Sunday, 8 May 2016

Game 42 - Horizon Wars

So we tried Osprey’s/Robey Jenkin’s excellent new ‘Horizon Wars’ rules.
If Carlsberg did sci-fi wargaming rules, well…

  Somehow, an Eagle Transporter from Space 1999 managed to become a shuttle.

You see I like hard sci fi in the Traveller, Hammer Slammers and Aliens mould.
…that’s hard sci-fi, with ‘blower’ tanks maybe, and a definite military bent…
…that’s hard sci-fi, with a military bent, ermmm…with mecha, but not those daft mecha from the way out Japanese Anime with their swords and goth emo pilots, but sensible mecha – well as sensible as a bloody 30 foot tall robot can be!

Ok, that’s so many qualifiers that it would be literally impossible to find me a set of rules I’d like, right? I want infantry, tanks and sensible mecha. Years ago I tried designing my own rules based on Runequest (yes, Runequest – with hit locations for mecha), but they were a disaster (yeah, you could’ve told me that right?)

The fact is that here’s a set of rules that suits my particular penchant for sci-fi, my preference for something original, and my predilection for something simple.
These are really good, with a great feel, and many original concepts. To be honest I think the recent review/interview on Meeples & Miniatures wasn’t fair to this book.

Oh yeah, and there are no damned space marines ™. Wait, am I allowed to say space marines? …bleuchh.

Highlights included:

  • Presence – governs points values and effectiveness in assault/ melee.
  • Movement, firepower and armour/agility can all be ground down in combat – sometimes quickly, and a lucky strike that you can’t match can do significant damage.
  • Firepower dice (d12s) vs defence dices (d12s and look for matches) really give a wide spectrum of results – but it seems to suit the genre. You can chip away at long range, close to engage and match your specialities, or have units that are good at long range fire (extended range weapon upgrades – I’m looking at you here !)
  • Mecha can have upgrades and design particulars, which seems Warhammer-esque when you first read them, but they really work. I loved how rather than assign extras (boring) hit points or something, you can hone the design of your giant stompy manned robot and make it original (before somebody else’s blows it away that is).
  • Check your range, add opponent’s armour/agility (no, this works – and it degrades), there may be mods for targeting upgrades – roll your firepower and determine how many multiples of the difficulty you get vs defenders matches. It sounds complicated, but it really flows quite well.
  • Action and Reaction is neatly done with two opportunities per turn. Spend your reaction too early and you lose the opportunity later. You can act tactically here - though granted, we need to play this a lot more to get the hang of its nuances.
  • (There are also instructional videos on youtube).

There are options for hidden deployment/drop zones, Ace pilots, infantry specialisms, guided fire and aircraft – also a nice ‘adventures’ section and campaigns should be really easy to run.
Oh yeah, close assault really hurts.

All I was looking for really. More to follow I hope…and you know what? The rules could be hacked for WWII ;)

  The Imperial Federal forces, clearly here to end this destructive conflict and bring order to the galaxy.

 Those damned rebel colonial forces, clearly no longer happy with paying their taxes.

'Kinda concerned about getting stepped on Sarge!?!'
Colonial volunteers debus from the reinforcement shuttle.

 Colonial units move toward the spaceport buildings.

  Federal Heavy Mechs move to the high ground - there were quite a few turns of long range bombardment, aided by the extended targeting bonus of the heavy mechs.

  The colonists have some Riga class medium mechs of their own.

  Some good rolls from the colonists did some damage to the Heavies.

But they gave good return.

 Federal heavy infantry makes it to cover. This would be critical, as they spent a little too long contemplating an assault on the spaceport buildings.

...though, their Tac missiles finished off the last of the last of the colonial light mechs.


 Satellite picture shows the final stages of battle. One federal mech remains, and the colonials have lost theirs, but their mobile infantry holds the spaceport.

 The final assault on the spaceport - heavy casualties...

  One unit makes it through, but is so badly damaged in the assault that it can go no further. The colonists hold.

 So, a great game - and we should explore this more in future (now that I've finally found a set of sci-fi rules that work).


  1. I'm thrilled you enjoyed it so much!

    1. A great set of rules Robey - really good.
      Thanks for this - and get cracking on some expansions :)

    2. Are you in the Facebook group? The expansion rules for super-heavy elements, metaformers (transforming mechs) and datawar are all up in beta form for playtesting.

  2. Nice report and lots of cool pictures. What make is the infantry models?

    1. Thanks Leif. The infantry are old style Pendraken miniatures - 10mm sci fi. They're the older models, but I think they're still available from the website.

    2. Ah, they are 10mm. That's why I didn't recognise them. Thanks for the tip!

  3. What a great report and nice looking minis. Makes me want to try Gruntz when I get enough stuff painted up!

    1. Well, even with 15mm, Horizon wars would work with grav tanks and infantry. Robey has some nice concepts in the rules...they could even be hacked for WWII mate ;)

  4. Nice report. Out of interest, is that an old Dinky Eagle Transporter?

    1. It is indeed sir, well spotted.
      I almost feel bad for its paint job. I'm sure someone is going to tell me it was worth a fortune before it suffered a drybrush disaster.
      It's 1975 vintage.

    2. There's also a Dinky Thunderbird 2 nestled beside it if you catch one of the photographs at the right angle. I knew if I kept them, they'd come in useful.
      (until someone tells me that TB2 is worth even more!?!)

  5. Duc come back to the light............

    Seriously looks a fun game of 'hard' sci-fi

    1. I know, right?
      It could have been worse, it could have been warhamster 40k or something.

      BUt yes good rules (and we need to organise a game of Field of Battle WWII to bring me back around :) )