Ron
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That's exactly what the world needed. Another Relic review. But I played the game now several times and I read all the reviews here, and suddenly, I felt the urge to add my two cents. So, here they are.

Game Play

For those unfamiliar with the Talisman system, here's a short and brief summary.

The board consists of 3 tiers, the Outer, the Middle and the Inner; the first two are circuits, the Inner tier is a spiral and leads to the goal of the game: reaching the final space and dealing with the scenario card there.

Each player starts with a character which possesses 3 attributes (strength, will power and cunning) as well as a few life points. On your turn, you roll the dice and move your miniature to the right or the left – so basically, you have a choice of two spaces that you can encounter. On most of the spaces you draw Threat cards (or deal with Threat cards already lying there), which come in 4 flavours: Events (read them and follow the instructions), Assets (useful stuff your character likes and collects), Encounters (helpful strangers to aid you on your mission) and Enemies – the most common threat for you in this game.

If you draw enemies, you have to battle them. You fight using the attribute the enemy dictates – it's a simple process of rolling one dice and adding your character's value in this attribute; the enemy does the same and scores are compared: the higher one wins. Slain enemies can be taken as trophies and when you have a certain amount of them, you may discard them and get a level as a reward, which usually means you gain an increase in an attribute or other goodies.

While running around the board, meeting strangers, finding stuff, and slaying baddies, you also have to fulfil mission cards. This is an important thing to do, because after finishing your third mission, you are allowed to draw a Relic card. Without a Relic you are not allowed to enter the Inner tier – thus being unable to win the game. And, as an additional bonus, Relics are items of great power. So you definitely want one.

If you feel strong enough, you can move from the Outer tier to the Middle tier and continue adventuring. The spaces there are more dangerous as you have to draw more cards. And finally, when you feel you are ready, you hit the spiral in the Inner tier and rush to the last space, deal with the scenario card there and probably win the game.

The inevitable comparison with Talisman

In short: Relic has everything that Talisman lacks. So I daresay, Relic is the better Talisman (if you can live with a sci-fi topic instead of fantasy). Here are the most important differences:

your character has three attributes instead of only two and the character dash boards with the dials are not only beautifully made, but also an improvement in handling.
you have more control over card drawing, as there are three different colours of threat cards and each space tells you from which deck you have to draw. So you have a certain amount of control which enemies you will encounter, as each deck has its own theme.
the outcome of a combat is more uncertain than in Talisman, as every 6 you roll "explodes", meaning you may roll again and add the new die roll to your score – you may do this as long as you roll sixes.
There is no "craft path" and no "strength path" to the final space – all your attributes are needed in the Inner tier and everyone encounters the same spaces. Although contrary to Talisman, you encounter each space only once, and in the next turn you move on, regardless of how successful your encounter on the previous space was.
Alternative Endings are now called "Scenario" and each offers a different victory condition and slightly altered game rules. That keeps the game different everytime you play.
There are no spells – these have been replaced by Power cards. But basically they do the same and are also hard to acquire.
Most objects have a number of Charge tokens on it – each time you use an object, you remove a Charge token and when the last one is gone, you discard the item.
Gold has been replaced with Influence (although it works pretty much like Gold in Talisman).
You need a Relic to enter the Inner tier instead of a Talisman. This means you have to fulfil at least three mission cards (which can be seen as Quests from the Warlock in Talisman).
Your character can now corrupt. Bad events or opportunities let you draw Corruption cards. Basically it's a bad thing when you find that your character now has a mutation, but they often even aid you on your quest. Although collect six of them and your character is out of the game, dying because of his many unnatural mutations.
You do not die if you are reduced to 0 live points. You are simply vanquished, losing all your Influence and all your trophies, and then you start again. You even keep your levels and all your stuff! This is a huge improvement over Talisman - being vanquished sure is a setback, but it doesn't kick you out of the game!
There is no player-versus-player combat, as all players represent an Imperial character – the good guys.

Some Thoughts

In my younger days, I played Talisman a lot. I mean, really a lot! So buying Relic was a logical decision. And I tell you, I totally enjoy this game!

Relic is not your typical Eurogame, where you ponder about what to make with your 4 wood and 3 stone and asking yourself where to place your little meeple. Instead you ponder about "Am I strong enough to kill these two Eldar in the Docking Station?" or "Should I really buy this beautiful Storm Bolter gun or should I save up to buy me healing at the St. Antia's Sanctuary?"

Relic is not your family game, where everyone happily rolls the dice and moves his little pink pony around the board. You do move around the board, but through a dystopian universe with an Ultramarines Captain or a Tech-Priest Engineer; you encounter foul demons and horrific aliens while your body slowly corrupts.

Relic is in fact a top-notch Ameritrash game, with hundreds of different event cards, unpredictable game situations and fantastic opportunities for trash talk on the gaming table. It is also a role playing game, where you have different characters which have different abilities and all are in dire need of experience points (read "Trophies") to level up. It's a game of adventure. It's also perfect for only two players and my wife loves it! Relic is a game of gloating, boasting, whining and dice rolling. Compared to Relic, your average Stefan Feld design looks like a dry and boring math exercise.

Relic (and also Talisman) gets mainly bashed because of two things: "It's too long for what it offers" and "It's too random". Is it too long? Not if you have fun! The box says 2 to 3 hours playing time – after you get a feel for the game, this is absolutely realistic. Is it too random? Yes, it is random, but not "too". It is a fantasy game after all. If you happen to encounter that Greater Unclean One demon in your second turn, you're dead meat, buddy. Lose one life! If you dislike situations like these, Relic is definitely not for you.
(Although if you win your combat against this stinky foe in the second turn, you're the hero of the day!)

The Verdict

For me, it's a 10 on the BGG scale: "Outstanding. Always want to play and expect this will never change". Although I rated Talisman also a 10. And I say the same about Advanced Squad Leader and many of the 18xx designs. So you are warned. meeple

Relic is a "love it or hate it" game. If you are a role player, an Ameri-trasher, or simply a gamer who likes to have fun from time to time and needs to get away from all these serious Eclipses, Twilight Struggles and Agricolas sometimes, go and buy yourself a Relic. It's refreshingly different!

On the other hand, if you worship Stefan Feld and Reiner Knizia daily at a little altar near your bed, you've just wasted your time by reading this review. Sorry ...

All hail the Emperor! meeple
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Dustin Crenshaw
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I don't think it's a love it or hate it game. For me it was a game I really liked ruined by the event deck.
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Abdiel Xordium
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I love Talisman and I think FFGs version is the best edition of that game, but in retropsect, FFG kind of dropped the ball on Talisman. They were a little too faithful to the original game. They felt no such compunction to be faithful to the original expansions and all of them are more interesting than the core game while simultaneously feeling like kludged after thoughts.

Relic is additional proof of this fact. With Relic, they were freed from any need to try and fit new wine in old bottles. They could design a Talisman-like game from the ground up and only concern themsevles with the quality of the game and not concern themselves with trying to appease long-time die-hard fans.

Relic is the better game because of it.
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Alex F
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I have dropped Talisman's rating because of Relic(though we do use the dice from Talisman, as they just roll better,imo.)

More goal-driven, faster paced and intuitive gameplay, more control over movement, a cool experience bar tailored for each character makes him feel more unique.

I like that they unified Followers and Objects under Assets. In Talisman you could be carrying so many Followers and Trinkets, it was hard to keep track of them all.

Despite the fact that there are only 10 characters and 5 scenarios to choose from thus far, Relic is highly replayable and boasts a lot of variety.
One of my favorite games for sure.
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Ron
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SeerMagic wrote:
For me it was a game I really liked ruined by the event deck.

You mean the Threat deck(s)? Why?
 
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PzVIE wrote:
SeerMagic wrote:
For me it was a game I really liked ruined by the event deck.

You mean the Threat deck(s)? Why?


Seems someone would always draw the hardest enemies at the beginning of the game, or never get enemies to fight so they could level up. I didn't play one game were there wasn't a huge runaway leader problem.

Such a thing should have never happened, I mean they could have learned from their own games.
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Stephane Bassiaux
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PzVIE wrote:
On the other hand, if you worship Stefan Feld and Reiner Knizia daily at a little altar near your bed, you've just wasted your time by reading this review. Sorry ...


Not necessarily.

I happen to be the biggest Feld fanboy at my gaming club, and I own and enjoy Relic.

Although I sometimes curse the pure randomness , I take it as an adventure and a change from the German brain burners.

Nice review by the way
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Ron
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Wraith75 wrote:
I happen to be the biggest Feld fanboy at my gaming club, and I own and enjoy Relic.

But you don't maintain an altar, do you? meeple
And I have to admit: I own a hefty lot of Feld games too.

Wraith75 wrote:
Nice review by the way

Thanks, Stephane!
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Stephane Bassiaux
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PzVIE wrote:
But you don't maintain an altar, do you? meeple


No, the altar would crumble under the weight of all his games
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Alex F
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SeerMagic wrote:
PzVIE wrote:
SeerMagic wrote:
For me it was a game I really liked ruined by the event deck.

You mean the Threat deck(s)? Why?


Seems someone would always draw the hardest enemies at the beginning of the game, or never get enemies to fight so they could level up. I didn't play one game were there wasn't a huge runaway leader problem.

Such a thing should have never happened, I mean they could have learned from their own games.

I'd have to disagree. We've had quite a few underdog victories with an underpowered character six levels lower than the leader claiming victory.
It pays off to take risks in this game.

You see that the leader is going for the win-- go after him, ascend to the Inner Tier with what you've got. Depending on the scenario, you will have a shot.

We've seen games where the lagging player leveled up 4 times during his turn, catching up to the leader. We've seen leaders toppled, certain victory snatched from their hands.

Relic is all about risk management, and taking risks can pay off greatly, making for exciting sessions.

We've even houseruled the default ending to remove the deterministic victory condition, and make it into a fun eliminator of sorts.
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Ian Radford
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A thoughtful, concise review. Thanks for posting it.
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Guillaume Pages
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SeerMagic wrote:
[q="PzVIE"][q="SeerMagic"]
Seems someone would always draw the hardest enemies at the beginning of the game, or never get enemies to fight so they could level up.


I have dealt with this problem by shuffling the event decks in a "Thunderstone" way. I take the level 11, 12 and 13 threat cards out of the event decks. Then I cut each decks (yellow, blue and red) in half and put the three high threat cards in one half of the deck. Shuffle that and place that half deck underneath the other half deck. That way, the level 11, 12 and 13 threats only occur later in the game.

You could also take out a few assets, events and places cards. Taking 4-5 for each deck would increase the frequency of fighting an enemy.

my 2c.



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guigtexas wrote:
SeerMagic wrote:
[q="PzVIE"][q="SeerMagic"]
Seems someone would always draw the hardest enemies at the beginning of the game, or never get enemies to fight so they could level up.


I have dealt with this problem by shuffling the event decks in a "Thunderstone" way. I take the level 11, 12 and 13 threat cards out of the event decks. Then I cut each decks (yellow, blue and red) in half and put the three high threat cards in one half of the deck. Shuffle that and place that half deck underneath the other half deck. That way, the level 11, 12 and 13 threats only occur later in the game.

You could also take out a few assets, events and places cards. Taking 4-5 for each deck would increase the frequency of fighting an enemy.

my 2c.


yeah I totally thought about doing that, but ultimately decided I didn't want to fix the game with house rules.
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Tony Watson
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Nice review: concise, good info and helpful recommendations. Thanks!
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