Warcry Heart of Ghur Review and Unboxing – Warhammer Age of Sigmar
In the depths of the forest known as the Gnarlwood lies the remains of a Seraphon void-ship called the Eye of Chotec. Though heavily damaged in the crash, at the heart of the ship is a largely intact vault containing wonders, treasures and technology that have caught the attention of the forces of the Mortal Realms. In Warcry Heart of Ghur, up for pre order today, the warbands of the 4 Grand Alliances search the swamps and forests of the Gnarlwood in order to find this fabled vault and bring the prizes back for glory and honour!
Today we will be taking a look at the awesome Warcry Heart of Ghur boxed set, investigating the miniatures and scenery within and pour over the 2 books included, taking a look at both the rules for the new two warbands in the set but also the brand new second edition rulebook and what things have been changed and improved.
Massive thanks to Games Workshop for sending us a free early review copy to take a look at with you guys, if you would like to support the site then why not order your copy of Heart of Ghur through our affiliate Element Games and save yourself some money too?
We have also put together an unboxing video diving into the new set and looking through the rulebooks which you can see below or over on YouTube
Still with us? Well gather together your warband and ready yourself to head into the wilds, as we are about to venture into the Heart of Ghur
Warcry Heart of Ghur Review
So what exactly is Heart of Ghur? Essentially, this is the boxed second edition of Warcry – the quick paced skirmish game that had until now been set within the Eightpoints, the domain of Archaon and inhabited by various Chaos Warbands that battle for his attention and glory. The second edition of Warcry moves us to a new location however, Ghur, the Realm of Beasts and the current location of the current Age of Sigmar story and tournament arc. It seems that Games Workshop have decided to align the storylines and settings across their AOS products, which is a brilliant idea as we get a nice thematic flow across the range with flavourful scenery that would work well for both games.
It also seems that inspiration has been taken from Kill Team for Warhammer 40k. Essentially, every 3 months a new box will be released that will continue the ongoing storyline started in this box and will contain new thematic scenery and 2 new warbands along with the rules to use them. This is a brilliant idea, and Kill Team has been one of my stand out releases being a nice way to expand both the game, but my scenery collection and models that can be added to my 40k armies.
Heart of Ghur kicks off this trend with a big box that is full to the brim with goodies.
Inside we get a double sided board themed around the Realm of beasts and in particular the Gnarlwood itself
We get some nice little details here such as hints of the Seraphon ship that crashed here along with the creeping roots of the not so friendly foliage found in these parts!
In addition to this we get everything you need to play a game of Warcry – a sheet of tokens, a range ruler, 3 sets of 6 dice in 3 different colours, and a set of cards that are used to generate missions using the scenery in the box (These cards are also reproduced in the core rulebook too giving players access to them in case they are misplaced or the book is picked up separately in future)
Cards are also included for each of the two warbands included – we’ll take a closer look at these later in the review!
The real star of the show however is the plastic in the box! Majority of this makes up the new Gnarlwood terrain, and I have to say I was very excited to get this build up!
You get lots of terrain here, and it is impressively big! The four main pieces in particular being perhaps the best trees we have had yet for Warhammer and are covered in lots of nice details that you can see below!
For example, at first it looks like the trees are growing our of the skeletal remains on the bases – but look a little closer and it seems that what has actually happened is that the trees have hunted their prey and actually strangled these creatures to death with their roots! This is a tiny little design detail, but goes a long way to showing how deadly even the trees of Ghur are! In addition to the main pieces you also get a range of lower scatter terrain that act as barriers and cover for your units, along with 4 bamboo rope bridges that can be used to link all the scenery pieces together. For Age of Sigmar players this stuff will fit well with the Thondian Strongpoint in order to create a really nicely themed Ghur table for your games. Also the fact that we will be getting 3 further similar boxes over the next year makes me very excited to see some more of what I think is some of the best AOS terrain that the team have put out so far.
Accompanying the terrain are two new warbands – the Rotmire Creed and the Horns of Hashut.
As you can see, these are glorious miniatures and very thematic – over the pre order period I will be painting these up, so make sure to stay turned to the site, Twitter and Instagram to see my progress on them! The Rotmire Creed are spreaders of disease and plague, sharing the gifts of their god “The Lord Leeches” to those unlucky enough to face them. The Horns of Hashut on the other hand are the human followers of the bull headed god Hashut, who older gamers may recognise as the deity worshipped by the Chaos Dwarfs…
Again we will be taking a closer look at both of these when we get to the Rot and Ruin book also contained within the box, but these were great fun to build up
As ever with games Workshop releases, full and clear instructions are included that make it really easy to assemble your force. As with all Warcry warbands it is probably worth taking some time to look through the unit options and decide which ones you want to build – but as far as I can see there is no way of making an “illegal” warband by going over the points limits here, so new players are free to build up whichever variants they think look cool and will still be able to use them in their games.
Also included in the box is the brand new Core Book containing all the core rules that you need to play.
Warcry Core Book Review
Clocking in at 160 pages, the Core Book contains the new and updated second edition rules for Warcry. Firstly, from an aesthetics point of view this book is gorgeous from the cover art and colour palette that ties all the new Warcry products together, to pages of beautiful artwork including multiple double page spreads that really capture the fight going on across these warbands.
We are quickly brought up to speed on the lore of not just the Age of Sigmar in general, but also the recent events of the Era of the Beast bringing us to the current AOS timeline. In particular we also learn of what has been happening in Thondia and the deadly forest of the Gnarlwood. In the Mortal Realms most things are out to kill you, and in the Gnarlwood this even applies to the very trees themselves that scutter towards their prey on their roots, ready to drag the foolish to their death. We also learn about some of the things that are hidden deep within the Gnarlwood itself, in particular the crashed ruin of a Seraphon void-ship. The central cache known as Talaxis (named after the Azyrite explorer that first discovered it) is home to treasure and technological wonders that have incredible power such as the ability to return life to the dead, alter time or even change reality itself. Obviously the rumours of these artefacts have come to the attention of the four Grand Alliances, who have all sent delegations, hunting parties or mercenaries deep into the forest to try and take them for themselves. We get a full breakdown of what each of the grand alliances has been up to in Ghur along with a map that gives us some tantalising glimpses into what the future might hold for warbands in future supplements. (On this note, I really hope we see the future warbands coming from other grand alliances, perhaps exploring aspects of each race that we have not seen in the mainline game!
So how does a game of Warcry play out? Well firstly this is a pretty quick game with a small footprint and only a handful of models each side. Most warbands will have around 10 warriors each (And there’s a maximum cap of 15 fighters) and will fight over a 22″x30″ hard cardstock playing surface covered in interesting and detailed terrain with an average game finished in around an hour. With the board also being so compact it makes a great game for a club night, or to play on your dining room table. While some of us are lucky enough to have dedicated Warhammer rooms with a full 6 x 4 table, the smaller nature of Warcry means that you can still get your Warhammer fix even if you are limited on space, and the quick play time means you don’t have to dedicate an entire day to play a game. With some creative building you can probably even build the terrain in such a way that it will fit back into the game box for storage – however if you fully assemble the large trees then you may struggle to do this.
Firstly, players construct their Warband – In a similar way to how armies are constructed for other Games Workshop games, each fighter in your warband has an associated points cost. This will be found on the fighter card or in supplement books available separately. Every Warcry model that you buy actually contains a fighter card in the box making putting together your force really easy. You get 1000 points to spend which coincidently is the approximate value of the gangs in the box and the stand alone Warcry warbands that can be bought separately. Your force is then split into 3 equal thirds who will deploy in dedicated areas shown in the mission map.
Once you have assembled your warband, the next step is to generate the mission – this is done really slickly in Warcry with various decks of cards that are used to quickly generate the battle – one card determines the terrain placement for the mission, the next the deployment map (along with deployment areas for each players warband), the third card details what the victory conditions of the mission are, with the final card offering a “twist” that generally activates a special rule or key change for the battle. What’s great about this system is that just like the scenery sets for the previous edition of Warcry, each quarter when Games Workshop release each expansion box to the game they can include new cards, which can then be combined with your existing sets and scenery in order to create a vast number of different game scenarios, all of which can be quickly generated on the fly.
One of the key mechanics in Warcry are the initiative dice – these are used for triggering powerful abilities on your warband, and are also used for determining who has initiative each round. In another slick system, each player rolls 6 dice and counts up how many single dice they have. Any multiple dice are grouped together to form pools that are spent on abilities. Each player then gets an additional “Wild Dice” that can be used to either improve multiple dice (turn a double into a treble for example), can be saved to use in a later turn, or be used to increase the number of “singles” that they have. Once this is done the player with the most singles goes first, with all grouped dice used in that battle round on abilities detailed in the rules for their warband. I really like this system as it gives the player the choice of maximising their abilities, or instead using their free dice to try and gain initiative in a critical turn.
Once the game has started, the players take turns activating fighters, with each fighter being able to make 2 actions each – these actions cover things you would expect such as moving, jumping climbing, fighting, disengaging from combat or even waiting until the ideal moment to strike.
One big change in the 2nd edition is the concept of reactions – something we have seen recently in The Horus Heresy – this is a way of adding some interactivity to the turn sequence so that the passive player is always able to do something and interact with the active player’s turn – these are done by by spending one of your actions on a fighter that has some available (for example has not yet activated or is in wait) in order to have an effect on the opponent – the core book has three generic ones that can be used by any warband, and each warband has a thematic one tied to them.
Counter is used when a fighter is targeted in melee and deals damage to the attacker for every miss they make, with a roll of 1 dealing 2 damage
Take Cover is used after being targeted by a ranged attack and allows you to reduce critical hits to standard hits on a roll of 4+
Strike Them Down is used when a fighter disengages, dealing them D6 damage on a roll of 4+
Like in Horus Heresy this adds something that the active player has to think about in their turn, and gives their opponent the chance to mitigate or deal damage with clever reaction usage. With each warband also having their own it will also increase the tactical options available to them all!
Abilities is the other key mechanic in Warcry, with players spending their duplicate dice on cool game changing abilities – generally speaking the more duplicates you have the more powerful the ability is – so for example you can spend a double to give a fighter +1 movement that activation, or spend a quad to give them a bonus move action and a bonus attack action on top of the 2 actions they start with! Again, in addition to the core abilities in the rule book, each warband also has a chart of abilities unique to them.
Combat is also quick and brutal in Warcry with a simple opposed Strength vs Toughness roll rather than rolling separately to hit and to wound. Basically 3+ if you are stronger, 4+ if you are equal, and 5+ if you have lower Strength than their Toughness, with a 6 always granting a critical hit that deals more damage – there’s no saves to make, just deduct the wounds from the wounded target. Again this makes the game really accessible and quick to pick up and play, which also having layers of strategy and tactics that experienced players can enjoy.
One of the best things to come out of the design studio in recent years is the concept of “3 ways to play”
Open Play – contains rules for games with either teams of multiple players on each side, or even “Triumph and Treachery” games involving multiple players (up to 4!) in a no holds barred battle royale where everyone is out for themselves. While these may not be every game that you play, these are both great excuses to to the warbands out at a club night or when wanting to play something quick that you can get your teeth into while having fun!
Matched Play – this is more about formal tournament style games of Warcry which are more balanced around organised play. While the random nature of the mission generation cards is really fun, Matched Play adds some structure by limiting which cards are in play while also offering a list of stock missions with set deployment maps and victory conditions. This ensures that the players have a balanced game without things sliding in favour to one side due to an unlucky combination of cards. The book even includes details on how to run your own Warcry tournament with some handy support and tools that can be used to create this.
Narrative Play – This for me is the best way of playing Warcry! Long time visitors will know that we are massive fans of Crusade and Path to Glory, and Narrative Play in Warcry is the same sort of concept. You will start with a warband roster that will track the successes and failures of your warband and tell the continuing story of your fighters. Over the course of the campaign they will gain glory and artefacts and slowly grow in power. Quests are back from the previous edition of the game giving you narrative flavour that progresses the storyline of your warband, however new to second edition is the concept of Campaign Arcs – these are narrative arcs of missions that affect all players within a campaign that further enrich the narrative and work parallel to the quests. Where as a quest is something you are trying to do, a campaign affects everyone and so each player has incentive for taking part. This has all been built on from the first edition with lots of cool stuff that can happen to your warband between battles – for example at the start of the campaign you have an encampment on the outskirts of the Gnarlwood, but over the course of the campaign you can actually discover new locations (some of which are only accessible by certain warbands) and track your progress towards the Seraphon ship deep in the jungle. With this story arc playing out over a year of expansions it means that a group of players can start playing this campaign in Heart of Ghur and have an epic tale that has been told over the course of 12 months once the final expansion for this story arc is released. This is such a cool concept and I can’t wait to see what they do with this!
Like with games of Necromunda or Mordhiem there’s other things that you have to do between battles such as managing your camp, recruiting new fighters, seeing if any of your existing warband fall to their injuries, or sending fighters out into the jungle looking for treasure – though you never know what you brave fighters might come across in a dark cave…
One cool mechanic is the fact that your encampment itself may fall under danger too – at first it might be a nice secure location, however over the course of the campaign other dangers might find it leading it to be threatened or even compromised! When compromised your fighters have to hastily grab all their belongings and immediately go on a quest to find a new base of operations. I’m a big fan of Necromunda and these new additions to the game really scratch the itch for something more like Mordhiem, with persistent effects and important things happening between games that affects the story itself.
6 Universal Quests are included in the book that can be undertaken by any warband covering things such as hunting for artefacts from the crashed Seraphon ship, to trying to find a new hero for your warband, or even venturing out into the wilds of Ghur to bind a monster to your will. In addition to these, each Grand Alliance also gets 3 unique quests including one to earn unique treasure, one to gain new abilities to a hero and one with a unique battleplan for cool narrative and gameplay perks! In addition to this, each Grand Alliance also gets a unique encampment location only available to that Grand Alliance and a full list of unique items and upgrades. This gives you a lot of unique flavour to a new campaign (Especially if each player herald from a different Grand Alliance) and I suspect will be expanded further in future supplements.
We also get 2 complete Campaign Arcs each made up of multiple warbands with lots of cool unique mechanics – the first is designed for 2 players and has one player starting with a fragment of a map leading to riches, which the other warband in true action film style is following their tracks to take it for themselves. The second campaign arc is for 4 players hunting through the jungle to try and find a fragment of the Seraphon ship – this culminates in an epic showpiece battle where all 4 warbands come into direct conflict with the Seraphon protectors of the craft in a massive 4 player battle with neutral Seraphon that can be used to attack any rival warband! The Campaign Arc stuff is awesome, and I cant wait to see this expanded further.
Finally, the book contains the details from every mission generation card, meaning that if you don’t have the card deck, or pick up this rule book separately later then you are still able to fight every combination of mission
Rot and Ruin Warband Tome
Also included in the box is the Rot and Ruin Warband Tome – this is essentially a mini “Battletome” for the 2 warbands in the box, and I suspect that this is how future warbands will get their rules. At 65 pages long this contains lore for both of the warbands along with the rules on how to use them, all their profiles, abilities and reactions, rules for all the scenery in the box and also more quest content and a branching campaign arc. Players of Kill Team will find this very familiar as this pretty much follows the structure of releases we have seen for that system.
Lore wise we learn about both of these warbands in more detail than the core book and it explores who they are, who they worship and what their motivations are in Ghur, which lends some narrative flavour to your campaigns. We also a page of names, origins and backgrounds for your warbands and leaders allowing you to generate up this content on the fly.
Full rules for all the terrain in the box is included including some cool unique abilities that can be done when interacting with the scenery – for example fighters can cut rope bridges causing them (and anything on them) to fall to their doom! nice large photos of all the scenery is also included which is handy when painting the pieces too!
The Campaign Arc is also really fun, consisting of 3 games played over a total of 6 potential missions, the story line will branch much like in some of the older warcry missions where the story will change based on the results of the games. These games are specifically designed for both of the factions in the box and will only come into play if two players within a campaign have both of the forces and want to bring them into conflict with each other.
For other factions we also get a brand new Campaign Arc designed for 4-6 players too!
Again, I suspect we will see this expanded as other warbands are released in future supplements.
The Rotmire Creed
The Rotmire Creed as you would expect have a number of abilities that revolve around poison and disease – their Unique Reaction “Bile Blood” allows them to hit any fighter that causes a critical hit on them with 3 damage on the roll of a 3+, which will deter weakened fighters from trying to finish them off. Stats wise they have a lot of range 2 attacks meaning they can keep at arms length of the opponent with some decent critical hit values. The leader’s quad action is very good essentially allowing him to immobilise a target for the rest of the battle round on any crit.
The Rotmire Creed also get 3 unique quests, an encampment and an artefacts table, in addition to the generic chaos ones in the core book – meaning we should get some fun stuff for all future warbands in the same way!
The Horns of Hashut
Another nice warband, the Horns of Hashut are all about fire and smoke – their unique reaction can cause a fighter that gets within 3″ of them to take 3 damage and also subtract 1 point of strength for the rest of the battle round! This can be used to great effect to really hinder a hard hitter in opposing warband, especially considering most of your fighters are average toughness 4 or 5
They also have a really nice double action that enables critical on a 5+ to any targets with 5 damage, which will really put the pressure on with a couple of your attacks rolling quite a few dice – in particular the Flamehurler which has 3 shots at range 6 with critical causing 5 damage each!
Like their Rotmire rivals, they also get a whole suite of quests and goodies to each over the course of a narrative campaign!
So what do I think of Warcry Heart of Ghur? Well firstly, this is an excellent second edition of Warcry – while not many things needed tweaking, they have made some additions such as reactions that lead to a much more exciting game. Secondly they have fully leaned into the narrative elements making this such a rich way of playing the game with campaign arcs now affecting multiple players rather than the quests which are more independent and tied to a single player. The new environment also adds a lot more flavour and a change of scenery to the previous edition, theres now even more of a reason for factions from the other Grand Alliances to be involved in the action, and hopefully this is a good omen of future warbands being drawn from other minor elements of other Grand Alliances. I’d love to see Talaxis and his explorers for example traipsing through the forest, or perhaps a new Seraphon unit based around the creatures that would have been left to defend the ship – there’s lots of potential for cool stuff and hopefully this comes to pass.
Taking the Kill Team model is also a brilliant change meaning that by picking up each box each collector will be able to amass 8 new warbands and 4 different scenery sets – something that will also appeal to Age of Sigmar players. Speaking of scenery, the team has blown it away with probably my favourite terrain in the Age of Sigmar range!
I’m really excited to see what the future holds for Warcry, and can’t wait to get some games in against some of the other Grand Alliances when they get their updated rules.
Warcry Heath of Ghur is available to pre order today and is released on Saturday 13th August.
Games Workshop provided Sprues & Brews a free copy for review purposes.