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Talisman title

Talisman takes you on a journey through magical lands, as you endeavor to reclaim the Crown of Command. Each turn will see your hero advancing, battling, gaining knowledge and power necessary to defeat the guardians lurking between the Portal of Power and the Valley of Fire.

Enter a mythic world of dragons and sorcery!

Talisman, the classic fantasy adventure board game for 2-6 players, receives its most comprehensive update in Fantasy Flight Games’ critically acclaimed Revised 4th Edition.

This revised version of Talisman 4th Edition includes plastic figures for each of the heroes, and even new figures for the toads! Strength and Craft changes are even easier to track with the new stackable markers, and the addition of Fate Tokens gives players a bit of control of the randomness of the dice.

Talisman game in play
image © Fantasy Flight Games

In Talisman, you’ll embark on a perilous quest for the ultimate treasure, 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 will roll a die to determine his movement around the regions of the board, where he will encounter dangerous foes and claim powerful rewards, all in preparation for his final climactic test.

User Reviews (38)

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Canada Beta 2.0 Tester
49 of 50 gamers found this helpful

I’ll start off by saying that this is NOT everyone’s favorite game! Talisman has been kicking around for almost 30 years and I just picked up the Revised 4th Edition 4 weeks ago and it has crazily become the game my gaming group has nightmares about… in a good way! After a 5 hour marathon of the base game my buddy Danny who tests for Eidos claims to have fallen asleep during testing only to have awaken from a dream yelling “you took my talisman *$##$*”! Danny had his Talisman stolen by another player just as he reached the inner region!

I LOVE this game. The hard luck, the frustration, all the work put in to build your character up just to be able to survive the inner regions and acquire the Crown of Command only to lose and all the fun that goes along with it! My gaming group will back me up on my opinion as well. It’s now 3 weeks straight that Talisman has hit the table.

By combining the expansions you have an endless repertoire of characters to use or draw from randomly as we do. Every game has been different so far and combining the expansions has seen some players take the brutal path on purpose only to be victorious!

Talisman is by far one of the easiest games to learn and jump right in to that I’ve come across. The character figures are amazing as is FFG’s production of this game on a whole. The expansions integrate seamlessly and add tons of variants and characters to the game which have proven to be an extra challenge to my game group and kept Talisman fresh every time we have played.

On the con side this game takes up crazy table room when you start adding some of the expansions especially when there are more than 4 players and the game can last for hours! If you don’t like luck in your gaming experience forget Talisman because there is a lot of luck involved until your character has been built up by playing the adventure which can be tedious to some. Also, if you’re like me, you won’t be happy until you buy every expansion that Talisman has to offer which can cost a pretty penny!

Talisman has just the right balance for me. Not too complicated but not too simple with tons of characters, expansions and variants that keep it from stagnating. I lean towards games like Talisman for the fact that there is luck involved. Everyone has a chance and everyone can bring their own strategy to the game knowing they don’t need a doctorate in physics to have a chance at winning. That being said, I can understand that a game like Talisman with “luck of the roll” can be a downside for the more strategy hungry type of gamer but for the more casual/avid gamer and theme based gamer Talisman ranks highly for me and I would suggest it for anyone who fits the criteria.

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47 of 48 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“Best with expansions, but a classic nonetheless”

Talisman is truly a classic. This character building, quest-driven, high fantasy board game is currently on its fourth edition and the RPG feeling it conveys continues to thrill players. The story is about a fantasy realm that needs a new ruler, but getting to the fabled Crown of Command to take up the reigns of the realm will prove a strenuous task for most adventurers. The game revolves primarily around character building, as each character travels the realm to seek out danger and opportunities in preparation for the final, dangerous path to the Crown of Command. At the same time, each character is on a quest for one of a few, fabled talismans that allows the bearer entrance through the penultimate obstacle on the path to glory, the Valley of Fire that protects the steps to the Crown of Command.

The box contains a large game board (with a beautifully rendered map of the realm’s three regions that the characters can explore), characters (card to show their abilities and stats and matching plastic figures to move the character around the game board), a massive bunch of adventure cards (containing events, objects, enemies, followers and more that the characters can encounter during their quests), a small deck of spell cards (with spells that most characters can use), loads of counters, and more!

Game mechanics
The game follows a few basic concepts that are easily grasped and each player takes an individual turn before the next player clockwise takes over to do the same. Each turn consists of only two basic steps: 1) you roll one die and move that many spaces around the game board; 2) you encounter the space you ended up in (which usually means that you draw an adventure card and deal with its effects, good or bad) or you encounter another character in that space (which usually means that you attack him/her to try to steal an object or an follower, or simply to take one of his life [you usually start with four lives]).

As the game progresses, characters move around the game board and develop their abilities and possessions through encounters, battles, spells, events, and more. When they are strong or fortunate enough they can progress from the game board’s outer region to its middle region. The middle region is smaller, more dangerous, but also contains some spaces that really can benefit the characters. For example, it includes the Warlock’s Cave, where you can get a quest and if you manage to fulfill your quest you receive the essential talisman. After a while (usually a few hours of game play, although sometimes 30 minutes is enough; the role of chance is extensive in Talisman) one or several characters are strong enough to take on the dangerous inner region with its path to the Crown of Command. If a character successfully reaches the Crown of Command (which takes a talisman and either good strength/craft value or a massive portion of luck) he/she can wield the Command spell, which forces the other characters to loose lives in a unsteady, yet quick pace. Thus, they only have a limited number of turn in which to race for the Crown of Command and try to defeat the character with the crown and scepter or he/she will win the game.

Talisman is quite easy to learn and play, in terms of the difficulty of the rules. The rulebook is clear, not too thick, and provides plenty of illustrated examples.

In terms of difficulty for the player characters, Talisman is a bit chaotic, due to the great role that chance plays in the game. If you are lucky with the constant dice rolls and adventure cards, you can quickly become mighty, whereas others might struggle more to get substantial development.

Will you like it?
If you like fantasy themed games, you will probably enjoy Talisman a great deal. More so if you are into fantasy RPGs. You really get a sense of playing an old school D&D adventure when you lumber around the game board and “level up” through fighting, fortunate encounters and good use of your abilites. If you do not like games that could take a long time to finish, you might want to look elsewhere. If you play with 4-6 players (and anything less than 3 players is not really enjoyable), it could easily take 4-5 hours to finish a session.

Pros and cons
Among the pros are the old-time fantasy RPG feel and the character building that is at the heart of Talisman. Among the cons are the uneven (and often quite extensive) playing time, the unbalanced nature of the game (some characters are simply much better than others and four editions of the game has not changed this), and the fact that Talisman’s replay value diminished rather quickly. On the other hand, with no less than seven expansions available (and more in the pipeline), there are ample opportunities to vary the game with extra game boards, new characters, themed adventure cards and spells, alternative ending, and much more.

Value for money
At almost $60 (MSRP), Talisman is pricy, yet buyers are amply awarded with a beautiful game board, 18 plastic figures (14 representing each character and 4 toad figures for the unfortunate ones who are transformed, not into to glorious rulers, but into a slimy toad with puny powers and an malodorous stench), a thick bunch of adventure cards, a lot fewer spell cards

Talisman is a great game, yet its appeal does fade rather quickly. It is a classic that can be a real treat if you play it once in a while. Some expansions (see my other reviews for some of them) are great and really take the basic game to new heights and ensure many hours of fun. If you are only considering a single investment, you might want to look for another game, as Talisman without expansions have a limited replay value.

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Vanguard Beta 1.0 Tester
I Play This One a LOT
41 of 43 gamers found this helpful
“Not great, but good.”

I was rather underwhelmed with this iteration of Talisman. The board is nicely done, and you receive a fair bit of components, but from there my praise is rather thin. While not overly complicated the game does take some getting used to. This however seems rather tedious, as the game play itself is not very exciting.

You begin by randomly selecting a character to play, but the characters themselves are very unbalanced. Some have amazing abilities and high stats while others are just mediocre. Even using the variant rule where you get to choose between three randomly selected characters often results in a lopsided gaming experience.

Once everyone has their character and the set up is complete, game play becomes very repetitive. Roll the die, move, draw a card. There may be a fight, or you may find some treasure, but this looses it’s appeal after the first few hundred times. The ultimate goal is to move to the center of the board along three separate rings of board space, each sightly more challenging than the last. the problem is the difficulty curve starts out on hard. The monsters you fight in the outer, easy, ring are the same as you’ll face as you progress inward. So starting right off you may draw nothing but unbeatable creatures, while you’re opponent does nothing but pick up loot.

This game relies little on strategy and heavily on luck. The game does create some fun moments, but they are few and far between. If there are no other board games around, it’s worth a go, but otherwise I’d make a different selection.

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Scorpion Clan-Legend of the Five Rings
40 of 42 gamers found this helpful
“A "once a year" type of game”

Last night I sat down to a game of Talisman. This is becoming an annual affair for me – an itch that I feel the need to scratch once every 10-15 months. Often considered to be something a classic, Talisman is a strange mix of mechanics that I have no reason to like, but that I still enjoy every once in a while. But I don’t want to spoil my review, so read on, intrepid adventurer and see if the quest for the Crown of Command is right for you…

EDIT: Upon further consideration (and after another play through), I sincerely wish that I’d given this game a 5-6 rather than a 7. It’s still fun and interesting for all the reasons listed below, but based on how I’ve scored other games, this one just isn’t up to snuff.

Components: There’s not a lot to say about Talisman’s components. It’s Fantasy Flight. The figures are top notch, the cards are sturdy and the board is absolutely gorgeous. I’d like to point out the artwork on the board itself. The board is laid out in fairly standard Ameritrash style (simply square spaces going around the board), but the artwork and layout do wonders in making it feel like a more lush and definitive setting than, say, Monopoloy.

Gameplay: This is where Talisman suffers the most. The gameplay is completely random. Roll based movement means that you can never be sure where you’re going to end up. You do have the ability to move either clockwise or counter-clockwise around the board, but that often ends up just being a choice between landing on a space where something bad will happen or a space where something potentially bad will happen. Much like Settlers of Catan, there is no meaningful strategy that one can apply to playing Talisman. You’re basically spending the whole game reacting to your opponents moves and your own luck with the dice and encounter card deck.

Rules: For what it is, the rules work very well in Talisman and are as balanced as they can be in a game that is based almost exclusively on chance. Characters roll dice, decide which space to move to and then are confronted with challenges that largely consist of a random roll to see if they can reap their space’s rewards while avoiding it’s pitfalls or drawing from the event deck and hoping you pull a shiny new sword instead of a devastating dragon.

Overall: Despite my harsh breakdown of the gameplay & rules, I still like to play Talisman – just not often. The theme and overarching goal of the game is something you’d expect to see in a strategic, choice-driven fantasy game like Descent or Runebound, but the reality is that need to approach Talisman as a casual, goofy game where you may end up as a toad hopping around avoiding ghosts or a troll decked out in Holy Crosses and Crusading lances with a unicorn mount. This game will often leave you feeling helpless and without any control over your own destiny in the game, but with so many tactical games that hinge upon a player’s actions from turn to turn, Talisman offers the opportunity to just kick back, roll some dice and see what happens.

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I'm Completely Obsessed
Intermediate Reviewer
39 of 41 gamers found this helpful
“Cheating death in a game of dice”

Me and Talisman

I have to admit, fourth edition of Talisman is my first contact with the game. What actually spurred my interest in it was the fantasy theme and the completely random gameplay which made it interesting choice for a lighthearted game session. I had overheard discussion in my FLGS about how it’s bad and only relies on it’s nostalgia value. Then I saw a video series about some dude playing it solo at BGG and I was sold.

The Premise

You are an adventurer, searching the land for the legendary Crown of Command which a powerful wizard hid in the most dangerous parts of the kingdom. It is said that whoever has the crown owns the domain. You are not alone though. There are others searching for it. Can you beat them to it and declare yourself the rightful ruler of the land of Talisman?

Out of the box

You can certainly say that this is Fantasy Flight Games quality. Well done though unpainted miniatures represent the 14 different characters in the game, plus 4 toad figures for the moments when you become a slimy green one. Plastic cone markers to track your character’s progress. LOTS of mini cards which represent the items, events and monsters of the land. Good quality board. Clear enough rule book. Gold coins and character sheets. All in all, the quality of the components is well above average.

Actual gameplay

If the components were a 9 or maybe even perfect 10, same cannot be said about the gameplay. It is based almost solely on luck. Everything you do, from movement to combat to encounters with the locals are decided with a roll of dice. You can only influence whether you go clockwise or counter-clockwise on the board and that usually means either going to the fields or woods, which both have the same outcome.

That is almost everything there is, really. Your character gains strength, craft, items and followers, but that is all dictated by luck and the shuffle of cards. You do have a chance to slightly alter the dice roll with fate tokens which give you chance to re-roll, but that’s about it.

There is a Player vs. Player element in the game which does make the game a bit more interesting. Whenever you land on another player’s character, you have the chance to fight him for gold, items or life. Usually this is a viable option if you have to take a vital item from your enemy so that you have better chance in succeeding in your quest. I’d say that this is actually one of the core elements of Talisman which redeem a lot of the gameplay’s shallowness.

Final words

Talisman is a game of luck. There is some player interaction due to the option of fighting others, but that’s also heavily luck based. You’ll be rolling dice to boredom. There’s something in Talisman that makes it interesting though. Maybe it’s the experience itself, not who’s winning. I usually focus more on what my character has gone trough than where he stands in the race for the Crown.

Strategy gamers and other similiar players, steer away from this game. You don’t want to play this, you won’t like it. There is no choices to be made, no serious strategy to follow. You’ll find Talisman shallow and bland as there is little more to it than rolling dice and seeing what happens next.

Social gamers and others who like to have a good laugh when your character turns into a toad and loses his magical items, you might like this. There is so little to think about that this is perfect game to play on a lazy Sunday evening with friends and a couple of beers.

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Novice Reviewer
Novice Advisor
Baron / Baroness
46 of 49 gamers found this helpful
“Cool "Back Then", Broken By Today's Standards”

Talisman is one of those old games that had so much right “back then”, but is so broken by today’s standards. Having said that, the game (on its 4th edition) has fixed many of the problems it used to have. In Talisman, you will control one of many different fantasy characters (Sorcerer, Warrior, Bard, etc) who’s aim is to make it all the way to the Crown Of Command and thereby control the world. You get the idea.

To start, each player must pick one of the 14 character classes. The different characters have different abilities (some much more useful than others).

Essentially the game consists of rolling the dice and moving your character around concentric rings of progressively more difficult areas of the board. When you move you encounter random trials from cards and other characters depending on where you end up.

The game is very luck based, and you can get completely destroyed (and actually be out of the game) with one or two bad encounters. There are many house rules that can fix some of the more negative aspects of this game. When one of the player eventually assumes the Crown of Command, the game ends.

A simple game to learn, but very difficult to win, Talisman can be very trying at times. If you enjoy role playing and the art of fantasy, that might be enough to make the game enjoyable. Otherwise, unless you’re playing for nostalgic purposes, you might want to look elsewhere.

Gameplay: 2/5 – This game is old so the mechanics and general gameplay are dated and frustrating
Fun: 2/5 – Somewhat fun at first, but after you realize how badly you can be killed with unlucky rolls the game becomes less fun.
Replayability: 2/5 – I can’t imagine most people would want to play this more than 2 or 3 times
Learning Curve: 4/5 – Very easy to learn, none of the rules are complex
Tilt: 2/5 – Only getting 2 points because the game holds some nostalgia for me
Total: 2.4/5

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Intermediate Reviewer
32 of 34 gamers found this helpful
“Roll, move, obey...... and enjoy it all!!!”

For a game that was first released in 1983 Fantasy Flight have done a good job of keeping it fresh, and before anyone gets all uppity I know just as much credit for this edition is due to Black Industries so leave the pitchforks alone for now!
The box art is very evocative and suits the game inside perfectly and the box is sturdy and well made, as are most FF games (as I keep saying in my reviews, I may stop one day!). The board is large! That was the first thing I thought when unfolding it, and the spaces on it are clearly marked and decorated with an assortment of well drawn and thematic images. It is divided into three regions, the outer, which is the easy road, the middle region which is slightly harder but offers more chances to either gain strength and skill or die in equal measure. Finally the inner region, which has to be taken one space at a time until you reach the crown of command and make a play for the win.
The rules are well presented and easily understood, so much so that my entire gaming circle had them learned by heart by the end of the premier game. The cards, of which there are many, are well done with art of an equal quality to the rulebook and the rules and events described on them are easily read and follow. My only issue is the size of the cards. Having rather large hands I find the act of shuffling a deck of 100+ half sized adventure cards, with more to add with each expansion, is a taxing affair at the best of times! The spell cards and purchase deck are the same size and equally good and the fate tokens, simply decorated card discs, are thick and sturdy and will stand up to much passing from player to spare pile each game.

After the card board components we get to the plastic components. Starting with the 120 player counters, 40 red for strength bonuses, 40 green for health points and 40 blue for craft (magic!), these small plastic cones stack beside the players’ character card to show current health and any strength or craft bonuses they have earned so far.
The money earned in the game is represented by small plastic coins, which is a nice touch as most would simply opt for punched card coins such as in Descent (I hate that game!)

Finally we get to the miniatures, which is the biggest update FFG made as the Black Industries version had card standees. These are very good, the scale is such that a full six players can stand on any one space with little to no overlap and are all easily distinguished from one another while playing. The sculpt quality is good considering the scale and the only issue I had was that the plastic is a little soft so thin sections, such as extended swords or staffs, can be bent while packed in the box so a little check is always needed when packing away to check for possible casualties. The character cards that reference the player pieces are clearly printed and easy to reference, the character portraits on them are not as good as the rest of the art in the box however so someone dropped a ball there I think!

Before play I would give the components 8/10, some small issues but nothing to damage a score too much, some parts could be better and the issue with the small cards is purely down to my dinner plate hands so there’s nothing I could do about that one!!!

Before I go on I need to make one thing abundantly clear.
If you are looking for an RPG style board game with plenty of strategy and decision making, where deals are made and people broken, look elsewhere, this game is not for you and if you still want to read on you’ll see why!

The core game mechanic is simple.
Roll the die
Move that many spaces
Do what the board or cards tell you
Rinse and repeat until you can make a break for the win!!!
The only kind of strategy or decisions you make throughout a game are whether to go left or right and finally, when you thing you are strong enough to handle it, when to make a move into the inner regions of the board and make a break for the crown of command, where you roll a die to see if you cast a spell, the only action you can take there, and if so everybody loses a life. Do this until everyone is dead and you win! Simple!

It’s not big, it’s not clever but it is good. The randomness of the game will turn some players off but for those groups with slightly more casual members this game is a good one as the ease of play suits almost anyone.

After play the score I give is 7/10, the simple roll, move, obey sometimes leaves me wanting a little more but it is still a very enjoyable game and we still play regularly.

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Cooperative Game Explorer
Amateur Advisor
Gamer - Level 6
32 of 34 gamers found this helpful
“An epic game that doesn't play favorites”

I will start this review off right away by saying that I am biased. I love this game. Anytime anyone wants to start a game of Talisman, I’m in. You might ask why, and the simple answer is that at its heart, Talisman is an adventure game. From start to finish, your character is at odds with everything, including the other players. There’s a clear goal in sight, but you can’t get to it, and you know that if you can, you’re not strong enough to win the game right at the outset. So your immediate goal is to get stronger.

This game offers you a huge variety of characters, each with special abilities and starting attributes. The attributes are incredibly easy to manage: You have a strength value, a craft value, starting health, starting fate, and an alignment (there is also a value for gold, but this is almost always empty at the start for all characters). Whenever you encounter a monster, you will fight it either with your strength value or your craft value, and what you use will be determined by what the monster’s given attack value is. When you fight a monster, you roll a die to add to your character’s attack, and whoever is controlling the monster adds a die roll to its attack. The higher value among the two wins the combat. If the character wins, the monster is defeated and collected as a trophy. If the monster wins, the character loses a life/health point. If a character loses all of their health, he or she is dead and the player is issued a new character to play with, minus any of the items or gear the prior character had with them (it gets dropped where the character is slain).

So how do you improve your character, you might ask? For every 7 points of strength you gain in monster trophies, you can exchange for 1 point of strength for your character. Same goes for craft; 7 points = 1 point of craft for your character. These improvements matter greatly in the overall effectiveness of your character. You can also encounter events that will lend an opportunity to get extra strength or craft, followers that will help in certain ways, and items that will increase your effectiveness in battle. There are spells for the talents users of craft, which can produce interesting and powerful effects. Alignments can determine if you get some rewards from events, or if you suffer penalties instead.

The object of this game is to get to the Crown of Command, which can only be done by gaining a Talisman (hence the name of the game). There are three regions of the game: The outer region, the inner region, and the Plane of Peril. You need to have a Talisman to get into the Plane of Peril, and once there, you have to overcome tests and combat in order to even have a chance to make it to the Crown of Command. If you are the one who makes it to the Crown of Command, your quest is still not over. Your fellow adventurers have a chance to wrest the Crown from your control if you let them. You have to be the last one standing. The Crown can cast a spell to injure every opponent and take away one life, so if your player doesn’t have the Crown, he or she is living on borrowed time unless they can get to the Crown themselves. If another player reaches the one who wields the Crown, a combat will take place between the two to determine who gains control of the crown. In the end, there can be only one winner.

I love this game immensely, but that doesn’t mean that I am ignorant of its faults. The movement system is based on rolling a die to see how many spaces you move, but you cannot stop along the way. If you roll a 6, you have to move 6 spaces, no more, no less (some items, equipment, or special abilities can alter this rule). This means that fighting the enemy you want to fight, or getting the item you desperately need can be up to random chance. The game’s board allows you to move forward or backward along the region, so you have two directions to travel, but it’s still something of a hindrance.

This is also not a game that you can expect to finish in a tidy fashion. Depending upon the number of players you have and how quickly you can enhance your characters, this game will take either a moderate amount of time or an exorbitant amount of time. This is in part due to the movement system, but also because early on, your characters will face monsters that can be a struggle to defeat. Once your characters have a few upgrades under their belt, the game will gradually speed up as your characters become more capable. But a game of Talisman can easily end up being called on account of time, rather than coming to a complete resolution.

Bottom line? This game is fun, easy to play, and you really get a thrill out of building up your character to heroic proportions. But this game can try the patience for those who aren’t prepared for a marathon gaming session. Nevertheless, I recommend trying it at least once. Maybe even two or three times. If this game is for you, you will know it right away.

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Gamer - Level 2
34 of 37 gamers found this helpful
“A good mix of random and strategy.”

The goal of Talisman is simple: Find a Talisman and get to the Crown of Command. The beauty of Talisman is that getting this simple objective done can happen in several different ways, and you are never truly safe! Talisman is enjoyed in the adventure that it takes you on. The random things that can happen can cause great laughs. You play it to experience the game, not to win it.

Talisman works while with any combination of players of 3 – 6, but I would definitely suggest keeping it to 4-5. It is possible to play it with more, but I would not recommend it as the game can take long enough as it is. The components are very high quality, and the artwork is excellent.

I would like to put a warning here, if you are a heavy strategy gamer, and do not like it when the luck of dice will more often than not determine the winner over skill, then Talisman is NOT your cup of tea. Likewise, if you enjoy games that are over in 90 minutes max, then be warned that this game is long.

A typical round of Talisman plays as follows:
You roll a dice to determine your movement. You can always move in at least 2 directions (at certain points on the board you can branch off onto different regions), and so you will choose which of the squares that you could land on would be most beneficial to your character.

Once you land on a square, you engage it. This could range from drawing a card from the adventure deck or facing a challenge printed on the board for that square. If you land on a square with another player on, you can choose to attack the other player instead of engaging the square.

If a monster card is revealed (or there was already one on the square), you fight the monster. Combat is very simple and involves you rolling a single die (with a few exceptions) and adding your modifier to it. Another player then rolls for the monster (as a house rule, the player on your right rolls for your enemies), adds the monster’s modifier, and the higher total wins. A tie is a stand off, and then there is no winner.

If you choose to fight a player and win, you may choose to either take one of the player’s life away, or steal an item or gold piece from the player. This can become especially interesting when a powerful item is out as the item can change hands multiple times throughout the game.

There are many different cards and events that can add to your character’s strength and craft (your magic ability). One of the main ways is in killing monsters. If you kill a strength 5 monster, you keep the card as a “trophy”. Hand in trophies adding up to 7 or more, and you can gain a new strength (this works in the same way for craft and killing craft monsters).

There are also multiple ways of getting Talismans, and getting your hands on one is never hard. Once you feel you are strong enough (around 10+ strength or craft for your character is usually sufficient), you make a way for the innermost region of the board. Brave the challenges there and succeed, and you end up in the Crown of Command. Once here, you roll a dice each turn, and depending on the result, every other player loses a life. You repeat this until someone else gets to the middle and fights you directly, or everyone dies and you win.

If you roll the dice (or die), and you are unhappy with your roll, you can spend a fate token to reroll. You can do this only once per roll though, so you will have to choose wisely. This takes a lot of the luck out of the game, and keeps the more serious gamers of our group happy.

Even though there is a lot going on with Talisman at any given time, I feel that the game is very easy to learn. To teach new players how to play, I don’t explain before hand, but just start playing and let them experience everything. The cards and board clearly explains how everything works, so figuring out your options available to you at any given time is very straight forward.

A huge positive for Talisman is how game-changing character abilities and cards are. The thief for example ALWAYS succeeds in stealing from other players, and has no need to roll. The Assassin is almost unstoppable, and if he chooses to kill you, it is only a matter of time until you are dead. The wizard never stops spewing out spells (of which some have huge consequences) This causes each character to play out quite differently, adding to the replay value of the game quite nicely. Despite these great differences in characters, the game is definitely balanced. Not one character feels weak, and I think I have seen almost every character played win a game.

My biggest problem with Talisman lies in the limited number of cards available. When you start playing you might feel that the deck is large, but after 3 games, the mystery and adventure of Talisman disappears and you start predicting the next events. Because of this, I feel that Talisman looses a great deal of its replay value (I score it a 2/5 only). This is fixed, however, with the very first expansion. With “The Reaper” added, I would change the replay value to a 5/5. The game needs those extra cards.

If you are on the fence about buying Talisman, but you know you want a fun light-hearted quest game, then definitely get it. Do yourself a favour thought, and get the Reaper expansion as while as soon as you can to keep the game replay value going.

All in all, I love this game, and was very impressed with the direction Fantasy Flight took it. I love the randomness that it brings, and the different ways it plays out. I give it a 8/10.

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Miniature Painter
Stone of the Sun
I'm Completely Obsessed
Novice Advisor
20 of 22 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“Let's go 'round again!?”

When I was growing up, we played board games in my family; but they were limited to mainly word games and trivia and I'd never heard of Talisman. I hadn’t really been exposed to a wide variety of board games, so when my husband purchased a used copy of an earlier edition of Talisman off of eBay earlier this year, I was excited to check it out.

The black box the game came in with the gold writing was beautiful. We opened the box and found a board with artwork that was breathtaking. The components were nice, the rule book was a bit long, but it was easy enough to read and the game was easy to learn. You roll a die to determine your movement around the board, encountering dangerous foes and claiming powerful rewards, all in preparation for your final climactic test. Once we played the game, I wanted to play another! So here are some things that worked for me, and those that didn’t…

What I liked

1. Theme/Art: The fantastical world of magic and monsters comes alive with the beautiful artwork on the board and on the different cards.

2. Components: So I need to stress that I have an earlier edition of the game – not the latest edition (produced by Final Fantasy). So the version I received did not include plastic miniatures, but I believe the latest versions include miniatures. My copy (by Black Industries) included:

1 Game Board

104 Adventure Cards

24 Spell Cards

40 Strength Counters

40 Craft Counters

40 Life Counters

36 Fate Tokens

28 Purchase Cards

4 Talisman Cards

14 Character Cards

14 Die-cut Playing Piece Cards

4 Toad Cards

4 Alignment Cards

30 Gold Coins

6 Six-sided Dice

The components are all well made. The gold coins actually jingle like coins actual coins might! The cards are pretty sturdy . We’ve swapped out our die-cut playing piece cards for miniatures we already had on hand, but folks who buy the revised 4th edition will receive miniatures with the game.

What I didn’t like

1. The Lack of Strategy – This is really the only issue I have with the game. Other reviewers have made several points about this and they are valid. As much as I enjoy the beauty of this game, as much as I am drawn into the world created here, I feel like so much can come down to the roll of the dice. It can get very frustrating and can make the game start to drag on as you loop around again trying to get the right card or the right roll.

Final Verdict

So for me, I really do enjoy playing this game, and I always look forward to playing it. However, I do recognize that it can have a pretty substantial downside to it, so it may be necessary to implement house rules at times to help address some of the randomness. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater as this is a really fun game -one which will delight you when you’ve finally claimed that Crown of Command!

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I play orange
38 of 43 gamers found this helpful
“Roller Coaster Ride, not go-cart!”

Talisman evokes a strong mix of pro and con from the gamers who play it. Those looking for a game with a strong fantasy world are instantly drawn to its fun graphics, character sheets with stats, and role-playing appearance. Talisman has a large rule book, but within minutes you are up and playing it and occasionally looking up some rule to clarify play.

But here is the warning: Talisman is a fun roller coaster ride of a game. It is NOT a go-cart ride. By that I mean, you are locked into your seat, and you don’t have a lot of choices. You can scream when you go down hill, lean forward, or lean back. But for the most part, you just enjoy the ride. Do you do it again? Well, that depends on if you had fun on the ride. But don’t expect the control of go-carts. Other games will give you the luxury of choices and strategy, Talisman offers the thrill of the theme.

In Talisman you are basically moving around a board with a die roll, landing on squares. You can go left or right. As you gain or loss power from random cards drawn on these squares you hope to get up strength to enter the inner ring. Once you get there you hope to gain strength and items from cards and then enter a final inner ring, where the tests are very hard.

I think entering the game with this mind-set can make it a little more fun. In addition, games with large groups will cause the ride to slow down to an agonizing halt. Keep the group small if you can. If you can’t, I recommend a few tips on the tip page.

Families and light gamer groups, who are into a fun and often unpredictable ride, might enjoy Talisman.

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Sentinels of the Multiverse fan
oddball Aeronauts fan
46 of 53 gamers found this helpful
“A heroic quest full of guilty pleasures”

Let’s play Talisman. It’s a phrase when uttered in gaming circles will either materialise hazy half-remembrances of wasted Sunday afternoons and dreamy expressions, send a gamer screaming from the room or get you punched.

On the button pushing scale of gaming, it’s up there with other marmite flavoured delights such as Munchkin, Cards Against Humanity and Flux.

So what is Talisman? Well, it’s the ghost of gaming past, the hobby’s dirty little secret that refuses to bow to modern design mechanics, reciprocate in any way to those ninnies who cry foul at player elimination, randomness or the rolling of dice. It’s everything that was wrong about classic board games yet seems so right.

In all its many iterations are the same core ideas, players choose an adventurer replete with Cosmic Encounter levels of random potentially game shattering abilities and traverse the board by rolling and moving. The effects of whatever random spot you land are resolved by drawing cards from monolithic decks threatening to topple and crush a passer-by or rolling more dice.

Think of this as the b*st**d love child of Monopoly and Robert E. Howard.
If a player manages to level their hero up without dying, and that’s a big if they’ll then need to obtain one of the Mystical Talismans of the games title. Once that seemingly simple feat is achieved, it’s a swift jaunt to the centre of the board to run a gauntlet of deadly traps and overpowered enemies before attempting to claim victory via a hidden final goal that could potentially kill them straight away or shortly afterwards.

Designed back in the bygone days of 1983 by Bob Harris and formerly part of Games Workshop’s stable it received various expansions that bolted additional boards to the base set offering up further chances for frustration and joy in equal measure. It was resurrected briefly in its Third Edition during the early 90’s reminiscing bits and pieces and adding more expansions and playable characters. And then it disappeared faster than Keyser Soze from an FBI interrogation.

However the fickle gods of Talisman were not done with us just yet, in late 2008 Fantasy Flight Games became the torch bearers which seems oddly correct, Talisman is the epitome of Ameritrash and joining the FFG stable was like a long lost child returning home. They hit the ground running with a new lavish edition replete with mini’s a gentle smoothing of mechanics and some fresh spins on old favourites and we were off to the races.

For transparency Talisman has rightfully earned all of its press good and bad, its random has no discernable path to victory and games can potentially outlive players. Tom Cruise is obviously a fan, his 2014 blockbuster ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ includes the blatantly Talisman inspired tagline ‘Live, Die, Repeat’ and he was in Legend, which has fantasy stuff, so yeah. But despite what should be deliberating mechanics, design choices and play length it not only continues to be published but has flourished acquiring somewhere in the region of fifteen expansions with Cataclysm it’s latest releasing this month. How has a game loathed by so many somehow managed to keep on trucking?

I must admit to a nostalgic wobble in my nethers whenever I see the box, and it’s not just me supping from the Kool-Aid. Across dusty corners of the web, numerous Talisman communities support the game with fan made expansions and characters. People who love it, adore it. Its silly, its random but its also something else that can sometimes be forgotten in this age of refined mechanism’s and EURO peaceniks it’s riotously fun. If approached with the correct mindset, that your character will die (potentially more than once), it’s the only game you’ll playing that night and that a great splosh of random is about to drench you then you’re set for a epic evening’s entertainment. I think it’s something else as well, Talisman thrives because of its simple mechanics and play it’s the ultimate ‘Beer & Pretzels’ game, it’s like mainlining hobby gaming in its purest form.

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17 of 19 gamers found this helpful
“Pure Adventure, Fun, Theme”

This game is for anyone who enjoys an adventure that comes at you, and doesn’t take things too seriously.

Basically, you roll to move (I know I lost a few of you there, but hold on), then interact with the space. Rolling to move is an awful mechanic on its own. Some games add things you can do to alter or adjust the roll, and that’s better. There are some characters in expansions that do this, but for the most part, you just take your roll.

Why isn’t it that bad in this game?
Well, you can go left or right at any time. That gives you two choices with your roll. You must go the full amount of your roll. Expansions add new areas that might give more choices as to where you can go with that roll.

Also, most of the spaces are the same. Often times you’ll just have a “draw a card” or a “draw a card” decision; which is what you usually want anyway. Once cards are down on the board, decisions become more defined: “I can fight a dragon in the plains or pick up a sword in the forest”.

There are 20 spaces on the outer region (where you start and spend most of your game time usually). Of those 20, 7 are not draw card spaces. Two of those 7 are basically bad to go to (Forest and Craigs). Two of the 5 left over are good for you depending on your alignment (Chapel or Graveyard). And the 3 left over are places you can buy things from or roll to interact with (City, Village, and Tavern).

As an adventurer, you’ll usually want the unknown (draw a card) over any of these spaces unless you have some good reason to visit them.

You fight each other if you wish, steal things, cast spells, get to the middle, crush your enemies, see them driven before you, hear the lamentations of their women.

It’s all random fun really. That’s the important part to keep in mind. It’s low on strategy (although some expansions can add to that).

I’ve been playing Talisman for 25 years. It was the first game I was ever introduced to (besides Chess) and I’ve owned every version. I’m always up for a game.

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Sentinels of the Multiverse fan
Soccer Fan
Football Fan
Movie Lover
57 of 67 gamers found this helpful
“Don't give up on this game”

I’ve been playing this game for almost 30 years. I actually don’t have the latest 4th edition, I have the 2nd edition from the 1980’s. This was the transition game for me from playing Monopoly, Risk and UNO to playing Settlers of Catan, Munchkin and Sentinels of the Multiverse.

I introduced this game to my kids a few years ago and they loved it. It’s easy to learn and play, also the kids like the fantasy theme. It sort of reminds me of a Fantasy Monopoly. I know that turns a lot of people off of the game being similar to monopoly (all luck, no movement options and 3+ hours of game time), so I made some house rules for movement and some other things to help speed the game up and create more strategy.

This has been one of my favorite games through the years.

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Tasty Minstrel Games Fan
AEG fan
Mage Wars fan
45 of 53 gamers found this helpful
“Great lightweight RPG”

Where else can you be a dwarf riding a unicorn with a band of fairies, princes, hags, and donkeys following you as you vanquish dragons with your holy lance? The game mechanics are simple and the expansions really seem endless. It is an easy game to teach to new gamers, and has enough theme and player interaction to keep experienced gamers coming back time and time again. Each expansion (and there are several)adds something unique and have quality components. I get turned off a franchise when the expansions are simply a new skin or a fresh set of monsters, but never fear… in Talisman, the expansions offer new locations to explore and add alternate endings and game mechanics to keep things fresh without leaving the vibrant world they have created. Theme is everything in Talisman. They paint a colorful world full of memorable characters that tie together the fantasy theme well. The freedom to choose where your character goes doesn’t seem rigid even though there is only a dice roll to determine how many “spaces” you can travel. My only gripe with the game is that in a world so beautifully created, the base game box is horribly constructed. It is not anywhere near as useful a storage container as Lords of Waterdeep.

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Gamer - Level 1
53 of 63 gamers found this helpful
“From the Mouth of Jormi - Talisman”

After hearing a lot about this game, I got a chance to play it and was not real impressed. This review is based off of experiences with 2nd, 3rd and 4th editions.

Gameplay-The game play consists of rolling a die moving your character and encountering mostly random objects places and monsters or other players. Combat is decided by adding up strength and a die roll. It is a basic roll and move game with RPG elements.

Characters have different abilities (some way more powerful than others) and starting strength and craft scores. These can be increased by objects, followers and encounters throughout the game.

The game is played out on a semi-linear board. There are three rings that players can move back and forth in, and under certain condition can cross over to another ring.

The gameplay really lacks a lot of the strategy elements I look for in a game, and seems to turn into a game of who can get the luckiest.

I feel the gameplay deserves 2 out of 10 talismans.

Look and Feel-This is where the game shines. The look brings me back to the 80s and the classic feel of Dungeon and Dragons. Some might say the art is a little cheesy or lacking, but I kind of dig it.

I really like the feel. It is fun to take your character and make them stronger by defeating enemies, and the encounters can be exciting. Will it be a monster or a magical object am I in danger or will I find a great blessing.

The feel and look drew me into the game and I give it 6 out of 10 talismans for the experience.

Final Score – 4 talismans out of 10

Final Word-Some fun can come out of this game, but I wouldn’t need to play it more than once every couple of years. Let a friend buy it and save you money for something more worthwhile. I have also found that playing this online is great, as it eliminates the downtime in between turns and I don’t feel like I have wasted my time when the player that gets lucky finally wins.

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Critic - Level 2
Gamer - Level 4
33 of 40 gamers found this helpful
“A Gertz Component Review - Talisman”

Talisman Fourth Edition…finally! I have played and loved this game for a long time now but by the time I started building my collection everything was out of print and copies were pretty expensive. I had been out of the boardgame community for some time and when I came back about two months ago I decided that the reprint of this game was something I had to get.

So lets talk components…lots of them…

The Box itself is another large box and once you break everything down you notice that you don’t really need all that space…maybe with expansions but for the core game there is a lot of empty space…looking at it it seems like cards should go there but they don’t really need to as they all fit in the larger card slots just fine.

Also, the plastic insert has a large slot for the character sheets. This slot is another waste of space…look how big it is for fitting a dozen or so thin character sheets…that’s another thing that seems pretty ******.

The Character Sheet cards are flimsy stock compared to the other chits I had to punch out. I would have much rather seen these with some added bulk to them since it seems like I will be handling them a little bit.

In contrast, the miniatures are great! A good amount of detail and emotion to them.

Best of all is that they are not pre-painted! I am a former miniatures gamer and while I do not play miniatures games very often anymore I still do love to paint miniatures. I will be getting down with these sometime in the future.

They will look great on the big old game board that it some with…look at my hand next to this monstrosity! My one complaint is that it was a little awkward to unfold at first and I got worried for a second that I would rip the binding on some of it.

Again though, in contrast…look at the size of the cards

These things are small…where the **** am I supposed to find sleeves for these things?

Going back to all the empty space in the box why not provide us with some full sized cards? I mean they would fit in the box just fine and I wouldn’t have to try and find some specialized card sleeves for them.

The dice and other components are nice, good card stock and die-cut on them. The Dice are really nice, at least the color anyway…who knows, they could be cursed for all I know but they look good.


This games has over exaggerated features; monster board and small micro cards. Some components are very well built and very nice; Miniatures, Dice and Chits. While the character sheet cards are flimsy.

I would have liked them to use the space in the box and make larger cards…they would have fit just fine and I would have been able to sleeve them at some point. I would also like to see thicker stock used for the Character Sheets…I hope my 15 month old never get a hold of these things.

You may say they could save space by using a smaller box but they would have to shrink the board to do that and the board is beautiful…it shouldn’t be touched

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Stratagem fan
27 of 37 gamers found this helpful
“Fantasy Lite”

This is a very fun and lite game that goes into the theme of fantasy but does so with simple mechanics. The game provides all the basics of a fantasy game but in a simplified form. This makes it possible to pull out a fantasy game at a social gathering and get a game going very quickly, even with people who never played before.

There is a fair amount of luck involved as a player could definitely go on a rolling streak but who cares, the fun in this game is the time spent playing. The last time I played we found ourselves saying a couple of hours into the game, “um, I guess we should start making our way to the Crown of Command now.” Point is, you can have fun going around and around the board and forget someone is suppose to be trying to win.

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I play orange
Miniature Painter
Veteran Grader
Intermediate Reviewer
36 of 50 gamers found this helpful
“Less of a game and more of a card reader”

Terrible, just terrible game. I do not subscribe to any of the arguments for why this could be a good game.

“It’s a beer and pretzels game.” –Yeah, after your three sheets to the wind maybe. Beer and Pretzel games should NOT take hours to play with that much table space required.

“It’s a light social game.” — Right, lets spend hours doing the same thing over and over again and then get to Monopoly levels of frustration by attacking each other or being unable to challenge the man who made it to the top.

The game fails to deliver any semblance of an adventure happening. It’s more like a bunch of loons wandering around, happening upon this or that and the universe they live in is subject to the most asinine logical loop-holes. “You were here second, so I attack you first, steal your Talisman at the gate (it’s the last one you say?) leaving your previous 3 hours of meandering pointless.

Decision making? What decision making? About the only decision making in this game is whether to roll or not at the corner locations. Big whoop.
“No, you have to decide how you’re going to level yourself up.”
Really? There really is only two ways to do that and you almost invariably need to upgrade both methods, so really all you’re doing is jumping on the opportunities as they present themselves.

“The real joy of the game is in attacking each other!”
A. Attacking each other early game has little to no consequences because hey, if I die, I just get a new character!
B. Attacking folks later in the game leaves such a sour taste for the looser (who for the most part looses not based on any real decisions, tactics or strategies, just luck), that if you loose at that point, you might as well quit because the game is essentially a race at that point.

Honestly, when we’re in the mood for “light gaming” we sure as **** aren’t going to waste time on this 3 hour turd.

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I Own a Game!
25 of 35 gamers found this helpful
“Massively Multiplayer Fantasy Board Game...”

I’ve had a copy of Talisman since I was a kid, at least fifteen years now.

When I was younger, me and my friends absolutely adored this game. It was like D&D, but without needing a good DM (which we never found), and it was like a computer role playing game, but with a tactile aspect, where you actually move things around. Unlike most board games, your characters got stronger as you played, and the overall feel (especially with expansions) was epic… All in all, we loved it.

However, the last few times we played it, it seemed mundane and straight forward. Compared to World of Warcraft, the game seemed small scale. Compared to modern board games, it seemed simple, random, and poorly balanced… All in all, we grew bored long before the end, and dealing with all the pieces and maps and cards just got old.

Sadly, despite my love of this game (and insistence to my wife that we keep my original copy even though we never play it), I can’t give it a thumbs up as a game to buy. I love fantasy games. I love role playing elements like going up levels. I love Talisman. But I don’t want to play it, and I don’t think you will either.


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