Cardboardinatus! Talisman: The Horus Heresy Released

Rab has plenty of praise for the cardboard version of Talisman, a board game of exploring a world and powering up across quests and battles. The game’s gone digital too, thanks to developers Nomad Games, and now they’ve made Talisman so very, very PC gaming by boshing in Warhammer 40,0000.

Freshly released this morning is Talisman: The Horus Hersey [official site]. It’s a spin-off using the Talisman rules as a base for a galaxy-trotting retelling of that time in 40k lore when an angry warteen and his mates duffed up their wardad.

The Horus Hersey gives players command of a Space Marine legion on either the loyalist or traitor side. While regular Talisman focuses on individual adventurers, as I understand it, The Horus Heresy gives folks big armies of Space Marines, tanks, spaceships, and all that. It has local and online multiplayer for up to four players, along with AI opponents for friendless throwdowns.

Talisman: The Horus Hersey is £17.09 on Steam, including a 10% launch discount – and folks who own Talisman: Digital Edition get an extra 5% off.

Somewhat unpleasantly, £5 of DLC is here on launch day in the form of two character packs. You can take the Space Marine out the Games Workshop shop, but you can’t yadda yadda. (The GW shop in Edinburgh is now simply named ‘Warhammer’ but look, this post will become unbalanced if I get too into test run rebrandings.)


  1. doriath says:

    It’s sort of an odd choice to go this direction for a 40K spinoff, since there’s a 40K Talisman (with two expansions) out already: link to

    • thekelvingreen says:

      Probably different licences; it was probably less difficult to get the licence direct from Games Workshop, rather than negotiate a sub-licence with FFG.

      • ZeroWaitState says:

        Which seems odd, since the only other game this developer made (other than Backgammon) is the digital version of the FFG Talisman boardgame.

  2. PoulWrist says:

    Seems like yet another cash-in game.

    I wonder why Games Workshop didn’t allow any games made for the longest time and then suddenly every month there’s a handful of GW-licensed games competing to see which can be the shittiest on that month’s list of releases.

    • mouton says:

      They are probably a bunch of aging people sitting on a pile of ancient licenses not knowing what the hell to do with them or how to properly do whatever they decide.

    • Bull0 says:

      Because THQ had an exclusive license for absolutely ages and then they went under, so now GW are slowly learning how to license for digital with mixed success.

    • MisterFurious says:

      Games Workshop was going under and needs the revenue.

  3. Bull0 says:

    It’s only about £13 if you buy it from the developers’ website, and you get a steam key. Just a heads-up. The presentation is lovely but it’s not all that exciting of a game, plays just like the existing talisman game.

  4. Sam J S says:

    I hate to be pedantic with my first post here but what the heck, I’m going to be, the Horus Heresy was actualy in 30k, and the reason I recon they are “giving” licences away is because they have a new CEO with a whole new “lets squeaze our fanbase an awful lot harder to see what they’ll put up with” attitude, lets face it have you seen the cost of new figs? OUCH!!.

    • Alice O'Connor says:

      The Horus Heresy is part of Warhammer 40k. It happened around 30k in the timeline, sure, and 30k may have a spin-off, but it’s v. much classified as part of – as I said – the lore of 40k. In this case, drawing a distinction between the two would mostly confuse.

      Don’t worry, I’m sure you know lots of things none of us know. Consider them secrets too special to share with the rest of us. We’ll all be quietly impressed when you post again and keep that special knowledge to yourself. It’s okay – we may one day live in a happy world free from pedantry.

      • Sam says:

        Well played,

        and can I add how humbled and honoured I am to be scolded so by the author.


      • Skeletor68 says:

        Feck, that was ice-cold Alice. You don’t mess around! I feel your burn Sam :)

      • asmodemus says:

        That was dropped like a storm hammer Alice.

        As the old ozzie beer ad would say

  5. Hobbes says:

    Pre-ordered, was looking forward to it. Release swings around, and being greeted by the odious stink of Day One DLC where in this case there was NO GOOD REASON for it not to have been included as part of the core release except because the devs were money grubbing .

    and they should hang to a man. There, got that out of my system. Anyhow, refund approved, and I will be staying far away from this until it, along with the DLC hits -75% off. I don’t buy damaged goods, tyvm.

    • Hobbes says:

      fscking post ate my subtext… so, for the sake of simplicity, assume everything after money grubbing and before “and they should hang…” has been censored by David Camerons’ decency filter.

      Just picture a nice green grassy field with birds in and you should be fine, the alternative would be the most expletive filled invective that would briefly grace RPS in some time. I was -not- a happy tiger.

  6. unitled says:

    So, here’s the thing. Rab’s view on Talisman is not generally reflected by the more, erm, ‘serious’ boardgamers, who consider Talisman to be too long, too random, grindy, and more complex than it needs to be. While the expansions do mitigate this, it’s hard to argue that Talisman isn’t ultimately not just a (much) more complex snakes and ladders.

    And you know, this is fine. Talisman isn’t about complex strategy, it comes from an age where this wasn’t really an issue. What it IS about is the social experience of board games. It’s about sitting with your friends (or your kids!) cracking open a beer and grabbing a bowl of posh crisps. It’s something you DO while you’re WITH your friends, especially if they’ve played the game when younger and can enjoy the nostalgia. It’s flavourful, it’s fun to look at, you get fun stories out of it you share with your friends.

    So, these digital versions of Talisman really puzzle me. The game is so utterly reliant on dice rolls I feel like playing it must just be a case of picking left or right and letting something random happen to you. Taking the social experience out of Talisman is taking the EXPERIENCE out of Talisman, and replacing it with looking at some pretty pictures of 40K artwork.

    I haven’t played the game, and honestly at nearly £20 I don’t think I will (wallet-gouging DLC aside). I’d much rather put that £20 towards another expansion for regular old Talisman, currently sat gathering dust on my game shelf.

    • Archonsod says:

      Talisman isn’t about the social factor as such, it’s just from a much earlier design school (like WHFB, though 40K came too late) where the focus was on playing rather than goal driven – i.e. it’s not something you were expected to go in and try to win, rather it’s something you pull out, play around with for a few hours and stop when you get bored. It’s the same idea as the fighting fantasy books which would probably face the same criticism thanks to their rather random unavoidable death mechanics – you’re supposed to pick it up and enjoy the story however it turns out rather than go in with the idea of ‘beating’ the book.

    • ZeroWaitState says:

      Relic (the FFG 40K Talisman clone) tried to fix some of the movement randomness by giving special movement abilities to the characters in order to inject some strategy back in, but yeah, it’s mostly dice and luck. That’s always been a problem with Talisman. Seemed really cool as a kid, but as you get older you realize how shallow the mechanics were. Arkham Horror was similar, but it at least gave you some idea what to expect, gave you freedom to move around, and it was co-op, so you were supposed to work together to deal with unexpected stuff. Also, after playing a while you started to figure out where certain types of events happened, and could form a coherent strategy around it. On the Talisman board, half the spaces are practically identical. I personally don’t think the Talisman game mechanics are a good fit for the Heresy theme/content, either. “Betrayal at House on the Hill” seems more appropriate.

  7. Reapy says:

    I wish we could see one of these board game adaptions with a bit more art and animation work thrown in. Kind of thinking I basically want a heroscape like game done like battlechess did to chess.

    • Bull0 says:

      Have you tried Battlelore Command? It’s hex-based commands and colours warfare with nice animation.

  8. icemann says:

    I’ll never get why much of Warhammer 40k’s content is so focused on this period of time (the Horus Hersey) as well as anything Space Marines vs Chaos type stuff.

    If you look at much of the games + books on this universe it more often that not will tend to focus on it in one form or another.

    I always preferred the Eldar and ESPECIALLY the Tyrannids personally. They have some awesome backstory related stuff.

    • ZeroWaitState says:

      It’s a business decision; the space marines are enormously popular so they produce books the fans want. Plus, when you’re writing fiction (as opposed to creating a boardgame) you have to create dramatic tension. That tension requires reader empathy with the characters, which is hard if the protagonist is a giant walking insect. The Eldar have a similar problem to a lesser degree, and few of GW’s writers have Frank Herbert’s skill at making the manifestly alien likable or comforting. GW wants to avoid turning the Eldar into Tolkien elves or Spock, but I think they probably went too far the other direction.

  9. bokchoy says:

    Bought and played a SP match. As someone who has played Relic and never gotten around to the original Talisman, I have to say:

    This is boring. Extraordinarily boring. Maybe I was spoiled by Relic which has randomized victory conditions, power cards to (sort-of) negate the randomness, thematic threat decks, fun characters (you can play as a ratling sniper, comeon!), mutations (become lost to chaos! which is worse than dying!) and most of all, hilariously game-breaking relics!

    Talisman 40K has none of those. Sure you can play as a primarch or Sevatar or whatever, but usually that translates to “+/- 1 from your/enemy attack modifier” which is exactly as exciting as it sounds. You’ll run around the board punching/shooting people or recruiting units that make your punching/shooting better or buying the same loot from any of the forge worlds…to make your punching/shooting better.

    Then you’ll push to Terra, punch/shoot the Emperor/Horus [delete as appropriate] 5 times and that’s it.

    You should just buy Tabletop Simulator and download Relic from the workshop. Trust me, you’ll have way more fun.

    • Archonsod says:

      Relic is very much a modern Talisman (Talisman 2.0 if you will) with much of the rough edges sanded off. I doubt anyone who’s played both would disagree that it’s a better game because of it.

      Real question is why they didn’t just produce a computer version of the already excellent Horus Heresy boardgame.

    • PhilBowles says:

      I gave it a try yesterday – the only real way to engage with it seems to be to try and gather an army and pretend you’re playing something closer to 40k than Talisman. The interface makes it even slower and grindier than the FFG port, and something in the game structure, the available events, or both actually removes a lot of the ‘shit happens’ elements. If a character gets ahead, there’s nothing that really stops them staying ahead – my session seemed to be spent watching Angron race around the board killing off Salamander units before I could reunite with them.

      Probably worth noting that all the content for Talisman that this company put out which wasn’t just ported from FFG was outright unplayable, so making their own Talisman game was perhaps optimistic.