Cristian Piovano

self-published 2008

No. of Players:
1 - 6



On first sight the game Telendar by Cristian Piovano actually might have been a travel edition of Talisman with the different card decks and the stand-up character figures, but as you will see there is more to the game than the tiny gamebox might suggest...

The comic-style artwork used by Cristian actually is somewhat naive, but actually it's rather nice looking and fits the nature of this small game. The gameboard is made up of 49 landscape tiles, and all of the tiles are placed face down on the table in a 7 times 7 grid. An exception are the four cities and villages which are placed at the four corners of the playing area, and the nine center tiles actually are special cursed territories, amongst them the Gates of Hell which the players aim to close in order to win the game. A Hero may try to close the gates if he should find a special key, but there is a time limit in which the game either must be won by a player or will be lost by all. The old King of the land of Telendar is slowly dying, and every turn the players need to reveal an event card which either shows a general event or a further deterioration of the King's health. With every lifepoint the King loses the players will suffer some change of rules, and whereas at first the will of the King still holds so that the players actually will face some beneficial playing conditions, there will come a point when the rules will start to turn to the players' detriment. And when the King dies the Kingdom will fall in turmoil and will be unable to restrain the forces of Chaos which keep coming through the Gate.

Several decks of cards are placed at hand at the beginning of the game, and some of these decks are shuffled like the Events, Treasures, Common and Cursed cards, whereas other sets of cards simply will be placed at hand and looked through for certain cards in the course of the game. Each player will receive a character figure., and the main characteristics of each adventurer are Strength, Mana and Hit Points. Also, each character has a small special ability, and the starting ratings of the different characteristics will vary depending on the profession of the characters. The current characteristics of the characters are recorded with coloured chips, but a quite useful idea has been to turn lost Hit Points and Mana just on their backside whenever they are lost. This way the maximum of each characteristic remains visible, and whenever Hit Points or healed or Mana is replenished at the beginning of a player's turn the chips simply will be turned up again.

The players will move their characters through the Kingdom, and they must stop whenever they either reach an unexplored tile or, when moving over revealed tiles, when they reach a forest. An unexplored tile will be turned face up, and after a possible revealing of the landscape the player will have to drawn an adventure card from the corresponding deck if no card is present ion the tile, provided there are no special places or fixed monsters printed on the tile. Special places will give the players different opportunities to gain cards and attributes, whereas fixed monsters require a certain monster card to be placed on the tile which needed to be sorted out of the cards placed at hand. Combat with any encountered monster then is dealt with in the good old fashion of many adventure games, with the player rolling dice for himself and the monster, both adding their strength ratings and possible equipment bonuses. A lost combat means the loss of Hit points equal to the difference between the two combat scores, but if the player actually succeeds in slaying a monster with a higher strength rating he will gain an additional strength point himself, but all characteristics never may surpass their start rating by more than eight points. Some monsters also carry special artefacts with them, and when the monster is slain the cards for these artefacts once again need to be found in the cards placed at hand and they can be claimed by the winning character. Other items may be bought in settlements, and here the players also may get healed or they can purchase an increase of one of their characteristics.

A quite cute idea also is the fact that some of the slain monsters or animals actually may leave some kind of ingredient which the player scan take them and, if they should encounter the landscape with the magic cauldron, use to brew a potion which might give them an additional increase of one or more characteristics. The more ingredients are collected the stronger the potion will become.

As said, the game only can be won by closing the Gates of hell with one of the lost key, and these key can be found with the fixed monsters on several landscape tiles. These monsters are much stronger than the monsters which are usually encountered in the game, and a higher number of them actually exists on the cursed landscapes in the middle of the Kingdom. If a player should succeed in claiming such a key and reaches the Gates of Hell, he will have to roll and dice and the key only operates successful if a certain minimum number can be rolled. This number is depending on the power of the fixed monster from which the key was gained, and if the key cannot be operated successfully it will break and the player must start to look for another key. However, if the gates can be successfully closed the player who has performed the deep will be declared to be the winner of the game.

Telendar actually includes all elements which are needed for a nice adventure game, and it is absolutely surprising to see the number of components which could be fit into the tiny gamebox. However, what I especially like about the game is its flexible gameboard which is created anew whenever a new game is played, and furthermore the several ways which the players actually may try to get into a position to win the game. On the one hand the traditional "gain-strength-through-combat" way is open, but on the other hand players also may try to get money by trading some items so that they can afford to purchase increases of their characteristics. Also, a desperate player can be quite daring and use rather dangerous artefacts, and this might even lead to a heartbeat ending in which the player who has taken a long lead might still be beaten. The fact that no dice is rolled for movement gives the players full control of their moves, and this also increases the player options for their turns since they now may decide where they want to go and which special places they might want to use. This is not only necessary in face of the time limit imposed by the dying King, but also offers the players some possibility for planning and thus some moderate strategy. As you can see, Telendar certainly is definitely much-more than a Talisman-clone, and for me it is one of the rather cute finds of the SPIEL 2008. If you want to know more, you can contact the author Cristian Piovano via email, or have a look at the Telendar-website.

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

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Copyright © 2008 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany