What is it? Pure science fiction tactical warfare
The deets: 2-4 players, 90-120min
Designer: Grant Rodiek, Michał Oracz, Michał Walczak
Publisher: Portal Games
At this point I feel like we’re just in an echo chamber of talking about how awesome Cry Havoc is. Games are flying off the shelf, in part thanks to the Dice Tower review and in part because the game seems to live up to the fight. This is a combat game through and through with a clever card-based action system, minor deckbuilding elements, and one of the most unique combat mechanisms to come out in years.
If you have any interest in this game at all, you probably have heard a bit about it, so I’ll be brief with the rules overview. First of all, you take turns performing one action at a time, spending cards to increase the effectiveness of your actions by stacking up icons. Every card you spend, though, means not being able to spend it on something else, so immediately you’ve got an interesting decision space with the hand management.
There’s also the ingenious combat system. No dice, very little luck. You place your units in the battle on a board with three sections – one to actually win the battle, one to capture a unit, and one to kill enemy units. Again, this forces you to choose where to spend your resources. You can ensure you win the battle for the sector you’re fighting over, but you might end up losing a lot of units. Or you can just try to kill your opponent’s armies, but that won’t necessarily stop them from achieving their goals.
You can also use certain cards which have Battle abilities that might bring in surprise reinforcements, or allow you to shuffle your units around after both sides have placed them.
But, what I haven’t seen mentioned a lot is just how well the board is designed to keep everyone in the action. There are no corners – everything loops around at the edge of the board, so it’s easy to get where you need to go. The point of all this is to prevent someone from holing up away from everyone else. You’re going to have to fight, and fight a whole lot. It’s just that kind of game. None of these tense standoffs that suddenly explode in the last turn. Fight early, fight often. There are always more units to bring in.
Beyond all that you’ve got buildings you can build to upgrade your race abilities (which are particularly asymmetrical), action cards, and lots of cool minis.
But with the popularity of the game, you’re going to have to rush to snag a copy, because they are flying off the shelves.