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Subject: First Impressions of Cry Havoc rss

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Bryan K
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Canton
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I picked up a copy of Cry Havoc at GenCon after preordering the game from Portal’s website. After a first play last night, I wanted to share some initial thoughts…

Unique Asymmetry – The experience was so different for each player. I had “player power” envy, but I think every player did. As the trogs, I was popping up all over the board and expanding out from the middle. The red player (the machines), was slowly marching his way across the board and sniping enemies from outer space! The yellow player (the humans), was shooting artillery into battle and using the watch tower to gain majority. I thought the Trogs were going to be an “add on” to what was really a three player game. But, they were really fun. I lost a lot of battles since people were moving into my Trog party tokens with 3 or 4 guys and I would have only 1. But, I would want to play them again.

Slightly unforgiving – One of the players decided to “try” enable scoring in the first round. As the Trog player I had spread out already because I was thinking of enabling scoring, too. The spot right next to the Trogs starts with 5 crystals, it added 3 crystals from a Trog war party. That was 8 points I got, plus my other spaces with crystals totaled around 15 points. Second round, I enabled again with the 8 point square, plus no one really tried to attack my spaces. Another 15 points, everyone else had 5 or 6 again. I think players were so focused on getting there one engines going they didn’t focus on me in the early rounds. I jumped out to 20 point lead. (EDIT: So, we played this wrong, Trogs get half points for crystals, this would've changed our game quite a bit) But, things changed later as you’ll see with the next point.


Early Game, check out 8 crystals on the Trog space

Terrain Tactics Cards- I didn’t get many of these in the beginning, and instead enabled scoring and spread out. These cards proved really helpful in the end for the other players. We weren’t sure what the movement/troop/build symbols were next to each pile. Turns out that is what each card has on it besides a battle tactics. We did err a couple times and forget these tactic cards need to match the terrain of the battle type. But, these cards really shine as additional build cards, not just battle cards. Players who got these early, really caught up later in the game. Some of battle cards are real game changes, like the one that switches the order of battle so Attrition goes first. That one made me lose two battles at the end. Players caught up towards the end, but the Trog armies with their early lead proved victorious. Side note: we only built about two buildings each. We definitely want to do this more next time.


Trogs spread out over round 2

Combat – Was very clear, fun and had just enough to keep us interested. One player remarked, I wish Star Wars Rebellion had a combat system like this. There are actual choices to be made on where to initially place your guys and then a little variety with buildings that affect combat and cards that allowed you adjust(move and counter move, etc.) Combat didn’t take long, but felt very meaningful.


End Game Board..Score: 53 points for the Trog Victors

Compared to my other favorite combat/area control games: Nexus Ops, Kemet, and Blood Rage.
Probably, mostly resolves a hybrid between Nexus Ops exploration and Kemet’s board movement tactical combat system. I think Nexus Ops is simpler and probably the better introduction game with some fun dice rolling. Never played Nexus Ops with the unique player mats, but this game feel much more advanced in the area of variable player powers and area control. Nexus has more variety in unites. Kemet you create unique player powers based on what tiles you grab, but only the high level tiles are even as close to game changing as the abilities in Cry Havoc. Kemet is like worker placement plus area control, Cry Havoc is like deckbuilding plus area control. This game probably has the least in common with Blood Rage, which is more drafting with area control. I think the fun factor is the same as Blood Rage. We were laughing imagining an orbital satellite picking off a lonely Trog hanging out peacefully on a camping trip in the swampy marshes. Or, the brooding messy pools of Trog swampiness that feed new Trogs on to the board. I think Kemet is the most approachable after Nexus Ops. BR, you really need to know the cards and strategies to employ to get a competitive game. Cry Havoc you should know the strengths of your race and use it to your advantage. So, I'd say my favorite would go: Cry Havoc, Blood Rage, Kemet, then Nexus Ops. But, I'd say Cry Havoc is probably the more complex then Blood Rage and Kemet, then Nexus Ops is the easiest to jump into, very forgiving. I'm a sucker for variable player powers, so this game is going to do down as one my favorites.

Some mistakes we made:
Forgetting you can activate multiple buildings per action. Many forgot their default skill card is a free action to activate. Not realizing the terrain cards are really good for their symbols, not just battle tactics. Remembering the order of when you capture vs. when you kill a guy… We weren't sure...If you capture the one guy who is in Attrition, he still gets to shoot. Rule books is really clear, so we mainly just forgot these items. (We also forgot to half the points of the Trog's crystals)

Conclusion:
Not sure if this is a trend in gaming, but this game feels streamlined in the number of choices a player has, but has an increased amount of depth on how that decision plays out, like a Scythe game. You really have 5 options: move, build/activate, recruit, draw cards, enable scoring. Pretty simple, but where you move, which buildings you make, what cards you take, create such a diverse realm of choices. Do I want to save this card for combat or use it to activate by spawn point to get a new guy. The game is quick, 5 rounds or less with 3 actions each round. And, a GREAT MECHANIC is the scoring track that can push events to the next round. So, the game actually shortens if someone scores a ton of points. Everyone liked that since an amazing move can really help a person get far out, and the game won’t drag with a clear winner. The events that are revealed help balance the game a bit, taking away a guy from a player who has a lot of guys, and putting crystals on the board where there are none. The game doesn’t have a catch up mechanic, besides the players themselves. Since we were all focused on our own guys, I think my Trogs were able to jump out to an early lead in the first two rounds. I don’t think this will happen next time. This game was a ton of fun, it truly shines in how each team is different. This makes me want to play the game again, RIGHT NOW! Just to see how the different teams play. And, the art is AWESOME! The mini’s are sweet; I can’t wait to paint them. The crystals are a cool touch, also.

Edit: I should add that two of us watched Rodney's Watch It Played rules and demonstration. Helped a ton! Thanks to Watch It Played!!

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Dustin Crenshaw
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ZombieDad2 wrote:
Remembering the order of when you capture vs. when you kill a guy… If you capture the one guy who is in Attrition, he still gets to shoot.


This is not correct. If you capture a guy before attrition happens, he's no longer there.
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Bryan K
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SeerMagic wrote:
ZombieDad2 wrote:
Remembering the order of when you capture vs. when you kill a guy… If you capture the one guy who is in Attrition, he still gets to shoot.


This is not correct. If you capture a guy before attrition happens, he's no longer there.


Yes, that part we played wrong.
 
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Grant Rodiek
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SeerMagic wrote:
ZombieDad2 wrote:
Remembering the order of when you capture vs. when you kill a guy… If you capture the one guy who is in Attrition, he still gets to shoot.


This is not correct. If you capture a guy before attrition happens, he's no longer there.


Dustin is correct.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and writing about the game. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask. Thanks for supporting us!
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Van Willis
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Thanks for the write up, you do a good job of conveying how the gameplay felt.

One thing I'm not sure on from your write up is if you remembered that Trogs score half the total points for crystals they control, rounded up (pg 13 of the rules under scoring). you would have had to control 30 crystals to score 15 points on the first round (unless you activated scoring and got points for regions you control as well).
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Bryan K
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Vantastic wrote:
Thanks for the write up, you do a good job of conveying how the gameplay felt.

One thing I'm not sure on from your write up is if you remembered that Trogs score half the total points for crystals they control, rounded up (pg 13 of the rules under scoring). you would have had to control 30 crystals to score 15 points on the first round (unless you activated scoring and got points for regions you control as well).


We did not play that way!!! Ok, now I have to play again. But don't tell the rest of my group, they would probably negate my victory!
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Alex Banks
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ZombieDad2 wrote:
The spot right next to the Trogs starts with 5 crystals, it added 3 crystals from a Trog war party. That was 8 points I got, plus my other spaces with crystals totaled around 15 points. Second round, I enabled again with the 8 point square, plus no one really tried to attack my spaces. Another 15 points, everyone else had 5 or 6 again.

Not sure if you wrote this wrong or accidentally played it wrong (or maybe I remember the rule wrong?), but I think the Trog player only ever gets half points, rounded up, for crystal scoring.

Either way doesn't matter too much so long as you enjoyed it - I certainly enjoyed your write up of the experience can't wait to get my own copy!
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Remus Rhymus
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ZombieDad2 wrote:
And, a GREAT MECHANIC is the scoring track that can push events to the next round. So, the game actually shortens if someone scores a ton of points. Everyone liked that since an amazing move can really help a person get far out, and the game won’t drag with a clear winner. The events that are revealed help balance the game a bit, taking away a guy from a player who has a lot of guys, and putting crystals on the board where there are none. The game doesn’t have a catch up mechanic, besides the players themselves.


I also bought the game at Gen Con and have played once and loving it so far (looking forward to more plays ASAP).

The mechanism to shorten the rounds is the one that I'm not too sure about. On one hand, yes if there is one player completely dominating then shortening the game can be a good thing, but only if the players behind have no way of catching up. Since the factions are asymmetric, it seems that (in a 4 player game) Trog faction is the favorite for an early lead (especially if they can enable scoring on round one), but not necessarily an out of control, unstoppable snowball. The Machines and Pilgrims might need more time to build up their war engine. So if the game is played 3 or 4 rounds instead of 5, are we sparing the trailing players unnecessary game time or are we cheating them of their potential comeback in the final rounds?
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Alex Banks
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Someone got in before me!
That's what happens when you write these on an iPhone, heh

Unless you never play with the same group again, or continue playing the rule wrong, they'll find out eventually
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Bryan K
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Alexthebanks wrote:
Someone got in before me!
That's what happens when you write these on an iPhone, heh

Unless you never play with the same group again, or continue playing the rule wrong, they'll find out eventually


I told them, now they want a rematch!! I added the few rules mistakes that we made to the review...

I did have a thought while playing about "Board games that tell stories"...we each felt like we were playing a story unfolding like Avatar. Our players started taking on the personalities of the team and making stories of how they buildings we're working and how certain players died, we we're having a blast.
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Ronald Hill
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Hmmmmmmmm, this isn't the Cry Havoc that I've own for over the past 30 years. Pity.
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David Miller
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I think I am Negating the victory. Instead giving it to
Ben Welton

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. Who was just behind the Trogs in score. Just kidding, but I think mistakes were made all around and I can't wait to play the machines again.

I do wish there was a catch up mechanic and ending the game early for a runaway leader is good concept. I suspect our next game, due to the crystal mistake won't have a runaway leader.
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Derek H
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Vimy145 wrote:
Hmmmmmmmm, this isn't the Cry Havoc that I've own for over the past 30 years. Pity.

Not really. You already have that one. Now you have a chance to try something new and shiny
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Steven Bonham
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Maybe I missed it...any comments on player count. I usually play 2 player games with my wife. We enjoy blood rage with 2 though it is not ideal. Thoughts?
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Bryan K
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My first game was with 4 players, I just played last night with 2 players. The map changes for two players, making it a tight race for points. It was great with two. We played Machines vs. Humans and the Machines won. Every battle is really meaningful, especially when scoring is enabled. Taking a space with 6 crystals is a 12 point swing, 6 less for them, 6 more for you. With the Trogs popping up on the field there is constant action, battles every turn. The frogs are controlled by the other player, so Players are always involved. Maybe the only bummer is you have three choices of races with two players. The trogs are not available. But, you still have a few options that play so differently. I also added my thoughts on the Machines on another thread. They are a fun race to play that can do all sorts of damage with the build action (draw cards, kill troops, build troops). Let me know if there are any other questions we can answer.
 
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Gomeril Gnak
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I came here for knights and billmen. But this sounds fun,too.
 
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