Jump to content


Thoughts on the City expansion.

  • Please log in to reply
24 replies to this topic

#1 allawi



  • Members
  • 54 posts

Posted 28 April 2013 - 06:43 PM

Hi all, 


this weekend my group gathered up for a round of Talisman and the new City expansion. Basically everybody rushed to the city and started collecting the items it had to offer, which in my mind is way too powerful. Pretty soon everybody was walking around with the Battle Axe (+3 str), Magical rings (+1str, 1 cr) , Crystal Scepter (allow characters to attack using craft) and tons of trinkets.

In my opinion it is too easy to collect such powerful items, and the Gladiator/Magus were having a field day collecting all the followers becoming all-powerful. On top of that there are ridicoulsly overpowered abilities on some cards. One of the champions picked up the Scribe, and since he was a spellcycler the game was basically over. He had the counter-spell and gain craft spell which he used on his turn gaining 1 craft for every turn and casting counter-spell whenever we wanted to distrupt him. (he won the game).

My conclusion is that the city makes for a different style of play than we are used to in regards to the other expansions. In the dungeons there is a High-risk factor but you can claim good rewards if you make it. In the Highlands the risk is not as great but the rewards are generally weaker. In the City however, there are basically no risk and very good rewards. We cycled through all the City adventure cards and no character was killed or was having a hard time, the worst that happened was a character was thrown in jail but he briebed his way out since all characters had tons of gold.

There is no need to bother with the Highlands or the Dungeon anymore since you get more powerful more quickly in the City, and even if you dont play with the other expansions its still worth it going to the City immediately to become super-powerful. So if you're looking to shorten the overall playtime or want to have a game with all-powerful characters then the City is awaiting!

My thoughts on this expansion,



#2 Spectrum



  • Members
  • 34 posts

Posted 29 April 2013 - 11:31 PM

Although i'm still waiting for my shipment of the 4th Revised Edition along with 7 expansions (I only possess the Reaper Expansion so far), i've been reading the rules of each separate expansion at the Talisman Island website to save some time when the game arrives.

So far, i've read the main game rules, the Reaper rules, the Dungeon rules and finally the City rules. What you say is indeed true: There is no high risk in roaming around the City board spaces, as opposed to the Dungeon for example. But, the City is what the city is. If you read the prologue in the City rules, you'll find the following text:



In the absence of the wizard, monsters and beasts of the wild took to attacking and looting
the small villages that littered the countryside. Those who lived within those villages now knew
that their lives were their own to either defend or forfeit.


As a way to keep themselves safe, they began to live in a larger, more easily-defended cluster.
This cluster gave birth to a more sophisticated economy and culture, eventually becoming the
bustling region simply known as “the City.”
So, we can see that the City itself is a safe place to be. Now, i do now know what the 82 City cards contain, so i cannot have a full idea of the risks and dangers withheld in those cards. Let's continue with the prologue's last two paragraphs:
Wandering the streets, a visitor will find master artisans, affluent merchants, remorseless
criminals, and mysterious strangers. The City’s shops offer armour, weapons, mounts, and
more. Enchanted objects, potions, and spells can be found for sale. Mind and body can be
strengthened through training, and fortunes can be foretold.
For the traveller 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 opportunities one has within the City’s walls
may make the difference between life and death in the Valley of Fire!
After reading this, my conclusion is as simple as this: You wanna cut to the chase and become allmighty and strong early on? Gather some gold and head on to the City. I will of course revisit this topic as soon as i have experienced the City Expansion first hand.
Just my thoughts as well.


#3 0beron



  • Members
  • 782 posts

Posted 30 April 2013 - 07:27 AM

I thought as much as you, perhaps, with the first couple of City-playings. But the novelty will wear off - it did for us. We may not be like every one else.


I found that other aspects of play /dynamics would reign it in, so to speak.  Dragon scales that land in the shops will slow down the buy-buy-buy scenario.


If you play with the Reaper or the Werewolf, maybe someone can send them into the City and provide possible threats for being there?

  So, like us, perhaps things will balance out after several rounds?  The cost of some things is high enough that not everyone will think it such a bargain.

#4 allawi



  • Members
  • 54 posts

Posted 30 April 2013 - 07:34 AM

Thanks for the feedback, I was wondering what they was thinking of when they designed this expansion, now it becomes clear. 

However, some cards there are so powerful they essentially broke the game.

A character picked up the Scribe follower which broke the game and totally killed the game. The Scribe follower allows a character to cast a spell and without any penalty whatsoever pick up that same spell that he just caused if he can discard another spell. And since you can buy a Spellbook in the city which allows you to gain a spell at the start of your turn if your craft allows he was able to re-cast the same "Gain Craft" spell over and over again. 

At that point we gave up the game. Another example is the Fang follower that allows you to re-roll an attack roll once every Battle, this follower cannot be taken/stolen by any ability or spell.

So basically, when playing with the City its a rush to whoever gain the Scribe first and can pick up a spellbook if you're not a spellcycler by default. Then just wait to get a good spell and spam it until you become so powerful nobody can stop you.

Other examples are characters like the Magus and the Gladiator who scale based on the amount of followers they get, this is easily obtained in the city and they reach critical numbers quickly, add that with items like Battle Axe, Magical Rings, Crystal Scepters and so forth and you have a uber character in a matter of a few turns.

Also, characters like the Alchemist who start out with 5 gold went straight in and bought the Battle Axe gaining +3 Strength in battle in his 4th or 5th turn I think. He then just alchemised everything into gold and bought basically everything.

Personally, I would house-rule that to use the Scribe you need to lose a life counter and double the amount of gold all the items cost to balance the game out. There was only one dangerous encounter, I think it was a stranger that you sent to another character and bribed to take life counters from another character and the amount of gold you pay him is the amount of lives lost of your chosen target. That was the ONLY dangerous encounter in the City that we saw because everybody was so beefed up all the enemies was stomped pretty quickly.

To me Talisman was always a game of chance, you just waited to draw the unicorn or solomons ring or another good item in the stack of hundred adventure cards, and you were so afraid of drawing a strong enemy purely out of bad luck. With the City its not about luck, its about who gets a certain item/follower and that character wins the game.

Sufficient to say, I was very dissapointed by this drastic change of design and will not play the City and my group fully agrees. Nobody felt that it was the same feel to the game as the Talisman that we love.

Sorry for the wall of text,

best regards


#5 zealot12



  • Members
  • 769 posts

Posted 30 April 2013 - 08:41 AM

How could you afford to buy all these items together? It's quite a lot of Gold.

The Alchemist is a broken character, anyway. With the City especially. But what about the rest?

We don't exactly do laps around the City. We just go in when we want to buy something or earn some extra Gold from bounties and such.

You could houserule an entrance fee to the City,like bribing the City Guard: if you have at least 3 Gold, you may enter the City board, but lose all your Gold as you enter.


We've come up with a fun houserule: when you're playing Talisman without the City board, put the City shop decks next to the City space on the main board, arranging them alphabetically.

Once per visit to the City space, you may buy items from one random deck. Roll a die to determine which deck to buy from.And then follow the instructions, as if you were visiting the associated shop.

All the other shops are considered to be closed for the duration of your visit.

This ensures, variety, unpredictability and avoids favoriting a particular deck.

#6 Bolithio



  • Members
  • 116 posts

Posted 30 April 2013 - 04:04 PM

Ive played at least 10 games with the city now. I generally am playing with 4-5 people. Obviously the Alchimest can be exploitive in the City - and out of gamemenship we just haven’t played him. Other than that, I wouldn’t say anything is game breaking in the City. It may require you to go after certain characters more, but really, that is (should be) going on anyway. I think what the city does is balance the game. If you are not getting the cards to fit your character, you can acquire what you need. Without the city, you are way more at the whim of the shuffle. I have found the city lets me deepen my strategy a bit. I dont always want to play with the city, but I think its a solid expansion.


#7 0beron



  • Members
  • 782 posts

Posted 01 May 2013 - 04:12 AM

Just saying here, mileage varies. I play with my wife and she doesn't like to play agressively, as I do, at least. So I see the potential for the abuse. A part of it is also "game style", which for me, sometimes I just enjoy the tapestry that each game weaves, the various unique elements that may apply, a certain level of foe on a certain space, or certain portals or places in locations that "make sense" etc.

 Having said that, I'm not a terribly competitive player - if we played with others I might be, I suppose. But I rise to the occasion when I have characters that obviously should be agressive and evil. Duh. But with a two player game, each one may go differently. Its more important to get to the end.

 In the last one, this last weekend, I spent a lot more time in the City and had lots of gold (I stole hers with a spell which angered her!). But an encounter took her directly to the Plain of Peril and on her next turn she used the Flight potion to go to the CoC. She revealed the alt ending Demon Lord and they began battle. Within about 2 turns I got through the Dungeon (riding horse and torch) and was silly strong, with a potion that could double my strength too, so I beat the Lord of Darkness and ended up on the CoC too. But she ran out of lives first, so I was the default winner without ever battling the Demon Lord.

#8 Tiggurix



  • Members
  • 121 posts

Posted 02 May 2013 - 07:27 AM

0beron said:

she used the Flight potion to go to the CoC.

That is an illegal move. You can only do that with the Arnkell, and Cloak of Feathers. The Potion of Flight says "if you would roll to move", not, "if you would move", though I guess this proves further your point about your playgroup. =P

#9 0beron



  • Members
  • 782 posts

Posted 02 May 2013 - 12:42 PM

No, it just proves we don't read that well, and that is sad since we supposedly are educated.  I will certainly go back and look at that and thanks for pointing it out.


At any rate, I still, apparantly (?) legally teleported to the COC where she was just losing her last life, so who knows.

#10 Tiggurix



  • Members
  • 121 posts

Posted 03 May 2013 - 04:01 AM

Well, in any case, I have also have my own thoughts on the City. First of all, the objects and followers you can buy there are way too powerful, especially considering how easy it is to get gold in this game. I mean, let's just take som examples.

First of all the Battleaxe. Earlier, the only way to get a +3 Strength modifier from a Weapon was A) a weapon that got this modifier conditionally, e.g. the Holy Lance, or the Hammer of Light, or B) through a certain risk, e.g. the Doomsword (one of my favourite cards in the game, by the way reir). The Battleaxe does away with that limitation entirely. Now,  for only 4 gold, not only can you get a weapon with an unconditional +3 to Strength, but instead of a downside, there's instead an upside to using it! And it's not even a Magic Object, the traditional sign of a powerful object in Talisman!

Another example. Take Luna, the pet owl from the Pet deck (which, by the way, is re-using the illustration of the Horned Owl from the Highlands deck, which is another practice from the designers of 4th edition revised that I quite dislike). It is quite a good follower, wouldn't you agree? Problem is, she obsoletes both the Orb of Destiny, from the Reaper expansion, and the spell Twist of Fate, from the Dungeon expansion, both cards that used to be quite good, but now, if you could have Luna, you'd definitely rather have Luna. Now, Luna is not quite as bad an example as the Battleaxe, as you still have to draw her randomly, but I still consider her too powerful.

Now, secondly, as has been discussed, the City opens up the opportunity for way too powerful infinite combos. The worst offender is definitely the Alchemist, but even the Merchant can get an insane amount of gold from the City, by buying the same items as the Alchemist and then taking the Wharf to the Village. Also, the Scribe follower, while I don't think it is too powerful, really is pretty open for abuse, with for example spell cyclers such as the Warlock or the Sprite, to infinitely abuse a spell like for example the Craft or Strength spell, or the Enrich spell, and I think that perhaps the designers should have thought that follower through a little more thoroughfully.

Now, despite my criticisms, I think that this expansion will be very fun to play, and I certainly think this expansion balances out things a little bit between Strength and Craft based characters, with the Crystal Sceptre and such. I just think some aspects of it are overtly powerful in comparison to earlier standards, as I hope I've made clear.

#11 The_Warlock



  • Members
  • 1,836 posts

Posted 03 May 2013 - 06:13 AM

I like every expansion in Talisman, that's for sure. The City is included in the list.

However, I understand the criticism and I somewhat associate myself with those who complain. There are readily accessible powerful items, excellent Followers in both the Shop decks and the City deck, lots of Gold to be gained. All within the City itself.

I've played 5 games with the City so I cannot say I've saw everything, but I realized that as soon you have Gold to spend, there you can find gear that's cheaper and far better than what you can find in the rest of the boards. The problem is in that small word: cheaper AND better. Higher power level for a lower price. Battleaxe was a good example if compared to Weapons we were used to, but prices of Stiletto, Flail and Warhorse are out of scale as well.

What I dislike the most is the cost-benefit ratio of the City, which is totally crazy if compared to the board. The Armoury sells not only better items, but at cheaper prices than the Village Blacksmith. Movement rules in the City make it SURE that you can land on the desired shop when you get around, while on the main board you can be unlucky with your rolling. There are also very few cards in the City that drain your Gold (Beggar King, Charity, Corrupt Sheriff, Grifter, Shady Dealer, Taxation) but they won't surely damage you or may even give you rewards. So, when you enter the City with some Gold, you're very likely to spend it exactly on what you've planned.

Pets are random but most of them are so good that spending 7-11 Gold on Pets will grant at least 1 incredible bonus.

Then the Combos:

Alchemist at the Apothecary/Magic Emporium

Scribe + Spell Book

Bounty Hunter + Full Plate

Bow + Everfull Purse

The first needs to be fixed somehow and a FAQ may to it. The others are overly powerful combinations between cards from the same expansion. They won't happen every time, but every time the Scribe, the Bounty Hunter and the Everfull Purse are drawn. I challenge anybody not to go for these strategies if they are put in the condition to do it. Unfortunately, they're quite game-breaking.

That's the point: too much power to be found in this City Region, plenty of power for everyone. Why shall we bother going elsewhere, especially on the grim main board?

#12 0beron



  • Members
  • 782 posts

Posted 03 May 2013 - 08:07 AM

Well, I have qualified most of my posts by indicating that I don't seem as competitive as many players.


We've played maybe 5 games with the City, too. We still seem to have a problem getting leveled up enough to go for COC, so *for us* at least, the City is not the way to winning.  Our games still last hours before someone can get past the portal to the plain.

  Perhaps, in a two player game, it just takes longer for cards to play out. I for one, would not be tripping around the City board to get a 2nd, 3rd, etc. Pet, since the price goes up.


But I really want to answer the last comment, something about "why go on the the grimm main board?" and my thought is that the City may seem like a dream come true, etc. but….


maye the last Board expansion, or any future small sets (didn't Blood Moon kinda amp up the danger?) will set things back to normal. A very scarey and dangerous final board.

  (I may post more on the 'future' threads, but… what about combining Death realms/Necropolis/Woodlands into The NetherWoods?, a place of both woods and 'other' realms)

#13 Steve-O



  • Members
  • 4,831 posts

Posted 05 May 2013 - 02:45 AM

I don't own the City expansion yet, but it's one of the corner boards I've been waiting for since 4th edition first came out.  Based on everything I'm reading, it seems like the core problem people have with the City is that it offers very powerful kit for relatively cheap prices and often allows them to be purchased in a non-random manner.

Power creep is an unfortunate reality in any expansion-based gaming product.  Designers apparently feel that the new expansion MUST have awesomely powerful stuff that is clearly better than anything which came before, otehrwise the new expansion won't look so great and sales may suffer.  Sad, but apparently true.  Not just for Talisman, mind you, but for any game/RPG that involves lots of expansion products.

(Mostly) Non-random distribution seems like a logical and thematic mechanic for a city full of wonders.  You can find what you want, for a price.  So I'm fine with that, even though one of the things I love most about Talisman is its insane randomness.

So, when seeking a house rule to correct this perceived imbalance, I would inclined to focus on fixing the prices things go for.  If gold is so easy to acquire in the city, then perhaps all purchase prices should be doubled in the city, or something along those lines.  Of course, I intend to play the City as written at least a few times when I finally do get around to buying it (and I will, honest!)

I try not to make house rules until I've determined whether or not a problem exists for our personal gaming group.  Nonetheless, doubling purchase prices (not selling prices) seems like an easy way to slow down (if not stop) most of these "broken combos."  Feedback on the idea is welcomed.

#14 Triakor



  • Members
  • 39 posts

Posted 05 May 2013 - 02:48 PM

City is ok. Needs more risk and monsters. There is basically zero risk going into it. And the alchemist is broken, take him out before playing with the city. He just takes all the gold in the first few turns.

#15 Tiggurix



  • Members
  • 121 posts

Posted 06 May 2013 - 08:16 AM

After much thought, and a review of the spell deck, I have finally decided, for the first time, to bring down the banhammer, for my playgroup. And the lucky target is… The Scribe! She simply enables waaaay too many broken combos, many of which can completely ruin the game for the other players. Some examples, in order of brokeness:

Scribe + Misfortune

The first of many unfun combos. We all know the power of Misfortune, guaranteeing death by the Reaper or Vindication, or, much more commonly, guaranteeing toadification. Now, imagine that happening one to two times every round. Note that most of these combos depend on spellcycling, but with the City, that is as easy to achieve as spending 6 gold on a Magic Object. And that is terrible.

Scribe + Immobilise, Sleep, etc

Another incredibly frustrating combo for other player, this entails that one, or even two, players, each round, lose their turn. Now, earlier, without the Scribe, this was acceptable, as you could usually only use those spells once, but with the Scribe, a player can essentially completely lock one or two players completely out of the game, eliminating opposition and ruining the game for the players in question.

Scribe + Time Steal

As above, but even worse, since the player with the Scribe gets extra turns out of the deal.

Scribe + Generosity

Nobody else gets to have any gold, ever! Especially bad when taking the City into account, as this could easily mean that the player gets to gear up to ludicrous degrees.

Scribe + Syphon Strength

And everybody else is a weakling, forever! Muahahahahah! This essentially means that a victory based on Strength becomes impossible for the other characters, thus only leaving Craft, and thus severely penalising some characters.

Scribe + Lifetap

The second most evil and unfun combo of them all, not only does this mean that the character will have access to huge amounts of life, but also that the player will, essentially, be able to kill the other characters at will. How is this follower supposed to be even remotely balanced, again?

Scribe + Temporal Warp, Temporal Vortex, etc

The big one. When somebody achieves this combo, it is basically game over for the other players. With this combo, and spellcycling, the player will have access to infinite turns. Nobody else even needs to sit at the table at this point, since the game may very well end without any other player taking even a single turn for the rest of the game. At this point, the other players essentially only hope of victory is the Horrible Black Void. If not usen hidden endings, then yeah, the other players are screwed. To be honest, I can't believe that Fantasy Flight Games made such an oversight. This is a game winning combo that doesn't even require any other expansion, just the City and the base game.

So, for the good of our playgroup, I have decided that we will take the Scribe out of the deck and the game as a whole when playing. She is just too powerful, and has way too much potential for ruining the game for everyone other than the player with the Scribe. I hope I have convinced the rest of you to do the same.

#16 Shadw



  • Members
  • 28 posts

Posted 16 May 2013 - 06:07 AM

Ok, it's been awhile since I posted on these forums. Good to see you're still active Warlock.


City expansion: my group just picke dup the expansion this past weekend, and we had a few issues. This prompted me to come here, and I see we are not alone.


Adding the City expansion to our caused a first for us - calling the game due to frustration. I am seeing a runnign theme on this though, using the expansion by itself, just as we did. I do agree that all teh previous expansions were well designed in the fact that they added to the game if played as the only expansion used. The City expansion did not. 


Our biggest issue? The Bar Maid. Her ability to elect to stop on any character as she passed and force them to drink meant that in the city, noone was safe and she dominated the game. By the time we called the game she had control on all the gold, hd both magic rings from teh magic shop, had cycled the potion deck and had survived 4 attemtps to kill her. Because you HAVE to pay her a gold if you have it, she kept all the other players out of gold. 


After reading the above posts I can see how this abilty to choose to stop on a player seems to have meant as a balance to the city, but much like the CIty itself, overkill.


In regards to the Scribe, I can see one foil to the spell combos Tiggurix brings up - the Gypsy. Since she chooses to take the spell after it is cast, she could break the Scribe combo. (Unfortuanlty I do not have the cards in front of me to verify the wording of each to confirm). But again this requires just the right combo to be in play to break this.

So in conclusion, it seems to me, for the City expansion to be enjoyable it reaquires A) the use of at least 1 other expansion for balance, B) house rules to balance it out, and/or C) Errata and/or FAQs from FF to fix some issues.

#17 0beron



  • Members
  • 782 posts

Posted 17 May 2013 - 01:15 PM

I guess the novelty has to wear off for more reasonable, and adult playing perhaps?

  We use all sets (so when is the next one, btw?) and it does balance. After the first game maybe the second, the novelty wore off and we didn't spend all our time there.

 But I play with only 1 other person, so that dynamic tends to push less encounters against other character(s) and more about the game and the story it tells.

  Recently we decided (with the new City characters) that we wanted to experience all or more characters, rather than getting 6 or 7 to choose from and always going for your favorite. So with the City, once we play a character, it is out of the game until we've played all other characters (not likely, at least in the near future) or decide we've done that long enough.

   So no person is going to keep playing a character that can break the game with or without the City or other game elements.

(so far neither of us have been the Bar-maid)

#18 Tiggurix



  • Members
  • 121 posts

Posted 17 May 2013 - 09:35 PM

Shadw said:

In regards to the Scribe, I can see one foil to the spell combos Tiggurix brings up - the Gypsy. Since she chooses to take the spell after it is cast, she could break the Scribe combo. (Unfortuanlty I do not have the cards in front of me to verify the wording of each to confirm). But again this requires just the right combo to be in play to break this.


That is true. In fact, there are several ways to halt a combo with the Scribe, be it with the Gypsy, like you mentioned, or be it through a spell like Spell Call or Nullify, or even the rare godsend Vortex. The problem is, though, that there are so many of these combos, so after one is stopped, you could just wait for the opportunity for another one, as long as you have the Scribe. Of course, you could just steal the Scribe, through Mesmerise, or the ability of the Sorceress or Vampiress, but then YOU would be the one able to take advantage of a broken combo, so I think it's best, for fairness sake, to just ban her. Also, the best/worst combo of them all, Temporal Vortex+Scribe, have very few ways to be stopped if the other characters don't have an immediate answer, or no-one is playing as the Gypsy. In that case, you either have to hope for the Vortex, or one the events that allow all characters to gain a spell, i.e. Astral Conjunction or Ymir's Glow, and pray you draw a Nullify, or equivalent.

#19 Tolar



  • Members
  • 13 posts

Posted 21 May 2013 - 05:11 AM

 I love the City expansion. So far, I and my playgroup have not found it to be too unbalanced. For me, far more than the objects the wharf has been the most useful part of the expansion, allowing me to waste a LOT less time trying to get to a specific destination in the Outer or Middle regions.


The only thing that was considered for banning was in fact the Scribe.  As previously mentioned it, the Spellbook and any sort of control spell make for an incredibly annoying and frustrating combo. Our houserule solution was to limit it to three uses, which allows the player to get SOME use out of it without (hopefully) inciting a lynch mob.


The objects are nice, but you have to get the gold to buy them (usually) and then they are subject to the normal hazards (transmutation, theft, bartering et all). It is not unusual for a Flail to have had three different owners by the time the game is over.


The pets are usefull. The only one I consider kind of broken is Luna, and fortunately she is random and limited by the amount of fate you have.


All in all, I consider the City to be a solid addition, but as always your mileage may vary.

#20 Tiggurix



  • Members
  • 121 posts

Posted 21 May 2013 - 10:02 AM

Tolar said:

The pets are usefull. The only one I consider kind of broken is Luna, and fortunately she is random and limited by the amount of fate you have.

I definitely agree. Luna is too powerful, and vastly outclasses previous versions of this ability, i.e. Orb of Destiny and Twist of Fate, but at least she appears randomly, and isn't really powerful without a steady supply of Fate, unlike some of the objects one can buy, so I consider her somewhat balanced.

Despite my criticisms, I also like the City, though. One thing I especially like is that, with the objects and followers one can buy there, especially the Crystal Scepter and Warhorse, the power difference between Strength based and Craft based characters, especially early in the game, is heavily leveled. My favourite Object from this expansion, actually, is the Crystal Sceptre, as for four gold, ALL characters are able to use a high Craft Value and Craft boosting Objects and Followers they've come across, and take better advantage of Weapons that can only be used, or be used better, in psychic combat. I find this especially valuable for the Priest and the Monk, who can use (some) weapons against other characters in this way, and the Magus, who can finally use his benefit like the Gladiator can.