Talisman Fun

Last Thursday, we finished our game of Merchants and Marauders pretty quickly, so John and Glen were up for another game. Glen had been wanting to play more Talisman, so I brought it out.

Due to table space, we couldn’t use any of the extra boards, but I did have shuffled into the Adventure Deck all the cards from The Reaper, The
Frostmarch, The Sacred Pool and The Blood Moon expansions. This is a lot of extra cards – enough so that putting them all in one stack isn’t really enough! For our characters, I allowed any from any expansion, but due to a vagary of the shuffling process (or the non-shuffling process, as the case may be), we all ended up with characters from The Dragons expansion. John was the Dragon Priestess, Glen was the Dragon Rider and I was the Fire Wizard.

The Fire Wizard was a particularly good character to play: he drew a spell at the beginning of each of his turns, if his Craft allowed, and he could hurl pyroblasts to kill characters and monsters (though not to take trophies).

John had never played Talisman before, but he quickly got how it worked. Let’s face it: it isn’t really very hard to play. However, he was rather taken aback by the variety of encounters he was facing, and he quickly fell in love with the game. It’s fascinating: both Glen and John are relatively new players of modern board games (and with limited experience of older board games as well), but they both really enjoyed Talisman, despite its antiquity and limited decision points. Variety of experience does actually matter (one of the reasons I enjoy Tales of the Arabian Nights so much).

I’d randomly selected an alternative ending card, which proved to be the Ice Queen. 12 Strength, 12 Craft and 4 Lives, with a special effect if the character failed to defeat her. This ending caused the game to go on longer than a standard game – the standard ending can be achieved quite quickly, especially if, like me, your first two adventure cards are the Shovel and the Gnome. I then gained the ability to take the spell of my choice from the deck. Craftwas the winner – cast at the start of your turn to gain +1 Craft. Awesome! A visit to the Warlock’s Cave allowed me to gain a Talisman by missing two turns, which I did. If the Frost Queen had not taken over the Crown of Command, I certainly would have gone there immediately. Instead, the game continued, eventually taking us two hours to complete.

John picked up the Wand, but had trouble remembering to draw new spells when his last spell was cast. Glen and I did much better in the acquisition of points of Craft and Strength. Although there is a lot of luck in Talisman, experienced players should still have an edge, and John was definitely still learning how the game fit together.

My ability to draw new spells eventually gave me the Random spell, which I cast on Glen. He was not pleased by the result – the loss of three points of Craft – so elected to spend Fate to reroll the die. The result? He became a toad, something new to him. He was not pleased to see all his items and followers just fall onto the space where he was. Both John and Glen had found Mules and other extra carrying capacity items, so there was quite a bit of loot there. Glen was lucky no-one managed to jump on it before he turned back into a human and was able to get it back.

Eventually, Glen and I made our way into the Inner Region, both of us electing to use the Craft path, and well-equipped to do so. I rolled horribly in the Mines (rolling an 11 when needing a 10 or less on 2 dice), so fell a turn behind Glen. John was, alas, nowhere in the hunt, and shortly thereafter lost his last life; there was no point in him restarting, so we swiftly played through the final stages.

Glen reached the Ice Queen after losing a turn in the Pit Fiends, so I would get there on my next turn. I was not done with him – a Feeblemind spell (-3 Craft for one turn) ensured that he could not defeat the Ice Queen, and lost turns as well. As I moved to the Crown square, I cast Brainwave on myself, and easily defeated the Ice Queen to take the game.

Now that both Glen and John are fans of the game, I see more Talisman in our future…

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