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Cry Havoc» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Cry Havoc - Overview and Initial Impressions rss

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Greg Syferd
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Hilliard
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Cry Havoc was #1 on my hot list for Gen Con 2016. I'm a big fan of asymmetric player powers and enjoy light deck building (such as Concordia and Rococo.) Another aspect that appealed to me was the fusion of the Nexus Ops theme with Blood Rage's tight, combat inducing map.

Overview
In Cry Havoc, each player is competing to control territory on a far away planet, fighting each other and the indigenous species known as the Trogs. Points are scored by controlling crystals that are spawned in each territory. Most games last five rounds, although it is possible to have a shorter game (see below.)

The map of the planet is broken into regions in a roughly circular pattern. There are spaces for the player home bases, and in the 3 and 4 player games, many of the edge spaces are connected with each other via links. At the start of the game, most of the regions are seeded a fixed number of crystals, hidden Trog tiles (used to spawn Trogs and/or crystals), and exploration tiles that provide special bonuses to the first person who moves into the region.

The races all play differently through unique buildings, special starting powers, and slight variances in their starting deck of cards. For example, the Humans have artillery that can kill units in the same or adjacent regions and a starting ability that scores points for each region they control by discarding a card. The Pilgrims can mine crystals for special powers and even teleport across the board. The diversity in racial abilities provides a lot of re-playability.

Each round is divided into a series of steps. The round begins with a random event, which can help or harm players. One may add crystals to the board while another may force players to remove figures. The players will then draw four cards from their deck and check the initiative order for the round.

After drawing cards, each player, in initiative order, will take an action, repeating three times for the round. Most actions are driven by playing cards, using the symbols on the cards to execute an order. These include moving figures, recruiting new figures, and constructing/activating buildings. Another action is drawing two cards from one of the four terrain decks (enhanced versions of cards in the starting player decks), adding one card to your hand. Finally, each player has a scoring action card in their deck, whch iniates a scoring phase for the round.

When a figure moves into a space with a Trog and/or exploration tile, it must end it's movement (other figures can also move in during the same movement action.) The tile(s) are then flipped to reveal any Trogs and crystals to be placed in the region. Whenever a space contains figures from two different races, a battle token is added to signify a battle will be resolved. A critical rule to remember, is once a region has a battle token, no further units or actions can be conducted on the space until the battle is resolved (although there is a condition where the defender can move some of their figures out the space.)

After all players have resolved their three actions, battles commence in the order in which the battle tokens were placed. Battles are a rather interesting aspect of Cry Havoc. First a crystal is added to the battle region, which increases the value of the region as the game goes on. Then, starting with attacker, the figures involved in the battle are placed on a battle board depicting three options. The first option is territory supremacy, in which players compete to take control of the territory (and its crystals) and score two points. The second option is to capture a prisoner, which scores VP later in the round. The final option is to kill your opponents figures, scoring a point for each one.

After the attacker has allocated their troops, the defender does likewise. Then, players can alternate playing cards from their hands to affect the battle (again, starting with the attacker.) Some cards have a special battle option, such as moving one of your figures from one option on the battle board to another. Other cards may allow you to bring in more troops from adjacent regions or from your reserve pool.

Once both players have passed playing cards, each space of the battle board is resolved. First the territory control space is resolved, with whomever has the most figures in the space placing a control marker in the territory (defender wins ties.) Then the taking prisoners space is resolve, with the player having the most taking one of their opponents figures from the board and placing it in front of them (ties results in no prisoners.) Finally the attrition space is resolved simultaneously, removing one of the enemy figures for each figure placed in the space. Note, there are cards that reverse the order in which the spaces are resolved, adding a nice twist.

Whoever lost the territory control space must move any surviving figures to an adjacent, non-battle space, they control, or back to their reserve if non exist. It is possible that the attacker takes over the territory, but has all of their figures killed off!

After all battles are resolved, two scoring steps are possibly resolved. First, each player who has taken prisoners will score one point for each figure in front of them (after which, the figures owner can spend 2 VP to get their figure back.) Then, if scoring was enabled for the round, each player will score one point for each crystal in the regions they control. Additionally, whoever played the scoring card will score a bonus of one point for each territory.

Play continues for five rounds, although there are some scenarios where the game could be shorter. There is an automatic scoring in the last round, with no player able to score the bonus for territories.

Impressions
Cry Havoc combines elements from several games I like into a rather tight, brutal area control game with some light deck building. It has the otherworldly theme from Nexus Ops of exploring/exploiting a strange planet. It has the close quarters, forced combat of Blood Rage. And it even has a similar feel to Kemet in that you have complete control over your combat strategy during battles. I wouldn't say Cry Havoc replaces any of these games, nor would I say it can't stand on its own against similar titles.

The challenge in the game comes from maximizing your limited number of actions. At most, each player will have 15 actions in the game...that's not many. You will have to maximize these actions to grab the territories with the most crystals and decide how best to use your buildings/powers to provide an advantage. While it may be tempting to grab some of the more powerful terrain cards, you only get to use them a few times in the game. If you get too far ahead, the other players will tag team you, so knowing when to make a big score is also important.

The components and artwork are great and do a nice job of bringing you into the theme (which truthfully could have been anything.) I've played the game with 2, 3, and 4 players. Overall, the game scales well. In 2 and 3 player games, your opponents will resolve combat with Trogs, including playing cards from their hand to influence the battle.

The one downside, as mentioned in several forum postings, is the rule book needs some work. Our first couple of plays had a number of 'how should this work' questions. Thankfully, the designers are highly responsive to rule questions and there are helper FAQs that answer many questions that can emerge.

I've enjoyed Cry Havoc and feel there is still a lot of game left for me to explore. The fast play, the close fighting, and combat system provide a well refined dudes-on-a-map experience.

9/10
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Jon Snow
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New York City
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Re: Cy Havoc - Overview and Initial Impressions
George,

Thanks for a good review! I don't have my game yet, and have heard that certain factions tend to win at certain player counts. Have you found that to be true?
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Greg Syferd
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Hilliard
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Re: Cy Havoc - Overview and Initial Impressions
You're welcome!

At three, as others have noted, the humans do seem a little a strong. In 4 the humans also start out fast, but seem to quickly get beat down when the other factions team up to slow them down.

I'll have to play a few more times to draw any solid conclusions. Perhaps others with more plays can elaborate further.
 
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Thomas Leitner
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Re: Cy Havoc - Overview and Initial Impressions
I'm curious how many times you've played at each player count?
 
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Greg Syferd
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Re: Cy Havoc - Overview and Initial Impressions
MDJD wrote:
I'm curious how many times you've played at each player count?


At the time of this review, once at each player count plus several solo run throughs. Hence, I can only speak broadly on what I've observed to this point.

I'll be getting some more plays in the next week or so and would be happy to share any new observations.
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Thomas Leitner
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Re: Cy Havoc - Overview and Initial Impressions
gregor1863 wrote:
MDJD wrote:
I'm curious how many times you've played at each player count?


At the time of this review, once at each player count plus several solo run throughs. Hence, I can only speak broadly on what I've observed to this point.

I'll be getting some more plays in the next week or so and would be happy to share any new observations.


Thanks for the reply. I look forward to continued data on other people's experience with the game.

So far my feelings are very mixed. With four plays, two at three and two at four, I have concerns about faction balance. Of course, four plays is a very few. The more data from a broad cross section of play groups, the better.
 
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Jerome Nowak

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gregor1863 wrote:
MDJD wrote:
I'm curious how many times you've played at each player count?


At the time of this review, once at each player count plus several solo run throughs. Hence, I can only speak broadly on what I've observed to this point.

I'll be getting some more plays in the next week or so and would be happy to share any new observations.


This game plays solo???
 
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Adelin Dumitru
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Of course not. S/he chose to play solo just to check out the rules.
 
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