Talisman: Legendary Tales
- Designers: Michael Palm and Lukas Zach
- Publisher: Pegasus Spiele
- Players: 1-6
- Ages: 14+
- Time: 20-40 minutes per game
- Times played: 2 sessions with review copy provided by Pegasus Spiele
Talisman: Legendary Tales is a new cooperative game set in the fantasy world of the 1983 classic Talisman. As the story goes, different characters in the kingdom are vying for the Crown of Command – the wearer of which holds power over the entire land. Your group in a band of good characters who are trying to retrieve the 5 Talismans which act as portals to reach the Crown. There are five different scenarios in this game, and in each one, the band of adventurers will try to obtain one of the five lost Talismans. If you can get through the entire series, your group will succeed!
Each player chooses a Hero and takes the bag which matches the chosen character. At the start of the game, the seven start tokens for that character start in the bag. There is also a Reward bag which has all 24 Reward tokens stored in it. Choose which adventure you’d like to play, and then look at the rulebook to set up the map. The arrangement of the hexagonal terrain tiles is laid out in the rulebook, and you can reconstruct this on the table. The different tiles may also start with facedown Adventure tokens on particular spaces; just mimic what you see in the setup picture.
The players also need to choose the level of difficulty for the adventure (i.e. how many time track spaces your group will have) and set the time marker on the appropriate space on the time track for this scenario. Turns take place in clockwise order, and the continues until the group has succeeded in the task at hand (they win) OR the marker gets to the final space on the time track (they lose). Each player turn has three phases: Move, Encounter, Collect stuff.
To start a turn, the active Hero first decides if he wants to move or not. If he does, the travel die is rolled and the result shows the maximum number of spaces which can be moved. If the portal icon is shown, the Hero can teleport anywhere on the map. If the side with 4 pips is rolled, you will also see an hourglass symbol, and this tells you that you need to move the time tracker one space forward on the track. As you move, you can only move via the light colored paths seen on the hexes. You may move through a hex with facedown Adventure tiles, but you are forced to stop if you enter a tile with a faceup Enemy Adventure tile. If you end your movement on a hex with facedown Adventure tiles, you must flip them all faceup.
Now, if there are any Adventure tokens in the space where you ended your movement, you must Encounter them – generally, you will either find Items on them to collect or Enemies to fight. Each Enemy token has icons on it which show what you need to defeat it – either red swords or blue hats. When you fight, you draw 3 tokens out of your bag, and see if the needed icons are shown on the tokens that you have drawn. You might draw an hourglass icon, and if so, you move the timer chit forward one space. You might also draw the magic bag icon – this allows you to draw a chit from any player bag at the table!
All drawn tokens remain on the table in front of their owner. They will remain on the table until you choose to return them to the bag. Once each turn, you may return ALL the tokens on the table to your bag. It is up to you to decide when the best time is for this. You are always allowed to look in your bag to see what icons you have within, but you should be sure to mix up the tokens in the bag prior to drawing out of it.
Finally, you can collect Rewards IF you have eliminated one or more Enemy tokens this turn. Draw a token out of the Reward bag and then you may place it into ANY hero bag on the table. You may also collect any Item Adventure tokens that are on the space, but you can only do this is there are NO enemies left on that hex.
Finally, check to see if you have completed the current scenario (usually collecting the prerequisite item tokens). If so, you win! If not, the next player in clockwise order takes their turn. Remember, if the time token makes it to the end of the track, the whole group loses!
As you go through the adventures, you mark (in the box) the number of stars you earned with each scenario, and then at the completion of the five scenarios, you can compare your overall success with the grading scale in the rules!
My thoughts on the game
Well, I should probably say that this is a game that might be guilty of a little bit of false advertising. It uses the name, art, and story of the Talisman universe, but the target audience is definitely not those same people who enjoyed the original 1983 game. This cooperative game really feels like it is best for families and young gamers – maybe it would have been better titled “My Little Talisman”?
The game itself is quite simple both in setup, play and difficulty. For my group of all adult gamers, we were not really challenged by the game. The map in each game is set by the rulebook, but then the starting Adventure tokens are randomly assigned. As you start, you simply move out, stop on a hex, flip them over and see what Lady Luck has given you. Sure, there is a little bit of decision making in the bag management, but on the whole, you decide if you want to reset your bag, then draw out 3 tokens and hope for the best. Repeat.
What usually makes cooperative games interesting is the discussions that the players have trying to decide who should go where and try to do something. Here, you can sometimes talk about what to do – i.e. if your bag is filled with hat icons, you’d do better trying to fight off magical Enemies… But, when a lot of the tiles are facedown still, you pretty much just choose a hex at random and go for it. Further, there really isn’t a growing sense of tension or urgency in the game. The timing mechanism here is totally driven by luck. You’ll do really well if you don’t roll 4s and don’t draw out hourglass icons…
The bag building concept is one that I think could be worth exploring, but the simplicity of the system really prevents this from being overly interesting. I think if there were more complex combinations of icons needed, the composition of the bags would be more crucial to success or not. As it stands now, there are still times when you can make a clever play – i.e. a teammate only has 2 chits in their bag, you can give them your reward as a third chit, and then he will know exactly what he will draw next turn and can possibly move to a spot to guarantee maximum success with that draw.
I really think that this is a good introductory level game, suitable for family or younger kids. But, for folks who play games regularly, there are many other more interesting options to pull out and play. I fear that the license and marketing will not appeal to what I perceive to be the target market (young kids) and will also possibly mislead older folks who are expecting something a bit more like the original Talisman.
Until your next appointment
The Gaming Doctor