Game Review – Cry Havoc

Cry Havoc is a card-driven, asymmetric, area control war game set in a brutal, science fiction setting.

From one of the multiple reviews on the web

Cry Havoc is an assymetrical area control game, where players vie for the control of regions on a planet, the value of each region being determined by the number of crystals on the region. Before describing the gameplay, let’s take a look to the combat, which is the real hook of the game. When one players enters a region and a combat ensues, they get an attacking token. When it is time to resolve the combat, each player takes all of the units in that region, and first the attacking, followed by the defender, places all of their units on the attack board.

Once both players have placed their pieces (again, the attacker has to place all of their pieces, and then the defender places all of theirs), they both can play cards with battle abilities (normally these abilities are tied to a specific terrain, so they can only be played in some regions) to move people around, or even change the order in which the boxes are resolved. Finally, the battle board resolves from top to bottom. First, whoever has the most units in the first box gets control of the region (defender breaks ties). They will get to drop a control marker, and the other player will have to retreat after the battle. Next, whoever has the most units in the middle box (nothing happens if tied) gets to capture one unit on the battle board, which depletes the other player’s forces and will score them one point per turn. Finally, for each unit placed in the last box, you will kill one other unit and score one point for each unit killed.

This battle system board simulates different objectives for the assault, and each one can net you points in different ways. As the attacker, you know going in that you must either have superior forces or a tricky card in order to take the region, since the defender breaks ties in the first box.
For the rest of the game, it is an area control game between four very asymmetric sides on a map where you are never more than a few spaces from anyone. Each faction starts with a unique deck of cards and unique buildings they can build. At the start of the round, you draw a few cards. There are three action phases per round, where a player chooses an action (normally move, build units, or build buildings), and then fuels that action with the symbols on the card. Alternatively, they can use a special ability on one card instead of the symbols. One of the special actions is to trigger scoring, so the regions will only be scored when one player chooses to.
The factions all play very differently. The Trogs are the local residents, and they spawn units from takens seeded at the start of the game when players explore new regions, giving them a fast start. They, however, only score half points for crystals. One player is the “Euro gamer,” who can trade for crystals to score points without combat. The mechs have a bunch of cool buildings, and the humans are combat focused. Beside the starting deck, you can use an action to draw new cards which have different symbol distribution, or can give you a combat bonus in certain regions, thus acting a bit like a deckbuilder.

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