Cry Havoc is an asymmetric, area-control, sci-fi, war game with deck-building elements and plastic miniatures. The game takes place over a series of rounds punctuated by special events. Players will be playing multi-use cards to perform different actions, such as moving, deploying troops from the reserve, and building or activating structures.
A player can play any number of cards from that player’s hand to perform an action, and the strength of that action will be based on the number of matching icons on the cards played. For example, if a player plays two cards, one with a single movement icon and one with two, the player will be able to perform three moves with that action.
Each player begins with miniatures on the board, but more will have to be deployed from the reserve to create a more substantial presence across the territories. Similarly, a defeated unit will return to the reserve and will need to be redeployed. Units can also be captured by another player, who will gain a point for each round the prisoner remains. Prisoner units will be unavailable for deployment, but the unit’s owner can pay 2 points to regain the unit.
Each territory on the map will contain one or more crystals, and more can be added later. The crystals come in three colors, representing 1, 3, and 5. At the end of each round, if scoring was enabled, players will gain a number of points equal to the number of all the crystals in territories they control. Scoring will be enabled if a player took an action to enable it, and the enabling player will also score points equal to the number of regions that player controls. The final event of the game is that scoring will be enabled, but with no player scoring regions (only crystals).
Each player will take three actions in each of the rounds, and when one player’s units enter a territory with another player’s, a combat begins. The territory will be marked with a numbered combat marker, and all combats are resolved in order at the end of the round. Until then, the territory is locked down, preventing units from coming or going and from structures being built there.
To resolve a combat, the attacking player will distribute the attacking units among the three objectives on the battle board. Then, the defending player will distribute the defending units among those objectives. In order, the region control, capture prisoners, and attrition objectives will be resolved. Whoever has the majority of units on region control will claim the region and earn 2 points.
Whoever has the majority for capturing prisoners will take any one of the opponent’s units from the battle as a prisoner. Then, for each unit on the attrition objective, the owner can destroy one of the enemy’s units in the battle and earn 1 point. This means combat isn’t all or nothing—there are three different valuable objectives, and even the loser can often claim some level of victory in a battle.
Players draw cards from their small decks each round, and this means cards are played multiple times over the course of the game, but rarely in back-to-back rounds. Players can supplement their decks by taking on terrain cards, either with actions, from events, or using other special abilities. These terrain cards provide more icons, just like the players’ starting cards, with each terrain type providing a different distribution of those icons. Players’ cards can also have special abilities that can affect battles, though a terrain card can only be played when its terrain type matches the territory where the battle is taking place.
Most of the interesting special powers, however, come into play with the faction boards, faction structure tiles, and faction skill cards. Skill cards can be used once each round before resetting and can create very powerful effects. Structures require wrench icons to be played to be built and then activated, but these create a wide range of versatility for the factions and give them very unique feels and interesting map interaction.