Game: Talisman Digital Edition
Genre: Board Game, Adventure, Role-Playing, Multiplayer
System: Nintendo Switch (also on Steam, iOS, Android, PS4)
Developers|Publishers: Nomad Games
Price: US $19.99 |AUS $30.00|CAD $ 26.45| EU €19,99| UK £17.99
Age Rating: US E 10+| UK 7| AUS G
Release Date: 9th March 2020
Review code used, with many thanks for Nomad Games
If it isn’t obvious by my recent reviews, board gaming became a big part of my life over the last several years. Social distancing has meant the end of my weekly board game meetings, so I’ve been looking for digital substitutes. I jumped on the chance to try Talisman. I’d never heard of this board game before, but am always open to trying new games. Let’s see how it went!
What Is It?
Talisman: Digital Edition is a 1980’s adventure board game from Game Workshop where you choose a character and travel around the board leveling up in craft and strength by battling creatures, enemies, and fellow players. Strength allows you to fight creatures and fellow players with weapons, while craft determines your use of spells and what level you are when performing psychic battles with creatures or players.
The gameplay mechanics are very straightforward. This is classic dice-rolling, card drawing, space moving fun, combined with some character leveling elements.
How Do You Play?
I finally won! Wooooo!
The board is divided into the outer, middle, and inner regions. Play is broken down into movement and encounter phases. During the movement phase you roll the die and pick a space. Then you choose to either encounter that space or encounter and attack other players on the same space. If you encounter the space itself, you’ll first have to fight any enemies already there, and then be directed to follow any instructions on the space or on cards residing on the space. If you are instructed to draw an adventure card, draw a random card that may allow you to acquire items, followers, find places, or discover enemies to fight. Battles (psychic or otherwise) are performed using dice rolls. Fighting enemies allows you to acquire them as trophies which you can then trade in to level up in strength or craft, depending on the cards traded.
A good roll slays the mighty!
When you acquire a Talisman card (either through luck or stealing it from another player after battle) and decide you’re ready, you try and move to the inner region where you claim the Crown of Command. Once you have the Crown, you try to kill the other players by casting command spells until either: they die, or someone takes the crown from you and attempts the same result. I say generally, because there are alternate end games, some of which aren’t revealed until a player actually reaches the center.
This is a fairly complex board game with a lot of expansion options, so even though this is a fairly long description, it’s still a very general overview.
This is a very handy spell.
If you are familiar with Talisman the board game, and are mostly looking to play AI, I imagine you could probably skip this review and go buy the game. They state they made a few changes to the digital version to smooth things out, but that the new rules can be used for both the digital and traditional board game. If you have any concerns about the changes, take a look at the above link.
This is the second Nomad Games review I’ve done and I’m definitely a fan of their work. The game play is smooth, easy to follow (even on the Switch Lite screen), and I love the little touches such as the sound of the dice rolling (something I’m dearly missing in real life). There are some less than perfectly easy to follow game option screens, but if you have any issues just take a quick look at the rules link listed above. I’m comfortable in saying that if you know Talisman already their digital version will likely make you very happy.
What If You’re New to Talisman?
You can have multiple expansion boards at once. I’m glad I don’t have to put all this away.
This is where it stumbles a bit. To be fair, Talisman is a somewhat complicated game, and a very long one to boot. If you know the game and can hit the ground running, I see no reason you won’t love this version, unless the smoothed out rules are a problem for you. If, like me, this was your first introduction to Talisman, the onboarding process is a bit tough. Hours into playing this game I still get pop-ups explaining game elements. It teaches you as you go, but there are so many elements, expansions, and options, that I really wish it had just set me up with a few starter games that introduced all of this in a more orderly manner. Waiting for me to stumble upon a feature just makes things a bit confusing, very drawn out, and can be discouraging for new players.
What Did I Like?
There are definitely some…interesting…achievements listed here.
It’s taken a while to get up to speed, but I’ve become a fan. The variety of characters to choose from (all aligned either good, neutral, or evil and featuring differing abilities) is awesome. I especially enjoy playing the leprechaun, since it gives you gold every time you visit a forest. I also prefer playing with the respawn feature turned off, since these games often go on for hours. At least if I’m doing so badly that I die, I won’t respawn and keep failing.
I enjoyed the leveling up you do overall. You advance in areas according to how you did during the individual games you’ve played, and when you go up a level you get to choose a rune card. Rune cards give you abilities, and each player chooses one at the start of gameplay from the runes you’ve collected. Abilities include an extra life at start of play, or only being a toad for two turns instead of three.
Did I Forget to Mention You Will Be Turned Into a Toad?
I’m a toad. Booooo.
You will. If you’re me, it will be a lot. When you get turned into a toad, you lose all your items on the space you were turned, and your strength and craft stats are temporarily set to 1. You can also only move one space, and this goes on for three turns. Clearly, this is a huge disadvantage. You will get your strength and craft stats back at the end of being a toad, but you’ll have to go fetch your items from the space you dropped them on. If someone else hasn’t gotten to them first…
However, it will also cause great hilarity to anyone around you when you yell “Dang it! I’m a toad AGAIN!”
The online multiplayer is divided by continent. It appears that the European server is the most active, however that isn’t saying much. There were sometimes games to join, but it’s far from the most active digital board game I’ve ever played. Often when I looked there were no games running at all. However, the Switch version does have cross-platform play with iOS, Android, and Steam versions, as well as private game options. That’s a major plus if you’re looking for games to play with friends while you’re all chilling at home. Keep in mind that it may not be the greatest choice if you want to play against strangers due to the limited online activity.
I briefly tried online play (I was decidedly outmatched in most games I saw). It appears to function just as smoothly as regular play. The chat box is a bit on the small side, at least on the Switch Lite, but it wasn’t bad overall.
Talisman: Digital Edition also has local multiplayer options. I wasn’t able to test these, but I would expect them to be equally as good as the rest of the game.
Playing While Watching TV?
If you’re playing the AI, it saves automatically whenever you shut it down and you can have multiple games going at once, if you like. If you’re playing multiplayer, you can also save and pick up where you left off since it will just replace the other players with AIs. Due to this feature, as well as the length of the game, this is another excellent choice for TV binge watches if you feel like gaming as well.
What a “cool” sword.
This game grew on me. I still don’t fully understand everything, particularly with the expansions, but that just means there’s plenty to keep me interested over the long term. This is another game that I’ll keep picking up over the coming weeks and months to keep me busy while we continue spending time at home.
Final Verdict: I like it!