The second “season” of Warcry, Games Workshop‘s skirmish game set in the Age of Sigmar, har arrived, and along with it a brand new starter set called Warcry Catacombs. This is our Warcry Catacombs review!
Catacombs features a brand new way of playing Warcry: Battles can now take place underground in tight corridors with doors, traps and lava pits to jump across. But the new starter set also features two new warbands, scenery for regular battles, and everything else you need to play Warcry.
In this review, we take a look at what the new box set has to offer, and discuss whether the new Dungeon Battles offer something that’s worth adding to your Warcry campaigns.
What’s in the Warcry Catacombs box?
Warcry Catacombs contains:
- The Warcry Core Book
- a Warcry Catacombs book
- a double-sided game board
- scenery for Dungeon Battles
- scenery for regular battles (about half of the scenery from the original Warcry starter set)
- the Scions of the Flame warband
- the Khainite Shadowstalkers warband
- dice, cards, rulers and tokens for playing the game
It’s really great that the box includes the Core Book, since that isn’t always the case with new box sets for GW’s boxed games (looking at you, Kill Team: Pariah Nexus!), and that you can also play regular above ground battles with this set. It’s definitely not just an expansion, but an actual starter set for Warcry.
All the paraphenalia such as dice and tokens are of the same great quality as that in the original Warcry starter set.
I must admit I’m not a big fan of the design of the doors and gateways for the Dungeon Battles. I guess it’s supposed to evoke nostalgia for the design of the old Warhammer Quest games, but I think those big flat skulls just look out of place in the Warcry setting’s more realistic, post-apocalyptic, weathered look. The other scenery elements, such as the weapons pile, the sewer gate and the coffins look great, though, as does everything else on the sprues in the box.
The Warbands in Warcry Catacombs
The two new warbands are pretty amazing:
The Scions of the Flame were first teased in the original Core Book, and it’s great that they’re finally here. They’re no disappointment, either: as fire-worshippers, they can deal a lot of damage, their Leader has good synergies with his followers, and the champions are useful in each their own way. They also look spectacular, with many different textures on each model and a kind of leather armour we haven’t seen on the other Chaos warbands.
You can read our guide for the Scions of Flame warband here.
The Khainite Shadowstalkers are the first non-Chaos warband to be designed specifically for Warcry (ie they weren’t already a unit for the Age of Sigmar tabletop game), and they offer a more movement-focused playstyle than the Scions, which works well in Dungeon Battles.
They are also more fragile than the Scions, but they have plenty of ranged weapons and some terrifying abilities, so if you’re up for a tactical challenge, the Shadowstalkers are a great new addition to the Warcry family.
You can find our guide to the Khainite Shadowstalkers warband here.
Dungeon Battles in Catacombs
The most interesting new feature in the Warcry Catacombs box set is definitely the new game mode, Dungeon Battles.
These battles take place on the new Dungeon Battlefields, of which one is available in the box.
You still create your warbands as you usually do, as well as generate a battleplan from a new battleplan generator included in the book, but then things start getting interesting: while bridges are setup in the same way on your battlefield every time, the players take turns setting up the rest of the scenery such as doors and dungeon features (an arms stash, for example) piece by piece.
This means that while there was a lot of interaction with scenery in the original Warcry rules, such as falling damage and various restrictions for specific fighter types, the interaction is much more tactical and deliberate in Catacombs.
Most of the dungeon features have unique rules: The arms stash gives a bonus to Attacks characteristics, the lever can open sealed doors, the sewer is an additional place for you to deploy fighters and so on. While this does require both players to know these rules really well, it adds even more tension and strategy to the battlefield setup, and once all the scenery has been placed, you also have a battlefield with more character than a regular Warcry battlefield.
Deployment is also a bit different in Dungeon Battles:
You setup two battle groups for the first round, and then the last group arrives in the third battle round, which means that a Dungeon Battle is essentially played in two phases, before and after the beginning of the third round.
A new set of Universal Abilities have been added to Dungeon Battles as well, allowing fighters to become temporarily invisible, breach doors and push other fighters into pits. In addition, the Corvus Cabal and Nighthaunt Gheistgales have also received new abilities to use in Dungeon Battles to make up for the fact that their reliance on vertical scenery and flying isn’t as usual in the mostly horizontal Dungeon Battles as it usually is in Warcry.
The new abilities, the Dungeon Battlefields and the unique scenery rules really is a breath of fresh air for Warcry:
They force you to think about your positioning in a whole new way, as being just a couple of inches further to one side in a dungeon room can completely change your options. Maybe you can suddenly have more Attacks from the arms stash, force an enemy fighter into a corner where you can push them into a pit, or the bridge you’re standing on might collapse!
It’s worth noting, however, that the pre-designed rooms of the Dungeon Battlefields mean that these battlefields don’t have the same kind of endless replayability or modularity as regular Warcry battlefields, and for that reason alone, I don’t think Dungeon Battles will become as popular as regular battles.
The additional battlefields available for you to buy are also too expensive for my taste, and I don’t think Games Workshop is going to produce more of them. Also, it is somewhat a shame that you only get one map for the dungeon battles and then the same old map from the Warcry Starter Set set in this box.
This means that I think the main use for Dungeon Battles will be as an injection of variety into Warcry campaigns around the world, and for that, they’re great. The Catacombs book also contains new campaigns and Fated Quests, but since Tome of Champions 2020 was released, I think the new Soroth Kor campaign is a much better way of playing campaign games of Warcry.
Should you buy the Catacombs starter set? My Warcry Catacombs Review verdict
The Warcry Catacombs starter set is a great new starter set, but that’s not just because of the new Dungeon Battles, which are very fun, but also a closed system that doesn’t add anything to regular battles of Warcry. It’s a great starter set because it also contains everything you need to play regular Warcry games, including the rulebook and scenery for surface battles, as well as two really cool new warbands.
So for new players that do not have anything, the Catacombs set seems on par with the Warcry Starter. It basically comes down to what warbands you want most.
As an expansion for current Warcry players that have the normal starter set, this is less ideal. You get duplicates of terrain you already have and you only get one new map you do not have.
If you’re not interested in the new warbands or the Dungeon Battles, I can’t recommend buying Catacombs, precisely because it doesn’t add new rules to the rest of the game. The Core Book and Tome of Champions 2020, as well as the Battletomes for your warbands, is still the most important books for playing Warcry, with Catacombs being a fun, but entirely optional, addition to that lineup.
So either get if you got no Warcry warbands or terrain, or if you really want dungeons battles or both of the warbands in the set.