An emergency announcement brought to you by your crit-rolling ronin.
If you were unaware (somehow), relics have taken the Shadespire community by storm since two players using them finished in the top 2 at the Warhammer Grand Clash 2 last Saturday. These kinds of decks focus around generating all 6 Katophrane Relics on one fighter so they can then spend multiple actions to generate 4 glory each time. Normally they’re not too bad but with Steelheart’s Champions, they have almost broken the game.
So how does it work? This kind of relic warband works by not moving at all, placing as far back as possible (usually with long-ways deployment), drawing cards and hindering your movement as much as possible. Thanks to Steelheart’s Champions durability and duplicate ‘do nothing’ objectives, they easily gain the 5 to 6 glory to have the full set of Katophrane Relics by action phase 3 to get a crushing victory while preventing you getting almost any glory at all.
How does one beat this then?
After playing against SCE relics and thinking of main counters to them with the help of my London bros, this is what I have come up with:
•Hope to win the deployment to deny a long-ways placement
•Hidden Paths is probably the best counter but one build of the deck has Forceful Denial and 4 push cards to punish this
•Sprint or Spectral Wings. Sprint is usually the better option but either one will not help you close the distance if the board is long-ways
•Shattershard and Frozen in Time are not reliable counters. Both 50/50s, both easily misdirected. Relic decks work by starving you of glory while getting a decent glory lead. These 2 cards do nothing to stop that.
•Unless your warband has access to native 4 or more movement, winning is gonna be rough. Long-ways is virtually impossible.
•Beware the teleporting Relic holder. They will use Hidden Paths to rush away when you are near and if you teleport to their location, they will use their own Illusory Fighter to teleport the carrier back to safety. Always send 2 fighters into their territory.
•Try to do any sort of damage at the end of the phase. They rely on taking no damage in phases 1 and/or 2 so doing it at the end prevents them shuffling out those objectives, denying them glory.
•Apply pressure to make them burn Quick Thinker and actions instead of drawing cards. The more you stop them drawing cards, the longer it will take them to get the full set out.
•Use more neutral objectives that are easy to score and are not based on kills. You need to mitigate their glory starving as much as possible.
•Relics turn the game into a 2 phase game so you have to do as much damage as possible before phase 3.
That’s it for now, I may add more later if I can come up with anything else. My sources and rationales are that I played the 2nd place Relic deck, did the best against him in the tournament (outside of the final) and spoke to both the Relic players in person. They didn’t really care about Shattershard and Misdirection and still won games even when they went off. It’s a race, a really lame race that no one has any fun taking part in.
However this doesn’t meant we should mock/shame people playing this way or call them not ‘true/honorable’ wins. Shadespire, after all, is a competitive game system and currently Relics are the best way to play. It has also only been barely a week since this build broke. I’m sure GW will address it soon. I’m already seeing tournaments and events banning relics but we should let the dust settle before making rash decisions. All we can do now is wait, play and adapt. While also rolling crits, of course.