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Warcry is Warhammer at its best, and the new second edition proves it

War cry was a big surprise when Games Workshop announced it in 2019. But after the release of Warhammer 40,000: Kill Teamthe community was ready for another miniature skirmish game, this time set in the fantasy world of Warhammer: Age of Sigmar. The appeal was similar: a meaty game that only requires a handful of miniatures to play, and a system with the potential for strong narrative campaigns and a bustling competitive scene. The result was a hit with both fans and critics. Warsong: Heart of Ghur is the second War cry Box Set, released at retail in August, and marks a simple but effective revision of what was already Games Workshop’s best set of rules.

Heart of Ghur is set in Gnarlwood, a craggy swamp twisted and possessed by the bleeding life force of an alien ship. Their treasures lay nestled in the wicked surroundings, protected by malevolent beasts, carnivorous trees, and other warbands thirsty for blood and fortune.

The box includes a thick board to fight on, enough terrain to fill the area, and two full warbands to play head-to-head. The Rotmire Creed are a psychotic group of plague alchemists who are committed to defending their territory from the aggressive Horns of Hashut, a rabid band of raiders intent on burning the land and razing anything they find. While these two factions of heinous worshipers of Chaos feature in this release’s main story, other warbands from across Games Workshop’s product line may also enter Gnarlwood in search of alien artifacts.

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The distinctive setting is a big part of the charm with Heart of Ghur. One of the strongest features of Games Workshop’s skirmish titles: kill team, Necromundaand even blood bowl To some extent, it’s the ability to create smaller warbands from just a handful of figures from your favorite army. The cost of a full fat Age of Sigmar army can reach several hundred dollars at a minimum, but in War cry you could build four or five different warbands for about the same price. Virtually anything and everything, from the Age of Sigmar The product line is available here, with all the stats and rules available for free online.

A figure of a man with a bamboo helmet standing on stilts.  He wears a green cape and holds a primitive hypodermic syringe.  His partner, a man with a skull face and skin lesions, points a blowgun.

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Two figures of warriors with bronze flails.  They wear bronze bull-headed helmets and their boots show cloven toes.

what elevates War cry above its competitors, however, is its magnificent flow and pace of play. It is a very energetic game as the stages and terrain layout are randomly generated. Multiple decks are shuffled and cards are revealed to dictate the battlefield setup and objectives. Each procedurally-created encounter also features a twist, providing an unexpected rule-bending and strategic twist. Turns are one of the most interesting aspects of War cry. Some result in general buffs for all participants, such as fighters receiving an additional point of Toughness, while others alter the standard rules of movement or combat. This pushes tactical considerations in a way that causes players to modify their strategy and adapt to an evolving situation.

The game is equally dynamic, as each round players roll handfuls of dice and separate their results into groups of single, double and triple values. While the contestant with the most singles gains initiative for the round, doubles and triples are spent on faction-specific abilities. This provides a high degree of asymmetry in addition to combat profiles, allowing for unexpected combat impulses or aggressive maneuvers. I much prefer the system to kill team‘s, which require much more study. In War cry it just has a little graphic that is easy to reference and internalize.

Activation is by individual model, with players alternating from one side to another. The tactical considerations are tremendous despite the very simple activation and combat systems. The texture is provided by interactive terrain, objective-based gameplay, and a battlefield that warriors move in and out of as the battle progresses.

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A figure of a tree that has turned into a giant skull.  The terrain piece is accompanied by two smaller inset images showing barriers made of stone and reeds.

War cry It’s also a very vertical game, where your troops can scale structures and jump across gaps. This supports the cinematic feel of the fast-paced conflict. It also rewards creative terrain modeling.

In its center, Heart of Ghur is almost identical to the existing War cry ruleset But it does advance the game in two key areas.

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The most notable is a new reaction mechanism. This allows fighters to trigger unique interrupts with those double and triple power dice. It’s an elegant system that evokes the overwatch mechanic common to many sci-fi-themed miniatures games. Players can react to an opponent’s charge by attacking them first, or fire a ranged attack when someone moves into their line of sight. Each faction has their own unique reaction informed by the environment and their particular fighting style. It’s a wonderful addition to the game as it enhances the dynamism and flow of the conflict, blending seamlessly into the alternate trigger structure. It’s surprisingly soft and feels like it’s always belonged.

Heart of Ghur it also reinforces the campaign game. The system now more closely mimics the Path to Glory campaign system in Age of Sigmar. Warband story objectives are integrated into existing scenarios as an added consideration, allowing players to progress their individual narrative path and achieve quest points. Eventually the quest completes and offers rewards like upgraded fighters or a powerful artifact to wield. The beauty here is that this is an additional layer to the game that builds on top of the simple skirmish structure and provides a richer and more satisfying experience.

War cryThe new territory management system is just as fantastic. You can send warriors from your force to explore and seek their fortune, risking their health. This has shadows from the grass system on Necromundaand it feels like a more mature and dramatic inclusion that helps flesh out the Gnarlwood setting.

Overall, much of what has been presented in this box is just fantastic. The system hasn’t been changed too much, retaining the core spirit of what it did War cry special. However, it has been noticeably improved in an elegant and refined way.

From a cost perspective, the value of this set is enough; in isolation, perhaps even loudly. However, it’s hard to ignore how fantastic the original is. War cry center box was. While the warbands here are just as intriguing as the previous bunch, the starting terrain set was one of the best scenario sets Games Workshop has ever released, making it hard to Heart of Ghur to live up to The Gnarlwood remains an exceptional setting for bloodshed, admirably brought to life with spiteful trees and gleaning skulls.

Heart of Ghur it also serves as an introduction to Gnarlwood, an environment that will be further explored with additional crates and terrain in this new season of War cry. This scenario is significant and extends beyond the confines of this skirmish game. Both Age of Sigmar Y Warhammer Underworlds are launching titles at this location, as the theme will touch all of Games Workshop’s fantasy products.

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This is a wonderful start for War cry‘s second age My imagination and passion are ready for add-ons to arrive and for Games Workshop’s best game to continue its reign.

Warsong: Heart of Ghur was reviewed using a retail copy provided by Games Workshop. Vox Media has affiliate associations. These do not influence editorial content, although Vox Media may earn commission on products purchased through affiliate links. You can find additional information on Polygon’s ethics policy here.

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