A few years back there was a wildly popular kickstarter for a new, anime-inspired miniatures game. Its backers pushed it through the roof in terms of financial support, but one of the partners in the fulfillment process basically dropped the ball and made a mess of it for many folks. The other partner, however, payed close attention to what went wrong, and spent years not only refining the way they market their product, but also the rules and quality of the product itself. Gone is the dubious plastic that did not hold detail as well as it should have, kicking down the door is gorgeous, crisp resin and ladies and gentlelost, we have Relic Knights 2.0.
Soda Pop Miniatures, in conjunction with Ninja Division, are relaunching their flagship game with a pretty awesome two-player starter in a new kickstarter. While the original game had six factions (and this one still does), three of those factions were aligned with the Radiant side, the other three with Void. The starter comes with cadres for both Radiant and Void, so you’ll be able to take the models and play them with your other factions as you expand your collection.
Relic Knights 2.0 utilizes an innovative card system to trigger abilities. You don’t need to roll any dice – instead, you have a hand of cards representing Esper – energy that makes up reality – and if you have the right Esper to pay for an ability, it triggers. If your opponent doesn’t have an ability that lets them dodge or redirect the attack, well, it sucks to be them – they eat the full effect of your carefully crafted assault.
Playing on a smaller board than many miniatures games and requiring few models – maybe a dozen at most, depending on how you choose to build your cadre – Relic Knights is an easy game to dabble with and just break out when you feel like a change of pace, or of course you can sink your teeth in and, without too much of a commitment, enjoy the game from different angles by collecting two or three different factions.
You can read more about the game and some of the changes that have come with 2.0 at the Kickstarter, so I won’t go into too much further detail, but based on some of the comments I’ve seen floating about the interwebs there’s a few things I want to address and/or point out.
1. Model Quality
By far the biggest bugbear coming from the first kickstarter regarded model quality. Models were cast in coloured plastic that, frankly, didn’t hold detail well at all, to the point where some models pretty much completely lacked any facial detail whatsoever. Soda Pop took note of this once they’d severed ties with their original partner and took steps to correct the problem. Two years ago at GenCon I was able to pick up a handful of Questing Knights and the like, and every single one of them was cast in resin. I addressed this last year (post) and I’ve confirmed that not only are all the new models being cast in resin, but the add-ons in the Kickstarter that are of existing models are resin resculpts as well. Yes, I asked specifically about my Diamond Corps models. I’m allowed to be selfish from time to time… Oh, and Soda Pop addressed the topic of the new resins themselves too (post).
2. Kickstarter Exclusives
Soda Pop’s made a point in the past of not having strictly exclusive models – everything they’ve released as part of a kickstarter has at a later point either been available on their online store, or been sold as a convention exclusive at events they’ve attended. If you missed out on the kickstarter, there’s always been another way to get he models. This time, you’ll see there’s a whole bunch of models flagged as Kickstarter Exclusive… but before you flip out, note that for all except two models, there’s an MSRP listed. These exclusives are offered free as rewards for backers of the kickstarter, but they’ll be available for sale at a later date.
I did mention two exceptions – Pinup Fiametta and Pinup Marie-Claude. These two model are alternate sculpts *only*, and retain the exact same stats as their regular counterparts. Not participating in the kickstarter will in no way hamper your gameplay experience, you’ll just have the normal models instead of the pinups, if you happen to play Doctrine or Cerci Speed Circuit. This is confirmed in the kickstarter itself, I’m not making this stuff up to mess with your head. Don’t think about elephants.
3. Delivery Concerns
There were cockups with the original kickstarter – both in terms of initial delivery and in terms of customer service followup afterwards – but these were largely rooted in the partnership that has long since been dissolved. Working with Ninja Division and under their own steam, Soda Pop Miniatures successfully delivered on Super Dungeon Explore: The Forgotten King and Ninja All Stars, and we’ll soon be seeing Super Dungeon Explore: Legends and Rail Raiders Infinite hitting our doors. John and the boys at Soda Pop aren’t idiots. They observed, they learned, and with the vast bulk of the work for Relic Knights 2.0 already completed (heck, first wave deliveries are expected late Summer this year), the only concern that could cause possible delays is unforeseen manufacturing issues in China or a complete breakdown of international relations. The ducks are all in a row, it’s just a matter of leading them down the garden path.
So why should you consider backing Relic Knights 2.0?
It’s a solid game, 2.0 cleans up a couple of rules and balance issues from 1.0, the models are beautiful (although I grant I’ll be painting bodysuits on some of the models – I have an impressionable teenage daughter in the house), and not only are you getting a slew of freebies with the deal, you’ll also have the option – should you choose – of expanding your preferred faction for a significant discount. For example, the MSRP on Jeann Romee’s relic knight is $60, but kickstarter backers will be able to get her for $36 as part of their pledge.
As kickstarters go, it’s looking like a good one, and I have faith in the people behind it.