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Board Game Review: Horizon Zero Dawn: The Board Game Expansions!

I recently reviewed Horizon Zero Dawn: The Board Game, which is a wonderful game with exceptionally beautiful miniatures utilizing the Horizon Zero Dawn IP in a mech-laden battleground. As luck would have it, the base Horizon Zero Dawn board game is only the beginning! Steamforged Games has plenty of expansions ready and ripe for the picking!

So, we’re going to run through some of the expansions for Horizon Zero Dawn! It’s perfect timing with the recent video game release of Horizon Forbidden West, which just came out this past week. If we have a chance to play with additional expansions, we’ll keep this article updated.

Let’s play some Horizon Zero Dawn Expansions!

Horizon Zero Dawn: The Thunderjaw Expansion

Horizon Zero Dawn The Board Game Icon Expansion Overview

The Thunderjaw Expansion for Horizon Zero Dawn: The Board Game brings the terrifying Thunderjaw miniature to the table. Although this thing is anything but miniature; it’s a massive foot-long hulk of plastic that will strike fear into the heart of any hunter.

This expansion can be used as part of a group’s quarry, or it can be added to a quest using the Hunter’s Call mechanics.

A Thunderjaw uses its gigantic size, disc launchers, and cannons to thwart the hunters. It also features the Barrage mechanic, which targets the hunter who has been hit the fewest times during the Thunderjaw’s current activation. If the hunters are able to take down the disc launchers, they can be picked up and used against the Thunderjaw!

Additionally, hunters will need to contend with the Water terrain. While in the water, hunters can only perform sneak actions, which severely limits their effectiveness. Mechs as large as the Thunderjaw aren’t hindered by water; they’re simply too big to care about getting wet.

Horizon Zero Dawn The Board Game Icon What’s in the Box?

  • 1 Thunderjaw Miniature
  • 1 Thunderjaw Board (size of 2×2 normal-sized boards)
  • 13 Tracking Deck Cards
  • 2 Disc Launcher Cards
  • 10 Thunderjaw Data and Behavior Cards

Horizon Zero Dawn The Board Game Icon Horizon Zero Dawn: Thunderjaw Expansion Thoughts

Bringing a huge miniature to the game changes the encounter substantially over the original game. The Thunderjaw just takes up so much space that it’s much more difficult to get the jump on it. Hunters can still occupy the same square as the Thunderjaw, and won’t get overrun per say. Plus the river complicates things further

I appreciate that there is balancing for 1-2 hunters versus playing with 3-4. This makes the encounter feel challenging without being impossible, as I have typically been playing with 1-2 players. Another nice thing is that there are damage thresholds (called Structure Thresholds) that allow players to earn glory points if they deal damage that crosses the threshold.

The disc launcher is a fun little item that takes two actions thanks to its large, unwieldy nature, but it allows you to roll a bunch of dice. And who doesn’t like rolling dice?!

Overall, this expansion is geared towards people who want a new big-bad to square off against. It’s a single encounter, although there is an entire tracking deck to give the lead-up to Thunderjaw a new feel as well. At the end of the day, if you want a nice, big miniature and an extended combat battle, the Thunderjaw expansion will be right up your alley.

Horizon Zero Dawn: The Sacred Lands Expansion

Horizon Zero Dawn The Board Game Icon Expansion Overview

Horizon Zero Dawn Board Game

The Sacred Lands are normally off-limits, but the High Matriarchs are allowing you to venture beyond the borders into this hospitable lands. In the Sacred Lands Expansion, you’ll encounter mechs and enemies that you haven’t seen before, meaning that you’ll need to fine-tune your strategies to heed the Hunter’s Call.

Between dodging the clenching jaws of Snapmaws and the fire or ice from the Bellowbacks, you’ll also be ducking out of sight from the Redeye Watchers. Stalkers and Longlegs are abound as well, so this truly is a dangerous region.

Luckily, you get to enlist the help of two new Hunters: the Nora Trapper and the Nora Scavenger. Trappers are experts at distracting and letting their prey come to them. They fight on their own terms; no mech can bait them into an unwinnable situation. Especially when using their new set traps. Scavengers, on the other hand, salvage and craft, turning the remnants of their enemies against the remaining foes.

With the addition of new terrain, you’ll also find that the enemies can inflict new afflictions. For example, some hunters can become Stunned, forcing them to discard a card before evading. Enemies might Bludgeon, which is a devastating ability that also causes discarding for the amount of damage taken. Lastly, enemies might latch onto hunters and Drag them along into other squares.

Horizon Zero Dawn The Board Game Icon What’s in the Box?

  • 4 Redeye Watcher Miniatures
  • 2 Longlegs Miniatures
  • 2 Stalkers Miniatures
  • 2 Snapmaw Miniatures
  • 2 Bellowback Miniatures
  • 2 Hunter Miniatures (Nora Trapper and Nora Scavenger)
  • Hunter Profiles, Skill Trees, Action Decks and Upgrade Cards
  • 12 Merchant Cards
  • 6 Encounter Tiles
  • Machine Data and Behavior Cards for the Miniatures
  • 12 Tracking Deck Cards

Horizon Zero Dawn The Board Game Icon Horizon Zero Dawn: The Sacred Lands Expansion Thoughts

This is my favorite expansion of the bunch. Instead of giving a single encounter, this feels like a second Horizon Zero Dawn base game. That’s because you get hunters, terrain, and a slew of new miniatures. This is a full-fledged expansion that would be my first pick-up recommendation.

I’d play through the standard tracking deck before mixing in all of the tracking cards with the base game. That way you’ll be able to experience the Sacred Lands story in a self-contained way and learn all of the new mechanics and creatures in a ‘controlled environment.’

The addition of the zipwires also make movement more varied and fun for the encounters that have the two tiles. You can use zipwires to move to another zipwire square. Get in a hairy situation? Boom, zipwire!

The four standard hunters in the Horizon Zero Dawn base game are great and offer a variety of playstyles. However, I found that adding in these two hunters adds a nice depth where nobody on your full table of 4 players has to settle for a hunter that they don’t want to play with. There will also be a selection for everyone.

I found the Sacred Lands to be a bit more difficult than the base game. Of course, the discard mechanics are rough and can foil the plans of any well-prepared hunter. But there wasn’t a point where I found things to be utterly hopeless and impossible; it’s a good challenge.

Like I said, this is the best expansion in my opinion. Plus you’re getting so many miniatures and map tiles that you’ll have plenty of content for the foreseeable future.

Horizon Zero Dawn: The Stormbird Expansion

Horizon Zero Dawn The Board Game Icon Expansion Overview

Horizon Zero Dawn Board Game

With the Horizon Zero Dawn Stormbird expansion, the hunters face a threat unlike anything they’ve ever encountered before. The Stormbird is a FLYING mech that will provide more than enough challenge for even the most experienced party. Just like the Thunderjaw Expansion, the Stormbird can be added as a quarry or as its own quest.

Again, this is a single encounter featuring this amazing miniature on a translucent base. The Stormbird has multiple components than can be destroyed over and over again until the limit is reached. It can occupy the same squares as hunters and can be airborne or landed. Because of this, the Stormbird uses two separate behavior decks.

When the Stormbird goes airborne it gains new attributes; hunters can’t still hit it with their normal melee abilities. It also gives the Stormbird access to its own varied abilities and determines if it will switch back to the alternate mode during its activation. However, being locked out of melee is absolutely brutal, and you’ll want to inflict conditions to ground the Stormbird.

Horizon Zero Dawn The Board Game Icon What’s in the Box?

  • 1 Stormbird Miniature
  • 1 Stormbird Board (size of 2×2 normal-sized boards)
  • 13 Tracking Deck Cards
  • 11 Stormbird Data and Behavior Cards

Horizon Zero Dawn The Board Game Icon Horizon Zero Dawn: The Stormbird Expansion Thoughts

Between this and the Thunderjaw Expansion, I would pick this one 9 times out of 10 due to the absolute beauty that is the Stormbird miniature. You have to assemble this miniature with a two-part base and four-part body for it to soar over the board in style. It’s an impressive display of molding, something that we have come to expect and appreciate from Steamforged Games.

As I mentioned above, a lot of the same critiques of the Thunderjaw Expansion are going to apply here. It’s a single encounter apart from the tracking deck, so it easily slides into your existing games without much fuss. You really don’t have to worry about new mechanics either, besides Barrage. Even the terrain is standard fare.

I really liked fighting the Stormbird, however. Having two decks made it more fun to see if the beast was going to land or star airborne. It really closes in on your hunters quickly, so you don’t have a lot of time to gather your thoughts before the Stormbird descends!

There’s a lot of different strategy because you absolutely have to be conscious about inflicting conditions. Otherwise, you’re restricted to ranged attacks which might not be your forte. It creates a really fun dynamic of give-and-take, and definitely serves as a unique monster worth of its own box.

Horizon Zero Dawn: The Board Game Expansions: Closing Thoughts

We’ve only covered a handful of the Horizon Zero Dawn Board Game Expansions that are available by Steamforged. Be sure to check out their site to see what else you can pick up:

  • Rockbreaker Expansion
  • The Soldiers of the Sun Expansion
  • The Forge and Hammer Expansion
  • Fireclaw Expansion
  • The Frozen Wilds Expansion

You can pick up a copy of Horizon Zero Dawn: The Board Game through Steamforged Games directly, or look for it on the shelves of your Friendly Local Game Store (FLGS)!

Disclaimer: Nerds on Earth was provided a copy of these Horizon Zero Dawn expansions from Steamforged Games in exchange for an honest review: The Sacred Lands, Stormbird, and Thunderjaw.

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