Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Thursday, 18 June 2015

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Talisman

Game Title: Talisman 4th Edition

Designer: John Goodenough & Robert Harris

Publisher: Fantasy Flight

Year: 2007

Talisman recently came up as part of a Humble Bundle, which Amy installed on her PC since Smallworld was a game we wanted to try and Talisman was a bit of a bonus. The PC version of the game was quite difficult to follow, with no instructions, just hints and tips as you started to play the game. Because of some of the automation, it was often difficult to see why an AI opponent was able to play spells when you were not and to understand why certain actions were taken, especially on the corner spaces. There were also issues with the scale of the game, even on a large monitor, so whenever you needed to read the text on a space to decide where to move, you need to zoom in on each space which can make the game take a lot longer than necessary.

We knew the game was a long one when we started to play, however 2 hours later, I was still hanging around the outer ring whilst Amy had managed to progress to the middle ring. We decided we had tested the game enough and should call it a day, but for some reason we still had that ‘one more turn’ mentality, which told us that perhaps we could grow to like the game. When the opportunity came up, a few days later, to buy the base game and Reaper Expansion at a good price, we decided to take the plunge.


The game play is quite repetitive, each player is assigned a character with one or two special abilities and starting stats for Health, Strength & Craft, plus some Fate tokens which allow you to mitigate some dice luck by taking re-rolls. Some characters also start with Spells. On each turn, once dice is rolled to determine a player’s movement around the board. Players start in the outer ring and can chose to move clockwise or anticlockwise to a position on the board which will give instructions as to what the space does. 

A selection of the Health, Strength and Craft Markers, plus fate tokens and examples of all of the different card types in the game.

Most of the spaces in the outer ring ask you to draw an Adventure card. Adventure cards are often items or magic items (which you can hold 4 of at any time), events or monsters. When a monster is drawn, you roll two dice to attempt to kill the monster. Your total is your Strength or Craft, plus the total of the 2 dice and then the monster rolls two dice and adds the total to its Strength. If the monster is beaten, it is your trophy which can be exchanged for further Strength or Craft stats, however if the monster defeats you, you usually lose a life unless you have items which can mitigate this.

A strength 7 Dragon, one of the strongest monsters in the Adventure deck. Drawing these in the outer ring typically means certain defeat, meaning you can leave this delightful creature behind for an opponent to challenge.

The aim of the game appears to be to increase your stats sufficiently to advance to the next ring without causing yourself problems. Each ring gets more challenging, so you need sufficient stats to survive there. To enter the middle ring, you either have to roll a 6 whilst in the Tavern (in which case you could arrive in the middle ring with dangerously low stats) or to defeat a strength 9 monster, in which case you are likely to easily be strong enough to survive the middle ring. The central zone is an even more woeful place where each space slowly tries to deplete your stats and health to prevent you from getting to the point of winning the game. On the final spot, you simply roll one dice to progressively cause other players to lose health on 4, 5 or 6 results. In our first game, Amy reached the centre first, I had 4 health and it only took her 4 rolls to kill me!

We’ve only played the physical game out once, but it was enjoyable and didn’t last much over 2 hours. We have however decided that it is ‘dice luck the game’ and that we don’t want a considerable number of these in our collection. For now Talisman stays, but perhaps a different dice luck game will take its place on the shelf in the future. 

Due to the length of the game combined with the large element of luck, I can only give the game 5.5/10.

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