I have had a chance to play a couple of games of Horus Heresy lately, so here is a review of the game.
Horus Heresy is a big box game published by Fantasy Flight Games. It makes use of their recent partnership with Games Workshop and is set in the Warhammer 40K universe during the most tumultuous time in mankind's history. The game itself is a remake of a game published in 1993 by Games Workshop and designed by Jervis Johnson. This new version has a lot of similarities in theme to the original, but it replaces the chits and hex with area movement and miniatures. At the start of the game, Terra is besieged by a rebellious leader named Horus and the Emperor must stave off his attacks until reinforcements arrive. There are lots of marines, tanks, demon hordes, titans, thunderhawks and general mayhem to keep even the bloodthirstiest of us content.
As is typical with Fantasy Flight games, the production pieces are fantastic. The miniatures are sculpted well and give the game a lot of flavor. One negative I do have with the pieces is the emperor's forces are grey and a few are very difficult to tell apart. They scream out for a paint job.
The map is fantastic with 3D terrain built in for spaceports, the palace, fortresses and factories. It makes the orange landscape look very forbidding. The map board has a tactical area and a strategic area. One complaint is that the pieces don't always fit neatly on the board. This is an annoyance, I agree, but not a big deal.
A typical game turn consists of playing action cards to the strategic map or the tactical map. Each action you take costs time. The Emperor wants time to move quickly...Horus does not. If you play a card to the strategic board or activate a card on the strategic board it costs 1 action point (time). If you play from your hand to the main board it costs the amount listed on the card.
Combat is handled by using cards. There are not dice rolled at all. Each iteration of combat allows the players to play cards based on the round of combat. 1st round is one card. 2nd round is two cards and so on. There are two victory conditions; control all four space stations or eliminate Horus or the Emperor.
I like this game a lot. I have only played the Horus side, and like my blog's name I remain restrained about losing every game. I really like the way combat works with the cards. There are a lot of tactical considerations to make about the timing of cards. The Horus side has a lot of work to do to win. Everything is stacked against them. That is not to say that the Emperor has an easy time of it. At the beginning of the game, some units may betray the Emperor and join the side of chaos. There is also a lot of strategy that goes into using leaders in combat. I need a few more games to give a final verdict, but this is a game I would play often enough as it is a quick play (about 2 hours tops)! I find it engaging and stressful at times, which is the mark of a good game in my book.