Sunday, June 24, 2012

Talisman and Runebound: The 6 Year Old Perspective on Two Awesome Adventures

by Julian

Which One Do You Want To Play?
Since playing Story Realms, my daughter, Sabine, has become more and more interested in playing other adventure games.  While she enjoyed Story Realms' imaginative tales, quick play time, and ability to play with her family and friends, she wanted to try some of my more traditional adventure board games.  I wasn't so sure she'd enjoy them.  Adventure games can be kind of long and complex.  They often have lots of cards to read, combat systems, leveling systems, special equipment, and more.  However, I thought we’d give some a try.  The first one she was interested in was Talisman.  There’s a new version out these days, but the one I own a 2nd edition box from 1985.  I’ve seen the new version though and they really don’t seem that different.  Here’s what Sabine had to say about Talisman.

Sabine Explains and Reviews Talisman

Expert Opinion Incoming
 There are gold tokens that you can use at shops.  And there are blue craft tokens and red ones.  Oh and the red ones are for Strength.  You try to move around the board to get into different places.  You roll dice to move around the board.  The places are the different rings around the crown.  Whoever gets to the crown wins.  The cards will have monsters on them and sometimes they will have gold.  Sometimes they will have good things and sometimes they will have bad things.  One player rolls for the monster and you roll for yourself.  The monster will have a strength too.  You can either beat him in craft or beat him in strength but you have to beat him to win the battle.  As a player you start out neutral and there is a guy that can change to good or bad with a power. 

I like Talisman because it is just a very good game.  I like that it’s a crown you are trying to get.  Buying stuff is my favorite thing about the game.  Also, I like what the board looks like.  My favorite and kind of the only character that I’ve had before is a Troll.  I like the Troll is very, very strong.  And I like its skin color.  The color of its skin is green.  Though I don’t like the big bumps on him.  They are brownish green.  I would give this game a score of 100 billion.  I really like the game.

You can't tell, but I'm totally losing right now.

The Parent Perspective on Talisman

Talisman went pretty well.  That game is fairly simple and fairly random.  My daughter ended up winning  both games we played and I didn’t have to help her that much.  I certainly wasn’t playing easy.  Talisman is fun for its ridiculous variety, but there are so many random cards to turn over and so many die rolls that determine everything that you really can’t strategize.  This makes it a pretty good choice for playing with the kids.  Be warned though.  Sabine had fun but started to lose interest towards the end.  Even with 2 players, this game took almost 2 hours to play.

After playing Talisman a few times, Sabine started showing interest in Runebound which is a way more complex game.  I wasn’t sure if it would work or not, but we tried it anyway.  Here’s what Sabine had to say.

Sabine Explains and Reviews Runebound

You see, it's like this!
You move with symbols on the dice you roll.  There are different symbols.  You have to see if you have all the symbols to get to each place.  Best to start with the green dot and level up to yellow, level up to the blue, and level up to the red.  Somewhere in the red deck there will be a dragon, the one who you are trying to fight.  But you are not working together.  You are trying to defeat it first.  The dots are things you put on the board.  On the other side they have number.  You draw the cards of that color to see what monster you have.  Once you have a monster there will be a task you have to do before battle.  Then you battle.   There are different symbols for different things.  They mean different things that you have to roll higher than on the bad guy.  You get to add what you have of them to the die roll.  You win the fight by getting higher than his score each time. 

I like Runebound because it has a red player.  Well two, but I like to be a certain one.  I liked the player I was because it was good at fighting.  I also like what the board looks like.  It has some forests.  It has some rivers and roads.  It has hills and mountains and that’s what the board looks like.  I like the name of Runebound.   If I were giving a score to this game I would say 300.
Combat is kind of complex, but Sabine still loves to fight monsters!

The Parent Perspective On Runebound

I was surprised how well this one went.  Runebound has a complex movement system involving dice, symbols and terrain types.  This game definitely took more prompting from me than Talisman, but Sabine actually got the hang of movement pretty quickly.  She sort of understood combat, but I had to give her advice about when to attack on most fights.  We played with the soft KO optional rule and also a house rule that you can heal all wounds by spending just 1 gold in a town.  I actually recommend both of these rules for anyone playing Runebound.  It takes away a lot of the drudgery of lost combat and speeds up the game a bit.  We didn’t actually get to finish Runebound.  We got interrupted about an hour or so in.  Runebound takes even longer than Talisman, but it was still a lot of fun.

Talisman VS Runebound

Sabine says, "There can be no winner! Adventure games rock!"

 When asked which she liked better, Sabine had this to say:

“I feel I like them the same.  I like things in them differently.  I like the craft and strength in Talisman and I like the name, board, and characters of Runebound. “

I had a surprisingly good time playing both of these with my daughter.  If you and your child have the focus for 2 hour game, I’d recommend either one.  However, I think Talisman is actually a little better suited for kids.  It’s very similar to the “roll and see what you get” style of classic kids board games and the combat is as simple as rolling a die and adding 1 number to see how high you could get.   The standard victory does involve getting to a magical crown and then killing off the other players, but we just played that first person to the crown wins.  It’s not that far off from how the game usually goes.

I have played a few adventure themed games that more designed for kids, but it was a lot of fun to play a “grown up” adventure game with my daughter.  Have any of you had a good time playing an adventure game with your kids? Leave us a comment and let us know all about it!


  1. Nice report. Thanks for posting this.

    We've had a good time with the Dungeon Game (by TSR -- though I understand a new version is forthcoming from WotC). My 5-year-old loves it (and regularly requests it): you get to explore a dungeon, fight monsters and grab treasure, and it works well with various combinations of the basic and advanced rules.

    I find this game works well with Wil Wheaton's rule 17b (kids can have a number of "do over" tokens) as once in a while, a dice roll can go badly for you.

  2. I play TALISMAN a lot with my daughter,it's here favourite game ,we tried runebound and world of warcraft adventure game with no success)
    she just loves the choice of character that you can play and love to collect powerful items.
    I think it could even be a perfect game to play with kids if it wasn't so damn long to play...

  3. hopstodge - I haven't heard of that Dungeon game before. I'll have to look out for the new version when it hits shelves. I also hadn't heard Wil Wheatons rule 17b but that's an awesome idea. :)

    Moonchild - That's awesome that your daughter loves Talisman. One thing I have done to shorten that game is to say you only have to roll 1 die to get through the portal of power (instead of 2) and only 2 dice when going through the mines or the crypt. It's basically giving everyone one of the dwarfs major powers, but it means you don't have to get your stats quite so high to stand a chance and the game tends to move along quicker as a result.

  4. Stumbled here from an Amazon review. I think this blog is exactly what I have been looking for! Picking up Talisman now :)

  5. I don't have Talisman I don't think I'll be able to pick it up in my country. Board games here isn't well known if it's not from Hasbro.

    I got Runebound and started playing it with my daughter. She is 5 and I had to figure the game out first. I didn't think she would be able to finish the game as she can't pay attention for very long.

    Needless to say, the game took about 6 hours to complete and in the end she won. The next day she asked me again to play so we did.(Another 3 hours)

    She can't read and needs a lot of help but I think what sparks her interest is the way I present the challenges to her. She now starts to present her own monsters in a dramatized way and I think it helps to develop her imagination.

    It's been very therapeutic for the both of us :)