Updated: Aug 3, 2020
Highlander has been a curious franchise. The franchise, and indeed the title, originated with the 1986 movie. In that film, the eponymous lead was played by Christopher Lambert who was born in Scotland in the 16th century and who discovers he is one of a number of Immortals who can only be killed by decapitation. Mentored by a character with a flamboyant Spanish name but who was apparently supposed to have been born in Egypt around 900 BC and implausibly played by Sean Connery, the Highlander learns that the Immortals mostly while away their time by hunting each other so that they can chop each other’s heads off in order to gain ‘the Quickening’ – an indeterminate and never quantified ‘power’. In the film, its sequels and the seemingly endless TV series, we encounter hundreds of Immortals but we are constantly reminded that ‘there can be only one’.
It was hokum but it obviously captured people’s imagination. It survived some famously wooden performances (particularly in the TV series) and it was boosted by one of the best songs ever written and performed by Queen (‘Who Wants To Live Forever’).
Designed by Jack Caesar and Alessio Cavatore, and published by River Horse, Highlander: The Board Game isn’t the first attempt to immortalise Highlander in game form. As is hinted at in the new game’s title, we previously had Highlander: The Card Game (designed by Mike Sager and published in 1996) and B&B Games Studio last year published Highlander: The Duel, a two-player game designed by Chris Castagnetto.
Highlander: The Board Game is for 2–6 players. As you’d expect, it all boils down to combat, but, along the way you’ll be trying to buff up your character and you’ll be involved in some deck manipulation, because this is a game that utilises both cards and dice.
There is no need for further ‘quickening’ because Highlander: The Board Game is already a quick game. When played with more than two, the core game inevitably involves player elimination – indeed, that’s the whole purpose of the game (‘there can be only one’ – remember?) but since games only take around 15 minutes to complete, that really isn’t an issue. If you’re a fan of the movies, you’ll certainly want to play this, but even Highlander agnostics will get a kick out of the tactical play and combat. The rules could be clearer in places but the components are good, especially the minis representing the various Immortals. In fact these are so good, the publishers have released a second set with alternative sculpts and character sheets. Subtitled, Princes of the Universe, this is strictly an add-on/expansion because you need Highlander: The Board Game to use it.
Those who enjoy modifying and pimping their games commonly use tiny magnets to affix minis to stands (it’s how we mount our 'vipers' and Cylon ships in Battlestar Galactica). Great as Highlander’s minis already are, surely fans will be taking their modelling knives to them to insert tiny magnets between their heads and shoulders so that each is capable of actually being beheaded in combat…