A key feature of Horizon Wars: Infinite Dark is its "command levels".
This is something you need to decide on early in the process of planning a battle, whether it's a solo mission or a fight against a human opponent (especially the latter), because it's what determines several of the core rules.
There are three command levels (CL). Command Level 1 is tactical fighter combat: space dogfighting, essentially. It's not, however, like X-Wing, because that's really a World War 2 dogfighting game that happens to be in space. Whilst I don't pretend that Infinite Dark is a 100% faithful reproduction of the experience of space combat, it does at least nod in that general direction. At CL1, vessels are far more manoeuvrable, whilst their weapons are generally less so. As a result, a pure combat will involve trying to manoeuvre to keep your weapons bearing on your enemy.
CL3 (we'll get to CL2) is the classic conflict of mighty battleships. Think Full Thrust, Battlefleet Gothic, or Star Wars Armada. In this command level, vessels are far more ponderous in their manoeuvring, but are far more able to always have weapons pointing in the right direction. Pure combat is generally a slow attrition of the enemy's shields and armour.
Before we talk about CL2, it's worth mentioning that "pure combat" isn't really a thing in Horizon Wars: Infinite Dark. I'll talk about it in a future blog, but that game is mission oriented, which means players will usually be trying to achieve something other than the destruction of the enemy in order to claim victory.
And finally, let's talk about CL2.
CL2 is the hardest to define and the least well-represented in the existing range of space combat games but, as a result, I feel like it has the most to offer players. CL2 is the realm of long-range scouts, deep-space explorers, mining vessels and smugglers. In rules terms, it falls, predictably enough, in the mid-range for both mobility and firepower. But it has the most potential for interesting stories. Vessels like Serenity, Nostromo and the Millennium Falcon really thrive in CL2.
I'm looking forward to exploring all three command levels in their own dedicated supplements, but for now I hope this will get you started thinking about what kind of battle you may want to play most often.