Recently released and going straight to the top of the bestseller list on Wargame Vault, Over the Horizon is the new companion volume for Horizon Wars. Having picked up Horizon Wars upon it’s release, and following the new rules via the author’s site (Precinct Omega) I was very chuffed to get a copy of these collected rules.
Only available, currently at least, in pdf form, the book clocks in at just over 90 pages covering both new rules as well as new ways to consider playing the game. It’s well laid out and has lots of full colour image eye candy. For a game like Horizon Wars where you are ultimately limited only by your own imagination, it’s great to have that inspiration. It also creates a nice aspirational tone for what you can achieve on the table top with a limited model count at small scales.
Super-weapons – Go big or go home right?
The first big new rule or addition is that of super-weapons. Whilst it’s questionable whether in real terms it’s practical to put all your resources into a single big tank/airship/mecha program, it’s clearly a popular trope. Over the Horizon provides a structured means to take your method of destruction up to far higher presence ratings (and therefore stat/point pools). There’s guidance on what forms these may take and accompanied by some ‘fluff’. Although Horizon Wars is essentially setting agnostic, there’s a lot of flavour added in the form of short prose and timelines. As I say, this is great for those looking for some prompting with their own ideas. It all helps to cause mayhem and havoc unto their enemies.
I’m really glad to see some author input here into the risks of running super weapons. As powerful as mechs can be, these super weapons can really skew games. I don’t think that this in of itself is a bad thing. One should just be mindful of how different a game can feel when you go up against a high presence machine of death.
Metaformers – Miniatures in Disguise
Asides from a certain well know franchise, the concept of vehicles which change shape and/or function during the course of battle is pretty well established in science fiction. Whether its robots in disguise or Macross style, there’s definitely an appeal to be had. More so when you throw in the combining transforming robots like Voltron or the Megazord. So how does this work within Horizon Wars?
Essentially, when one creates a metaformer, one pays for all of the associated possible transformation types. However, this new creation still only has the one damage track so losses will carry over to different forms. You are paying quite a lot for tactical flexibility but I don’t see a huge benefit in-game. Admittedly I don’t own any suitable metaformer type models so haven’t been in a rush to properly test these rules. There is a designer’s note that of all the rules included, these had the least playtesting. I think with the right gaming group and motivation, these could be a fun addition. That said, I’m more interested in what follows.
Something which is often lacking in science fiction games is the concept of datawar. Whether it’s super-efficient HUD overlays, tactical web analysis, or even A.I. oversight, seemingly few games make use of the potential. Over the Horizon attempts to remedy this with a range of options. We have the inclusion of drones, through to computer command, and electronic warfare. I have a bunch of drone miniatures so this is just what the doctored ordered to field greater variety.
On top of that, electronic warfare rules add further diversity without being cumbersome. If you were drawn to a game like Horizon Wars, then you’ll be intrigued by the chance to disrupt your enemy forces. Not to detract from those that want to rely on cold steel (or depleted uranium or whatever tech you choose). I liked the tactical element of managing order efficiency. Its a cat and mouse feel of using hacking units to harass your enemy and mess with their battle plans.
Biowar – The Rise of the Kaiju
The Biowar section eases us in by giving some modifications on how to present a gribbly swarm. The beleaguered defenders of a remote outpost fighting off wave after wave of xenomorph has been a scenario ever since that original someone thought of combing Aliens with Rorke’s Drift. But why contain yourself here. Surely we can dream bigger!
Who doesn’t like the sound of playing Kaiju in their games? I mean ardent hard sci-fi aficionados might baulk at the suggestion but the chance to place down a radioactive monster or alien entity to square off against your mecha seems an opportunity too good to miss. Whilst it would have been easy enough to simply use any model and the mecha rules from the core book, the Kaiju rules add more flavour. Overall I’m a big fan. The use of instinctive behaviour and t control to prevent these beasts mindlessly destroying all in their path is great. So much so that there’s even a nice little scenario for the archetypal monster attack on the generic city. I’m currently looking at paper models to be able to assemble a suitable city-scape to try this out with friends!
Strategic Assets and Weird Horizons
To round out the new rules presented, included are off table assets and deviations from the traditional futuristic settings. Strategic assets are critical in any engagement and the future battles of Horizon Wars is no different. Some games try to shoehorn in artillery or naval superiority on board. Over the Horizon give options of how to deal with this without having to skew your immersion on the table.
As a game that allows you to field whatever miniatures you want, deviation from hard sci-fi is inevitable. Alternative history and what-ifs are a common site in wargames. Whether its cold war gone hot or steam/diesel punk, many will have models itching for a new life. If you’ve got a hankering to field a rolling cathedral with tesla turrets or maybe a tripod of some description, then this will be right up your street.
Loads of new Ideas
In addition to the collected new rules, this book also provides some new ideas to help shape your games. For those so inclined, there are suggestions for structuring tournaments. Essentially top tips for standardising scales, points etc. Also setting expectations to try and make sure everyone knows upfront what they are getting into. I’m pretty sure we’ve all played games that turned out not to be as expected.
Speaking of what is expected, I really like the introduction of the concept of ‘adventures’. The term comes from modern military parlance with which I am not au fait. Inlay man’s terms, these are new ‘complications’ to add extra depth to your scenarios. The idea is that the unknown elements will further test your mettle as a commander under fire. Rounding out the book are some new solitaire rules utilising a deck of cards. I say new, but these were written in celebration of a significant milestone in the Horizon Wars community. Personally, I’ve never been into the idea of solitaire rules seeing wargaming as a social event. That said, with less free time as I get older, good solitaire rules and a system like Horizon Wars might be something I turn to more and more.
What is over the horizon?
It would be remiss of me to not mention the plethora of FAQs and amended errata compiled at the end of the book too. A lot of this has been available previously but as I’ve said, having it all in one place is of benefit.
If you liked Horizon Wars then you’ll no doubt have this on your to-buy list. Where a lot of it will feel familiar to those who have been following the game and its author from release, this still has a fresh feel. It’s got me dusting off some old 6mm and repainting and finishing some new stuff so it must have reignited that spark.
Have you been playing any Horizon Wars recently? What do you make of this new collected companion? Leave your thoughts below or join in the discussion over on our Facebook page.