Horizon Zero Dawn: The Board Game – The Thunderjaw Expansion Review

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Hot off the heels of our Horizon Zero Dawn: The Board Game review, and we’re back with more post-apocalyptic worlds and monstrous machines. Horizon Zero Dawn: The Board Game – The Thunderjaw Expansion sees players square off against the titanic Thunderjaw, a monster of incredible size and strength. How will our playtesters fare against the mighty creature – and how will the game fare under some up-close FauxHammer.com scrutiny?

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Horizon Zero Dawn: The Board Game – The Thunderjaw Expansion Review – Summary

Whilst it may be expensive, Horizon Zero Dawn: The Board Game – The Thunderjaw Expansion makes a single and very notable change to the base game. The addition of the monstrous Thunderjaw gives players that much-needed final fight to their hunting campaign. Squaring off against a beautiful yet gargantuan-sized miniature, the Thunderjaw Expansion is the way to end your Horizon Zero Dawn board game session.

Horizon Zero Dawn: The Board Game – The Thunderjaw Expansion Review – Introduction

It’s not been long since we sat down and reviewed Horizon Zero Dawn: The Board Game. This fun and true-to-form tabletop rendition of the much-loved videogame provided us and our loyal playtesters with a couple of hours of good fun. The semi-competitive game encouraged both camaraderie and conflict as we, as Hunters, tracked down some of the video game’s most recognisable and common baddies.

That’s before even mentioning the stunning miniatures that came in the base game.

One of the criticisms we had of the base Horizon Zero Dawn board game was that the final fight – a showdown with some Sawtooths – felt a bit anticlimactic. Sawtooths aren’t a notable boss fight in the video game, and you run into them throughout your adventure as fiery-haired heroine, Aloy.

However, the creators of Horizon Zero Dawn: The Board Game have come up with a way to get around this. The game has no fewer than a jaw-dropping 9 expansions. These boxes allow you to add additional playable hunters to your collection, as well as some truly awesome boss fights.

It’s one such box we’re going to be taking a look at today.

Horizon Zero Dawn: The Board Game – The Thunderjaw Expansion Review – Unboxing

So, here it is. Horizon Zero Dawn: The Board Game – The Thunderjaw Expansion is one of no fewer than 9 expansions for the Horizon Zero Dawn board game. The box is just as large as the base game’s box,a nd just as stunning to look at.

Horizon Zero Dawn The Board Game The Thunderjaw Expansion Review Unboxing 1

The titular machine and Hunters’ quarry is rendered on the front in true-to-form Horizon Zero Dawn artistic style.

Inside, we are met with our paper goods.

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There’s only the small rulebook and single-sided Thunderjaw Construction Guide at this level. More on these in a minute.

Horizon Zero Dawn The Board Game The Thunderjaw Expansion Review Unboxing 3

Beneath the rulebook and construction guide is the gaming board. This is shrink-wrapped for ease of packaging and protection.

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Last but not least, beneath the board lies the Thunderjaw miniature (if it can truly be considered “miniature”), as well as the cards you need to play with this expansion.

Horizon Zero Dawn The Board Game The Thunderjaw Expansion Review Unboxing 5

Once again, Steamforged Games have killed it with their packaging. With every Steamforged product I’ve ever had the pleasure of reviewing, the care and attention that goes into packaging the miniatures in their boxes has always been prevalent.

The plastic tray in which the miniature and all the cards sit is shaped to allow for the all the components and parts to rest comfortably. They won’t rattle around and get damaged in transit, and they’ll remain good between sessions.

Horizon Zero Dawn: The Board Game – The Thunderjaw Expansion Review – Contents

Here’s everything in the Thunderjaw expansion:

  • 1 x Thunderjaw miniature on 120mm base
  • Cards
    • 2 x Thunderjaw data card (one for higher levels, one for lower levels)
    • 8 x Thunderjaw behaviour cards
    • 2 x Disc Launcher cards
    • 13 Tracking deck cards
  • Thunderjaw gaming board
  • Rulebook

Alright, let’s get it out of the way. There’s not much in here.

But it’s crucial to remember that this is not the base game. This is an expansion, and as such it’s designed to be used in tandem with several other pieces of kit.

The Rulebook

The Rulebook in the Thunderjaw’s expansion box is a slimline affair. Compared to the 50-plus page booklet that comes with the base game, this offering only totals 12 pages.

Horizon Zero Dawn The Board Game The Thunderjaw Expansion Review Rulebook 1

But it doesn’t need to be long. The Thunderjaw Expansion builds on the core game’s ruleset and only adds a few additional mechanics so as not to overwhelm players with even more things to try and remember.

Horizon Zero Dawn The Board Game The Thunderjaw Expansion Review Rulebook 2

Once again, the balance between well-written, short, and informative sentences describing the new stuff and plenty of excellent visuals is struck. In the (unlikely) event you shouldn’t be able to understand a rule or concept, there’s a good chance there’ll be a diagram in place to help iron things out for you.

Horizon Zero Dawn The Board Game The Thunderjaw Expansion Review Rulebook 3

There are no do-overs or recaps of any of the core rules. You’ll need to refer back to the rulebook in the core game’s box if you need those.

In all, the Horizon Zero Dawn: The Board Game – The Thunderjaw Expansion’s rulebook is as exercise in how to do expansive rulebooks. Not too long, not too short, and not oversaturated with new stuff nor repeating any concepts established in the core rules. It’s an appendix to the main game’s rules: a stress-free, easy-to-read add-on that’s easy to reference and easier to store away when it’s not needed.

The Cards

If you read our Horizon Zero Dawn: The Board Game review, you’ll remember the overwhelming number of cards that were in the base game.

With decks for each character, dozens of gear upgrades, salvage cards, machine behaviour cards and so many more, trying to get your head around the sheer volume of cards in the base game was a daunting task. However, there aren’t too many cards in The Thunderjaw Expansion.

Horizon Zero Dawn The Board Game The Thunderjaw Expansion Review Cards 1

It’s more of teh same stuff you’ll already be familiar with. There are a few new bits of gear for your Hunters to acquire, as well as a few additions to the Tracking Deck.

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Of course, there are new stat and behaviour cards relevant for the Thunderjaw. The Thunderjaw has no fewer than 8 behaviour cards, which should ensure fighting it remains interesting and unpredictable.

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As with everything associated with the Horizon Zero Dawn games, the artistic direction is flawless. These cards could have been plucked straight from the game itself. The style, design, and fonts on all the cards is so true to the game that one feels like an extension of the other, rather than the board game being a tie-in to the video game.

The Gaming Board

When playing the base game, encounter area upon which Hunters will do battle with are assembled using square boards. The formation these boards are set up in is determined by a particular card selected at the start of each encounter.

The rules change slightly when battling the Thunderjaw. See, the Thudnerjaw gets his own board.

Horizon Zero Dawn The Board Game The Thunderjaw Expansion Review Gaming Board

And it’s really nice, too. Made of good, thick card with careful cutaways to ensure it can be folded without damaging the print, the Thundderjaw’s large Encounter board makes for the perfect area for that final showdown.

Horizon Zero Dawn: The Board Game – The Thunderjaw Expansion Review – The Miniatures

Entitling this section “The Miniatures” is a little misleading as there’s only one miniature in the Horizon Zero Dawn: The Board Game – The Thunderjaw Expansion box.

But blimey, he’s a big ‘un.

The Thunderjaw

See? I told you it was big.

Horizon Zero Dawn The Board Game The Thunderjaw Expansion Review Thunderjaw Miniature 1

The towering Thunderjaw comes on a massive 120mm base and is wrought in incredible details. Every single line on this miniature (if “miniature” is the correct word for a model this large) has been placed with expert precision.

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This is the Thunderjaw, shrunk down and made suitable for your gaming table.

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The problems with this miniature do not lie with its pose, its sculpt, or any other part of the model’s look. No, the issue with the Thunderjaw figure lies in its construction. Looking at the two-step guide for assembling the model, you’re probably wondering where this occurs.

Horizon Zero Dawn The Board Game The Thunderjaw Expansion Review Construction Guide

Well, it’s in the legs, see. Now, if you’re planning on painting up and displaying your mighty Thunderjaw, the likelihood is that you’ll glue him together. But, if you’re maybe considering taking him for a spin in a few games first, you’ll probably want to keep him in the box. This means you’ll need to keep your glue away from it for a time at least.

Horizon Zero Dawn The Board Game The Thunderjaw Expansion Review Thunderjaw Miniature 7
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An absence of glue is, in fact, the Thunderjaw’s weakness. This towering foe has a nasty habit of falling apart if his limbs aren’t shoved really firmly onto their pegs. When I was trying to photograph this mighty beast, one of his legs kept coming loose and falling off his body. This perhaps isn’t the look you want for your indomitable foe as it’s getting ready to obliterate your players.

Horizon Zero Dawn The Board Game The Thunderjaw Expansion Review Thunderjaw Miniature 8
Horizon Zero Dawn The Board Game The Thunderjaw Expansion Review Thunderjaw Miniature 9

Still, a good bit of pressure should do this trick – or little blue tack or similar should that fail.

That is the only fault with an otherwise stunning mode. This gargantuan centrepiece will command whatever table he’s set up on and will provide a suitably epic final encounter for any players of the Horizon Zero Dawn board game.

Horizon Zero Dawn: The Board Game – The Thunderjaw Expansion Review – Playtesting

On the same day as we playtested Horizon Zero Dawn: The Board Game’s base game, we also broke out The Thunderjaw Expansion. Oncwe again, to do this we went to The Games Table in Norwich.

How to Play Horizon Zero Dawn The Board Game The Thunderjaw Expansion Playtesting 3

You can read about our experiences with the expansion in our main How to Play article, which is available here.

If you’re not interested in reading the whole thing and just want the round-up, the long-and-short of the Thunderjaw expansion is that it makes a much more satisfying conclusion to the base game than the original final encounter – if you can beat it. Squaring off against a gigantic monster is a much more fitting end to the game, but the Thunderjaw is an extremely difficult fight that will leave all but the most prepared and clued-up players defeated.

Horizon Zero Dawn: The Board Game – The Thunderjaw Expansion Review – Price and Availability

I had very few criticisms of Horizon Zero Dawn: The Board Game in our review of the base game. One little issue I did have, though, was the price. The base game, whilst by no means outside of the norm for products we look at here at FauxHammer.com, was perhaps reasonably pricey.

It’s unsurprising, then, that an expansion to a game that was erring towards the more expensive end of the board games spectrum, is also relatively dear. Clocking in at £69.95GBP/$69.95USD/€69.95EUR, The Thunderjaw Expansion is by no means cheap.

It’s important to consider what you’re getting, though. If you’re a huge HZD fan or a big board games buff, these boxes and their sublime miniatures will be a true delight for you. Everything is of the highest quality and is a true delight to behold. They’ll bring you an enormous amount of joy, and having them as a part of any budding Horizon Zero Dawn superfan collection will be an absolute necessity.

You can buy Horizon Zero Dawn: The Board Game directly from Steamforged games. They’re also the best place to grab a copy of The Thunderjaw Expansion if you feel like your adventured in the HZD universe aren’t quite done yet.

Horizon Zero Dawn: The Board Game – The Thunderjaw Expansion Review – Final Thoughts

ProsCons
Incredible miniature
Meaty and extremely challenging expansion that adds real worth to the base game
Everything is really high quality
Not too many new rules and concepts to confuse the game
Expensive
Not a huge amount of stuff in the box

Horizon Zero Dawn: The Board Game – The Thunderjaw Expansion is to its base game what cheese is to a a ham sandwich (or cheese is to just about any meal, to be honest).

It’s a crude way of surmising what is an excellent product. Everything about The Thunderjaw Expansion feels high-quality and well-made. There’s no flimsiness, no filler, and no sense that the box was just chucked together to grab more cash out of Horizon Zero Dawn fans.

There’s some real love, care, and attention to detail in this product. The artistic direction is, once again, absolutely on-point. The game feels like an integral part of the Horizon Zero Dawn franchise, a contender just as well-made and high-resolution as the visually stunning games were when they were released.

If you loved Horizon Zero Dawn: The Board Game, then you’ll get a real kick out of The Thunderjaw Expansion.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Click this link & buy your hobby stuff from Element Games for the UK & Europe to support FauxHammer.com – Use Code “FAUX2768” at the checkout for double reward points.

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Author

  • Rob has spent most of the last 15 years playing World of Warcraft and writing stories set in made-up worlds. At some point, he also managed to get a Master's degree by writing about Medieval zombies.

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Horizon Zero Dawn: The Board Game - The Thunderjaw Expansion
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About VoltorRWH 114 Articles
Rob has spent most of the last 15 years playing World of Warcraft and writing stories set in made-up worlds. At some point, he also managed to get a Master's degree by writing about Medieval zombies.

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