I was negative years old in 1983, so I couldn't jump on the Talisman train when Fantasy Flight Games and Games Workshop got together, created some terrible box art, and brought it out to the world. The urge to call my parents and ask why they took so long is strong in me as I play through the "Prologue" iPad version of Talisman as a first-timer. It's a superb game that cuts to the core of what makes RPGs great. You take quests, you fight a bunch of bad dudes, you find fat loot, and you create your fairly epic story in about 20 minutes or less.

Rewinding a bit, Talisman Prologue on mobile is a fantasy-ass fantasy RPG. In it, you play as an adventurer tasked with doing hero-y deeds. As a Barbarian, for example, one of the quests charges you with saving a princess from a duo of ogres and taking her back to the castle. The first Monk quest has you looking for a cross and delivering it to the Chapel because looking for artifacts is pretty cool. Other adventurers have more... narratively adventurous quests, but you get the idea. Also, all the production design in the game is traditional; it has that rugged, old-school pulp fantasy book look that extends all the way to creature design and into font.

This is also a board game. You move around spaces on the board by rolling dice. For the most part, each space represents a kind of land -- plains, caves, forests, deserts; you know, the usual. When you land on a space, you're asked to draw a card. Cards grant you items or gold. Most, however, are monster cards that force you into battle with whatever is displayed the face of the card, be it a goblin or a homicidal bear. The deck of cards you're drawing from is pretty loaded with cards that'll benefit you, so your hero arc is lightning fast. You move from Underpowered, Worthless Adventurer Guy to Conquerer of Mad Bears and Dragons in minutes. I like this deck mechanic a lot. The obvious thing it does is inform and color your adventure. But, it's also nice because of the randomness, which keeps you from getting too comfortable.

The board has three tiers. The easiest way to explain this is imagine a Monopoly board, except with three rings of properties: an outer, middle, and inner. You begin on the outer tier of the board. You've got to "break" into the other tiers by doing special tasks. The middle tier, for example, is surrounded by a moat. If you draw an Axe item from the deck you can use it to build a raft and cross. You can also just walk across a bridge, but you'll have to fight a nasty sentinel to get through. Enemies and dangers seem to scale as you go further into the board, so it's wise to kinda hang out on the edges until you're ready. The game scores you based on speed, though, so the faster you go, the better your score.

You don't level up traditionally, by the way. Instead, the cards you draw can give you bumps in strength and mana. You can also get boosts or reductions from cities and towns via enchantment or black-smithery. In each quest the Adventure Deck has different cards, so considering what's in the deck can influence a lot of your decisions. Do you want to spend the one gold for a sword at the blacksmith or should you just wait for one of the two axes from the deck to drop and use that money elsewhere? It's up to you!

In one of my sessions today, I went straight beast mode. Early on I earned +4 strength, which is kinda nuts. I fought a dragon, killed a lion, obliterated a goblin and later a bandit. Feeding off that frenzy and feeling maybe a little too good, I decided to test my luck with the Enchantress. Predictably, instead of bumping up my strength even more she ended up turning me into a frog for three turns. My adventurer, still clutching the remnants of the humble pie he just had a taste of, eventually did save the princess, so there's that.

There's some finer points I haven't hit on, but our video should give you a pretty good idea of how the game's systems interact together. If you're interested in the game as a whole, the Wikipedia page is a good place to hit, too.

Also, it's super important to note that this "Prologue" release is just a single-player take on Talisman made to get users comfortable with the game and its systems. A full-on multiplayer version is coming down the line. Cool?

Talisman Prologue is due out tonight on iPad and iPhone. It'll be $4.99. There's a PC version available now and a Steam version will happen if publisher Thumbstar can drum up enough support on Greenlight. For the former, you can add the game onto your Watch List with the TouchArcade app [Free] and get a push notification whenever it hits. That's cool!

International App Store Link: Talisman Prologue HD, $4.99

  • Morgan01

    Board game was great. I tried the demo version on the PC several months back and it was every bit as good as the board game, good implementation. It that was any indication of what to expect from the IOS version, definitely worthwhile. Can't wait for multi player.

  • yellowlightstick

    Put it on YouTube.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rdriskell Robert Driskell

    OMG. The 8 year old in me just squealed!!! I loved this game growing up...SO excited..it looks pretty faithful to the board game i knew growing up...

  • http://twitter.com/LCDDreams LCD Dreams

    This looks a lot like Dungeons & Dice but with better graphics (I'm sure Dun and Dice is probably a copy of this too).

  • Zdgames

    That was aralons music... Just like earth and legend used it in there game too... What is it free to use or something? Game looks awesome...

  • Sithinious

    Instabuy! So many good memories playing the game in its many incarnations over the years.

  • http://www.facebook.com/odulin Ondřej Pošta

    Love boardgames....therefore I'm very excited about this release.:))

  • FlamingoDaBird

    Oh the sweet memories 🙂 had some serious sessions back in the days that took about 20 hours or so... I guess we turtled a lot (and with all the expansion sets, it just added even more playtime) still have the board game, 3rd ed I believe, and all the expansions from the sweet eighties. Yes I'm old, compared to the nice TA gents.

    I wonder if you can trade the trophies for +1 strenght? I think the board game had a card exchange rule, trade in minimu of a total trophy strenght of 7 and recieve +1 strenght.

    Anyways, seems like a lotta fun. Instabuy. Thanks guys.
    And if anyone is up for a board game session, lemme know 😉

  • SirFobos

    Insta buy as I can never get a group together to play the physical board game. Glad to hear it made it onto iPhone!

  • Morgan01

    I thought the comments said it was single player, not to disappoint anyone. It stated there was a multi player version in the works. Whether that is an update, an expansion, or a new game, it wasn't specified. Anyone have any further info?

    • SirFobos

      Video shows its single player only. The multiplayer one sounds like its coming as a completly desperate game. If u want multiplayer you can always go to your local comic/hobby shop and pick up a copy. It's a blast with friends gathered around the table.

  • Bool Zero

    So many all nighters pulled with this game! I still have my original first edition box set, along with the newer versions, so the idea of having a mobile version is awesome even if it is only single player!

  • eponymous

    Now we need an iOS version of Dark Tower!

    • JCat_NY

      Indeed! I think eventually, every popular board game from early years will make its way to IOS.

  • Morgan01

    I got the board game maybe 10 years ago. I had to order it online because I couldn't find a copy locally. Considering I live in a major metropolitan area, says something. Unless, of course, the soft copies have peaked an interest in the physical board game itself.

    • drloony

      Actually I think that's true, walk into any Game Board shop and they'll tell you, sales have been on fire the last few years. I dunno about 10 years ago though, they usually print these games in limited amounts. I know iOS reignited my Game Board passion.

  • drloony

    Why no link to the forum thread of this game? What am I supposed to do until 11pm?

  • Stichz

    Game is up for me now in Sweden, thought I'd add that. Bought it of course 🙂 Sweet memories playing this board as a kid.

  • Eric Walkingshaw

    Fantasy Flight Games was also negative years old in 1983! (They were founded in 1995.) The game was created by Games Workshop, and Fantasy Flight is the current publisher.

    • VeganTnT

      Absolutely right.

      Also, the horrible box art is the FFG 4th edition of the game. The original box art from the Game Workshop 1st (b&w) and 1985 2nd (color) editions is awesome.

      • http://tarasis.net/ Robert McGovern

        We'll have to agree to disagree. While I like the 2nd ed art, I also like the revised 4th ed art.

  • vicsark

    looks great, but it looks like from the pictures and app description that the app in the french store has been automatically translated by google translator. Some sentences don't even mean anything. Damn, I'd rather play the original US game than a very badly translated one 🙁

  • ianlogsdon

    I really hope they do a full version of Talisman, its unlikely I'm going to plug 5 bucks into this, but I would easily pay 20 for the real game translated to digital (do it like risk so its 1:1 the board game, and make pass and play or networked play options)