Cry Havoc Review

Cry Havoc Review

Alright, today we’re getting back on track with our look back at 2016. There were a few games that I was especially excited to get to play this year with all of the Gencon buzz. Today we’ll take a look at one of those games.

Cry Havoc

Designers: Grant Rodiek, Michał Oracz, Michał Walczak

Play Time: 90-120 minutes

Player Count: 2-4 Players

Cry Havoc is an asymmetric, area-control game published by Portal Games. In Cry Havoc, each player controls a unique faction to try to influence the planet on which the game is set. There are 4 different factions available to play, however one of the factions is only used in a 4-player game, and when playing with less than 4, the other players control that faction. This faction is the Trogs. The Trogs are the native species of the planet. Their goal is to try to get everyone off their planet. The next faction is the Humans. The humans are trying to take control of as much of the planet as possible. There are also the Machines. The machines are on the warpath, and they are efficient killing machines. Lastly, there are the Pilgrims. They are another species of aliens that is on the planet to research the resources the planet has to offer.

The 4 different faction markers

The game is played over the course of 5 rounds, and each player is going to get 3 turns to perform their actions per round. The actions available are move, draw cards, build/activate a structure, recruit more units to the board, and enable scoring. Each player also has a special ability that they are able to activate once per round, which doesn’t count as your action. Once all 3 rounds are complete, you enter the battle resolution phase. This is one of the unique features of this game. Starting with the attacking player, you may choose to place you attacking figures on the battle resolution board. There are 3 different battle objectives. The first is Region Control. Whoever has the most figures on this objective will take control of the region in which the battle occurred. The second is Capture Prisoners. Whoever has majority of this objective will take one of their opponents figures prisoner. The last is the Attrition objective. For each figure that is placed on this space, you get to kill one of the other players figures. Once the attacker places his figures, the defender places theirs. You then get the opportunity to play cards and move you figures to different objectives until both players have passed, at which point the objectives are resolved. This happens for each battle that takes place. After all battles are resolved, you award points for prisoners that are held and if scoring was enabled, everybody will score their points before performing the clean-up actions.

Things I like:

  • Asymmetry. So far I’ve played as 2 of the different factions in the game, and they feel drastically different. You can’t try to play another faction’s strategy against it, because it is simply better at it. You have to adapt your play style to the faction you control. It makes each different faction function totally differently.
  • Tight rounds. You don’t get to do a whole lot in this game. And that’s a good thing. You at most will get 15 turns, and in some cases the game will get shortened to 4 rounds, resulting in only 12 turns. This makes every decision important. It also means that you can’t do everything you want to. It creates a great tension of trying to maximize your turns. You could play two games back to back with the same faction and take completely different strategies within that faction and have both be viable options. One game you may focus on attacking, while the next it could be more about building, but both are good choices.

The building options for the Machines
  • The Minis and Bases. The game has cool minis. What I find even cooler, is that the minis also have little pop on bases that help to differentiate the player colors. They don’t serve any other function, but it helps make it a little easier to tell you guys apart when you look at a big crowded board.

The 4 different factions in the game with the pop on bases.
  • Variety. Each faction has 3 different buildings available (the machines have 5), and each faction has 5 different special ability cards that are available to draw from at the start of the game. I mentioned it above, but there are so many different ways to play this game, and I love it.

The different special actions cards that you can start with
  • Art. Again, we have a big beautiful game with big beautiful art. The board is bright and colorful, but what really grabs me is the artwork on the different cards. Each faction has slightly different cards and each location does as well, and the art on them is fantastic.

Examples of the location cards
  • Scoring. Scoring in this game isn’t automatic. Sure, you can always score a couple points here and there, but no one will actually score for area control until one person uses their turn to enable the scoring round. At that time, the person who enabled the scoring will get to score for each area they control, as well as for each crystal they control. Everyone else will only get to score for crystals they control. You have to give up one of your valuable turns to score points, but you may net the other players points. It’s a really cool mechanic that works really well.

Things I don’t like

  • 2-players. The first time I played this game, my wife and I tried the 2-player game. We weren’t the biggest fans. You play on the back side of the board which has a different map. We played with the Humans vs. the Pilgrims. I don’t think the Pilgrims can win in a 2-player match up. Either way, it’s best to have at least 3-players. It makes the game much more fun.
  • Wrap-around Map. In order to make the map accessible from each point, the corner spaces of the map are wrap-around, meaning that you can go from one corner of the board to the opposite corner, considering the spaces adjacent. This isn’t a huge complaint from me, and I understand the necessity, but it’s not my favorite thing. With a board that gets as full as this one, it can get easy to forget this movement and can leave a “back door” for your opponents.

This is an awesome game. I’m not a huge “dudes-on-a-map” fan, but this one really works for me. It’s incredibly fun, there are great choices to make, but it’s not so involved that it gets overly complicated. I really like it, and it’s one of my favorite games from 2016.

Set up and ready to play with 3-players

GLG Rating 8.5/10

Check it out on Portal’s Website Here, and on BGG Here.

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