Talisman: The Horus Heresy Design Blog Part 1

Welcome to the Talisman: The Horus Heresy Design Blog.
The Blog will be split into 4 parts.
In part 1 we will start to look at the rule and gameplay changes between Talisman: Digital Edition and Talisman: The Horus Heresy.

TalismanHorusBlog01a The Horus Heresy story revolves around a Loyalist versus Traitor conflict, with little or no neutral factions involved. Straight away this made us look at how characters and enemies would work and we realised very early on that some changes would need to be made. If Loyalists and Traitors are always battling each other, there is no room for neutral enemies such as Snakes, Bears and Goblins, which can be fought by any player. We also took a look at some of the rules of Talisman which make more sense in a physical environment, across a gaming table, but less so digitally.

Team Play (Sending Reinforcements)

Talisman: The Horus Heresy (T:THH) is game of Loyalists vs. Traitors. It’s a team game, whereas Talisman: Digital Edition is every player for himself. In 1 v 1 games of T:THH, the team aspect will never come into play, but in full 2 v 2 games, it becomes a very important element to the game, adding a whole extra layer of strategy.

The biggest effect of the team-play, is when the game is won. No matter who strikes the final blow against the Emperor or Horus, both players of that team are considered the winners and will both receive XP for winning the game.

Reinforcements – when a Warlord arrives at the same Sector as his team-mate, he may choose to send him reinforcements. This is a one-way trade in which the sender chooses which Equipment, Resources, Stratagems or Fleet Dataslates he wants to send to his team-mate. The receiver then chooses which Dataslates to accept, ending the reinforcement. The receiver must accept at least one item in order to prevent players using reinforcement as a way to avoid other encounters in the Sector. This creates strategic decisions throughout the game, as players may wish to hand over their own forces to their team-mate in order to boost their overall power and help them win the game.


Units – Enemies that can be friend or foe

When a Unit Dataslate is drawn, it can belong to either allegiance – Loyalist or Traitor. In Talisman, every character can fight against every Enemy that is drawn from the deck, but in T:THH there is a 50% chance that it is not an enemy at all, but a friendly Unit who will help your Warlord. Some Units can join your forces, boosting your Ranged Combat and Close Combat abilities, and some will defend the Sector they were drawn on to provide bonuses to Warlords of the same allegiance.

Some Units can be re-united with, and will join your forces if you make a successful roll against your current Strategy score. The more powerful the Unit, the lower the chance that they will join you. Re-uniting with a Unit is optional, and you may want to leave a Unit on the Sector for strategic reasons. This can be risky though, as you’re giving the opposing allegiance the chance to destroy the Unit.



In Talisman: Digital Edition, when a character kills an Enemy, they take that Enemy as a Trophy and can gain Strength or Craft when they trade the Trophy in. Nothing is gained for killing creatures which reside on the board however, because of the physical limitations of the board game. How would you take a Forest Brigand as a Trophy?

As T:THH is a purely digital game, we’ve changed this rule so that Warlords will gain XP for everything* they kill. If a Warlord takes part in the battle of Damocles Starport (the Werewolf’s Den in the Inner Region), he will gain XP for each victory there, helping him on his journey to the Vengeful Spirit.

Warlords do not gain XP when fighting Horus or the Emperor, as it makes little sense to the gameplay to have the ‘end boss’ effectively helping you out with each combat by increasing your stats.



Defeated opponents aren’t kept as Trophies to be traded in later, they are instead turned into XP immediately upon their death.

XP_pips_abA Warlord gains knowledge and increased power with every kill, so it makes sense to have this automatic system. It also allows us to smoothly flow between players, without having to wait for the ‘End Turn/Trade Trophy’ option that Talisman has.

The amount of XP required to gain an ability point is still 7, as it is in Talisman. If the amount of XP gained for a kill takes the total over the threshold of 7, the excess points are kept as progress towards the next point. For example, if you currently have 4 XP in Close Combat (4 lit skulls) and you kill an enemy Unit with a Close Combat of 4, you will gain a Close Combat ability point automatically, and have 1 XP point towards your next Close Combat ability point gain.

XP is gained from everything you defeat, except for opposing Warlords and the two end of game opponents (Horus and the Emperor). Traitor Warlords can travel to Nikaea at the bottom-left of the map to be guaranteed a Melee there, and Loyalist Warlords can travel to Signus Prime in the opposite corner and be attacked upon their arrival. Both of these provide XP to the victorious Warlord so they are very useful Sectors to travel to.

In part 2 of the Design Blog we will be looking at the new Strategy Stat and how it works with Strategem Dataslates.
Talisman: The Horus Heresy is out now on STEAM.


Talisman: The Horus Heresy (PC)

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