In part one of our Warcry: Catacombs unboxing we focused on the models and their abilities. Now, in part two, we look at everything else – especially the new bits of scenery, the game board, and the Catacombs book. We’ve built the new minis and terrain too, which we’ll show off in full throughout the video.
The text below is a transcript of the video – for those who prefer to read rather than watch.
The box and other gaming aids
Nothing too new here so we’ll rush through. The box is chunky, split by a divider ‘poster’ to keep the printed elements safe from potential scraping. The norm for GW games now – we like it – they fit a lot in these big boxes and they always seem to stay in good condition.
The standard Warcry dice are included, in their three different colours, along with a clear range ruler and a punch sheet of tokens you’ll need to play. If you got the original Warcry box, you’ll have these things already. You’ll also have the original rules, which are another repeat here. We’ll talk about that shortly. First the cards.
The stats of models and their warbands’ abilities are listed on the usual style of Warcry cards, designed with the same high-quality layout that’s across everything in the box.
We’re going to get picky though – with high production value such as this, we reckon we should – the wording on these cards is not of such a high quality! Take the Beheading Strike ability description:
“Add half the value of this ability (rounding up) to the damage points allocated by critical hits from the next attack action made by this fighter this activation that has a Range characteristic of 3 or less.”
With a decent grasp of the rules, this long sentence makes sense, but it could be clearer. For newcomers … well, office tests on non-Warcry gamers were met with wide-eyed stares and bewilderment. GW are trying to cover every possible permutation here, but extra punctuation, or a different style of layout, could have helped and made things clearer. We reckon releases that follow up on existing games should be iterative, improving things, and this is not doing that. Which takes us to the original rules.
The original rules
Catacombs isn’t an expansion only set, it’s an all in one, everything you could need, game in a box deal. At least in theory.If you already purchased the original boxed game, you’ll get repeats of bits we already mentioned, some repeat scenery too (which we’ll talk about in a bit), and a duplicate Warcry Core Book.
That’s quite a lot of repeats for the fairly hefty £125 cost (and you can look on GW’s site to see the cost in your territory). You’re probably going to struggle to justify buying this box. Wait for the warbands, which will undoubtedly be sold separately, and the Catacombs book and scenery, which hopefully will be.
As we said about the cards, we like when follow up products iterate and improve – there don’t seem to be any updates to this Warcry Core Book. It’s the same atmosphere laden 160-page, softback, full-colour offering with a good ruleset. This is good. It also retains the same errors and rules that lack clarity that were present before. This is less good. Taking us to a full “Hmmm, not sure about that one” moment, the unmodified Core Book means that much of its second half – a Campaign Section of linked narrative battles – is unplayable out of the Catacombs box ‘as is’.
These fixed battlegrounds require specific scenery to match the specific terrain setups; new players will not have it. This is scenery that was all included in the original Warcry Core game, so made sense then. The lack of it here is potentially frustrating if Catacombs is your first Warcry purchase.
Yes, the Catacombs book mentions this, offering alternatives, but it doesn’t feel ideal and we reckon it should have been stated on the box somewhere. Instead, the back of the box says “Everything you need to play” which feels … a tad off.
But there is scenery, right? And a board?
Oh yes, there is certainly scenery in Catacombs, and we’re back to talking extreme positives here.
The overground pieces are repeats from the first Warcry Core Set – a Bell Tower, a couple of ruins, and assorted barricades. They’re awesome. We have no issues getting duplicates of scenery that is this nice.
It’s the new underworld dungeon bits that are really exciting though. The Catacombs are clearly represented, with doors, bridges, underground objectives, and points of interest.
You get two of this first scenery frame, packed with different doors and bridges. These have associated new rules, which we’ll talk about as we go through the Catacombs book, but you can see they’re impressive bits. Bridges are all one-part while the doors are simple constructions, mostly two part, with open and closed options and levers.
GW have been fans of the ‘cover it with skulls’ aesthetic for a long time now and it’s clearly still in vogue this season. Some of the skulls are so plentiful and small that we thought they were texture at first glance … which they are, but … skully texture. It’s not a restrained or subtle look but it feels right here.
The second new scenery frame is really chunky with objective scenery elements included. A sewer and shattered pillars are single piece, the rest need to be built. Instructions on how to do that are included, a detailed A4 leaflet showing how to build this terrain and the far more complex warbands.
We’ve fully built both warbands and can say without any hesitation that the guide’s needed! The Scions of the Flame aren’t too bad, but a couple of the Shadowstalkers are tooth gnashingly fiddly. The terrain is simpler to make, a few pieces at a maximum. In the traditional “oops, we missed a bit” style of big projects, the Wall Breach does not have instructions included in the guide. It is a simple build, so not the end of the world.
As well as that Wall Breach there’s an Arms Stash, covered with blades big enough to give Archaon an inferiority complex. Cursed Caskets house skeletons, a Collapsed Doorway is a simple but effective looking part. We really hope these all get released separately – they’ll make for fine scatter terrain. As with the other terrain bits, these unique dungeon features have special rules and we’ll get to them very soon. Before that, the gaming board.
This is a double-sided, foldable effort. It’s made from thick card and measures 22” by 30” once it is laid out. One side is in the familiar Warcry overground style, the other shows vibrant, lava-lit, underground passages and arena-style areas. Once the scenery bits are put onto this Infernal Forgefloor it’s an instantly inspiring battlefield that will add new options to your games.
Warcry Catacombs – the new book Flipthrough
The new Catacombs book is at the core of these underground battles. It’s a 66-page softcover, with high-quality and full-colour pages.
The Horrors Below section has background on the dungeons, tunnels and underground systems that make up the game’s eponymous location. There are two pages of intro, where alternatives to the Core Book terrain problems we mentioned earlier are discussed, then there’s a double page spread of the box contents.
At page six we are properly introduced to Varanthax’s Maw. Built into the skeleton of a long-dead drake, belching up ash, burning with a suffocating, superheated underground fire, decorated with magma and sulphur lakes that house fire-daemons, this is prime Chaos real estate!
Atmospheric art and text sets the scene. A map across pages 10 and 11 adds campaign possibilities for players. I know I want to take a trip to see the no-doubt friendly folks who live in the Chamber of Boiling Blood (take a left at Skineater Mists, if you reach the Heart of the Maw you’ve gone too far guvner). Molten realmstone is the McGuffin that encourages other warbands to visit this hellish place – a warping, refinable liquid that can create objects of power!
Pages 12 to 13 introduce the two new warbands – The Scions of the Flame and the Shadowstalkers, then the Killers in the Depths section, across pages 14 to 23 shows off the models. The imagery of painted minis and terrain here is wonderful. The two new warbands are present, as are existing ones, fighting over gorgeous boards and terrain pieces.
At page 24 we get to Tunnels of Death, the rules, and Dungeon Battles is a summary of the new way to play. The pre-game sequence has slight changes to use the new board, victory cards, and twists, but it’s pretty simple. New dungeon terrain is added, unique dungeon features are placed, and so on.
Though this book is specific to Warcry there are some good ideas here that could be made to work across other systems and bring flavour to fantasy, sci-fi, or even historical interior battles.
One change to the normal game rules – reserves work differently. They arrive as battle groups in the third battle round, through entrance tunnels that are determined by the Battleplan card in play. This means the battle can switch tempo at this point, with new combatants emerging at key points and bolstering fights, or counter striking elsewhere.
Dungeon Terrain tackles the important aspect of walls first. These are outlined with a thin red line and act as obstacles, offering the usual sort of cover bonuses and movement restrictions. They block visibility but no specific attempt has been made to include universally active ‘fog of war’ rules. This is not necessarily a bad thing, it could take the pace out of games, but it might have been a nice extra.
Dungeon Doors are obstacles too and add a wrinkle to the flow of battle. Open ones act much as doors in the Core Book, but no fighters are restricted by them. Sealed doors act as dungeon walls unless opened by some abilities or the levers that come in the game.
Pits are present, to be leapt over or fallen into, and bridges can be used to cross the pits safely. Well, relatively safely – fighters can cause bridges to get weakened and eventually collapse.
Unique dungeon features are represented by the new terrain in the box here – the arms stash boosts the Attack characteristic of those within 1” of it, for example. The sewer is another entrance tunnel, the collapsed doorway can replace a closed door on the battlefield, opening up more traversal options.
There are universal Dungeon Abilities – Lurk in the Shadows means that a fighter close to a wall is not visible to anyone more than 6” away. Breach door is a Double ability that can open closed doors. Push into Pit, a Triple ability, is what it sounds like and a nasty way to take down an enemy.
Some factions’s runemarks provide more options. There’s Wall Running, a hop over the enemy type fly action, Float Through Wall for “peekaboo!” type attacks. Running Strike is a quad movement that allows an extra attack action after a Wall Run. We like the possible momentum shift that could bring to combat.
Alternate deployment cards are shown across pages 34 and 35, new victory cards on pages 36 and 37, offering underground-themed game goals. We’re keen on some of the new twists that come next – are all quite simple but they’ll be infinitely applicable mutators when used with the various deployment and reserve entry options. No two fights should be the same.
From reserves arriving early or late, doors and the air itself hurting or restricting your fighters, through to quirks like traps (to potentially trigger after activations), or emboldened warbands (with more wild dice) there’s much to enjoy.
Pages 40 to 51 bring new campaigns, they’re the usual high quality Warcry stuff with dungeon themes in their stories and layouts. The book ends with fated quests – once again, there’s dungeon flavour aplenty here and it’s a lot of gaming options for you to work through.
There’s no doubting that these plastics, along with the Catacombs book, are the things that new or existing Warcry players will be hungry for. If you are an existing player, and invested in the first core game, you should wait and get this stuff on its own. The box is good, the new rules are fun, the new plastic bits are outstanding, but the bits you’ll have already seriously diminish the value.
If you are new to Warcry, however, this is a good deal. Guesstimating what these things will cost individually, you’ll save a fair bit of cash on the overall price. Other than our issues with the Core Book not getting an update, and the missing terrain options, you’ll get into some great games under the Eightpoints, on an outstanding looking board, with some really excellent warbands, by buying this set.