Reviews written by jeb
TALISMAN is nothing more than what it purports to be--a dungeon romp with little guys, monsters, some Toad action; and if you toss in the expansions, you get some dragons and towns and shit. It's not trying to be D&D Lite, it's not trying to match itself to some robust mythology--it's just TALISMAN, and that's just fine.
The game looks nice, plays fast, and can be taught in about 12 seconds. The missions are obvious, the way there is obvious (though treacherous!), and folks can drink heavily and still have a grand old time sloshing through the game. If you are a serious gamer with serious gamer buddies looking for a serious game--look elsewhere. If your cousins are in town and the game got rained out--this thing is pure awesome.
This is such a pretty game. The little bits are so cool. The game plays nicely too--the mechanisms for recovery are well done. It has enough subtlety for le gameur, while also rewarding those of us that like to roll dice and punch space spiders in the face.
The game isn't FUN. Someone is going to get control of Australia and win the game. It will take three hours and hundreds of 3-on-2 die rolls, but that's what's going to happen. Better maps make this better. Objectives make this better. Asymmetric powers make this better. Get one of the other versions of this to have fun--the classic version has value as inspiration, not enjoyment.
This is D&D lite folks. Right here. Roll a char, equip them and kill bad guys. That the Overlord actually gets to play a game instead of facilitate an experience makes it even better. A total blast.
It's an excellent game, but there are definitely times I don't want to play--it's so intense that the crowd needs to be into it, in my opinion. There are layers of nuance to the role selection that make for very interesting games. I feel some folks are a little too married to their style of play and don't like being put off it. It can get so bad in fact, that interaction drops down to murmurs about how non-optimal that last play was. As a solo game (using the Excel macro) it's a cool way to waste time at work while looking busy.
This is one of the best games I have ever played. I wracked my brains to come up with flaws and I found:
1) I would like it if creatures be more easily seen from across the table.
2) I would like it if the color of Other Dimensions were made more plain.
...yeah. There you go. The rules are a bitch, but worth it. The game is a damn blast and nomatter how well you "tune" your char, you always seem to get burned once or twice. ("Make a LUCK(-2) check? Fuck me.") The game looks cool, plays fun, and can be expanded ad infinitum.
I've only played the VASSAL module, but that's a pretty solid game. The block wargaming mechanism is very well done here, and the mix of hidden and revealed information is pretty fun. The rulebook is VERY WELL DONE, and I would like it if other companies looked to Columbia for guidance.
I am jealous of kids that get to grow up when a game like this can be bought at a department store. The Master Set has a FUCK TON of stuff in the box: a zillion guys, cool dice, a big honking scenario/rule book, and mounds of terrain. I'm pretty sure it's mathematically impossible to repack the box, so get one of those Rubbermaid tubs when you buy this thing.
As an actual game, meh. S'ok. As a lifestyle it rocks. Some diehard fans have built amazing things with the terrain, and one can't help but be impressed.
I love this solo in Colossus, I love it PBEM with fellow ATers and I'll love this in person when that Valley Games bomb finally hits my house. It takes probably three or four plays before you even know what the hell you're doing--but once it clicks, a whole new world opens up. Then when you actually start to get good, it gets that much better.
There's a lot to like for AT fans in this game. It's essentially Civilization distilled down into a concentrated paste, minus the warfare*. The board is random, resource production is random, there's tons of compulsory interaction, a few chances for total screwage, and it's always tight.
The game is a triumph of design--the modular board keeps rounds fresh. The combination of open information (how many resource cards do you have?) and hidden information (what -are- those cards? Victory Points? Knights?) keeps everyone simultaneously in the know and guessing. The balance in the resource management element is also so well done, it's no wonder that is has been copied countless times since. You need resources, but if you hog them, you might get burned. A player can try to win on her own, but she'll fall behind fast--there's a constant hustle for goods. The beginning game's demand for brick and wood slowly creeps to stone and wheat production as players get more established.
There's so much to like in this game, it's hard for me to justify not recommending it universally.
*(Dearth of warfare remedied by Cities & Knights of Catan expansion).