Cry Havoc

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Cry Havoc is a card-driven, asymmetric, area control war game set in a brutal, science fiction setting. Each player commands one of four unique factions with varying abilities and units. The game includes 54 custom miniatures, a large format board, and over one hundred unique cards, all with stunning new artwork. Ages 10+, 2-4 Players, 90-120 Minute Playing Time.
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Category Tags , SKU ZBG-POG082016 Availability 1 in stock
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Dice Tower

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • Thoughtful, tactical gameplay.
  • Asymmetric gameplay.
  • Great artwork.
  • High quality miniatures.
  • Deck-building.

Might Not Like

  • Pretty heavy game.
  • Arguable balancing issues.
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Description

Cry Havoc is a card-driven, asymmetric, area control war game set in a brutal, science fiction setting.

Each player commands one of four unique factions with varying abilities and units.

The game includes 54 custom miniatures, a large format board, and over one hundred unique cards, all with stunning new artwork.

  • Ages 10+
  • 2-4 Players
  • 90-120 Minute Playing Time

Please note that Cry Havoc will be released on Wednesday, October 12. Order today and you will receive your game on the day of release. The release date is subject to change by the developer and Zatu Games has no control over any changes made.

 

The futuristic area control game produced by Portal Games, Cry Havoc, has you systematically purging the natives of a beautiful, nameless planet. Released in 2016, you take the helm of one of three colonising factions, as you kill, conquer and collect the planets valuable resources – coloured, plastic crystals.

Alternatively, in a full, four-player game, one of you may assume the role of the brutish natives, as you also kill, conquer and collect – albeit in a slightly different fashion. By gathering crystals and staking claims on land that don’t belong to you, you will be accruing victory points over the course of five rounds, at the end of which victory is decided.

Set-Up and Components

Once unboxed, you may need to take a moment to take it all in. There are many components in Cry Havoc, and all of them are pretty. The artwork on the cards is beautiful, the miniatures are high quality, and it’s packed into an attractive box. When it comes to board games, I’m unashamedly shallow. If it isn’t aesthetically pleasing, then Qasi Modo isn’t making it onto my shelf. Thankfully for Cry Havoc, this isn’t a problem, even if the box art is completely disconnected to its contents.

On set-up, you first need to select which side of it you’ll be playing on. We’ve not been spoilt with wildly battlegrounds, but each side is balanced to a different player count. I’ve found this does a great job of ensuring that the game plays well at any player count, which can’t be said of many games in my collection.

Each player is assigned one of four unique factions: the nomadic Humans, the technological Pilgrims, the blood-thirsty machines, or the indigenous Trogs. Then, players receive an array of unique components corresponding to their faction, including a faction board, structure tiles, tactics cards, skill cards and gorgeous miniatures. Particularly, the faction board and structure tiles feel great and slot together in a satisfying way. In addition, various decks, tokens and crystals are scattered across the board appropriately.

This isn’t quite an exhaustive list of components, but I didn’t want to bore you. Simply put, if you like your board games to contain lots of things, you won’t be disappointed.

Once each player has placed four of their minis in their designated “headquarters” area, selected their skill cards for that game and ensured their thinking caps are securing fitted, you’re good to go.

Cry Havoc Gameplay

Games are separated into five rounds. During each, players will have three actions, including recruiting more units to the battlefield, moving and engaging said units in battle, building and/or activating faction-specific structures, or drawing additional tactics cards.

Cry Havoc Board and Components (Credit: Portal Games)

Structures

Recruiting, moving and building structures are similar across all factions, but the abilities of the structures are one of the key areas in which they differ. For example, the Humans can assemble Airfields, enabling regions to be captured without miniatures setting foot there; Pilgrims can erect Extractors, which generate crystals in their own back garden; Machines can operate orbital lasers to dispatch of foes sitting across the map, minding their own business; and Trogs can trudge through tunnels to spread across the map like an understandably aggravated rash.

With five unique structures per faction, this makes for very interesting asymmetrical gameplay.

Tactics Cards

Each faction in Cry Havoc has eight tactics cards, with four community terrain decks each containing eight as well. Tactics cards have two purposes: to be discarded as currency for specific actions or influence battles with effects. So, when you take an action, such as spawning new minis onto the board, you must first discard cards totalling the number of recruitment points that you intend to spend. But, if the cards aren’t in your hand, then they can’t be used in combat, disadvantaging you later.

The cards between each faction vary slightly, each complimenting their respective play styles, such as more build points across the Machine cards. The combat effects seem to be the same, regardless of race, however.

When more cards are drawn from the terrain tactic decks, thought needs to be given regarding which of the four terrains to choose from. Combat effects can only be used if you’re fighting in the corresponding terrain. Plunder the jungle deck and go fighting in the hills and your shiny new tactics cards are no use. Once used, these are discarded to each player’s personal discard pile, which will later be shuffled and re-used.

So, if you persistently raid the ocean deck, which is abundant in movement cards, then you may later be lacking in cards for recruitment or structures. This calls for some strategic thinking in your deck-building and considerations for your long-term plans.

Cry Havoc Review - A Four-Player Game (Credit: zgabor BGG)

Battle

Once engaged in battle, the “battle region” is typically locked until the end of the round - when combat is resolved. Once locked, units can neither move in nor out, unless otherwise specified on a card. These scenarios are often triggered by stumbling upon one of the “trog war party tokens” scattered across the map. These, when flipped, will spawn up to three Trog units and an equal number of crystals.

Unless a fourth player is present, these trogs are controlled by the player to the attackers left. This makes many, if not most, of the in-game encounters proxy-battles between one another. From my experience, it is often not until late in the game when true PVP combat occurs, once players realise the Nomads have been nurturing a nice, little crystal farm for the past three rounds.

This combat take place on the “battle board,” on-which devious plays, bluffs and bloodshed take place. For me, the battle board is one Cry Havoc's most genius features. Instead of combat being reduced to dice rolls or army size, players vie for the three objectives on the battle board, which decide on land claimed, prisoners captured, and units lost. Often, the most sought-after objective is region control, because regions and crystals equal points, and points equal prizes (or something to that effect). However, capturing prisoners also gives you points each turn, albeit far fewer, whilst also depriving the owner of one their units.

The final objective, attrition, lets you cut your losses and slaughter enemy troops for a one-off victory point payment. Objectives are resolved in order, starting with region control, capture prisoners, then attrition. This is important, as units can be captured or killed from anywhere on the battle board, so by default, the results of the region control objective are unaffected by the remaining two.

Once each player has decided where they will lay siege on the battle board, they take turns playing tactics cards from their hands. These have a range of abilities, such as “Air Support”, which lets you drop an additional unit in from your reserve; “Outflank”, allowing you to move up to two of your units from one objective to another; or “Shifted Priorities”, which reverses the order in which the objectives are resolved, so region control is then very much influenced by the murder and kidnapping of troops.

Skill Cards

In addition to structures, skill cards are the other main aspect that differentiate factions. These are unique abilities that can be played at any time, typically with no cost and are refreshed at the end of the round. Among these are the Human “Occupation” skill, which allows for the capture of unoccupied regions; the Pilgrim “Data Extraction” skill, a passive ability which scavenges crystals from each battle to store in a personal supply; the Machine “Moving City” skill, that enables the movement of structures; or the Trog “Disappear” skill, which involves the removal of a Trog unit from one region and the placement of a Trog War Party token in another nearby.

As with structures, there are five of these per factions, though only up to three per player should be brought to the table each game. Nevertheless, these compliment the rest of each faction’s attributes nicely.

Final Thoughts on Cry Havoc

In all, Cry Havoc makes for a very interesting asymmetric experience. The races play sufficiently differently that the game stays fresh, but similarly enough that it remains reasonably balanced. With any asymmetric game, balance is the main concern and it is very difficult to determine how well balanced Cry Havoc is.

My instinctive feeling is that the Nomads may be slightly under powered, as they don’t seem as combat efficient as the others. In multiple games I have played, they have been piled on in the late game, as they’ve crawled ahead by farming crystals, but can’t compete as readily on the battlefield. I sense they may just have a steeper learning curve than the other factions and, with a consistent gaming group, the wins across factions may stabilise.

This offers a very thoughtful tactical experience, with relatively limited RNG. It could be argued that limited RNG can affect the replay-ability of the game, but I have not yet found it to be a problem.

My personal highlight is the battle board, which provides a novel approach to settling combat in a board game. I have fond memories of deducing why an opponent placed units in a certain location and what tactics cards they may have up their proverbial sleeve. However, I do think it’s a shame that most of these encounters occur as proxy-battles, with one player temporarily controlling the Trogs – though this is not an issue in a full four-player match. That said, coupled with a fantastic aesthetic, I’d love to get Cry Havoc to my table more often.

So, what’s kept this from my table as often as I’d like? As you can see from my gameplay description above, there is a little more to it than a lot of the games on the market – particularly as some additional details have been omitted to keep this review accessible. This makes it a bit of a chore to teach to others and off-putting for my more casual friends. The main problem is I feel the depth disadvantages a new player, more so than a simple one, and completely stomping friends isn’t as fun since I’ve mellowed with age.

In Cry Havoc, an asymmetric strategy game, each player is vying for control for territories and the Crystals within them to earn points at the end of each round. Players will need to deploy and move units, and utilise their faction-specific structures and skills to come out on top. There are plenty of moving parts to consider in this game, so I’ll try to break it down for you by first discussing the components in detail, followed by turn structure, combat and some helpful hints.

Components

When you open up your box, you’ll realise quite how many components there are. To make this a bit more digestible, I’ll discuss the faction components that each player will control, followed by the common components available to everyone.

Faction Components

-Faction Boards

These boards will be placed in front of each player and help lay out the rest of their components, whilst serving as a reminder for the rounder order and available actions.

-Structure Tiles & Tokens

Slotting into the right side of the faction boards, each tile has the build and activation costs of each structure displayed on it (this will become clearer later). They also describe what each structure can do, once activated. Keep any matching tokens near their respective structure tile for easy access during the game.

-Skill Cards & Tokens

Skill cards represent the unique abilities available to each faction. They can be used for free during your turn and become exhausted until the next round, when the round order will remind you to refresh your skills. If a Skill token is needed during play, it’ll have the appropriate one pictured on the bottom right of the Skill card.

-Tactic Cards

These cards are the primary fuel for your strategic machine. They can be used for their effect in battle (written in text at the bottom) or discarded for their point value in the top right corner.

The icons in the top left indicate what each card will be used for: arrows indicate movement points, soldiers indicate recruitment points, and spanners indicate building points. Movement points are for moving your units around the map, recruitment points are for deploying new units onto the board and building points can be used to build and/or activate structures.

When you discard these tactics cards for points, you can discard as many as you like in one go, but you can only use one type of point. Therefore, even if you discard cards that can both recruit AND move units, you must choose only one of these actions.

Other, rarer symbols include: an exclamation mark, for changing your position on the initiative track; a card, for drawing from your tactics card deck for each symbol discarded; A card with an asterisk, which indicates you can only draw one card regardless of how many of these symbols are discarded; and a star, which earns you one Victory Point (VP) for each of these discarded.

One card per faction deck will have the ability “Enable Scoring” on it. The importance of this will be discussed later. Battle effects on these cards will also be discussed later.

- Headquarter Token

The headquarters (HQ) is where units are deployed, unless a card specifically indicates otherwise. Crystals and structures can never be placed in a HQ and units inside a HQ are protected from enemy skills, cards and structures. Units can not be moved into an opponent's HQ.

- Unit Miniatures

These are your workforce, moving around the map to capture territory.

- Control Tokens

These represent regions under your control. Regions can be captured by ending your turn with units in it and winning any battles that may apply first. Units don’t need to stay in a region for you to maintain control of it, but moving all of your forces away may leave you vulnerable to a counter attack.

- Score/Initiative Tokens

These tokens are interchangeable and sit on the initiative track, upcoming initiative track and score track. The 50+ token is used for tracking scores that exceed 50 points.

- Scoring Enabled Tokens

These when be placed on the game board when a player plays the “Enable Scoring” tactics card. This serves as a reminder that the player that activated this ability will be scoring additional points at the end of the round.

Common Components

- Game Board

Pretty self explanatory, this is where the magic happens.

- Terrain Tactics Cards

Very similar to the faction specific Tactics Cards, except their battle-orientated effects can only be used if the battle takes place in the same terrain type as the card you hope to use. These can be drawn during your turn as an action. Each terrain has a set of specific points on each card, such as the forest’s recruitment heavy cards. Think carefully about the type of deck you want to build yourself, as these will be discarded to your own personal discard pile after use.

- Event Tokens

Mixing things up as the game progresses, event tokens will have board-wide effects that may alter the Crystal balance of the map. They are only collected if a unit ends its movement in a region with this token.

- Exploration Tokens

These handy tokens, found scattered across the board, are worth seeking out for random benefits. They are only collected if a unit ends its movement in a region with this token.

- Trog War Party & Trog Nest Tokens

These will be used in any game, regardless of whether a player is using the Trog race or not. Trog War Party tokens begin already on the board and spawn Crystals and Trogs, whereas Trog Nest tokens will only spawn Trogs. Trog Nest tokens are used in a four-player game as a result of a special ability, and are placed in a two or three-player game when Trogs must retreat following battle.

- Crystals

Crystals are worth points during the Scoring Phase of the game. Green Crystals are one point, yellow Crystals are three points, and red Crystals are five points.

- Final Scoring Enabled Token

A neutral token to be used in the final (fifth) round of the game.

- Action Marker

In Cry Havoc, players will have three actions per round, taking one action before the next player takes theirs, etc. The Action Marker helps track how many actions everybody has taken.

- Battle Tokens

Battle tokens are placed on the board when units enter combat. This indicates the area is now a Battle Zone, where units can neither move in, nor out. The number on each token indicates which battles were initiated first and therefore dictates their resolution order, ascending from ‘1’.

- Battle Board

The Battle Board is where combat takes place. It’s a little complicated, so we’ll address combat later.

Cry Havoc - Action Marker, Final Scoring, Battle and event Tokens

Set-Up

- Board Set-Up

  • Select which side of the board you'll be using. One side is for two-players, the other is for 3-4.
  • Shuffle the event tokens and place five of them in the highlighted spaces on the score track.
  • Place the terrain tactics cards in their relevant spaces on the top left of the board. Separate them by terrain type.
  • Place all of the exploration tokens, Trog war party tokens, crystals and, if there is a fourth player, the Trog tunnel tokens on the spaces indicated on the board.
  • The action marker begins in position "I".
  • The battle board and battle tokens should be kept to one side, for now.

- Player Set-Up

  • So, agree on who is playing which faction and dish out all of the relevant bits and pieces to each player. Trogs are only playable in a four-player game.
  • Randomly assign each player's HQ to one of the HQ locations labelled on the board. The Trog HQ must be placed in the centre of the board.
  • Structure tiles fit onto the right side of each faction board. Keep structure tokens beside their tile counterpart for easy access.
  • Skill cards are place to the left of the faction board. For the first game, it is recommended that you only play with the default skill card of each faction, increasing your supply by one or two random skills in later games you play.
  • Each player's tactics deck should be shuffled placed face-down, in an easily reachable place.
  • Each player should begin the game with four of their miniatures on their HQ. The Trogs, however, begin with only two units and a Trog tunnel token in their HQat the cnetre of the map. Everyone also receives their first control token at their own HQ. Any remaining units should be kept nearby as part of each player's reserve.
  • The score tokens of each player begin on the score track at zero.
  • Initiative should be randomly decided and displayed on the Initiative Track with Initiative Tokens. The Upcoming Initiative Track should display the same order.
  • Remaining Control Tokens and Scoring Enabled Markers should be placed near each player.

Turn Order

A game of Cry Havoc is played across five rounds, each with six phases:

  1. Events.
  2. Draw Cards.
  3. Actions.
  4. Battle Resolution.
  5. Prisoners.
  6. Scoring (If enabled).

1 - Events

The first step is to reveal the next event token and resolve its effect. Next, the Initiative Track should be updated with whatever the Upcoming Initiative reads. Refresh your exhausted skill cards.

2 - Draw Cards

All players draw four cards from their personal Tactics deck. If any player has more than seven cards, they must discard down to seven. If a player runs out of cards in their deck, they should shuffle their discard pile and draw from there.

3 - Actions

This is where the meat of Cry Havoc is. As previously explained, each player takes one action and passes to the next player, until each player has taken three actions. The available actions are:

  • Move.
  • Recruit.
  • Build and/or activate structures.
  • Draw two tactics cards, keep one.
  • Enable scoring.

-Move 

To move your units you need to discard Tactics Cards with the Movement symbol in the corner. You may discard as many as you want in a single go. For each Movement Point discarded, you can move one unit one space. You can move a single unit multiple spaces in a single action.

If a unit moved into territory containing enemy units, that area becomes a Battle Region. Only miniatures moved as a result of that same movement action can enter the zone. Thereafter, units can neither move in, nor out of the Battle, unless specified on a card.

If a unit moves into a region with a Trog Nest or Trog War Party Token, the units must stop and the token is resolved. Often, this leads to a Battle Token being place and that unit's movement ending. The exception would be a Trog player entering one of these areas. When this happens, resolve the token and the Trog player can continue their movement actions. This includes the newly placed Trogs, if desired.

A unit can pass through any area without units, even if it's controlled by an opponent. That region isn't captured unless a player ends their movement there, however.

Areas on the periphery on the maps with arrows are treated as adjacent to the area named on the arrows. Units cannot move past the thick grey borders around the central Trog spawn point.

-Recruit

As with movement, recruitment is performed by discarding Tactics Cards with Recruitment Points in the top left. For each point discarded, place one of your miniatures into your HQ. There is no limit to the number of units you can place in your HQ.

If you run out of units in your reserve, no further units can be recruited. This includes if a Trog Next or War Party Token is resolved. If there are insufficient units to be placed, place as many as possible and all of the required Crystals. If there are no Trogs that can be placed, place all Crystals and send one of the approaching units to the reserve.

-Build/Activate Structures

Discarding Build Points enables you to place down new structures and/or utilise those which you've already placed. The point requirement to build or activate a structure can vary. You can build a structure and activate it in the same action, if you have sufficient points. You cannot activate the same structure twice in the same action. Units do not need to be in a certain region to build or activate a structure there.

If an enemy occupies a region, any friendly structures already built there cannot be activated, unless otherwise specified, or destroyed. Structures cannot be built in Battle Regions, HQs or in any region with the same building already there.

Structures are an essential part of Cry Haboc. Deploying them in the right places and activating them at the right time can turn the tide of battle.

-Draw Two Tactics Card, Keep One

This is rather self-explanatory. This action allows you to draw two cards from either your own deck, or one of the four Terrain Decks. Cards taken from the latter become your own and are discarded to your own personal discard pile after use.

-Enable Scoring

A player may use the Enable Scoring Card to ensure they receive one VP for every Region they control. This is signified by placed the token on top of the board. All players the receive VPs equal to the number of Crystals they control. This scoring is calculated at the end of each round.

The Enable Scoring Action is not taken if the relevant card is discarded towards another action. For example, movement or recruitment.

4 - Battle Resolution

This phase involves focusing on each of the Battle Zones in descending order. Helpfully, the steps involved can be found on the Battle Board, but we’ll go into each of them in more detail here. The steps are as follows:

Add one Crystal to the Battle Region

Increase the value of the Crystals in the Battle Region by one.

Place the battling units on the Battle Objectives

The battle is separated into three Objectives: Control, Capture Prisoners, and Attrition. When placing units, only units already in the battle zone can be used. To place units, the attacker goes first, distributing their own miniatures however that player sees fit, then the defending player follows.

Play Tactics Cards

In turn, starting with the attacker, players may play tactics cards from their hands to influence the state of the Battle Board. Once a Tactics card has been resolved, it is discarded. This continues until one player no longer wants to, or is unable to, play any more cards. The remaining player can continue to play cards, whereas the other player has forfeited this opportunity for the remainder of battle..

Reminder: Terrain Tactics cards can only be used if the terrain they represent is the current Battle Region.

Resolve the Battle Objectives

Objectives are resolved from top to bottom, unless a Tactics card specifies otherwise.

1) Capture Region

Whoever has the most units in this section wins control of the area, indicated by placing a control token, earning two VP and forcing enemy units to retreat after the battle has resolved. Ties go to the defender.

When retreating, units must move to an adjacent region that is owned by the retreating player and is not currently a Battle Region. If this is not possible, the retreating units are sent to the reserve.

In a two or three-player game, if the Trogs win this Objective, a Trog War Party token is placed instead of a Trog Control token. If this is the first objective to be resolved, as it shall typically be, its resolution can not be changed as a result of another objective. This means that, once a player has won the Capture Region Objective, that player will own this region, even if all of their units in this battle are killed/captured as a result of the other objectives.

2) Capture Prisoners 

Whoever has the most units on this objective captures a single enemy unit from the Battle Board. These prisoners score points during another phase, which we will expand on later. When capturing a prisoner, it would be wise to capture a unit from an objective that is not yet resolved, which will then lessen the enemy presence there.

For example, Player A has two units on the Capture Prisoners Objective, whereas Player B has only one. Player A wins the objective and chooses to capture a unit from the third objective, Attrition, thus stopping that newly captured unit from killing any of Player A’s units.

3) Attrition 

For every unit a player has in this objective, they may kill one of the enemy units that are in this battle. For every unit you kill, gain one VP. It is assumed that all killing is carried out simultaneously, therefore killing opposing units on the Attrition Objective, will have no effect on how many of your units they can kill.

As this is typically the third and final objective to resolve, Attrition will rarely affect the outcome of the other objectives, unless a Tactics card that reverses the order that the objectives are resolved is played.

Place the surviving units back in the region.

Retreat with units.

Remove Battle Token.

5 - Prisoners 

For every prisoner you have captured, from the current or previous rounds, score one VP. Then, players have the opportunity to reclaim their units, by spending two VP per unit. Once reclaimed, the unit returns to the player’s reserve.

6 - Scoring

This step is skipped if no player has used their “Enable Scoring” ability. Firstly, the player that used that Enabled Scoring gains one VP per region they have captured. Then, everybody scores for their Crystals (Green = one point, Yellow = three points, Red = five points).

If somebody’s Scoring token passes the next available Event token, stack the Event token on top of the next one. Due to the Trog’s inherent advantage of popping up everywhere, their Crystal score should always be divided by two, rounded up.

End of Cry Havoc

After the fifth round of play, the game of Cry Havoc (Portal Games) ends. During this round, final scoring is active, indicated by the Final Scoring token (white star) that should be placed on the board. For this scoring, everybody scores for Crystals, but nobody scores for captured regions.

The winner is determined by whoever has the most VPs. Ties go to whoever has the most prisoners and, if that fails to determine a winner, further ties go to whoever was later on the Initiative Track.

And there you have it! That's everything you need to sink your teeth into this asymmetric multiplayer! Can't get enough of Cry Havoc? There is always more to be had with the Aftermath Expansion, with more skills, structures and an additional game mode!

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • Thoughtful, tactical gameplay.
  • Asymmetric gameplay.
  • Great artwork.
  • High quality miniatures.
  • Deck-building.

Might not like

  • Pretty heavy game.
  • Arguable balancing issues.