I admit that I’ve been posting about Talisman quite a bit recently. I apologize; the thing to keep in mind (and those who have known me for a LONG time know this) is that Talisman was more or less my game obsession before Mortal Kombat came around. I had almost all of the expansions for the second edition of the game, save Talisman Dragons. My full set disappeared about 15 years ago, and let’s not get into how that happened. In any event, like I said before, Jeff and Malinda got me a new copy of the game recently, and the Capcom version of the game should be out sometime this year. So, all in all, I’m a happy camper.
What’s not quite so well known among my friends is that the copy of the game Jeff and Malinda got me isn’t exactly my only copy of the game. What Jeff and Malinda got me was the recently released fourth edition version, which other than art changes and a couple of minor rules changes is almost exactly like the second edition (the most popular version of the game). The thing is, Games Workshop re-released Talisman four and a half years ago, and I managed to snag a copy. The edition I got back then was a reprint of the third edition. I had scanned over it but hadn’t had a real chance to unpack it and play it. Last night, out of curiosity, I pulled it down from the closet, opened it, and looked it over.
I have to admit, the second/fourth edition is much more appealing. The figures for the characters are unpainted minatures; the game came with a painting guide for painting said minatures. I’m not one for painting, really. I can see the appeal of painting minatures for armies in Warhammer 40,000 or Warhammer Fantasy, but not for a board game. As a result, it just looks unfinished. The art isn’t to my style, either. A perfect example is the artwork for the Talismans. In all but third edition, the Talismans are distinctive triangular gold pendants that look unique. The Talismans now just look like generic sun pendants. The rest of the artwork also has a bit of a cartoony flair to it.
The gameplay changes don’t appeal to me either. In the original game, there are three regions, and it’s difficult to travel between the Outer and Middle Regions for at least the first half of the game. The Inner Region isn’t entered until the endgame, and it has a static layout with two paths that can be taken (each path is tailored to whichever attribute you decided to make your primary). In the third edition, it’s now much easier to travel between the Outer and Middle (now Inner) Regions, and the old Inner Region has been replaced with something called the “Wizard’s Tower”, in which five cards are used to determine the path to the final battle. It just strikes me as being a quicker and less involved game as a result.
In a way, too, I wonder if the re-release of the third edition was incomplete. The rules I have are more of a pamphlet that takes up four pages. The second/fourth edition rules were much longer, and unlike the second/fourth edition rules, this copy I have omits any mention of the endgame and how the game is won. Ah, well.
This third edition of Talisman is going to end up back in storage for the time being. Maybe someday I’ll bring it out just for something different or to actually give it a try. In the meantime, though, I’ll stick with the fourth edition Jeff and Malinda got me, which has the second edition rules, much nicer artwork, and a much nicer box to put everything in (complete with holders/slots for cards et al). :-)