From the Library: Dark Horizon
Today I am going to introduce you all to a game that is perhaps not as well known as it should be, Dark Horizon: Escape. Dark Horizon was released in 1996 by Advanced Primate Entertainment; their first game as far as I can tell.
From the back of the box:
A near-future tactical combat simulation for two players or teams. One player controls the agents of the People for a Unified Tomorrow (PUNT), attempting to destroy the Armageddon Device and escape Talobar Technologies alive. The other team controls the Talobar CorpGuard security forces, using whatever means necessary to stop the agents.
Unique puzzle board floor tiles allow an almost infinite numbers of layouts, while the finely detailed Grenadier miniatures and stand-up door pieces give the game a realistic 3D feel. A simple impulse-based system keeps all players involved in every moment of the game.
As described above, it came with a handful of metal miniatures from Grenadier’s excellent Future Warriors range to use for the various characters, and a set of cardboard floor tiles for laying out the various mission arenas.
In some ways it’s a little like a cyberpunk Space Hulk, but more in-depth.
I first discovered the game in a copy of Mars magazine that I had picked up in Beatties as a boy. Mars was a great independent tabletop gaming magazine that was around in the nineties and covered a lot of great games, including the classics Warzone and Flintloque.
Issue number 6 in particular had an intriguing looking intro game in it for Dark Horizon, as well as a very promising article about gaming with Reaper’s Doom miniatures range that I never managed to get ahold of and now sell for a small fortune.
This article gave you some stripped down basics of the gameplay and a little starter scenario and some cut out playing pieces to try the game out on. This was a unique scenario that does not show up in the main game.
As soon as I encountered that little test game, I knew I wanted the full thing. Sadly I would have been about 11 or 12 at the time, without disposable income or access to anywhere that even stocked the game.
Some years later I finally found a copy of the game whilst at Uni in Aberystwyth, at the Albatross model shop. Albatross was a bit of a treasure trove, and I miss it somewhat. Uni being Uni, I never managed to actually play the game and in the process of moving back to Gloucestershire it went missing.
Over the years I have tried to track down a replacement copy, as well as the stand-alone expansion Notice of Termination. I finally managed to find them at a sensible price via eBay. The expansion adds a lot of great content and some new characters to the mix, but unfortunately only comes with cardboard standees for the figures. Now, I’m a fan of standees, but I don’t like to mix and match. Fortunately a selection of the range is currently available from em4miniatures, here:
So I picked up figures to represent the remaining characters, as well as those needed to run the extra scenarios that used to be on the APE website. These scenarios can be accessed through the wayback machine:
As can the Fastplay mini game, in case you want to give the game a try yourself:
Because of the glacial pace that I get through my painting projects, I have only just got the first chunk of figures I need painted up.
Lin So (or at least, the only lady figure from the range I could find with an SMG that wasn’t already being used), Rif Skapper and three SMG wielding Corp Guards; as well as a data access point. They are still rather shiny at the moment as I am currently out of anti-shine, so they’ve just had two coats of Halfords gloss for now. These figures are all that are needed for the Fastplay scenario, which is what I plan to start with. Just two more figures will allow me to play another chunk of scenarios, and I hope to have those done soon.
With luck I should get the first scenario played this weekend, a mere 25 years after first setting eyes on the game. Afterwards I will post a battle report here so you can see how it plays.