• Warhammer 40k: Gladius-Relics of War review by Rick Moscatello

    The emperor finds this…worthy.

    update the server quickly-relicsplash-png

    Gladius-Relics of War is something of a breakthrough for the Warhammer 40k license. This is the first game in the Warhammer 40k universe in the 4X genre, in other words the first game where you start with very little and expand, explore, exploit, and exterminate everyone else, on the planet Gladius.

    The classic in this genre is Civilization, but there are many, many other solid games with this type of design. The critical key to success here is replayability, usually achieved through having different factions (giving reason to play at least once for each faction), an interesting research tree (giving more than one way to play even within a faction), an interesting word (hopefully random enough not to get boringly familiar), and often diplomacy (again providing multiple ways to win).

    Diplomacy is out the window here. Warhammer 40k is all about war, endless war. Your AI opponents are perpetually belligerent. Most games in this genre have terrible diplomacy anyway, so this is no great loss.

    There are but four factions in the game.

    The Space Marines are heavily modified humans in super-armor. They only can have one city, but build far more quickly than others, and have the ability to land small forts from orbit to protect key resources. The Orks are crude fungal humanoids, a bit slow moving and emphasize close combat tactics. The Necrons are undead space aliens, able to regenerate quickly. Finally, the Asta Militarum are basically normal humans, with a focus on long range attacks.

    While technically two of the above factions should be on favorable terms (both are in service to the emperor of all humanity), they’re at war on Gladius. You’ll have to accept some liberties with the canon if you’re going to make a game like this with 40k armies.

    The factions all play sufficiently differently that it’s well worth trying each.

    update the server quickly-relicresea-png
    But...Red is supposed to make it go fasta!

    The research tree is more like a pair of research vines. There are various tiers, and once you research two techs in a tier, you can go to the next one up. It’s good enough, but the choices are fairly clear, and many of these are more like taxes than choices. You can’t possibly get a decent size city without learning how to build the population improvement building, for example, and you’ll have to get it at some point. Similarly, if you want leaders, armored units, or fliers, you’ll have to research that building…and then quite possibly to research the unit types on top of that.

    These speed bumps can get particularly annoying at times. Your cities can only build one building at a time, and while this is done in parallel with research, it’s a slow process. For example, suppose you want a city to build tanks. First your city needs to build mines (because you’ll need the ore), and then the building that constructs tanks (assuming you’ve researched that). Then your city will need to expand, and that takes time where you can’t construct anything.

    The mines and tank factory need power generators, so you’ll have to build one or two of those, too. Each structure requires population to operate, so you’ll need to expand the population capacity for that. Large populations have low loyalty, slowing down production, so you’ll probably need to research and build a loyalty-improving building, too.

    Next you need to research a tank. After you do so, you can start building one…might take 8 turns until it’s ready. Sure hope you don’t need anything from that city in all that time.

    update the server quickly-relicarmy-jpg
    The whole world looks like this.

    The world is, well, mediocre. There are no naval operations here, and no mountains or hills, just cliffs, so you’re basically looking at a flat landscape littered with forests and rivers. Marching across this can be slow going, and I do wish there was a way to build roads or bridges. At least the “settler” unit can tear down forests and “wire weed” (a native plant which tears up anything passing through) on its way to a new city.

    The world is populated with “goody huts” with random treasure in it (usable only by heroes, usually), and a host of semi-dangerous creatures to kill (units, especially heroes, improve with experience, so this is a good way to “train” units). There are also powerful, incredibly useful, floating alien artifacts that are well worth controlling, as they offer a bonus to your entire army.

    update the server quickly-relicarif-jpg
    Alien relic. You want this.

    There are a host of fiddly bits in the game such as morale, terrain, small bonuses for occupying territory and other small details. While individually these things are all write-offs, taken as a whole they do combine to add some depth and strategy to what would otherwise be a fully mediocre game with a great license.

    While still not a great game, there’s plenty of play value here, and hopefully some future DLC will add factions, allow for more interesting worlds, and maybe have some special rules scenarios to add more play value. In the meantime, Gladius is worth the price, and a worthy addition to the Warhammer 40k game universe.

    Overall score: 80
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Warhammer 40k: Gladius-Relics of War review by Rick Moscatello started by Doom View original post