TableTopTakes: Cry Havoc

What, another TableTopTake in such rapid succession? How does that even happen? It happens when Kristen has people over to watch a miniseries, so I get together with some people have a board gaming day from 2:30 until 11. We got to get two new games to the table, Root and Cry Havoc as well as a couple of other games, The Lost Expedition and Sagrada. So we get to have two TableTopTake posts in back to back days!

Image Source: Portal Games

Unintentionally, both new games were asymmetrical games where the different factions/races/groups have different ways to score points. In Cry Havoc it’s a little bit different through as you’re fighting on a planet over crystals. We played at the full player count, so one person played the humans, one played the machines, I played the pilgrims, and one player native creatures, the Trogs. You are battling, producing crystals, building up technology, and recruiting troops.

Cry Havoc is part area control game, but it’s really more of a crystal control game. Depending on what races are played, you might not worry as much about controlling areas, but it is something that players have to be concerned about. It also has a bit of deck building aspect to the game as you add cards into your deck that allow you to do the actions of building, recruiting, and moving your figures around the board.

Besides the different races, which I’ll talk about some more soon, one of the interesting thing is combat in this game. In most games with area control you’re looking at a few different standard ways of doing combat. It could be rolling a bunch of dice based off of what troops you have, it could be rolling dice and playing some cards, it could be simple numbers and playing some cards. Cry Havoc does it a little bit differently. It splits up combat into three different parts.You have control of the territory, capturing of troops, and killing off of troops and you split up your combatants over all three areas. In the top part, controlling the territory, the person who has the most troops there wins control of the territory. Whomever has the most on the second part, capturing enemy troops, will capture a troop, this gives a point each turn. Finally, any troops who are put on the bottom section, killing off enemy troops, then kill off a troop. You go from top to bottom figuring out what happens, so even if in the third part someone kills off a person’s majority in troops, that person still maintains majority. However, each player gets a chance to play combat cards which may allow them to change troops, or might change the order that things are figured out in. It’s a very unique combat system and I enjoyed it, though, I was playing the Pilgrims and they aren’t a combat heavy race to play.

Image Source: Board Game Geek

Let’s talk a little bit about the different races:

Humans are a fairly straight forward race to play. They are primarily about controlling as many territories as possible and they can take over territories without actually moving into them, as long as they are empty. They have, also, a number of buildings that can help them control an area of combat by adding the equivalent of extra troops to some area of combat.

The Machines are focused on killing things. Their buildings are known as Shred Drones and Orbital Strikes, the Shred Drone can take out a troop in a neighboring territory prior to combat, and the Orbital Strike can remove someone from anywhere on the board. They want to soften up spots for battle and then walk in and take over without much trouble. Then they can leave bunkers behind to help them defend areas after they’ve moved on to their next conquest.

The Pilgrims are not a combat focused race. These four armed aliens really just want the crystals. I could have won with them, but I forgot to use their special ability one round. But they want to find their own corner of the map, hunker down, produce crystals and score points often with a lot of crystals. They are the only ones who can store crystals instead of just scoring for where they are on the planet, and that’s what I forgot to do. But along with producing crystals, they really need to build a lot, because that’s how they produce the crystals both into their own pool and onto their locations.

Image Source: Board Game Geek

Finally, the Trogs are only a playable race if you are playing four players, otherwise, while they are always on the board, they are the native inhabitants of the planet and there are a lot of them. However, they are always going to be spread out because there are Trog nests all over the planet that you have to deal with. The fact that they are native to the planet means that they can move around the planet easier, but it also means that they can get spread out on a lot of fronts if they aren’t careful.

I enjoyed this game a lot. It has a nice presence on the table, the game play is pretty straight forward, so once you are into the game, you can just move along quickly and each round is made up of three actions, but you go around taking those actions one at a time, so peoples turns don’t really bog down. However, the rule book, while pretty well written, does run into some issues. The game is made by Portal Games which is out of Poland, and their rule books are not known for being the best translations into English. Most of the stuff for this game makes sense and is laid out well, and they do have examples which is nice, but the explanation for the end of game isn’t great. If you’re looking to learn, I’d check out Rodney Smith from Watch it Played on Youtube and either watch him play the game with his son or watch his how to play video for it just for clarification before you play the game the first time.

Overall this is a good game. It’s pretty straight forward, and all the races seemed to play differently. The combat mechanisms aren’t going to be for everyone, but they are unique and I like them for that reason. This is a game that works well and felt very balanced in my opinion. I mean, for our game, we had the Trogs win, but they one by two points, and then two of us were tied for second, the Machines were lagging behind, but their minis looked the coolest on the board.

Overall Grade: A-
Gamer Grade: B+
Casual Grade: B

Have you played Cry Havoc before? What are your thoughts on it if you have?


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