Talisman is a board game classic published in 1983 where characters rummage around a fantasy world collecting items, enemies, and (mis)fortunes. There is a slight “Journey to the center of the Earth” theme as the game board is divided into three layers representing both inner and outer realms. Players will eventually gravitate towards the Crown of Command, a super weapon located in the deepest depth that aids you in the destruction of your enemies. Ultimately this is a last man standing competition, but by reaching the Crown of Command you will significantly hasten this process by blasting your opponents to death with lightning bolts. Required to open this secret vault is a “Talisman”, an artifact item that is obtainable throughout your adventures. A Talisman is literally the key to victory.
Players all begin in the outermost layer and will spend quality time here gaining strength by fighting, collecting items, gambling at the tavern, exploring graveyards, etc… There is a deck of adventure cards to draw from with hundreds of fantasy scenarios; will you fight a dragon? Be teleported by an imp? Encounter a market day? When you are strong enough and ready for more action, just take a raft into the first inner world where the threats and rewards multiply. Game play itself is very dice roll determined, and a lot of praying for good adventure cards at the right times!
The game board is a beautifully illustrated center piece for people to huddle around, and in front of you your character card is there to collect your space. Playing out the role of a fantasy hero, some character selections that come to mind are the Wizard, Warrior, Dwarf, Troll, Ghoul, Monk, and Minstral. The Troll starts with strength a bonus, the Wizard has magical powers, the Minstral can swoon followers, the Monk manipulates… Pick one that suits your personality for the night as the best part of Talisman is the setting and gathering itself.
Rolling for your movement makes it difficult to meticulously game plan. You almost have to just go with the flow and hope it treats you well, keeping to an abstract idea of what you need to do. Sometimes the competition gets a little dull from a gamers stand point, after a certain stage the enemies all become weak as they do not level up like heroes. I should also bring up our important house rule, there is one particular character that is quite broken in our experience, far exceeding the capabilities of the others.
We have had to ban the “Prophetess”, because she can look at the top 2 adventure cards and pick which one to encounter! This eliminates anything drastic from really bringing her down, it takes forever for some people to do, and creates a lot of awe struck, lesser opponents. There is too much luck to assume that the “best” player wins a game of Talisman, but it does make for a fun, thematic and engaging night for a variety of ages.