Talisman: Legendary Tales – A cooperative family weight bag building adventure – Review

I was so excited when I first heard that there was a new Talisman board game coming out. I’m a huge fan of the original Games Workshop version of Talisman and was very excited to see a new game in the Talisman universe. 

I was very surprised to learn that this new version of Talisman is very much a kids’ game. It’s actually a family weight cooperative bag builder that has only a few ties to the original Talisman.  

Disclosure: Some links in this post are affiliate links. Using these links doesn’t cost you anything extra and it helps support this blog and podcast. As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. I received a review copy of Talisman: Legendary Tales from Pegasus Spiele. 

What do you get with a copy of Talisman: Legendary Tales?

Talisman: Legendary Tales was designed by Michael Palm and Lukas Zach and features art by Zapf. It was published in 2018 by Pegasus Spiele here in North America. It’s a cooperative game that plays one to six players in about forty-five minutes to an hour. 

The best way to see what you get in the Legendary Tales box is to check out our Talisman: Legendary Tales unboxing video.

The first thing you will find in the box is the rules. These are twelve pages long but only six of those are actual rules on how to play the game. There is a great one page summary on the back page of the rulebook. The rest of the book is filled with the details on how to set up each individual scenario.

Under the rules are a significant number of cardboard punchboards. These include all kinds of things like map tiles, character standees, character cards, tons of round tokens (seven for each character and a bunch of treasure tokens), even more hexagonal encounter tokens in five different colours, and a good number of talismans.

All of the tokens are full colour, two sided, nice and thick and feature some really nice artwork. While the artwork isn’t quite as dark as the original Talisman game it’s still evocative of the Warhammer World, if it was a slightly nicer place. I was especially impressed that the character cards and tokens are two sided and offer both female and male versions of each character. 

Under the punch boards is a really oddly made cardboard box insert. It’s pretty shabby, to be honest, and has this odd part that you have to build that is meant to hold your Talisman tokens between plays to show how you are progressing on the campaign. While it doesn’t look like much having stored and brought the game out multiple times it’s working far better than I expected.

In this insert are some large mission boards. These are two sided cardstock. While I would have prefered a bit thicker they work for what they are. 

Pegasus Spiele was kind enough to include a bunch of baggies in the box, which is also appreciated. Besides component storage baggies there are also seven really nice drawstring bags. These are very soft and silky, some of the nicest board game bags I’ve ever touched. 

The final component is a custom wooden d6 which is engraved with: 1, 2, 2, 3, 4 with an hourglass, and a portal symbol. 

Setting off for adventure in Talisman: Legendary Tales.

Talisman: Legendary Tales is a cooperative game with a five part scenario based campaign. What I mean by this is that there are five scenarios that are meant to be played in order, but you don’t carry anything over from one scenario to the next.

Oddly the game has a difficulty system and you cannot unlock the next scenario until you have acquired a certain number of stars from previous scenarios. For example to unlock scenario two you need two stars, for scenario three you need four stars, etc. Each scenario can be played at level 1, 2, or 3.

The goal of each scenario is to find one of the famous Talismans before time runs out. Each scenario has its own story and they are all rather unique. The setup for each scenario starts in the rulebook and then moves to a unique scenario card. All of the scenario cards are two sided and each is broken into at least two acts. 

The map is different for every scenario. They all start with the characters starting in the same location and other locations on the map being seeded with encounter tokens. 

On a player’s turn they first roll the die and then can move if they wish. They can move over face down encounter tokens but must stop if they hit a face up token. Once done moving, the player flips up any encounter tokens where they landed. 

The character then encounters the tokens in their spot. Most of these are going to be monsters or other hazards to overcome and this is done by drawing chips out of the player’s bag.

Three chips are drawn and then evaluated. If the symbols on the chips match the symbols on the encounter token it is defeated and the player gets to draw a new chip from the treasure bag. This reward can then be given to any player. 

Some of the chips also advance the time token and others will let you do things like draw chips from another player’s bag. The treasure chips also include a few other special abilities. 

An added level of tactics is added to the game through the fact that any player before drawing chips from their bag can put their discards back in, but if they do they have to put them all back in.

Players go around the board having encounters and improving their characters by adding treasure chips to their bag, while trying to complete whatever the scenario objective is. In every scenario I’ve played this starts off by having to find specific encounter tokens which then unlocks the next part of the scenario. 

When getting to the second part of a scenario you then need to re-seed the board with new encounter tokens. The system for doing this is a rather unique eye spy system where tokens are placed on map tiles that have specific symbols. In many scenarios which symbols are used are randomized based on the actions of the players which really adds to the replayability. 

Play continues as players try to complete all of the scenario objectives before time runs out.

It’s worth noting that you cannot die in this game and monsters don’t actually fight back, it’s all about how much time everything takes and the players only lose if time runs out. 

What did I think of the family board game Talisman: Legendary Tales

I have to admit that the first time I played Talisman: Legendary Tales I was not impressed. This game was almost nothing like the Games Workshop game I grew up with and loved. While, yes, there are Talismans and you are rolling and moving around a map, there isn’t much else in common with the original game. 

I found over time, especially after getting past scenario one, my feelings on the game started to change. The more I played the more I started to get little bits of that Talisman feel. I started to notice that the treasure chips were actually all items and followers from the original game.

Scenario three, in particular, felt distinctly more like the original game due to the fact that the second half has you going up against monsters that you cannot possibly beat with base characters. So that scenario has you wandering around the board trying to defeat monsters and find treasure in order to become tough enough to take on the big bosses. 

Now don’t get the wrong idea, while the game did start to feel a bit more like Talisman, it’s still not at all the same game. For one thing, this game is much, much, lighter. It’s definitely a family weight game that probably isn’t going to have enough meat for most gamers. Plus it’s a cooperative game which is a completely different feel from the classic Games Workshop game.

I think the important question about this game though is, “How does it stand on its own merits?” and in that regard I think it does an admirable job for what it is. As a light fantasy romp that is playable by and with the whole family, I think Talisman: Legendary Tales is an excellent game. Most importantly my kids absolutely love it.Both of my girls will spend far too long just trying to decide what characters to play. Then they will argue over who gets to be the reader for the game. They get so excited to take their turns they often forget turn order and have to be reminded to wait for their chance to act. While I can’t stand it, my kids take great delight in the eye spy elements of the game. They love trying to find the one tile in the game that has a Mushroom, a Bone and a Fairy on it, so we can learn where the goblin boss made his lair. Personally I would just like a chart that lists which tiles have which elements on them, but I don’t want to ruin their fun.

All of us really enjoy the cooperative elements in this game. Each character has a chip in their bag that lets them pull a chip from another character’s bag. This mechanic alone really makes it feel like our characters are working together. To this is added the fact that any time you acquire a treasure chip you can put it in any character’s bag, which also increases that cooperative feel.

One thing I think I need to mention here is replayability. The game does only come with five scenarios, which is limiting, but thankfully the designer has done a great job of adding random elements to each scenario to make replaying them more fun. There are also the different difficulties, so that once you play through the game once you (or at least your kids) will probably want to go back through and earn the most points they can for each scenario. 

Overall, while I really didn’t like Talisman: Legendary Tales at first, it has grown on me the more we play it. As we get through more scenarios, I see more of the classic Games Workshop game hidden here and there in Legendary Tales. Most importantly though, my kids love this game.

Legendary Tales is a solid family weight cooperative game that is fun for the whole family. While I wouldn’t break this out for my Monday night group, there’s more than enough tactics and tension here to keep me interested when playing with my girls. 

If you’ve got kids who are into fantasy settings and like cooperative games, I strongly suggest checking this game out. Just don’t go picking it up expecting a follow up to the classic Games Workshop Talisman. While there are some Talisman trappings scattered here and there Legendary Tales is very much its own game.

A quick note on the Druid promo for Talisman: Legendary Tales

While there are no expansions for Talisman: Legendary Tales (something I would be very happy to see), there is one promo that is available. It was originally released as a launch promo but Pegasus Spiele has been bringing copies out with them to game conventions. I managed to pick up a copy at Origins 2019.

What the Druid does is add one more playable character to Legendary Tales. What it doesn’t do is come with a bag for this character. What this means is that to use it you need to re-purpose one of your existing bags. This also means that it does not up the player count to seven players.

Of course, you could just find your own bag, I also don’t see any reason that the game would suffer by adding another player, except maybe making it take a bit longer to get around the table.

As for in-game abilities, the Druid is very similar to the Elf from the base game. They have the exact same tokens in the bag, but the Druid can convert one Sword Symbol a turn into a Magic Symbol, which is the exact opposite of the Elf who converts Magic to Swords. Both characters are a bit more versatile than the others in the game, who specialize in one type of combat over the other.

My kids also love the teal colour of the Druid and were instantly drawn to this new character when I showed it to them.

If you can find a copy of the Druid I recommend picking it up, but you aren’t really missing out if you can’t find a copy. It doesn’t add anything amazing or new to the game, just another option when choosing characters.

Have you had a chance to try Talisman: Legendary Tales? I would love to know what you thought in the comments.

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