While I wouldn’t say I’m a huge fan of the “Over-Complex Board Game” genre, there are a few that I personally enjoy. Arkham Horror is a big one but I’ve always been a fan of Space Hulk and DungeonQuest so I do have a long standing appreciation for the genre. I recently got into Talisman, mostly through the entry drug that is Warhammer 40,000: Relic and I’ve been taken with it ever since.
But the one thing that’s always been a major put-off with these board games is the set up time. If it’s just you and one other person playing it’s already only a fraction of the fun but setting the game up can really drain the rest of it. Luckily now we’re getting a digital edition of Talisman that cuts out all of that set up time and while it’s lacking online multiplayer, for now, with it coming in the future this might be a must own for fans of the board games.
Talisman is one of those games that’s always been simple to grasp but hard to really excel at. You start up the game then pick one of 14 characters that are defined by their stats, alignment and special abilities. So a warrior excels in strength, not craft, has a neutral alignment (which has its own advantages / disadvantages) and can carry extra weapons. This wide variety makes no two games entirely the same since everyone can, and should, use different characters on each playthrough. Even if you end up with the same character on multiple playthroughs the random nature of the game makes it entirely unpredictable. I've had my Assassin tear through everyone on the board in a few turns one game thanks to loads of luck but in the next I ended up getting hounded down by the Grim Reaper leading to an early retirement of my poor Druid.
Each piece starts on its own specific location on the outermost of three rings on the board. Your goal is to get your hands on a Talisman item so that you can enter the centermost ring and win the game. Accomplishing this requires that you travel the outer and middle ring and dealing with the various enemies you’ll encounter as you land on each space. Or you could luckily find a Talisman at random. Or you could beat it out of another player who has the misfortune of crossing your path. Take your pick.
One thing to note is that right now this is simply an early access build of the game. As such it only contains four player local co-op play which is kind of lame. If you had four local friends to huddle around a PC screen then you have four friends who could play the board game. There is a greyed out option for online multiplayer and once that comes this game will truly take off. Forget trying to work out schedules for getting together, just boot up the PC whenever you guys have time and get some gaming in. This feature alone will make the game worth more than its paltry price tag once the feature arrives.
Even if you're not able to play online for the time being the game itself has a nice perk - removing all of the cards. As much as I love shuffling them and setting up the board that's all automated here. So if a game is just going atrociously bad and you want to restart there is no long period of putting everything where it belongs and then getting everyone set up again. No, here it's just a few clicks to get the game restarted with new characters and a new lease on life. This isn't something I've done with local games just now but it's been helpful when playing against computer-controlled, AI players who tend to either have the absolute worst luck or utterly destroy you.
All of this is captured neatly by the digital edition. It plays smoothly even on fairly weak laptops which helps this games appeal even more by making it portable. While it might lose some of the charms by losing the ability to move your pieces around on your own all of the convenience captured right here really makes it worth owning. Even better is the fact that if you go onto Steam right now and purchase the four pack it's basically the exact same price as the board game itself. Get one of those and no distance can stop your mighty adventure!