Talisman (Revised 4th Edition)

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Enter a mythic world of dragons and sorcery! In Talisman, the classic fantasy adventure board game for two to six players, you’ll embark on a perilous quest for the legendary Crown of Command. You’ll choose the warrior, priest, wizard, or one of eleven other heroes with powers both magical and mighty, and you’ll race your opponents through a perilous realm. Each player rolls a…
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Awards

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • Retro high fantasy artwork
  • Classic combat mechanic
  • Variable player powers

Might Not Like

  • Luck factor
  • Potential long playtime with more players
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Description

Please Note - We sell both the Fantasy Flight and the Pegasus version of this game through this product. The version you receive will be dependent on the stock we're currently holding in our warehouse.

Enter a mythic world of dragons and sorcery! In Talisman, the classic fantasy adventure board game for two to six players, you’ll embark on a perilous quest for the legendary Crown of Command. You’ll choose the warrior, priest, wizard, or one of eleven other heroes with powers both magical and mighty, and you’ll race your opponents through a perilous realm. Each player rolls a die to determine his movement around the regions of the board, where he encounters dangerous foes and claims powerful rewards, all in preparation for his final climactic test. Ages 13+, 2-6 players, 90 minutes playing time.

 

Talisman, published by Pegasus Spiele (alongside popular tabletop giant Games Workshop), is an RPG-based board game set in the high fantasy world of Talisman. Players assume the role of a hero, dedicated to claiming the Crown of Command before their rivals and ruling all of Talisman how they see fit.

Players will travel across the land of Talisman, building their characters and searching for a fabled Talisman amulet to grant them access to the Crown of Command. They will encounter many different events through an adventure deck, be it a creature to fight, a witch to seek aid from, or a font of magical power to siphon. Other heroes also pose a risk; crossing paths with one may lead to a challenging fight! If you’re a fan of roleplaying games in particular, look forward to a love note to the genre’s origins in Talisman.

The Setup

Each player will be assigned a hero at random from a pre-set selection. You will then set up the board, and place the relevant decks and token pools next to it. Each player is given tokens to match their ‘life’ and ‘fate’ scores, 1 gold piece, and their hero figure.

As stated, the goal of Talisman is to reach the Crown of Command before any of those pesky friends of yours get their grubby hands on it. You accomplish this by moving from the outer region to the middle region via raft, teleportation, or other means. From this region, you’ll need to head to the inner region, which is only achievable by possessing a Talisman object. Each region grows smaller in distance but larger in difficulty the further inwards you travel. The final region forgoes dice movement, only allowing players to move to the next adjacent space along the path to the Crown.

Talisman-Body

Playing the Game

Players will then take it in turns to roll a dice and move that many spaces in any direction. Each space you land on will give you info on what to do there; draw from the adventure deck, roll a dice to see what happens, and so on. Play continues like this as players build up their heroes’ stats, seek out a ‘Talisman’ object, and find a way into the next region on the board. Once a player reached the Crown of Command space in the centre, the endgame ensues – a race to usurp that player, or die without revival and be removed from the game for good.

There are plenty of different ways to move from region to region, as well as lots of different ways to claim Talisman objects. This means no matter where you are in the game, or what number of playthrough you’re on, a new opportunity will be just round the corner to advance in the game.

Feel of the Game

Talisman is a game that invokes feelings of ’90s fantasy nostalgia in me. ‘Classic’ fantasy is often the watchword these days, and it absolutely delivers on that. The artwork and the theme of the story and text on certain cards is reminiscent to ‘Choose your Own Adventure’ books and games, a good example being Escape the Dark Castle. Even the combat mechanic is almost identical to that genre; roll dice, add dice and ability scores together, compare. Short, sweet, satisfying.

The gameplay itself is also especially reminiscent of a ‘classic’ board game; you have your playing piece, you roll a dice to move spaces, and things happen upon doing so. A tried and tested method, and certainly one that almost anybody can grasp quite easily whatever the theme may be. This game also has a very strong following and expansion count, as it’s been around for a long time. That means plenty of chance to broaden the games horizons with house rules and extra bits and bobs!

Talisman-Body-2

Final Thoughts

Talisman is a well-rounded, satisfying board game that absolutely lives up to its ‘classic’ claim. It provides an evening of immersive, dice-rolling, RPG fun and doesn’t over-complicate things with over the top rules and paperwork. It’s certainly a staple for a board game lover who’s a fan of RPGs, especially one who grew up in the ’90s, and is a great infection vector for people new to the genre. Even converts from the limited world of games such as Monopoly will find plenty of things here to skate into the wider universe of board games and on. Sometimes the luck of the dice and the draw combined will feel like the game is poorly balanced or far too brutal. While that can certainly sometimes be the case, I’ve found it’s thankfully quite a rare occurrence that’s mitigated with Fate, and the ability to start afresh with a new hero.

It’s a game with almost boundless replayability; just the core game itself has offered so much of this that I still haven’t seen every adventure card, and my playthroughs are well into the teens now. With the addition of many different expansions, that replayability grows exponentially. Talisman is an RPG staple that any avid board gamer and RPG player would appreciate on their shelf for many years.

 

Talisman may seem like a lot of rules at first glance, but stick with it. The majority of the rules revolve around rolling a dice against opponents, adding modifiers and following the instructions written on the board. If you are still struggling by the end of this, fear not there’s still hope! There are plenty of how to play talisman videos online that may provide a better learning format for you. In this guide if their is an exception to a general rule i”ll highlight it with the symbol *. Also if there is an alternative play option based on player choice i’ll use the # symbol to make you aware of it so that you look it up in the manual at your own leisure. Are you ready? Let’s delve in!

Game Components

Health Tokens

The green cones are used from the start of the game to keep track of your current health. All the cones come in two sizes, big ones representing 5 and little ones representing 1. As a bonus all the tokens stack quite easily for neatness.

Craft And Strength Tokens

Unlike the health tolkens the strength and craft tokens (red and blue respectively) are not used right away. They are only put on your character sheet when you gain strength or craft from a source other than a follower or object. Some examples being from your trophies and certain adventure cards that we’ll get into at a later point. Craft is used in psychic combat and also allows you to gather and cast more spells. Strength is the default stat used for all standard combat and doesn’t do much else. Below is a photo of a late game character to give you an idea where all the tokens, objects and followers will be stored later in the game.

Fate Counters

Fate allows characters to reroll a single dice of their own. Rules for fate usage state that you can spend no more than 1 fate on the same roll and must accept the new result once rolled.

Gold coins

Gold is used to buy things at shops and markets, quite often weapons and armour to keep you alive or services otherwise vital to your health such as healing at the local docs.

Game Cards

Alignment Cards

Whenever a character’s alignment changes to one that’s different from their starting one these cards are used to keep track of it. There is one side for good (the white side) and one for evil (the red) *any character’s alignment (including the druids) can only change once per round and if this causes players to discard alignment specific items they must do so.

Talisman Cards

Unless you are lucky enough to find one in the adventure deck the next most common way to gain a talisman is by completing a quest for the warlock in the middle region. Visit their cave and choose a quest. As soon as you complete this quest you are immediately teleported back to the cave and receive a talisman. In order to enter the valley of fire players must have a talisman, or turn back so they are vital to win the game.

Spells Cards

Players may hold and cast spell cards according to their craft level. 3 craft allows you to hold and cast 1 spell per turn, 4 or 5 craft increases your limit to 2 spells per turn and at 6 craft and above your maximum spell limit increases to 3. If at any point a player gains access to a spell with an insufficient craft level to own it they must discard it immediately to the spell discard pile. Players can only cast as many spells per turn as the number of spells they had at that turn’s beginning and they may also only cast 1 spell on another player’s turn given they still have spells to use. All spells have limits stated on them such as when they can be cast and all spells that target creatures cannot do so in the inner region.

Objects Cards

Objects grant all sorts of buffs, powers and abilities. Players can only carry a maximum of 4 objects on them at any given time however. *If a player owns a mule they are allowed an additional 4 objects. If at any time a player wishes to pick up an object when they are at maximum capacity they must discard an object first to make room. If an object or a follower is dropped it can’t be picked up on the same turn by the player that discarded it. It remains in the space at which it was discarded until any player chooses to pick it up.

Follower Cards

Followers are similar to object cards except you have no limit to how many you may accumulate. Each has its own set of rules and buffs written on their instructions telling you what they do.

The Game, the board and the Characters

The Board

The board itself is made up of 3 regions: Outer, Middle and Inner. The difficulty and ferocities of the regions become progressively more challenging the closer to the inner region you get.

You will spend the majority of your game in the outer region building up strength and craft from encounters, objects and followers before venturing into the middle region. The middle region is similar to the outer region but with more card draw, creature buffs and squares which harm players outright.You’ll want to be around strength or craft 10 minimum to have better odds at surviving here. The inner region is where the gameplay changes the most. Players no longer roll for movement and instead move one space per turn. You’ll need your stats to be at their highest to navigate this region successfully as you’ll face the toughest roll offs here.

Board Setup

First things first this board game is BIG, so make sure you have ample room at the table for both it and the player character sheets.

To start with the board game, cards and tokens should be set up in a similar layout to one of the photos below. Cards and tokens should be placed in a convenient spot for all players to reach.

Character selection and set up

1: Deal out all character cards equally amongst players.

2: Players will randomly select a character out of their given to play, keeping the rest aside for their respawn choices upon death. (#)

3: Players will set up their chosen character with its correct amount of fate, health, gold, and spell cards as stated on their card. Unless stated otherwise the general starting gold is 1 and spells are 0.

4: collect your character miniature from the box and choose a player colour ring to attach to it for easy identification.

5: place your character model on its given starting spot, which is written at the bottom of the character card along with your alignment (evil, neutral and good).

Turn Example

The player whom the board game belongs to goes first, failing this roll for the highest number.

1: On player 1’s turn they may cast a spell (given they can)

2: They then must move and interact with the space they land on or another player on said space.

3:  A battle commences between player 1 and a bear for which they are victorious.

4:  Keeping the monster as a trophy player 1 ends their turn.

5: Play passes to the next player.

Movement

Players roll two dice and move the total amount in one chosen direction. *It should be noted that when crossing the sentinel bridge to the inner region you can change direction once you cross over to the middle region to complete your move.

Players must move each turn and must follow any restriction from spells or encounters, items or otherwise which affect their movement.

Encounters

The outcomes for landing on a space are as follows.

Interact with a player in that space, follow the instructions on the space or engage with cards that already exist on the space. You can also pick up any objects and followers on the space freely. *Note that if 1 card exists on a space requiring two, one more card must still be drawn. A way around this is to discard objects or follower cards up to the number of cards you need to draw to lower or remove the need to draw cards at all.

Player Combat

1: The attacking player may choose to use one of their character’s special abilities or choose regular combat, this decides the stat players will roll on.

* passive abilities don’t need activating and some characters can choose psychic combat at this stage if it is their turn.

2: If a defending player can evade, they may do so now.

3: Beginning with the active player any player that wishes to cast spells must do so now before rolls.

4: Each player rolls a die and adds all modifiers relevant to the chosen statistic. These include tokens, weapons (1 per battle), spells and followers.

5: The victor may take any 1 of the following from the loser. A gold, object, follower or choose to wound his opponent for 1 life.

6: The player ends their turn. *If the losing player is killed from this battle the winner of the duel may instead take all objects, followers and gold in any combination of their choosing from the loser. Any items not taken are left in the space.

Evading

Evading is a power granted through the use of spells or some followers abilities. The following rules apply to evasion. A player can evade other players that are attempting to attack or use a special ability on them and any other creature that attacks them that isn’t in the inner region.

Player Death

When a player dies there are a few options to choose from depending on what game mode you decide to use (#).Typically they respawn as if starting a new game with one of their alternative characters they haven’t used yet. *if a player has reached the crown of power players do not respawn they instead lose the game.

Spaces

Spaces usually instruct a player to draw x amount of adventure cards minus the amount of cards that already exist in the space (if any). Sometimes the space will have options, extra rules or dice rolls, in which case the player must follow the instructions for that space.

Adventure Deck

Drawing from the adventure deck can trigger events, monster combats or provide you with objects and followers. The order you resolve multiple cards is shown by the turn order which is the number in the lower right hand of an adventure card. Always resolve the lowest numbers first and the same numbers at the same time. Event cards that affect an entire region will do so on the region the triggering player is in unless specified otherwise. If an event or adventure card sends you to another location on your turn, interact with the new space  you land on following the same rules as if you had just finished your movement. Repeat this process any number of times you are required to do so.

Monster Combat

When a creature encounter is drawn from the adventure deck the Player must fight said creature on its terms. Whatever stat is displayed on the monster card will determine the type of combat (strength or craft). Another player then rolls a die on behalf of the monster (If two creatures of the same combat order are drawn, roll once for both and add both their stats to the roll against the active player).

1: If a draw is achieved the player’s turn ends Immediately. The creature remains in that space until defeated.

2: If the player wins, they get to keep the card as a trophy.

3: If the creature wins the player’s turn ends immediately and they lose one life.

Trophies

Creature cards players defeat are kept as trophies. At the end of a player’s turn they can discard  any combination of trophies of the same stat combined to a total score of 7 to gain one token of that stat. Any surplus from the sum of the cards is lost.

Crossing to the middle region

The few ways to cross into the middle region are.

1: fight the sentinel and cross the bridge (note he will only fight people travelling from outer to middle region not the reverse way

2: get lucky at the tavern and get a boat to the temple on your next go.

3: Find a raft or get an axe and make one yourself in the woods . rafts must be used right away on your next turn or they are left behind (their kind of hard to carry)

Crossing To The Inner Region

Winning the game and conquering the realm

When a player reaches the crown of command they stay there for the rest of the game and  if they are the sole player there they must cast the command spell. To do this roll 1 die and on a roll of 4-6  every other player loses 1 health. If two players exist on the space at anypoint they fight on their turn until there’s only one player left. Once any player makes it to the crown of command players can’t respawn for the rest of the game and once you are the only player left  alive you win the game.

Other Mechanics

Turning Toad

Talisman is a weird game. I don’t know what you did to the hag or the enchantress to get on their bad side but I can tell they didn’t like it. When you turn into a toad you lose all objects gold and followers (leave on the space of your toadification) and replace your model with the toad model and character sheet likewise. You keep your life stats but everything else including your movement per round is reduced to 1. You can’t carry anything as a toad or have any followers, but all is not lost as it only lasts for 3 turns. Hop to it, as your prime picking for your enemies in this state.

End Review

That’s all folks, remember the best way to learn is to play the game and have fun. Talisman is a really great game to get into and I hope this article made things alittle easier for you.

Enjoy conquering the realms!

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • Retro high fantasy artwork
  • Classic combat mechanic
  • Variable player powers

Might not like

  • Luck factor
  • Potential long playtime with more players