damage then you’re unlikely to have any luck killing a Dahon with them. In this case, an Esper Storm is at best going to do 1 damage to it, and, collisions won’t do anything. On the other hand, as it can’t defend attacks, then high damage attacks will pose a threat to it. CSM Alex-117 backed up by a squad or two of Diamond Corps could take a Dahon out pretty quickly. If you can bypass Recover, as Sophia Drake can, then the Dahon is just left with its 2 Armor to defend itself with.

Two different units, each with different strategies for how you would go about killing them, and there many other examples. The Black Dragons have a Guard but it doesn’t work against Melee attacks. Likewise the Hell’s Belles but against Psychic Attacks. Suspect 7 have a Guard against everything and Stealth, but their only damage prevention is a point of Armor. Squads take 3 collision damage per model, so any attack with a forced movement effect can be a big threat. There are some highly effective ways of delivering Passive Damage. Line attacks can be targeted at an enemy marker and cause damage to every other unit along the Line. Wildspace Gabe’s Deep Crow’s Nest does 5 Damage and has a Compel which can result in another 3. These bypass any attack prevention and on units which rely on them, such as Moffet, it is highly effective. Likewise for Overcharge. Delphyne has a Guard and a Redirect, but as neither have Overcharge she is extremely vulnerable to high damage attacks that do have it.

A couple of other points to make note of. Guards and Redirects are often quite expensive, and units that lack ways of generating Held Esper can’t always afford to pay for them. This means it can be worth attempting the attack on a unit that has no Held Esper, especially if the attack has a low esper cost. Squads are particularly good at this as with Co-ordinated Attack their cheap attacks can put out a lot of damage. Even if they do defend it, then the trade-off in spent esper can be worth it.

Redirects often send the attack to a friendly unit, so even if it is paid for, the attack is still successful. You can force your opponent into a difficult choice of taking the attack on the target or sacrificing another unit if they Redirect. Be careful with this, though, especially if you need to interact with enemy objectives to complete your victory conditions. Markers are viable targets for a Redirect so you could wind up inadvertently destroying them. Equally, the opposing cadre could have taken a durable unit whose sole function is to be a punching bag for a Redirect, meaning you could wind up spending several activations killing a unit which doesn’t meet any of the criteria mentioned in part one of this post.

The key to killing enemy units is understanding the ways your cadre can effectively deliver damage to them. It is always worthwhile having attacks which can bypass Guards and Redirects, whether it be through Overcharge, Line, or AoEs that cause damage, as this will give you a versatile force which can be a threat to many units. Not all of them, though, some are just too tough to ever waste time trying to kill.

Surgical Strikes: Part One

Despite my assertion that Relic Knights is not a combat-oriented game and you shouldn’t go out to try and kill as many opposing units as possible, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t ever try to kill any of them. Rather, you should be very selective in which ones you try to kill.

At the start of the game, figure out which enemy units you can reasonably kill. It may be that your opponent has built a cadre with no viable targets. Two of the UK cadre events have been won by a Candy Rush, Cordelia Clean, and Navarre Hauer cadre, none of which are ever likely to be killed before the game ends (which is part of the reason it’s been so successful). However, there are units which can be killed, and some which can be very easily killed. Even if you identify a unit as one which you can reasonably kill, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should. If you can win without killing it, then you’re just wasting activations on doing it.

There are three good reasons why you should kill an enemy unit, and this post will focus on those. How you do it is dealt with in part two.

  1. The unit is too much of a threat

Some enemy units can pose a threat to you, and killing them can be the easiest way to deal with them. A good example are the Hounds of Nozuki. They’re very fast and can complete victory conditions quickly. They’re also a big threat in melee, which is a particular problem if you’re using a Darkfield, and they give the Noh player access to Link. They’re also just about the least durable unit in the game. As a squad with no damage prevention and 3 Health each, then they all die if they’re pushed into a building. You need to deal with this unit quickly, and the easiest way to do it is to kill them.

2. You need the VP(s) to win the game

If you’re playing an Endless Hunger tournament game, which only has a victory threshold of 6VPs, and you think you can complete your primary condition relative quickly, then that means you only need one more VP to win. In which case, it could be that killing an enemy unit is quicker and easier than achieving you secondary or faction condition. Equally, your primary may be very difficult, but you can do your secondary and faction, so killing an enemy unit will take you to the threshold. If you’re playing to a time limit, it’s often better to leave the killing till last. You score more VPs for the victory conditions so should score them first in case time expires.

3. You’ve flipped a victory condition which requires it

Leaving aside Tear it Down, which targets objectives, there are four victory conditions which require you to kill enemy units. Two of them are faction conditions, so if you’re playing either Shattered Sword or Noh then you know in advance you’ll have at least one, and the other two are Assassination and Carnage. If you’ve got any of these conditions, then you may need to kill enemy units.

You’ll still need to assess whether there are enemy units you can reasonably kill to score these conditions. The above mentioned Candy Rush cadre, for example, effectively cuts the opponent off from ever scoring them. If you’ve flipped Carnage, then you need to kill three enemy units. If there aren’t three you can reasonably kill then don’t bother trying. Assassination is easier as it only needs one, but as your opponent chooses who the target is then you could still find yourself shut out from completing it. That said, as it’ll score you 4VPs instead of the usual 1VP, it’s worth investing activations into it over and above what would you’d normally do.

If there is an enemy unit, or more, that you can reasonably kill, but it doesn’t fall into at least one of those categories, then be aware that killing it could be wasting esper and activations, so consider carefully whether you should do it. If it does fall into at least one of those categories, then you probably should be trying to kill it.

Stay on Target

This first one might seem a bit obvious, but grasping it is fundamental to being successful at winning games because everything flows from it. There are going to be a minimum of 13VPs available to you when the game starts, comprised of a primary condition (5), a secondary (3), a faction (2), and knight killer (3). There’s almost certainly going to be more as your opponent is unlikely to take the field with just a knight and a cypher, and you may even have flipped the Wild and/or Void condition.

You do not need to score all these VPs to win the game. A standard 50pt game needs only 8VPs, and a standard tournament format game needs just 6VPs. Do not try and complete all of these victory conditions. Figure out the quickest way to the 6 or 8VP threshold and focus on those only. Every action you spend completing a victory condition which is not one of the ones you need is an action wasted. It might be tempting to hedge your bets and assign different units to each of the conditions, but this will rarely be an efficient use of your activations.

It certainly could be the case that during play, a victory condition you wanted to complete becomes unavailable, or another victory condition emerges as being easier to achieve, so you might have to be flexible, but at any given time you should only be focusing on the conditions you need to win the game.

Figuring out which are the victory conditions you need mainly comes with experience, but these strategy posts will hopefully assist in figuring out what your cadre is good at doing, and how it matches up to the victory conditions you’ve flipped and to the opposing cadre.

One thing to note is that whilst you can’t predict what the other available VPs will be, you do always know your faction condition. This means you should know in advance whether your cadre can effectively score it, and can include that in your calculations. If you can build a cadre to exploit it then you should as you don’t want to cut yourself off from any VPs if you don’t have to, but for some factions this isn’t always going to be possible. The Shattered Sword faction condition in particular is difficult to prepare for as it requires your opponent do something first.

A Strategy Primer for New and New-ish Players

In ‘The Three Stages of Relic Knights‘, I argued that whilst Relic Knights is a miniatures game, it stretches the boundaries of what could be considered a wargame. I’ve a lot of years’ experience playing card games as well as miniature wargames, and I found when getting in to Relic Knights that thinking in terms of card game strategies was equally as, if not more, effective as thinking in terms of wargame strategies.

In a CCG or LCG, I’m aiming to build a deck which is as efficient as possible, and then when I play an opponent, I’m not trying to use my cards to kill all my opponent’s cards, but use them to execute my victory strategy quickly, whilst hindering my opponent’s as much as possible. So I can be making my opponent discard cards, reversing their cards, removing them from the table to the discard pile, making it harder to play them, force them to expend additional resources, and so on. The harder I make it for them to do what they want, and the more efficient I am, the greater the likelihood that I’ll reach the victory threshold first.

There are several different ways in which you can go about doing this in Relic Knights, and rather than write one very long post, I’ll break them down into one post each, and post a link for each here as they get published so they can be easily accessed from one place.

  1. Stay on Target
  2. Surgical Strikes: Part One
  3. Surgical Strikes: Part Two
  4. Make the Mountain Come to You
  5. Attacks With Benefits
  6. Give In to the Darkfield

Quickstarter

In a brief interlude between strategy posts, this is to give the quickstart rules their own post so as to make them easier to find. These rules are for new players and use the starter boxes. Each faction has their own version tied to their starter box, and any two can be matched up against each other. The intention is to strip down the information a new player needs to know so as to focus on the basics of the game. They’re only intended to be used once or twice before moving onto the game proper.

If you’re an experienced player running demos or introducing a new player to the game, they can serve the same purpose in helping keep things simpler. Just adapt them to whatever your needs are.

For the moment, the rules are in plain text on Word docs. Hopefully at a later date they’ll be jazzed up a bit and transferred to PDFs.

Quickstart Rules Doctrine

Quickstart Rules Cerci

Quickstart Rules Shattered Sword

Quickstart Rules Black Diamond

Quickstart Rules Noh

Quickstart Rules Star Nebular Corsairs

The Three Stages of Relic Knights: An Introduction to Strategy for New and New-ish Players

Or, why Relic Knights is like Wacky Races.

Relic Knights is a miniatures game. You buy, assemble, and paint (maybe) miniatures, place them on a gaming table, and move them around with a tape measure or other measuring device. What Relic Knights isn’t, or it at least stretches the definition to close to its breaking point, is a wargame. Most miniatures games are wargames to some degree or another, and this can create an expectation in new players for not only how they should play Relic Knights, but how Relic Knights should play. When the game then doesn’t meet those expectations, it can create a frustrating gaming experience, and sometimes even the feeling that the game doesn’t quite work properly.

A wargame simulates the experience of warfare, and a miniatures wargame does that using miniatures. So far, so obvious. At its most basic, a miniatures wargame involves two armies deploying at opposite sides of a table, moving towards each other, and fighting. Victory is usually determined by casualties inflicted and troops who have fled. Combat is the ultimate goal of the game, and doing combat better than your opponent is how you win. Many games add scenarios to the mix, so that a given game may be determined by whether one side can gain control of a hill defended by the other side. The amount of casualties inflicted has no bearing on the win condition, but inflicting casualties is the key to being able to achieve the win condition, so combat remains the essence of the game.

Some games, especially some low model-count skirmish games, push that even further, and make victory dependent on completing several tasks that score points. Scoring more points than the opponent determines the winner. As these tasks are often not related to combat, then it isn’t necessary to engage in combat to complete them. That said, it remains the case that the easiest path to completing even a non-combat task is to first kill as many opposition models as possible.

If you’ve any previous experience of playing miniatures games then the likelihood is you’ll recognise one or more of those as being how miniatures games are played. Even if you’ve played games such as Malifaux, which place a heavy emphasis on non-combat victory conditions, and are thus quite comfortable with the idea that combat is not the be-all and end-all of the game, there’ll still be the expectation that killing enemy models will be, and should be, a key part of the game.

And with Relic Knights it sort of is. If you can kill enemy models then you will score victory points just for doing that, and you will also make it easier to score your other victory conditions. The problem is killing enemy models can be difficult, in some cases very difficult, and even if you take out one or two units, you can find you’ve lost the game by a wide margin while you were doing it. It doesn’t help that Relic Knights is a fairly complex game, not unusual for a modern skirmish game and certainly no more complex than the likes of Infinity, and it requires players to keep track of quite a lot of information. Included among this are three (or even four) victory conditions for both players. You not only need to remember what you score victory points for, but also what your opponent scores their victory points for. It’s easy to lose track, lose focus, and find your opponent announcing victory by completing a condition you’ve struggled to remember they have.

The result can be a game in which you spend futile activations attacking enemy models who defend your attacks. Meanwhile your opponent zips their models around the board interacting with objectives and killing some of your models with seeming ease.

This is the first stage of playing Relic Knights. This blog post is in the main an attempt to get players over that hump as quickly as possible. I’ve also written some quickstart rules for starter box games which are currently uploaded as files to the ‘Relic Knights: Darkspace Calamity’ and ‘Relic Knights UK’ Facebook groups, which are intended to simplify the game for new players, including giving clear and relatively simple victory conditions for both players.  Using those rules for a game or two with this post in mind should hopefully mean that stage one is passed quickly and painlessly.

There are several moving parts which are collectively responsible for the way Relic Knights plays. The first is that the game employs a first-past-the-post victory point system. The first player to score a set number of VPs will immediately win the game. There are games, such as the aforementioned Malifaux, which also determine a winner based on scoring VPs, but these are totted up when the game ends and the person with the most points wins (or at least it did in 1e). This means that a player can meet a victory requirement during the game but then lose it later, and that one player can make up a VP deficit no matter how far behind they are at a given point in the game. VPs that are scored in Relic Knights are never lost, and as soon as your opponent hits the VP threshold then you have lost and cannot make up the deficit. You must not only score VPs, but score them faster than your opponent.

The second moving part is the alternating activation sequence. There are no turns in Relic Knights over which all the models are activated, and you only activate one unit at a time, with play passing to your opponent to activate one of their units before you get to activate another (notwithstanding Link). Warmachine also utilises a FPtP VP system to determine the winner, but it uses an ‘I go, U go’ activation sequence, in which each player activates their entire army in one go, before passing to their opponent to do the same. So if you set your army up to begin scoring VPs, your opponent can then bring their entire army to bear on preventing you, and vice versa. If your opponent is set up to score VPs in Relic Knights, then you only activate one unit before they activate again, and the queue means there’s no guarantee it’ll be a unit which is of any use to you. Once again, the onus is on you to score your VPs fast, by using the minimum number of activations possible.

The third moving part is what you score VPs for. There are six primary conditions worth 5VPs each, six secondary worth 3VPs, and six faction conditions worth 2VPs, plus two further victory conditions worth 2VPs each if either the Wild or Void card is flipped. Of them, only five directly require you to cause any damage, the remainder can be completed without ever doing a combat action. You do also get 1VP for killing a non-knight enemy unit, and 3VPs for killing a knight, but why invest activations trying to kill five enemy units when you can complete a primary victory condition for the same number of VPs in many fewer activations and spending much less esper?

The final moving part is the durability of many units, which means killing them will either take a lot of activations, or even be functionally impossible before the game ends. Relic Knights has attack prevention abilities which can cancel the entire attack on the target unit, and if they have the esper to pay for them then the defence is guaranteed. If you spend an activation attacking a unit which Guards, then you have achieved nothing with that activation. Bearing in mind you need to reach the VP threshold in as few activations as possible. So if an enemy unit has a Guard, and you think they could afford to pay for it, why bother attacking it? Use that activation on completing your victory conditions. Even if they have no Guard or Redirect or can’t afford to pay for it, if they have sufficient Health, Armor, and/or Recover (or even access to Heal) that means it would take you multiple activations to kill them, why bother attacking it? You are risking falling behind your opponent in the race to reach the VP threshold.

This is the point at which stage two of Relic Knights is reached. Your focus should be on completing your victory conditions and not on attacking your opponent. So Relic Knights becomes a game in which you and your opponent zip around the table blindly ignoring one another while you score VPs, and the first one to reach the threshold wins. In many ways this seems worse than stage one. At least then you were interacting with your opponent. Now they might as well not be there. Plus if you do that and at the end of it you lose, then you’ve lost a game which you could do nothing about, assuming you were completing victory conditions as fast as you could, because your opponent could complete theirs faster than you. And you didn’t get to interact either. Why bother? Why not just play something else?

If you’ve realised why then welcome to stage three. If not, then this is why: if you ignore your opponent and focus on completing your victory conditions as fast as you can and you lose, then you should have been trying to slow your opponent down. If you have a foot race against someone faster than you then you will lose, unless you trip them up.

And this is why Relic Knights is the Wacky Races of miniatures games.

If all the entrants in Wacky Races just raced as fast as they could to the finish line, then the one with the fastest car would always win. Probably Penelope Pitstop in her Compact Pussycat, which seems appropriately Cerci.

But, you might be asking, having just explained why trying to kill enemy units just wastes activations and puts you behind in the race, how exactly are you supposed to do this? Well, just like the entrants in Wacky races. They don’t kill each other, but they hassle, hamper, harry, harass, distract, and generally get in in the way.

This will be the subject of the next blog post. For now, the main points I hope a new or new-ish player takes away from this post is not to get frustrated if it feels like you’re futilely blasting away at a enemy cadre which is running rings around you and taking out your units, or you’re having joyless games in which you run around the table oblivious to your opponent and then lose. Relic Knights has lots of ways for you to interact with your opponent, many tricks you can use, and many ways to ruin their day.