It's time to dive into Imperium: Horizons' first non-historical civilisation, the Cultists...

An illustration of a long-haired figure in red robes raising a staff with a blue sign glowing above their head, next to the text: "IMPERIUM HORIZONS CIVILISATION SPOTLIGHT: THE CULTISTS, DESIGNED BY NIGEL BUCKLE AND DÁVID TURCZI"

Today on the blog we are featuring the Cultists who, like the Utopians (found in Imperium: Legends), are entirely fictional, and have some unique strategies for players to explore. The Cultists are a group of fanatics trying to summon an ancient elder god, with the obvious catastrophic outcome for humanity if they succeed. Thematically, they are inspired by common Lovecraftian lore, by tales of ancient secret societies, and by asking ourselves what the evil opposite of the Utopians would look like.

A card from the board game Imperium: Horizons titled Cultists and with art depicting a council of red-robed figures gathered around one of their number enthroned and holding aloft a glowing blue staff

The first thing to notice with the Cultists is that (like the Utopians) they do not have a nation deck, nor an accession card, nor development cards. All they have is their deck of 17 starting cards, a power card and two double sided Ceremony cards. Before playing the Cultists, you should carefully look through all these cards, since we consider the Cultists the most complex civilisation to play alongside the Utopians.

A selection of sample cards from the Cultists deck of Imperium: Horizons, titled left to right: A selection of sample cards from the Cultists deck of Imperium: Horizons, titled left to right: Research the Ceremony, Prepare the Ceremony, Ceremonial Gathering, Ceremony of the Key

The big difference to the Utopians (their Journey’s evil reverse) is the Cultists’ Ceremony cards. As you progress through the steps of summoning your elder being, your nation falls apart in ruin: your state card changes from Empire, to Barbarian, then to Corrupted, and finally – if you succeed – to Summoned. Look out for cards like Summon Aid that can help with advancing the Ceremony.

A selection of sample cards from the Cultists deck of Imperium: Horizons, titled left to right: Corrupted, Summoned, Chaos and Summon Aid

You have a unique victory condition, to match your unique deck of Unrest cards: the Chaos cards. Some of your abilities will sow these cards to your opponents, and if the game ends in Collapse while your Chaos deck is empty, you win! Your game will always centre on managing Unrest: get too many and your deck will bloat and slow you down, get too few, and your opponents can brush the threat of your Chaos victory aside as the game will stay too far from Collapse.

Your starting deck is your toolbox of utility cards that you need to supplement with market cards. Most of them are situationally powerful but with serious drawbacks, or are only playable at certain points in your progress to complete the Ceremony.

A selection of sample cards from the Cultists deck for Imperium: Horizons, titled left to right: Frozen Wastes, Strange Signs, Cloak and Dagger and Cursed Library

For example you can acquire cards using Frozen Waste and Strange Signs, but only from exile! Exiling is a major aspect of your play and you have cards beyond regions to enable that, such as Cloak and Dagger. Your Cursed Library can remove resources from the market to facilitate unexpected exile opportunities. When playing against the Cultists you need to be careful which cards you exile as the Cultists gain cards from exile quite easily.

Remember, you are on a dark path to either complete your Ceremony or bring Chaos and collapse. Many of your most powerful tools are enabled once you reach your Corrupted state, so definitely have a plan on getting there. But whether you’ll be able to complete your unspeakable collection of cards and complete the ceremony, or you’re content just to watch the world burn, you will face a puzzle like no other and we leave you to explore the strategies for yourself, assuming you are brave or reckless enough.

Read about the Japanese, Taíno, Mayans, Inuit, Magyars and Polynesians here.

High res versions of the sample cards above are available
on the the game's
BoardGameGeek page under the images section.

Imperium: Horizons is out February 2024. Pre-order now.