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The Firelands: A Humble Fan's Review


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#1 adjogi

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Posted 01 March 2014 - 10:05 PM

I can sum this whole thing up in one word: Brilliant. 

However, that's a lame review and I suppose I need to justify that so please read on!

The Firelands expansion for Talisman is one of the best small expansions to come along since possibly The Reaper expansion came out in 2008. The minute you open the box the whole "Ancient Persia/Arabian Knights" theme immediately hits you. It's the desert. It's the magic lamp. Its the flying carpet and yes, it's even got a camel (two to be precise). 

Let's take a look in just a little more detail.

There are four new characters. They are each unique and you would not be disappointed with any of them.

Dervish - Traditionally, the Dervish were known for their poverty but you will not feel like a beggar if you draw this character. He starts with a sword and a watter bottle, can use two weapons and one of them doesn't count toward his carrying limit. He starts in the middle region so a few visits to the Temple will almost certainly be in your plan early on in the game. However, they saved the best ability for last with the Dervish. Beat an enemy in battle and you get another go. Not so amazing I hear you say? Well, what if you then beat another enemy in that additional go? Yep. You guessed it - yet another go and so on and so forth. It doesn't take a genius to realise once your strong enough you should head into The Dungeon with this character.

Nomad - I might as well just get right to the point. This is a character you will want to play! The ability to stay on the same space is SO nice. Think Pool of Life, Stream of Knowledge, Pet Shop, Spendthrift, Assassin. This list is endless. Not only that but you can also ignore any place card. Handy, for example, if you draw Sacrificial Stone. Finally, you can ignore any space instructions you land on and draw a card instead! Wow. Desert? No problem. Landed on the City with no gold or objects? No chance of being a toad here. You will be giggling all the way to the Crown Of Command and your buddies will be cursing you for weeks afterwards.

Warlord - Admittedly the weakest of the four if you don't draw many followers, this is still an exciting character to play. Followers can be conscripted to add an additional Strength to yours each in battle and like all loyal companions they can be sacrificed to save your own skin whenever you wish! I predict more discussion might go on, however, about whether it's a man or a woman underneath all that armour. 

Jin Blooded - Let me go on record as saying I love this character. It's a safe bet everyone will think not once, not twice, but thrice before casting a spell on you now! If they do (and you have enough Fate) you can bind that spell which basically allows you to cancel it's effect and cast it on a new target. Most likely, the guy (or gal) who was foolish enough to cast it on you in the first place. We all know Spells give you an advantage in this game and the Jin Blooded has the ability to use his fate to effectively spell cycle through the spell deck till he finds one of use to him. It takes time however so it's not too overly powerful but you will know the meaning of the word smug if you get to play this character.

The biggest thing this expansion brings to the table are two completely new mechanics: Terrain Cards and Burn ability. 

The Terrain Cards allow you to actually transform spaces on the board! Are you pissed off that the Priest can forever head to the temple, add up to 1 to his die roll and power up quicker than the rest of you? Well no more - pizazz! - turn that Temple into a Hills space. Are you annoyed all the good players can heal for free in the Chapel? Well no more - kaboom! - turn that Chapel into a Field. It's game changing to say the least and everyone's strategy will change from here on in. It works the other way too: Playing the Assassin? Great - you can create an additional Graveyard. Are you the Sprite? Have another Forest and we might as well get it over with - yes the Leprechaun can have...sigh... TWO additional Woods spaces.

The Burn ability is very exciting. It is an effect that allows (or sometimes forces) you to burn adventure cards which - not just places them in the discard pile - but removes them from the game entirely! If you are the kind of person who has ever complained that the adventure deck has grown too large (and that's not me, by the way) then you'll love this since now you'll be flying through those cards faster than...well, you were before. Also, you will discover that some cards can become (or already are) fireproof and are protected from the flames so there is alot going on and alot to keep track of. You will have to keep your wits about you and your drinking to a minimum.

One of the nicest things about The Firelands is the thought that went into the Enemies. Lets face it - a bear is a lion is a chimera is a raging bull. But NOW a new kind of enemy is introduced called the Ifrit. The Ifrit have ongoing effects after they have been drawn that bring a nice twist to the game. For instance, An Ifrit Raider with Strength/Craft 1 might not sound too terrifying, but read a little further and you will see you have to add 1 for each Fireland token in the region.

Fireland tokens?

Ah yes. I forgot to mention those.

What I suspect will become a staple of Talisman expansions is the addition of tokens (well seriously, how many cards can they continue to add to the adventure deck?!)

Unlike the dreaded Dragon tokens, you will find the Fireland tokens bring an abundance of joy to the realm of Talisman! OK, that was my own little personal dig, but I am leaving it in. There are numerous ways Fireland tokens can be added to the board but the end result is the same: If you end your turn in a space that has a fireland token in it you lose a life. Not too harsh you might think, but watch out if you are playing with one of the alternate endings included here called Spreading Flames. You can rightly assume from the name there will be plenty of Fireland tokens across the land. 

The Firelands mixes in seamlessly with the base game and all other expansions. It brings lots of new twists, turns, plots and heated discussions between adventurers - basically everything one could want for in an expansion. It even has a Follower that will make you wish you drew Cursed By Hag instead. Seriously. It's called Old Man of the Sea and pray the Tavern hasn't been terrain-ed already when you draw that particular card.

In closing, a special mention is certainly deserved for the artwork of The Firelands. Absolutely fantastic. Fantasy Flight Games have outdone themselves on this one and you will be hard pressed to find any cards with sub-par artwork here. I would imagine this is one of the biggest costs to producing an expansion and I can only say I am glad FFG were not spendthrifts in this regard. It really does make a big difference. You will love it for the artwork, you will love it for the new mechanics and you will love it because it breathes new life into Talisman, a game that seems to live on and on...and on. I give it a 10 out of 10. Buy it.

cool.gif

Edited by adjogi, 06 March 2014 - 09:45 PM.

  • The_Warlock, JediKnightAmoeba, tarasis and 3 others like this

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#2 DomaGB

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Posted 01 March 2014 - 10:30 PM

Fire everywhere and losing life sounds as dangerous as Dragons. is it more fun to burn than to be eaten?

RoboRally, then Talisman. That's the way it is... ;)


#3 JediKnightAmoeba

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Posted 01 March 2014 - 10:56 PM

This sounds fantastic. What is the cause of terrain cards being changed; adventure cards? Spells? What are the odds of these coming up in the game frequently? Would it be worth it to buy two expansions to add even more of these and fire tokens into the mix? This sounds too exciting....

These characters seem to be a little overpowered when comparing them to the original ones...

Edited by JediKnightAmoeba, 01 March 2014 - 11:11 PM.


#4 DomaGB

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Posted 02 March 2014 - 12:35 AM

I do like the idea of changing a space to something different, sounds cool! But I can't see how fire tokens are any more fun than dragon tokens. Both mean death.

RoboRally, then Talisman. That's the way it is... ;)


#5 0beron

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Posted 02 March 2014 - 06:31 AM

I love your review. You articulate this set very well.

 

I got my set last night as per my comment elsewhere. I've previously bought sets online; either through this site or Amazon. 

   But I knew I had to have this asap.

And what you say is true, I believe. This set is brilliant and possibly the greatest expansion of all. The theme is well realized. I have an old friend, who we used to play games with. He is a third generation Arab-American. He's quite the American, served in Vietnam, was a punk rocker in the late '70s-early '80s, etc. etc.  But he often bemoaned some games uses of Middle Eastern themes as pandering (and, btw, his son Saladin is a FANTASTIC fantasy writer: http://www.amazon.co...s/dp/0756407788 ).  They would not be displeased, so I'll be sharing this, for the concepts and depictions are as fitting and fantastic as anything else Talisman has presented.

  I really loved the Blood Moon for its' mechanics and creature concepts, etc, but Firelands has topped this.

 

  Now I know why they took some extra time between The City and this. Its nearly perfect!

            thanks for the superb review, Adjoji!



#6 The_Warlock

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Posted 02 March 2014 - 07:16 AM

I do like the idea of changing a space to something different, sounds cool! But I can't see how fire tokens are any more fun than dragon tokens. Both mean death.

 

Dragon tokens can be dangerous in the early game, but when you've gained some scales and good stuff, all those Str 7+ Enemies become a cakewalk. Moreover, Varthrax requires Strength, Grilipus requires Craft, Cadorus can be tricky but if you're lucky you'll get a super-Object for free. I've never felt in real danger when playing with the Dragon expansion.

When you end your turn on a space with a Fireland token, you lose 1 life. This is the same from the first turn to the last one, no matter if your character has 22 Strength and 19 Craft.

 

Thank you so much Adjogi for making such a nice and comprehensive review!  My copy is coming next week and here we're eager to see it on the table.



#7 adjogi

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Posted 02 March 2014 - 03:50 PM

Fireland tokens bring fear and joy.

 

As The Warlock says, they're in it from the get go and when enough of them are on the board it can be hairy trying to avoid them. But they do not overwhelm the board the way Dragon tokens can and that is important. The only exception to this is the Spreading Flames ending where they are everywhere, but then it's the end of the game and it is a part of that ending so no-one will mind it. There is a tremendous amount of joy in placing those tokens and also watching your opponents trying to survive the flames!


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#8 JediKnightAmoeba

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Posted 03 March 2014 - 09:54 PM

Well we played a 2 player game tonight with the Fire land set mixed in.... After looking through the expansion before
7-gw is the dilution of the set when mixed into the whole pack. there does not seem to be a lot of cards in the deck that add fire land tokens to the board. There does seem to be a lot of things in the deck that protect against burning....and things to burn stuff away. But fire land tokens being added to the board? Not so much.

So we played with Hidden Variants (2 options, Spreading Flames or Crown of Flames the only options). Let me just say...the sending was HOT as we drew Spreading Flames. I think this is one of the best, most fun endings ever developed. I can imagine with 4 or more players it would be even better. Trying to avoid the FIRE is quite interesting.

As for The fire land tokens our premonitions were correct, only one showed up during the game. I don't know, I hope in future expansions they add more cards to add fire tokens. In the meantime we may add some cards to the deck for added fiery goodness.

#9 DomaGB

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Posted 03 March 2014 - 11:46 PM

So few tokens come out by normal rules and play? Then it would be more fun and better than dragon scales...

RoboRally, then Talisman. That's the way it is... ;)


#10 0beron

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Posted 04 March 2014 - 08:05 AM

Sadly, I have not been able to play, though I've had the game since Saturday (and immediately scoured the cards, then began mixing them into the vast deck...)

 

  My other player, The Wife, does not share the same level of passion for the game, and we just couldn't squeeze it into the weekend. We don't ever play weeknights; our games are "legendary" and take hours - yes, when she is in the moment of play she finds her passion, but its a slow burn getting her to the table some times...

 

At any rate, I wonder, from how I'm looking at the various mechanics, if this could happen; a Terrain card would be placed over a space that has a dragon scale on it.  Would the scale be negated; lost in the churning of the land, overgrown by forests, etc. ?   I suppose it would be up to players to decide, or house-rule.

 

In essence, trading one bad thing for another?  The other point would be, that it seems both Dragons and Ifrit come from the Firelands, the hot and bothered Inner Region. Ifrit-beings must, ultimately be more powerful, magically, than Dragons, (except the ones that are very magical themselves), so I would say that the power to burn could even out class Dragon scales and burn them away too.

 

Anyone else have a thought here?



#11 The_Warlock

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Posted 04 March 2014 - 09:04 AM

At any rate, I wonder, from how I'm looking at the various mechanics, if this could happen; a Terrain card would be placed over a space that has a dragon scale on it.  Would the scale be negated; lost in the churning of the land, overgrown by forests, etc. ?   I suppose it would be up to players to decide, or house-rule.

 

In essence, trading one bad thing for another?  The other point would be, that it seems both Dragons and Ifrit come from the Firelands, the hot and bothered Inner Region. Ifrit-beings must, ultimately be more powerful, magically, than Dragons, (except the ones that are very magical themselves), so I would say that the power to burn could even out class Dragon scales and burn them away too.

 

Anyone else have a thought here?

 

Dragon scales and Terrain Cards are not "bad things". Not necessarily. They don't require balancing or cancelling each other. Fireland Tokens are bad, but can coexist with the rest.

 

Moreover, a dragon scale stays on a space (which is a sector or the game board, before receiving any thematic connotation) and a Terrain Card does not destroy a space; it changes it into another space. There's no reason why you should discard a dragon scale when the space receives a Terrain Card.

 

If you want to talk about theme instead of mere rules, dragon scales represent spreading influence of each Draconic Lord. They are not changing the geography of Talisman world, only the encounters that a character may have, which are dramatically shifted towards Dragons and related matters.

 

But if you have an inclination for house rules, you're welcome. I'd probably not allow the use of Terrain Cards in the City in our games, not only on the Jail space, because I think the scale of Terrain Cards is much bigger than the scale of Streets and Shops. Placing a Terrain Card on the Magic Emporium or the Armoury just after you bought your stuff is a nice strategy, though for me it's too absurd that a shop becomes a Desert or a Crags space.


Edited by The_Warlock, 04 March 2014 - 09:34 AM.





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