AoS Shorts: Your Essential Guide to Age of Sigmar


Warcry: Skirmish Combat in the Mortal Realms

What is Warcry?

Warcry is a “Skirmish” level gaming system for the Mortal Realms featured in the Age of Sigmar setting. The game focuses on “warbands” of warriors from every culture and walk of life in the Mortal Realms, each with their own goals, tactics and aspirations.

The initial setting of Warcry is the Eightpoints, a sub-realm that all realms lead to. Specifically, a section of this landscape known as the Bloodwind Spoil. The Spoil features the harshest landscapes, wildlife and cultures so far seen in the Age of Sigmar setting, everything living here wants to either kill, eat or enslave everything else.

Masters of metalworking collide with pain-worshipers and death cultists in a land where the very ground is lethal.

Games Workshop have however made it clear that the game can expand beyond this setting, an encouragement for players to branch out and a hint at content to come.

Is “Skirmish Combat” For Me?

Skirmish Combat reduces the scale of gameplay seen in larger tabletop games, but maintains all of its scope. Warbands are made of groups of 5-10 models on average, but the interactions between them are far more intimate, cinematic and significant than what you would see between a clash of armies. Climbing, jumping, falling and more, all have rules interactions and outcomes in this system.

Untamed Beasts and the Iron Golem desperately seek to destroy one another, while nature intervenes.

A strong appeal in Warcry is the game length with regards to time. “Fast-paced Skirmish gameplay” isn’t just a slogan, it’s a real selling point. The average game takes between 25 and 45 minutes, and can be shortened or expanded easily depending on what the players want from the game.

By putting two boards together, Warcry players can enjoy a game of Triumph and Treachery with 4 players.

Terrain and board size are quite different. The base table size is 22″ by 30″, which means it fits snugly on a kitchen table. Terrain is condensed, and the game heavily rewards using a large variety of terrain.

What’s a “Warband”?

The warbands are what define Warcry. These groups very from deranged cultists to savage beasts, from noble paladins of Order to the dead themselves. Almost every army in Age of Sigmar is represented in Warcry with their own unique rules, tactics and list building options.

Duncan Rhodes’ Iron Golems warband.

When the game released, it came out alongside a range of six groups of warriors specifically designed for the game, with two more for that set released over time to represent seven Mortal Realms and the Eightpoints itself. These warbands all come with their rules, ability cards and a reasonably powerful warband straight of the box, guides for each can be found down below.

How Do I Play Warcry?

The golden question. Fortunately Games Workshop did for Warcry what they have been doing for a variety of their games and created a how-to-play guide, featuring the wonderful Becca Scott.

I’ve found that when paired with a quick read of the rules for the nuances, this video can teach ANYONE how to play the game.

Of course the best teacher is experience, and as Warcry’s popularity continues to grow practice will be easy to come by.

How Can I Get Started?

The best way to get started with Warcry is one of the boxed warbands. They come with models, cards and abilities that let you play straight out of the box. But which is the best for you?

Fortunately, we have a series of warband guides on the initial Warcry warbands released with the game’s first starter set.

Runemarks of the first six warbands to be released.

But I Already Have an Age of Sigmar Army…

Well then by now you’ve probably noticed the card packs Games Workshop seem to be selling for Warcry. One of these card packs exists for every army with a battletome in Age of Sigmar, except Cities of Sigmar. If you have a diverse enough range of models from a single army, these are a good start.

Image result for warcry card packs

A pack of cards contains all the playable options from a given warband, excluding any potential allies (more on those later). For example, with Sylvaneth…

Available fighter types of the Sylvaneth, Children of Alarielle.

Three measly fighters? Surely a jest!

Just kidding, the Sylvaneth set of cards comes with more than almost any other force because every weapon option and choice for each of the above is represented with it’s own individual card. The card packs are a fantastic resource if you’re looking to dip your toe into the game.

What Do I Need to Play?

Like any tabletop game, to get up and running Warcry requires a few things. At the very least you will need…

  • A Warband
  • Rules cards and ability card for your warband
  • Measuring tape and at least 12 six-sided dice

This is all you will need to play if you’re popping in to a local Games Workshop or similar Games Store.

If you’re looking to host games at home, it’s a smart idea to look into the Warcry Starter Set. This contains a board and enough terrain to fill it, as well as the scenario cards and tons of dice and measuring tools.

Image result for warcry starter set

What are these “Scenario Cards” and so on?

Ah yes, Warcry has the ability to generate it’s scenarios and gameplay modes from a set of cards. This enables endless variation if the players choose. These can be picked up from Games Workshop and Local Games Stores, or in the Warcry Starter Set. Included are…

  • Deployment Cards – 36 different deployments for games between two players.
  • Victory Cards – 36 different victory conditions and goals to determine a victor.
  • Twist Cards – 36 special rules that add a “twist” to the game. These can be effects like modifying the stats of all fighters and weather conditions.
The current generation of Warcry Battleplan Cards.

These cards bring a degree of randomosity that ensures Warcry is always different and unpredictable. However, unpredictability is not up every player’s alley. Some players like the thrill of even contest between two equals on an even playing field. For them there is…

The Tome of Champions

Like the General’s Handbook for Age of Sigmar and the Chapter Approved for Warhammer 40k, Warcry packs it’s very own Matched Play Guide in the Tome of Champions.

The 2019 edition of the Tome of Champions is the most recent edition at time of publishing.

The Tome fulfills multiple purposes, not unlike the General’s Handbook and Chapter Approved resources for other other systems. Within its confines are…

  • Warband Cards of every warband released over the previous year
  • New Campaigns that any Warband can embark on
  • Campaigns for the upcoming year’s Warband card releases
  • Fun “Scenario” encounters for players to take on mid-campaign
  • Matched Play scenarios designed for a balanced competitive experience
  • “Trial of Champions” campaign variant for ongoing campaigns among friends
  • A guide for running Matched Play and Escalation Tournaments

What a trove. The General’s Handbook comes packaged with “filler” content few players engage with like siege battles and sky battles. However, the Warcry Tome of Champions packs content for every aspect of Warcry that people ALREADY engage with.

If you’re already having a great time with Warcry, the Tome of Champions is a solid supplement to your games.

“Campaigns” Keep Coming Up, What Are They?

A Campaign is something very near the heart of what makes Warcry special. Progression Campaigns are something Games Workshop has tried their hand at with Path to Glory (something they continue to put into every battletome), but has rarely hit the mark with outside of their Skirmish level games.

Each and every warband that has a box or a set of cards has a campaign, and these can be found in the Core Rules and the Tome of Champions. They’re split between both, but if you’re playing Campaigns you’ll have both by now anyway.

One of the two Cypher Lords-specific Campaigns that can be found in the Core Rules, courtesy of Warhammer Community.

Essentially, a Campaign is where your warband grows in experience, equipment or even numbers as they win or lose battles. Territories can be gained and lost and rare artefacts of power can be acquired. Friends can wage war over cities or whole continents.

Isn’t That a Lot of Admin?

Yeah you would think that right? How are a group of people meant to keep track of all of their accomplishments with and against each other? How are they meant to enjoy regular games when they have to play only when each other is free?

Simple, they don’t.

Games Workshop cracked the code, and took the “everyone else” out of Campaign tracking. In Warcry, your game outcomes only matter for YOUR warband. The Campaign is a way of tracking YOUR warband’s progression on it;s journey, how you frame it against your friends is purely up to you.

A warband of Iron Golems prepare for the next battle of their Campaign.

Games against your fellow campaigners count to your campaign. Games played at the local store against total strangers count to your campaign. The system is robust enough that all players in a local group can be playing against each other and anyone else and still enjoy a narrative experience together.

How Does That Work?

Easy, play games. After each game, win or lose (in most cases) you advance on your campaign. Exceptions to this rule are the Convergence Battles noted on your Campaign Map. These follow a specific terrain setup and win condition, and to advance past them you must win them.

An Untamed Beasts Convergence Battle from one of their two available Campaigns in the Core Rules.

In the Core Rules and Tome of Champions there is something called the “Aftermath Sequence”, and once the game is played to a conclusion both players do their Aftermath Sequence to determine the outcomes of the game for the Campaign.

Glory Points are earned for deeds in the game, such as killing the enemy leader or simply winning or losing. The Glory Points can be spent on…

  • Dominating Territory – Seizing territory has different effects per warband, but usually it lets you increase the points limit of your warband.
  • Reinforcements – If you have less dominated territory than your opponent, before a game you can spend glory to get some extra fighters and even the playing field.
  • Search Rolls – When you roll to see what artefact you find after a game, you can spend glory points to reroll this roll once made.

“It’s Just a Flesh Wound”

If a fighter was taken down in the battle, they need to make an Injury Roll in the Aftermath Sequence. You roll 2D6, and on a 6+ they make a full recovery. On a 4-5 they lose a Destiny Level, and on a 2-3 they are Slain!

Slain models are removed from the warband roster, and you will need to recruit a replacement by spending some Glory.

But What is a Destiny Level?

Destiny Levels represent a fighter’s favor in the eyes of their chosen God. In the Aftermath Sequence a dice is rolled for every fighter who was NOT taken down, and on a 6 they gain a Destiny Level.

A fighter can reach up to 3 Destiny Levels, and their use is very simple. In a game, a fighter with a Destiny Level available can spend it to reroll one dice in an attack action. They can do this as many times in a game as they have Destiny Levels.

Beware the favor of the Chaos Gods, not every boon is a blessing…

For example, the leader of my warband, a Domitar of the Iron Golems, has 2 Destiny Levels. I can reroll up to 2 dice over the course of a single game from his attack rolls.

You Mentioned Artefacts?

If there’s one thing Wargamers and ruthless killers of the Bloodwind Spoil have in common, it’s a love for new shiny things. After each campaign battle in the Aftermath Sequence, win or lose, you can roll on the Lesser Artefact Table.

Iron Golems favor function over form. Their equipment is hard-wrought and effective.

The player rolls a D66 (this is where you roll one dice, which is value in 10s, and then another dice, which is value in 1s) and consults the table. The artefacts come in one of two flavors, Perishable and Consumable.

  • Perishable – After each game roll a dice for each Perishable artefact you control, on a 1-3 the artefact crumbles/disappears/wanders off and is removed from your warband.
  • Consumable – These are one-use artefacts, not unlike a health potion (some literally are health potions), you use these in-game and once used they vanish.

Beyond the Lesser Artefacts, players can acquire Artefacts specific to their faction from progressing in Campaigns, and finishing a Campaign can even unlock a super-powerful Greater Artefact for use in your NEXT campaign…

But Where to From There?

Where indeed? Warcry is only growing, with more adventures entering the Eightpoints every day in search of glory. There’s never been a better time to assemble your warband, brush up on the rules and strike out against your enemies (and your friends!).

Archaon gathers his faithful, the master of the Eightpoints rides at the head of his host.

Stop by any one of the Warband Guides to get an idea on what warband best suites your style, whip up some terrain and sound the clarion call to battle.

Glory awaits!