Game Review (ish) – MegaTalisman!
I should probably start by saying that Talisman has a special place in my heart. As a young boy, I spent many weekend afternoons sitting around the board with my family trying to reach the crown of command, whilst avoiding being turned into a toad. They were heady days when I cared little for the mechanics, but loved the story behind the game; the epic images and ubiquitous quality artwork spurred on my impressionable mind. I can’t remember much of those games, except that my dad would always play as the Troll.
I remember that the game was random even then, had a million cards to deal with and a selection of disparate boards to use. We had all the expansions, even the Talisman Timescape with the odd futuristic oval board. It was great crazy fun. These days the people at FFG (Fantasy Flight Games) have given us a better thought out wider game. Instead of the odd collection of boards, we have an ever expanding board, with additional ‘corners’ to add together. Recently a friend managed to find the fourth corner expansion for the latest game. It was time for MegaTalisman!
With the Highlands, the Dungeon, the City and the Woodlands expansions the standard Talisman board (which isn’t small to begin with), becomes a behemoth of a board. Seriously, you will need to have a big table to play this on, have room for all the cards and enough room for players, drinks etc. We placed all the cards on a glass cake stand in the middle of the board to save some space, but things were tight, as you can see from the photo. This does make you feel like there is way too much to do, but that feeling quickly subsides.
As with Talisman there is always a conundrum when it comes to character selection. Each expansion adds at least six characters to an already health choice. My suggestion, unless you have a specific character in mind is to randomly select. It’s in keeping with the wider randomness of Talisman (not going to explore this part of the game in this review – it’s been covered) and actually gives you a chance to explore some of the stranger choices. I always find the Ghoul an odd choice for a character!
Anyway, I really wanted to discuss the four expansions a bit, to maybe help the reader pick between them if purchasing. So the Highlands was the first expansion I bought, it’s a nice safe addition with one or two interesting spaces. You can defeat the Eagle King at the end to get a Relic of some power (not gamebreaking by any means). Secondly I got the Dungeon, which was one of my favourite in the old GW world. This is quite an aggressive layer to Talisman with some powerful Strength monsters and tricky traps. Again, nothing really that new or revolutionary.
The City was the third expansion, but the first I have seen to make a substantial difference to the game. We get the introduction of Wanted posters to get cash for monsters and there are several shops. These shops add some new kit into the game, which adds some more flavour. It also changes the tone when a player knows they just need to get gold to advance their character, rather than relying on the Adventure Deck to give them the right combination of draws. Get this expansion over the other two I’ve mentioned. It adds a real difference to the game.
The Woodlands, saving the best until last, is probably the expansion that I would recommend most. Its board is pretty standard, with nothing majorly challenging. If the Dungeon is the Strength board, then this is the Craft board. However, the key to this expansions strength is the new rules for Fate. Everyone that has played the game has asked me why Fate tokens have two sides. I usually respond that one day they’ll add rules for it. Now they have. Light Fate helps you, Dark Fate hinders others. When you receive Fate you choose which side to show. The change this makes to the game is huge. My evil wizard took great joy in forcing other players to reroll their successful combat rolls (or was that just me taking delight in it?). There are also new Paths and Destinies, that allow a character to gain some serious benefits if they are successful in their journey through the Woodlands.
The game took around 5 and a half hours, which for us is pretty standard. We were concerned that adding the extra boards would add extra time. However, what we found is that instead of going round and round the main board (which becomes a bit dull and it gets cluttered with cards) your adventures dip in and out of the regions. You spend the same amount of time improving your character, you just have a few more options when doing it.
This isn’t really a standard review, this has all been out for quite a while. Also, as I said earlier, I’m biased towards Talisman and I’d probably just give it a 10. However, if you want to have a look for an expansion or two, my recommendation would be the Woodlands and the City. They bring new rules, new options and new challenges for the players.
Soon I hope to be doing an actual review for the new crazy upcoming Talisman expansion – The Cataclysm which replaces the entire main board with a post-apocalyptic version. I was wondering what they were going to do next and it seems they haven’t gone half-heartedly about it.