This is part 2 in a series of strategy articles brought to you by the game’s original designer, Grant Rodiek.
Welcome to the strategy guide for the Pilgrim faction of Cry Havoc. The Pilgrims are the most advanced species on the planet, at least when viewed through the biological lens. They are incredibly powerful, reclusive, and studios of the galaxy. They are merciless scientists who care not for the niceties of the gentler side of the scientific method.
The Pilgrims are the more defensive, Euro style faction to provide players with an alternative to head first warfare, and it’s time to get to know them. Shake not one, not two, not three, but all four hands and settle in for a tutorial.
The Original Inspiration
Back when Cry Havoc was Battle for York, a faux civil war in a Revolutionary France like-state, the Militia existed as a more nefarious, backstabbing faction. They were politically oriented, and used guile and assassination to compensate for their weak militia and battle tactics. The Militia were always the odd ones out, always the ones who didn’t quite have strengths related to warfare, so when Portal decided we needed a faction for the min/max euro players, we knew the Militia were the right fit.
Vive le Trogeaux!
The Pilgrims are in Orbit
In many ways, Cry Havoc is an homage to many of our favorite elements of science fiction, and we needed a clever green men, faction. The Pilgrims are humanoid in some ways, but with their many arms and snake like lower half, we made them a little different so that we had our own faction. They remind me of Greek Medusas, which is always a wonderful source from which to draw inspiration.
We wanted the Pilgrims to feel mysterious to feed into the notion of them being reclusive. The hoods and the almost religious like aura surrounding them, really helped here. The Pilgrims WILL abduct your Units. They WILL use technology that seems like magic in comparison to others. And they’ll disappear just as quickly. I’m very pleased with the thematic implementation of the Pilgrims.
The Strengths of the Pilgrims
Enough poof and world-building, let’s talk about how the Pilgrims will win a game of Cry Havoc, shall we?
Examination is the heart of the Pilgrim point generation engine. Pilgrims may discard a Crystal in their pool, which is a personal supply, to score 1 VP for every remaining Crystal. If left alone, and isolated, a good Pilgrim player can produce an obscene number of points in the final rounds of the game.
How do they get Crystals? Well, by using Harvesters, which feed Crystals into the Pool. At Gen Con, I watched a Pilgrim player activate 3 Harvesters, which add 1 Crystal to the Pool, every Action, each round, for two rounds, and the consequences for the Human and Machine players was truly devastating. To be truly honest, such a strategy should not be viable against competent opponents, but even if firing at a third of that, it’s a strategy that can easily equal or exceed the Human combo of Scouting + Airfields.
Extractor is a great partner to Harvester and is a way to get double duty out of the regions you should be protecting very carefully. As the Pilgrims aren’t as forwardly aggressive as the others, they can use Extractor to add Crystals to Regions that Battles would normally add. But, be careful! If you make a Region too tantalizing, someone will come take it from you.
While the Pilgrims don’t have too many Structures to aid in Combat, they do have Skills to help them. Power Extraction gives the Pilgrims effectively two Units for a Battle Region for the cost of a single Crystal. If the Pilgrims have this, they need to play more aggressively, or take advantage of an easy defensive counter, to take the fight to the enemy.
In fact, a combo of Power Orb and Power Extraction is a great way to bait enemies into a trap. If you leave a Region lightly defended, you can use Power Orb and Power Extraction to fill it with Units, turning a bad situation into a trap. The points you can gain from a successful battle will more than offset the loss in your industrial capacity. Plus, your opponent must face the shame of losing a fight to four handed snake people in kimonos!
Sow the Seeds is an excellent way to make your heartland more valuable, but it’s also a potent diplomatic tool! You can use Sow the Seeds to reward friendly neighbors, or use it to entice others to fight elsewhere. 1 Point (i.e. 1 Crystal) isn’t too high a cost for safe reclusivity. Remember to protect the regions you make more valuable! Do not get lost in your own world!
If you’re playing with Data Extraction, you need to be very aggressive. Data Extraction is a double edged sword that plays perfectly into the Pilgrims ultimate end goal: using examination to farm crystals. Essentially, move forward units, even just one or two, into enemy territories. Using Data Extraction, you’ll make the regions less valuable. You’ll create a border between your valuable regions and industrial complex. You’ll fill your pool with more crystals for Examination or other powers. And, you’ll upset your opponents’ plans with battles they didn’t want. It’s easy to think the Pilgrims are defensive, and they often are! But, if Data Extraction is in play, it’s time to sharpen your telekinetic weapons and roll out. Data Extraction is a beautiful counter to the Machines’ overly defensive strategy or the Humans thinking they can use Airfield and Scouting to profit from regions.
Teleportation is one of my favorite Skills in the game and a hard counter to Scouting. It more than compensates for the Pilgrims lack of movement on their default cards, and allows the Pilgrims to exploit poorly defended flanks, or provide threat to their opponents. Remember, it’s not often about winning the battles for pilgrims. It’s about confusing and distracting your opponents away from your interior industrial complex!
The Triangle of Death (and Science)
In an ideal world, the Pilgrims should strive to create the Triangle of Death (and Science). Never forget the science. With 3 adjacent regions, build 3 Power Orbs in addition to your industrial structures (after the Power Orbs). NEVER RECRUIT! Power Orb is your Recruitment! Dare someone to enter the Triangle of Death (and Science).
If someone enters any of these Regions, spend 3 Wrenches (or, one Mountain) to flood it with units using the Power Orb. And, if you have a spare Wrench, also activate Extractors and such.
The Triangle of Death requires you get assembled quickly. Draw heavily from Mountains and Deserts to cycle your deck. Deserts plus the innate abilities of the Pilgrims mean you should never lack for cards.
Once you have the Triangle of Death (and Science) setup, send your Pilgrim units recklessly into enemy lands to distract them. The Machines will try to use the Orbital Sniper and Shred Drones to weaken you. Shut down their Structures by turning those Regions into Battle Regions. Who cares if you lose one Pilgrim to a prisoner? The Humans will use Airfield and Scouting to try to gain cheap territory. Send Pilgrims there to remove that Control token. Make your opponents pay to keep you away. Why? While they’re fighting your border Units, they aren’t attacking your sacred Triangle!
Remember: Territory Objective control is not that useful for Pilgrims outside of their safe zone (of science, death, etc.). Make your opponents pay dearly for their Territory in Non-Pilgrim blood (or Machine oil) and threaten them with attrition and prisoners. Be the chaos that upsets their plans.
Being first in turn order lets you accomplish this. Don’t lose your initiative to a less advanced foe.
The Weaknesses of the Pilgrims
The Pilgrims don’t have a great deal of Movement or Recruitment in their default Faction deck. While Pulse Wave is a very strong card across the board, there’s only one. Though Telepathic Link does give the Pilgrims an innate draw ability, they will be spending a premium number of cards to Move and Recruit efficiently.
The Pilgrims do not really have Structures that aid them much in Combat, but primarily economics. This mean they do not have Artillery, Shred Drones, or Traps to help augment an unfavorable Battle. Pilgrims really need to rely on Tactics and their innate card draw ability to win battles, as their Structures will not be an asset.
Furthermore, the Pilgrims will be constantly creating a target for themselves. Because they are making their territory so valuable, and because they do not have a good structure for combat, the Pilgrims really need to be careful with their optics and focus their defenses. He who defends everything, defends nothing. If the Pilgrims are spread thin, they will be in a world of trouble.
The Pilgrims are also highly susceptible to pinning moves by aggressors to turn Regions into Battle Regions and prevent them from using their Structures to fuel their engine. Pilgrims may want to prioritize going earlier in a round to use Structures before they can be shut down, OR to move defensive forces into key regions to project force.
In order to protect their industry, Pilgrims will need to be more reckless with their Units. If they aren’t careful, their prisoner toll will be high, and they soon won’t have sufficient Units to continue the fight.
The Pilgrims need to be good table talkers, and they need to speak out of both sides of their mouth. Is that a saying? I think it’s a saying. Players wise to the Pilgrims’ game will know this and will poke at the Pilgrims.
Finally, there are times when the Pilgrims just need a moment alone to execute their grand plan. If their opponents can afford to constantly harass them, even just slightly, the Pilgrims will never quite get into their rhythm. The Pilgrims, like the machines, are a slower, but inevitable force. This means they chafe against the blitzkrieg of the Trogs and Humans.
Pilgrims Strategy Tips
- Pilgrims lack strong cards for Movement and Recruit, so draw cards from there early in the game if needed for your Tactics.
- Create a network of Harvesters to feed the pool and pump Examination for all it’s worth. Having a few Mountains makes this a devastatingly efficient combo.
- Pilgrims should create border regions to protect their highly valuable industrial centers. It’s okay losing forward bases. The key is your engine!
- The best defense is a good offense. Upset your enemies, ever so slightly, before your enemies can upset your plans. Pilgrims need to be the ones dictating the battles, not responding.
- Pilgrims should try to go earlier in turn order to dictate terms to their enemies.
- As the Pilgrim player, you really need to think strategically. Think less about what you’re going to do this turn, more about what you’re going to accomplish this round in order to score big next round.
- Find ways to slow the game. Do not let the “faster” factions end the game sooner!