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Warcry Beginner’s Guide

Warcry is a skirmish game for 2 or more players set in the Mortal Realm, Warhammer Age of Sigmar iconic setting. This a Warcry Beginners Guide if you are completely new to the game. Feel free to refer you friends to this guide, if you are trying to get them into the game (and they have no clue what you are talking about).

Warcry is easy to start playing, fast and brutal. Traditionally it is played between 2 players but browsing online the rules are easily adapted for solo games.

In particular I recommend 2+Tough tutorial on YouTube. While the video was done for the first release of Warcry, most of its content is still relevant. You can now consult for free the updated rule set from the Warhammer Community website, together with the updates to all warbands from the first season.

The trademark three play styles of Age of Sigmar are available also in Warcry: the Matched Play is the more competitive focussed (and balanced), the Narrative puts your warband at the centre of the action by creating a story around their exploits, and Open Play is the more flexible allowing also multi-player games.

This guide will briefly describe all 3 modalities, but the main focus is on starting to play for which rules are essential and Narrative play represents the natural way. For more material related to the game consult the rest of the material in this site.

We have also made a guide for each Warband in the game.

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What do you need to play?

The first and most important thing that you need is a warband. As of December 2022, there are 48 warbands available for the game, 16 made specifically for this game with brand new and unique models, the rest derived from existing Age of Sigmar armies. Every warband plays uniquely so you will need to find which suits best your playstyle.

Are you more of a visual person? This guide is also in a video format here:

YouTube video

To play a warband you will need the fighter cards

The cards for each warband will give the overall abilities for the warband and the “fighter cards” for each fighter you can get in the warband. They are essential to build are play the warband.

The cards that came out originally have not been reprinted in the card format, but you can find the latest version, together with the rulebook, in the Warhammer Community website or if you prefer paper you can purchase the Warcry Compendium.

If you want a preview of the various cards, you can check out my big list of warcry warband here.

All new original warbands have their own cards in their box, but only those specifically created for this season in Ghur, so check carefully the description of the content. The previous season warbands have all been repackaged but don’t have cards in the new box.

To play Warcry you will need the core rules

The next thing you need is the rules. You can watch some videos online to get a better grasp of the game. They are extremely easy to understand and we will discuss the main ones in a quick summary below.

However, to get in depth on the mechanisms of the game, is highly recommended to buy or borrow from a friend the Core Book. As part of the rules you will also need the Battleplan cards. While you can improvise in friendly games the setting and objectives, an important part of the game is the randomization available through those cards. Today battleplan cards are only available in the boxed sets with the relevant scenery, but in the narrative books you’ll find enough customization to set your own tables.

Mat, Terrain, Dice and Ruler

To play you will need also a suitable area covered by a mat or board and some scenery. Anything can do, but Games Workshop sells different sets with suitable gameboards, tokens, scenery and rules to play in that environment. You can check my guide to getting some terrain and a board for warcry here

And of course, you need dice (at least 7 but better 11 D6 per player ) and a ruler (just something that can measure inches).

Quick summary of core rules of Warcry

Now that you got all that you need, you are ready to start playing. In this section we are going to see at a quick glance the main core rules. Warhammer Community also posted a quick video guide.

Each fighter is associated to a card that determines his characteristics. A rune system (symbols on the card) determines to which warband he belongs to or if he can ally / be used in another warband and any extra ability that he has access to.

The abilities he can use will depend on the warband he belongs to. Each rune will be associated with a set. In the card, there is also the cost in points of that fighter. In a matched play the sum of all your fighters cannot exceed 1000 points (in campaign games you can get more points than that).

A warband needs a leader, and that should be the first one you choose. Some warbands are limited in this choice but many others have lots of options. Leaders usually have special abilities that represent the play style of that warband. For example, a Nighthaunt leader can resurrect dead fighters, while a Khorne one can increase the number of attacks of friendly fighters, and so on.

There are different ways to set up a battlefield depending on the type of play, but generally, you will choose between 4 different sets of cards: the first one determines how to set the terrain, the second how the fighters will be deployed, the third what are the victory conditions and the last one can add a twist, either bonus or malus to either team.

During the deploy you will need to position your fighters depending on the group you have associated them with at the start of the game: Dagger, Shield and Hammer. Each group needs to be equally distributed so that if you have 9 fighters, each group would include 3 of them. These groups will become important during the deploy and for certain victory conditions.

The game is composed of different battle rounds (normally 4), each one starting with the hero phase. At this stage, each player rolls 6 dice and count how many matching dice they have. Any die that is not paired with any other is called Single. Whoever has the most Singles, wins the initiative and decides who will start in this battle round. If the two players have the same number of Singles they have to roll off (throw one dice each) and the highest value wins.

Every other matched dice is counted to form a Double (two dice with the same value), Triple (three dice with the same value) or Quad (four dice with the same value). These dice can be used to activate abilities. Each ability has a minimum cost and the value of those dice represent the value of that ability. For example, there are 5 Universal Abilities that can be used by any fighter:

  1. Rush (Double): Add 1 to the Move characteristic of this fighter until the end of the battle round.
  2. Onslaught (Double): Add 1 to the melee Attack characteristic of this fighter until the end of their activation.
  3. Respite (Triple): If there’s no enemy fighter within 1” of this model, you can remove as many wound counters as the value of this ability.
  4. Inspiring Presence (Triple, leaders only): Choose a fighter within 6” of the leader that has not activated yet, this model will activate immediately after the leader.
  5. Rampage (Quad): Perform a bonus move action and then a bonus attack action.

Each turn you accrue a wild dice that you can decide to store for a later turn or to add to an existing combination of dice (either as a Single to increase your number of Singles and secure initiative or to upgrade a combo: from a Single to a Double, and so on). It is not possible to use more than one wild dice on the same combo (for example transforming a Double into a Quad). The wild dice are used first by whoever won the initiative and then by the other player. It is possible to seize the initiative if the number of Singles changes after this assignation. In that case whoever has the most Singles wins the initiative, in case of parity (and there was no parity earlier) the players roll off.

The rest of the game develops as a “I go, you go” game, where players alternate choosing a fighter at a time. Each fighter has 4 actions available to him: Move, Attack, Disengage and Wait.

  1. Move is used to perform movements, there are special rules for climbing terrain or moving through features like doors or archways but simply put, a fighter can move X inches each action where X is the value of his Move characteristic (plus or minus any modifier applied).
  2. Disengage is an action that can be performed only when the fighter is within 1” from one or more enemy models (move actions in that case cannot be performed). That fighter then tries to move 3” away by remaining more than 1” away from any enemy fighter. If that is not possible, then this action cannot be used.
  3. Wait can be used as the first action to skip a turn and re-activate the same fighter at a later moment for his last action or can be used as the second action simply to terminate the activation.
  4. Attack is the action used to perform damage against enemy models. Any model has one or more weapon profiles, those contain the Range (how far you can hit an enemy), the number of Attacks, Strength and Damage (on a normal hit and on a critical hit). When attacking an enemy verify it is visible and within range of that weapon, roll as many dice as the Attack value, then compare the Strength value of that weapon against the Toughness value of the enemy model.
    If the two values are the same, every 4+ (meaning a dice with a value of 4 or more) will result in a hit, if Strength is higher then it will hit on a 3+, while if Strength is less it will hit on a 5+. A 6 is always a critical hit.

Sum all damage depending on if it was a normal or critical hit and that is how many wound tokens have to be applied to the enemy model. If the result brings the opponent to a Wound value of 0 or less, then it is removed from play.

Before, between or after the two actions it is possible to play one and only one ability by using the Double, Triple or Quad rolled during the hero phase. Once used a combo cannot be reused. If any combo is not used before the end of the battle round, then it’s lost. If the fighter is the last surviving one of his warband he can use as many abilities as he can.

A new type of ability has been introduced in the new season: the Reaction. This is used during the enemy turn in reaction to something they are performing, for example a declaration of attack, a movement, etc. To use it, the fighter reacting needs to have at least one action available that round (either having never activated or used wait as the first action), and he forfeits an action for that round, meaning the next time you activate, that fighter has one less action to perform. You can use up to 2 reactions per turn, but then you can’t activate that fighter.

There are three universal reactions, but every warband has its own:

  • Counter: to be selected during a melee attack but before the hit roll. For every miss, the attacker is allocated 1 damage, for every 1 rolled, he is allocated 2 damage points instead.
  • Take Cover: to be selected when in cover during a missile attack but before the hit roll. For every critical hit, roll a dice and on a 4+ treat it as a normal hit instead.
  • Strike Them Down: to be selected when an enemy does a disengage action. Roll a dice and on a 4+ allocate D6 damage to the disengaging fighter.

Players keep alternating activating one new fighter each time until all have been activated. If a player finishes before the other, then it will pass and let the other continue with his remaining models. Once all fighters have completed their actions, you can start a new battle round and roll initiative again.

These are the core rules, for more details we recommend consulting the Core Book as it contains also rules for some warbands campaigns.

Open Play in Warcry

The first of the play types available is Open Play. This game, as the name suggests, introduces new rules and is wide open to different ways to play the game. Its main purpose is to try something different not to create the most balanced game possible. In the new season, the Core Book reiterates on the successful multiplayer games where multiple warbands meet together on the battlefield for a free for all match.

Overall, this is the modality you want to use if you want to tweak rules or play with more friends at the same time.

Narrative Play in Warcry

Narrative Play is the pinnacle of playing Warcry. It is where every kill that you make, every model that you lose, every win and every loss creates a story: your story.

In this site we already have a comprehensive guide on creating a campaign. So, this section will only concentrate on a brief summary of what Narrative means. To get in more details please refer to the link above.

Narrative means building a story around your warband. Every battle you win (or lose) will give you glory points that you can use for different upgrades. You will also be able to place your encampment in specific locations and relocate occasionally. Each location provides a bonus and a chance to field more fighters.

If you are familiar with the first season of Warcry, narrative campaigns now act much differently. First of all, you now have to choose a quest. A quest will provide a bonus after completing it, from artefacts to heroic traits or special locations. The campaigns as such, are now not individual any more and will specify how many players should be involved and the objectives of each.

Taming a monster to add to your roster is also a quest now, to be completed after reaching the required progress and fighting the beast in a bloody match not for the faint of heart.

Matched Play in Warcry

The Matched Play is the type of play mostly used in tournaments (outside of escalation tournaments that are a hybrid with some campaign features in it). For this reason, the scenarios are a little bit more balanced and there are only 6 battle plans available, often changed every year. These replace the deployment and victory cards in the normal set up. You still need to draw terrain and twist (unless already set up by the tournament organizer).

These battle plans can be roughly split into 4 categories:

  1. Objective: those require controlling objectives. These scenarios require board control with strong units able to remove the weaker opponents from objectives and horde units to swarm and take over them. Remember that whoever has more fighters in range controls the objective at the end of the battle round so numerous warbands have a slight advantage.
  2. Murder: these involve killing particular units, battle groups or simply more than your opponent. Here strong elite warbands have a slight advantage as they usually withstand more hits and punch back hard. However slow warbands may struggle to reach their targets in time and on the other side, they represent easier targets as the enemy can concentrate on fewer models.
  3. Treasure: these involve carrying treasures by the end of the match. Treasures involve spending a move action to end at least within 1” and trying to survive the longest possible while holding it. A fighter taken down drops the treasure and another fighter can pick it up the same way. These scenarios are similar to objective based scenarios, but they favour quick warbands able to grab the treasure and run away as fast as possible. Horde units able to screen the carrier and delay the opponents are a viable strategy. Or you could just assign it to your strongest unit and dare your opponent to take it from you.

Matched Play is a lot of fun, but nothing prevents you from playing Matched games as part of a Campaign combining the two types of games and satisfying different players taste at the same time.

Based on the description of the scenarios above you will need to decide carefully how to create your warband playing to your strength. Certain warbands allow for multiple ways to play so you can even try different things until you find the one that fits you best. The core concept is that elite fighters are good for murdering and preventing access to certain areas by guarding them. Horde units are good for taking objectives, swarming your opponent board and screening other vital units but are weak and they can be easily killed two at a time by a single fighter.

I hope this gives you a fair understanding of the game and do not hesitate to hit me up for more questions or other topics that you want to explore at a later stage.