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Sunday, August 4, 2013

Talisman, as I know it

One great game that one of my gaming buddies Simrion has is Talisman 3rd edition. It's a very fun game with many twists and turns to it. I've tried to purchase it for myself many times in the past, but now days even the primary game (sans regions) is costly. And that is trying to procure it in a second-hand manner like eBay, to say nothing of the realm expansions (usual auctions end up around $150). Along with The Lost and the Damned its one of those items that keeps eluding me on eBay.

Talisman is one of our go to games when someone doesn't show up on games night. When one looks at it, Talisman is one of GWs better games. Rules are not overly complex, game length is just about right and its engaging with several strategies of play. It's also a classic with some readers remembering the older versions of the game. It gives good value for its cost (non-inflationary that is). The goal of the game is to amass enough power, garner a talisman and ascend the tower to slay the Dragon King. In theory a player can do this a number of ways, but one must remember that at the same time other players are attempting the same thing.

To start, each player randomly draws cards that list characters and the corresponding mini they will use on the game board, and many GW favorites are there: chaos warrior, goblin fanatic, chaos dwarf, and witch elf by way of example. Each character card has the figures special abilities on it. Some are better then others but all start within the same basic range. (There is quite an active community online still and fans regularly make their own characters for the game.)

The outer realms are boards (which are also known as regions) tie into the main game board adding the forest, maintains, city and dungeon respectively. This are stand alone expansions which further add to the cost of the game (GW never does anything cheaply). When in these outer realms teh playr rolls a d3 rather then d6 which causes you to move slower through the area.

Game play is fairly quick with lots of GW rules sprinkled in "if a conflict in the rules arise roll a d6, 1-3 you are right, 4-6 the other interpretation is" (paraphrasing here). Roll a d6 move to a space and draw the requisite cards indicated by the space. Initially in the hand many encounters will be deadly depending on ones character. Fights are either strength or craft. Warrior types do better at strength fights initially while spell casters usually go better in craft fights. One of the other players at the table rolls the dice for the opponents of the current player's turn (if any) so all of the players stay fairly involved even when its not their turn. I wont delve to much further into the rules but they can be found here.

I'm of the mind set that playing warriors are better if you want to win. Even the good characters like the Ranger, Templar and neutral ones like the barbarian are well worth it. Certain specialty ones like the Assassin are a toss up at times. Spell casters seem to be weaker as you are paying for the ability to cast with much lower strength scores to start and limited capacity for special rules involving combat.

Magic is a random mechanic and probably handled as well as can be. A character has to be able to cast spells (some can't) and have enough craft to do so. Spells are draw from a continuously recycling deck (all decks pretty much are in Talisman, but magic tends to go the quickest). Some spells are far better then others and some magic items boost a character's spell casting. On top of all of this, some characters have special abilities when it comes to spells that make them better still.

With all this said, there are certain strategies one might undertake and certain items and cards that are better then others. For one when your character is power enough challenge for the title of High Wizard and/or Sheriff boosting craft and strength. It gives enough of a critical boost to help you amass enough power to take out the Dragon King.

Another strategy is to attack other players which you are allowed to do if you land on the same space.  Personally I only do this on occasion as its usually not worth it. Typically the only time you really attack another character is if they have a talisman and you need one.

Other strategies include if you are evil looking for the Doom Sword which restored lost life on hits), looking for the Sword of Power in the Forest and the Hammer in the Mountains. Usually when I play I head for the Mountains or Forest when strong enough depending on which character I'm playing. In all the years Ive played Ive tended to shy away from the dungeon and should probably try that out as a strategy the next time through. The Mountains probably the best bet as its seems to have the greatest rate of return for the time spent there.

In any event I've enjoyed many a rousing game of Talisman with my gaming friends and over time I usually win (much to Simrion's wife's dismay). In fact the last two times I've played I've won!

If you can get the third edition its well worth it. For a product I give it 5 out of 5 stars, its that good.

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