The land of Ghur is a wild, near-uninhabitable place where even the very land you stand on is trying to tear itself apart. It's the perfect place to wage war, and the latest setting where a lot of the action in Warhammer: Age of Sigmar (Games Workshop's fantasy wargame) takes place. We covered this setting at length in our preview of Season of War: Thondia, but now this realm is front and center as the staging grounds for merciless skirmish combat in the new Warhammer skirmish game box set, Warcry Heart of Ghur. Not only does this new box set include two brand new warbands for Warcry, and all new amazing-looking terrain, but it also brings Warcry into a new, third edition, with a major change to the rules that really reinvents the game. Games Workshop sent us a copy to check out, so sharpen your axe and fill your poison vials for our review of Warcry Heart of Ghur.
What's Included In Warcry Heart of Ghur?
Included in the new Warcry Heart of Ghur box set is everything two players need to jump into Warcry. There's a lot of amazing plastic in this box. The game contains two brand new warbands: The Horns of Hashut and the Rotmire Creed, each warband comprised of ten miniatures. There's also a full suite of terrain to build in the box, which is fantastic because terrain plays such a crucial role in Warcry.
Also included is the core rulebook covering the new rules for the game, which now enters its third edition (we'll cover the major changes in a moment), along with a warband tome containing the rules for these two new warbands. On top of that, there's dice, a range ruler, a game board, fighter cards that handily keep track of all your fighters' stats and abilities, and battleplan cards to help you build a fight on the fly.
This is a ton of content, and when they say "everything you need to start playing" they really mean it. With the contents of this box, you have a full regimen of fighters and all the tools necessary to jump into the game immediately.
In Warcry Heart of Ghur, the overarching story goes that deep in the Gnarlwood Forests, which are terrible to behold and full of flora and fauna that want to tear you apart, a giant void ship of the Seraphon called Talaxis, the Ravening Ruin has crashed. Now all eyes are set on the Gnarlwood, because if you can survive and navigate these woods, you may just find treasures beyond your imagining.
What Are The New Third Edition Rules For Warcry Included In Warcry Heart Of Ghur?
There are a bevvy of new Third Edition rules for Warcry included in Warcry Heart Of Ghur, and they're worth taking a deeper look at. First, there's a whole host of new campaigns added to the game. Campaigns allow you to take your warband and tell a story with them through multiple linked campaign sessions. You build your warband, acquire new allies, set up encampments for your warband (which grant special bonuses and buffs in battle) and - most excitingly - send members of your warband out on quests in between sessions. With a roll of the dice, a fighter from your warband may find untold treasures, a new powerful encampment for your warband, or - if you're unlucky - get killed or lost of the Gnarlwood, removing them from your warband! It's a fun new layer to the game, and very reminiscent of how Necromunda handles campaign play (though it's much more approachable, less crunchy and granular than Necromunda can become).
The other huge rule change to Warcry is the addition of Reactions to the game. This is important, so let's spend some time on it. If a fighter has actions left for the round (meaning they haven't acted yet, or chose to wait for their first action) they can use a reaction in specific circumstances. Both warbands included in this box set have their own reactions (which we'll cover down below) but there are three universal reactions all fighters can take.
First, there's the Counter reaction, which happens when you're attacked in melee, and lets you auto-assign damage to your opponent for each successful hit they land on you. Then, there's Take Cover, which happens when you're attacked by a missile attack, and lets you attempt to turn critical hits into normal hits against you (this could really swing the damage, as most missile critical hits deal way more damage than a normal hit). Finally, there's the Strike Them Down reaction, which triggers when an enemy fighter disengages from melee combat with one of your fighters, and allows you roll a dice and, on a 4+, deal D6 damage points to that fighter.
These three reactions alone completely change the flow of Warcry, allowing much more of a response to the action than we've previously seen. Add to that the new warband-specific reactions for the Rotmire Creed and Horns of Hashut, and the level of interactivity skyrockets. Plus, because it takes up one of your fighter's actions, we found that it doesn't slow the game down at all (which is important, because Warcry is a super fast-paced game). Now that we understand the major new updates to the game, let's take a closer look at both of the warbands included in the box.
Who Are The Rotmire Creed In Warcry Heart Of Ghur And How Do They Play?
The Rotmire Creed are a band of swamp-dwelling humans who have dedicated their lives to "Lord Leech" who is, though they don't know it, an aspect of the Chaos god Nurgle. They hail from the Gnarlwood itself, up in the northern festering fens, and seek out the crashed ship Talaxis for ingredients they believe will help them create an immortality potion. Covered in rot, moss, and lichen, with armor and weapons made from the natural world around them, they are one with the swamps and do not hesitate to employ deadly toxins and poisons when they battle.
As fighters, the Rotmire Creed are each well-balanced. They have decent hitpoints, most have a 4 in defense (that's pretty average), and their weapons do well when you crit. But where they really shine are in their special abilities. First off, their warband-specific reaction is called "Bile Blood" - when you're targeted by a melee attack action, you can use this reaction to deal 3 points of damage back to the enemy attacker for each critical hit the enemy has scored on you. When most enemies have around ten to twenty hitpoints, this reaction can seriously make a difference. And it's very evocative, even if you're slain by your enemy with a series of brutal critical hits, your blood is so poisonous and toxic that it splashes on them, wounds them, and could even take them down!
The Rotmire Creed's Abilities are all really dynamic. There's the warband wide ability "Gruesome Harvest" which you can trigger if you've killed an enemy, which gives you a potent vial (of their blood and guts?) for the rest of the game which allows you to treat all ability dice as a six when determining their value (this is in the weeds, but trust me... it's a good). They also employ blowpipes of poison which deal damage and lower an opponents toughness, they have nets they can use to keep enemies locked in place, and their leader has the brutal "Lethal Injection" ability, which deals massive damage.
All in all, playing the Rotmire Creed means using your abilities to try to control the battlefield by keeping opponents in place, buffing yourself, and lowering the toughness of even the strongest foes. They look incredible (I love that their armor is mostly made of reeds and bark), and they're fairly easy to pilot. But what of their foes, the Horns of Hashut?
Who Are The Horns of Hashut In Warcry Heart Of Ghur And How Do They Play?
The Horns of Hashut in Warcry Heart of Ghur serve as the lead attack force for Hashut, also known as the Lord of Darkness. Traditionally worshipped by evil Chaos dwarves, the Horns of Hashut lead the attack before the dwarves move in. Hashut is kind of like a god of industry and ruin, and the Horns of Hashut have come to the Gnarlwood not to search for Talaxis, but to burn the forests to the ground. For them, seeing this lush (though angry) forest is an affront to the open land that could be, land used to build forges for their industrious god.
As fighters, they are capable and able, and most rely on hard-hitting melee attacks on their character profiles. But their special abilities offer them much more flexibility (and the chance to rain down fire and smoke on their enemies). To begin, their warband-specific reaction is called 'Breath of Cinder and Smoke' and you can spend an action to trigger it when an enemy comes within three inches of you. If you roll well, that enemy fighter takes three points of damage, and their strength is lowered by one. Again, this is very cinematic, as you're essentially breathing huge gouts of smoke and cinder at your enemy when they run up on you, blinding them (aka lowering their strength by one) and burning them with the furious heat from your lungs. That's rad, no matter how you slice it.
Their abilities are also all about fury and industry. Warband-wide they can use the ability Merciless Cruelty to roll a crit on a 5+ (instead of a 6) if their target already has five points of damage on them. 'Stampede of Iron' lets them deal damage while moving, and they can throw an Ash Bomb which lowers all enemies' within 3" toughness and attacks characteristics by one. The coolest effect is called "Engulfing Flames of Dark Artifice," which can be used by the model with a flamethrower to deal fiery damage to multiple enemies.
Clad in horned helmets that make them look like beastly Bull-men (they're not, they're human), this warband has an incredibly big personality. They're also way more full of tricks than I would have expected from what I initially thought was a more standard "we are angry dudes" Chaos warband.
What Are Our Final Thoughts On Warcry Heart Of Ghur?
This may be the best box set release Games Workshop has ever put together for Warcry. The warbands are iconic right from the jump and they're diametrically opposed to one another in design, play style, and overall warband ethos. The terrain, while a bit difficult to assemble (those muscled trees take some precision gluing), is evocative, fun to paint and really sets the mood (and there are fun rules for fighting around them). All the dice and other materials are as high quality as you'd expect, and the new rules - especially the reactions - are a bold step forward in the design of the game. I can't put it more plainly, Warcry Heart of Ghur is an absolute triumph for the game, and will continue to propel the Warcry hobby forward.
Should I Buy Warcry Heart of Ghur?
If you're looking to get into Warcry, and have a buddy who's also interested, I can't recommend Warcry Heart of Ghur enough. As stated above, it hits all the marks. If you've already got a warband, I still think this new box set is worth it for updated rules, the fabulous terrain, and two new Chaos warbands that are so fun to play you might just end up setting your Corvus Cabal back on their perch. In the end, if you're looking for a satisfying intro to the game, or looking to inject new action into your existing games of Warcry, you've got to check out Warcry Heart of Ghur.
The copy of Warcry Heart of Ghur used in the creation of this review was provided by Games Workshop.