Wednesday, December 18, 2019

REVIEW: Warcry Tome of Champions 2019

Warcry hasn't been out very long as a game, but the amount of support we're seeing for it already is outstanding. Besides the Warcry specific warbands and other models that have come out or have been previewed, we've also gotten the Monsters and Mercenaries expansion, and now the Tome of Champions, which seems to be the General's Handbook equivalent for Warcry. So what exactly awaits us champions within the tome?

The Tome of Champions is the first of its kind and so we don't really have anything else to compare it to. It's most similar to the General's Handbook or Chapter Approved books and seems to be a collection of new rules plus some tweaks to existing rules. Without much further adieu, let's dive into what it holds.

The book itself is divided up into three sections, Open, Narrative, and Matched Play. We start off with Open Play with just a few new additions to the rules. We're given a set of rules for randomly deploying your terrain in an Open Play game. This would be as opposed to using the cards with the pre-determined set ups. There's also a set of rules for playing games using only Monster models. Both of these seem like fun additions to the game and do add a bit of variety in. That's it for the Open Play section, but I feel it's always hardest to add new content into Open Play. By its very definition it doesn't really need much in the way of rules.

The Narrative Play section takes up the vast majority of this book, as it should for a game primarily built around Narrative Play. The first sections, and definitely the lengthiest section in the book, adds in campaigns for all of the remaining AoS factions we have yet to see in Warcry. This means Khorne, Stormcast Warrior and Sacrosanct Chambers, Ogors, and even Bonereapers. Each of these factions get one campaign that has everything we expect from them. A map, a bit of background, three convergences, and the various artifacts and traits you can get. This section is then finished off with conclusions for each of these campaigns. It's nice seeing all of AoS getting involved. While I really like the Warcry Warbands, there are just so many cool races within the setting, it was a bit of a shame to see them excluded.

The next section gives us seven new Fated Quests. We first saw these in the Monsters and Mercenaries book and they follow the same format as those ones. These quests are open to any Warband that wants to try them as opposed to being tied to a single Warband like the campaigns are. The rewards for these are either Exalted Command Traits or an artifact of power. This gives you even more narrative arcs to follow after you've completed your own campaigns and lets you continue the story of your warband without having to start fresh.

This is followed by seven Challenge Battles. In the previous expansion this saw you pitted against the titular Monsters. Here we see a bit of a new twist as each Battle is instead centered around one of the Shattered Dominion Objectives. This box of objectives came out when AoS2 launched and has some really characterful models in it. Warcry seems like the perfect game for their use, so it's cool to see them included. If you don't have them and are not interested in using them it's easy enough to play these Battles without them. Just substitute something else in its place. Some of these Battles have unique models used for them as well which are given a rules card in the scenario. For example, one has a wandering Battle Wizard, while another has a Ghoul King.

The coolest new addition to Narrative Play for me is are the Trial of Champions rules. This is basically a set of rules you can opt to use at the start of a campaign. Think of it as Warcry on hard mode. If you wanted more lasting impacts on your warband as they progressed, this is definitely for you. Now instead of just rolling to see if a model dies, is injured, or is fine, there's a much larger table to roll on where they can break legs or arms, or other lasting injuries that will affect them in future games. These injuries can either be temporary or permanent. Some of the results have you roll to see which kind it as, such as Gut Wound, which is permanent on the roll of a 1. Temporary injuries have the chance of going away after each battle with a dice roll, while permanent ones stick around unless you can heal it somehow. There's also a new artifacts table that has a new type of artifact, ones labeled as instant. This could be something like you instantly gain D6 Glory points. There are also artifacts on there that can heal your injured warriors. I feel like this adds in the granularity and campaign feel some people felt was lacking with the base rules.

The Narrative section wraps up with rules for some new Roaming Beasts, in the forms of either Cave Creatures such as Squigs and Troggoths, or the Undead, with skeletons and Chainrasps and the like. The last section is a name and background generator for each of the new races introduced in the campaign section that opened up the Narrative section. This is great for AoS players as well who like to give their characters or units a bit of personality.

The Matched Play Section has six new battleplans for the 2019/2020 season. These can be used alongside the ones from the core book, giving tournament organizers a bit more choice and variety. There are also 12 Hidden Agendas that work is the same way as they do in AoS. In a tournament you secretly pick one at the start of each game and try to complete whatever it is you need to do. This will go towards your final score and you can't pick the same Hidden Agenda twice, so you really need to try and think about which one is best to use when.

Escalation Tournaments is a new set of rules that takes a bit of the Narrative rules and transplants them into Matched Play. You don't roll to see if your models die or anything, but you can gain artifacts and destiny level between rounds at a tournament. Also, once per tournament you can gain either an Artifact of Power or a command trait. These are chosen from special tables in this section of the book to make them a bit more balanced for Matched Play. As a fan of the narrative aspect of the game, I definitely approve of this addition to Matched Play. Of course, it's completely up to the tournament organizer if they're being used at all.

After this we get a bit of an update to the core rules for campaigns. The table for how glory points are earned has been tweaked a bit so it's spread out a bit more evenly. This way if someone keeps winning their warband doesn't just end up being way more powerful then everyone else's.

The book wraps up with the Fighter Profiles for all of the Warbands who had cards when Warcry was released but are no longer in print such as the Daughters of Khaine, Vanguard Chamber, Idoneth Deepkin, Gloomspite, and so on. This way if you missed out on the cards you still have access to the rules. Interestingly though, there are no rules printed in here for the new Warbands like the Bonereapers. Presumably they will be getting card packs released sometime soon with all of their rules. I just hope we don't run into the same problem we had at release where they all sell out within the first month and then aren't accessible anymore until they're printed in a book. I would assume the next Tome of Champions won't be out until next December, so that would be a long time to wait. We'll have to see what happens though. I'm definitely excited to see how these new warbands work within the game.

All in all I think this book is a pretty solid addition to the game. If you play Narrative games there is a ton for you in here as well as some pretty solid updates to Matched Play. If you're serious about Warcry I'd definitely recommend picking this up. The Trial of Champions rules seem like a ton of fun and I'm sure most people will need the re-printed warband rules if you missed out on all of the cards. The only downside for me on this is that the new warbands aren't printed in here. I feel like it's a bit of a missed opportunity, but they may already have something planned to cover this in the future. Ideally for me this would be an App like we have for AoS, where you can look at all of the rules for free. Even if you had to pay a bit to unlock a new warband I'm sure most people would be more than willing too.

Until next time,

Tyler M.

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