Horizon Zero Dawn

SFG Vault: Heart of the Nora & Kickstarter Exclusives | Designer Diary

Open for a short time only, the SFG Vault includes two out-of-print, exclusive expansions for Horizon Zero Dawn™: The Board Game:

Heart of the Nora and the Kickstarter Exclusives!

Available to pre-order until the Vault closes on April 28 at 23:59 BST, both of these expansions add a ton of new content to your board game — and they’re extremely compatible. 

Seeking more information? You’re in the right place!

Deathbringer in the Heart of the Nora Expansion

Returning to the Sacred Lands

by Sherwin Matthews, Lead Designer of Horizon Zero Dawn™: The Board Game

I see you all, sitting around the campfire. 

Hunters of all ages, all walks of life. Hunters from every corner of the world, of varying levels of skill and ability. Some newcomers, vibrant and new to the trail. Others, veterans; wily and experienced. 

All are welcome. And now, listen well as I speak of the opening of a great vault deep within the craw of the earth, and the wonders contained within. 

Of the greatest hero of our time, risen in our time of need; of her friends and allies, the arrow in her bow and the strength in her arm in her most desperate hour. 

Of forbidden machines both ancient and terrible, creatures that once destroyed a civilisation. And, of those misguided souls that came to follow them. 

And at last, redemption. Redemption for one fallen from grace, come to find honour once lost in our most noble of houses.

Yes, welcome back, hunters, one and all.

As a massive Horizon fan, it was a privilege to work alongside Guerrilla in creating our tabletop adaptation of Horizon Zero Dawn™: The Board Game. When I look back, spending time with their team during design and development was an amazing experience; but in the same breath, I look back just as fondly upon the weeks running up to and during the Kickstarter in 2018. 

Each tabletop project we work on is different, and each project has its own spirit. This project is also where I first met several of you; discussing our favourite machines, which hunter you’d try first when the game landed, and so on. Anyone that knows me will attest that my favourite part of our projects is spending time chatting to the community during campaigns. So many awesome ideas come out of those discussions, even if they don’t make it into the final game.

Since the Kickstarter, our tabletop Horizon community has grown significantly. At all of our shows, Horizon is without doubt the first game to sell out, sometimes even on the first day. The moment people see the miniatures, they lose their minds.

It’s been amazing to watch the community grow. But I’m also conscious that for the newcomers, as well as for some of our Kickstarter backers, there are gaps in their collections. Horizon has a wealth of expansions; easily more than most of our other games.

Whilst most of these expansions have hit retail, or are available via the SFG webstore, we often see requests for the few that aren’t — and for two in particular (especially on our Discord). These are the Kickstarter Exclusives expansion, and the Heart of the Nora. 

Well, if you’re one of those Seekers, today I’m delighted to tell you that quest is at an end. Because the ancient vault beneath the earth has opened with a mechanical whirr, and for a short time, we’re making the Kickstarter Exclusives and Heart of the Nora expansions available once again.

Kickstarter Exclusives Expansion

The Kickstarter Exclusives expansion includes a wealth of different components to add to your games.

For starters, there’s a new and really rather unique hunter — the Shadow Carja Exile. 

I’ve always been fascinated by how careful Guerrilla were to tell both sides of the tragic Carja civil war. When I first outlined the hunters we wanted for the board game, this hunter was very high on my list, albeit some nervousness over how to include them in a way that didn’t break canon. 

We had a lot of discussions around the cultural sensitivity of doing so, and I’m delighted that the result was this hunter. A melee powerhouse with an extremely unique playstyle — one you can build into either a mighty warrior in the tradition of Uthid, or a more sinister denial-based hunter that will leave your allies distrustful of your every turn — I’ve always been proud of how the Shadow Carja feels thematically on point.

Next up, we have Talanah Khane Padish. 

Something we obviously couldn’t do, given the conceit of the game, was drop in Talanah as a playable hunter. She’d not only be too powerful, but also has no need to prove herself to anyone, being the head of the Hunters’ Lodge. 

Instead, we leaned into her role as a benevolent leader, watching over the efforts of aspirants with interest, and emerging from the undergrowth every so often to offer praise or a boon. This manifests as an advantage system you can use during hunts to make sure your attack lands home, to push your hunter harder during your turn, or even to win ties in the campfire phase and earn more glory. 

The downside? Relying on Talanah in this way will appear weak, and her interest will wander to one of your allies — so you’ll have to be careful only to ask for her assistance when you really need it, or judge that doing so won’t end up giving one of your rivals an advantage.

Adjacent to Talanah, we have a hunter no one will fail to recognise — Aloy herself. 

Surely, if Talanah’s too strong to include as a playable character, Aloy must be the same, right?

Well, yes.. and no. 

I knew we had to include Aloy. She is, after all, the hero of the game. But, for obvious reasons, she’d be far too powerful when competing with novitiates. So instead, I took inspiration from something I always admired in Horizon’s engine — the random encounters. 

As you wander through the wilds in the video game, you come across a plethora of NPC’s. Hunters from one tribe or another, or bandit raiding parties, typically locked in combat with machines. 

It’s a fantastic achievement of minor storytelling, where the imagination runs rampant. And I wondered… why not turn that perspective on its head? In effect, you’re already playing as a hunting party from the Lodge. So, why not introduce Aloy as the NPC in a random event card?

The result is exactly that. When the Aloy card is drawn, the player in last place gets to play as Aloy for the encounter instead of their hunter, and feel like the real rockstar of the group, challenging the other players to keep up. 

When the encounter finishes? Aloy tips her head in respect, and returns to her quests, leaving you to your own story.

But that’s not the only time you’ll see Aloy.

The final aspect to the Kickstarter Exclusive Box is the Narrative Encounters.

These are a whole new cooperative game mode for the game, where two players can play a tabletop adaptation of either the Revenge of the Nora or Into the Borderlands quests from the Horizon Zero Dawn™ video game, playing as either Aloy, Varl, or Erend, each of whom come with their own bespoke equipment and action decks. 

To support this, the game also includes tiles with unique artwork, and enemy behaviour and reference cards for corrupted machines, as well as models for cultists and mercenaries. 

A word of warning here — please note that because this is an exclusive product that, at the time of its creation, was impossible to own without also owning the stretch goals from the Kickstarter, you’ll need a copy of not only Horizon Zero Dawn™: The Board Game, but also the Sacred Lands and Forge and Hammer expansions to play these two quests respectively.

The Heart of the Nora

The easiest way to understand the Heart of the Nora is as a megaboss expansion, just like the Thunderjaw, Stormbird, Rockbreaker, and Fireclaw — but, unlike those expansions, this one is designed for exclusive use with the aforementioned narrative encounters (unless you’re homebrewing, of course). 

Also unlike the other Huge Machine expansions, it includes not only the imposing Deathbringer, but a pair of lethal Corruptors for you to face, along with behaviour and reference cards for these new machines, and encounter cards for a new narrative quest — you guessed it, a tabletop adaptation of the Heart of the Nora quest from the video game. 

Finally, the box contains a large fold out board, just like the other Huge Machine expansions.

I won’t lie — this expansion was probably some of the most fun we had designing narrative encounters, creating a truly memorable boss fight that kept us on our toes right until the end. You’ll play Aloy and Sona for this one, levelling up a little so you can keep up with the challenge.

Again, a word of warning here — please note that because Heart of the Nora is an exclusive product that, at the time of its creation, would only have been available alongside the Kickstarter stretch goals, you’ll need a copy of not only Horizon Zero Dawn™: The Board Game, but also the Kickstarter Exclusives expansions to use this expansion.

I’m Ready. Lead Me To The Trail.

The SFG Vault is open right now, where you can pre-order these out-of-print expansions before it closes on April 28, either individually or in discounted bundles.

Created for existing players, the Horizon Zero Dawn Vault bundle includes the Heart of the Nora Expansion and the Kickstarter Exclusives Expansion for just $110 (15% discount). Just add the items to your cart and use the discount code TVHZD.

If you're new to the game, the Horizon Zero Dawn ultimate bundle includes both Vault exclusives — Heart of the Nora and the Kickstarter Exclusive Expansion — Horizon Zero Dawn: The Core Game, the Soldiers of the Sun Expansion, the Forge & Hammer Expansion, the Lawless Badlands Expansion, and the Sacred Land Expansion for just $394.81 (a 22% discount). To apply the bundle discount, just add the items to your cart and use the code TVHZDUB.

Enter the Vault to find out more and claim your copies now: