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4th Edition


Such was the tag line for Talisman when it was first introduced to an unsuspecting public on November 5th 1983 at Games Day in London. After several print runs sold out it was decided to remarket the game with a 2nd Edition which was in full colour with updated artwork for the box by Chris Achilleos.

In 1994 GW decided that Talisman was in need of a rehash. Headed by Jervis Johnson, they set about making a game without some of the niggling inconsistancies you get when you start adding expansions into the mix. They did this by designing the game complete with expansions from the start and then released those expansions as they went along. It seems though that when Jervis asked to see some drawing skills for the game, the artist misheard and thought he said skulls! 2003 saw Games Workshop USA reprinting the main 3rd Edition game but without expansions, which are key to this edition, its popularity was limited.

In January 2007, Black Industries announced that they would be making a new edition of Talisman and, after much hooting and hollering, review copies have now been sent out in readiness for the first sales to the public at Gen Con Indy and other events in the UK before the official launch date of October 1st 2007.

Advert from WD #47

1st, 2nd & 3rd Edition boxes

4th Edition box

When you first look at the box for the new edition you are greeted with a classy black bound leather effect graced with Ralph Horsley's stunning artwork on the front.

Box contents

Lifting the lid of the box reveals a felt effect insert with all of the cards fitting snugly within. Opening the hefty board, the first thing you will notice is how big it is! As you can see from the pictures, it is the largest Talisman board yet. Ralph Horsley's artwork brings the board to life, with the Inner Region and Crown of Command making a great centrepiece.

Board comparison

New Inner Region artwork

Black Industries have gone back to Talisman's roots in the Eighties with this edition as the board spaces, characters, Adventure cards and Spells are virtually unchanged.

The character cards are laid out like the 2nd Edition versions with Jermey McHugh's excellent depictions of the main protagonists.

The character tokens are printed on quality card to help with wear and tear. Toads have been given tokens too and these are a little larger than the character tokens to make being toaded all the more embarrasing!

It seems there are to be no metal or plastic miniatures this time around, but I suppose it is always possible that overall sales might have an impact on that in the future.

Character cards

Playing tokens

The Adventure cards and Spells are printed on glossy cardstock and it is good to see a return to using "flavour text" on them to help immerse you in the world of Talisman. The artwork on them gives them a true fantasy feel thanks to the artistic talents of Max Bertolini.

The rules booklet is laid out very well and is illustrated throughout with artwork from the game. A couple of small errors were noted within, but nothing earth shattering.

Adventure cards

Rules booklet

Rather than go for cardboard chits this time around, we now have plastic "gems" and coins to represent our attributes. There are red squares for Strength, blue circles for Craft, green triangles for Life and Gold Coins for... um... Gold. Having played the game previously, it had been noted that the numbers on the gems had been difficult to see, but I'm happy to say that I had no trouble this time around, so perhaps it was just a lighting issue.

The gold coins that replace the "Bag of Gold" counters of old give them a real feeling of worth and make it all the more upsetting when you draw the Raiders, who steal all of your Gold and Objects and hide them at the Oasis!

Six dice, which sport a Talisman logo in place of the "1", are packed with the game so you do not have to scrabble around searching when you have to make that all important combat roll or if you need two or three to roll for the various challenges ahead.

Character in play showing new "gems"

New dice cast by a hapless Assassin

So, enough about the contents - how does it play? Well, surprisingly enough, it plays just like Talisman! Black Industries have made only a few changes to the original game and I think it's all the better for it.

Some of the notable changes include -

Fixing the annoying problem with spell cycling by limiting the number of spells a character may cast during each turn.

The Desert is no longer just a place where you lose a life, you now get to draw a card there as well.

You may now cash in defeated craft enemies for additional craft - a small change being as there are only a handful of craft enemies in the base game, but this should become more useful as expansions are added.

The Command Spell now affects ALL opposing characters in the game, thus reducing the length of time it takes to complete a game. There is also a set of speedy rules which may also help in this regard, though most of them have probably been used by regular players from time to time.

Most people who have played Talisman more than a few times have an opinion about how to make the game "better". I am sure there will be those who will bemoan the fact that Black Industries haven't changed this card or that space or taken the opportunity to replace the rolling of a die with a complicated movement algorithm. At the end of the day, if you don't like something in the game, make a House Rule for it. House Rules have been the staple of Talisman over the last 24 years and I don't think that's going to stop any time soon!

Talisman is due for release on October 1st 2007 at a price of $50 or 35 or 45. Advance orders are being taken at the Black Industries website from August 20th 2007.