It's hard to believe that a mashup like Talisman: Star Wars Edition hasn't happened already. The two are perfect for each other - both franchises revolve around grand quests, tests of strength, and a Big Bad Evil Guy that has to be defeated at the end of it all. It's like peanut butter and jelly. They just work.
That synergy extends to the final product. Talisman: Star Wars is a compelling spin on a formula that's more than 30 years old, and it weaves the best of both worlds together in a fun, intelligent way. Is it one of the best board games? No. But it is a great introduction to more complex tabletop adventures.
The perfect blend
In Talisman: Star Wars Edition, you've got to save the galaxy. Putting you in control of Force-sensitive characters drawn from the entire saga, you'll have to improve their stats through combat and treasure-hunting until you're powerful enough to take on Emperor Palpatine at Exegol. The first player to beat him wins the game.
So far, so Talisman.
However, this version isn't just a fresh coat of paint. Instead, it leverages the galaxy far, far away for more significant changes. Although you're still buffing stats to prepare for the final boss, Force abilities and deep cuts in terms of Star Wars lore shake things up. The board features planets you won't have heard of unless you've watched the animated shows, for instance. Even the Talismans you'll need to reach the center of the board have been replaced with Sith Wayfinders from The Rise of Skywalker. In short? It's the perfect blend of story and mechanics.
It looks gorgeous, too. The game's artwork is beautifully painted, depicting characters and locations in evocative detail. Even the tokens are cool; rather than cardboard standees or miniatures, they're 3D busts designed to look like statues. Each one is finished with weathering effects and features the character's signature lightsaber on the base.
The game's design is by no means perfect. As an example, text on the opposite side of the board is flipped upside down and ends up being much too small to see. However, Talisman: Star Wars Edition gets things right more often than not.
Masters of the universe
You'll certainly have enough time to drink it in - this is a slightly longer game and will take you more than an hour to clear. Namely, you can't just bulldoze your way through to the end. Believe me, I tried. After rushing ahead as Kylo Ren (who starts the game with a Sith Wayfinder in his possession), I got completely savaged by a pair of Rebel starfighter cards. This taught me a hard lesson; to win, you'll need to take it steady and improve your stats. Gathering some allies wouldn't hurt either. Go in half-cocked and destruction is assured.
Therein lies the fun. Being able to improve on your hero or villain is a satisfying process, and it's more bitesize than the gargantuan time-sinks of Gloomhaven.
Still, it is disappointing that Talisman: Star Wars doesn't focus on more generic heroes you can mold into something unique. The standard version of Talisman provides you with blank-slate cliches you can project yourself onto (allowing players to develop stories that feel more personal), but this version mixes characters from different eras. Want Rey to race against Darth Vader in her quest to face Palpatine? That's a possibility here, so losing yourself in the story is more difficult. This isn't a problem, of course; it just creates a disconnect in a game that's otherwise very immersive.
And hey, those recognisable faces - combined with rules that are pretty easy to learn - make Talisman: Star Wars more approachable than the original fantasy edition. Because so many of us are hunting down good board games for families or board games for adults these days, that's no bad thing.
Overall - should you buy Talisman: Star Wars?
I've got a lot of time for the original Talisman, and this Star Wars version is no different. It's a fun RPG that's deep, yet not intimidating. Want to get friends or family into more complex tabletop experiences? This is a good place to start.