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Talisman the Magical Quest Game

Talisman Board Game 4th Edition

Game Information

Game Name
Year Published
Games Workshop Ltd.

Talisman is a cult classic adventure game with a fantasy theme. 

There are 14 characters a player can control, from the heroic Warrior to the powerful Sorcerer. In this perilous adventure, play centers around the journey of these gallant heroes to find and claim the Crown of Command, a magical artifact with the power to destroy all rivals and make the bearer the true ruler of the kingdom. Only with strength, courage, wisdom and a few good dice rolls will players be able to survive the ultimate test and beat their opponents to victory.

The newer 4th edition is nearly identical to the older 1st and 2nd editions in gameplay. There were several expansions released for the 2nd and 3rd editions.


Talisman Boardgame 2nd Edition

Editor reviews

3 reviews

My favorite adventure game, mostly because of its sparse design and wildness. It's definitely a big random fantasy hootenany, but all of its most contentious design decisions are vital to its success. It needs the ability to end the game whenever you want, because it's one of the key things characters have control over. It needs binary movement to force the players into difficult or even impossible situations. It needs that abstract rectangular board because it puts the game in easy-to-learn gaming vocabulary. The best version is really the FFG version, because of the addition of fate and the copious and varied expansion content. It's definitely not for everyone, but the people it is for will absolutely love it.
Top 50 Reviewer 55 reviews
I despise Talisman, and I gave it an honest try several times. I've even played it on the app, thinking that the speed of play and overhead might have been the problem. Talisman is really a pure push your luck game, not an adventure game, about when to enter the closer concentric rings and take the crown. The problem is that your ability to make those decisions is constrained by time consuming roll movement and combat tests to get resources that fall flat. The one part of Talisman that really works for me is the generic weird fantasy trappings that surround it.

I honestly believe that the working part of Talisman could be easily condensed into a 30 minute push your luck card game.

User reviews

7 reviews

3 stars
1 star
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Light and cutthroat fantasy fun
(Updated: August 12, 2009)
Chaotic, crazy, fantasy-themed, random insanity! May not be perfectly balanced, but it's a bunch of silly adventuring fun. This new edition looks really nice, with the cool gold coins, awesome board and card art, and little plastic pieces for stats (they aren't very readable, so I'm just using all of them for '1'). Great for casual gamers who like fantasy stuff (though it can run kind of long if you don't use any time-saving variants).

The 4th edition is nearly identical to the 2nd edition in gameplay, which isn't a bad thing. It's not mentally taxing, doesn't have downtime, is heavy on theme, feels like an adventure, and is an endless source of dramatic situations that can cause feelings in players all over the emotional spectrum.

The old expansions were good (for the most part). The extra card expansions and the dungeon were great for variety. The city and timescape kind of took away from the cutthroatness and player interaction, which I didn't like.

At first glance, there doesn't seem to be much choice or opportunity for strategy (just roll a die, move that many, draw a card and do what it says), but there's a bit more decision making than people give it credit for. You feel like you are both choosing your own adventure and simply going along with the story. Still, there isn't *a lot* of strategy here, and this is a nice game to play when you want some light fun after a long day, or when you're with a bunch of friends and want to play something light, fun, thematic, and cutthroat.
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No wonder it's a classic
This is a simple fantasy adventure game, you've got your hero, your mission and side quests to complete while leveling up and trying to find the talisman before someone else.

It's a surprisingly fun light hearted game, you'll get swept away by any of it's editions and is a blast, no wonder it's a classic.
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Lady Luck Pens the Best Worst Fantasy Novel
Life is hard and the Gods are cruel; we toil for their amusement and even our best, most heroic efforts are but castles in the sand before the rushing tide. The Crown of Command dangles as a carrot on the end of a very beaty stick, existing only to see who will neck-stab whom for the illusion of control. We go now, doughty adventurers, hopping across this stage as toads to make the Gods—and perhaps ourselves—laugh. In the end, some lucky bastard will "win"—though he or she will most likely be consumed in capricious flames whence the curtain falls on this pointless shadow play.

This is NOT a nostalgia rating—I never got a chance to play this as a kid, teen, or college student. Though I probably would have spent an awful lot of time doing so if I'd had the chance...

This is a GREAT nerd party/time-waster/beer, pretzels & potty-mouth game. It has clumsy, outdated mechanics, "unfair" amounts of luck, and the ancient, tired and beaten-to-death Lord of the Rings/D&D rip-off theme.

And I love it.

This is, in many ways, the Ultimate "Gone-Stupid" Game. You can pull your brain out of gear and just coast along; it's one for those times when you would like to play a game, but life has hammered you down to the point where you just want to go "guh."

So roll a die, pull a card, read the result aaand...


UPDATE: Many people decry the random, binary movement system (roll a die and choose either right or left) but this simplicity is part of what makes Talisman great—it's the only game of its ilk in which downtime is not an issue. While Runebound begins to drag at 3p (and becomes intolerable with any more), Talisman can support the full compliment of players and the turns literally whiz around the table. Roll, pick, do the thing, pass the dice. It's almost a party game, it's so fast.

The only minor downer is that what makes this game fantastic is also the one thing that can kill it. The utterly random element, so brilliant as a jumping-off point for spit-takes—like when the Leprechaun gets the Princess as a follower and ends up being lugged around in a front-facing baby carrier with a boob on each shoulder—can make the game excruciatingly slow when the cards don't come out in a useful manner. After a couple of games of watching others level up ferociously while I got in multiple fights with a Royal Decree, three Horse Stables, several Bags of Gold, and a New Age strip-mall (the Mage, Healer and some dude hawking tie-dyed bedsheets decided to clog up the Hidden Valley), I've come to realize that more than anything else this game requires stamina.

With all the Adventure Cards from all the expansions, I'm thinking I might need to go through and trim the deck down to tighten up the game... though I'm conflicted, as Talisman really is about embracing pure chaos and not every story should follow standard Fantasy tropes. Sometimes it's okay if the Ogre Chieftain's saga is one of administration, finances and horse-trading.

Recommended for Faster Play:

- Start the game with +1 Strength or Craft
- Gain Strength/Craft for every 5 points of trophies
- Remember that mechanically it's a push-your-luck race game without a timer—so push your luck and run that race as quickly as you can. Go for the inner region as soon as your Strength or Craft is 9+. On average this drives the game to a satisfying conclusion in about 90 minutes.†

†Of course, True Fans see the lack of timer as a bonus, making Talisman a fantasy bubble bath—complete with your favorite beverage and current love interest—to luxuriate in as you will. Time means nothing if you love what this does.
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It's like a Snickers bar
TALISMAN is nothing more than what it purports to be--a dungeon romp with little guys, monsters, some Toad action; and if you toss in the expansions, you get some dragons and towns and shit. It's not trying to be D&D Lite, it's not trying to match itself to some robust mythology--it's just TALISMAN, and that's just fine.

The game looks nice, plays fast, and can be taught in about 12 seconds. The missions are obvious, the way there is obvious (though treacherous!), and folks can drink heavily and still have a grand old time sloshing through the game. If you are a serious gamer with serious gamer buddies looking for a serious game--look elsewhere. If your cousins are in town and the game got rained out--this thing is pure awesome.
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Dead, but not buried
(Updated: February 15, 2009)
Great. A fantasy game that's boring for both kids AND adults.

The 21st century reprinting of Talisman - knowingly! - after the publication/innovation of Descent, Prophecy, Return of the Heroes, and Runebound is an inexcusable crime worthy of a class action lawsuit.

Following my recent experience with this nostalgia-fueled fun incinerator, I did some additional background research - and what I discovered is that rabid Talisman fans also enjoy:

- teenage heart failure
- incurable venereal disease
- Keanu Reeves movies

So yes, I suppose that I should have known better.

Admittedly, I've done some rotten things in my life. I've swindled, flayed, pimped, and dislocated. (Often, all at once.) But now, those who have been wronged by my heinous acts can consider their vengeance complete. For I have played...TALISMAN.
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