Wednesday, November 10, 2021

REVIEW: Warcry - Red Harvest

Warcry turns 3 this year, and with it we get another new starter set in the form of Red Harvest. Just like its predecessors you get two warbands, a whole bunch of scenery, a rulebook, a game board, and everything else you would need to play the game. Both of the warbands and the scenery are brand new to this box though, and one of which I am super excited to see a full kit for! So, let's delve into the box and see what exactly you reap in this harvest.

Games Workshop was kind enough to send me a free review copy of this game ahead of time to take a look at. The first thing I noticed is that the box itself doesn't seem as sturdy as I'm used to from GW. If you got the Dominion box then you know the type of box large GW games like this came in previously. Thick, sturdy, and able to stand up to some damage. This one in contrast is a more standard cardboard box, like what most of the smaller kits come in. There's nothing inherently bad in this, and I'm sure it has to do with the supply issues and paper products like this being harder and more expensive to come by. Having said that, I probably wouldn't store much from this game in this box long term or use it to transport stuff to games.

Once you crack open the box, the first thing you see is a mountain of plastic sprues. The vast majority of this is the new varanite mines scenery, with only two of them being the new warbands, but man oh man, those new warbands are sweet. I've been waiting a long time for a proper Darkoath kit for AoS, and now we finally have one! The first thing I noticed about both the Darkoath and the Tarantulos, is that they come with 10 models. All of the early Warcry warband were eight models, which always felt a bit weird once you started using them in games of AoS. For games of Warcry it's not as big of a deal since your warbands can be any size really as long as it fills the points limit, but for AoS it felt odd not having a nice even 10 models in the unit. Especially once you started buffing the unit size. 

The other amazing thing about these kits is that almost every model comes with either alternate weapons, an alternate head, or even both. In games of Warcry the different weapon load outs will have some very real, in-game effects. For AoS it won't make a difference, but what it will do is make it much easier to take multiples of the same unit in your army. As someone who very much wants to do a full Darkoath army at some point, this is a big selling point. It means I'll be able to add a lot of variety into my Darkoath hordes before it starts feeling repetitive. The God-speaker for instance, the "witch" in the unit, come with two different sets of arms, and two different heads. It doesn't appear that the arms are locked in pairs (just for her, the weapon load outs on other models are definitely paired), so you can mix and match those too. This means that you'll have eight variations you can do on the model before you'll have to repeat something. I love my Iron Golems, but the Ogor and Duardin can both only be built one way, which would get really repetitive in a full army for AoS. All of the models in both warbands are wonderfully detailed as well, as we've come to expect. I'm obviously biased towards the Darkoath, but the Tarantulos are amazing as well.

The scenery it comes with is some of the most unique we've seen yet for anything set in the Mortal Realms. It really tells a story, much more so than some generic ruins do. Having said that, it's also much more specific so it's harder to fit into every situation if you care about how your board looks. How many chaos mining operations are there across the realms anyway? (Maybe more than you'd think actually. More on that later.) Beyond that, the one thing that makes me a bit more apprehensive about it is all of the "chaos trim" that's so iconic to the chaos factions across both AoS and 40k. It always looks great, but there's no quick way to paint it. Even if you just drybrush all of the wood and stone, which is most of the model, and will go pretty quick, base coating the metal trim alone will take more time than anything else. It will look beautiful when done, but these definitely won't paint up as quickly as the scenery from the past two Warcry boxes.

In the box you also get all of the cards you need to play. This includes the fighter cards for both warbands, which has plenty of cards for alternate weapon load outs, 12 scenery cards for how to lay out your varanite mining scenery, 12 scenario cards, 12 twist cards, and 12 victory condition cards. You also get the abilities card for each warband. If you want to learn how each of these sets of cards is used in Warcry you can read more in my original review from when the game first came out here. On top of this you get plenty of tokens, dice, and a ruler, as well as plenty of small plastic baggies to store everything in.

The last thing I want to touch on before diving into the rulebook is the game board. Like all of the past Warcry sets, this one comes with a double sided game board. This is themed to go along with the varanite mining equipment, and has pools of varanite on it, which affect the gameplay as well. One side has large pools of varanite on it, while the other doesn't. The only thing I'm a bit disappointed on here is that one of the sides isn't the "generic" dark gravel and greenish ruins texture we've gotten on the last two Warcry boxes. Or even the desert with blood stained ruins which has been on the back of most of the other Warcry boards. Considering how four of these boards make one playing surface for full games or AoS, it would have been nice for it to all be cohesive. What we do get looks great though and definitely fits the theme of the set.

Unlike the previous two boxes, Red Harvest comes with a brand new rulebook. The first Warcry box came with the standard rulebook (I mean, it was also the only one at the time), where as Catacombs came with that same rulebook again, plus an additional booklet with the rules unique for playing in the Catacombs. Instead of coming with the same rulebook, Red Harvest has reformatted it entirely! Most of the book is the lore, galleries, and rules unique to Red Harvest, but then at the back are the core rules for Warcry. This reminds me a lot of how Battletomes were in most of the first edition of AoS, with the core rules at the back of each one. The Core Book for Warcry is still for sale, so I don't think this is replacing it by any means, just giving you the tools to play the entire game from this one box without having to buy anything else. When I say it includes the core rules in the back, I do mean JUST the core rules, so there's still plenty of stuff from the Core Book that's unique to it and not included here.

The Red Harvest book starts out with the lore. We get some descriptions of the Warcry setting in general for those who are new to it, before moving on to the new events. After the events of the Catacombs set and Broken Realms: Morathi, there's a bit of upheaval in the Eightpoints. Archaon's main source of varanite, Varanthax's Maw, has been plundered by Morathi for her apotheosis, and all but shut down. He's also still being attacked by Katakros, who has a permanent fortress at the Allgate to Shyish within the Eightpoints. On top of this, Gordrakk has now led a Waaagghh! into the chaos wastelands, and Order has also made headway after the events of Broken Realms. Undeterred, Archaon has decided that his original plan of using realmstone, and specifically varanite, to break the Allgate to Azyr is still solid. Having seen the weakness of having all of his varanite mines located in one spot though, he has now decided to "franchise" it out. All across the realms his forces have set up shop with smaller mining operations to plunder the realmstone, and specifically all across the Eightpoints for varanite. This means there are tons of smaller mining operations everywhere, and also the perfect excuse for why some Chaos mining equipment has suddenly shown up on your gaming board. I would quite like to see some of this painted up to be mining other realmstone, such as the purple sand of Shyish or the amber bones of Ghur. By decentralizing everything, he has made it much harder for his opponents to cripple his operations. This also has plenty of warbands and warlords fighting to secure these mines and provide Archaon with the most varanite/realmstone that they can to rise in his favor. It's a great way to work the new scenery and rules into the setting, and also continues to further the plot of AoS and Warcry as a whole. I can't wait to see where this goes. Maybe Archaon will finally get his invasion of Azyr?

On the rules side of things we get new rules to represent the terrain and boards for the varanite mines. This consists of the pools of varanite on the board acting as chasms, which if you fall into you die, as well as being able to turn the two big pieces of mining equipment on or off. When turned on, there turn any connected conveyer troughs into hazardous terrain which does damage to models, as the varanite is flowing through it.

On top of this we get two quests each for the Darkoath and Tarantulos, as well as a branching quest for each grand alliance. The branching quests are pretty cool, and are basically a choose your own adventure for Warcry. After the first convergence in the quest you have to pick one of three choices for the story, which then leads into one of three convergences for your second convergence. This then has two options to pick from, which leads to one of two convergences for your third and final convergence. All of them revolve around the varanite mines. This gives them a ton of re-playability, as you can pick different outcomes each time. Then there are name and background generators for the two new warbands, followed finally by the core rules.

The core rules have new diagrams and examples in them, using the models and scenery from Red Harvest. I'm not sure if it includes any changes made to them in the FAQ or not, since the Core Book itself is still available.

All in all, Red Harvest is a pretty good box for fans of Warcry. For new players it acts as a starter set, where for veteran players it gives you two new warbands, and a whole new set of interactive scenery to play on. I like that Warcry is getting attention each year like this, but I also wish they would come out with a lower cost starter box. The board game Bladeborn kind of does this, with a more streamlined version of Warcry that uses hexes, a smaller board, and smaller warbands, but at it's core it's still a different game. It's also not widely available right now. I think, ideally for me, a basic Warcry starter set would contain a full size board, a smaller amount of scenery, the rulebook, and two Chaos Underworlds Warbands with Warcry rules to act as an intro. This would allow them to cut the cost a bit too. Have this available all the time, and then still release these big event boxes each year like they've been doing. Introducing new scenery and new rules. I'm excited to paint up some of the new Darkoath. Like I said previously, I would love to do a small army of these for AoS. I just don't know if I want to paint them to match my already painted Darkoath from Underworlds, or start new with a contrast scheme to get it done faster. I also quite like the idea of painting up the scenery to go with my Iron Golems, who at the time of writing, are my only finished Warcry warband. I think it fits their aesthetic pretty good. My favorite bit on the new scenery are the skeletons still chained to the push wheel for the mining equipment. Lovely bit of detail.

Until next time,

Tyler M.

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