‘Captains Log, Star Date 10342 – It has been a hard negotiation with the Agorins but a successful one. They have given us the coordinates to the other worlds and stars in their star charts and even allowed us to build a colony and a resource facility on one of their outer moons. We have left a small crew there to begin the process and sent word to our home world to send a group of Colonists. After weeks of searching the stars it was great for the crew to get off ship and feel a level of accomplishment. This has been a huge morale boost and a much needed one for everyone including myself and the other officers. With the knowledge provided by the Agorins, we head for the horizons in search of new worlds in a much better place.’
There are quite a few pieces inside the Horizons box, but setup is quite easy. Simply follow the below steps:
- Each player takes a player board, a set of colour matched Colonies & Collectors, six Habitat Activation Markers, an Exploration League Ally card, a Scoring / Icon Player Aid card, a Knowledge Token, two Energy tokens, & two Ore tokens.
- Place the remaining Knowledge, Energy, & Ore Tokens in easy reach of all players.
- Shuffle the Mission Cards, deal two to each player, then place the remaining cards face-down in a pile.
- Sort the Alien Ally cards by the Action Type symbol in the upper left corner, then shuffle each of the 5 stacks.
- Place a number of starting Stars equal to the number of players into the middle of the play area.
- Place the World Tiles in the bag. Randomly choose who will go first and give them the bag of World Tiles.
- The first player chooses a random World Tile from the bag and places it (either side up) next to any star. The first player then activates the matching Habitat Indicator of that world on their player board.
- The bag is passed to the left and that player chooses a random World Tile from the bag and places it (either side up) next to any Star without a World. That player may then activate a Habitat Indicator on their player board matching any World in play.
- Repeat until all players have placed a World Tile and activated a Habitat Indicator. You are now ready for the first turn, starting with the First Player and proceeding to the left.
On your turn take any two of the actions listed below. You may take the same action twice.
Explore: – Draw and play a World Tile from the bag. Take one Knowledge.
Adapt: – Activate a Habitat and/or take the top Alien Ally from any stack.
Build: – Build a Collector or Colony.
Harvest: – Gain one resource per Collector you have built.
Conspire: – Draw two Mission Cards or one Ally & one Mission Card.
Discard Extra Cards: – At the end of your turn, you may not have more than five Ally Cards and five Mission Cards. Discard Allies and Missions in excess of this limit. Allies discard to the bottom of their stacks, Missions go to a discard pile next to their draw pile.
There are also a few other cards in the game which are:
Alien Allies and Actions: – Actions may also trigger Alien Ally cards in your tableau.
When you take an Action that matches the symbol shown on the Alien Ally Card in the bottom left corner, you may trigger one Alien Ally Card effect in addition to the Action selected. You may take your chosen Action or trigger your Alien Ally in either order. Then, either flip or discard the Alien Ally card based on the symbol shown in the lower right corner.
You may only trigger one Alien Ally Card per Action.
Mission Cards: – should be kept secret from other players until the end of the game when they are revealed and scored. To score a Mission Card, it’s text must be true at the end of the game.
The game ends immediately when a player builds their last available Colony, even if this is the first Action of their turn.
Once the game ends, you calculate the scores in the following order. All completed Mission Cards are revealed & scored. Mission Cards that were not completed do not count against you in any way.
- Knowledge Tokens – Score one VP per Knowledge Token.
- System Control – Determine the player with the most control over each Star System.
- Colonies are worth two Control Points each.
- Collectors are worth one Control Point each.
- The player with the most Control Points in each Star System scores points shown on the below table:
* If two or more players are tied for the most Control Points over a Star System; each tied player scores three VP and the player or players with the second most score zero VP.
The player with the most VP wins the game. Ties are broken by the player with the most total Resources remaining. If there is still a tie, the player with the most VP derived from Mission Cards is the winner.
What can be said about Horizons but ‘Wow!’ It plays and looks like a Euro style game but with a play time of only 15mins per person it could almost be a small box game. This is Daily Magic’s second adventure in the Euro style game genre and though I love the first one (Sailing Toward Osiris), Horizons is even better. The gameplay is tight and quick but requires a level of strategy, planning, and forethought that I have come to expect and love about Daily Magic’s games.
Sailing Toward Osiris, for me, was a game I loved and the theme just connected with me. I found however, since playing it with several different groups of friends, that the Egyptian theme didn’t pop with them as much as it did with me. They enjoyed the game and thought the theme was different and cool but it wasn’t something that just leaped out at them. Playing Horizons with these same three groups of friends seemed like a good test. As with Sailing Towards Osiris, they loved the game play, but Horizons’ space theme really called to them. I think having a broader Sci-fi theme will help Horizons connect more with the masses. Not to mention, the art and colours just jump off the box.
So that gets me to the art, and Daily Magic have called in the big gun for this game. The Mico (or Mihajlo Dimitrievski for anyone that can pronounce it) has worked with Daily Magic on several games and will be known to most people for his work on their Valeria series of games. Like the Valeria Series, The Mico has knocked this art out of the park! His stunning characterization of the aliens is amazing. Each have their own personality and culture and at just a glance you can get a feel for how each race lives and how they affect the galaxy. The thing that I really love about the art is the colour palate Mico has used. In some of the Valeria games I’ve played in the past, I’ve found he has used a more real-world, darker or duller palate. But in Horizons, Mico has thrown open that palate and grabbed every colour possible, and yet done it in a way that still has a beautiful level of cohesion.
There are a couple of strong points that made this game a winner for me. At 15 minutes per play (by the third game we had it closer to 10 mins) it is quite a quick Euro-Style game, but it never feels rushed or forced. They have truly balanced this game so well that the speed doesn’t affect the game play. Horizons’ immediate end-game mechanic is something I loved and was a nice change, as there isn’t the feeling that, ‘I’ll save this until the end and I’ll do this on my last turn’. It makes you think and plan and really does make people play the game and not hold back. Perhaps not everyone will like this as much as me, but I found it very refreshing and quite a nice change.
Overall, I and the three groups that played Horizons loved it. They appreciated the speed of the game and the fact that it was more of a gateway-Euro that had a level of strategy and complexity and didn’t bog you down or drag out like some Euro games can. The fact that my friends that like only small box games and my friends who like only Euro games were able to play a game together and have it resonate with both groups was amazing.
This is a very clever game of tile laying with an amazingly immersive Sci-Fi theme that really spans the gap between small box and Euro game better than any I’ve ever played. I would be surprised if Horizons isn’t as big a hit as their Valeria Series and I really hope to see more from this world (especially the Agorins, as they were my favourite).
Horizons is due to hit Kickstarter on the 29th of August and mark my words, this will be a hit. Check out the preview page here.