Publisher: Daily Magic Games
Designer: Levi Mote
Ever wanted to settle the stars, compete for resources and control against other player, but avoid all that nasty conflict?
Horizons puts to you just such a task. A 4X game minus the “eXterminate,” you’ll need to explore planets, adapt to their environments, and built structures on them to harvest valuable resources – not to mention stake your claim.
It’s pretty fast-paced; you get 2 actions per turn, and each action resolves quickly. Exploring draws new planet tiles to attach to one of the available suns. Adapting gains you the permanent ability to settle one new planet time, and grants an Ally card. Constructing is how you build structures, paying the appropriate resources to add the appropriate structure on a planet. Harvesting utilizes your structures to gain more resources. And Conspiring lets you gain mission cards or ally cards.
Points are gained by controlling the stars – by having the most control points built around the star. Each structure is 1 control point, although a Colony is worth 2 (but doesn’t produce any resources during the game). You can also satisfy mission cards to gain extra points at the end of the game – and if you don’t like the missions you have, it’s possible to get different ones. And those valuable allies will help you break the game, using your accrued knowledge and other features to unleash powerful actions at key moments.
The experience I had with this game was quite pleasant. Though i’m a fan of the full 4X experience, it is nice to not have to worry about attacks – although quite frustrating when someone takes a spot you’re after and you can’t blast them to smithereens over it.
The system is simple and easy to learn, and play flows smoothly once you have an idea what’s going on. Those ally cards are what keep it interesting, and it’s to your benefit to get and use them as much as possible – although each one can only be used twice before it returns to the stack.
I don’t know how much longevity or depth this game has, but it does at least provide a semblance of 4X, and the alien-riddled art is fun to look at if you’re into that sort of thing.