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Exodus: Event Horizon — An Epic Turning Point

Rainer Ahlfors
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The Lore

In the lore of Exodus: Proxima Centauri, humanity was on the brink of self-destruction. It tells the story of a nuclear war that devastated Earth, making it necessary for the human race to leave their dying world behind, seeking for a new home in the Alpha Centauri system.

On their exodus, humanity came into contact with a superior alien civilization, simply referred to by humans as the Centaurians. After learning of the exiles' predicament, the Centaurians guided the severely damaged human fleet towards a planetary system able to support human life. There the ships were repaired and outfitted for their final journey towards what was believed to be a perfect new home for the troubled humanity.

Even though the journey became a time of peace and respite, during which humanity forgot about inner strife and instead focused on enjoying advanced Centaurian technologies, peace would not last forever. Even before reaching their new home, the human factions again took up arms against one another, causing the Centaurians to interfere. As a result, each human faction was established on a different home planet in the Proxima Centauri planetary system.

The humans began the long process of rebuilding, ever guided by the Centaurian hosts. Eventually, however, the Centaurians announced their own departure. Only a small remnant of Centaurians decided to stay behind.

As humanity prospered, conflicts between the factions grew fierce. Other battles would take place, involving Centaurians who resisted the expansion and growth of the new human empires.

Then, one day, about 200 years later, everything suddenly changed. A massive alien ship, a Centaurian stronghold, arrives in the midst of the Proxima Centauri system. The Centaurians have returned, and they are preparing for war!

A late design turn of events

Originally, the return of the Centaurians was never part of the story behind Exodus: Event Horizon. Once the list of ten modules (all of which have been covered in previous articles) had been finalized — at least on paper, though in various stages of development — I was considering if there was anything else the Event Horizon expansion could benefit from. There was already going to be so much new content, so many new aspects to enrich and enhance the game experience. What more could I possibly add? What would be the craziest, boldest, most outrageous thing that could be added to Exodus?

Exodus: Proxima Centauri is a highly competitive and grandiose 4X experience (especially considering the new Exploration module which Event Horizon adds). It is an epic space opera, an empire building game. There is conflict, politics, and intrigue. And now, there is the Centaurian Stronghold scenario.

Scenario: The Centaurian Stronghold

In terms of components, this scenario has a very humble component list. You get one new hex (depicting the alien megastructure itself), 18 Warship Squadron tokens, and 6 Stronghold Level tokens.



Beneath the surface, however, the Centaurian Stronghold scenario marks an unprecedented and audacious step in game design:

Exodus: Proxima Centauri becomes a fully cooperative full 4X game!

This scenario, with its humble component list, will enable anyone to play the full Exodus: Proxima Centauri game, in all its glory, any way they like — competitively, cooperatively, semi-cooperatively, or solo.

Before I continue, let me clarify a few important things.

This is not a required game mode. Your enjoyment of Event Horizon is not diminished if you never play the Centaurian Stronhold scenario.

This is not just another module that Event Horizon includes.

We have previously looked at how the Exploration module brings all four X's on equal footing in Exodus.

If you have followed the journey of Event Horizon since the expansion was announced and the Centaurian Stronghold was first hinted at, it has always been mentioned as an "oh, by the way" part of a modular expansion. This was on purpose.

There may be some who are drawn into the Exodus universe because of this scenario — and that is perfectly fine (Welcome!) — but it is also important for long-time fans of Exodus to understand that this scenario does not have to change anything. You can keep playing the game that you love, getting full enjoyment out of Event Horizon, without ever playing the Centaurian Stronghold scenario.

Basic Exodus, with or without expansions, is a competitive game. Exodus: Event Horizon was designed to enhance competitive play, to introduce new challenges and options for everyone.

Solo scenarios were introduced in Edge of Extinction. Event Horizon does not alter or invalidate those scenarios. They will remain another way to enjoy Exodus solo. (The Centaurian Stronghold does, however, allow you to play the full game solo, mixing and matching modules from this expansion as you would for a multi-player game, with the game itself as your opponent.)

And then there were those two other words — cooperatively and semi-cooperatively ...

This is not simply a variant. It is not just a tacked on resemblance of cooperative play. True cooperative or semi-cooperative play — the players against the game, or the players against each other and the game.

From a design point of view, this was a tremendous challenge! Designing a cooperative mode of play in a way that stays as true to the competitive game as possible, that has minimal impact on existing rules, and that, for all intents and purposes, is “the same game” as before … just cooperative instead of competitive.

Of course, completely avoiding changing any rules is impossible. We are, essentially, talking about different games with completely different objectives and challenges. However, every effort was made to make any such changes sensible and easy to remember.

The New Adversaries

The Centaurian Stronghold scenario features two new adversaries — the Stronghold itself and Warship Squadrons.

The Stronghold is represented by a new central hex. In fact, the Stronghold is the central hex, making travel through the central hex no longer possible.

This massive alien ship megastructure has a nearly impenetrable defense system. Its shields are strong and unyielding and its turrets will bombard the players if they engage it in combat.

On top of this, the Stronghold will send out waves of Warships Squadrons. These ships have movement of their own and will pursue the players’ ships on the board. While they are not individually as deadly as the Stronghold, they are a most formidable foe sure to lay waste to an unprepared player fleet.

There are two ways to lose the game:
• If all Warship Squadron tokens are on the board at the same time.
• If the Centaurian Stronghold remains undefeated at the end of the final turn of the game.

In order to win the game you must defeat the Centaurian Stronghold, while keeping the Warship Squadrons at bay.

Warship Squadrons

While Centaurian Warship Squadrons function much like Centaurian Resistance fleets, they are not considered Centaurian Resistance. You will use a number of Warship Squadron tokens equal to three times the number of players.

During a special Centaurian Stronghold Activation Stage, the Stronghold will deploy waves of Warship Squadrons. All Warship Squadrons currently on the board will then move towards the closest player’s ships. If any Warship Squadrons share a hex with one or more player ships, a battle is immediately resolved.

Cloaking is ineffective against the Centaurian Warship Squadrons.

In a previous blog article, I talked about how the Centaurian Resistance has increased in difficulty. Not only are the Warship Squadrons one step tougher than any Strong Fleet, they have even more powerful cannons and shields! In addition to the Resistance Cards you will reveal to determine the overall strength of a Warship Squadron, they receive a fixed damage and shield bonus. The shield bonus is equal to the current Warship Squadron level and will therefore scale as the game progresses.



Since the Warship Squadrons are engaging the players in waves, only one Warship Squadron can be defeated each combat round, even if more Warship Squadron tokens remain in the hex! Extra damage beyond what is necessary to defeat the Warship Squadron does not carry over or apply to any remaining Warship Squadron.

Attacking the Centaurian Stronghold

The defense mechanisms of the Stronghold are directly linked to the Warship Squadrons. The Stronghold can only be attacked if there are no Centaurian Warship Squadron tokens anywhere on the board.

The Stronghold can be attacked from any hex adjacent to the Stronghold hex. Combat against the Stronghold is very similar to Warship Squadron combat, except even more challenging.

You never reveal any Resistance Cards to determine the strength of the Centaurian Stronghold. Instead, it has a fixed cannon strength of 8 and a shield power of 8 ... plus the shield power bonus based on the current Game Turn! Not only will the players have a reduced chance of hitting the Stronghold — each combat round, in addition to any damage inflicted by the Stronghold damage roll, its turrets will deal 1 damage to each player ship participating in the combat!

The Centaurian Stronghold uses Level tokens instead of Warship Squadron tokens to indicate its remaining strength. Only one Level can be defeated each combat round.

Things just got very real and very dangerous! It is clear that they aim to purge humans from the Centauri system. Humanity's survival is at stake!
Will you be able to save humanity from ultimate destruction? Are you ready to take on this unmatched threat?

There are several ways you can combat the Centaurians:

In the fully cooperative mode, you enlist the help of your fellow players as you work together to eliminate the alien threat. You win or lose together. You must make wise decisions in order to survive.

In the semi-cooperative mode, you still have the threat of the Centaurian Stronghold and its waves of Warship Squadrons. However, their overall strength has been dialed back to allow each player to also pursue individual victory. In this game mode, the Stronghold must still be defeated; however, once the threat has been eliminated, only the most successful player will stand victorious. How much will you contribute to humanity's survival? There are valuable rewards available to those who bravely take on and eliminate the Centaurian adversaries.

Finally, in Solo play, you will have to stand up against the Centaurians alone. This is the ultimate test the Exodus universe has to offer.

Previous articles:
Reaching the Horizon — Birth of an Expansion
Exodus: Event Horizon — An Increased Threat
Exodus: Event Horizon — Planetary Conflict
Exodus: Event Horizon — Into the Unknown
Exodus: Event Horizon — Variety and Options
Exodus: Event Horizon — Turning Up the Heat
Exodus: Event Horizon — Structures
Exodus: Event Horizon — The Final Countdown
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Sun Feb 26, 2017 1:35 am
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Exodus: Event Horizon — The Final Countdown

Rainer Ahlfors
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Module 9 — Energy Barriers

At one point or another during the design process, I was trying to figure out a way to add asteroids, comets, or nebula to the expansion. Ultimately, however, they all proved to be a poor fit.

Either, the rules would be too complicated for something too boring and uneventful, or their impact would be too great and swingy, without really adding any positive experience to the game. So, while cool in theory, neither of them were going to work.



In the end, Energy Barriers made it in.

Energy Barriers originated as a purely thematic addition to the Exodus experience — pockets of dangerous electromagnetic energy that dot the space between sectors.

I always envisioned the various board hexes as planetary neighborhoods, separated by unspecified vastness of space.

Look at our own solar system. We talk about Earth being the third planet, then comes Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, etc. We talk about the planets as if they are somewhat next to each other ...

During play testing, this module was met with a fairly consistent "that's cool, but ... what exactly does it do?"

while the Energy Barriers definitely "do something", they do not impact the game enough to overshadow their thematic value.

In fact, there are two alternate setup options — a draft (of sort) where the players choose where the Energy Barriers are placed or a completely random setup.

No matter which method you choose, each Energy Barrier will be placed on the border between two hexes somewhere on the board. There are a few simply rules governing initial placement:

• Home Planet hexes cannot be bordered by Energy Barriers.
• No hex can be bordered by more than a single Energy Barrier.
• An Energy Barrier cannot be placed along the outer edge of the board.

Once placed, the Energy Barriers remain stationary for the rest of the game.

Personally, I prefer the random setup. I like how the thematic value is enhanced, without detrimental impact on the game.

So, what do these Energy Barriers do?

Well, they are minor obstacles in space. If a ship passes through an Energy Barrier, it suffers 1 damage. (Exception: Dark Raiders can pass through the Barrier without taking any damage.) Additionally, when counting the distance for Rockets (WMDs), each Energy Barrier the Rocket must pass through increases the total distance by 1.

That's it. There is some impact on game play, but nothing so great that you cannot choose to include them simply for their thematic value.

Naturally, random pockets of energy are far more common in sci-fi films than they are in reality. However, since Exodus: Proxima Centauri is not claiming to be an exercise in scientific simulation, such pockets of energy make for a good fit in the game as well.

Module 10 — Leaders

The Leader module came about as a very natural addition to the Exodus game experience. I love asymmetry and player powers, things that make me different from other players, while still maintaining game balance.

The rules are simple: Each Leader provides a unique benefit during the game. During setup, each player is dealt two random Leader cards from which they choose one to keep.

But once you take a closer look at the various Leader roles, you quickly realize the subtle but powerful impact each Leader can have on the game and your overall strategy.

Governor, Admiral, and Commander

Each of these Leaders is simple and straight-forward. You receive a 2 CP discount whenever researching a Technology of a given type (Civilian, Military, or Transport). This is a significant boost which will allow a player to obtain higher tier techs faster than their opponents. A focused strategy centered around a specific Technology type can start working for you much sooner and more effectively. Alternatively, these Leaders can simply boost the efficiency of any type of balanced strategy. Overall, flexible and useful abilities.

Scientist, Engineer, and Visionary

These Leaders each provide a start-of-game benefit — free minor Technology plus a choice of a few additional starting resources; two additional ships; one Standard Action to be taken before the game begins. How will you utilize these benefits? While it can be difficult to envision the impact of an early-game advantage, when properly utilized, you can stay one or two actions ahead of your opponents which can make a crucial difference later in the game.

Celebrity and Politician

Two Leaders that could not be any more different!

The Celebrity represents a sure-fire no-frills 5 VP at the end of the game. That's it! Yet, at the same time, this is an incredibly attractive choice. With the Celebrity, you do not need to alter your overall strategy or worry about whether you are making the most out of your chosen Leader.

The Politician, on the other hand, represents opportunity and taking charge of the unknown. If you select this Leader, you are committing yourself to taking charge of the political aspects of the game. The Council Stage is your domain! The Politician's ability reads:

"During each Council Stage, up to 5 CP of your bid counts double. Additionally, any tied bid (of 1 CP or higher), in which you are involved, is broken in your favor."

Simply put — whether voting during the Political Decision step of the Council Stage, or bidding for Turn Order during the Elections step, your bid is more influential than everyone else's. If you bid 1 CP, it counts as 2 CP (but you only pay 1 CP), a bid of 5 CP counts as 10 CP (though you only pay 5 CP), and a bid of 6 CP counts as 11 CP (since only up to 5 CP of your bid counts as double; you still only pay 6 CP). What impact can this have on the game? To be honest — "it depends." First of all, it is impossible to know which options will be presented during each Political Decision step. Second, you can still be outbid.

"Why not just give the Politician a 5 CP discount when voting/bidding?"

Because the current ability is more thematic and adds to the intrigue of politics! If you don't bid at all, then the Politician ability has no effect. The more you bid, the more you utilize the Politician's power. On the other hand, why bid 5 CP if 1 CP will suffice? Then again, 5 CP counts as 10 CP, whereas 1 CP only counts as 2 CP. However, because the other players know that your lower bids are more efficient, will they simply abstain, knowing you would likely vote for the same option as them, or simply let you "waste" your bid on an option you are likely to win anyway?

The Politician can really shape the game by nudging the politics in your favor. But this Leader also comes with no guarantees!

The rest of the crew! — Industrialist, Negotiator, Diplomat, Strategist, Tactician, Merchant, Commissioner, Magistrate, Visionary, Scrapper, and Peacemaker

Most of the Leaders allow you to "break" one of the rules of the game — collect 6 CP instead of 5 from your CP planets; use an already-taken Reaction at the cost of precious Population; gain 1 VP whenever other players use the Reaction on your Action Card; gain additional VP when you win a battle against another player; roll an extra die when you control two Ships of the same type participating in the same battle; always Trade at the left-most Market slot rates; your War Cruisers cost less; use Civilian Ships before the Mount Population step of each Conquest Stage, take a standard Action before the game begins, buy cannon and rocket Upgrades for 1 CP less, or buy drive and shield Upgrades for 1 CP less.

The rules for the Leader module are simple and straight-forward. But you are in complete charge of your own destiny and how you shape your empire based on your chosen Leader!

The End of the Line

That's it! All ten modules included in Exodus: Event Horizon! Together they represent a massive amount of variety, options, and replaybility. Each individual module has been designed to enhance the gaming experience, to give you, the player, all the tools you need to play Exodus exactly how you like it.

There are plenty of new dangers and new challenges. Whether you play with just one or some modules at a time, or include all of them for the ultimate Exodus experience, you will find that everything comes together very nicely, forming a natural fit with existing mechanisms and staying true to the spirit of Exodus.

Which module is your favorite? Which leader do you like the most?

Previous articles:
Reaching the Horizon — Birth of an Expansion
Exodus: Event Horizon — An Increased Threat
Exodus: Event Horizon — Planetary Conflict
Exodus: Event Horizon — Into the Unknown
Exodus: Event Horizon — Variety and Options
Exodus: Event Horizon — Turning Up the Heat
Exodus: Event Horizon — Structures
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Thu Feb 23, 2017 8:35 pm
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Exodus: Event Horizon — Structures

Rainer Ahlfors
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Event Horizon introduces the concept of a new type of component — structures. Event though structures are created with a Build Ships Action, they do not count as ships.



Module 7 — Jump Gates

Jump Gates are utility structures which can be created with a Build Ships Action. However, you may not build more than 1 Jump Gate per Build Ships Action.

Jump Gates never move and cannot be destroyed. When built, a Jump Gate can be placed on the player's Home Planet hex or in any other hex where the player has one or more ships.

A player can never place a second Jump Gate in a hex where they already have a Jump Gate. However, Jump Gates belonging to separate players can be present in each hex.

At the end of any Conquest Stage, each player may activate one of their Jump Gates to move one or more of their ships from a single hex anywhere on the board to the hex occupied by the Jump Gate.



While they do not serve as a replacement for faster drives, the obvious movement benefits they provide cannot be denied. You may be tempted to place one Jump Gate on your Home Planet and the second Jump Gate in the hex farthest away from your Home Planet. Even though this is a certainly a useful strategy, there are several other placement possibilities which give you a greater tactical advantage.



Jump Gates may appear simple and straightforward, but require forethought and planning. You must consider your overall strategy, as well as the strengths/weaknesses of the other players, where they are seated around the board, proximity to desirable planets, your own drive speed, etc., etc. ...

The more players (i.e. the larger the board), the more useful Jump Gates become. However, since you only have access to two, their placement becomes even more important to consider the larger the board is. They are not a must for every game or every player.

By the time you wish you had a Jump Gate, it will be too late.

Module 8 — Communication Satellites

Like Jump Gates, Communication Satellites are utility structures which can be created with a Build Ships Action. The same building restrictions apply here: you may not build more than 1 Communication Satellite per Build Ships Action.

The first Satellite you build must be placed on your Home Planet hex. Each subsequent Satellite must be placed adjacent to a hex where you already have a Satellite. Once placed, Communication Satellites never move and cannot be destroyed.

The owner of the Satellite deals +1 damage when involved in combat which takes place in the hex. Additionally, the owner of the Satellite receives a +1 bonus to range when launching any WMD from that specific hex.



Communication Satellites serve an obvious defensive purpose, since they must first be built on your home planet. On the other hand, since the first Communication Satellite must be built on your home planet, you will most likely only benefit from its bonus to WMDs, if at all. This may discourage some players from building that first Satellite.

Remember, however — if you never build that first Satellite, you cannot build a second, or third ...

The more Satellites you have, the more useful they are.

How will you use them? Will you set up a defensive Satellite network around your home planet? Will you string them along as you move towards the center of the board? Will you use them more aggressively, as a boost to help attack (or defend against) your neighbors? Will you mainly use the Communication Satellites for their combat bonus, or will you also use them along with WMDs for a more aggressive approach, perhaps even as a deterrent against your opponents?



Jump Gates become more useful at higher player counts. Communication Satellites will become less useful at higher player counts (since they can only be placed in somewhat close proximity to your Home Planet). On the other hand, Communication Satellites provide a very reliable and constant benefit.

Together, Jump Gates and Communication Satellites cater to a variety of play styles, especially for seasoned players.

Previous articles:
Reaching the Horizon — Birth of an Expansion
Exodus: Event Horizon — An Increased Threat
Exodus: Event Horizon — Planetary Conflict
Exodus: Event Horizon — Into the Unknown
Exodus: Event Horizon — Variety and Options
Exodus: Event Horizon — Turning Up the Heat
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Tue Feb 21, 2017 10:57 pm
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Exodus: Event Horizon — Turning Up the Heat

Rainer Ahlfors
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Module 6 — Proxima Centauri

Proxima Centauri, humanity's new home star, makes an appearance!

This module was part of the very first draft in November, 2015, along with the Centaurian Outposts and Exploration modules. The desire was to introduce an alternate central hex that would offer players more variety and options.

During setup, Proxima Centauri replaces the High Council hex. Travel through the central hex is no longer possible. Any card or rule which applies to the High Council hex have no effect.



At first glance, the impassable central hex may not seem like much of a change. However, drive speed will greatly affect your ability to cross the board or chase after an opponent's ships.

Finally, all planet hexes immediately adjacent to the Proxima Centauri hex are affected by Solar Wind. A player who has researched relevant Technologies can take advantage of the Solar Wind to increase the combat prowess of their ships.

Here is an excerpt from the initial draft, explaining the concept behind this module:
The idea is to allow research of certain technologies which provide a significant boost in any hex affected by Solar Wind, but otherwise have no effect. For example, Solar Shield Booster could be a simple tech which, when researched, allows a player to cancel the first X hits against their ships (if combat takes place inside an area affected by Solar Wind), where X is equal to the number of shield slots occupied by a shield (regardless of its strength) on that ship's blueprint. Solar Cannon Booster could provide a +1 to X individual dice, where X is equal to the number of cannon slots occupied by a cannon (regardless of its strength) on that ship's blueprint.

Most of those initial ideas have carried over to the final version, at least in spirit.

This module adds two new Technologies the players can research: Solar Shield Booster and Solar Cannon Booster.

Solar Shield Booster (23 CP, Military)
While in a hex affected by Solar Wind and engaged in Player Combat or Centaurian Resistance Combat, the strength of each of your Shields is increased by 1.

Solar Cannon Booster (17 CP, Military)
While in a hex affected by Solar Wind and engaged in Player Combat or Centaurian Resistance Combat, your attack results of 4 or better are successful hits.

Simple and straightforward!

When combined with second-tier cannons and shields, the Solar Booster Technologies will keep your ships on par with ships equipped with top-tier cannons and shields, but only in the vicinity of the star. Cost wise, you end up paying more CP than Phasium for the same relative power. On the other hand, top-tier Upgrades will function anywhere on the board.

Of course, top-tier cannons and shields, when combined with Solar Booster Technologies, are unmatched in strength among ships, and deservedly so, considering the premium cost paid for such power.

Does not this sound like the perfect setup for a brand new multi-player scenario?

New Scenario: Event Horizon

In science, an event horizon is the "surface" of a black hole, the boundary beyond which nothing can escape from within it. Occasionally, though far less commonly, the term event horizon is used to describe an especially impactful event, a "point of no return" beyond which nothing will ever be the same again.

Being the name for this expansion, the name has certainly gained several different meanings over time. But, somehow, it would feel wrong not to build a scenario around the scientific meaning of an event horizon.

Oh, wait! The actual Proxima Centauri star is not massive enough to transition from a star to a black hole. It will never go supernova. Instead, in its post‐main‐sequence phases, a small red dwarf like Proxima Centauri will grow hotter while remaining physically small as it transitions to a blue dwarf. Eventually, as the fuel runs out, the star will slowly fade away as a white dwarf. Oops!

...

The Event Horizon scenario specifically makes use of the Proxima Centauri module. Additionally, this scenario represents a new challenge mode for competitive play in Exodus: Proxima Centauri.

In general terms — all rules for Exodus: Proxima Centauri remain unchanged. If you are playing with Edge of Extinction or Event Horizon, all those rules also remain unchanged.

There is just one significant difference when playing the Event Horizon scenario — while the maximum number of Turns remains unchanged, the game may, somewhat unexpectedly, end sooner.

At the end of each Turn, you will add 1 Star Evolution token to the central Proxima Centauri hex. If there are two or more tokens on the hex (meaning, at any point after Turn 2), you will then roll a die. If the result is equal to or less than the number of Star Evolution tokens in play, the star evolves. In other words — the further the game progresses, the more likely it is that Proxima Centauri will evolve.

The first time Proxima Centauri evolves, Increased Heat tokens will be placed on each of the 6 planet hexes immediately adjacent to the Proxima Centauri hex. From now on, Solar Wind also affects all hexes immediately adjacent to any hex with an Increased Heat token (thereby greatly expanding the area where Solar Booster Technologies will function).

The second time Proxima Centauri evolves, the game immediately ends!

In a standard game, there is a small chance (11%) that the game will end immediately at the end of Turn 3. However, most games will last 6 or 7 Turns. Even if the game plays for the full 7 Turns, Proxima Centauri is guaranteed to evolve at least once.

Until Proxima Centauri evolves the first time, remember that at least 2 more Turns will remain. This means that the end of the game will never come as a complete surprise.

If the somewhat random game length is not for you, no worries. You can play with the Proxima Centauri module, enjoying the full effects of Solar Wind, without having to play the Event Horizon scenario. (In 5-6 player games, you can even use the Increased Heat tokens.)

Previous articles:
Reaching the Horizon — Birth of an Expansion
Exodus: Event Horizon — An Increased Threat
Exodus: Event Horizon — Planetary Conflict
Exodus: Event Horizon — Into the Unknown
Exodus: Event Horizon — Variety and Options
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Sun Feb 19, 2017 9:57 pm
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Exodus: Event Horizon — Variety and Options

Rainer Ahlfors
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Module 5 — New Planets

Throughout the entire design process — from concept to finished product — was this idea of adding variety and options to the game. This is especially true with the New Planets module.

In addition to player home planets, Exodus: Proxima Centauri contains 36 planets divided into three types depending on which resources they produce — CP, Axinium, or Phasium.

Exodus: Event Horizon adds a whopping 23 additional planets! There are no new resource types, as adding new resources would either imbalance or complicate the game, without adding any value. Instead, the new planets added by Event Horizon introduce simple abilities in addition to the resources they produce.








No Resources: This planet produces no resources during the game. In exchange, it is worth 6 VP at the end of the game.





Barren: During resource production, roll a die. On a result of 4+, the planet produces normally. Otherwise, the planet yields no production that turn. If multiple players occupy the planet, each player will roll separately. Mining actions have no effect on a barren planet. It also never becomes depleted.





Finite: This planets has a finite number of resources. Once depleted, it can no longer produce resources. Mining actions have no effect on a finite planet.





Peaceful: A peaceful planet cannot be targeted by Rockets (WMDs).





Advanced (Transport): Each player who has at least 1 Population on the planet receives a 1 CP discount to any research of Transport techs.





Advanced (Civilian): Each player who has at least 1 Population on the planet receives a 1 CP discount to any research of Civilian techs.





Advanced (Military): Each player who has at least 1 Population on the planet receives a 1 CP discount to any research of Military techs.





Dual Resource: Two separate dice are placed on the planet. During production, both resources are gained and tracked separately. However, at the end of the game, controlling the planet is not worth any VP.


As you can see, the new planet types not only add variety to the game, they also introduce new and interesting abilities for the players to consider, but without making the game any more complex.

While the new planet types maintain a healthy balance between the VP they provide and the resources produced or other benefits provided, not all planet abilities will benefit all players equally. It is important for each player to trust their own skills when determining which planets are worth competing for and which are not.



Previous articles:
Reaching the Horizon — Birth of an Expansion
Exodus: Event Horizon — An Increased Threat
Exodus: Event Horizon — Planetary Conflict
Exodus: Event Horizon — Into the Unknown
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Fri Feb 17, 2017 8:35 pm
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Exodus: Event Horizon — Into the Unknown

Rainer Ahlfors
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Module 4 — Exploration

Exodus: Proxima Centauri is commonly referred to as a 4X game, and rightly so. It possesses the typical attributes you would expect in a 4X game of any genre — epic game play proudly borne by the pillars of the 4X genre — eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate.

Expansion is prominently featured in Exodus as the players colonize new planets and scatter their fleet across the solar system.

Exploitation of resources is a core aspect of Exodus, resources without which you cannot accomplish anything.

Extermination of your opponents' ships and the Centaurian Resistance is key to achieving victory.

Exploration, on the other hand, was always the weakest "X" in the Exodus: Proxima Centauri 4X experience.

Let's just come out and say it — Exodus: Event Horizon adds Exploration to Exodus: Proxima Centauri. In fact, there is an entire module devoted to this aspect, with several other modules to enhance exploration in the game.

This is not at all a complaint about Exodus or an attempt to "fix" anything. Instead, it is all about enriching the experience for you as a gamer.

First, let's begin the game with all hexes face down! That's right! All hexes (except the central hex or player starting planets) are placed face down during setup. Although the general distribution of resource types will remain the same as before, you will have to discover where certain resource types are located.



If all planet hexes begin the game face down, will the unknown locations of CP, Axinium, and Phasium be a hindrance?

They do not have to be. In fact, they should not be. Smart use of Trading (and Advanced Trading) can ensure that you have the resources you need. Improved drive Technologies will enable moving across the board more quickly once desired planet types have been discovered.

Before the game begins, you may also secretly look at one of the face-down planet hexes adjacent to your Home Planet. This allows you to make an informed decision about which planet to colonize first.

Alright! Tell me more about how exploration will actually function in the game!

Whenever one or more ships end their movement on a face-down hex, reveal the hex by flipping it face up, then draw an Event card and resolve its effect. If two or more players ended their movement on the same hex, the Event affects all players (unless the card says otherwise). After the effect of the Event has been resolved, place any resource dice and other tokens as applicable.

The Event deck contains three types of cards:
• Boon — a purely positive effect which directly affects the player(s) who first explored the new hex. In rare cases, a Boon may affect all players.
• Bane — a mostly negative effect which directly affects the player(s) who first explored the new hex.
• Neutral — an effect that can sometimes be positive, sometimes negative, and sometimes not impact you at all.



As a player, you have a choice. You can choose to take a risk and hope that the impact of any Bane Events is minimal, and plan accordingly. Alternatively, you can research the Sector Scan Technology and ignore the effects of all Bane Events. Keep in mind — Sector Scan only protects you against specifically marked Bane Events. Negative effects potentially caused by Neutral events cannot be avoided.

Venturing into the unknown is sure to be both exciting and surprising. However, the unknown dangers will also require good planning and adaptability for all players.

Previous articles:
Reaching the Horizon — Birth of an Expansion
Exodus: Event Horizon — An Increased Threat
Exodus: Event Horizon — Planetary Conflict
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Wed Feb 15, 2017 8:35 pm
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Exodus: Event Horizon — Planetary Conflict

Rainer Ahlfors
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In the Exodus universe, humanity was rebuilt on the ashes of a former Centaurian empire. A Centaurian remnant would oppose human expansion and was waging combat in space, yet the planets were seemingly undefended and empty. And thus the idea was born.

Module 3 — Centaurian Outposts

Centaurian Outposts was the name of the very first module that took shape in what is now Exodus: Event Horizon.

The inspiration behind this module was multifaceted from the start. The desire for a planetary version of the Centaurian Resistance held so much potential! There would be surface combat; another source of victory points and other valuable rewards; an alternative to building a large fleet of ships; increased thematic depth and immersion.

There have been surprisingly few changes to this module. Certainly there have been a few balance changes, but you would recognize much of the spirit from the final version throughout the early drafts. The number and distribution of Outpost tokens has remained the same (10 blank, 14 level 1, 12 level 2; 36 total). There were four different technologies at the beginning, and there are still four, most of which have remained the same, at least in spirit.

Just halfway through our very first play test, it was clear that the Centaurian Outposts were here to stay! This new challenge felt so right, so thematic, and so natural. It was a bit punishing at first, however. Not in an imbalanced way; just in a way that felt unpolished.

Originally, Centaurian Outpost combat would happen only once per round — immediately after collecting resources from the planet. In theory, this seemed like a good idea — the Centaurians are upset because we are exploiting the planet's resources, so they attack us. But this ended up feeling a bit out of place. Why do they wait to attack until we collect resources? Why do they not attack us as soon as we begin colonizing the planet? The whole deployment/combat sequence also hinged too heavily on a really cool new Technology — Planet Scan. In reality this meant that everyone wanted to research that tech, which reduced the tech to a tax on the players.

In the end, I decided I wanted the players to be stronger. It is cool to be heroic! I wanted to give the players multiple ways of dealing with this new Centaurian threat, but without imposing game play requirements on the players.



The final version of the Centaurian Outpost module has brought it much closer to the main inspiration for its initial design — the desire for a planetary version of the Centaurian Resistance.

During the Upkeep Stage, each player places 1 additional Population cube on their Home Planet. Awesome! More Population means a stronger military force (more on this later). Alternatively, you can choose to spend your population to perform more Reactions, colonize more planets, etc.

Centaurian Outpost combat now happens during the Conquest Stage. Seems like a no-brainer now, but this was not always the case. Immediately after successfully deploying Population onto a planet with a face-down Centaurian Outpost token, flip the token face up. If the token is blank, remove it from the game. Otherwise, engage in combat with the Centaurian Outpost.

In the base game, there are 6 Technologies which directly deal with space combat, and a handful of others which can be argued are related. On top of that, you need to build ships, buy upgrades, repair your ships, etc.

Centaurian Outpost combat is streamlined and simple. There are only 4 Technologies related to surface combat. Individually, they are cheaper and more powerful than their space combat counterparts. You have the ability to cloak, avoiding combat altogether. One technology lets you roll 1 additional die against the Centaurian Outposts. Another technology reduces the amount of damage taken when the Outpost attacks. The final technology counts all results of 4 or better as successful hits. Together, these techs cost a mere 28 CP. There are no Upgrades to buy, no way to lose the benefit once acquired.

I also did not want Centaurian Outpost combat to bog down the game. Unlike combat between ships, a single attack roll constitutes Centaurian Outpost combat. To defeat the Outpost you must, in a single roll, score a number of hits equal to or greater than its level (1 or 2). If you win, collect rewards and remove the Outpost token from the game! In case of defeat, the Outpost attacks.



When attacking a Centaurian Outpost, you roll a number of dice equal to 1 + the number of Population you have on the planet. The Infrastructure tech lets you roll one additional die. If you have at least one Fighter ship in the hex, roll one additional die.

The dependency on Population also means that the Civilian Ships tech from the base game becomes even more attractive.

Since some form of expansion is necessary, regardless of your overall game strategy, it was important to me that the final version not be too punishing for any player, and I am really happy with the end result. Even though both the re-imagined Centaurian Resistance (discussed in the previous article) and these new Centaurian Outposts make the game more challenging, they have been met by positive feedback from the play testers.

As a player, you are provided with multiple ways of dealing with the threat posed by the Outposts. As in any conflict, there can be losses. But the rewards for defeating an Outpost are well worth the risks!

Come prepared. Emerge victorious!

But not all challenges have to involve conflict or even the Centaurians. Join me in the next article as we take a closer look at yet another thematic addition to the Exodus universe!

Previous articles:
Reaching the Horizon — Birth of an Expansion
Exodus: Event Horizon — An Increased Threat
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Exodus: Event Horizon — An Increased Threat

Rainer Ahlfors
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From the very beginning, Exodus: Event Horizon was a modular expansion. The first detailed summary I sent to Andrei Novac (Nov 6, 2015; in response to his request for elaboration of my ideas) contained only three modules. However, this document really set the tone for the rest of the design and development process, and, quite frankly, also established how the expansion rule book would be approached.

The final version of Event Horizon contains 10 modules. This expansion was never designed to alter basic game play or intended as a "fix" to any perceived problems with Exodus: Proxima Centauri. The main design goal was always to add, enhance, and enrich gaming experiences fans of the game already love. It was also important to ensure that anything introduced in the expansion would integrate seamlessly into existing game play.

Today we are going to take a look at the first two modules in Event Horizon. They also happen to be the only two which directly affect existing mechanisms.

Module 1 — Bonus Actions

This module was actually one of the last to be added to Event Horizon. While the rules that accompany this module are extremely brief, its relevance should not be neglected. Bonus Actions are already part of the base game and play an important part in the overall game play. This module adds new cards to the mix.

One of the Bonus Action cards is a re-implementation of an older promo card (Supplies), although it has been updated and balanced to better fit with the rest of Event Horizon.

The other Bonus Actions are brand new and provide some very important benefits previously not available to the players "on demand". At first glance, the new Bonus Actions may not seem overly exciting. Of course, they were not necessarily designed to be exciting, only to be useful. Properly used, they can provide a valuable boost, especially when considering interaction with the other modules.



Accelerated Cloning allows you to immediately gain 2 Population on your Home Planet. This additional Population is an important boost for both Reactions and colonizing of new planets.

Nanobots with their ability to repair your ships can be a welcome boon after a particularly devastating round of combat or when fighting against the ever stronger and bolder Centaurians.

Additional Supplies can provide you with a timely Upgrade you desperately need and perhaps otherwise could not afford. However, ensure to Research the desired Technology first!

During game setup, simply include one or more of the Bonus Action cards from this module with those from the base game. I also included a variant rule: Each turn, the Vice Chancellor will shuffle and randomly draw six of the Bonus Action cards used in the game and make their selection from those six cards.

Module 2 — Centaurian Resistance

In the lore of Exodus: Proxima Centauri, humanity was on the brink of self-destruction. It tells the story of a nuclear war that devastated Earth, making it necessary for the human race to leave their dying world behind, seeking for a new home in the Alpha Centauri system.

On their exodus, humanity came into contact with a superior alien civilization, simply referred to by humans as the Centaurians. After learning of the exiles' predicament, the Centaurians guided the severely damaged human fleet towards a planetary system able to support human life. There the ships were repaired and outfitted for their final journey towards what was believed to be a perfect new home for the troubled humanity.

Even though the journey became a time of peace and respite, during which humanity forgot about inner strife and instead focused on enjoying advanced Centaurian technologies, peace would not last forever. Even before reaching their new home, the human factions again took up arms against one another, causing the Centaurians to interfere. As a result, each human faction was established on a different home planet in the Proxima Centauri planetary system.

The humans began the long process of rebuilding, ever guided by the Centaurian hosts. Eventually, however, the Centaurians announced their own departure. Only a small remnant of Centaurians decided to stay behind.

As humanity prospered, conflicts between the factions grew fierce. Other battles would take place, involving Centaurians who resisted the expansion and growth of the new human empires.

In Exodus: Proxima Centauri, the Centaurian Resistance is represented by tokens placed on the board during setup. Defeating any Resistance ship rewards the victorious player with valuable technologies or upgrades, with the option of foregoing the reward in exchange for end-game victory points.

Early in the game, engaging in combat against Centaurian ships would spell certain doom for a player. However, later in the game, the Centaurian Resistance would cease to be a significant threat. The latter was even more pronounced when playing with the Edge of Extinction expansion.

So, what changes are introduced in this module?

Even though the old Resistance cards are still used, the strength of the Centaurian Resistance has changed. Instead of three Resistance levels, there are now only two — Regular and Strong. "Regular" tokens replace the Level 1 and Level 2 tokens on the board, whereas "Strong" tokens replace the Level 3 tokens. Howbeit, the actual strength scales throughout the game! During the first turn, "Regular" is still equivalent to a Level 1 Resistance ship. But, later in the game, that "Regular" token may instead represent a Level 2 and a Level 3 Resistance ship!



Additionally, a defeated Resistance token is no longer removed from the game. The token is simply flipped to its defeated side and remains on the board. During the Upkeep stage, if no player controls ships in that hex, the Centaurian Resistance token is once again flipped to its active side.

As you can see — as the players grow stronger, so does the Centaurian Resistance, thereby proving to be a more consistent and balanced threat throughout the game than before. The Resistance also scales more quickly when playing with the Edge of Extinction expansion.

But it is not just in space combat where the Centaurians prove to be formidable opponents. Next, we will discuss other areas where the Centaurian civilization has grown and prospered, now posing a more significant threat than previously.

Previous articles:
Reaching the Horizon — Birth of an Expansion
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Reaching the Horizon — Birth of an Expansion

Rainer Ahlfors
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Exodus: Event Horizon, scheduled for public release Q4 2017, is an expansion for Exodus: Proxima Centauri and represents the final chapter in the Exodus saga.

Exodus: Proxima Centauri is set in a future where the collective actions of mankind led to the destruction of our world, and where humanity had to seek a new home in the vicinity of Proxima Centauri, the closest star outside our solar system.

Nearing the end of the exodus, humans encountered an alien race, commonly referred to as the Centaurians. With the aid of the Centaurians, the six human factions which had departed Old Earth were able to rebuild on the ruins of the former Centaurian empire. Humanity once again prospered. Being on the brink of their own extinction, the Centaurians depart, leaving only a remnant of their once glorious civilization behind.

The first expansion — Exodus: Edge of Extinction — tells the story of how the six human factions rebuilt, developed new technologies, and ultimately returned to full-scale war against one another.

Event Horizon takes us right into the midst of the conflict. At the height of expansion, humans discover that pockets of the old Centaurian civilization have also prospered and regained much of their old glory. The war escalates to include the ever-stronger Centaurians as well. Through a twist of fate, a monumental event takes place: the Centaurians return, ready to exact revenge on humanity for the treatment of the Centaurian remnant! Humans must now unite against the Centaurians or face certain annihilation. Win or lose, this final conflict cannot prevent another disastrous process which is unfolding — the death Proxima Centauri.



How the Event Horizon expansion came to be is a unique story in itself. In the summer of 2015, as copies of Edge of Extinction were being delivered to Kickstarter backers, I eagerly played my copy as soon as it arrived. Even before the release of Edge of Extinction, Exodus: Proxima Centauri was my favorite game of all time. Naturally, I had high hopes for the expansion.

It is no secret that Edge of Extinction was a success! Reviewers and gamers alike agreed that the expansion took the game to the next level. Its seamless integration with the base game; the staggering amount of new experiences it had to offer, but without necessarily making the game more complex; the flavor and asymmetry of the factions; the way the expansion simply made the game better, in all aspects — all of this made for a very good addition to an already great game.

I was over the moon! Edge of Extinction was everything I had hoped it would be, and more!

My mind was running wild with hopes and ideas for what might come in a future expansion. Not only had Exodus: Proxima Centauri become more solidified as my number one game, its relevance as a prominent game had become reaffirmed.

I took notes of some of the thoughts and ideas I had. As time passed, I returned to my notes to make comments and develop the ideas further. After a few short months, I decided to share these ideas with one of the game's original designers, Andrei Novac. I really had no specific expectations with regards to the response. Maybe other expansion ideas were already in the works, or maybe he and the team at NSKN Games had altogether different ideas of where things should go next.

To my pleasant surprise, Andrei responded that he liked my ideas and asked that I would elaborate on how I envisioned them fitting into the game. After a few exchanges back and forth, I was asked to co-design an expansion with him! I had never expected such a response! The thought of my humble ideas making their way into an actual expansion for my favorite game was beyond anything I could have hoped for.



As time went by, ideas were developed into game mechanisms. Structure and balance began to form, and each idea grew into its own module. Over time, Andrei's liking for what I brought to the table grew into confidence that I could simply design the expansion on my own, while remaining true to the spirit of the base game. With that, he also asked that I increase the number of modules, to ensure viability as a large-box expansion, and to provide more enjoyment and value for any gamer who would acquire the expansion.

The order of the modules, as they are laid out in the expansion, does not reflect the order in which they were developed. Instead, they are presented in Event Horizon in a way that makes them easier to digest and implement for players. Over the next couple articles, I will present each module along with a bit of explanation of the process that went into its development, from early idea to final design.

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Thu Feb 9, 2017 8:32 pm
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No cheating!

Andrei Novac
Poland
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A few days ago I had a very interesting conversation about cheating and cheaters in board games which made me think a lot more (than needed probably) about this topic. As it turns out, there are people who cheat while playing board games… and I am not talking here about poker for money or Russian roulette, the events in question are plain ol’ euro games, like Agricola and its kind. I must admit that it felt like a surprise to hear that, so I decided to internalize this idea and figure out exactly where I stand.

First of all, let’s take a look at why do people cheat:
- they do not know how to lose or they want to make sure they win,
- they have no moral compass and therefore do not care how they win,
- they want to win so badly that cheating seems the right path to take,
- they’re afraid of social exclusion because they cannot win and thus they cheat to improve their chances, etc.

I believe that most people have a moral compass and that they see cheating in games as acceptable because the stakes are low… at least the official ones. You play a game which is just a game, it does not come with any financial gain or punishment, it does not affect your future and it will most likely be forgotten in a matter of days, if not hours. Our morality mechanism doesn’t really engulf board games properly and thus it keeps some of us in not-so-tight ropes and we allow ourselves to cheat. Well, that was my first thought, but them I took some more time to look into that.

Why do people really cheat in a game with literally no stakes? First of all, that’s not true, there are stakes, even though it’s they do not seem life changing or material. It’s players’ self worth. Here’s what I think makes people cheat in board games and other low stakes endeavors:
- they associate winning with higher intelligence,
- they need social recognition as they believe others see winners in board games as smarter that people who do not win so often.

Ask people not why they cheat, but what does their performance at board games tell about them and you will most likely get at least a few awkward answers, you’ll find some people who dodge the question and try to escape with a joke. I cannot say how do these people really feel, but I suspect that they suffer from low self esteem, they want to prove themselves in your (the smart gal/guy who does not cheat) eyes and they have no idea of how to deal with losing.

In my opinion, your ability to win specific games or your ability to do well in certain genres tells this about you: you are good at that. There are things I noticed in my still rather short years of experience with board games:
- genius level IQ does not necessarily make one good at board games, it might but it doesn’t have to,
- being very good at one game (I have a friend who won 9 Terra Mystica games out of the 10 he played) does not make you good at all games (the same friend is not winning many games which have negative interaction),
- people with below average IQ and real problems in their day to day life can be brilliant at one or more games (my parents have a friend who can barely manage at his easy job, but he is one of the best bridge players I have ever encountered).

Losing and dealing gracefully with it is a matter of education and knowing your self worth. Cheating is the way of people to circumvent life questions such as “Who am I really?”, “Am I a smart person?”, “How do others see me and what do I do with their opinions?”. My only advice for those who cheat at board games is to… not. If you cheat, you will always know you did that, it will lower your self esteem ever further because you will never know if you could have done it without cheating. Even if you’re not caught (ever) and you get to win, people will only see you as a person who has a way with board games, but life is more complicated and cheating is not an option. You’re only cheating yourself.

As for how to deal with people who cheat… that’s the real question. A few years ago I would have simply said take them out completely of your lives, what’s the purpose of having cheaters around? Today, I believe there’s a better way:
- first off, catch them and expose them, but…
- do not make them feel ashamed and small (they probably do that already),
- explain to them that winning is not everything, losing is OK, the experience matters and it is about having fun, learning and spending time with friends and family, make them feel human again and give them another chance. Show them that you do not think less of them if they lose, but you will think less of them if they’re cheating again.

How would you deal with people who cheat?
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Fri Jan 13, 2017 8:03 am
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