It’s less ludicrous if you check out what Talisman goes for on eBay. You really do need to kill your rommate–2nd edition Talisman sets with all the expansions sell in the $500-600 range.
I used to love Talisman, back in college and before, but it’s one of those games that hasn’t aged well. In retrospect, it’s not even a particularly good game. Very little strategy, too much randomness, sort of like Monopoly. The luck of the dice and the draw typically determine who will win the game–the only important choices the player makes in any given turn is whether to go right or left and whether to fight with Craft or Strength. The characters are wildly unbalanced (Prophetess, anyone?), and most of the expansions are even more unbalanced.
That said, I like the IDEA of Talisman–or the idea of fantasy quest boardgames in general. Talisman had a great atmosphere and style that helped offset the crappy game mechanics. And if you want to reproduce the Talisman experience with a better game system, there aren’t really any alternatives (at least none that I’ve found). The late Avalon Hill’s Magic Realm comes closest, but good luck finding other players willing to learn the rules.
I never played the Talisman 3rd edition, so maybe they fixed some of the game’s problems in that release. I remember being turned off by the reduced number of characters (though in retrospect, that was probably a good decision on GW’s part–only a small handful of the characters in the 2nd edition were balanced enough to use).[/quote]
Great post, Ben. I agree with pretty much everything you say. I was a huge Talisman fan around the ages of 12-14 – had the main game, The Adventure, the City, the Timescape. The idea of Talisman is fun because you have this big open ended fantasy world to wander around in, all the illustrations are nice and colorful, etc. And there’s always another card to pull and another die to roll. But I always found that the first 20 minutes were the most fun part. The endgame, as people got into the center of the map, tended to be much less interesting, and I remember many a game “dissolving” before reaching its conclusion. Still, we’d be all too happy to fire it up for another go the following week. The expansions became too elaborate too – it becomes a logistical nightmare to run a game with all extra boards and expansion sets running simultaneously.
You’re right about the randomness (almost no skill component at all) and the resemblance to Monopoly. As I noted in another thread, I think more social-gathering-style games tend to have a higher degree of random chance. It’s harder to get uptight about a game’s outcome when the skill component is pretty much irrelevant anyway.
Good call on the Prophetess too! We eliminated her from the deck because she was too powerful. :)