Cardboard Children: Relic

Hello youse.

You all know how I feel about Talisman. If you don’t, you can read my giant Talisman piece here.

You back? What do you mean you didn’t even go? Okay, I’ll recap here for you. I love Talisman so much and I want to kiss it. That’s pretty much the size of it. So let’s look at Relic, the new Warhammer 40K-themed Talisman from Fantasy Flight. You know how I feel about Warhammer stuff, don’t you? What? You don’t?!

You really don’t know me at all, do you?


Here’s how Fantasy Flight describe Relic:

“Relic is a board game in which two to four players each assume the role of a powerful hero from the Warhammer 40,000 universe and bravely venture forth to shield the Antian Sector from certain doom. By completing missions and defeating enemies, characters compete to gain rewards and experience, furthering their chance of being the first to defeat whatever evil lies beyond the Warp rift.”

Wait, what? Heroes in the Warhammer 40K universe? That’s hilarious. Sure, there’s a collection of characters here for you to play as, but they’re all dickheads, as they should be. From the Space Marine, a machine of slaughter, to the Rogue Trader, who can just buy all your cool shit from you and travel around with about fifty fucking weapons. They all have different powers, and they all level up differently.

Wait, what? Level up? Yeah, like in Talisman. No, wait, hang on. Not like in Talisman? When you turn in your trophies in this game, allowing you to level up, you consult a little chart on your character sheet. This chart tells you what improvements your character benefits from as you level. The Rogue Trader, for example, grows in Influence more easily. The Space Marine is awarded “Completed Missions” as he reaches certain levels.

Wait, what? Completed Missions? Yeah, you know how there’s Warlock Quests in normal Talisman? And how there’s the Bounties in The City expansion? Well, Relic has something similar. Every player always has some kind of mission on the go. The mission card might tell you to go hunt down some Orks, or win a battle in a certain section of the map, or visit certain places. Once you’ve turned three missions in, you can take a Relic. And a Relic is kinda like a Talisman, except it’s an object. A very powerful object.

Wait, what? So the Talisman in this game is a Relic and it’s an actual thing you can use? Yes, and the Relics are amazing. Like, VERY powerful. And you can have more than one. You can get yourself extra tooled up with amazing relics, and march your way to the middle of the board with confidence. Bones of a Fallen Saint is my favourite, maybe. Because it lets you balance your corruption. Or try to, at least.

Wait, what? What do you mean “corruption”? Well, things will happen in this game that make you take Corruption cards. Hell, you can even choose to take them at points. And corruption can cause mutations. And these mutations can sometimes even HELP you in your journey. But if you end up with too much Corruption on your character? You are lost to the influence of the Warp forever. And that hurts. But sometimes it’s tempting to let yourself go a little bit corrupt to give you a leg up against whatever enemies you’re choosing to face down.

Wait, what? This is Talisman. What do you mean “enemies you choose”? Well, the Adventure Cards in this version of Talisman are colour coded. Each colour represents an enemy type. So if you visit an area with a RED threat symbol, you’ll draw from the RED deck, and will be more likely to find enemies of the type normally associated with the RED deck. It’s a nice system. If a mission wants you to find some Orks, you know you’ll have a better chance of finding them in RED areas.

Wait, what about the board?

Okay, stop asking questions. You know there’s a video that shows you EVERYTHING in the game. I’m just here to tell you what I think about it. That’s all. Now, watch the video.

Okay, you back?


I love Talisman. That’s what I think about Relic. And this is still Talisman. If you hate Talisman, it’s unlikely you’ll find much to enjoy about Relic. It’s unlikely you’ll find much to enjoy about life, to be honest.

The extra stuff in the game (and there’s a lot of it) allows for more decisions, more risk, more path-setting. But at its heart, it is still Talisman. You are still at the mercy of the dice to a great extent. Sure, even the dice-play has been tweaked. You now have Power Cards that can be used in place of die rolls at crucial moments, and sixes “explode”, allowing you to overcome impossible odds with a lucky enough roll. But you will still get fucked over by those dice, and you will still scream and moan about it, and everyone else will still laugh. And it will still be fantastic.

Thematically, the game is a triumph. Warhammer 40K fans will love visiting some of their favourite horrible locations (“Come out to the Space Hulk, we’ll get together, have a few laughs!”), and will thrill at having their characters pummelled by their favourite vile creatures. Talisman has always been a game that tells a story – Relic tells a great Warhammer 40K story, in a game that you can learn how to play in minutes.

In my most recent game, my Space Marine moved from sector to sector shaming his Emperor, by getting hammered in almost every battle. The dice were against me. My Mission choices were poor. The enemies I uncovered were brutal, terrifying. I started making risky moves, taking lots of Corruption Cards, thinking myself safe because the Space Marine in the game never mutates. He just accumulates the cards, without feeling their effects. Until it’s too late. And yes, as I watched my Rogue Trader opponent push towards the middle of the board with two Relics in hand, I PUSHED MYSELF TOO FAR. My Space Marine was lost to Chaos, as a Level 3 character. My Rogue Trader opponent, a Level 9 character by that time, waltzed past every threat and mocked me.

It was great fun. I had NO chance of winning. I could see that I had no chance of winning for about an hour before I finally fell to Chaos. But I was lost in my own story. I was fighting for some pride, for the Emperor.

What else is there to say? It’s Talisman, with a bit more choice, taking place in one of the greatest fictional settings people like us have ever known. It won’t replace the normal fantasy-themed Talisman in my affections, but it’s the perfect change of pace for a night when you want to feel the cold grip of a dark and unpredictable far future.

Talisman + Warhammer40K = Aye!


  1. Spacewalk says:

    Does rolling a 1 turn you into a Squat?

    • KikiJiki says:

      Rolling a 1 retcons you into being eaten by Tyranids. It’s all the upsides to being a Squat with none of the tedium of actually BEING a Squat!

  2. Njordsk says:

    I read RELIC and saw stars. My hearth bounced HOMEWORLD §

    and then the real news :(

    • Turkey says:

      Prepare to have your heart bounce again:
      link to

      • wodin says:

        oooohhhh….not sure what the gameplay is..but…ooooohhhh

      • wodin says: thanks..

        “Blackbird is a private, independent game studio headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia. The company was founded in 2007 and began operations in 2010 with an ambitious and original sci-fi social strategy game entitled HARDWARE. The founders are a team of experienced and successful video game industry veterans including senior EA staff and founders of Relic Entertainment.

        Our goal is to serve a new market by merging AAA and casual gaming. We aim to deliver high quality free-to-play platform-agnostic content worldwide and become a leader in creating immersive experiences for an ever more demanding and selective audience.”

  3. T4u3rs says:

    Off topic:
    Release date for “THIS FUCKING AMUSEMENT ARCADE”, please?

  4. amateurviking says:

    I think I need Rab this game in my life.

  5. Toberoth_Syn says:

    I fucking love the 40K mythology and used to play the tabletop game, but I’ve never really played a hugely involved boardgame like this (at least, not to completion–I tried to play Arkham Horror a while ago and got about one turn in after an hour or two of scratching my head trying to figure out the rules). Nevertheless, I’m interested in trying this out. Anyone got any tips or recommendations about how I should start? Should I just buy the set and memorise the rulebook, or is there somewhere I can see the rulebook and read through it before I decide whether or not I want to shell out for the game? For that matter, how much does the game cost, and where should I buy it from (I’m in Belgium)? Is it OK with two players, or do you really need to play it with three or four to get the best experience?

    • Chris D says:

      Fantasy Flight usually have rules for their games on their website. Happily this game is no exception and here they are:

      link to

      Although, as a brief word of caution, rulebooks are generally the worst possible way to get to know a game. On the other hand, they’re quite often the only way we’ve got. Good luck.

      • Spacewalk says:

        “rulebooks are generally the worst possible way to get to know a game.”

        Especially if it’s a rulebook proofread by anyone at FFG.

      • Toberoth_Syn says:

        Oooh, thank you for the link! At least it’s one of those nice GW-style rulebooks with lots of pictures and flavour text; I used to read them just for fun :-D Still got a copy of an old Wargear on my shelf that I flick through occasionally…

      • Tarkeel says:

        Unfortunately, horrible rulebooks is one of the things FFG is legendary for. (The other being very high production values)

  6. flipflop mcbop says:

    this was flying off the shelves in our (one and only) board game store at the weekend. I had it IN MY HAND, but as usual after much agonising it had to give way for one of the other twelftyhundred games that I want. I am a complete sucker for any board game that uses miniatures, especially decent quality ones, and I’m assured that these are top quality pieces.


    On the plus side, me and the good lady triumphed in Arkham Horror.

  7. Random Gorilla says:

    Good: Multiple female characters.
    Bad: The busts live up to their name. If you’re a shape-changing ninja assassin, surely you’d prefer a smaller cup size for practical reasons.

    • Aedrill says:

      1. If you’re a shape-changing ninja assassin you don’t really care about the size of any part of your body, since you can, you know, change your shape.

      2. Even if you prefer a smaller cup size, what can you do, if you’re born with large breasts? Consider different career? Women with large breasts should only work as airbags and strippers,

      3. Seriously, you find large bust shocking/offensive enough to write an offtopic comment about it? Wow.

      • exseraph says:

        The post is about Relic. Gorilla’s comment is about Relic. It’s not off-topic.

        For that matter, it’s legitimate to talk about how the characters are presented. The male characters can apparently be non-sexual (it’s hard to get less sexual than a Tech-Priest), but even the space nun has to have armor that shows off how well-endowed she is. Since these are characters rather than actual people, you can’t really say that it’s an accident of genetics.

        In this case, I think it’s because the character designs are based on models from the tabletop game, which were in turn designed to be appealing to a primarily teenage male audience. I think that the 40k universe can be deeper than that – Fantasy Flight does some excellent 40k rpgs which I’ve run with mixed-gender groups – but its visual design has long been a mix of Rule of Cool and dude fantasies with a dash of 80’s heavy metal album cover thrown in.

  8. Seboss says:

    Talisman, ugh… I do find many things enjoyable (thank you), but Talisman is not one of them. I’m looking forward to future games set in the W40k univers from FFG though. They did a pretty good job with Horus Heresy and Relic seems to be a fine game, for those who can enjoy that never-ending random bloated goose game that is Talisman.

  9. mrrruczit says:

    Just one question – I don’t like Talisman so much, because there can be almost no interaction between players for the entire game. Is there the same problem in Relic?

    • DrGruu says:

      Almost certainly yes, apart from the odd character ability like the Rogue Trader/Thief.

      I was looking at this in the shop at the weekend too. I went for a second hand copy of Shadows over Camelot instead. Don’t think I’ll regret it considering I already have Talisman…

    • malkav11 says:

      When I playtested Relic, there were missions that asked you to fight other players, though Relic still has limited control over your own movement. Other than that, pretty much, yeah. It’s never bothered me, personally.


      The changes in Relic make for a similar but meaningfully different experience that I would personally rate above Talisman as it fixes some of that game’s issues (though by no means all of them and someone who hates Talisman would probably hate Relic). For example, the power cards ability to substitute for a die roll means you can steer yourself in a more controlled way if you need to and have an appropriate card. The Relics being actual useful items is a huge improvement over Talisman’s Talismans. The missions mean you have goals beyond “roam randomly around the board until you feel like you’ve accumulated enough power to make a bid for the win”. Etc.

      Also, I hate Shadows over Camelot, so I personally suspect you’ll regret that decision for reasons entirely confined to Shadows itself. But I wish you luck anyhow.

    • mrrruczit says:

      Thanks guys, so it seems I’ll skip this one. It will hurt a bit, because of the WH40K, but I’m playing for the mainly for interaction – like BSG or Descent.

  10. tnankie says:

    Oh gawds the F’ing Imperium. I really struggle to support that faction at all. I wont be getting this more or less on those grounds alone. (Tau or Eldar forever)

  11. TWChristine says:

    I’m super excited to try this..I just wish I had people to play it with. I’m sure my spouse would but I know it would be out of kindness instead of actual enjoyment. :/