John Goodenough


No. of Players:
2 - 8



Step by step FANTASY FLIGHT GAMES is bringing back a series of expansions for the freshly revamped fantasy-classic Talisman, and in the wake of the US release the German distributor HEIDELBERGER is following with a setback of about half a year to publish German versions of these new expansions.

Starting last year with Talisman - The Dungeon, Heidelberger now is back with the second big expansion set - Talisman - The Highland. Both of these expansions feature additional gameboards which offer new realms for the heroes to explore, and following the design of the older 3rd edition of Talisman each of these new boards is designed at an angular shape so that it can be snugly fit at one of the four corners of the gameboard. The Highlands board is fit at the Chapel-corner of the main gameboard, and a player can chose to move into the highlands from the crags space of the mainboard.

Following a snakelike path, the player characters can move for up to 30 spaces into the Highlands, and on their way they can meet new kinds of adventures which are designed to fall thematically in with the Highlands background. So, one recurring kind of Adventure cards are valuable gemstones ("trinkets") which can be sold at the city on the mainboard for a nice amount of money, but as always the players cannot count of finding such kinds of treasures but instead may be faced with some unwilling enemies. Ultimately, the players are looking to reach the Eerie, the final space of their voyage through the Highlands. Here the cruel Eagle King is waiting (Strength 8, Craft 8), and a player who defeats him in combat will be allowed to draw one of the Eagle King's fabled Relic cards as a trophy before he is automatically relocated back onto the main gameboard. These Relics are useful artefacts which will help their players on their further quest, and so it may be worthwhile for the players to try the Highlands board before actually entering the Inner Region in search for the Crown of Command.

In playing terms, Talisman - The Highland does not contain any essential new rules, but instead in enlarges the world of Talisman and so it offers the players mainly a new playing experience. The Eagle King's Relics may come in handy, and due to the King's medium combat values players may opt to give the Highlands a try in the hope to find some nice, useful artefacts. In comparison, the final space of Talisman - The Dungeon is somewhat more attractive because it offers better rewards, but on the other hand the heroes must be stronger to master the final battle in the Dungeon and so the Highlands actually may be entered at an earlier point during the game.

A nice tough is the fact that Talisman - The Highland contains not only its own deck of 140+ Highland-cards, but also 12 new Adventure cards which are shuffled into the main Adventure deck. These cards are used to create some nice effects of interaction between the main board and the Highlands, and so the Highlands does not remain an isolated new realm but instead becomes part of the whole Talisman-experience. This idea is not new since it was used in Talisman - The Dungeon as well, and going back quite a few years even the City and Dungeon expansions of the old 2nd edition game knew such cards. However, the number of cards has been increased, and so the chance gets higher that such interactive effects may be triggered.

Six new characters are included with this expansion, especially strengthening the yet underrepresented female faction with the Valkyrie, the Vampire and the Swashbuckler, and of course each of the characters features his own matching plastic miniature. In addition - falling nicely in step with the other 4th edition expansions which have already been released - the expansion is rounded up by the inclusion of three brand new Alternative Ending Cards, so that players now can face a whole range of different outcomes apart from conquering the Crown of Command.

To sum it up, it must be stated that Talisman - The Highland is no absolute must-buy in terms of innovation, but to be honest many Talisman-players should pay no heed to this observation. Much more important is the fact that Talisman - The Highland increases the overall storyline and thus broadens the playing experience, and this is done at a high degree of sophistication. The design team of FANTASY FLIGHT GAMES is doing a great job overhauling the old editions of Talisman, removing ambiguities and replacing some card effects which had been known to cause trouble in older editions of the game. And so, if a table large enough to host the mainboard and the new expansion board is available, Talisman - The Highland can be added without any fear of unbalancing the game!

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Copyright © 2011 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany