Talisman Gets Multiplayer At Last, But Not Quite


If I had one complaint about last year’s PC adaptation of wonderfully unbalanced boardgame knees-up Talisman, it was a complaint I made at length and repeatedly, like a boring old man whingeing about the escalating price of Fisherman’s Friends. An inherently multiplayer game was released as a purely a singleplayer one, and framed as an extended tutorial at that. Rab was less put out about this than I, which I at least partially attribute to the fact he played it on mobile rather than PC, but also perhaps because he has more time and freedom to play boardgames in real life so wasn’t quite as desperate for a from-home replacement as I was. In any case, the good news is that the more full-fat Talisman Digital Edition has arrived on Steam Early Access.

The good news is that is has multiplayer; the bad news is that it lives up to the current ‘what is this actually for’ grumbling about Early Access by not including online multiplayer just yet.

LAN’s in, however. Hamachi or GameRanger or whatever the kids use these days to the rescue, hopefully. There’s also AI play, which I is where I expect to spend my time unless I can somehow teach a five-month-old baby to use a laptop. Despite the earlier griping, let me stress – adopts Tony Blair Fingers pose – that I’m extremely excited about the concept of being able to play gloriously silly old Talisman in snatched hours here and there. This being early access rather than release, online will arrive, but I’m certainly inclined to wait for a release version rather than put the hours in now.

If you want to make an earlier start, it’s £12 on Early Access, with a free but now perhaps now somewhat unnecessary copy of Prologue thrown in too.

Here trailer here:

I’m very glad to see they’ve replaced the images of grey, unpainted miniatures with colourful painted ones. Makes a big difference, and makes the whole game look less like a marketing pamphlet.


  1. Faldrath says:

    Other than the lack of internet play, this is actually very playable for an Early Access title, and the dev is very active in the Steam forums, which is a good sign. He also said that they’ll eventually add all the expansions as DLC.

    (and hey, welcome back, Alec!)

  2. Synesthesia says:


  3. jmtd says:

    “he has the time and freedom to…”

    I sometimes hear this said about me or other people in different contexts and goddamn it’s insulting. People make their own choices on how to spend their time. You choose something over boardgames, Rab doesn’t.

    • Bitter says:

      It’s not a simple choice between equivalent options though. If one has a baby (setting aside whether or not having the baby was a choice), one might have to choose between caring for the baby and playing a boardgame.

      If you choose baby care, you have less fun. If you choose a boardgame, the baby’s health may suffer and the decision could have longer-term effects than not having fun that night.

      For a rational, feeling being, childcare imposes a restriction and therefore reduces freedom of choice. Such a being would not callously disregard obligations as a parent in order to play a boardgame.

      Choice is affected somewhat by the option of a babysitter, but then freedom of choice depends on outside factors (like whether or not the babysitter is available that night). Having a spouse share in childcare responsibilities also introduces possible long-term effects tied to the decision – “You got to play that boardgame last night while I was stuck with the kid, so tonight we watch all three Twilight films back-to-back.”

      My main point being: I hate it when my friends have kids.

      • Gap Gen says:

        And granted, having a baby is a choice that, like you say, constrains your free time. I’m unsure why people are applying value judgements to either decision.

        • jmtd says:

          To be clear, I’m not.

          • Gap Gen says:

            I just wondered why you felt it was insulting to suggest that Rab had more free time for boardgames than Alec; maybe there’s a context that you’ve heard it in that I’m unaware of. But granted, free time is something that’s made and other stuff pushed aside to make it.

          • jrodman says:

            There are occasions in my world where those who have procreated act entitled. And there are occaisions when those who don’t do, on the same axis. It is too bad.

      • Pippy says:

        If you choose boardgames over a baby you better hope your cellmate is into boardgaming.

  4. Reefpirate says:

    I recognize the soundtrack from that trailer… But I can’t quite put my finger on it. I’ve never played Talisman before.

    • BlueTemplar says:

      I find it similar to Baldur’s Gate music.

    • dE says:

      It’s one of those stock music tracks or at least sounds very similar to it… they’re often used in low budget games, such as flash games or indie titles for example.

  5. SillyWizard says:

    Okay, obviously I’m alone in this, but: cards in pooter games. Am I missing something? IT CAN BE ANYTHING BUT CARDS and be more interactively pleasant. I understand that people enjoy games which employ physical cards with one another, ‘ere and dere in real life.

    It’s on your monitor! You can do all the things! Why are you creating card-graphics?!


    PS: Not really /fin. I think putting cards in any kind of vidja game is stupid! And this is the internets so clearly my opinion is valid!

    • airmikee99 says:

      You’re not alone, I agree it’s pretty damned ridiculous to have a computer game that requires a card, in the exact same way I’d find it utterly stupid to have to reference my computer to play a card game.

    • Saul says:

      Strongly disagree. Deciding that certain types of mechanics shouldn’t be used digitally because they exist in other forms is basically just narrow-mindedness. Does this mean the thousands who play solitaire or poker on computer are doing it wrong?

      Card Hunter is the game I’ve played most this year. It is digital, card-based, totally amazing, and wouldn’t work nearly so well in “hard copy”. It’s already both one of my favourite card games of all time, and one of my favourite videogames.

      Cards are a way to easily present bite-sized information in a way that the human brain is used to parsing quickly, they’re an excellent mechanic for injecting a degree of randomness into a game system (much more interesting than random “die rolls”), and they’re great for bringing mechanics to the forefront in games where that is the focus (rather than story or verisimilitude).

      I’m not saying that Talisman is the greatest example of a digital card/board game. I own it in a box and would rather play it that way. But I have no issue with it being adapted for computer. Games can do (and be) so many different things. Why not celebrate that diversity?

    • Sinomatic says:

      I could understand if it was an entirely new game that included cards (which I really don’t understand either), but this is modelling a preexisting board game. I want to see the cards. I want to see beautifully recreated versions of the board and the character figures. It’s entirely part of the reason that a Talisman digital version would appeal at all.

    • Bitter says:

      Cards are a convenient frame of reference. If your game grants you a randomized pool of abilities separate from your normal abilities, why NOT call them cards? Why force the player to learn some new term when an existing piece of language already applies? “Obtain a gargblat from the stack of gargblats” is more unwieldy than “Draw a card from the deck.”

      It’s why there are dice rolls in some computer games. Are dice actually rolled? Of course not. But abstracting the random number generation by saying a virtual DM rolls a die means the player can move on to learn the bigger systems instead of having to pick up every game concept from scratch.

      You might just as well complain about how lazy it is to have normal guns in computer games, because eye lasers are more fantastical and therefore do a better job of exploiting the potential of computer gaming. Though typing that out, it does strike me that eye lasers are much cooler than guns. So carry on I guess.

  6. Jake says:

    The only version of Talisman I’ve played is Prologue on mobile and although it’s nicely presented I felt like it was a pretty tedious and futile existence for my little barbarian. The only decision is if you go left or right, and the rest is totally random. Occasionally you get a small decision about what equipment to pick up, but otherwise you really don’t do very much. At one point the only thing I needed was on a certain square one space away, so I just moved back and forth about twenty times until I rolled the right number.

    So I’m curious what multiplayer would add to Talisman, you can fight the other players right? Is there much interaction or is it still just a solo race for the middle?

    I would like to see a computer version of a game with complicated mechanics, like Arkham Horror. Talisman is so simple the computer handling the dice rolling and card drawing feels a bit pointless.

    • Saul says:

      Player interaction is a such a core part of Talisman that it’s bizarre that they ever made a digital version without it. In the full game you can attack other players, cast spells on them, steal from them and so on. It’s not part of the rules per se, but you can also form (and break alliances) in order to get ahead, although in the end there’s only one winner. In the full rules, you have to not only get to the centre, but then also kill all of the other players (using a special spell you get when you arrive there) before they can catch up and take you out. It’s still a game that depends a lot on the luck of the die and the cards, but the best part (as with most multiplayer games) is dealing with other humans.

    • Xanadu says:

      The aim of talisman isn’t the winning, it’s all about the joy of taking your brother’s last life, stealing your little sister’s talisman just as she’s about to enter the valley of fire, turning your wife into a toad or doing all of the above to let your 8-year old son win so he too can laugh at his uncle/aunt/mother.
      Now I can do all those things every day not just at our annual Christmas family get together,