1st Impressions - Crying and Havocking

(all the photos I am using I have stolen off of BGA or BGG, I will try to credit where possible)

I picked up #Cry Havoc online just before the lockdown hit here in the UK, so I haven't gotten to play it nearly as much as I might have hoped, however, here is my impression from two 2P games and one 3P game on TTS:

So the first somewhat confusing impression of Cry Havoc is the the awesome looking person on the front of the box seemingly has no connection to the game. None of the factions seem to be a match and there are no 'characters' in the game. A mystery that I may never solve...

Once you get the box open though, things are a little clearer. In essence the game is a card driven area control/dudes on a map game with a high level of asymmetry. The game is split into 5 rounds: 3 actions per player and then battle resolution and scoring (if applicable). This gives you 15 actions in the whole game, which makes it an incredibly tight game with a lot of tricky decisions that feel very meaningful/impactful. With your actions you can do one of 3 things:

Play a card/s:

@herrohgrant on BGG(@herrohgrant on BGG)

You will play one or more cards from your hand, adding up all of one kind of symbol (Movement, recruiting, building) and do that much of that thing. e.g. if you were to play the leftmost and rightmost cards in the picture above for movement (arrows) you would get 4 movement. This is divided however you like amongst you troops (1 unit 4 areas, 4 units 1 area etc.), if you move into an area occupied by another faction your trigger a battle (which is resolved at the end of the round) and that area is locked (no one in or out and no building activations) which can be used very tactically. Recruiting is as straightfoward as it sounds, you place X number of units into your HQ area. Building points can be used to either build or activate buildings (or both). Each faction has it's own entirely unique buildings and starting deck of cards and special abilities which give a lot of character to them.

Draw a new card:

There are a number of decks which give more powerful but specialised abilities, you draw two and discard one. While this takes up a whole action (of which you only get 15) it allows a small amount of deck building and seeing as you only draw 4 cards each turn, can help you keep card advantage for the battle phase.

Activate Scoring:

You have to have the right card in your hand and again it takes a whole action. However, only one player can do this each round and while every gets to score, you get extra scoring whcih for some apporaches can make all the difference.

Action order is variable round to round but consistent within each round. Once everyone has taken their actions we move onto the battle phase.

 

(@the innocent on BGG)

Battles

The battle system in Cry Havoc is excellent, there are no dice or luck: you take all the units that were in that region (will only ever be from two factions as areas lock). The attacker places first giving the defender a key advantage. They place their units on one of three objectives, you can then each alternate playing cards from your hands which may allow you to move units around (again the attacker goes first), then the objectives are resolved in order(there is a card that flips the order):

Area control: Winner (majority) gets control of the area (even if all their units end up killed) all other units must retreat to adjacent territories and 2VP. Defender wins ties. 

Capture prisoner: Winner takes one of  their opponents units (from another objective) which you will score 1VP every round. Also limits how many units the opponent can have on the board. If there is a tie nothing happens

Attrition: Both players simutaneously remove units from the board for each unit they have there and score 1VP for each.

I love this as players can be trying to achieve different aims so both can come out feeling like they got what they wanted, or neither.

Finally there is

Scoring:

If someone activated scoring (or automatically on round 5) then everyone gets points for how many gems are in the areas they control (areas can gain and lose gems throughout the game) and whoever activated scoring (or everyone in final round) scores a point for each zone hey control. This can be key early game for factions that can spread quickly (humans and trogs). 

Factions

Each of the four factions has a very different play style (and plenty of room to be flexible within that play style):

Humans: Can move/deploy repadily, can take control of empty zones without units present, and their buildings are then used to fustrate attempts by other factions to take those areas. 

Trogs: Native population, get extra units popping up as other factions explore and have tunnel sytems that allow them to strike at other players weakest points. Have the disadvantage of starting right in the middle on top of the most valuable areas so are fighting everyone.

Aliens: Either turtle or use hit an run tactics to amass as many gems as they can in their area (they have the ability to steal gems from zones) they can then use those gems to get a whole heap of points.

Machines: Get a slow start as they are a building focused faction. However, once they get going are a military meat grinder that can be pretty unstoppable. However, they have few/no extra scoring methods so have to dominate a lot of the map in order to catch up/

Overall I have loved this game, I cannot wait to try it at 4P as the dynamics in play at 3P are wonderful (at 3P the trogs become an environmental hazaard in a really compelling way) and can imagine it being even better with four. It is a good mix of tactical and strategic, every decision feels meaningful but because they are limited the game doesn't. The combat is quick and simple but in my opinion much more interesting than dice rolling. The asymmetry is very pronounced but not so much that it is inaccessible as you all have similar actions available they are just of varying importance/significance.

I liked it enough that I got the expansion not long after (and a mini-expansion as part of my BGA win) and although I haven't tried it out yet I have high hopes.

 



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Owner4 months ago

15 actions sound so limiting and interesting at the same time... and I didn't realize it's by the same designer of #Fort! I really like these types of game but it's just a shame that they're usually not suitable for 2p with my wife xD

4 months ago

I played 2P with my partner a couple of times, and for a area control game I think it plays really well at two. The Trogs become a kid of hazaard that you can use tactically against your opponent so it feels like there are almost 3 teams competing. While I think it does get better with more, it's certainly not bad at 2.

As for the 15 actions, I think while it does limit you, because each one feels meaningful and has a long term impact on the game you never feel like your turn was lacking. Whereas some games might give you 50 actions, often a lot of them are self evident and so you don't feel like you are making a choice. Whereas #Cry Havoc strips a lot of that away and just leaves you with the handful of really big descions. This does have downsides in terms of options available, but is something I really enjoy.

4 months ago

shame there is no solo variant!

4 months ago

https://portalgames.pl/en/cry-havoc-solo-variant-rules/

I've never tried it and it seems like it wouldn't be to the same depth as some solo variants are now-a-days, but might be worth a look if you are into it

4 months ago

You got me curiosu enough to check out the base gameplay...maybe...trying not to buy even more stuff though!!

3 months ago

Haha, aren't we all!

4 months ago

I've always been interested in this game. It sounds great.

4 months ago

It definitely seems like an interesting mix of #Blood Rage and #Root. I loved Root and was indifferent to BR, but this game does appeal to me! Is this why you leaned away from Root in your last giveaway win?

4 months ago

Part of it, yes, I haven't really had a chance to explore Cry Havoc yet so figured getting another asymmetric area control game might be overkill. I have never played Blood rage but I have played #Rising Sun. I really enjoyed the combat in that also, although I thought it was overproduced and could have done without all the miniatures.

4 months ago

It makes sense! Most Cmon games are over produced, it adds to the fun but really bloats the cost for the game. I have found their games are above average in quality of mechanics but high in the production. I would rather it be flipped. 

4 months ago

Absolutely, I'd be much more likely to pay £40 for that game with tokens and cubes than £70 for a box of fancy miniatures

4 months ago

Amen! I am a bit of a sucker for high quality components though...like poker chips or metal coins...Some people's weakness is minis, that is my weakness. 

4 months ago

Haha, they are nice and I have definitely over time found myself appreciating them more, although I think there definitely is an arbitrary line for me. I like my 'nice' components to feel necessary and proportionate, and in Rising Sun, the giant mini's that you could get often looked more 'epic' than there actual impact. For example, there was a giant lion minature that was probably 3x in volume to the standard mini's but was mechanically just an extra one of them (raising your cap which was good but you feel like a giant lion should do more). And some of the cards you get get as atlernatives to the extra mini's were mechanically much more impactful.

4 months ago

Ya the mini's especially the big ones, seem fairly arbitrary even if they add some new content to the game. It is an odd place to be. All games are unnecessary, so then should we go full unnecessary and get games that are over the top on production and have fun with it? I think I fall in the middle, we can have fun with the nice bits, but need to recognize when we are getting gouged for more money!

4 months ago

I get what you are saying, 'un/necessary' is very subjective. I guess rather than 'unecessary' I should have said that I don't feel like the large minis added anything to the game, and infact were misleading in a fashion. So while I don't begrudge anyone wanting to spend extra for nice pieces, I would want them to be proportionate and well thought out.

4 months ago

Ahhh yes, that makes a lot of sense. I am with you, I do not hold it against anyone, especially someone who paints them and enjoys that. Just not necessary for me! I can handle cubes on a board like #El Grande

4 months ago

Yeah, I know some people often buy kickstarters just to get the really detailed miniatures for them to paint and aren't too fussed about the game, which is fair if that is something you love.

4 months ago

I am jealous of people talented enough to pull it off lol. The most I will do is do a wash on my #Pax Pamir (Second Edition) blocks!

4 months ago

I had great plans to paint the minis for this game (it is the only game with minis I own) but unfortunately I have been busier than ever during the lockdown so haven't made them a reality. Maybe one day, but I haven't painted anything since I played Warhammer 40K when I was like 13 so I imagine they will start off very bad XD

4 months ago

Does 878 have some mini's too? Just colored?

Isn't it funny? I feel like we all had these dreams of being supe rproductive during the pandemic in different ways and it just has not turned out that way!

4 months ago

It does, they are very small though (imagine risk sized minis) and work really well in the colours they are already in to allow you to quickly assess the board state. I think if you were very talented you could make them look great and keep that functionality but I won't be touching mine.

Yep, I know some people who have really managed it, but I am fortunate enough to have not been furloughed during the pandemic and have taken on the extra responisibility of running an acccommodation unit, so have been working extra hours most days.

4 months ago

Ahhh got it, that makes a lot of sense!

That is truly a blessing! Even if it makes life a little more hectic!

4 months ago

Indeed, it is such a privillege

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