Last week, I was lucky enough to be invited to the preview event for the upcoming board game, Horizon Forbidden West: Seeds of Rebellion. Steamforged Games have been on a roll with their tabletop adaptations of video games. They’ve developed Resident Evil, Dark Souls, Horizon Zero Dawn, Monster Hunter World, and Elden Ring - which launched on Kickstarter last year and reached its funding goal in mere minutes. For their next project, they have worked closely with Guerrilla Games to create a tabletop experience based on the Horizon sequel, Forbidden West.
HFW:SoR @ MCR
At the start of the event, there was a 30-minute presentation detailing some of the key elements of the game. Attendees were then given the opportunity to play through a sample scenario.
Horizon Forbidden West: Seeds of Rebellion takes place during the six months leading up to the events of the video game, before Aloy’s arrival in the Forbidden West. Although the mighty Tenakth tribe rules over much of this land under the leadership of Chief Hekarro, a rebellion is stirring. With the fragile peace between the Tenakth’s three clans threatened, the players need to uncover any insurgent activity before the fate of the Clan Lands is altered forever.
Seeds of Rebellion is a fully cooperative board game for 1-4 players, who take on the role of Marshals appointed by Chief Hekarro to investigate reports of Tenakth blood being spilled by their own kind. There will be new and familiar characters to meet, environments to explore, powerful equipment to earn, and quests to complete to help the West’s tribes. Oh and there’s also the small matter of gigantic machines rampaging through this deadly territory(!) Every decision made could potentially cause lasting effects in the campaign. Machines will adapt, the rebellion will get stronger, and the mysterious ailment known as the Red Blight will spread.
Horizon Forbidden West: Seeds of Rebellion’s campaign is three times the length of Horizon Zero Dawn: The Board Game. Steamforged worked closely with Guerrilla's Narrative team to create an official story within the canon of the Horizon franchise.
There are new narrative sections of gameplay that take place in between combat encounters, where players will have important choices to make that can impact battles and sometimes the campaign as a whole. These sections may take the form of a conversation with an NPC (like an interactive cutscene) with players trying to learn valuable information, or it may be the exploration of a settlement to unearth clues or items to gain an advantage in the next battle.
The narrative sections heavily affect the combat, with the possibility of detaching components from machines or completing secondary objectives. It is a bespoke experience, with a choose-your-own-adventure style story. All players in the team cooperate to decide how to use the resources they acquire.
Rage Against The Machines
Seeds of Rebellion tweaks the combat engine first developed for Horizon Zero Dawn: The Board Game to deliver a cooperative, narrative-driven experience. Steamforged didn’t fully commit to co-op with Zero Dawn, but found that most of the community liked to play it cooperatively, so this time they’re going all-in.
Taking inspiration from the video game - where machines have weak spots and components that can be removed - Seeds of Rebellion increases the number of components on the larger machines and makes them more integral to enemies’ turn-by-turn behaviour. Exposing components changes the way a machine behaves mid-fight, and elemental components can even be overloaded to turn a machine’s weapons against it. The card-based component system opens the door to new gameplay options, such as targeting weak spots and lowering an enemy’s attack or defence to make them easier to bring down.
In combat, players will be able to tell when a machine is winding up to do a big attack and can attempt to interrupt it by breaking their stance. The overhauled stealth system features an alert track that players move down (when they are hidden in the tall grass) or up (when they become detected by a machine). While hidden, traps can be placed and abilities can be played, as the machines walk around their patrol routes.
The new machines in the Forbidden West bring with them a variety of behaviours, encounters, and challenges to overcome. Apex Machines seen in the video game (deadlier versions that appear when lots of a certain type are destroyed) are also going to make an appearance on the tabletop. Each machine in Seeds of Rebellion - from the adorable Burrower to the mighty Tremortusk - will evolve throughout the campaign. Bringing them down, and the way you bring them down, will impact how they adapt and how dangerous they’ll be in the next encounter.
Kickstart My Heart
Horizon Forbidden West: Seeds of Rebellion launches on Kickstarter on November 21st. Included in the box are 4 named character miniatures, 2 huge machines, 26 additional enemy minis, over 400 cards, over 100 tokens, and a campaign book. There are also 2 encounter books: these ringbound, softback books feature the battlefields for the machine battles. They are quick and easy to set up, with bespoke designs that pull from the wealth of in-game environments for inspiration.
The models on display at the event were stunning. The serpentine Slitherfang is coiling its tail around part of the scenic base and looks poised to strike with its enormous fangs. The elephantine Tremortusk is equally imposing, with thick armour, four massive tusks, and an array of long-range weaponry. These are the most complex and detailed miniatures the sculptors at Steamforged have designed to date, and they look like they’re going to be an absolute joy to paint. On the tabletop, the Slitherfang (100mm) and Tremortusk (120mm) tower over the models for the player characters (20mm), raising the tension as you try to take them down in battle.
Steamforged Games are introducing a backwards compatibility pack (free for returning backers), that enables players to encounter machines from Horizon Zero Dawn: The Board Game. And if that’s not enough miniatures for you, there will be a Slaughterspine expansion with new hunters and side quests to integrate into the base game. You can follow the Kickstarter to get notified when it launches.
Message us on social media @ZatuGames to let us know which of Steamforged Games’ board games you enjoy playing the most.
[Many thanks to Steamforged Games for inviting me to experience a preview of Horizon Forbidden West: Seeds of Rebellion. Please note, assets are in development and subject to licensor approval.