Horizon Forbidden West presents player with a vast open world to explore, and there is a lot to take in and experience along Aloy’s journey. Players will come across all sorts of people in the ruined and reclaimed settlements of the Forbidden West, and this restored version of humanity hasn’t lost its penchant for board games. As such, Aloy can sit down with various NPCs and play Machine Strike, a fun and dynamic mini-game.

Machine Strike has Aloy and her opponent “battle” using small carvings of the mechanical creatures that inhabit the title’s post-apocalypse. With a set of these miniatures in hand, players square off across a grid-patterned board with the goal of either wiping out all their opponent’s machines or taking out enough to claim seven Victory Points. Though it may seem fairly easy to start, Machine Strike can prove tricky, and these tips will help ease those learning pains.

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The boards players will encounter across their games of Machine Strike vary from opponent to opponent, so it’s important to have a grasp of the core concepts behind how maps work. Rather than being a blank slate players move their pieces across like in chess or checkers, Machine Strike adds a wrinkle by including different types of terrain. These do not affect movement, but they can be a game changer when machines engage in combat due to their impact on a machine’s Power stats, making them a crucial consideration for any player’s strategy.

Maps can be made up of six possible tile types: Chasm, Marsh, Grassland, Forest, Hill and Mountain. Being in a Chasm or Marsh space will hinder a piece’s Power, giving a -2 and -1 debuff respectively. Grassland, the most common terrain, has a neutral effect, whereas Forest, Hill and Mountain will boost a piece’s Power with a +1, +2 or +3 boost. Claiming the high ground can be a strong move, keeping pieces protected from the enemy and making their own attacks all the more powerful.

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Making Machine Strike more complex is the variety of pieces that players can use and come up against. Representing the various machines out in the wild, different pieces follow unique rules. On top of having different values for heath, movement, Power and Victory Points, the miniatures also span different archetypes. From basic Melee type pieces to the more advanced Swoop and Gunner types, this range of machines means that players will have to plan ahead for how they engage the enemy — and how to defend themselves.

In addition to these different types of attack, certain pieces also have particular skills that also affect gameplay. Some of these give pieces additional buffs on certain types of terrain, while others introduce new ways to deal damage. These effects are important to consider when selecting machines that Aloy will take into a round of Machine Strike, as well as while looking through her opponent’s roster to plan for how to attack, defend and counter their abilities.

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When choosing which target to strike, players also need to consider how they will attack, from what angle and how they might do so in tandem with their other machines. With the Machine Strike board being a square grid, machines have four sides from which they can be attacked, and every machine has their own weak and armored points. These are denoted by a red or a blue marking on their figure and displayed on their information tab when hovering over them. Armored points are more resistant to damage, meaning that players are best off going after their opponent’s weak spots.

This tactic also requires an understanding of how to maneuver around the board. Every piece has their own base movement, but they can use Sprint to move to tiles denoted by a dotted line. Using Sprint allows for faster traversal, but that piece will not be able to attack unless Overcharge is activated. Overcharge may seem like a high price, consuming two health points for another action. However, the ability can reap massive rewards, especially when used in combination with a second machine, resulting in moves such as hitting an enemy machine multiple times in one turn.

Moving around the board can be essential for keeping a healthy roster of machines. Sprinting to higher ground for the bonuses, getting out of range of an enemy attack or moving in the way of a friendly machine’s weak spot can all be key in maintaining Aloy’s presence on the board. Movement is perhaps the most crucial aspect, having a core effect on Machine Strike’s mechanics and strategy. The game is all about outsmarting the opponent and counterattacking rather than using brute force, just as Aloy finds herself needing to rely on her wits rather than raw power when taking on Horizon Forbidden West‘s deadliest foes.

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