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Warhammer 40,000: Gladius – Relics Of War

Posted by GG Goblin On July - 24 - 2018

In the grim darkness of the far future, there is only war. Oh, and annoying floating brains with tentacles.

In a vast sea of Warhammer 40,000 games, there are only a few that really stand out. It can become a little disheartening to see yet another game based in Games Workshop’s brutal sci-fi setting, but there is always that glimmer of hope for a game that really shines. When Slitherine announced Proxy Studios’ Warhammer 40,000: Gladius – Relics of War as a 4X game, the first thing that sprung to mind was the idea of Orks and Space Marines sitting around a table and discussing trade options. What a silly idea. Fortunately, when it comes down to playing the game, diplomacy and trade play absolutely no part, and the result is a warmonger’s dream.

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The planet Gladius has been cut off for some time due to a warp storm. But now the previously prosperous planet has become a target for four different factions from the Warhammer 40,000 universe. First up, and the subject of the solid introductory campaign, are the Space Marines. They are the Emperor’s finest and are frankly tough as nails. Then there are the Imperial Guard, or Astra Militarum, who don’t have the big armoured boots of the Space Marines, but make up for that shortcoming with sheer numbers. The third faction are the brutal and primitive Orks who bring so much anger to the party. Finally, rising from beneath the ground, there is the Necron menace, ancient robotic creatures that have been dozing for a fair few years. I must admit that I am missing the Eldar, but maybe they were just too busy having tea to bother with Gladius. Still, the factions are varied and different enough to give players plenty of choice in how they play.

That is, as long as how they play revolves around wiping out everything else on the map. The lack of diplomacy and other less violent win conditions does mean that winning a game in Gladius tends to involve building the biggest, most powerful army and simply destroying the competition. Each of the factions has their own quest line to play through, adding some flavour to the game, and completing all of the quests will give a win condition without having to destroy everything else, but the simple fact is that wholesale destruction can be much easier than trying to complete the campaign objectives. That being said, for players who want a bit of variety, the campaigns do offer less grind.

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Whichever faction the player chooses, the core game is always the same. The randomly generated map will be split into hexes, and the player will begin by founding a settlement on one of these hexes. They will also begin with a couple of units for protection or exploration. There is a fog of war hiding the majority of the map and also an abundance of native creatures that can be a real pain, including those tentacle brain things that took control of a whole bunch of my Space Marines before I realised what was going on.

There are a variety of different resources to manage, dictating things like the expansion of the city and how efficient buildings in the city are, through to unit production. Each hex within the city can be home to a certain number of buildings that can generate resources or allow for the production of different units, and expanding the city onto other hexes will be necessary in order to place all of the buildings that a faction requires. Each faction has different requirements as to how they expand beyond their primary city, such as Space Marines who can only have one city, but can build towers that collect resources, or the Necrons who can only build cities on the buried Necron tombs.

What the player can build or produce comes down to a pretty decent research tree. Split up into tiers, the players must only research a couple of items from a tier before being able to start on the next, which gives players a lot of choice in how they develop their faction. Do they play the long game and concentrate on the infrastructure, build up the strength of their existing troops, or go straight for the big guns? There is a lot of choice here, and the variety of different things to research across the different factions is great to discover. Obviously, the more powerful units that become available later in the research tree will require more resources or certain other buildings, and so players will need to be aware of some bottlenecks that will slow their progress. But it’s a learning game, isn’t it.

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Speaking of learning, Gladius has a great introductory campaign in which the player controls the excellent Space Marines. Anyone who has played a 4X game before will be able to quickly pick up the basics, but this solid tutorial does a great job of introducing players to the core game, and gives them some experience with the Space Marine faction. However, it does nothing to introduce the differences of the other factions, which can be a bit jarring when trying them out with no explanation at all.

The combat is great, with one unit per hex and infantry units diminishing in power as they take damage. There are a wide selection of units to choose from as the game progresses, from standard infantry and melee units, to tanks and dreadnoughts. Then there are also hero units that can provide various bonuses and level up their abilities, alongside being powerful. Units have different stats that dictate the outcome of any encounter, and they can be improved upon through research, such as infantry being given grenades or med kits.

Visually, I have to say that the units look pretty cool when zoomed in, and the settlements all look unique to their faction. The lower budget of the game can be seen in the unit animations however, and the environments are not very interesting to look at. In fact, at times it can be difficult to make out the map features, specifically high ground.

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For veteran 4X gamers, Warhammer 40,000: Gladius – Relics of War will likely come up wanting. The lack of non-violent win conditions does lead to a game where building the biggest army is the goal. But then, that tends to be how I play most of my 4X games, and I am sure other players do the same. This is Warhammer 40k after all, and military domination is the only thing that fits. Gladius: Relics of War is a faithful and enjoyable Warhammer 40,000 war game and If you like your 4X with an emphasis on eXtermination, then there is a lot to enjoy here. Do it for the Emperor, for Gork and Mork, or for whatever metallic god the Necrons pray to.




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