Warcry: Catacombs is a two-player miniatures skirmish game set in the heart of the Warhammer Age of Sigmar universe. Each match can take between 45 minutes to an hour and uses new and existing Warhammer Age of Sigmar miniatures along with terrain and unique stat cards for units. This is a skirmish game where each player controls around 10 miniatures and use dice for attacking and special abilities. This review is for the base game set Catacombs box.
To get started each player will select a warband. The warbands included in Catacombs are the Khainite Shadowstalkers and the Scions of Flame. Each warband comes with model stat cards and a warband special ability card. Players will then divide their warband as they see fit into three sections: The dagger, the shield, and the hammer. When finished, players can proceed to set up the board.
The board set up for Warcry has players select 4 aspects: terrain, deployment, objective, and twist. This game is played on a 22 inch by 30-inch board and the terrain card will direct the terrain set-up. The deployment card will advise which areas each section of players’ warbands set up, specifically designating where the dagger, shield, and hammer will begin. The objective will determine the victory conditions for the match. Lastly, the twist will throw a special rule into the game such as extra attacks and healing effects on the battlefield.
Now that warbands have been chosen and the board set up, players will roll a six-sided die to determine who will set up first. Once both warbands have been set up, the battle can begin. Each turn consists of the Hero phase, Reserve phase, and Combat phase.
In the Hero phase, each player rolls six 6-sided dice and matches doubles, triples, and quads of the same number. The player with the least number of matches will be able to activate a model first. These dice are then set aside to be used as a resource for each warbands special powers.
The reserve phase allows for units that may have been off the board due to set-up conditions to be deployed along the board edge.
The combat phase is where players will take turns activating powers, moving models, attacking, and of course trying to meet the victory condition.
As a major player of Age of Sigmar I want to preface my experience with an important point; Warcry may use the same world and models as Age of Sigmar but that is where the similarities end. Warcry is not Age of Sigmar and that is a good thing.
Choosing which flavor-packed warband for my first play was a tough choice but I opted to go with the more mobile Khainite Shadowstalkers. My opponent was stuck playing the slower, more lethal Scions of Flame. I opted to make my shield section of my warband a little stronger, while my opponent threw their heavy hitters into their dagger section, which would benefit them by being closer to engage my more fragile units.
The board space and terrain feel great for the size of the engagement. The pre-arranged set up for terrain provides a lot of opportunities to strategize and choose the best way to engage with your warband. The terrain pieces included in the Catacombs set are beautiful and work for both above and below ground battles. Between the core books and the Catacombs supplement book, there are a dizzying amount of engagement scenarios, which makes for a large amount of replay value with just the Catacombs box.
When we rolled our six dice for the hero phase, I was able to make 3 sets of doubles. While my opponent ended with 1 triple. The single bonus die did little to help either of us for this first round. This was a major flaw in the Warcry system in my opinion. Subsequent turns saw us have even fewer options, having to spend the bonus die right away to make some options that could be of any use.
Once I started my activations, I used my paired dice sets to activate my cursed darts warband ability to try and soften up the front line of Scions. My opponent focused on closing the gap and engaging in melee with my fragile fighters.
Being in melee combat or shooting is easy thanks to the stat cards for the units. On each units’ cards, Games Workshop used clear symbols that stick once you glance over them. I have two problems with the cards though. Due to assembly variations of the models, they don’t always match your reference card model, which can leave you guessing which card to use. My second issue with combat and the stat cards is that you must use a table to find out what your dice rolls are aiming for to do damage by comparing strength against the enemy’s toughness.
After a few more turns I had lost multiple units to the heavy damage of the Scions of Flame. I had to re-route my resources to the edge of the battlefield, forcing my opponent to cover as much ground as possible so I could safely hit from a distance. In the end, I was wiped off the board.
Did I feel that the Yahtzee-like mechanic of powers based off dice rolls hurt me a bit? Definitely. The warbands powers were very important to the overall strategies playing out across the battlefield. To have that be determined by luck hurt a lot of my planning each turn. One could argue that the uncertainty forces players to adapt, yet the warband powers were so powerful that not having your choice power for certain turns hurt strategy overall.
The books in the Catacombs box help you set up free-play, matched play, and narrative play. Warcry truly shines with the narrative play option which allows for command abilities and artifacts to be used over the course of a campaign, allowing you to adapt and implement even more strategies into your warbands.
The Catacombs box is a base set for Warcry and contains 17 miniatures and 37 pieces of terrain. This is a huge value whether you are starting out in Warcry or want to pick this box up to supplement your Age of Sigmar collection. Be aware that this is a Game Workshop product and does require intensive assembly and some of these specific models are fragile.
Warcry: Catacombs is a great skirmish game that has beautiful Games Workshop miniatures. This specific box set includes a great value with two warbands and a massive amount of terrain. Warcry especially shines with its narrative/campaign mode. The Yahtzee mechanic to match dice to use warband special abilities hurt strategic plays, and variant builds could confuse some players with the stat card picture references. Overall, Warcry: Catacombs is a fast-paced skirmish game that excels at fast-paced play and small unit strategies.
Final Score: 4 Stars – A fast paced great looking warband skirmish game that could use a couple tweaks.
• Yahtzee luck mechanic for major powers
• Variant builds could be confusing
• Strength vs. Toughness table slows downplay