Saturday, October 27, 2007

Riding in Coach

At the 1st annual "I went to Essen but didn't bother to bring my two favorite acquisitions" day, we opened with an 8 player game of Die Kustchfahr zur Teufeslburg (which I wanted to try). It took us a few rounds to get a feel for the game, but I'm cautiously optimistic. Dennis complaint that if you get stuck with a poor item early (or people ganging up against you 'just because') then you are in for a long, boring game, seems reasonable.

However, I think that most of the random play was just people getting used to the game. And once everyone knows the game then I think we'll trim some time off the game (although the full game adds a few more cards). And finally, I don't think anyone who brings Talisman should complain about random hosage.

Anyway, I'll be putting this game into the rotation. This would also make an interesting PBEM (moderated) game. It would remove the memory element, and all the illicit communication. For those who didn't play, this review should bring you up to speed.

For those who did play, the items that they suggest you skip in the first game:
  • "Sextant" -- After you trade this, pick a direction (clockwise or widdershins) and everyone must pass an object (their choice) in that direction.
  • "Tome" -- If you trade the Tome, you and your trading partner switch occupations. Used occupations (once/game) are reset!
  • "Coat" -- When you trade the coat you get a new occupation from the unused stack (your choice!)
  • "The Broken Mirror" -- The mirror must be accepted in trade, and the other traded card doesn't take effect.
  • "The Coat of Armor of the Loge" -- If you have this item and any combination of 3 keys/goblets, you can proclaim a solo victory!
For such a small game (fits in a card box), I find myself thinking about this...

I summarized the games I played on my blog.

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At 10:10 PM, October 27, 2007, Blogger Carlos said...

I really enjoyed this game, but I have to say that it would take me at least two games to really know what I am doing. When we played today, I really did not even try to formulate a strategy until about halfway through - and then my strategy was horrible!

But the game is cleaver and fun. I think that to be an effective player that one needs to be very familiar with the mechanics (they are simple) and the strategy (different items and abilities of the professions). Once you do this you can really go to town with trying to determine everyones motives during the game. I would play this one again.

At 10:25 PM, October 27, 2007, Blogger Ben said...

Guilty. No excuses. I'll bring both next time, but hopefully being a space trucker and copulating with elk provided mild diversion. Duel in the Dark deserves a comfortable spot in my collection. Anyone looking for a fun, light wargame should give it a try.

At 12:04 AM, October 28, 2007, Blogger Dennis Ugolini said...

So I started the game with a key as a blue team member (winning condition -- 3 keys). I figured I'd get in a fight, hopefully tie, and get another object that way. But then I lost my first three fights and that's all she wrote.

I suppose I could've tried to trade my key, and tried to hit my 38% shot at finding a teammate. But would I learn anything? Would a red team member refuse the key?

When you deduct my overly-long rules explanation, Talisman went 2:25, which is about 0:25 too long. I wanted to play once without any speed-up rules, since I hadn't played in a long time. In the future I would definitely go for a Command spell that hits more often, and would consider giving players a bonus Strength or Craft to start with. That would lessen the almost impossible screwage that Steve suffered.

At 12:30 AM, October 28, 2007, Blogger Chris said...


I thought quite a bit about strategy in this game after it was over. Particularly, you need ways to communicate, or more specifically, "send information" to certain people in the game. I assume that always means people you know or are almost certain are your teammates--giving valuable information to people on the opposing team clearly is counterproductive for you and your teammates. There were several times I found out that a person was a Key Collector (meaning they were on my team), and I wanted to say "Me too! Me too! We're friends!"

Now I suppose you could also send "false information" to someone on the opposite team, but that implies another order of thinking, namely that someone understands your unspoken messages (BIG assumption) and that they trust you enough to buy into that message (also a big assumption). The other danger is that you could confuse someone on your OWN team by acting counterintuitively to try to give false information to someone on the other team. Overall, I don't see this "spreading misinformation" being a worthwhile thing to attempt, but I'd be interested to hear someone else's opinion on this.

So I started thinking about how to send those messages. One way I figured was to always support attackers or defenders that were on my team, and abstain when there were two people of the same team in combat (either on my team or the opposite team), with the hope that someone would say, "Ah, Chris looked at my association, so he knows which team I'm on, and he keeps defending me when I'm attacked. Maybe he's doing that because he knows he's on my team. Otherwise, why would he do that?"
(Now, that's not to say that I always did that--I didn't, at least not until the end of the game--but I just bring it up because it's a possible way to send information.)

The big question I had, though, revolves around my items. I was a KEY collector. I had a CUP in my possession. What use is that? Well, one benefit is that I obviously keep it out of the hands of the opposite team as long as I don't trade it away (yes, I could lose it in combat or as a result of other weird item powers).

So for me to trade it, I'd have to have a compelling reason to do so. I'm at a loss as to what that reason would be. Assume, as a KEY collector, that I will not send a CUP to one of the CUP collectors (because I can't compel them to trade me anything worth that victory item back). If I send it to someone who is on my team but doesn't know my association, what message am I sending? Am I saying "Here, I'm giving you this CUP because I trust you SO much...therefore I must be on your team?" Am I saying, "Here's an item that's useless to me and it's useless to you, too--enjoy?" Am I saying, "I'm a cup collector and I think you are, too! Look at this victory item we're sharing amongst ourselves?"

In short, I had a difficult time figuring out ways to let my teammates know what association I have. Although I can reveal my association to people on my team by losing a combat to them, I can't intentionally throw a combat, because I'm forced to defend myself. I have no choice in the matter (other than not adding in items or career benefits to help myself out).

Anyway, if people have some thoughts on good ways to send messages that can be interpreted reasonably consistently by teammates but not by opponents, let me know. I'm not really sure where to start.

That is all.

At 12:48 AM, October 28, 2007, Blogger Chris said...

I'm torn on Talisman. 10 years ago, I would have loved it. I still have 2nd ed + expansions in my garage for nostalgia reasons (which I've mentioned in this blog before) and I know I'm never going to play it. I think my patience for these games, though, has diminished as I've gotten older. That makes me sad. I want to love it.

It is really well produced. I'm "meh" on the markers for craft, strength, life, etc. They're a little strange, maybe because they don't seem to fit the artistic style of the rest of the game, maybe because it takes a fair amount of squinting to figure out what my total value is of a given trait at any time (they're tiny). Otherwise, the game is beautiful--they really did a good job on production.

I think I agree with Dennis, in that I think I'd like the game more if it were just a BIT shorter. Still, we did have what I thought was close to the right number of players--more and the game will drag with downtime, less and there won't be as much interaction between players. And, because the game is pretty much all about theme, the game needs to be at least SOME requisite length to get a feel for that theme during the game.

Overall, I enjoyed it though, and I'd play again at some point if it hit the table.

Ok, THAT is all.

At 1:29 AM, October 28, 2007, Blogger Michael said...

I really liked the fart game. Jon was the traitor (shocking).

The elk game was decentish and I heartily agree with the fact that it beats the snot out of Shear Panic.

The Space Truckers thing was fun. I asterisked you guys pretty hardcore (go me). And what are the odds that it was this game, not the copulating elk game that inspired all the naughty girl comments.

Chris, Steve, Kirk and myself also made an appearance at the "other" group.

I think they enjoyed it? Steve and Kirk bent the rest of us over at Time's Up which is clearly not as good as Celebrities but pretty good.

We played a little Coloretto, some Cranium and I played some Guillotine. Pretty decent and it certainly beats the alternative of watching the Rockies get slaughtered. Also, Dennis or whoever in this blog has contact with Kirk. I wanted to link him to a couple of posts on here that came up in a discussion we had tonight.

link 1
link 2

Also I once again attempted and feel confident that I possibly may have recruited someone to come on Mondays. His name is Zhi.

At 10:16 AM, October 28, 2007, Blogger Brian said...


I think part of the strategy is knowing when people are constrained. Suppose you start the game (no information) and have the other item (Key if you need Goblet, or vice versa). You could just attack someone.

No player has any reason to help or hurt you (unless they just think you win too often), so you'll probably get another item. (With new players, who knows?). Even if you lose, you have a decent shot of your 'enemy' being your partner.

On the other hand, you could just offer someone a trade. They know that you only have a single item, so they won't read too much in it. On the other hand, they may be loath to trade their item away (unless it's a bag or Monocle).

Here are some tips on the official game website.

At 4:42 PM, October 28, 2007, Blogger Schifani said...

I liked K-Fart. Jon sabotaged us as usual.

Talisman was ok. I should figure out how to win a combat. But we might have better games in the same genre, so I don't know how often it will be greeted with enthusiasm.

The other group was fun, though definitely a different atmosphere. Kirk is a good guy to play with or against, though somehow we did talk a little about airplanes. I hate airplanes.

Dennis, was Kirk involved in Melee from The Fantasy Trip? I loved that game, and played many hours using Airfix Romans vs. Gauls.

At 10:56 PM, October 28, 2007, Blogger Ben said...

I used to have tons of fun with Airfix figs. While cleaning out my closet today, I just found some WW2 boxes of German Paratroopers, US Marines, and American Airborne, all 1:72.

I too liked Kootch-ride to the Devil's Casa, though it vaguely reminds me of an exercise you might do at a management skills seminar.

Dennis: If you haven't already, you might want to do an exact inventory of your Talisman components. There's numerous reports on BGG regarding copies missing things, and even more distrubingly, Games Workshop refusing to provide the missing parts. Apparently Thought Hammer has promised to try to intervene for its customers or somehow make them whole.

At 1:50 PM, October 29, 2007, Blogger Dennis Ugolini said...

Steve: Kirk and his buddies have played Fantasy Trip since high school, long before I knew them. For a while he was publishing and selling "generic" adventure books that were designed around the TFT ruleset; not sure if he's still doing that.

Ben: Checked when it arrived. Somehow I got an *extra* Teleport spell. Everything else was normal.

At 3:48 PM, October 29, 2007, Blogger Chris said...

Somewhere, someone is bemoaning that their Talisman has everything EXCEPT one teleport spell.

I just wonder how this publisher's quality control works. I imagine it's some guy who tilts his head slightly back, looks down his nose, glances at the box full of components right before the top goes on, and says, "Yeppppp...looks good to me. Seal 'er up!"
Scary. The fact that they tell their customers to contact the RETAILERS for replacement parts is even scarier. Needless to say, I won't be buying any of THEIR games.

At 8:07 PM, October 29, 2007, Blogger Dennis Ugolini said...

As of today, Black Industries is now supplying replacement parts. I'm a huge fan of Games Workshop *despite* their customer service, so it's nice to see them come around on this issue.

At 11:27 PM, October 29, 2007, Blogger Chris said...

I also saw that BL has put a FAQ up. After looking at it, I think the FAQ should be subtitled, "In which many of the rules were completely changed."

Wow. I mean, these things aren't typos. They're fundamental changes to the cards and board, almost like the game was playtested and balanced after release. Someone needs to tell them that board games are not quite the same as computer game patches, where you issue the patch and everything is cosmetically smoothed over. They might as well have made some of the cards read "See the rules sheet."

For instance, the Prophetess and Orb of Knowledge have been changed to allow you to look at one encounter card and discard it if you don't like it, after which you MUST encounter the second. I think that's a better, less broken rule, but it's a pretty fundamental change that should have been caught. The Psionic Blast, which I used at the end of the game, no longer allows you to add craft from items or followers to your strength.

The funniest one to me was the gambling one: if you gamble and lose but you don't have any gold, you lose a life instead. Wow! It's like you get beat up for not being able to cover your gambling debts! How funny.


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