Saturday, February 02, 2008

Talisman 4th Edition Review

Once upon a time back in the early 80's when Dungeon and Dragon's was hitting one of it's many peaks of popularity there were a slew of fantasy themed board games released. The first edition of Talisman was published by Games Workshop in 1983 and it was a fun little title which has gathered somewhat of a loyal following. Fast forward to 2007 and a company called Black Industries has published the 4th Edition of the game. Interestingly Black Industries recently announced that they were getting out of the game publishing business to concentrate on publishing books, what this means for the future of Talisman expansions or even a 5th edition is anyones guess at this point.

What You Get
The game comes in a nice package which has tray insert for the many cards you will find. Their is one 6-Fold Playing Board, 14 Character Cards and card board pieces, 104 Adventure Cards, 24 Spell & Purchase Cards, 4 Talisman Cards, 4 Toad Cards and 4 Alignment Change Cards.

Also included is a nice easy to read Rules Book, which once again has no index a pet peeve of mine but these rules are so short it hardly matters. Six 6-Sided Dice and a load of Plastic counter for Craft, Strength, Life tracking and Gold-Colored Coins.

The art work is very nicely done in the game and everything is in full color. I found the card stock to be a little on the cheap side, just getting the shrink wrap off caused some slight damage to the cards. The tray in the box while nice is not large enough to hold the 104 adventure cards securely. It was also common during our play sessions for the card board figures to come out of their plastic bases.

How does it Play
Talisman is a game that plays itself by that I mean it is pretty much card driven. You will refer to the rules for combat and a few other items on your very first play but by the time you're 15 minutes in the game will flow very nicely.

The board is set up into 3 regions those being Outer, Middle and Inner. the goal of the game is simple reach the Crown of Command in the inner region and then kill off the other players. The only time a player is really eliminated from the game is when a character is in the inner region so while PvP combat will occur in the outter regions to try and get an item from another character it will not allow you to win the game.

A turn is simple you roll the dice to move if you're in the Outter or Middle regions. You must move your fill die roll but you can go in either direction. Each location on the board has instruction for example the Woods might have you draw an adventure card, the Crags might cause you to get lost and lose a turn, the Village offers a Mystic, Alchemist and Healer each with different results.

The main component of the game our the adventure cards that you draw. You might draw something simple like a bag of gold which gets you a coin. You might draw a location like the cave which stays on the board in that spot and causes the player to roll a die and use one of it's result. You will also encounter creatures from the very fantasy themes Dragons, Ghost and Demons to the mundane like the wild Boar or Lion. Defeating these creatures is key to game as you keep their cards as trophies which you can then trade in in multiple of 7 to increase your attributes.

There are 3 attributes in the game they are strength, craft and life. Increasing these very high is a key to the game because to get past 2 spots on the board in the inner region is going to require a high score in at least strength or craft.

Combat is either physical which is strength based or physic which is craft based. So encounter a Lion with a 3 strength uses physical combat and encounter a Demon with 5 Craft uses Physic. Combat is pretty simple you roll a die and add your appropriate attribute to the result and someone rolls for the creature. If you roll higher you kill the creature, a tie is a stand off and if you roll lower you lose a single life and combat does not continue. The creature stays on the spot for someone else to come in an pick off on future turns.

That pretty much sums up the entire game play. You move, read and react as I said the game plays itself. The problem with the game is while fun, people can tend to linger in the outter and middle regions to long. First time players get caught up in visiting the location on the board which have die roll results and seldom look for encounters when in fact defeating monsters and trading in their cards for increase attributes is what you need to do.

Is it Worth It
That's a tough question to answer and it depends on your gaming style. Talisman is not so much a game you play every week or month, although gamers with children might find more frequent play, but one you play a few times a year.

It's a game you experience more then play and if you like that style then Talisman is worth every penny. For me it's a valuable addition to my collection.

Score on the D10: 6


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