Extermination is a small box expansion for the board game Horizons from Daily Magic Games. It promises to add the fourth X to this 3X boardgame.
Horizons: Extermination adds three new things to your copy of Horizons, all of which add variety and replayability. To me Extermination is pretty much a must have expansion for Horizons.
Disclosure: Some links in this post are affiliate links. Using these links doesn’t cost you anything extra and it helps support this blog and podcast. As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Levi Mote, the designer of Horizons, sent me a review copy of Extermination. No other compensation has been provided.
What do you get in the Extermination expansion pack for Horizons?
Horizons: Extermination was designed by Levi Mote and features art by Mihajlo Dimitrievski (better known as Mico). It was published in 2019 by Daily Magic Games.
This expansion comes in a small card pack style box, despite the fact it’s not all cards in there. This pack was included with the original Horizons Kickstarter and is available separately for people, like me, who have the retail version of Horizons.
For a look at what you get in this expansion check out my Horizons: Extermination unboxing video on YouTube. If you haven’t yet checked out the original game be sure to check out my Horizons review as well.
The first thing that came out of the Extermination pack was a folded rule sheet. The sheet is two-sided and features a nice large font which I found very easy to read even with my old eyes.
The rules were followed by a sealed pack of cards and a plastic baggie with some tiles in it. It was cool to see that these tiles were already punched. These tiles are new alternate star tiles.
Getting back to the cards, there are five new starter allies, one for each of the original species from the game, and five new Viliox allies that are added to the original ally decks, one new card for each deck.
What does Extermination add to Horizons?
Back during episode 61 of our podcast, Gateway to Area Control, I reviewed Horizons. What I didn’t know at the start of the review segment for that show was that the designer of the game, Levi Mote, was in the chatroom. While my review of Horizons was mostly positive I did feel that the game lacked punch, that it was missing something.
One of the big things I found was missing from Horizons is that the game claimed to be a 4X game yet only actually featured 3Xs. There was exploration, exploitation, expansion but there was no extermination. When I mentioned this Levi asked if I owned the expansion, this expansion called Extermination which adds one of the Xs I found missing in Horizons.
The Extermination Expansion pack actually contains three different modules which can be used together or separately.
The first module is a set of six new suns. To use these, at the start of the game you mix the new suns with the ones from the base game and have each player draw one out of the bag. In this way, you should end up with a mix of the original suns, which do nothing special, and these new suns.
Each of these new suns breaks the game rules in some way. There are suns that can only have certain types of planets around them, suns that limit the number of plants they can hold, suns that cause your metal or energy collectors to produce double the resources and more.
The second module is a set of five new starter allies. With this expansion, when you start the game, you give everyone the standard basic starter ally that comes in the original game along with a random alien ally from this new set.
Players get to pick which of the two allies they want to use. What I found interesting is that there was one new ally for each of the different player actions whereas the original allies all keyed off the Adapt action.
The final module is the one that adds the fourth X, eXtermination to the game and that is a new set of five Viliox allies. There is one Viliox for each of the existing ally decks and these new allies just get shuffled in with the rest.
Each of these Viliox cards features some form of player vs. player interaction. One lets you replace an opponent’s collector with one of your own, another causes opponents to discard missions, one even lets you terraform a planet, flipping the tile and destroying everything on it.
Every single one of these new Viliox powers come with a significant cost to offset their pretty nasty nature. Most cost at least ten resources to use or cost knowledge (knowledge points are victory points in Horizons).
Does Extermination improve Horizons?
I think it’s pretty clear in my original review of Horizons that I didn’t love the game. It is a good game, a very sold game. It even has some interesting new mechanics in the way that the allies work. I’ve enjoyed the game every time I played it, but it just wasn’t great.
In a world with 5000+ new games coming out every year, games really need to have something, a wow factor, that makes them stand out from the crowd. Horizons just didn’t have that.
Does the Extermination expansion pack add that wow factor to Horizons? I think it does. While Extermination doesn’t make Horizons an amazing game, it does make it a better game. I’ve enjoyed my plays of Horizons much more since adding Extermination. Games have been tighter, player interaction has increased, as has the replayability.
As Levi and the name of the expansion indicate, this expansion really does add that fourth X that was missing, through the Viliox allies. I also like the other additions that you get in this expansion. The new suns are a welcome addition. They make each game feel different and more interesting.
Of course, I love the new starter allies because they add another level of asymmetry to the game, and anyone who has been following me even for a short amount of time should know, I love asymmetry in my board games.
Sadly, Horizons: Extermination doesn’t fix all of my issues with Horizons. One of my biggest complaints about Horizons is the mission cards and what they are worth compared to what you need to do to score them. There’s nothing in here to fix that.
You are still going to find three point missions that are simple to compete and one point missions that seem impossible. Actually what I would love to see most for Horizons now is a replacement deck of better balanced mission cards.
Overlooking a problem that this expansion isn’t designed to address, I have to say that Extermination is an excellent expansion pack for Horizons. I would go so far as to say that this is a must have expansion. It improves the game so much that I think Daily Magic should start just bundling them together.
I’m sure I’m not the only person out that there was close to giving up on the base game before ever trying this expansion and that would have been a shame.
One final warning. If you or your group doesn’t like take that style player interaction you aren’t going to like the Viliox cards. One player I played with absolutely hated them but loved everything else about this expansion. He doesn’t like any game where players can betray and backstab their opponents, and that is something this expansion is meant to add.
If you are like me and thought Horizons was good but missing something, I think it’s worth picking up Extermination and seeing if it kicks the game up a notch for you as it did for me.
If you didn’t like Horizons at all then I doubt that this expansion is going to change your mind about the game.
If you’ve never played Horizons I actually recommend picking up both the base game and this expansion at once and playing with the new rules from the start.
Have you tried Horizons: Extermination? What did you think? Did it complete the game for you as it did for me? Let me know in the comments.