When the news broke that The OP was partnering with DC and Games Workshop to bring Talisman: Batman™ Super-Villains Edition to market this year, we joined fans and the hobby game community in feeling the excitement like a gust from a fleeting bat colony. Through a series of social media posts, underground glimpses and sneak peeks, fans pieced together which evildoers would stand in as playable characters, what style of the Caped Crusader’s prolific 80-year career would be featured, and other details that would otherwise remain a mystery… until today!
Not only is Talisman: Batman™ Super-Villains Edition now available, but our own “masterminds” are offering a deeper look at how the plan was built to capture exactly what board game and Batman fans have been looking for with this sinister twist on the classic tabletop RPG.
Aside from story-rich content and compelling game board and card options, our “dynamic trio”—Lead Game Designer Pat Marino, Creative Designer Pam Weirich, and 3D Design Manager Darren Donahue—speaks to the calculated measures they took to fit the New 52‘s Dark Knight and infamous villains for The OP’s licensed Talisman debut.
“The declaration of DC’s ‘Year of the Villain’ really played into the theme that we went with, where players choose to be Villains rather than Batman™ heroes,” Pat begins. The game features 12 custom sculpted likenesses of The Joker™, Bane™, Harley Quinn™, and others comprising the broad array of the game’s figurines. “We really tried to balance both male and female characters including those that may be more obscure. [The Joker’s Daughter] Duela Dent™ has a pretty significant story arc, so it made sense to include her as a main playable character and have someone that either casual or hardcore Batman fans would recognize and appreciate.”
Talisman fans will notice an overall grittier, tattered treatment to the signature three-ringed game board and Encounter and Feat cards, among other components—an intentional design choice to match the aesthetic of the New 52 comic era on which the game is based. “The initial story involves these villains planning out what they want to do with items found nearby,” Pam explains as the basis for the game’s torn paper textures and grungy contrast. Added to this are telltale character doodles by illustrator Ross Taylor, found in the form of eerily defaced cards that will subconsciously immerse players in the dingy, worn environment. For the game board itself, Pam also opted for more muted coloring to reflect the dreariness of the criminal underworld beyond the various Health, Cunning, and Strength cards’ distressed icons.
“The hero can only be as good as his villains are bad” encompasses the inspiration that Batman aficionado (and The Joker from “Death of the Family” cosplayer) Darren tapped for his contribution with the game movers, capturing his “absolute favorite” antagonists in universally recognizable stances. Referencing an omnibus spanning the entire New 52 universe and minding the overall dimensions and costuming on a miniature scale were paramount for the artist to stay true to the characters—an easier task for Bane’s dynamic lunging pose, but a challenge for surrounding Poison Ivy with her natural surroundings. “We had to do a lot of different adjustments for production on [Poison Ivy] because there were so many different undercuts the first time around,” he says of the initial process. “This meant dialing back on some of the detail to really enforce the integrity of the sculpt, rather than the artistry of the leaves and flowers that we were determined to convey.” No such weed whacking is evident in her flourishing final product.
As for other notable exclusions, Pat shed some light on an elusive feline that didn’t make it among the usual suspects, acknowledging a likely player and fan base curiosity. “Of everything I would have put into the game, the only thing we couldn’t include was Catwoman.” His logic reinforces the team’s dedication to keeping the entire game technically story-accurate: All of the playable characters are trying to break out of Arkham Asylum—a box in which you wouldn’t find that particular cat. “Catwoman isn’t in Arkham, so it wouldn’t be thematically sound for her to be suddenly there for some reason. Although her story arc evolves in the timeline, it wasn’t substantial enough to place her as a protagonist alongside Batman. There just wasn’t a place that, gameplay-wise, made sense for her within the story.”
Talisman‘s dice rolling, character moving simplicity is retained in The OP’s combining of adventurous gameplay with the DC universe, in addition to streamlined gameplay that may ease newcomers to either franchise into taking part (which with classic Talisman could lock players in at an average of four hours). “We basically took some of the original fast-play rules and integrated them into the core rule book to make the overall experience closer to 90 minutes.” For traditionalists, the longer play rules are still included, but those who want to try Talisman and have a Batman experience can do so in a very approachable way.
“It’s great for introducing non-gamers who might be familiar with Batman even on the surface level,” Pat adds, “whether it’s from The Dark Knight Trilogy or Batman: The Animated Series, because you get to play out conflict between the villains, between the villains and the heroes, and the game itself as you try to escape Arkham.” We happen to agree that that the role-playing element being an ideal intro to hobby gaming. “Every time you play it’s going to be different.”
Talisman: Batman™ Super-Villains Edition is made for 2-6 players ages 13 and up, and is available now from your favorite local game store or online retailer.
Talisman, GW, Games Workshop, and all game mechanics, associated logos, designs and the distinctive likeness thereof, are either ® or ™, and/or © Games Workshop Limited, variably registered around the world, and used under licence. BATMAN and all related characters and elements © & ™ DC Comics. WB SHIELD: © & ™ WBEI (s19).