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The original game TALISMAN was created by Robert J. Harris and published by Games Workshop way back in 1983. Since then it has metamorphised into various editions and expansions culminating (at the time of writing) with this latest version from Pegasus Spiele, the very popular German games company's production: LEGENDARY TALES, the design of which is now credited to Michael Palm & Lukas Zach. Considering the popularity and longevity of the Talisman brand a paying around £30.00 for a copy of this latest game is an extremely decent price.

TALISMAN: LEGENDARY TALES has many differences in comparison to the original (and even the majority of extensions/expansions and alternative Editions) but the main one is that instead of being a game for 2-6 players with Power, Wealth and Ultimate Triumph as the goal, it is now a 1-6 player "collaborative" / "cooperative" game. In some variations of Talisman there are several possibilities for the endgame. The original ending, gaining the 'Crown of Command' was a good idea but with a somewhat ridiculous (and boring) mechanic for the player who reaches the last section of the board first. That was quickly replaced by including 6 ending cards from which one was randomly selected prior to the start of the game and kept face down (secret) until it was revealed, a much better conclusion that also meant the game ended smoothly.

TALISMAN: LEGENDARY TALES has components that, apart from one wooden die and 6 material Hero bags, are all of heavily durable, beautifully illustrated and superbly coloured card. The famed, famous and fabled Talisman board has been replaced by 12 hexagonal location tiles. I am a little disappointed that these tiles weren't printed double-sided with 12 additional locations so that once players have been through all the 5 Adventures (both Chapters in each) they might decide to create their own adventures - with 12 double-sided tiles the possibilities are almost endless (actually quite a lot really).

As mentioned above there are 5 Adventures for the players to enjoy in any order but preferably in the numerical order, playing both Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 of each in one gaming session when possible. As far as I can see apart from the titular "Talisman" there is very little left of the original game. The die is not a regular D6, the characters are Dwarf, Elf, Prophet, Troll, Warrior and Wizard (males on one side of the character card and females on the other) and their abilities are Fight, Time, Fate and Magic instead of the original Life, Gold, Strength and Craft; and these are just a few of the differences from the beginnings to the latest. Players who have, play, or remember, the earlier Talisman games may not like the way TALISMAN: LEGENDARY TALES encompasses the legendary name of Talisman, it is quite a different alternative.

The rules booklet, under setup, shows how to assemble the box for continued play, how to create the stand-up characters and, in a large photo, how to layout the tiles for the game. This layout of the tiles though is for the first Adventure only, the following Adventures each have their own location setup, which is another reason why I would have liked to see double-sided location tiles. The use of these location tiles ensures that you can play at least 5 different boards on your adventures as each distinct scenario and setup is found in the rulesbook.

The game uses a neat mechanic of drawing tokens from bags. There is a bag in which 24 Reward tokens are mixed and there are bags for each Hero which begin with the Hero's personal set of 7 tokens. The tokens that are in the Heroes bags match the number per icon as shown on each character's bag-tag ability sheet. As rewards are claimed, generally after defeating one or more enemies, the conquering player draws the necessary token/s randomly from the bag and after perusing and then showing them to all the players a decision is made as to which Hero would benefit most from the item/s portrayed on the token/s. The reward/s are then dropped into the bag/s of the selected player's heroes.

Success in TALISMAN: LEGENDARY TALES depends on teamwork. Sometimes this means having your Hero go to the rescue of another Hero who has suffered some bad luck with an encounter. Enemies (determined by the game mechanics) do their best to prevent the Heroes progress in the task/s given to them by the Chapter of the current Adventure. These encounters are found on the small hexagonal tiles placed in the locations according to the adventure's setup. To begin with these are face down and so the hero doesn't know what they have to face until they reach the location. Once the combat ensues the player draws tokens from their hero's bag, generally three tokens are drawn, and the icons on these are compared to the icons of the enemy's counter; some counters on location tiles may be useful items rather than enemies - all useful items and rewards go into hero bags, thus making the drawing of the needed icons more likely as the game goes on, but of course the enemies also get accordingly tougher.

To win the combat, you (the player) are required to draw icons that equal or better those of the enemy; the random draw of these may afford you the luck to defeat more than one enemy (in the same location). Swords depict physical damage and Wizard  Hats depict Magical damage - most enemies are beaten by one or the other, an Hourglass icon moves time on and each adventure only allows a certain amount of time before failure occurs. 

Unlike regular Talisman games, or indeed most games that include combat of some kind, TALISMAN: LEGENDARY TALES version of fighting doesn't hurt the Heroes but it does move on the most important aspect of the game, TIME! If you reach the end of the Time-Track on the Adventure sheet without successfully gaining the Talisman reward then the adventure is a failure, all players have lost!

Each Adventure has a short passage of story text to prime the mindset of the players prior to the scenario beginning. After this the task or 'first' task for the adventure is read out and the players instructed as to how they should proceed. The first Chapters in each of the five Adventures have a 12 space Time Track, the reverse sides for each has a Time Track that runs to 15, showing that the second Chapter of each adventure is slightly harder and therefore in requirement of more time.

Adventure 1: The Curse of the Fairies. Chapter One: The Alchemist. Chapter Two: Rescuing the Fairies.
Adventure 2: Dragon Hunt. Chapter One: Off to Hunt the Dragon!  Chapter Two: On the Trail of the Treasure
Adventure 3: Grabby Goblins. Chapter One: The Ancient Oak.  Chapter Two: Shmatta and Sizzle
Adventure 4: A Plague of Toads. Chapter One: The Prince's Bodyguards.  Chapter Two: You Shall All Be Toads!
Adventure 5: The Dark Lord.  Chapter One: The Secluded Village.  Chapter Two: Nothing but Darkness

Like all Talisman games TALISMAN: LEGENDARY TALES is openly set up to receive extensions and expansions. As I said earlier, the Location tiles could have been double-sided but perhaps they weren't because expansion packs will include new locations and a new series of Adventures. Hopefully this will occur in the near future and new characters introduced will also have one or two different abilities, so that a mixture of the original characters of this set and the expansion heroes can be used side by side to complete any new scenarios, but that is all in my mind at the moment ... or is it ?

As you can tell from my hoping for expansions and/or extensions I enjoy playing TALISMAN: LEGENDARY TALES quite considerably. I cannot recommend it for 'Talisman' players (those who play little else than the original game and its expansions) because, again as already mentioned, it isn't Talisman as we know it.
Of course I haven't played any of the latest batch of GW Talisman games, as seen below in a list found on Wikipedia via Google, so I cannot state for sure that TALISMAN: LEGENDARY TALES is totally different from any of them, so my comparison is about TALISMAN: LEGENDARY TALES and the original 1983 game and the first series of expansions.

Name Release Date New Characters Alternative Endings New Cards Other
The Reaper December 2008 Sage, Dark Cultist, Merchant, and Knight none 90 Adventure cards, 26 new Spell cards, 12 Warlock Quest cards Two optional game mechanics: additional Warlock quests and the Grim Reaper. The Grim Reaper is a non-playable character and adds even more random elements to the game.
The Dungeon May 2009 Gladiator, Amazon, Swashbuckler, Gypsy, and Philosopher none A new deck of 128 cards called Dungeon cards. 10 Adventure Cards, 20 Spell Cards, 10 Treasure Cards Includes a new region, an L-shaped piece connected to one corner of the board.
The Frostmarch October 2009 Leprechaun, Necromancer, Ogre Chieftain, and Warlock Crown and Sceptre, Ice Queen and Warlock Quests 84 Adventure cards, 20 Spell cards, 24 Warlock Quest cards none
The Highland May 2010 Alchemist, Valkyrie, Highlander, Vampiress, Rogue, and Sprite Battle Royale, The Eagle King, and Hand of Doom 142 Highland cards, 10 Spell cards, 12 Adventure cards, 4 Relic cards A new L-shaped corner board for heroes to explore.
The Sacred Pool October 2010 Magus, Cleric, Chivalric Knight, and Dread Knight Demon Lord, Judgement Day and Sacred Pool 72 new Adventure cards, 16 new Spell cards, 24 Quest Reward cards, 12 Stables cards, 4 Neutral Alignment cards none
The Dragon September 2011 Dragon Hunter, Dragon Priestess, Dragon Rider, Minotaur, Fire Wizard, and Conjurer Wrath of the Dragon King, Challenge for the Crown, Dragon Spawn 168 Dragon cards, 3 Draconic Lord cards A dual-sided Inner Region board (one side featuring the original Inner Region, but with new tactics, the other side featuring the -- two-dimensional -- Dragon Tower).
The Blood Moon May 2012 Grave Robber, Vampire Hunter, and Doomsayer Blood Moon Werewolf, Horrible Black Void, Lightbearers 111 new Adventure cards, 10 new Spell cards, 1 Time card, 6 Lycanthrope cards A non-playable Werewolf character.
The City January 2013 Spy, Tinkerer, Cat Burglar, Tavern Maid, Bounty Hunter, and Elementalist 3 new Alternative Endings A new deck of City-themed cards, 18 Wanted Poster cards, various new purchase cards (for the Armoury, Menagerie, Magic Emporium, Apothecary and Stables) A new region board occupying the corner adjacent to the City.
The Nether Realm February 2014,  A new Nether deck of advanced Adventure cards to be used with the alternative endings 3 alternative endings 36 Nether cards The first print on demand expansion for Talisman.
The Firelands February 2014 Dervish, Nomad, Jin Blooded and Warlord 3 new Alternative Ending 81 new Adventure cards, 19 new Spell cards, 19 Terrain cards A set of Fireland tokens that are added to the game with a new "burn" mechanic as well as new Terrain cards that can terraform game board spaces.
The Woodland September 2014 Totem Warrior, Scout, Spider Queen, Leywalker, and Ancient Oak 3 alternative endings 103 Woodland cards, 10 Adventure cards, 20 Path cards, 14 Destiny cards, 5 Spell cards A new region is added to the game alongside the new Destiny cards that add to a character's already existing abilities and new Path cards that players pick up when entering the Woodlands and shape their path to their destiny. It also adds and expands upon the concept of Fate, separating the existing Fate tokens into light and dark sides that greatly change how Fate factors into the game.
The Deep Realm Mid January 2015,  none none 2 realm cards, 20 Tunnel Cards and 20 Bridge Cards Requires the Dungeon and City expansions, and allows for travel between the two realms. The two realm cards serve as bridgeways between the two boards
The Harbinger June 2015 Celestial, Possessed, and Ascendant Divine 2 new Alternative Endings 75 Harbinger cards, 10 Spell cards, 10 Terrain cards, 32 Omen cards Focuses on the new titular and non-playable character of the Harbinger, and the seven Omens that can bring about the end of the world.
The Cataclysm 2016 Black Knight, Scavenger, Mutant, Arcane Scion, and Barbarian 4 Alternative Endings 47 Adventure cards, 10 Spell cards, 6 Warlock cards, 6 Talisman cards, 24 Purchase cards, 10 Terrain, 40 Denizen cards, 24 Remnant cards A new main board that replaces the original main board.


© Chris Baylis 2011-2021