Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Games From The Summer Sale Shenanigans Part 1: Talisman Digital

Goons are lovely people, except when they're not. Luckily, one of them is rather consistently cool, and just gave me and some fellow Goonsires copies of Talisman: Digital Edition, because we're all tabletop geeks and thought it would be a good idea.

It has been, and it hasn't... Which is going to be a phrase you're going to see, in one form or another, a lot. Talisman's like that. It was originally a boardgame, created in roughly 1983, and had shitloads of expansion packs, some of which were rather silly (Timeline, for example, added Space Marines... And this, I am told, instantly makes it the best expansion.) Like many games of the period, it's basically a race game where you and the dark gods of dice attempt to dick each other as you rush for the Crown of Command (or the Frost Witch, or the Lich-King, or whatever the hell objective your addon had in store for you.) There were lots of characters, some pretty cool artwork, and if you can find any copy of a recent-ish edition, you'll have great fun.

An awesome piece of artwork. Shame it's only Strength 3.

The Digital Edition, by contrast, appears to use 4th Revised Edition rules, has two and a bit expansions (paid DLC, naturally), and a Random Number God that wants to cripple you, and then destroy everything you've ever loved while you watch. Here's a good example: The Enchantress. Technically, there is only a 50/50 chance that something bad will happen to you, only a 1 in 6 chance of being turned into a toad, and if you have Fate Points, you can make a reroll. Sounds fair, doesn't it?

What this actually translates to is a 50/50 chance of you getting Toaded, and a 25% chance, on a reroll, that you will still get Toaded. The netcode's also a little wonky. That's "A little" as in "We have given up playing with all but the Router Optimisation Illuminati". But, in case this all sounds too negative, let's talk about what's awesome, what's broken, and what's irritating.

Pure awesome is the sheer variety of classes. Want to play a Troll that sucks at fighting Monks and Ghosts, but beats the crap out of Dragons from the get go? Want to play a guy who can pick whether he's Good, Evil, or Neutral (with benefits and drawbacks for each) any time he wants? Or maybe someone physicallly and magically average, who can steal one item every time he lands on either a market or another player. That's just three classes. Out of something like 30, with more on the way. Even better, due to to events, shrines, items, and monsters, your beginning class is only a guideline. One of my favourite wins was with a Monk who had 12 Strength and only 8 magic by the time he won.

The Dwarf. Surprisingly not as powerful as you'd think.

Of course, some classes are a tadge annoying, to the point they're banned in our MP games. The biggest offender here is the Prophetess. Now imagine, if you will, a character who can take anything up to ten seconds thinking about whether she's going to discard an Event in favour of another one. She can also waste time chain-casting spells (we'll get into spellcasting in a minute), because she can never run out of spells. Luckily, she's easily killed. Unfortunately, she also knows what your spells are too.

The magic system, sadly, is irritating, but I can't actually think of a better system. Many spells have to be cast at the right point of someone's turn, and while you do get between 3 and 5 seconds to cast said spell, this involves:
  • Clicking your cards icon (pauses the game, but you can easily misclick)
  • Clicking the spell.
  • Clicking the spell again.
  • Clicking the "I want to cast this/save it for the next time it triggers" button (a misclick here will fuck you over.)
  • Waiting 3-5 seconds for someone to maybe cast Counterspell.
  • Waiting for any rolls that may occur.
  • If the person casting is a Prophetess (or a Wizard), it's entirely possible this whole process will start all over again.
You can queue a spell, but in many cases, this is exactly the wrong thing to do. Cases in point are Immobilise (has to be cast on the person's turn before they move... You can totally immobilise yourself if you forget), and Preservation (triggers the next time anyone is injured. This includes monsters.)

This can totally happen in your game. If even one of these is replaced by a Doppelganger, you're fully justified in ragequitting.

But, regardless of all this, it's pretty damn fun, and, while the base game is £11 (with a Season Pass for DLC costing a fair bit more), even the base game has a lot of potential for hilarity. Also swearing. Before I go, though, a word of warning: Do not confuse this with Talisman Prologue, from the same company. Talisman Prologue is single player with no AI, achievements, and is basically an extended tutorial which you have to pay for.

Also, as a complete aside, the most common trash-talk I've been hearing are the following phrases:
  • "I'll [fight/stab/beat] you at PAX IRL!"
  • "Come at me, Nerd!"
  • "GET TOADED, SON!!!"
  • "ONE, ONE, ONE, ONE, ONE!!!!"
Did I mention competitive play with understanding friends is awesome?

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