The Fan

My love affair with Cry Havoc...

I discovered the game through an awesome article written in the magazine Casus Belli back in 1983. This article had actually created a huge enthusiasm among the French wargamer audience. It's probably the reason why the French had been so creative to expand the game over the following 10 years. As far as I'm concerned, I bought the first 2 games (Cry Havoc and Siege) just one month later during a trip to Paris (at that time, the Standard Game edition with a simple type written translation into French that could only be found in one shop in Paris). I started to write a booklet of rules for tournaments based on the life of William the Marshall. It has never been published but I still have a paper copy of it.

I then had to wait 4 years to buy Croisades back in 1987 with its 2 sequels (the Castle and City extensions). Frankly speaking, the strategic game never got my endorsement: it was too complex and with very limited gameplay. I almost only played the tactical game with its revised, deeper rules that really rocked. As this period is one of my favorites, I started to design new characters to represent historical figures like Renaud de Chatillon, Onfroy de Toron, Saracens, camel-mounted Arabs and more. I also hand-drew a very nice "Caravanserai" map.

Vikings was still 5 years down the road but was really worth the wait : the ship rules and outstanding coastal maps deserved two thumbs up. In the following year, I wrote the Montjoie rule booklet and Robin Hood campaign (1993). I then published the Byzance medieval ship rules. I hand-drew 3 large medieval boats and created a Fortified Harbor extension compatible with the Fortified City, to replace Eurogames' official one that was never released (until very recently...). I also wrote a few additional rules for Viking ships with a scenario that were never published and started a series of 10 ship-based scenarios with historical background that was never completed. At that time, we were in 1996 and after 13 years of playing almost exclusively the Cry Havoc games, I switched to PC games with Lords of The Realm II. Just like anybody, I played the Age of Empires/Age of Kings series (but by-passed Age of Mythology). Over the last years, I've been a die-hard fan of Medieval: Total War (versions I and II).

Interesting enough, I uncovered my old Cry Havoc boxes for the first time since 1996 in November 2003 to show them to my (then) 11-year old son: he insisted to use the maps for his Warhammer and Lord of The Rings figures but I refused: I still love this game and doesn't want him to destroy them...

In 2003, the works of Bob Gingell, an English scholar, was posted on the web site of Alex Henderson: He had translated and adapted all the Cry Havoc material available in French. This reignited my interest for the game and I then found a Yahoo forum that helped me realize that there was still an active community of English-speaking players. I quickly created an equivalent forum for the French community as France is the country where the game had been the most successful. After a couple of months of active exchanges with a growing number of fans, I decided to create the Cry Havoc Fan website to share my various old creations with the community. To be really global in scope, the site was made bilingual (French and English) to reach out to the largest base of players. These original maps have been grouped in extensions with varied themes, like the Caravanserai, Nefs & Galleys, the Welsh Castle and more.

Three months later, a new version of the site was released with the desire to become the definitive web site for anything related to this outstanding game: Detailed presentation of each game of the series, new extensions (from me or other community members), On Line versions (be it CyberBoard or Vassal) and other materials created by various people.

I met later on with Philippe Gaillard, owner of a publishing company named Historic’One and former author of Cry Havoc maps and scenarios published in Claymore in the 90’s. Philippe partners with professional printers and we decided to publish the original maps I had created in the Shoppe.

For several years, I have been trying to contact Duccio Vitale, the designer of the French versions of the various games who significantly enhanced the gameplay and gave Cry Havoc its international exposure. Contact was finally made in 2008 and a lot of background information was made available, especially related to the last installments that never got published due to technical and economical reasons: Dragon Noir 3 and the Fortified Harbor. Duccio sent me the original artwork for the four maps of the latter as well as the various Viking and Saxon characters that were planned to come with the boxed game. Philippe Gaillard and I have been assembling the various elements over the last year and are now pleased to propose them in the Shoppe. These are real collector items for those people that have been waiting for them for so long.

The Shoppe now also includes counters of 14th Century men-at-arms that were designed by Florent Vincent, an illustrator that contributes regularly to Historic’One publications. These counters are intended to be used for an extension called Chevauchées (Horse Raiders) that will mix tactical and strategic aspects.

The Magna Carta is another initiative in process to keep Cry Havoc enthusiasts excited. Its ambition is to organize and rationalize all the rules published so far, be it in the official boxes or the numerous extensions and scenarios that were released over time. A semi-final version of 160 pages was released in French last summer, but the English translation is a huge undertaking that is in the works.

Passion is a wonderful engine to restore the interest of the gaming community about a game based on rich and awesome, hand-made artworks that no computer-generated graphics will ever match. Hundreds of old fans are contributing on a regular basis to the forum of Cry Havoc Fan, which proves that almost thirty years later, the energy is still intact.

I'm quite pleased with the echo that Cry Havoc Fan has been generating so far when I look at the number of sites referencing it. Recently, printed magazines commented on my work as well, be it Vae Victis [abstract] or Battles Magazine [abstract].