Talisman games are renowned for being LONG and outstaying their welcome. This is a short and sweet and very different experience. Talisman Legendary Tales is designed by Michael Pal and Lukas Zach. You play five adventures in order to recover the five legendary talismans. Talisman Legendary Tales. See where the name comes from now! This game is published by Pegasus Spiele and plays in 20-40 minutes per adventure.
This family weight game plays 1-6 players and according to the box plays only age 14 and up. We played this with some friends’ kids and can confirm that with an adult a seven-year-old and two nine-year-olds had an absolute blast. There are three difficulty modes, and the easier modes are perfect for younger kids. The story is immersive and not too scary for younger ears. There are dragons, witches and other fantasy creatures, but the peril of losing the game doesn’t feel real to the point of being scary even for little ones.
Talisman Legendary Tales - Where Our Story Begins
Many centuries ago, legendary smiths forged the Crown of Command, he who wore it held power over all the land. This Crown was sealed behind the Portal of Power by a wizard to prevent evil forces from obtaining it. Only those who possess one of the legendary Talismans may pass through the portal to reach the Crown. In this game, you play as brave heroes. You'll be retrieving all five Talismans to prevent the evil forces from gaining access to the Portal and ruling the world. The safety of the Earth lies in your hands!
The aim of the game in Talisman Legendary Tales is to complete the missions. You do this on either side of the chapter board without the time tracker reaching the nightspot. This is a co-operative game where you build your bag by fighting villains and gaining treasure. As you and your team build their bags with more powerful tokens, each turn becomes more powerful. The game arc builds in a satisfying way.
The components of the game are simple in their artwork and design. This feels perfect for this family weight affair. The custom wooden travel die has clear pip values and icons for the portal and time. There is nothing special about the components. Yet they are made of thick card stock for the most part. Although simple in their appearance, this is perfectly serviceable. The adventure mats are made of pretty thin card, but the story text is large enough to read comfortably and it serves its purpose. The rulebook is not too heavy reading, there are a lot of pictures to break up the text which helps to demonstrate gameplay well. As they always say a picture paints 1000 words. She says, writing a wordy review!
The Hero of the Hour, a Troll…?!
The characters in the game have both a male and female counterpart which you can choose. This feels like the kind of thing we should see more often in modern gaming, but props to the publishers for ensuring inclusivity in this game. The characters are your typical fantasy heroes, a warrior, a dwarf, an elf, a wizard and then the other two are unusual choices in my experience; a prophet and a troll. Of course, because these characters were surprising options, these are the ones I am most likely to pick as my hero. Anyone can be a wizard hero, but being a troll hero is altogether more fun!
Each character has a different bag build at the start of the game. These lend to the theme a little, the wizard has more magic hats, the warrior has more swords. Each character also has their own special ability too. Using these powers effectively can grab you a victory from the jaws of defeat. It is uncommon to have asymmetric player powers and starting positions in a family weight game, but I think that in this game it is managed well. Each player has their own bag labelled with a heavy card token that shows what their bag contains (at the start) and their ability, so there is very little remembering to be done.
The iconography of this game is pretty straight forward, there is a summary list of the ten main icons on the back of the rulebook which is handy. The icons are simplistic and different colours too to help you determine at a quick glance the result of your bag draw.
Adventuring in Talisman-Land
There are five adventures included in this set, and each adventure has a chapter 1 and chapter 2 side to the chapter mat. I am not going to spoil the contents of the adventures as discovering this and reading the story adds so much to the game. I will however say that the location you start the Curse of the Fairies Adventure is the hovel. Which I thought was an excellent place for my troll character to begin their journey!
Each Adventure can be played on three difficulty levels; one, two or three stars. If your team is successful in completing the adventure within the required time, then you win the talisman and there are one, two and three-star Talisman winners tokens available depending on which difficulty level you chose at the start.
Each adventure has its own tokens. These are identified by different colours. The colours match the adventure time tracking mat. There are two types of token, the jagged edge ones, and the smooth edge. During setup, you split the tokens into these two types. The tokens display either enemies or items. The enemies have different symbols that must be revealed in order to defeat them. The items are generally the way to win the adventure, you are trying to pick up items and deliver them somewhere in order to win the challenge.
There is a timer printed on the adventure map that counts down the day you have to complete the challenge, certain tokens and die faces will advance the timing chip and ramp up the pressure to complete the challenges set for you.
After setting up Talisman Legendary Tales, the youngest player starts and carries out their whole turn before it goes to the next person in clockwise order. Or you can choose the first player in a much better way. The best frog impression, the best wizard spell casting etc. On your turn, you have three phases that you complete, first, you move if you wish by throwing the travel die and moving the number of pips shown. If you roll a portal symbol, you may go wherever you wish. You cannot move through spaces containing face up enemy tokens. If you land on one of these, you must end your movement there.
Next, you deal with any face-up tokens. If there are enemies in your location face up, you can defeat them by drawing the correct combination of symbols from your bag. You draw three random hero tokens and cross your fingers you drew what you needed to vanquish your foe. Once drawn, these tokens remain on the table and are not returned to the bag regardless of whether they defeated an enemy, You may only return tokens to your bag when you or another player wishes to draw from your bag. Before drawing you may decide to return those previously drawn.
This brings me onto a cool mechanistic twist that I loved about this game. You can draw from other players bags! If you draw a magic bag symbol, you get to draw another token. This can be from either your own hero bag or another player's.
The final phase of your turn is to collect any rewards or items. Any time you eliminate an enemy, you are able to draw from the treasure bag. Which as you can imagine has some absolutely brilliant tokens hidden in it. Once you have revealed the reward token, you may place it into any players bag. Again with the mixing the rewards about again. I love that tiny yet exciting twist on your standard bag builder.
If you defeat all the enemies at a location, you are also able to take the item found there. These are placed onto the Adventure Scroll as this is how you win the Chapter and gain a Talisman token.
The different adventures have varying map arrangements which are shown in the Adventure book. These all use the same chunky location hexagon tiles in different configurations. Although this does increase the variability in the game slightly, the token placement is what mixes things up significantly. The tokens are different for each of the adventures and they are all placed face down randomly during setup so you have no idea what could be lurking by the fairy pool or in the ruins.
Pick-up and deliver games are in my opinion the spiritual successor to the traditional roll and move like Ludo and Snakes and Ladders. They are accessible in that you are still rolling and moving, but you now have an added treasure hunt style mechanic where you must find and collect the required items to complete the challenge. This upgrading of the challenge is what makes this game such a great family-weight experience.
At the lower difficulty levels, there is little adult input required to “win” the adventure. But as the star value increases, the games become a tenser and more engaging affair for older kids and adults. The co-operative nature is strengthened by the fact you can add improved tokens to other people’s bags instead of just to your own. This can help adults to boost kids up and let them “do more” in the game with their more powerful bag.
Talisman Legendary Tales is fun for all ages. I do think that 14 and up is too high for this game. It is pitched as a family game. I think younger children will get so much out of playing this campaign. Especially with the support of an adult. This is lightweight fun and should be played with the fun element front and centre. Do you get turned into a toad? Then ribbet until you manage to turn human again! This game is great fun, it’s quick, easy and has a good story and gameplay.