Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Warcry: Catacombs Review

It's been a little over a year since Warcry first came onto the scene and we now have our first major expansion in the form of Catacombs! This also acts as a sort of replacement starter set for the game since the old one has been discontinued. What new tricks does Catacombs bring to the game and what comes in the big new box? Lets dive into the dungeons and find out!

As far as I can tell, Warcry: Catacombs is essentially the new starter set for Warcry as a whole. It's in the same sized box, comes with two warbands, scenery, a board, and the original rulebook as well as the expansion, so it's a great place for new players to start. 

Inside you'll find two warbands; the Scions of the Flame and the Khainite Shadowstalkers. The Scions of the Flame were teased back in the original rulebook as one of the chaos warbands, but we hadn't seen anything for them until one of the reveals a few months ago. The Shadowstalkers are entirely new and a really exciting warband in my opinion. Not only are they cool on their own, but the possibilities it opens up for Warcry specific warbands for other races is really cool. Sure, right now I can take a Nighthaunt warband in Warcry, but what if I had a warband of a bunch of unique sculpts for them that was made specifically for Warcry? It's just such a cool avenue for them to go down. As for the Shadowstalkers themselves, I'll probably be painting mine up to match my Daughters of Khaine army. They fit in very nicely, with only two males in the set. These are referred to as warlocks, so it fits within the lore for the DoK already. I'm most excited about painting the Scions though, since I don't have to worry about matching a scheme with them.

One of the coolest parts about this set for me is the new board and all of the scenery it comes with. You get one double sided board, with the traditional texture printed on one side of it, but on the other we get the brand new Catacombs board. Personally, I think this looks awesome. The design on it is great and the colors really pop. The lava and torches are very bright and saturated. This side is, of course, essential to playing with the new Catacombs expansion. It has all of the walls printed on it, as well as other obstacles, like the lava pits. I think this could work very well for Kill Teams as well since there's nothing on here that is overtly AoS. It could easily be a hidden Chaos temple within the depths of some foundry in the 41st millennium as well.

As far as scenery goes, we get a set of the original ruins and wooden bridges and such for the traditional side of the board, and a whole new set of scenery for the Catacombs side. This is one of the things that really points to this being a new starter set to me. They could have easily just done a Catacombs setting on both sides of the board and only included the scenery for that. By including the traditional ruins and the traditional board texture they've ensured that you can play regular games of Warcry with this set as well, without having to buy anything else. It's a lot less of the ruins scenery then what came in the original starter, but that's because they had to make room for all the Catacombs scenery.

Here we get two sets of a sprue with the new doors and bridges on them. In total you get 10 doors, some closed, some open, two metal bridges, and two wooden bridges. These have a definite classic HeroQuest vibe to them. They also seem super easy to get together and painted. Most of the doors just need to be glued to their base, and the bridges have no assembly. It's all very drybrush friendly too. On top of this, there's one more sprue that has various things such as sarcophaguses, crumbled walls, weapon stashes, and more. These look pretty cool on their own as scatter terrain, but they actually have additional rules within games of Catacombs as well. 

You also get the full original rulebook, which you can read more about in my review of Warcry, dice, and a token sheet with wound tokens and objective tokens and such.

Now let's move onto the new Catacombs book itself. This book is much thinner than the main rulebook since it's only an expansion. It clocks in at 66 pages if you count the back cover, which is utilized for content as well. When you crack it open the first main section is the new lore. This included two evocative double page spreads of art, a map, and two vignettes for the warbands. The Warcry art has always been really good at setting up the atmosphere of the setting. The second one is especially cool to me as you get a real sense of the bulk of the Scions compared to the Shadowstalkers. 

The map details the section of the Catacombs that are being fought over and is a really interesting way to do a map. It's more of a 3D cross section of the ground, showing the top of the land, and then all of the caverns and tunnels that twist down beneath it. I'm a big fan of this. Something about how deep down the caverns go is really creepy and claustrophobic to me. The lore itself basically establishes how the Eightpoints is riddled with cavern systems beneath the ground. The section we're looking at is the forge of Varanthax's Maw. No one knows how large the caverns are, or who built them, but countless warbands venture down into them in search of plunder and profit. The most coveted prize is the Varanite, the realm stone of the Eightpoints. This is what has drawn the agents of Morathi to the Catacombs. 

This is followed by a gallery section showing off the two new warbands as well as a bunch of awesome scenic shots utilizing all of the warbands. I'd love to see someone build actual tables like this. I think some 3D Catacombs boards could be really cool.

The new rules themselves are really pretty simple, but work great. Unsurprisingly, some of the biggest changes are with the board and how stuff works on it. For starters, the different dungeon boards have a specific way that stuff is set up on them. This book contains the set up instructions for the Infernal Forge Floor, which is the board that comes with this box. The bridges have to go in very specific spots, unless you're playing a Convergence that has an alternate set up plan. There's also a unique set of battleplan cards for the Catacombs expansion. Next, starting with the player that won priority, you take it in turns setting up doors. You do this until all of the doorways are filled. Like I said, you get 10 doors, some of which are closed, but there are only six doorways on this board. At this point you'll already know the battleplan set up and which section your opponent will be coming on from, so you can be strategic with setting up closed or open doors. After this you set up the unique dungeon features, which are the scenery pieces I was talking about earlier, in a similar manner until four have been set up. Reserve units all come in on in the third battle phase, and Gargantuan models cannot be used in these games.

The main addition for this mode of the game is essentially restricting movement. You can't move through walls, so you're forced to go through tunnels, over lava pits, and through doors. You also can't see through walls, so no shooting through them. If a door is open then you treat them in the same manner as doors from the main game. If they're closed you can't move or see through them, but there are some ways to open them. The lava pits are called Pits and are treated as open air. You can jump across them, but if your model falls into them they just die, no wounds or anything. Just dead. You can also push models off of ledges and bridges into the pits. The bridges let you move across these pits, but they can become weakened and collapse. If you finish a move on a metal bridge you roll a dice, and on a 1 it becomes weakened. The wooden bridges start weakened. If you finish a move on a weakened bridge you roll a dice, and on a 1 it collapses, killing any models on it.

Each of the Unique Dungeon Features has a set of rules to go along with it. For example, the Arms Stash adds 1 to the attacks characteristic of any models within 1" of it as long as it's not a long ranged attack. The Sewer can act as an entrance point for reserve models, and unsurprisingly, the Lever can open closed doors. Some of them have specific set up instructions too, like the Lever having to be near a door. The last set of generic rules used by everyone are some new abilities referred to as Universal Dungeon Abilities. These include Lurk in the Shadows, which makes you fighter invisible, Breach Door, which, well, lets you force open a closed door if you roll well enough, and Push into Pit, which does what it says on the tin. The last one has you and the player you're trying to push into the pit both roll a dice and add it to each of your toughness. If you roll higher you push them in. There are also some new unique abilities for the Nighthaunt and the Corvus Cabal. The Nighthaunt can use this Triple ability to move through walls and doors, as befits a ghost. The Corvus Cabal one is even cooler, with Wall Run and Running Strike. The first one lets you count as flying if you move along a wall, as your fighter essentially does a cool ninja move and runs along the side of the wall. The second one is the same thing but then tags a bonus move and attack action onto the end of it. This just seems like it would make for some really cool cinematic moments. Imagine doing a Wall Run followed by a Push into Pit as your fighter just runs full force at someone and kicks them into the lava.

This is followed by the deployment, victory, and twist cards. They're not actually cards, but are printed in the book instead, which is a bit of a let down. I'm always a fan of actual cards for stuff like this. There are 12 of each, but they're split up into Table A and Table B. Table A is formatted so it will work for an even Matched Play type game, while Table B is more thematic but not as balanced. With the deployments, your models almost always start the battle off the board and come in through one of the tunnel entrances. They also include six terrain cards for setting up battle above ground using only the ruins supplied in this set.

The Campaign section includes three campaigns for the Khainite Shadowstalkers, while the Scions of the Flame get two. Both of the Scions' campaigns take place wholly within the Catacombs, while one of the Shadowstalkers' campaigns takes place above ground as well. There are also four Fated Quests that any Warcry warband can take part in, giving everyone a reason to fight in the Catacombs. Some of these start above ground, and then move below ground as it progresses, which seems really fun to me. Lastly, the back cover even has content on it, including the name and lore generators for the Shadowstalkers.

I think this is a great expansion for Warcry. Dungeon warfare just fits the theme, and style of the game so well. Blocking off routes with walls and pits fits the play style of a small skirmish game like this perfectly. I'm excited to get some games in at some point with my Iron Golems. There's already a pack of new Catacombs boards available as well, with four new dungeon themes and layouts. I won't be surprised if they release the Catacombs book on its own at some point in the future for those who don't want to invest in a whole new starter set. The same goes for the warbands. The only thing I don't know if they'd release separately would be the board from this. Coupled with the new Grand Alliance books for Warcry, this seems like the game is really starting to expand. Like I said, I'm excited to see what other race specific warbands come out in the future, though I'd also like to see some more expansions for the existing ones, like what they're doing with Necromunda. Some new character models and such for the Iron Golems would be great!

You can watch my unboxing of the game below for a closer look at all of the contents:

Until next time,

Tyler M.

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