Warhammer 40k is hexy 4Xy in Gladius – Relics Of War

In the grim darkness of the far future, there is only Warhammer. We’re still a few millennia off a Warhammer 40,000 dating game (try not to blush as you polish your crush’s crotchskull!) but Games Workship’s grimdark universe did today expand into the realms of turn-based 4X strategy with the launch of Warhammer 40,000: Gladius – Relics of War. Don’t expect to score a cultural or diplomatic victory in this one, but it has the usual exploration, expansion, exploitation, and goodness me so very much extermination. Those spacefascists do love their extermination.

Relics Of War is made by Proxy Studios, the folks behind sci-fi 4X Pandora: First Contact, and published by stratheads Slitherine. It throws Space Marines, Astra Militarum (Imperial Guard), Orks, and Necron onto hexy maps to harvest, tech, and megamurder. Yes, diplomacy is off the table in this one. A shame, as I would very much like to receive flirtatious requests for more silk and fags from Gangarr Toothcruncher.

Slitherine have drafted folks to stream hours of play, if you’d rather see that.

RPS servo-skull Fraser Brown performed the preview rites earlier this year, reporting back:

“Instead of filling the gap left by diplomacy, Gladius keeps the focus on action and conquest. Even the only other victory condition, finishing your faction’s quest, will send you all over map to get into lots of fights. The broad range of units and their diverse characteristics means that the combat does have a lot of staying power, however, especially if you’ve already got a deep obsession with these angry soldiers and their massive war machines.

“As someone who tends not to be an aggressive 4X player, I did start to crave different kinds of interactions and for there to be any kind of structure to the wars. I missed the surprise of an ally’s betrayal or the moment when a cold war becomes a very, very hot one — things you don’t get when it’s all war, all the time. I didn’t miss the incessant pestering from chatty AI opponents, though, nor constantly trying to placate them with deals and bribes. Just stomping around a planet smashing everything is, admittedly, a cathartic experience.”

That wasn’t the full and finished game, of course.

Warhammer 40,000: Gladius – Relics of War is out now for Windows and Linux. It costs £31/€34/$40 on Steam and is a quid or so cheaper on GOG, who are also throwing in a free copy of DreamForge’s 1999 strat ’em up WH40K: Rites Of War until July 26th.

Disclosure: our Alec did a little copy-editing on Gladius, which leads me to the surprise realisation that it must have a script.


  1. Footnotes says:

    For a second there at the beginning I forgot that this is a British publication.

  2. NetharSpinos says:

    I’m currently debating whether to buy this now or not. I initially wasn’t too impressed with the different faction’s intros all being almost exactly the same, but having looked at the gameplay and watched a couple of people play it, I’m just a little bit more invested. Naturally, though, I’ve waited until after the release so now it’s back on full price.

  3. Orchids says:

    Because of thee, no thought, no thing,
    Abides for me undesecrate –
    Dark Angel, polish up my bling,
    My crotchskull’s looking dull of late!

  4. mitrovarr says:

    I wonder what excuse they dreamed up to have the space marines fighting the imperial guard this time?

    • airmikee99 says:

      For fun?

      Batman fought Superman, Marvel’s superheroes had a civil war against each other, but you find it impossible to justify Space Marines fighting the Imperial Guard, even just for the fun of having them fight?

      Even if fun isn’t a good enough answer for you, how about the Badab War?

      • shde2e says:

        Bit of a cop-out answer though.

        And fleshing out the factions and their relationships really helps with immersion, so if they used that reasoning they’d just be shooting themselves in the foot.

        • NetharSpinos says:

          Perhaps the idea is that casual fans not experienced with 40k will be satisfied with “for funsies” or that they won’t give the answer any concern because video games, and that the experienced 40k fans will know that Astartes fighting Guard is more common that the Imperial propaganda machine would like you to believe. For example:
          -one side believe the other is a traitor
          -Inquisitorial sanction (Guard)
          -war of recompliance (Astartes)
          hunting the Fallen
          The list goes on.

      • mitrovarr says:

        The thing is, in every 40k strategy game I’ve seen, the guard and the space marines are different armies. I’ve never seen a game that put them on the same side.

        And, I get why for gameplay, but it would be kind of interesting to have a game that didn’t contrive a reason for them to fight (and I’ve not doubt they do that plenty in the lore, but still).

    • Phasma Felis says:

      Do you need an excuse? The Imperium is a bunch of paranoid, purity-obsessed, batshit insane fascists. Better yet, when they declare that some innocuous thing is the work of demons lusting to corrupt humankind, odds are good that it’s true. It would be amazing if they didn’t wind up stabbing themselves in the back on a regular basis.

  5. DanMan says:

    It’s a shame that it doesn’t come with unit banter. Can you imagine Dawn Of War without the banter of the Orks?

    • NetharSpinos says:

      For what it’s worth I think there is a bit of textual banter, at least from the IG and probably the Orks. It’s not much, but you know. I suppose 4X games are a bit too large scale for audio banter?

      • shde2e says:

        It could definitely include unit shouts and leader banter though. Although the removal of diplomacy means they’d have to find a different channel for it.

  6. morrolan says:

    They are right not to include diplomacy, in the context of the setting it doesn’t make sense.

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