The Horus Heresy Project

Just over a year ago, the clever boffins at Nomad Games unleashed a new version of Talisman on Steam, based on the lore of the Warhammer 40,000 Universe from Games Workshop (well, technically ten thousand years before that).

The game is a testament to what can actually be done with the “Talisman engine” and it shines as a digital title. With subtle changes to the ruleset, and some not so subtle changes to how the main card deck is made up, it is a very clever use of the Talisman licence.


Shortly afterwards, some crazy chap (we’ll call him Jon) decided that it would be a great idea to make a physical version of the game to add to his collection!

After some time creating a hard drive’s worth of screenshots in game, cobbling together templates and investigating the various printing options available, the first (fan created) iteration of Talisman: The Horus Heresy was born.

The cards and board were created, based on sizes that were available at the time from Print & Play in the States. The print quality was very nice indeed, but there was something about my (very limited) graphic design skills that was lacking.

The “neon” look was cool, but as the cards ended up mostly black, they weren’t quite right. The glowing Loyalist and Traitor icons that I used in the card text areas also took up a lot of real estate that was really needed for text.

Play Area
Game Board

After some time, invigorated by the creation of The Lost Realms Community Expansion for the Revised 4th Edition of Talisman from Fantasy Flight Games, I took a look at the project again and decided to give it another go.

Of course, the task was now a bigger one as we had seen the release of several expansions for the game, including two whole new regions!

As you will see in the card examples below, I ended up simplifying the whole theme, whilst keeping references to the digital version. I think it still looks enough like a digital display and not quite as garish.

Galaxy Map

I wanted the main board to look a bit like a star chart or something, so went with a multiple dataslate design, which is supposed to be viewed on a sector by sector basis, rather than as a whole. You move to a sector, check your dataslate, and see an image and overview of where you are.

I’d previously made the board out of square sectors, in order to fit in with the board printing choices I had, but have reverted back to making them in Standard American size (57mm x 89mm) so that you can always print a replacement space or something to fit exactly over the top of them. There are a number of laser cutting services too that make grids for other games, so that is an option too.

You could also print them out as separate cards, and sleeve them and use them like Dominoes…if you wanted.

Isstvan Region Ultramar Region
Prospero Region Terra Region

I recently returned to the Talisman: The Horus Heresy Project after a while doing some other things, and it suddenly struck me that I would be better off making smaller “corner” boards out of the main expansions.

There was a bit of a problem with the size of the Isstvan Region, as it followed the basic layout of the main board, so would obviously be the same size as that board, plus a number of the sectors on the board looked similar as they were based on maps, rather than images of planets.

Another reason for producing overlays, is that the main board that I had printed was on a thin sheet of vinyl rather than paper, so I figured that they would sit quite nicely over the top of the board. You can also swap them in and out of play with very little effort and the sectors that link to the boards can use amended text.

Loyalist Warlord
Traitor Warlord
Chaos Spawn

Warlord cards were made with Talisman character cards in mind, so the attribute values are in the same order and familiar colours on the card, with the exception of the new Strategy value.

For those that do not know we have Close Combat (Strength), Ranged Combat (Craft), Strategy (a new attribute that was previously based on Craft), Fate (ummm…), Resources (Gold) and Resolve (Life).

The Horus Heresy uses Chaos Spawn instead of Toads, but sadly this does not happen very often. I might try to address this by adding some more chaos-themed cards to the decks.

It’s possible that I might add in some remnants from the Ullanor Crusade, which predates the Heresy, but is actually the start of it all!

Loyalist Standee Traitor Standee Chaos Spawn Standee

Standees were made as getting yourself set up with matching Primarch figures from the Games Workshop range would require a sizeable lottery win.

These work out pretty well, and are supposed to look a bit like the holo images in the game. They are made to be 2in x 1in “tombstone” standees with a rounded top, but will work well enough as rectangular.

Close Combat Token Ranged Combat Token Strategy Token
Close Combat XP Ranged Combat XP Strategy XP
Fate Token Resource Token Resolve Token

It would be nice to commission some bespoke counters for the game, either 3D printed or laser cut, but again it’s down to cost.

The tokens are made up as 20mm (0.79 inch) counters, with a value of 1 on one side and 3 on the other. XP counters are used to denote the points value of any defeated enemy units, so hopefully it won’t get too confusing in the play area.

Event Dataslate Stranger Dataslate

Dataslates are basically Adventure cards, and are encountered in order much like they are in Talisman.

Events, Enemies (Melee), Enemies (Firefight), Strangers, Equipment, Fleet and Places.

Traitor Event Dataslate Loyalist Stranger Dataslate

Some dataslates favour a specific allegiance, Traitor (Red) or Loyalist (Blue), and are coloured to set them apart from generic Events, Strangers and Places.

A few dataslates have a Chaos Star, which just means that they are Strangers with a Chaos flavour.

Equipment Dataslate Armour Dataslate
Weapon Loadout Dataslate Vehicle Dataslate

Objects have been replaced by Equipment dataslates, which are further broken down as Armour, Weapon Loadouts and Vehicles.

Carrying limits for Equipment are the same as in the standard Talisman game.

I chose not to add the keywords for the different types of Equipment, but you should be able to figure out what’s what from the colouring of the images.

Fleet Dataslate Place Dataslate

Followers have become Fleet dataslates and are marked differently to Equipment, but they are encountered at the same time.

Then we have Place dataslates, which can also have allegiance based effects.

Infernal Quest Talisman Dataslate

There are no “freebie” Talismans in the deck, and you must embark on a quest in order to get one.

These are Infernal Quests (Traitor) or Errant Quests (Loyalist) and are granted at various locations. Once completed, you receive a Talisman specific to your allegiance.

Loyalist Legion Unit Traitor Legion Unit

Each Warlord has his own deck of themed Legion Units, which are added to the deck at the start of the game.

If you encounter a unit of the same allegiance as yours, you may attempt to reunite with the unit and take it as a Follower. Otherwise, the Unit stays in the sector where it is found and will add to your Combat value whilst you are there.

The Unit dataslate text is separated with a power halberd and the upper text is specific to its (and your!) allegiance, and the lower text is the effect if you are of the opposite allegiance.

Traitor Solar Auxilia Allied Unit Loyalist Mechanicum Allied Unit
Loyalist Titan Allied Unit Blackshield Unit

The deck is also seeded with Loyalist and Traitor Ally Units, some of which you can reunite with, others just helping out where they are encountered.

The Isstvan expansion adds Blackshield Units to the mix that have no specific allegiance, but if you fail to reunite with them, they will attack you.

In the digital version the Blackshields have slightly different names, and are not classed as specific Unit types, but I figured it was no problem to standardise them.

Stratagem Dataslate Incantation Dataslate

Stratagems are the new Spells, with Incantations being introduced in the Prospero expansion which are much like general Psychic Powers.

Your Strategy value determines how many of these you can have in your inventory.

Warlord Armour Perk Dataslate Warlord Weapon Perk Dataslate
Warlord Vehicle Perk Dataslate Warlord Fleet Perk Dataslate

Once Warlords reach a certain level in the game, they are issued with various perks which are like the Runestones introduced in Talisman: Digital Edition.

Warlords generally receive an Armour dataslate, a Weapon Loadout plus either a Vehicle, Fleet or basic Equipment dataslate.

I made them all so that players can decide to add them as they see fit to the game.

Dataslate Back Stratagem Back

Dataslate backs have been made as simple as possible, as they are emulating the back of an electronic tablet.

I went with an embossed steel effect, similar to some smartphone covers you can get. (I’d buy one!)

Fleet Anchorage Dataslate Mechanicum Armoury Dataslate

There is no way currently in the game to purchase Fleet Units, so I figured it would be fun to add in a dataslate where you could do just that.

I also added something to add some of the newer types of Equipment found in later expansions.

It’s possible that some Wargear from Relic might find its way into the deck at some point too!

Loyalist Final Battle Reference Dataslate Isstvan Warzone Reference Dataslate
Psychic Power Reference Dataslate Blackshield Legion Unit Deployment Reference Dataslate

Some of the dataslates and sectors in the game have a large amount of text that is not possible to fit onto the cards without reducing the font size to ridiculous levels.

To get around this I made up some “reference” dataslates with additional text that can be kept beside the board, or placed on a specific sector as you wish.

These examples are for the last sectors on the main board and the Isstvan Region, as well as Psychic Powers for Legion Units and Deployment instructions for Reconnaisance Units.

So, files have been created and I will add to this page once the next version has been laid down on cardboard.

I don’t doubt that I will find something that I am not happy with, or will have forgotten to add something essential to the mix!

In the mean time, go and grab yourself a copy of Talisman: The Horus Heresy on Steam, iOS, or Android. It’s a damn fine way to spend a bit of time!

Talisman: The Horus Heresy at Nomad Games