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Escape The Dark Castle is Wicked, Atavistic Fun - Review

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14 Sep 2019 06:37 #301717 by thegiantbrain
Yeah the dice tower review was full of 'I don't get what this game is trying to do'. I do think Tom is bad at context for reviews. I personally love the game and have been blowing the Themeborne trumpet since I came across the game at UKGE 2017.
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20 Sep 2019 17:41 #301876 by ChristopherMD
Received and played solo today. This is exactly the kind of game I want to be playing as far as short and simple games go. I enjoy the artwork and "atmosphere" in the game. Its got a fun narrative and despite my dwindling health and trepidation, I looked forward to flipping each new chapter knowing it was taking me that much closer to freedom. My Tailor and Tanner did quite well and nearly escaped the dungeon having reached the boss, The Master of Darkness, with 3 and 1 HP remaining. Fucking gargoyle helped him finished off the Tailor and that was it for that attempt. There WILL BE more escape attempts in the near future (probably tonight).

The Collectors Box outright sucks. Its way too big, you can't read the game name on the shelf, and the insert doesn't really sort everything well. It also doesn't have slots for future expansions so I guess this is it. Which is fine as its a lot of material already but I wouldn't say no to more chapters that don't add new rules. A half-size box with movable dividers for the two cards sizes and a place to hold dice would have been better and still left room for much more.
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27 Sep 2019 22:40 #302060 by NeonPeon

I don’t watch anything he does...but seeing as this is a dude who once said that Talisman is not for (and I quote) “discerning gamers”...not surprised.

Wow, he said this? My eyes hurt from rolling so hard.

Forgive the following. I sometimes go on Talisman rants because I'm always hearing about how it's a shitty, mindless game for the plebs, and this kind of bullshit sets me off.

I would say it takes a MORE discerning gamer, although I try to avoid such pretentious language, to master the strategy of Talisman over some generic Euro that presents the strategic options to you on a platter: take two actions during your turn. An action can be to convert colored cubes into other colored cubes and/or victory points according to this chart, to build some stupid structure that makes more cubes or something, or to draw more cubes from a bag or some shit. It can be difficult to master the mathy puzzle solving of a game like this, but it literally tells you the kinds of decisions you have to make.

Talisman may have the veneer of "go left or right and draw cards, wheeeee" - but you actually can figure out short and long term goals and make plans to achieve those goals. You need to figure out when to hover around a space you want to land on given estimated probabilities of which spaces/cards you can land on next turn, keeping in mind other players' chances of landing on you who might pose a threat. A large part of the game is timing - when to make your dash for the endgame, when to use a spell or do you want to just burn it off, when to attack another player and if you do whether you try to knock down his lives or steal something, when to spend Fate, when best to visit a particular expansion, making constant risk/reward estimates for all these things. Sure sometimes it IS basically do you go left and draw a card or go right and draw a card, and sometimes fishing for Adventure cards is the best option. But if you turn off your brain entirely because you mischaracterize the whole game as this simple, then you miss all those moments when you really do need to make the best decision.

There's a social element that shouldn't be discounted. If I'm the high-starting-strength Troll I might act threatening and announce on turn 1 that I'm going to kick everyone's ass at every opportunity (since odds are, at least at the beginning, I have a +2 to +4 combat advantage over pretty much every other player). This puts pressure on the other players - when it's time for them to make their binary choice of which direction to go, they may avoid landing within range of me, even if it means going in the opposite direction of where they're aiming, just because they don't want me taking their sword. But the cost of doing this for me is I spend more turns killing characters that may distract me from my own goals. If my current goal is to go the Enchantress (a good early game goal as you can build up Strength/Craft with little risk except for Toadiness, but hey there's Fate for that, or you can just deal), if I beat up a player when I could've landed there, that's my opportunity cost. Players who can initiate psychic combat may initiate revenge against me (because the Troll's Craft is low). I might just give such a player a pass from my wrath as a safety measure for myself. Tradeoffs!

I could do the opposite and lay low - I do this often as the Dwarf who requires one die fewer for the Craft path to victory which is a huge advantage that others often underestimate. I've lost track of my number of sneaky Dwarf wins this way.

One summer, my siblings, friends and I played Talisman nearly every day - it was our obsession - and I played my best to win every time, winning a majority of the games with 4-6 players. Later I used a binomial probability calculator to estimate how my win record could have arisen by pure chance, and it spat out the minimum possible value, something like "<0.0001%" - so clearly I was doing something right. Although generally these days I just play more "for fun" with my son, often just the two of us, and I help him out by advising and thinking through his options. We try random stuff, like exploring an expansion board just for kicks even if it may not be the best option strategically - because having fun is good! And that's the beauty of the game - you CAN play it hard if you want, or you could chill out, draw random cards, have drinks and laugh. But I guess I'm just not discerning because I enjoy this game. You know I just looked up the meaning of "discerning": "having or showing good judgment" - he can go fuck himself.
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