Note: This preview uses pre-release components and rules. What you see here may be different from the final, published game.
Daily Magic Games’ next game, Horizons, is now on Kickstarter. Yay! Another game from one of my favorite publishers, Daily Magic Games!
<insert awful attempts at witty and/or snarky tie ins to games you have probably never played, basically dragging out the time it takes to get to what you care about – what is the game and what is it like>
Horizons is an area control game set in unexplored space. Players attempt to explore, adapt, and inhabit this uncharted region of the universe. They are also utilizing the assistance of alien allies to simultaneously control the newfound star systems while completing secret objectives.
The first player will select two actions from a pool of five available actions. The same action can be used twice.
The five actions are:
- Explore – Add a planet to one of the star systems (also gain one victory point (VP) chip). This is the only way to get more planets on the board.
- Adapt – Give yourself the ability to construct a structure on one of the six types of planets in the game (also gain one ally card).
- Build – Construct one structure (a collector or a colony) on any planet the player has adapted. Collectors provide resources (energy or ore) depending on the type of collector. Colonies provide more victory points. Each planet type has their own specific costs to build, and might only take one type of collector.
- Harvest – Collect one resource from each collector that you have built.
- Conspire – Draw two mission cards or one mission card and one ally.
Players can utilize one ally per action (usually one that goes along with that action) at any point during their action as well. Allies will grant a special ability that can be used twice before it’s returned or removed from the game.
After taking two actions, play passes to the left. This will repeat until one player has built all five colonies. The game ends immediately and the player with the most points, calculated by adding points from controlling star systems, completed missions, and from VP chips, is declared the supreme ruler of that tiny corner of the cosmos.
Horizons has a lot going for it. I like how the star systems are created and that players need to adapt to the six types of planets before being able to build structures on those planets. Everyone starts the game by randomly drawing and placing one planet (all planets are double-sided so there is a decision to be made) on a star system. Players can then adapt to one of the planet types in play.
I enjoyed trying to determine where and how to grow my empire. Certain planets can only have energy collectors, while others can only have metal collectors (the two resources in the game). Some can have both. The costs of these collectors, as well as the colonies, vary by planet type. Each player only has five of each structure type and once a structure is built it cannot be moved, so deciding when and where to build is very important. The player with the most structures (collectors count as one structure while each colony counts as two structures) in a star system will earn six points, with second place getting three.
Mission cards can also influence what type of planets a player wants to control and place. Some cards will give end game bonuses for being on the same type of planets. Others give bonuses just for completely dominating one planet (there are three spaces on every planet for collectors and/or colonies). Still others give points for having the same type of planet in one star system (the game adds one star system per player with a max of six planets per star system).
Turns can go very quick, but that does not mean the game doesn’t have a lot of choices. It is a very tactical game. There are no negative points for uncompleted missions and the conspire action allows players to cycle through missions to find the ones they will be able to complete (the card limit is five mission cards and five allies card max). Also, determining when to best use an ally card is important. Each race is tied to one of the five actions, so when that action is performed, if a player has an ally card that matches the action chosen, that ally can be activated for its special power. These abilities cannot be spammed because each ally card can only be used twice before it is returned to the bottom of the appropriate ally stack.
This game is a balancing act between going for area control vs. improving my species with adaptation and allies vs. trying to complete my missions and it is a balancing act that I found entertaining. It is a very tight game, so players who do not take advantage of opportunities will find themselves falling behind.
The only minor issue I found was scaling. The only changes for the two player game are that only the winner of the star system earns points and one mission card is removed from the game because it is impossible to complete. To be honest, I found several cards almost impossible to complete because of their requirements. The mission cards do not scale based on player count, so some of the missions centered around having a certain number of planets are MUCH more difficult to complete in a two player game because it will only have twelve total planets while a four player game will have twenty-four. Hopefully this will be addressed before the game goes into final production. I am confident it will fund!
UPDATE: Daily Magic Games says that they will be labeling missions for player count, so hopefully this solves this issue.
I enjoyed playing Horizons, especially with three and four players. I loved trying to balance which actions to take while trying to maintain my control (stranglehold?) of the star systems. This, combined with the variability which planets are in play, which alien allies I can use and which missions I decide to pursue, leads to a fun area control game with replay value. This is my favorite game published by Daily Magic Games since Villages of Valeria. I cannot wait to see what, if any, additions are made to the game via stretch goals during the Kickstarter campaign.
Speaking of which, if you would like to become a backer, the Horizons Kickstarter campaign will launch (see what I did there!) on August 29th, 2017.
UPDATE: Horizons has launched on Kickstarter.
As always, we don’t post ratings for preview copies as the components and rules may change from the final game. Check back with us after the game is produced for a full review.