Talisman: The City

From: Fantasy Flight Games
Reviewed by: Ron McClung

Talisman: The City is a new Board Game Expansion from Fantasy Flight Games.

Talisman City was one of the classic expansions put out for 2nd edition back in the day.  Originally it had some very innovative additions to Talisman and we always played the game with it.  When I saw this expansion for Talisman, I was curious how Fantasy Flight had changed it.

From page # 2:
“Long ago, a powerful wizard reigned over the land, ruling with the power of a magical crown that he forged in the Valley of Fire.”

The City expansion to Talisman is the third corner expansion for the game.  Previously released, The Dungeon and The Highlands both added a lot to the game.  What I mean by corner expansions is that the board fits on one of the four corners of the game. This is the same concept for The City expansion of second edition, the edition I am most familiar with.

The rules themselves are straightforward.  You enter the City through the City space on the main board and can traverse the streets following the arrows. There are streets, where you primarily draw City cards (Adventure cards equivalent for the City), and there are shops where you can do a variety of things.  My first advice about the City to any player – be sure to have a lot of gold.  As they say, however, the devil is in the details and the details in any Talisman game are contained in two places – on the board spaces and in the cards.  There are several new aspects introduced in this expansion and most center around commerce and gaining more gold.

From page # 2:
“For the traveler with some gold to spend, a visit to the City can give him the edge to survive in the most dangerous regions of the land.”

The first new aspect that stood out to me is the Wanted Posters.  This shifts the dynamic considerably.  With all the other expansions, I have spent whole games dirt poor, this gives you one of the first opportunities to gain a lot of gold.  In general, you can claim a bounty one of two ways – buying a poster at the gate or claiming a bounty at the gate.  When you buy it, you actually claim the bounty when it is fulfilled no matter where you are.  There are usually 3 posters at the gate that anyone can claim the bounty from if they can fulfill it with any of their trophies.  In most cases, you claim a number of gold equal to the trophy value of the creature – which could be quite a lot in some cases.

Wanted Posters are among a new classification of cards called Shop Decks.  Also included in the Shop Decks are the Armoury, Magic Emporium, Pet, and Stables as well as the standard Purchase deck.

The Armoury is what you expect but it has a few never seen before weapons and armor. These can be purchased when you visit the Armoury shop on the board. The Magic Emporium Deck, associated to the Magic Emporium shop on the board, is a small deck that includes 6 different items (2 or 3 cards each) for a magic user to use, including a Psychic Crystal, Spellbook, or a Magic Ring.  The Stables deck is just like the Stables Deck from Sacred Pool Horse, Horse and Cart, Warhorse, and Mule are available for purchase.  These three decks with the Purchase deck can be perused by a player who needs something from it.  They are not limited to the top card on the deck.

However, the player always draws from the top of the Potions and Pets Decks as well as the Wanted Poster deck.  The Potions deck has a varied array of interesting magic potions which include Potion of Strength, Healing Potion, and Elixir of Wisdom.  The Pets Deck , another new aspect added to the game, are Followers that one can purchase at the Managerie space on the board.  These include Luna the Owl, Lucky the Panda, or Terrance the Turtle.  Each have a variety of different abilities that help you along the way.

There are other interesting shop spaces on the board including the Warf where you can buy passage to any space in the Inner or Middle region, the Rogues’ Guild where you can choose to be turned neutral, the High Temple, where you can pay 1 to 3 gold to roll on a chart where the number of dice is determined by the amount of gold you spend.  The one place you don’t want to go is the Jail. You can be sent to Jail by various City cards or events on the board.  You get out of Jail by rolling on a chart and bribing the Jailer to add to that roll.

The meat of any Talisman expansion is the encounter cards.  The City is full of perils and adventure if the player so chooses to enter.  But there is a significant difference between these cards and the cards found in its other corner expansions brethren.  The worst you can fight here is a Strength 7 creature and there is only one of those.  There are a lot of ways to lose or spend gold, however, which is why it is important to have a lot when you enter.

The City also comes with six interesting player characters – The Elementalist, Tavern Maid, The Cat Burglar, Bounty Hunter, Tinkerer, and the Spy.  My first reaction to this list was “What?? A Tavern Maid??”  However, she turns out the be one of the more interesting characters as she can really strip characters of their gold and get them drunk at the same time – almost a travelling tavern, if you will.

Also included are three new Alternative Endings – Merchants’ Guild, Assassins’ Guild and Thieves’ Guild.  Like other Alternative Endings cards, these cards put their own twist on the way to win the game and in this case have a tone that fits the expansion – gaining gold, Wanted Posters, or objects.

In conclusion, this is a great expansion for Talisman and to be honest, for the corner expansions, they should have led with this one.  The other two were so challenging, it seemed hopeless to enter unless you were really buffed up.  Now there is a place one can go and not worry about getting killed too quickly.  Here you worry more about going broke or getting thrown in jail.  I did notice that they watered the expansion down since 2nd edition.  There used to be templates one can gain that would beef you up, like Master Thief and Sheriff.  However when one obtained those, it did effect the game balance considerably, so I can understand why those were left out.

If you have the other corner expansions, this is almost a must-have.  The characters need a haven where they can spend or gain gold and not worry too much about getting slaughtered.

For more details on Fantasy Flight Games and their new Board Game Expansion “Talisman: The City” check them out at their website http://www.fantasyflightgames.com, and at all of your local game stores.

Codex Rating: 17

Product Summary

Talisman: The City
From: Fantasy Flight Games
Type of Game: Board Game Expansion
Expansion Design and Development: John Goodenough
Talisman Revised 4th Edition Design: Bob Harris and John Goodenough
Producer: Christopher Hosch
Editing: Mark O’Connor
Flavour Text: Tim Uren
Graphic Design: WiL Springer
Cover Art:
Ralph Horsley
Interior Art: Ryan Barger, Bruno Balixa, Nora Brisotti, Massimiliano Bertolini, Filip Burburan, Christopher Burdett, Felicia Cano, J.B. Casacop, Sidharth Chaturvedi, Anna Christenson, Julie Dillon, Carolina Eade, Tom Garden, Alexander Gustafson, Suzanne Helmigh, Paul (Prof) Herbert, Ralph Horsley, Anna Ignatieva, Nicholas Kay, Matt Larson, Sam Manley, Mitchell Malloy, Jeremy McHugh, R.J. Palmer, Ricardo Robles, Thom Scott, John Silva, Lee Smith, Alyn Spiller, Florian Stitz, Fredrik Tyskerud, Adam Vehige, Frank Walls, S.C. Watson, and QipengZhang.
Additional interior art by the artists of Talisman Revised 4th Edition and its expansions.
Managing Art Director:
Andrew Navaro
Art Direction: Mike Linnemann and Zoë Robinson
Number of Pages:
12 page rulebook
Game Components Included:
Rulebook, 1 City Board, 82 City Cards, 12 Armory Cards, 12 Pet Cards, 16 Magic Emporium Cards, 16 Potion Cards, 8 Stables Cards, 18 Wanted Poster Cards, 4 Neutral Alignment Cards, 3 Alternative Ending Cards, 6 Character Cards, 6 Plastic Character Figures
Game Components Not Included: Talisman 4th Edition Revised
Retail Price: $39.95 (US)
Number of Players: 2 to 6
Player Ages: 9 yo+
Play Time: 60+ minutes
Item Number: TM02
Website: www.fantasyflightgames.com

Reviewed by: Ron McClung