Oh boy, what was supposed to be writing a quick overview over a CCG turned out to be more and more complicateded task. The CCG that wouldn’t die. It’s so tempting to make some silly jokes about this immortal game. At first I had an overview over the original run and knew that the game was revived two years ago. But when writing this article I stumbled upon fan-made virtual expansions and small sets by yet another company. Fans of the game who have followed its history over the years should feel free to leave comments and correct me if I confuse some facts.
“Highlander” is a game that was introduced to the market in 1995 by Thunder Castle Games during the first wave of Magic follow-up games. It had a quite succesful run with a number of expansions, before TCG released its last expansion in 1999. As you can imagine you play an immortal who tries to defeat his opponent in a series of encounters via sword fight. The game offers a broad selection of immortals from the movies and the tv show, each of them has a lot of weapons, events and moves only usable by him. Of course there are also more generic cards for everyone, including attacks and blocks, which are used to play out the actual sword duels. One player wins by reducing his opponent’s ability (also his maximum hand size) from 15 to 0. Alternatively you can try to pull off a head shot, which is of course more difficult, but ends the game immediately.
As far as my good old “Scrye CCG Checklist & Price Guide” tells me, this game had some unique ideas. Some cards were “rips”, that means you had to destroy the actual card to use the effect (at leats in official tournaments). Well, okay, I hope those were all common cards, otherwise the rich kids will win the tournaments. Also in tournaments, if you were defeated by headshot, you had to give all “quickening” cards you used in your deck to your opponent, because he absorbed your powers. That combined with powerful promo cards that were hard to get (one was only given away by the president of the game company personally) reflects perhaps the mentality of the early CCG games, where the manufacturers didn’t necessarily expect that the players would try to collect complete sets and try to keep the collection complete. At least publishing complete card lists wasn’t mandatory in the beginning of the CCG era.
So after the last set by Thunder Castle Games in March 1999 players waited and waited for the Ramirez Edition to finally play Sean Connery. Since the game wasn’t continued, fan-made expansions were made. The Missing Link expansions can be found here:
But don’t expect easy access. The makers tried to limit access, so that the cards still have rarities.
The company SAEC Games produced small sets to continue the game. Not much traces of those guys on the web, so the best source is this card database for Highlander:
It seems they published the Black raven 1-4 and some preview cards for a Millenium set, altogether 140 cards.
Then news came up that the company LeMontagnard Games wanted to produce a Second Edition. Head of the company was Mike Sager, the former president of Thunder Castle Games and creator of the original game. I am not sure if the current HighlanderTCG company was founded by LeMontagnard or if the game changed hands again before the launch of the 2nd Edition. I find no mention of LeMontagnard on the current official page. Anyway, the game was re-launched in 2007 and seems to be alive and well with a loyal fanbase.
For “Highlander” it’s not so easy to find a list of all expansions, so I try to assemble one here. The first edition consists – according to the “Scrye CCG Checklist And Priceguide 2nd Edition” – of:
- Highlander – Series Edition, August 1995, 165 cards in starter decks and booster packs
- Movie Edition, August 1996, 302 cards in starter decks and booster packs
- Watcher’s Chronicle, February 1998, 113 cards in starter decks and booster packs
- The Gathering, June 1998, 110 cards in starter decks and booster packs
- The Duncan Collection, ???, 20 fixed cards
- Arms & Tactics, November 1998, 219 cards in starter decks and booster packs
- Four Horsemen, March 1999, 105 cards in booster packs
- The Methos Collection, ???, 50 fixed cards
Then you had the virtual Missing Link expansions here, which I just want to mention briefly, because this was all the fans had for several years. Actual printed cards came from SAEC games. Take the numbers with a grain of salt, I am only using the mentioned database as a source. Obviously the short-lived spin-off series “Raven” was the main source for this series of small sets:
- Black Raven 1, 33 cards
- Black Raven 2, 31 cards
- Black Raven 3, 29 cards
- Black Raven 4, 34 cards
- Millenium Preview, 13 cards listed as ultra-rare
Now we get to the Second Edition stuff. Oddly enough a beta set was published:
- 2E Beta Set, 196 cards
And now I am returning gladly to more secure sources. The following sets can be ordered in the online shop of the official homepage on http://www.highlandertcg.com:
- Core Set (Season 1), appr.293 cards in starter sets and booster packs
- Gathering Set (2E), appr.239 cards in starter sets and booster packs
- Season 2
- Season 3, just shipped according to the news section
So, there you have it. This game seemed to be dead, but obviously it didn’t lose its head. Is it fun to play? Well, I guess each immortal can have an unique fighting style thanks to persona specific cards. I still have second thoughts about commenting on the Conan CCG gameplay, so I won’t dare to do that on such an old game with thousands of different cards, even if I had the opportunity to play it. With such a loyal fan base the game must do a lot of things right. What I would recommend to the current makers is to update the homepage with easy to find card lists of the now available expansions. A history section with info on all expansions since 1995 would rule even more. It looks a bit to me as if the game was highly anticipated by a loyal fanbase, but also that it is only produced for that existing fan base.