|Multiplayer:||Yes, pass'n'play and synchronous GameCenter|
|AI:||Yes, 1 level|
|Universal App:||Yes (there is a single app which works on both iPhone and iPad in HD)|
|Purchase for iPhone:||Use link below to purchase universal app|
|Purchase for iPad:||
GD Star RatingTalisman,
If you were a gamer in the 80s or early 90s, you almost definitely played Talisman – and you almost definitely had an opinion about it. This archetypical fantasy slugfest has been a staple of game closets for decades, and almost exactly a year after the release of the disappointing Talisman Prologue, Nomad Games has finally released the full version upon the masses. Will you dice with death?
Talisman allows you to select one of 14 fantasy classes (Knight, Minstral) or races (Elf, Troll) and set about to adventure through an unnamed kingdom. Each character has a different set of starting stats divided among Strength (how hard you hit stuff), Craft (magical strength), Lives (hit points), Fate (rerolls), and Gold (gold).
Each turn, you will roll a d6 and move that many spaces either left or right. You begin in the outermost of the three ringed tracks of the kingdom and can move in either direction. A few spaces, like the Portal of Power or the Sentinel, allow you to cross into an inner ring; unless your travels take you by one of these spaces, you may move only in a straight line in either direction.
While some spaces contain specific instructions (these are found in an info window beneath the board) most will instruct you to draw one or more Adventure cards. Adventure cards contain the various treasures, monsters, followers, events, and other encounters that will color your trip around the board.
Each type of card plays a little differently, but according to consistent rules. Combat is handled simply by having you and your opponent (a creature from the Adventure deck or another player) rolling a d6 and adding the appropriate stat; high beats low, and a tie results in a Stand-Off, with no clear winner. Monsters which you fight to a stand off will remain in the space to encounter other players.
Each player may have up to 4 Items (weapons, armor, treasure, or other misc artifacts) unless they have a Follower that allows more; they may have an unlimited number of Followers. Defeating a monster in combat lets you keep the card as a “Trophy,” and you can trade in 7 Strength or Craft worth of trophies to increase your corresponding stat by one.
Players may also receive Spells. Anyone in the world of Talisman can use a little magic, and all players may keep Spell cards up to the limit designated by their Craft stat. Spells can be pulled up in the info window at the bottom, and can be cast any time the rules of that spell would allow it. Spells can also be “queued,” and if queued they will be automatically cast the next time it would be possible to do so. Additionally, whenever players interact with one another, each player has a brief window to cast a spell that might affect the outcome of the interaction.
Usually, when you run out of Lives, you start over with a new character. All this changes once someone fights their way to the Crown of Command in the center of the board. Once there, two things happen. First, if a character dies, that player is out of the game for good. Second, the player in the center can cast the Command Spell, which gives them a 50% chance of doing one Life of damage to every other player on the board. Once someone gets to the Cr0wn of Command and starts casting the spell, the last character standing wins; this is not necessarily the one on the Crown, but that’s usually the way to bet.
It has been said that Talisman is one of the most over-produced beer-n-pretzel games in existence, and Nomad has gone to great lengths to maintain that atmosphere. Addressing one of our key criticisms of Talisman Prologue, Nomad has recreated the plastic minis of the physical board game, but has opted here for a fully painted look, both helping to distinguish which piece is which and adding a bit of flair to the overall proceedings.
A tutorial exists in the form of pop-up messages that appear the first time you encounter a given bit of the game’s mechanics or interface. There’s no real interactivity, but as this is one of the more straight-forward games in the genre there really isn’t need of any. The messages can be turned on or off in the game’s settings.
The setup also allows for a number of “house rules” most of which are designed to speed up the game once you’ve played it to completion and boggled at how long it takes to get through due to the sheer randomness on display. A link to a rule book is also buried in the settings, and here there’s a disappointment as the rulebook actually is just a webpage on the Games Workshop site. Consequently, you’d better make sure everyone knows the rules if you’re playing without Internet access.
Be aware that this game comes with an impressive amount of optional IAP – unsurprising, as the offline version of Talisman has a number of expansions. Right now you’ll be able to purchase the Reaper expansion, which adds 5 characters, a number of cards, and the Grim Reaper piece which players can direct at opponents to make their lives more difficult.
Also on tap are five new characters, available for $1 apiece. These are five of the 12 characters that originally appeared in issue 48 of the German gaming magazine Mephisto; it is unclear, at this time, if Nomad plans to add the remaining 7. It’s worth noting that all of this IAP is purely optional; unlike the iPad adaptations of Space Hulk or Elder Sign, where you are given only part of the base game and must purchase the rest separately, Talisman gives you the full game, and each IAP is truly an expansion purchase. It’s also worth noting that Issue 48 of Mephisto can be challenging to find at this point, so for many gamers this represents an economical way to add a game element they might not see otherwise.
You can also purchase Runestones, cards that grant some benefit such as stat boosts or immunity to some forms of damage or calamity. A full set of these costs $2, and they can also be earned by leveling up through playing the game. Each player may have up to 3 Runestones active at the beginning of the game. Completionists should note that buying all IAP will add another $12 to the cost of the game, and more is promised in the future.
The app supports 1-4 players, any of which can be human or AI locally (though we’re still not sure why you’d want to play this game solo). Multiplay is possible via GameCenter, but is limited to real-time challenges only – something that can be difficult to pull off, given the length of play due to the random nature of the game. Nomad decided that the ability to cast spells in response to player actions makes asynchronous gameplay too difficult to implement. While we see the viewpoint, we would point to both Lords of Waterdeep and Nightfall as excellent examples of apps that managed to deal with this issue in asynchronous play. There are also a number of interface texts that refer to things like double-clicking, telltale holdovers from the app’s PC origins. We sincerely hope that both of these shortcomings are addressed in a future release.
Talisman is not for everyone, but this is about as nice an implementation as you could hope for. With a perfectly fair cost structure and a flair for visual presentation, it’s a safe bet that many old school gamers will while away hours with this stumble down memory lane. We just hope that Nomad can clean up the interface issues and find a way to add asynchronous play, both of which would go a long way toward ensuring longevity for this title on the platform.