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Subject: Marty reviews Cry Havoc - Give it a little more time rss

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Marty Strubczewski
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I first heard about Cry Havoc at the beginning of the year. Both Cry Havoc and Inis were being touted by play testers as excellent games on par with Kemet. Kemet reshaped what modern dudes on a map game should look like. Kemet promotes combat and aggression. An achievement that is difficult to pull off well. Blood Rage came into the scene about a year ago and was beloved by everyone enamored by superior quality miniatures.

Blood Rage

Blood Rage is not a bad game. But after playing a dozen games it clearly has some issues I did not enjoy. I didn't like the concept of losing battles for points and developing an entire strategy around it. It was counterintuitive for what I was looking for in a combat game. The combat itself was a little too basic and mattered too much. I like drafting but the cards you pick will greatly decide your success or failure through the three ages. If you perform poorly in one age it is difficult to catch up. In the end, one of the best strategies was to get points through ship destruction and recycling them back from Valhalla. It became abused and took the experience and theme of Viking combat to something I no longer wanted to play. Blood Rage is a point salad game in disguise.

Kemet
Before Blood Rage was Kemet. Kemet is a relatively simple combat game with a lot of depth. Asymmetry is developed through acquiring special tiles. The tiles allow you to do so many things. Improve economy, improve offense, or improve defense. All of it available to everyone as long as you get it first. Combat uses cards but was very interesting. You didn't just try to win but you were trying to kill off units, keep your units alive. Maybe setting yourself up for a better second attack. And the game rewards winning and aggressiveness. The concept of turtling would not be beneficial. Again, Kemet is not perfect as there are many reports of the player going last in a turn having a strict advantage in grabbing points for win.

Inis
I haven't played Inis, but reports are fairly positive. Maybe one day I will try it. The art style is not for me but I could see myself getting used to it if the gameplay is great.

Cry Havoc
Now we have Cry Havoc. The Dice Tower and Drive Thru Reviews gave it very high praise. Looked like a pre-order well spent. Then two more reviews came out by BGG users Gyges and Mayonesiac. Their opinion was quite the opposite. I got nervous that I pulled the trigger too soon. But with any game you should try it out yourself before agreeing with one public reviewer or another.

The most common complaints are faction balance and not having enough time. The game plays out over 5 turns. 4 turns if someone is scoring like a mad man. Not sure what the thought was on ending the game sooner if someone is scoring faster. End the pain? But that ignores those building up a combo for a big turn. I may implement 5 turns regardless of scoring speed.

As for faction balance. This gets really tricky. The humans have a strange illogical ability to gain control of a territory without actually conquering it. This may have seemed ok during play testing but is clearly being exploited. I haven't decided how I will handle this in my gaming group but I hope that it gets more directly addressed in the upcoming aftermath expansion.

So what makes Cry Havoc any fun? Well, lots. First, it does offer asymmetric factions that are very interesting and do have a unique feel to them. Balanced or not, it is very fun to explore what each faction can do and could potentially do. With many more plays I expect some of the "unbalanced" comments to fizzle as players get more clever with their plays and fully flesh out what can be done to counter or improve their own play.

Those that like tight play and limited actions will love the value that each choice brings. You can't do everything you want. So plan carefully and observe your opponents. I love the battle and conquer dance and this game makes you choose tough decisions.

I'm a fan of deckbuilding. Cry Havoc takes this concept and slides it in cleanly. It doesn't define the game but it does make planning your future turns interesting.

Many BGG users state that using a precious action to draw a terrain card is a weak play. I wholly disagree. Many times I need more movement, more construction, or I just want a card for battle tricks. The best way to get them is with a terrain card. This ensures you get what you need for your next action. Actions are limited. Adding a card gives you more options and helps drive a future action you need when you need it.

At this time the high rating is because I'm excited to explore the game for myself. We might have something great here that is short of a few tweaks from perfection. Only more gameplays will tell. The announcement of an expansion helps its case. This gives Portal a chance to correct imbalances and give the community more time to develop new strategies. This may turn off some but I'm willing to stick it out for the hope that this becomes something special.

Tentative Rating - 9/10

Fast playing strategic dudes on a map game. Will take several plays to explore.

Pros:
-3 or 4 Asymmetric Factions
-Fast paced gameplay in under 90 mins
-Deck building is well implemented
-Factions play differently and are interesting to explore
-Combat is unique and tactical

Cons:
-Maybe some unbalance but what asymmetric game isn't
-Can feel too short for some
-Minis are not at CMON detail
-Game is cut down to 4 turns if someone is scoring very fast
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Michael Frost

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An interesting take on an interesting game.

Though regarding the factions, you only discuss one, the Humans. Not the others. In my play, as the Pilgrims, they play pretty boring. They are realistically locked into one strategy every game and are the weakest faction. Trying to create a VP engine on the crystals. Unlike say the Machines, who take time to develop and offer lots of choices (e.g., more buildings).

Or the critical difference in games where the high player count has a player actually play as the Trogs versus lower counts where no player plays them. When a player plays them, they are quite powerful. So much so that they dominate much of the game, esp. if the Machine player can't get them working to their capabilities. So in the early part of the game, the Trogs and Humans dominate.
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Grant Rodiek
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MPMelanchthon wrote:
An interesting take on an interesting game.

Though regarding the factions, you only discuss one, the Humans. Not the others. In my play, as the Pilgrims, they play pretty boring. They are realistically locked into one strategy every game and are the weakest faction. Trying to create a VP engine on the crystals. Unlike say the Machines, who take time to develop and offer lots of choices (e.g., more buildings).

Or the critical difference in games where the high player count has a player actually play as the Trogs versus lower counts where no player plays them. When a player plays them, they are quite powerful. So much so that they dominate much of the game, esp. if the Machine player can't get them working to their capabilities. So in the early part of the game, the Trogs and Humans dominate.


Change out the Skills. The name escapes me (I'm bad with names, plus they changed so much during development), but if you're playing the Pilgrim skill where they remove a Crystal from every Battle REgion, they play VERY differently.

Plus, I find all races play very differently at the lower player counts.

But, maybe you've tried that and disagree, in which case, ignore me!
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Jared Trisciuzzi
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HerrohGrant wrote:

Change out the Skills. The name escapes me (I'm bad with names, plus they changed so much during development), but if you're playing the Pilgrim skill where they remove a Crystal from every Battle REgion, they play VERY differently.


First game I played as pilgrims vs humans. I had that pilgrim skill to take crystals out of battle regions and I have to say it was a close game. I lost but not by much and it made me play the pilgrims aggressively. I actually controlled more ground than the humans in the last round.
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Destrio Dai
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I don't want to derail the thread but I like how your review takes into account other games of the same genre rather than just solely looking at the game without comparing other designs against it. Kudos.

I think blood rage card balance might be swung in favor of the loki strategy since dying a lot is counter intuitive for most players of the genre until they see how powerful the scoring and battle ability is on those cards. My biggest worry is that the only counter play to it is to hate draft since so many other factions want to win fights that loki players have a relatively easy time finding a 'victim' to lose against in multiple fights.

Kemet's aggressive reputation never materialized for me and ended up being a more turtle and tech game for prayer generation than anything else. That may be group think but how powerful turn order can be when involving kingmaking or winning isn't. I hope the expansion addresses how the move action is less favored than the tech and prayer actions.

Can't comment on Inis but Forbidden Stars does a good job at providing incentives for players to not target the weakest and to fight each other for territory points and resources rather than turtle.

Finally, for Cry havoc I really think it is a good game if more on the simpler and faster playing variety due to small map size and tech/action limits than other long, complex, sprawling games. But it does asymmetric factions pretty well but I think requires the full player count to shine like a Chaos in the old world. Also typically 3 player strategy games especially of the conflict variety can suffer from a lower player count due to balance of power (ignored player wins).
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v b
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Loving this thread guys! I've been trying to decide whether or not I should buy Cry Havoc and discussions like this one are extremely informative! DO continue!
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Bijan Ajamlou
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Agree with all the points. This is a game you need to play more than one time before you form your opinion. That is true for Kemeth too. I believe most people rate games after one play and that doesnt make sense for a game that is highly interactive and asymmetrical. Cry havoc is amazing design. I would suggest trying out clockwork wars if you like cry havoc.

I would rate the fallowing light comparable area controll/3-4xish games in fallowing order (havent tested blood rage or inis):

1.Cry havoc
2.Scythe
3.Clockwork wars
4.Forbidden stars
5.Hyperboera
6.Kemeth

But they are all great games.




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Marty Strubczewski
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MPMelanchthon wrote:
An interesting take on an interesting game.

Though regarding the factions, you only discuss one, the Humans. Not the others. In my play, as the Pilgrims, they play pretty boring. They are realistically locked into one strategy every game and are the weakest faction. Trying to create a VP engine on the crystals. Unlike say the Machines, who take time to develop and offer lots of choices (e.g., more buildings).

Or the critical difference in games where the high player count has a player actually play as the Trogs versus lower counts where no player plays them. When a player plays them, they are quite powerful. So much so that they dominate much of the game, esp. if the Machine player can't get them working to their capabilities. So in the early part of the game, the Trogs and Humans dominate.


I greatly enjoyed my time playing as the Pilgrims. They have a different mission and feel. I love that they have the unique ability to harvest crystals. I don't doubt that Machines are flexible but that is the point of asymmetric gameplay. You want each faction to have their own feel. And I believe the designers succeeded with the Pilgrims. They want to sneakily harvest crystals and let everyone else get distracted by combat and territory control.
 
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UA Darth
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"more clever with there plays "

Should be "their."
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Marty Strubczewski
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shadow9d9 wrote:
"more clever with there plays "

Should be "their."


Corrected. Thank you.
 
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Michael Frost

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Martystrub969 wrote:
MPMelanchthon wrote:
An interesting take on an interesting game.

Though regarding the factions, you only discuss one, the Humans. Not the others. In my play, as the Pilgrims, they play pretty boring. They are realistically locked into one strategy every game and are the weakest faction. Trying to create a VP engine on the crystals. Unlike say the Machines, who take time to develop and offer lots of choices (e.g., more buildings).

Or the critical difference in games where the high player count has a player actually play as the Trogs versus lower counts where no player plays them. When a player plays them, they are quite powerful. So much so that they dominate much of the game, esp. if the Machine player can't get them working to their capabilities. So in the early part of the game, the Trogs and Humans dominate.


I greatly enjoyed my time playing as the Pilgrims. They have a different mission and feel. I love that they have the unique ability to harvest crystals. I don't doubt that Machines are flexible but that is the point of asymmetric gameplay. You want each faction to have their own feel. And I believe the designers succeeded with the Pilgrims. They want to sneakily harvest crystals and let everyone else get distracted by combat and territory control.


Though the Pilgrims can be shut down pretty easy by a 4th player, playing the Trogs, who limits their ability to expand. Or if the Pilgrims lose an early battle with the Trogs (even in 2- or 3-plyr game) or have to dedicate too many resources to win an early battle.

In my case when the Trog tile flipped over for my first attempt at taking territory as the Pilgrims, 3 Trogs popped up. And I was prepared for this as I went last and everyone else was getting just 1 or 2 Trogs to pop up, so I presumed I'd get 3, but I had to commit all 4 of my Pilgrims to win. Depleted me and prevented my Pilgrims from expanding as they have to in order to harvest crystals and protect those crystal-producing territories. They essentially have to have and hold onto 3 territories, each producing/harvesting crystals and each protecting the other. Give them just one and they are powerless. With just two they can't produce/harvest enough.
 
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Saw something interesting last game. After some early setbacks and threats, the pilgrims were not able to establish the "triad", but rather expanded in a sort of line, going further away from the armies of machines and humans, while draining crystals from the regions. Basically they left empty regions and abandonned them, making it very costly (action wise) for machines to invade and useless for humans to control.

By the time machines were in position to push in pilgrim territory, the humans were now the new threat and they simply turned their attention there. Pilgrims had 9 crystals in their pool on the 5th turn doing this. Now they did not win the game but were within 4pts of victory. With time i think our pilgrim player will be able to adapt even more and not "require" the triad every game. The triad is the ideal set up, but it's also the easiest way to be seen as one if not the most potent threat (like humans with airfields). Machines in particular need to be "sated" (sedated!) as they are actively trying to balance everyone, and they will take actions toward the faction they feel the most powerful.

(Note: game was 3p with default skills.)
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