Game Review : Talisman

Andrew Stephens, Wednesday the 14th of April, 2010

Talisman This post was automatically imported from my old sandfly.net.nz blog. It may look a little weird since it was not originally written for this format. is a board game with a premise similar to Dungeons and Dragons. Each player takes a archetypal character (Warrior, Elf, etc) with certain statistics and abilities and participates in an epic quest. Along the way they accumulate items and spells that (mostly) make him more powerful and able to survive attacks from various threats - including the other players.

Unlike D&D, Talisman is played on a board that represents the fantastic landscape. The layout is very simple, consisting of three concentric rings of locations. Players normally move either left or right around the ring they are on as many spares as indicated by the dice, but there are various ways of moving either in or out a ring. The goal is to get to the magical item in the middle of the board and use it to remove the other players from the game. Each turn, the players move to a new square and perform the action listed there, which usually involves drawing at least one card. Sometimes these cards are good (say some money or a magic item), but more likely than not it will be some sort of creature to be defeated. Combat is resolved with a simple dice role modified by the current statistics of the character.

And thats about it.

Talisman is not a game of deep strategy, you have very few choices each turn (basically role a dice then chose either left or right). In many ways it is only slightly more complex than Snakes and Ladders. The appeal of the game is in the setting; show me a person who doesn't like wandering around a fantasy world battling Ogres and I will show you a man with no soul (or a man would rather be outdoors, or a man with better things to do, or a woman.)

We were playing the new 4th edition (Talisman dates back to the 1980s.) The board is very nice, but I thought that the rest of the components seemed a bit on the cheap side. Also some of the rules seemed really unclear. Actually I was pretty disappointed with the whole package - it really is too simple to be fun. Maybe if each game lasted for 30 minutes it would be worthwhile, but with 5 players we stopped after almost 3 hours with no end in sight.

Not really recommended