Of all the countless Talisman variants, skins, and expansions this is the one I can easily recommend the most.
Publisher: The OP
Designer: Robert Harris
Designer: Kami Mandell
Designer: Elisa Teague
Artist: Ben Zweifel
Game Type: Talisman
Game Type: Dice Rolling
Game Type: Roll and Move
Game Type: Variable Player Powers
Initial Year of Release: 2019
Age Range: 11+
Expected Playtime: 60-90
Number of Players: 2-6
Theme and What is it?
The cast of Disney characters and Final fantasy offshoots from the Kingdom Hearts universe are under assault from a horde of heartless. In some places, as many as 1,000 heartless gather into a single massive battlefield. They are moving to consume all of the worlds these characters come from.
But one hero will rise from the cast and gather the necessary strength, magical powers, followers, equipment, and spells to survive the gauntlet protecting the door to darkness. Using a special keyblade, the character will seal the door and end the game!
As you would expect in a Kingdom Hearts themed version of Talisman your classic mechanics will be on full display. Each turn, players roll a die and move that many spaces clockwise or counter clockwise on their current board level. Special rules are on each location and some will allow you to ascend to the next layer of the board. Ultimately there is an outer, middle, inner, and then center location to the board.
Board locations have a number of cards that can exist on it. If there are less than that number already out from previous turns, the player landing there draws until they have enough. Then they battle through the heartless they might face before encountering strange people or collecting loot.
The first thing I realized about Talisman Kingdom Hearts is that it is far nicer than previous Talisman gaming I have watched. Disney characters don’t bash on each other, turn each other into toads, and only occasionally pilfer what they can grab and get away with. That actually vastly increases the player base for a game like this.
Talisman has always had a great deal of exploration and the risk or reward of drawing multiple cards at once can steer careful players into safer locations or drive the greedy into errors. This exploration feels much more satisfying wrapped into the themes of encountering wizards, genies, and all sorts of other recognizable characters that might be helpful or tremendously annoying.
Game Build Quality
The character statistics dials are pretty great. They don’t slide when bumped and yet are not the immovable kind you will fight with all game. Exactly what you want a game dial to be. The Munny aquarium rocks are always a welcome addition to a lineup of game components.
Oh. And there are minis. Each character has an excellently sculpted figurine. Hint: Donald seems to be incredibly popular. He doesn’t wear pants and that kind of confidence is what you need to battle the heartless that will pour after you during the game.
Well. It is a Kingdom Hearts universe for sure! Recognizable locations, gummi paths, and Disney characters everywhere. The board color scheme really pops and stands out on a table. The little tokens you can use to set on a location and keep the cards corresponding to it are really cute additions. You can still choose to put the cards on the spot (like we did a few times) but they really help increase the aesthetic value of Talisman on the table.
Talisman really doesn’t offer a complete set of control to the players. You cannot determine where you are going to move or how a decision will work out. But the beauty of the gameplay is in what decisions you do get to make during play. Do you accept another card or just try to head straight to the end of the world!? If you fail you permanently get set back in your stats. That can be a bummer. But having plenty of time to battle forward is a great advantage towards making it to the door of darkness first. Assuming you already have your keyblade that is!
Age Range & Weight
11+ is fair. This is no more brutal than a classic roll and move game. But it is so much more enjoyable than those classic games and is still accessible to pick it up. I normally learn a game extensively before putting it on the table with friends to play. But this one we were excited to get a chance to see early and stuck it on the table not 5 minutes after getting home with it. An hour and a half later we were done. It was remarkably easy to follow setup steps then start playing without needing to study the rulebook. We consulted the rulebook only occasionally for strange things like multiple heartless in the same draw.
Of all the countless Talisman variants, skins, and expansions this is the one I can easily recommend the most. Being a little more friendly about negative, direct player interaction makes the experience more enjoyable to me. It puts all the evil things that happen firmly in the hands of the game system itself. And that doesn’t disappoint at all. It totally messes with every player enough on its own.
There are countless people I have spoken to about this game that all have said the same thing, “Talisman! Oh we used to play that game over and over!” And one thing they often asked was, “Is this one still a 3 hour experience usually? If it were shorter, I would love the nostalgia of playing some more.” Kindgom Hearts Talisman is shorter than the other versions but packs the same recipe that has made it a success for so many years.
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