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  • Writer's pictureJW

Don't Fear the Reaper

The Reaper is the expansion to buy if you want to play Talisman more often than, er, once. It adds as many adventure and spell cards as there are in the base game, giving those decks the variety you need. It also adds Warlock Quests that you can go on to earn a Talisman (the card you need to get to the endgame) instead of just having to stumble upon one while drawing random cards from the adventure deck. This gives some direction to your play and makes every session a little different.

And then it adds some extra characters and an NPC: The Grim Reaper. Death will move towards one of the players whenever someone rolls a one for movement. When it reaches a player, they roll a die to see if they get killed. Good fun, in a group. In this first solo session with just two characters it unfortunately never reached a player.

Talisman is an old, light adventuring game in which your character rolls a die for movement every turn, then draws a card from the adventure deck to see what happens. It had standees in the first versions (back in the 80s), then miniatures from 1994 on.

The characters are good, neutral or bad (which has an effect on which places they can visit and which objects they can carry). The board is a fantasy land where the regions have fancy names like "Outer region, "Middle Region" and "Inner region". You'll have to level up your strength or craft to cross all three of them to reach the Crown of Command, where you can try to win the game.

My first adventures overall were not very exciting, though the opponent (a Troll) was very aggressive to me. Then I wandered around some ruins and got into an epic fight with two dragons...

As they add their strength in this case to a total of 15, there is no way to survive the fight. Luckily my follower St Josephine healed me back to my full health. Then she left me, probably fed up with the fact that I had recently turned evil.

Later, during my travels through the Inner Region I once again bled out! Vampires almost sucked me dry until I had just one health left. I decided to go on anyway and somehow survived long enough to kill the Troll that had been haunting me this whole adventure, and to win the game.

Normally, I add in more expansions (side boards, more cards) and I must say I like the game better that way than in this rather basic version. But, it's always nice to revisit Talisman. Partly out of nostalgia, and partly because it is so simple, it's easy to use your fantasy to get a story going. And the randomness will always lead to some very unexpected narrow escapes or unfortunate deaths.

The Reaper expansion verdict:


  • The extra cards are very welcome

  • The Grim Reaper can kill you, a game of Talisman is not complete without some characters getting killed

  • Warlock Quests give some direction to the game


  • The extra cards should have been included in the base game (as per FFG business model)

  • The Reaper did not kill anyone this time. Also no one got turned into a Toad. 🥱

  • I think the fate tokens (that you can use to reroll dice) of this 4th edition make the game too easy

I'll be back soon with a bigger adventure.

Disclaimer: Talisman is not a solo game. Don't try this at home.

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