Sunday, July 21, 2024

Talisman 5th Edition Brings Classic Adventure Game Back For New Era

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From Avalon Hill, long lived and beloved Talisman is receiving its 5th edition update! The first since 2008, the new version of Talisman: The Magical Quest Game signals a new era in the game and in its design. With a diverse range of characters (and associated figures), and many possible encounter scenarios, the strategy game is great for old and new fans of the Talisman world.

Though it was my first time ever playing the game, I can see why so many board gamers love the game. In its simplicity, Talisman is actually incredibly entertaining and rife for chaos due to the dice rolls. The aim in this version is to be the first player to get a Talisman card (the only way to enter the inner region), reach the Crown of Command, and defeat the dragon.

What’s In The Box?
Talisman 5th Edition box

Talisman is a pretty hefty game but comes with a well designed plastic insert to hold all its pieces. There’s a beautifully illustrated gameboard, 12 character figures, 12 character cards, 100 adventure cards, 24 spell cards, 18 purchase cards, 4 talisman cards, 1 toad card, 6 toad tokens, 114 counters: 38 red strength (6 large, 32 small), 38 blue craft (6 large, 32 small), 38 green life (6 large, 32 small), 38 fate tokens, 12 alignment tokens, 30 gold coins, 3 six-sided dice, and illustrated rulebook.

talisman board (partial) surrounded by game pieces

I’ve played a number of these roll-playing adventure games now and Talisman definitely wins in its art and design. This is my first time playing a version of what is now a 41-year-old beloved game, but based on photos of previous versions, the art in this Talisman is superb. Each (player) character is unique in its personality and the adventure, purchase, and spell cards are all similarly beautifully illustrated. My friend and I spent five minutes of our first time playing just poring over all the art design!

12 talisman figures
I love these so much. They each have real personality and movement!

If I had a steady hand I would totally paint some of the figures but they’re all great quality and labeled! I would recommend taking a photo before unpacking so you know where all the figurines fit in the container though. I did not and it took a moment to put them all back in.

The board is large though so you’ll need a big table or surface to play!

How’s It Play?

The gameboard is set in the middle and around it, you’ll place all the cards, tokens, and counters. Once you’ve picked your characters and their figures, the remaining cards are placed back in the box. Each character card indicates the alignment (which can be changed before starting the game, and the base craft, strength, life, fate, and gold for that character. When healing, you can only heal up to the base health listed.

12 diverse characters in talisman

The gameboard has three regions with everyone starting in the outer region where players move the number of spaces rolled on one die. You can move to your left or right, but whatever area you land on, you must do what is indicated on that space. That might be drawing one or two cards, or if there’s a character card left behind by a previous player, battle that character. A location card can also be left behind and you can do what’s indicated on that card as well.

For example, if you land on the fields, you’ll draw one adventure card and do whatever is in that encounter. This includes fighting a monster with craft or strength, gaining gold, or if it’s a location card following its rules. As gameplay progresses, players can turn in trophies (monsters that they’ve beaten in battle) for another strength or craft counter, and gain spell cards and up to four objects to help them in their quest.

The only way to cross the Storm River and enter the middle region is to either win against the Sentinel on the bridge, use a raft, or as a result of an encounter. Once you’ve entered the middle region, you can continue to move the number of spaces corresponding with your die roll. Entering the inner region is only possible through the Portal of Power connecting the Plain of Peril space in the Inner Region.

Once you’ve entered the Inner Region, you can only move one space a turn and all your encounters are based on what’s listed on the space itself. For example in the Mines, you roll all of the dice and total them. You subtract your craft from that total and find the mine exist that matches the number as listed on the space. Easy enough right?

You’ll want to make sure you’re powerful enough before heading to the inner region!

Gameplay continues as players try to gain enough power to successfully battle the dragon. There are also only four Talisman cards in the game so if there are six players, two players will be out of luck!

The Verdict?

My first game took a bit longer than expected since we were learning the rules and mechanics but it is definitely a sit down over a couple hours kind of game depending on the number of players. For long-term players, the rulebook also includes a red icon by every rule that’s different from previous editions for clarity. I can’t speak to whether they make the game better or worse, but I do think that the decisions from Avalon Hill streamlined it in a way that makes it more accessible to beginner gamers, yet still entertaining for hardcore gamers.

a talisman card, and a dragon card in front of a figure
There’s the main enemy dragon in the Inner region, and dragons in the encounters.

There’s also four different alternate rules to adjust gameplay. Race to Win for example speeds up the game massively by having the first person to reach the crown of command space to win while Dire Toad makes the toad transformation element of the game more challenging. During character selection, instead of picking your character, you can shuffle the cards and deal them randomly or shuffle and deal two cards to each player. Then they can choose one of the two for that game.

Finally, Fatality makes character death more challenging. When a character loses all of their lives, everything with that character is returned to the stockpile, and the player must use a completely different character for the remainder of the game! (This is a fun way to change it up especially if there are only two players). Neither my friend nor I ever lost that many lives and fortunately managed to get a healer on the board but I know we’ll have fun with this option should we fail that hard in the game.

And if all else fails, you can always choose to adjust the game to your own rules if you’re familiar with the earlier editions!

Alongside the updates to the physical game, the digital version is also getting upgraded to match allowing for more access to the game.

I loved playing Talisman and can’t wait to add it to my list of regularly played games.

You can learn more about the new edition and purchase from Hasbro directly, at an MSRP of $59.99.

10 Reviewer
The 5th Edition of Talisman is beautifully designed and streamlined for players of all levels while keeping the charm and entertainment of the original and subsequent editions.
Images and review copy courtesy of Avalon Hill

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