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Reedstilt

Talisman: The Isles

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The siren-song of the ocean lures you away from familiar shores. Fabulous treasures await those who can brave the pirates and deadly sea serpents that hunt in these waters. Beneath the waves, the merlings frolic and resent your intrusion into their seas. But even they fear the darkness of the abyss and the things that whisper in it...

Talisman: The Isles 
introduces a new Region to the board. This can be used in one of two ways. First, it can be used as an alternative to the Dungeon and placed against the main board in the same fashion. Alternatively, it may be used alongside the Dungeon, but this requires some extra space to place one of these two boards away from the Main Board. In either case, passage from the Outer Region to the Isles is made through the seaside Tavern.

The Isles will feature 140 Isles Adventure cards, plus a handful of new cards for the main Adventure deck. There will be 4 new Characters and at least 2 new Endings. Plus new items to purchase, new Spells to cast, and more!

I'd like to thank Earl Wynn on this one. His Shimmering Isles expansion is a major inspiration for this and you'll see some similar cards and concepts in this one. 

Now, onto some previews. Keep in mind that everything is still work in progress, though I am hoping to have this released by the end of the year.

First up, here's a small portion of the Isles board.

vHyHEQu.png

Movement within the Isles works differently than it does elsewhere. A character rolls their movement die, and moves along one of three Trade Routes accordingly. I'm still deciding on exactly which colors will go with which routes, but in practice it'll be something like 1-2) Black, 3-4) Red, 5-6) Green. If a character can roll more than one die for their movement, they must then choose one and use that one to determine which route they travel along. In this particular image, one thing that needs to be changed is the 7+ effect of the Maelstrom, to prevent the opponent from *always* moving you onto the Desert Island. Fortunately, if you do end up on the Desert Island, a Water Bottle or similar item will protect you there as it would in the regular Desert.

Next, here are two of the characters you can play as with the Isles:

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And finally, a small sample of the Isles Adventure cards. All 140 cards are currently done, though they need a second pass once I pin down a few additional mechanics that still need tweaking.

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A quick note on the two new mechanics mentioned in these cards: 

  • Shipwrecked characters are stranded their current space in the Isles. They gain a special status card indicating this and instructing them on how to proceed. 
  • When a card is drowned it is placed into the Isles discard pile, even if it would go to another deck's discard pile normally. Characters cannot retrieve any cards from the Isles discard pile unless the effect explicitly allows them to take a drowned card. For example, if a character encounters the Astral Spirit from the Cataclysm expansion, they could not take a Stranger from the Isles discard pile because the Astral Spirit does not rescue drowned Strangers.

I'll also be making a few add-ons to this. There will be some bonus cards for my Hearth & Harvest and my Bardic Inspiration expansions, so you can find Properties and Bardic Auras while exploring the Isles as well as you can in the other Regions.  More importantly, there will also be a Four Corners of the World:  The Isles expansion released soon after the main release. If you're using my other FCotW sets, this will keep the Isles on par with the other Regions. While the card lists for the main deck, Hearth & Harvest, and Bardic Inspiration are pretty much locked in right now, the FCotW set still has quite a bit of room. So if you've got any suggestions for adventure cards, I'd love to hear them.

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'Maritime' flavour is something that I have always been attracted to. Since 3rd Ed. Isle of Poseidon by Steve Bailey. So I am really excited about this expansion. The only bad thing about it that I can see is that it replaces The Dungeon corner. The Dungeon is my favourite. To work around it having a separated Isles board nearby the main table looks like the solution, but for me a bad compromise.  I don't want to extend playing surface anywhere else. This is the reason why my playing group doesn't use the last two expansions (Deep and  The Realms of Legend). This extra free space between corner boards is simply too precious for us. 

Another solution I see is to change the rules in a way that either of the two boards could be used, but not both at the same time. So first character with a desire and sufficient die roll for movement could enter either the Dungeon or the Isles and thus set the available expansion to be used by all others until there's no one left on the particular board. Later in the game, any character may reenter the same or the other board. This way only 4 boards would be in play in any moment, but 5 would be potentially available.  All faceup adventure cards would be left on the board while the board would not be in play. Of course, I think this rule could be used as a house rule. I don't think there's a need to change any component.

I don't know why you decided to replace specifically the Dungeon. Maybe it would be possible to replace any corner board with the Isles. 

Have you thought about allowing another entrance to the Isles through The Wharf in The City?

Have you thought about similar mechanism as the weather effects in 3rd Ed. Isle of Poseidon http://talisman.edwebb.net/expansions/expansion-330.html ? I love the idea where artwork of the board isn't just there for nice impression but also to interact with the gameplay. (Similar to the Serpent expansion of 4th Ed.)

 

Edited by player1592559
Mistake

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On 10/26/2020 at 2:57 PM, player1592559 said:

Another solution I see is to change the rules in a way that either of the two boards could be used, but not both at the same time. So first character with a desire and sufficient die roll for movement could enter either the Dungeon or the Isles and thus set the available expansion to be used by all others until there's no one left on the particular board. Later in the game, any character may reenter the same or the other board. This way only 4 boards would be in play in any moment, but 5 would be potentially available.  All faceup adventure cards would be left on the board while the board would not be in play. Of course, I think this rule could be used as a house rule. I don't think there's a need to change any component.

I'm using a similar solution for another Talisman project I'm working on, so it could definitely work here.

You should also be able to swap it out with the Highlands (and probably the other two, if you needed). But I chose the Dungeon because I liked having the Port connect to the Tavern.

On 10/26/2020 at 2:57 PM, player1592559 said:

Have you thought about similar mechanism as the weather effects in 3rd Ed. Isle of Poseidon

I really wanted to do something with weather, but it would have resulted in me needing to re-print cards like the Storm in the Adventure Deck and the Electrical Storm in the Highland deck to mark them as Weather Events. One of the Characters is a weather-oriented magic-user and it would have been nice to have an easy way to reference any thematically appropriate Events he could interact with. Instead, his abilities interact with Events more generally, and he doesn't have to worry about the Maelstrom.

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Movement through the Isles is a fickle thing. Without a ship of your own, you're at the mercy of the shipping schedules set by other captains. Luckily shipwrights are hard at work producing vessels for you to purchase while in port. As a basic benefit, all ships allow you to adjust your movement rolls in the Isles by 1; the winds and tides still prevent you from going wherever you want on a whim. Each type of ship also gives you a specific benefit, comparable to the horses and mules found on the mainland:

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Ships are all Properties, which follow the same rules as the Properties in my Hearth & Harvest expansion, so check that one out for more details on how Properties work. Speaking of H&H, if you're using that expansion, there will also be new Properties for use in the Isles too. These include Fisheries, Lighthouses, and a Shipyard of your own.

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I spent this morning tweaking the map a bit. The biggest change is that the azure blue swiggles that had been the Reef placeholder is now a proper coral reef.

There is one map issue that I'd like to get some opinions on. At the moment, there are three Port spaces, located in the inner corners that would be adjacent to the main board. These are identical with the exception of slight name variation to distinguish them. At any of these Ports, you can Visit One of the following:

  • DOCKMASTER: Load crates and gain 1 gold
  • HARBORMASTER: Spend 1 gold to move to another Port and end your turn
  • SHIPYARD: Buy a Ship from the Shipyard
  • MARKET: Compass (1g), Water bottle (1g), Cutlass (2g), Sextant (2g), Spyglass (2g)

But now I'm wondering I should only have 1 Port and turn the other two spaces into something else, and if so, what that might be. Any suggestions?

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It's hard for me to imagine the situation. Are all three ports accessible from the main board and you have changes the rules of entering the board? How crucial is any of the four option for continuation of the journey in the Isles? 

DOCKMASTER

Simply getting one gold at the Dockmaster is to my opinion very 'strong' option. To my knowledge (maybe I'm wrong) there's no other space, where a characters would be able to get gold right away. Getting gold is actually for me one of the hardest things to do in Talisman. My general plan is usually: 1st get gold, 2nd get water bottle, 3rd get to Middle Region. If I would have that kind of option to get gold at the beginning of the play, I would head straight to the port. There are some characters which have dedicated special abilities that allow them easier access to gold. I don't like to play them, but my impression is they are generally OP. (Or maybe not.) Having three spaces where one could get gold straight away could maybe unbalance the gameplay at least for those characters, and also for many adventure cards which give gold to character. Are ships so expensive and therefore the introduction of the Dockmaster which gives you gold without even skipping the round? (Usually in Talisman when characters is offered a job to get gold she has to skip one turn.)

HARBORMASTER

How important it is to move from port to port? You've mentioned, that Isles aren't easy to navigate, I guess the controlled movement is harder in comparison to other corner boards, where movement rules are straightforward. So being able to better control your movement by spending gold to compensate for shipping schedules, winds and tides would be an integral part of movement around the Isles. This maybe requires Harbormaster to be present in all three ports. On the other hand, if  moving from port to port doesn't mean any considerable benefit, spending one gold and one turn this way isn't very inviting. 

SHIPYARD

Does the wording 'Buy a ship from the Shipyard' refer to a deck of cards or to another space with the name 'Shipyard'. If it is the latter, than three ports with the same option to would maybe decrease the value of the Shipyard space.

MARKET

I like the idea of having specialized objects which are handy in the Isles, although I usually encounter a lot of weapons from many sources and have them in abundant number. But it doesn't hurt to have one more available. I am reserved about the water bottle however, for the similar reason as for the Dockmaster. I consider water bottle to be a very important strategic object and I am not sure if I wish to have it available straight from the board. But, like I've mentioned, this is just my preferred tactical approach. Maybe for other playing styles acquiring a water bottle isn't so important.

------------------------------------------

Now I would like to contribute my thought to your question. If there's no apparent reason for having identical spaces, then I wouldn't vote for it. However, keeping the key word 'port' in their names could be useful if there's a reference to a port on some of the adventure cards. (And from what you've posted I can see there is.) My initial answer was simple: denizens. And after some more consideration I didn't come up with anything else. Building a limited deck of dedicated denizens (isles only) would provide for the right amount of randomness. ... And address some of the issues I've mentioned above as well. (If they are indeed issues for anybody else.) This way, not all options would be available immediately, but all would become available in time, if the isles would be visited frequently. At the same time players would have different spaces to visit, with some common options. 

Another thought, not directly connected with above mentioned: There is no place to sell all the stones (trinkets) from the Highland adventure deck when Cataclysm main board is used. Unless somebody draws an Alkimist denizen early in the game, of course. Maybe, the Isles expansion, considering it's flavor, could compensate for that. Let's say some kind of jewelry maker or trader is introduced, who is willing to give money for the stones. Of course, on the cards it is clearly written they have to be sold at the alkimist...

Just another thought. I see the font on the board is different from other texts in Talisman. I like the font but maybe it wouldn't fit in.

Thrilled to see the work on the Isles progressing. Thanks for keeping me excited, Reedstilt.

 

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I've definitely taken your advice on the Dockmaster, as I've had other people recommend the same thing.

The Shipyard is a deck, rather than a space. I can tinker with the language to make that more clear. 

I'm liking the idea for Denizen encounters, though I'm not sure about a separate Isles-specific Denizen deck.  I think instead, I might lean toward adding a few new Denizens to the deck, but having set-up rules that you take out three Denizens (let's say a Trader, a Shipwright, and a Jeweler) and one at random on each of the three Ports. The Trader fills the role of the Market, the Shipwright takes over the Shipyard, and the Jeweler can do the Alchemist-analogue job you were talking about. This is handy for the Isles as well since there are a variety of Pearls that need to be traded at the the Alchemist for gold as well.

In other Isles news, I haven't made much progress this month. Work has a been a bit crazy with a new Covid surge, and what little I have been able to do has mostly been trying to figure out exactly how Pirate Quests will work. The batch I original made focused too much on sailing upriver and attacking locations around the main board and I'm not sure I like that. I'd prefer if the Pirate Quests were mainly focused on sailing around the Isles. One issue with this though is that the Isles Region, as it stands now, is mostly generic Island, Archipelago, and Reef spaces. The unique spaces are the 3 Ports, the Pirate Cove, the Maelstrom, the Shrine of the Deep Father, Lemuria, the Desert Island, and the Island Paradise. If I wanted quests to focus on specific locations within the Isles, I've got a few options that I see at the moment. Any comments or suggestions on this front?

  • Give the Islands and Archipelagos unique names. This is something Earl Wynn did with his Shimmering Isles board. I didn't want to have uniquely named spaces without some game mechanic reason to back up why its unique, which is why I opted for the generic "Island" and "Archipelago" initially. But the Pirate Quests to attack "Tortoise Island" or "Figtree Island" might justify unique names like that. Quests to attack these specific islands would be in additional to quests to attack specific Ports and other targets around the Isles.
  • Make use of the iconography on the board. The Targets of your Pirate Quests become the ships and sea monsters scattered long the shipping lines. Right now they're just decorative. But I could include an image of the ships on your Pirate Quest card, and requiring you to sail along that Trade Route to intercept the target fleet.
  • In the Isles Adventure deck at the moment I have two Places of note here: the Pirate Ship and the Royal Flagship. These move around the Isles, collecting Outlaw and Law enemies respectively as they go. I've been considering turning them into NPCs, like the Werewolf or the Grim Reaper. If I go that way, I could have them be targets of Pirate Quests. If I do this though, I'd probably want to include a few more NPC ships sailing the waters, but that might get overly crowded.
  • I could do some combination of these options, I suppose.


And finally, I've got a question for everyone. Which of these do you prefer:

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