The original Talisman fantasy board game was first released in 1983, which means it celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.

Though, as you may expect from a game that made its debut 40 years ago, there’s quite a few elements of Talisman that feel somewhat outdated, its revised 4th Edition has managed to refine and tweak at least some of its mechanics and features to make it a better game, without losing the feel of the journey that Talisman takes you on during play.

Talisman: Star Wars does a great job of retheming the fantasy game and giving it the feel of a proper adventure that takes place in a galaxy far, far away.

So, first things first, if you’re a Talisman noob – what is it all about?

Well, players pick a character with certain abilities, stats and equipment to start the game, then each turn they roll the dice and choose a square to move to within their region. Each square offers either the opportunity to encounter something completely random from the Encounter deck (it could end up just being money, items or most commonly, creatures to fight) – with the aim being to build up your abilities and work your way to the centre of the board. There, you’ll use the Crown of Command to attempt to kill the other player characters and be the last character standing to win.

That’s pretty much it; with the Star Wars theme, it’s little different aside from the space opera feel: instead of locations on a fantasy map, you’ll visit a different planet on each square before making your way to the Emperor’s Throne Room to defeat him in battle; with the aim of bringing peace to the galaxy if you’re a light side character or ruling the universe in his place if you’re on the dark side.

In fantasy Talisman, you’ll need the titular object in order to reach the final destination on the board; in Talisman: Star Wars, it’s a Sith Wayfinder that allows you to access your ultimate challenge.

What’s always worked well with Talisman is that, despite rolling to move, there’s choice of where you go once the die is rolled. Though this starts, usually, as a choice of two squares (as you can move in either one of two directions on the outer region of the board), this can be increased by items or other characters who you pick up during your adventure. It can at first seem like a fairly restrictive design, particularly given how many spaces on the board are ‘fixed’ locations with effects written on each square, but this has the added bonus of making Talisman incredibly easy to learn and teach.

Roll, pick a space, then follow the instructions. Battle creatures or characters revealed on encounter cards; even other players if you choose to, should you land on their location.

It’s all really straightforward stuff.

That can be a blessing and a curse though, because the randomness of the dice and the Encounter deck can conspire against you in ways that either make life incredibly hard for you or really drag out the length of the game.

Original Talisman is pretty drawn out anyway for the type of game it is; it does always feel like it’s dragging in terms of its length.

Talisman: Star Wars avoids this somewhat, with a few mechanical changes that speed the experience up. Though the unlucky card draws and dice rolls can be an issue, making things feel entirely out of your control at times, the shorter game length does help to reduce the frustration that can occur when the game just refuses to end.

Component wise, Talisman: Star Wars is gorgeous, with beautiful painted artwork on the boards, along with good quality cards and tokens – and dials for each character’s stats, making everything very easy to track.

Player pieces are busts of each character, with some really neat touches that show great attention to detail: each features the lightsaber that’s unique to every character, as well as a light side or dark side shaped base.

The bad? Artwork on the cards is nowhere near as strong as the gorgeous, colourfully painted scenes on the board, with the Force Skill cards being particularly poor and a mixture of photos and artwork on Encounter cards, which feels really inconsistent.

The rule book could also do with stronger explanations of what happens with certain card types; Events and Guides are glossed over fairly quickly and no doubt newer Talisman players may be confused about what happens with them once they’re drawn.

There is, however, an incredibly useful flow chart on the back of the rule book which is something I wish more games would include; even this doesn’t do a great job of explaining events and other minor differences to encounters beyond battling.

Talisman: Star Wars won’t be to everyone’s taste – particularly modern gamers who prefer less randomness with their tabletop experiences – but it does provide a streamlined, sometimes chaotically random Star Wars adventure that mashes up characters, locations and events from the three main eras (prequel, original trilogy and sequel) to deliver a unique story every time it’s played.

Given that it draws from so many corners of Star Wars lore, it can feel a little strange, but the random nature of the game does also hold a certain appeal in its unpredictability.

There’s a lot here to like and though it can feel a little repetitive after lots of games, it’s a good gateway title to meatier tabletop games, that players of any age can pick up and play.

You can purchase Talisman: Star Wars from Amazon here.

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