The world of digital board game implementations has been growing quite steadily over the past few years, and gamers with tablets and smartphones have been reaping the benefits. About a year ago Nomad Games released a digital version of a classic board game, and since then I’ve been wandering the world of Talisman on a weekly basis.
Talisman is a game that has been around forever, enjoying staunch support from a loyal fanbase and plenty of new content coming from Fantasy Flight Games. It is a game that hasn’t enjoyed a huge influx of new players because it has a tendency to be quite chaotic and very luck based. Combine that with a setup and play time that can drag out (especially with newer players) and it is approached with caution.
One of the benefits of a digital version is that setup time is reduced to…well…whatever time it takes you to open the app. And the app does all the messy housekeeping for you with rules, tracking life points, keeping an eye on item limits, and so forth. Of course, this will be true of any app, but with Talisman this is certainly a selling point.
Simple bookkeeping benefits aside, this is a beautiful port of a board game. The graphics are absolutely top notch…to the point where the actual board game falls behind a bit. I mean, I don’t have the time and patience to paint any of my figures, so that alone puts it above the physical copy in my book.
The developers did an excellent job with making the gameplay quite intuitive as well. I guess this wasn’t ever a game that left you burned out from 10,000 rules, but it’s nice to have everything laid out properly and helpful hints the first time you play. Combat, which could grind most tabletop versions of this game to a halt, is sped up as the app handles all of the “well, I’ve got a sword, but also the Holy Lance, and this is a dragon so I should…” for you.
Now, that’s not to say that this is a perfect app by any means. There are a couple flaws, one that could be taken care of and one that, well, cannot.
The first has to do with the AI. There are times where it will make sensible decisions and times where it is an absolute idiot. I have seen it enter the Portal of Power only to exit on the next turn…about six times in a row. It will use an axe to create a raft, sailing across the river…and then cross back over in two turns. Again, this isn’t a constant thing. But when the AI goes off the rails, forget about it.
The second issue is mostly a personal thing. When you play Talisman, especially with a group of friends, it turns into a storytelling event. You wind up laughing at your misfortune, you make grandiose excuses for why you pissed the farmer off, and the time flies. Unfortunately, this doesn’t translate with the app. The AI isn’t exactly looking to have a beer with you.
As a side note, I haven’t played the online multiplayer version of this yet. Pass-and-play, yes. I’ve heard there are some minor bugs with it, but I haven’t encountered any on the solo side of things.
Perhaps one of the best thing about this app are the expansions. Nomad has already released four expansions to date and they are working on more at the time of this writing. Along with the standard expansions, there are also various characters that you can purchase. When new content is released they also tend to put the existing stuff on sale, so paying full price for anything isn’t necessary if you’re patient.
But, those small things aside, this is a great app worth adding to your collection. Now you can enjoy the Talisman experience, well most of it, anytime you want!