This free update to the public test build of our card game Fourth Horizon includes a new mechanic, adjustments to several cards, and a preview of some potential changes coming to the design of the card frames at the end. Additionally, there’s a slight adjustment to some terminology and text styling to make the game more consistent and easier to write new abilities for.
Before we get into that, though, I’d like to take a moment to recap what Fourth Horizon is and how to play it right now for free. Fourth Horizon is a card game we’re developing based on an original science fiction/cyberpunk setting in which different groups are competing for influence at the Fourth Horizon Council. Each player takes on the role of one such group, gaining allies and making connections to get your way at the meeting.
With that said, let’s dive into this update.
New Game Mechanic: Fee
Fee is a new keyword we’re adding to the game. Allies with a Fee allow you to spend an amount of your money on them (after the turn they are played) to gain additional effects. If playing an Ally is like gaining that character’s support, paying their Fee is like hiring them to do a job for you. Some will gain you extra resources, like the reworked Leshere Jeweler. Others, such as the CorSec Examiner, will help you get the cards you need and activate certain synergistic effects. Then, you have the Raström pirates who you can pay to deal a little damage or smuggle something into your deck. Whatever you need done, somebody’s willing to do the job—for a fee.
We’re really excited about this new kind of ability. Fees allow us to create some interesting moments and decision-making. For example, in one game during playtesting, a player decided it was best not to play any cards at all, but to only pay for Fees from their allies. trying to figure out how to spend your limited resources each turn has always been a core part of Fourth Horizon, and Fees fit right into that.
We’ve adjusted several cards since the last update either to help them see play, or to make them a bit less overbearing. Others have been adjusted to make use of Fees. I’ll cover some of the major changes here, but you’ll find a few others in the Tabletop Simulator mod and print-and-play files.
We found the prior iteration of this card to be a bit clunky to use. In short, it was never a desirable Mod target, and sometimes its effect was actually something you wanted to avoid if your hand was already quite good. Using the new Fee mechanic gives us a new way to manipulate your hand and activate Swap effects without having to play Mods. Making it a 3/3 ally instead of a 2/4 also makes it a bit easier for your opponent to deal with (which is important now that it’s a more reliable Fee engine) while also giving it a bit more value through a slightly buffed Influence.
On a larger scale, we also wanted to make sure to have a card that you could spend a small amount on with a cheap Fee ability. You can toss this card in any deck to help improve consistency while also helping you fill out those sometimes awkward turns when you play a 4-cost card from your hand. Most of the Fees cost 2 or 3 Credits, so this one stands out as a cheap but sometimes impactful spender.
Was: 2 Influence, 4 Resilience. After you attach a Mod to this Ally, you may Swap a card in your hand with the top card of your deck.
Now: 3 Influence, 3 Resilience. Fee (1): Swap a card.
Cosmods have been a tricky one to balance. This iteration offers more influence off the card itself, and removes the stat bonus which could be confusing to track for new players. It also still allows you to gain Freelancers, but slows the player down a bit by making them pay to play the Freelancers from their hand.
Plus, now we can show off Javier’s awesome new art for Cosmods! Green skin and glowing tattoos don’t happen by chance in the world of Fourth Horizon—you’ve got to invest in some cosmetic modifications. For those who can, it’s a part of self-expression. It also tends to draw attention… perhaps from some 1/1 Freelancers?
Was: 0 Influence. The Attached ally has +1/+1. Whenever you Swap a card, gain a 1/1 Freelancer.
Now: 2 Influence. Whenever you Swap a card, add a 1/1 Freelancer to your hand.
The technophile is based on a character who doesn’t care a whole lot about what they’re modifying themselves with—they just want more. So, it’s fitting they might rummage around the trash a bit.
We noticed in our tests that while Atekyu (Blue) has some powerful combos with Mods, they are also very reliant on them. Since Mods are perhaps one of the most vulnerable types of cards, this can create some issues. Now, the Technophile can help you get back some of the cheap Mods you might have lost. To compensate, we’ve lowered their Resilience a bit—but keep reading and you’ll find a new Svaleg Arn (Purple) card that will help keep it around.
Was: 4 Resilience. This has +1 Influence for each mod attached to it.
Now: 3 Resilience. Play: Get a Mod that costs (2) or less from your discard pile. This has +1 Influence for each mod attached to it.
The jeweler has not greatly changed, but now instead of getting her crystal once on play, you can get multiple crystals from her by paying the Fee.
Was: Play: Gain a crystal.
Now: Fee (2): Gain a crystal.
This fellow wasn’t seeing a lot of play as a value card for crystals. It was a bit too slow and the 4 Resilience was a bit frail for a 5-cost ally. We wanted to make sure Nihland (Red) had a high-cost ally to play with, and we’re confident this card is powerful when used alongside anything that lets it Strike, so we’re trying a new effect that plays into Fees.
While every region (color) has Fee effects, Nihland makes the best use of them so far. Using the Investor can give you some powerful turns if you plan for them. 1-cost crystals are only the beginning of this character’s potential. Other fee effects include tools to damage foes, protect allies, and even destroy Mods. With this ally on your side, all of that becomes much easier to afford.
Rework: Your Allies’ Fees cost (1) less, but not less than (1).
Previously Empress’ Missive, this card was originally created to help Svaleg Arn (Purple) decks find their allies back when the game did not allow much mixing of regions. That’s no longer the case, and now that you can mix any number of regions together, that effect is no longer very useful. So, we redesigned it into something the game desperately needed: a fast action to protect your allies with. If you need to keep an ally in play, such as a Technophile or Investor, consider adding one of these to your deck.
Rework: Play: Refresh an ally and give it +2 Resolve until the end of the turn.
Card Frame Design Changes
Alright so this is an interesting discussion to have so late in the game’s design.
While we’re happy with the look of Fourth Horizon’s cards right now, we think they could better match the art style our illustrators are using, and also better communicate what some of the numbers and icons mean. To that end, I’m currently reworking the card frames. Here’s a quick preview of what the new design is looking like!
This is, of course, still a work in progress. There’s still room for some major changes. However, our team is really happy with the new direction overall, and with how it spells out what the different components are now. That’s a big deal for helping players learn the game—especially if they don’t have some experience already with Magic: the Gathering or other card game. There’s a bit more to do, but stay tuned in here or our social media channels if you’re interested in seeing more as we finalize the new design!
Share Your Decks With Us!
If you’d like to chat more about Fourth Horizon, swing on over to our Discord server to chat with our community and share with us what awesome decks you’ve built in the public test build!
Also, don’t forget if you’ve played Fourth Horizon to leave us some feedback using this short form! It’s immensely helpful for us as we continue the game’s development. <3