Thursday, September 15, 2016

Most impressive!

Metal King Studio is a one-man company owned, managed, and, er, staffed by Sean Sutter. Mr. Sutter ran a successful Kickstarter to fund his skirmish game Relicblade in February/March of this past year. The game shipped by late June, which is to say, exactly on time. For those interested in backing punctual crowdfunding projects, Mr. Sutter plans to run another Kickstarter next month to fund further Relicblade content.

But let's not start by getting off track ...

Relicblade is now available directly from Metal King Studio in its constituent parts: currently, a small range of Heroic 32mm miniatures and delightfully illustrated cards and rulebook. But its most cost-effective form is a two-player boxed set. Note: this is not a starter set in the conventional sense, i.e., a taste/teaser of the game. To the contrary, this boxed set comes with everything you need to enjoy a full game of Relicblade (well, apart from the terrain).

I ordered a copy earlier this month and received it promptly, just as one would expect from a KS creator who managed to deliver rewards on time. Mr. Sutter even included a hand-written note complete with hand-drawn sketch of the Questing Knight, or perhaps a cousin of the Questing Knight, facing down a Soldier Pig and a Raider Pig. Talk about cranking the indie/artisanal charm up to ELEVEN!

oh man look at those pigmen go

Aside from just bragging about receiving this awesome drawing, I also want to mention that Mr. Sutter emphasized in his note how important it is for games like Relicblade that gamers like yours truly (and hopefully you as well, dear reader!) are willing to try new things. While this can be expensive in terms of both time and money, especially when it comes to miniatures gaming, he makes an excellent point: We are lucky to live in a boom era of miniatures gaming and sticking resolutely to the same old-same old is downright ... well ... ungrateful.

boxed set components (excl. miniatures)

Relicblade is not just a game; it is an achievement. I don't mean that lightly. It could be said in a broad sense for most games, given how much effort goes into them. But the word has a special resonance in the case of Relicblade, where the rules, the layout and editing, the components, the sculpts, the artwork, the setting implicit in the visual design, the marketing, even the distribution - all of this not only flowed from one man's intellect and imagination but in large part is the fruit of one man's dedicated labor. Many gamers dream of accomplishing what young Mr. Sutter already has. Some have tried. Very, very few have produced something as lovely as Relicblade.

best rules illustrations ever

What makes a game stand out is strong brand identity. Relicblade has brand in spades. The subject may be generic fantasy but the style, and especially the consistency of the style across all the components, feels very personal - the players are invited to step into the world of the game, a crucial aesthetic for miniatures gaming. The mechanics also support immersion. Without going into detail (more on that later), the rules are intuitive and unobtrusive. Everything here reinforces everything else.

Mr. Sutter's achievement should be exciting for all miniatures gamers. There are a lot of talented, driven creators out there. I hope they see Relicblade as an inspiration and a challenge to share their visions with the rest of us!

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