Review: Talisman, by Nomad Games
Talisman, by Nomad Games
$6.99 ($4.99 for additional expansions), ****
• A good import of Talisman board game, bring the experience of playing to the iPad
• Adds features not included in the original game
• Some house rules are included for customizing the game play
• Layout may take some getting used to
• It looks like it will cost a bit for the expansions
Talisman for the iPad! Let the wizard duel it out with the Valkarye to reach the Crown of Command! For the initiated, that brings back memories. For the others, you have no idea what I am talking about.
Talisman is a classic board game from the 1980’s and 1990’s, now imported to the iPad. At least, the newest version of the board game has been imported (no Timescape here!). Talisman tries to take the RPG experience and bring it to a board game. You choose one of many classic characters (the Wizard, Valkyrie, Prophetess, etc.) and adventure across the board. Each character has specific strengths and weaknesses (maybe you can cast spells but don’t have the strength to lift a feather, or maybe you can assassinate characters and steal their gold). As you move across the domain, you encounter “adventure cards” on the board – cards that may be an enemy, a global event, a follower, or even magical items that you can pick up. Through skill and luck, you build up your character, eventually reaching the inner sanctum, the Crown of Command. Once here, you use the crown to subdue your opponents, and hopefully win the game!
Figure 1 - Talisman brings the classic board game to iOS.
Talisman has been around for a long time. I remember playing the 4th edition of the game back in college, and they have just recently re-released the game as well. As a board game, it is a fun game to play in a social setting. However, with the iPad you are playing either by yourself against up to four AI players, or against others via online multiplayer. You can play via local pass and play, which brings back some of the social atmosphere of the game. I wish you could play against more than 4 people (I remember game in college with 6 and 8 people), but that might be a limitation of the hardware. When you start to play, just realize you may be in for a long game – I remember various games literally taking 6 to 8 hours to complete.
Figure 2 - Travel around the board to collect treasures, spells, weapons, and followers (like the Princess) to make yourself more powerful.
The game has been imported well – the board has a familiar look, the game play is basically the same. However, for someone unfamiliar with the game, the game play may be a little confusing. Because of the nature of the game, the board can get very crowded, which can make it confusing for unfamiliar players. In addition, you character (which you get to choose) can become overburdened as well, as you continue to pick up objects and followers. Knowing how to move, when to cast spells, when to use object can really impact how much fun the game is. One feature that is added to make gameplay a little easier is that you can swap between an overhead game-board view and a closeup “piece” view, where you see the piece whose turn it is (and the square they are on).
Figure 3 - Swap between and overhead view and a closeup view.
There are a few additional game modes as well – bloodbath mode means you just try to kill everyone. Some house rules are included, such as simply having the winner be the first one to the crown of command or limiting a players ability to heal once someone reaches the crown of command. One house rule that I always used (which is not included) was being able to choose your character from a limited subset.
Figure 4 - Choose from many characters, or use classic rules and randomly pick one.
Speaking of subsets, one of the features of Talisman are the many expansion sets to enhance game play. It looks like there are plans to release these are well. One of them – the Reaper – adds different ending options, more characters to play, and a few more game mechanics. The other one listed is Frostmarch. Some expansions (not listed in the game) add additional game boards to play on, so it will be interesting to see if they bring those. You can buy additional characters ($.99 each) of “gold runestone cards” that unlock special abilities - these aren’t available in the original game. (The game notes that the cards can be unlocked during normal gameplay) So it looks like if you want to get the full experience, it may be expensive.
Figure 5 - Expansion sets can be purchase, as can digital only content like new characters and "gold runestone cards".
All in all, Talisman is a pretty faithful and enjoyable import of the classic game. For old nerds such as myself, it will bring back a feeling of nostalgia, while people who have never played may enjoy the simple game mechanics once they can grasp the sometimes complex interface. While the flexibility of the rules are limited, expansions sets can be purchased to expand the game play. At $6.99, and $4.99 for each expansion, the game is not going to be cheap, but it may be worth it if you can find friends to play with online or via pass and play. For people that may want a taste first, there is a $2.99 “prologue” version that highlights some of the gameplay, but without the complexity (it is a task based game). Four out of five stars.
* = No redeeming qualities or features, probably not worth it even if it is free
** = Few redeeming qualities, or is simply isn't worth the price
*** = Some good features but also some clear flaws.
**** = A solid app, worth the money if interested, a few flaws or problems or slightly overpriced
***** = Top of the line app, no problems or drawbacks.
Price is factored into the ratings. Ratings are lowered if I feel the price of the app outweighs the benefits/enjoyment/features it provides. Likewise, an app that is a good value for the money will have a higher rating. Please comment on these reviews. All opinions expressed in this review are precisely that – opinions. You may agree or disagree. If you own the app, tell me what your opinion is. If the review prompted you to buy (or not buy) the app, let me know why. If you want more information about the app, go ahead and ask.