Blood Moon Expansion for Talisman 4th Ed. Rev.

Talisman: Blood Moon Expansion

bloodmoon1From: Fantasy Flight Games
Reviewed by: Ron McClung

Talisman: Blood Moon Expansion is a new Board Game Expansion from Fantasy Flight Games.

When Fantasy Flight Games (FFG) took over the Talisman license back in 2008, I was more than excited.  Being a fan of the game since the 1990s, I was really looking forward to seeing how FFG can improve the game.  2008 was the first year I got to go to GenCon and while there I talked to some of the writers of the game.  I was really encouraged by their vision.

Since then, they have done what FFG does a lot – put out expansion after expansion.  Not satisfied with just reprinting the classic expansions (of which they have done a few), they have put out a few small box expansions, some of which have some very original and innovative ideas.  Talisman: The Blood Moon is one of those small box expansions that has some fairly innovative ideas; however they had already done something similar with Talisman: The Reaper.   Blood Moon uses similar rules introduced in The Reaper expansion with a few new additional aspects mixed in.

From the website:
“Once in a generation, the Blood Moon begins its fell cycle, bathing the realm in a pallid light.”

The Blood Moon expansion introduces a new aspect to the game of Talisman never seen before in the game, at least in my memory.  The Time Card.  It is a card that has Day on one side and Night on the other.  At Night, ALL creatures gain a +1 to attack and during the Day, all creatures suffer a -1 to all attacks.  Like many things in a game like this, the key thing is to remember these modifications when you are going into combat.  That could make a lot of difference. The card is flipped between night and day when any Event Adventure Card occurs or if instructed by the cards.  The new adventure cards also introduce new effects based on the Time Card.

The expansion adds 111 adventure cards to your already expanding stack of adventure cards.  I have all the expansions so far released and my stack is a hazard on the table.  I need to design a card dispenser like they have in casinos for these things.  The theme of The Blood Moon expansion is sort of given away by the cover art.  It has the three new characters (see below) being chased by a Werewolf.  The general theme throughout the game is sort of a Halloween-style, dark and shadowy one.  Several of the adventure cards have Halloween elements in them.  For example, the Tricks and Treats card allows you to take an item from a character you encounter and trade it for the card.  The card perpetuates throughout the game that way.  As mentioned, some cards have different effects based on the Time Card and there are objects that work differently in day or night.

The new characters are the Vampire Hunter, the Doomsayer, and the Grave Digger.  Vampire Hunters are more like monster hunters, getting bonuses against enemies, as well as advantages in drawing cards. The best part of the Vampire Hunter is that she is immune to the Graveyard effect and instead draws a card.  The Doomsayer benefits from the misfortune of others and has card advantages involving enemies and events.  The Grave Robber can draw from the discard pile, aka the card ‘graveyard.’  He also literally robs the graveyard by drawing several cards from the adventure deck and taking an object from those cards.  Knowing the classic versions of the game (I have the full set of the 1985 version), it is refreshing to see new approaches to the rules.

If I plan to sit down and play a sincere game of Talisman, I might consider using the Alternate Endings, but more often than not, we just whip it out for some casual beer-and-pretzels fantasy adventuring, never really intending to end the game.  We just don’t always have the time to get to the ending, although in many ways FFG has made it easier to achieve that goal and have closure in the game.  With the recent proliferation of Alternate Endings, however, I may consider taking another look at them for even our casual play.  However, I am not overly pleased with at least one ending – the Horrible Black Void.  I really have a problem with an ending that destroys the character that encounters it, no questions asked.  The characters work pretty hard to get ready for the middle, not to just be sucked out a void.  That’s one of the three alternate endings in this expansion.

From the website:
“Compelled by its sinister presence, the restless dead rise from their graves, vampires hunt for unwary prey, and witches engage in nocturnal rituals. Worse yet, the horrifying Werewolf prowls the night, seeking heroes with whom to share his curse.”

At the heart of this expansion is the Werewolf.  He is a new figure that sits on the board and moves around when certain events occur to menace the characters.  Much like the Reaper in The Reaper expansion, if a player rolls a one (1) for movement, he gets to move the Werewolf as well.  Since we had both the Werewolf and the Reaper on the board, we made a house rule that the person chooses which to move, not both. I have not gone out to find out if they answered that question but it was not on the rule sheet.  When the Werewolf lands on a character, that player must roll on a chart.  On that chart a variety of things can happen including being turned into a Lycanthrope.  Once a Lycanthrope, the character is forced to attack other characters when encountering them and there is a chance they spread the disease.  But have no fear, there is a cure…get turned into a Toad.

In conclusion, heavily themed games like this can be overwhelmed by too many expansions.  Case in point, Arkham Horror.  You have to be very selective about the expansions you use with them and resist the temptation to “use them all.”  In my circles, Talisman has become known as the game that never ends.  Fantasy Flight has worked hard to streamline the game a little while keeping the theme.  The problem is, at least in my experience, people forget the central goal of the game – kill the other players any way possible.  Many get distracted by the “questing” aspect of the game.  That’s all nice and good but you have to remember you are playing against one another.

Blood Moon is one of those expansions that reminds the players of the central goal of the game.  One primary aspect of it literally forces the players to attack others. That makes this expansion good for those that play the game the way is intended.  And in the end, that makes the game have a more reasonable play time.  The expansion itself does not add too much to the game to slow it down, though, which is nice.  It is just another piece you have to remember to move on a specific role.  The day/night mechanic is interesting if you have someone that will remember that each time.  Overall, I like the expansion.  It adds some very interesting themes to the game and plays to the games strengths.  However, I am not sure I would play the game with The Reaper expansion because it can get confusing.

For more details on Fantasy Flight Games and their new Board Game Expansion “Talisman: Blood Moon Expansion” check them out at their website, and at all of your local game stores.

Codex d20 Rating: 16

Product Summary

Talisman: Blood Moon Expansion
From: Fantasy Flight Games
Type of Game: Board Game Expansion
Game Design by: Bob Harris, John Goodenough
Game Expansion Design by: John Goodenough
Cover Art by: Rakph Horsley
Graphics Design by: WiL Springer
Number of Pages: 2 page rulesheet
Game Components Included: Rulesheet, 111 Adventure Cards, 10 Spells Cards, 1 Time Card, 6 Lycanthrope Cards, 3 Alternate Ending Cards, 3 Character Cards, 3 plastic character figures, 1 werewolf figure, 1 werewolf card.
Game Components Not Included: Talisman 4th Edition Revised required
Retail Price: $ 24.95 (US)
Number of Players: 2-6 players
Player Ages: 9+
Play Time: 90 mins
Item Number: TM09
ISBN: 978-1-61661-399-0

Reviewed by: Ron McClung