Home > Games > Being turned into a toad doesn’t sound very good

Being turned into a toad doesn’t sound very good

February 25, 2013

Hmm, if you’d asked me a few years ago I would have told you that I was unlikely to ever play Talisman again. It’s a massively random game with relatively few meaningful choices to be made and it’s entirely possible you will bump into a dragon or demon in your first turns, plus the ending… well, the least said the better. I quite enjoyed playing it when I first encountered it in the mid-eighties, but since then I got into different types of game since then. I think part of the problem is that games of Talisman often went on for two or three hours and, for an essentially simple game, that was just too darn long.

The dilemma for the Prophetess: which card to keep...?

The dilemma for the Prophetess: which card to keep…?

Talisman’s not an awful game, just one I didn’t enjoy playing. The last time I played it was about a decade ago and involved a later edition of the game with all the available expansions, which I felt just made the game bigger and more chaotic without adding anything that appealed to me. But I’m not the target audience, not by a long shot.

And yet, for many years I have had a copy of the second edition of the game languishing in the back of the cupboard. I don’t know what made me keep it. Maybe there was something in the back of my mind that dreamed of those teenage years when it was actually fun. Either that or I’m just a magpie who hates to get rid of things.

Some time after I started writing this blog I found the old box sitting there and I thought, maybe Miss B would like to give it a go. After all, she likes Dungeon!, so another adventuring game may go down well. I mentioned it to her a couple of months ago, and this afternoon she decided to give it a go.

We agreed to not attack each other, plus I invoked Wil Wheaton’s Rule 17b and gave Miss B three re-roll counters (she used one after she’d misunderstood her options at the City). She wanted to play the one “good” female character in our set, the Prophetess, which worked out fortuitous as one of her special abilities mitigates well against bad luck in drawing adventure cards. I proposed that the winning conditions should be just to get to the Crown of Command in the centre, or to stop if we ran out of time or energy.

So we played for a little over an hour until S came back from work and we packed up so I could prepare dinner. That hour of play zipped past, with Miss B being thoroughly engrossed in the game. She finished the session off by building herself a raft and crossing the river to the middle region, which seemed a reasonable point to finish. She ended up full of excitement about some of her exploits and very keen to play again to a conclusion.

All in all this was a great success. I expect that when we do try to play for a conclusion we will schedule a snack break after an hour in order to keep the energy up. This is generally a good policy for us during longer games.

So there we have it: a game that I don’t like very much has really justified its place in the collection, providing entertainment, excitement and smiles. We’ll certainly be playing this again and, to my surprise, I’m OK with that. Actually, more than that, I’m looking forward to it.

The verdict from Miss B (aged 6): “Really, really, really, really good!”

The game: Talisman (Games Workshop), 2 to 6 players aged 9+.

  1. Barnetto
    March 12, 2013 at 10:16 am

    Interesting. I played this with my 5 and 7 year old boys recently – I shortened it by giving us all more gold to start with and, as you did, saying the winner was the first to the crown of command. We played a couple of times and they weren’t overly long – about 90 minutes. I bought the game especially for the boys as I thought they would really love it – but it is the only game so far that neither of them has actively asked to play again! I’m going to put it away for a year or so and then maybe try again – I’m thinking that maybe shortening the game sort of takes away its epic character and without that you aren’t left with much game? Also taking away the direct conflict (as we did too) also maybe takes too much away from the game?

  2. March 12, 2013 at 10:39 am

    Thanks for commenting. I can see your concerns there. To be honest, I don’t really see very much epic character in Talisman, though that is just my taste. The biggest problem for us, I think, is the limited availability of female characters. I should be able to fix up an additional couple of female versions of existing characters, though, if I can find some appropriate art. But Miss B has asked to play it again, so I reckon some wet Saturday afternoon it is likely to come out again.

    • Barnetto
      March 13, 2013 at 10:10 am

      Maybe epic character is putting it a bit high!! I guess that I imagine that a good game of Talisman is more about creating a story arc with your character progressing in strength etc and the things that happens to them along the way – for good or bad. If you shorten the game to make it more amenable for a younger child, I’m just musing that you perhaps lose some of that element. This was one of the first games that I read about when I thought to get my two boys into playing more interesting board games and (with the concern that some of the expansions etc would go OOP before we really had time to fully explore it) I went overboard with purchasing the expansions….! So I really do hope that they get into it a bit later… otherwise ebay is going to see some business from me!

  3. March 13, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    I see what you mean. Yes, a shorter game would probably reduce the character “development” aspects.

    We just have a battered old 2nd edition box with no expansions, which will probably do us for a while. With a few exceptions, I tend to resist expansions, being generally more inclined to play many different games rather than playing with everything a few games can offer.

    Moving on from this a little, I’ve been starting to look at Runebound, which is extremely tempting for something slightly Talisman-like but less on rails. Very tempting indeed.

    • Barnetto
      March 13, 2013 at 12:36 pm

      I commend you for your self-restraint! I do not have such self-control and class myself as one of those many poor souls I see on BGG unable to resist tempting well-reviewed games and then hiding them all from my wife… I agree that Runebound looks very tempting… too tempting for me. Therefore, you won’t be surprised to hear that Runebound (and several expansions!) have been purchased and stored in the loft ready for future gaming sessions. (BTW it appears that FFG may have run its full course with the current edition of Runebound and little that is new will now be released – already some of the expansions are starting to significantly increase in price on ebay).
      I should certainly be more discriminating with expansions than I am however. But (a) I just worry that they’ll go OOP and be very difficult to get in the future and (b) sometimes they do really add to the game eg I think that Inns & Cathedrals is absolutely essential to the Carcassonne base set.
      Apologies – I didn’t mean to turn your excellent blog into something of a personal confessional…

  4. March 13, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    I don’t mind a bit of confessional! 🙂 Runebound has an awful lot of expansions too, doesn’t it? Though if they’re all done, perhaps we’re about due for a 3rd edition and then all the expansions again?!

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