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Servillo

Servillo and Co. delve into the Highland!

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It's that time again!

To tell everyone how cute I am?

To put cucumbers in our ears?

No, it's time to play this week's game of Talisman. And for that we turn to...

aTS5uQY.jpg

A table that's just barely big enough to fit the corner expansions. I'm going to need to find a side table for the cards here soon enough.

I had the Valkyrie, Roommate A had the Gypsy, and Roommate B took the Monk. We played with Cataclysm, Dungeon, Highland, and The Reaper. This was, by far, one of our most fun and interesting games of Talisman yet. The Gypsy got a huge lead with the Remnant cards, being able to ignore Events that cost RB and myself a turn or the inability to use spells, and a few well-timed casts of her own to gain some stats. RB took the Monk into the Highland and almost immediately got hit with two Lodestones in a row, as well as losing several Life along the way. I spent a good chunk of the early game in the Outer Region, hunting down Remnants and gaining a couple of nice items. I quickly realized that with the Cataclysm board the Valkyrie's ability to visit the Graveyard isn't nearly as powerful (although it didn't help that we were all Good, and so they avoided it and I wasn't about to take the time to circle around to visit it just to get Denizens to myself), while RB found herself quickly annoyed by the inability to use Weapons or Armor. We also just picked an ending and went with Hand of Doom because it sounded interesting.

Eventually I managed to make my way through the Highland, getting all the way through and picking up the Spell Blade (which I used judiciously), Dreadwing, and got a Fate Stealer immediately after I left (which I also used judiciously). The Gypsy attempted several times to make her way to the Highland, but cards somehow kept sending her back around the Dungeon, which after gaining some stats she figured she might as well go into and try. She made it all the way through, but somehow lost to the Lord of Darkness (which really upset her), by which point she decided to gun for the Highland again, as she got the Ageless Talisman along the way and decided to use it to shoot for the Portal of Power. I had gone for the Dungeon soon after and managed to pick up the Elixer of Life, which was never used (we chose randomly), and teleported to the Temple. The Monk somehow, after being loaded down and hanging on at one life, not only survived the Highland after getting the Prospecter (and having to spend several turns powering up as it was guarded by a Craft 9 combo of creatures), beat the Eagle King, and was subsequently rewarded with a weapon she couldn't use. RB then gunned for the Dungeon.

The best part was that RB got the Orb of Time at one point, using it to speed her way through the Dungeon. It then passed to me, who used it to finish the Dungeon to get my item and get to the Temple, and then aim for the Portal of Power as I had picked up a Talisman from the Adventure Deck. RA then got it, finished up the Highland, and ported to the Portal of Power just two turns behind me. I make it to the Crown, roll a 1 and immediately use Fate so we all don't lose, and proceeded to lose one life. RA moves into the Valley of Fire, one step behind me. RB absolutely slaughtered the Lord of Darkness and immediately got sent to the Crown of Command despite never seeing a Talisman the whole game, and then immediately lost a life herself. I roll a 5 and kill RB's Monk dead as a doornail. And then RA moves to the crown and rolls a 6, winning the game.

As I said, this was hands down the best game of Talisman yet. The early game wasn't at all a slog, with the Remnant cards giving everyone a good boost, The Highland yielding some good rewards, and the Adventure Deck not absolutely murderizing all of us. The Gypsy used her abilities to full effect, getting a lot of good spells that she kept using. The Monk made a massive comeback, from no items and one life to nearly winning the game herself. And the Valkyrie was just plain powerful, with a slew of good weapons and items, Followers that made her Strength absolutely enormous, and just enough spells to make things interesting. I think the only problem was the lack of taking advantage of the Denizens, and of course absolutely no need to visit the Warlock yet again. I'm considering yanking the Talismans out of the Adventure Decks just to force us to go there, or at least rely on running into an NPC or other space that might give us one.

Next up will be The City and potentially the Nether Realm, as I just ordered those of of ebay.

As usual, a couple of questions. For some reason we thought that using the Gaunlet of Might (Magic Object, Add 2 to your Strength in Battle) and a Weapon couldn't be done, and ruled so in an earlier game and therefore this one. I'm thinking we were wrong and probably just misread something, but I just want to check and make sure.

We ran into two Treasure Maps in the game, both doing the same thing. However, one was a Trinket (Cataclysm), the other wasn't (Highland). It kind of sucks to have to treat the Highland one as a regular object, but without knowing what items got turned into Trinkets later, it seems kind of difficult to keep track of without exhaustively going through the deck to find out. Any thoughts on this one?

What are people's experiences playing with the corner boards and the Cataclysm board? A lot of cards that rely on specific NPC's (namely thinking The Highland gems) seem a lot less useful or more dangerous (The Hag) thanks to having to rely on a good Denizen draw. And yet with at least Highland and Cataclysm's Remnants, plus the plethora of good cards in The Dungeon, it doesn't feel like the Denizens really get to make all that much of a difference. Much as I feared, with The Highland and Dungeon, there just doesn't seem to be as much reason to be on the main board unless you're running for the Crown, and maybe early on hunting down Remnants. Is there any way to really angle towards a focus on the main board without cutting out playing with the corners?

As always, I hope you enjoyed my chronicles!

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On 3/19/2017 at 11:17 PM, Servillo said:

What are people's experiences playing with the corner boards and the Cataclysm board? A lot of cards that rely on specific NPC's (namely thinking The Highland gems) seem a lot less useful or more dangerous (The Hag) thanks to having to rely on a good Denizen draw. And yet with at least Highland and Cataclysm's Remnants, plus the plethora of good cards in The Dungeon, it doesn't feel like the Denizens really get to make all that much of a difference. Much as I feared, with The Highland and Dungeon, there just doesn't seem to be as much reason to be on the main board unless you're running for the Crown, and maybe early on hunting down Remnants. Is there any way to really angle towards a focus on the main board without cutting out playing with the corners?

My experience has been that when the corners are in play the main board largely gets ignored.  I tried a house rule that delayed players' abilities to enter into the corners, but I find house rules to be cumbersome.  However, since we introduced the Cataclysm board we have seen more play in the main area.

What has seemed to work best in this regard is actually to run two games simultaneously.  Click on the link for details, if you're interested.  When we've done this it has caused players to want to spend more time in the main game board, though they still spend a significant amount of time in the corners.

One other tactic that seemed to help was to invoke the "Fight or Flight" alternate rule from the Dungeon expansion, except to apply it to all corner regions.  That is, you may only move forward.  If, at any time, you choose to move backwards, you most go back at least to the corner entrance before proceeding forward again.  This caused players to spend less time bouncing back and forth within a single corner expansion, and it seemed to work well.

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11 hours ago, JediKnightAmoeba said:

Move the game to the floor and use the table for the character cards, cards and items.  :-)

Unfortunately, bad plan. We've got three cats and two dogs. I've already lost a Life cone to a dog picking up a dropped one, and I'd rather not risk losing anything else. This table already makes me a bit more nervous thanks to it being so low to the ground.

7 hours ago, Osbo25 said:

My experience has been that when the corners are in play the main board largely gets ignored.  I tried a house rule that delayed players' abilities to enter into the corners, but I find house rules to be cumbersome.  However, since we introduced the Cataclysm board we have seen more play in the main area.

What has seemed to work best in this regard is actually to run two games simultaneously.  Click on the link for details, if you're interested.  When we've done this it has caused players to want to spend more time in the main game board, though they still spend a significant amount of time in the corners.

One other tactic that seemed to help was to invoke the "Fight or Flight" alternate rule from the Dungeon expansion, except to apply it to all corner regions.  That is, you may only move forward.  If, at any time, you choose to move backwards, you most go back at least to the corner entrance before proceeding forward again.  This caused players to spend less time bouncing back and forth within a single corner expansion, and it seemed to work well.

I'll definitely start considering that last rule, and I'll bring it up for our next game. We'll probably just try it to see if it works, and if we like it, we'll keep it. It also means we have to take the bad lumps along the way, rather than enjoying the safety of drawing cards over a very bad space. I really wish I had the time and space for that dual board game, but even with three players this game takes a while. Adding another board would be a bit much for us too; we already rarely encounter each other on the board as it is, and I think the Reaper hit someone just once in our last game. I'm considering altering his movement, either giving him two dice or letting the player move him any number of spaces on a die roll, just something to bring it into play more.

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On 3/21/2017 at 9:23 AM, Servillo said:

I think the Reaper hit someone just once in our last game. I'm considering altering his movement, either giving him two dice or letting the player move him any number of spaces on a die roll, just something to bring it into play more.

One very minor house rule that we play with is that if you land on the Reaper/Werewolf/Harbinger then you have to encounter them before encountering the space.  It adds to the dilemma of having to choose between encountering them or encountering a space that you don't want to encounter, plus it increases the number of interactions with those NPCs.  (It also makes up for the times when we forget to move them.)

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Thanks for the report.
Glad to hear you had even more fun than before.

 

So, back to the main board discussion.

I'd honestly say, it is all about how much you are willing to change your play style
from game to game.

A few days ago, we started a new game with a mix of old and new players (again).
We have played about 3-4 hours now, with 6 players.

Most time for everyone was spent on the main board,
even though a Lich (Craft 10), a Demon (Craft 7)
and a few dangerous places popped up.

[I'd say about 1/3 of the cards drawn were Denizen cards.]

We've had two people go for a quick trip to the city and 1 player
being forced into the Dungeon, but running out as fast as possible.

 

---


I suggested it before, after your first session report -
try to "stack" your next 100 basic adventure cards (or 70 or so) you are planning
on using before playing.


To do so:

Sort what you have (all basic adventure cards) into piles (card types) and use bits and parts of every card type
to create stacks that have a good balance in cards types and well as Enemy
Strength and Craft, then give that first stack you want to use
a good and long shuffle.

That's what I did for our last four games.
You can still get unlucky with your draws, of course, like always,
but it reduces the possibility of getting too much of anything at once.

 

Concerning Items with the same name but different text:

None of these items were ever changed and/or had their text upgraded/modified.
[They were made by different designers.]

They are all different items. Just treat them according to what their text says.


Gauntlet of Might:

When you are unsure if the text on a card is correct, try looking at it on the wiki.

http://www.talismanwiki.com/Gauntlet_of_Might


The Gauntlet is no weapon, therefor, you can use a weapon and the Gauntlet at the same time.

(If you think that makes it too powerful, you can leave it house ruled, of course.)

 

Cataclysm Board and specific "Characters" that are harder to find than on the main board:

We have only played 4 games like this so far, I can confirm that some negative followers
are harder to get rid of, however, I do not think that cycling through the Denizen Deck
a bit is that hard if you are looking for one in particular.

Actually, this gives you more reason to stay on the main bard, does it not?

Highland gems sure are harder to turn in, but like you saw in your session,
there are multiple Prospectors in that deck, so it is not like the Alchemist
is your only out, apart from other random draws.


If you really need more "incentive" to go round the main board, I'm afraid you'll
have to come up with some house ruled random special events of something else
to spice things up or use an Alt. Ending that helps with that maybe.


[Don't know if I ever wrote that here too, but I came up with an idea
to have the Nether Deck from the Nether Realm expansion in play
without having to use one of the Alt. Endings you usually need.

Why am I mentioning this? - Because my change takes place on the main board.
Of course, there is a lot of risk associated with them, too, so if your players
don't like taking risks that much, it might not be for you.

I'll give you the details, if you want.]

 

One thing, concerning the Monk:

I hope the player did not forget that the Monk can use weapons or armor in psychic combat.
(Or that he can at least carry weapons or armor for battle with him without using them for that matter.)


[Fun fact last: I removed the Talisman cards from the regular adventure deck after
we played our first game with the Highland expansion back in the days.]


---


I second the Reaper and Werewolf adjustment, we've played like this for a while and it really adds to the game.

 

Edited by Lorinor

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I definitely think a part of the playstyle is us still finding the corner expansions to feel new and exciting, and wanting to explore them more. Once we've done each corner at least once, we'll probably shift a little more inward as the allure begins to wear off, and we decide to take individual paths to the Crown. I guess it really doesn't help that there are only three of us, and so it feels like even if we're clustered in the same region we're all fairly safe from each other, and only have the region itself to worry about. And some if it is just the lack of anything truly interesting on the main board compared to the corner regions. The draw of powerful relics or treasures, coupled with more even difficulty (Highland is fairly easy, Dungeon is harder) make the corners so much more appealing than the main board where I can either run into that Strength 1 Wild Boar or lose a life to a Craft 10 Demon, along with any other completely random events and the risk of not finding anything solidly good.

I didn't realize the distinction was made between battle and psychic combat, nor obviously did my roommate. I'll be honest, that seems a bit of an odd distinction, and one that seems more to me to say that the <I>exact</I> wording is important as opposed to the spirit of the rule. I can see why it would be that way for the Monk (and suddenly makes me realize we've been playing with Armour cards wrong), and maybe it's time I did a serious re-read of the rulebook. I also realized based on a video of the digital edition I watched that we've been playing with Fate wrong too, using it after both character and enemy have rolled, but I may not bother with that one because we like being able to decide if using a Fate is even worth the cost on a low roll, as opposed to risking it being wasted because we don't know yet if the enemy is going to roll a six and take a life no matter what.

I'm definitely going to suggest the house rule for the Reaper, Werewolf, and Harbinger (whenever we play with the latter two), and I may finally bit the bullet and pull the Talisman cards from the regular decks, forcing us to use Warlock Quests. I may keep the cards like the Hermit, I may not, but I've been considering that for a while now, and I think it would be a very beneficial change.

So for your reorganization, what do you consider a good balance of cards? With only three players we typically only go through a few dozen Adventure cards in any given game, so that might limit how much I'd be able to stack things for a more even experience. And when you add in additional expansions, do you mix those in with your initial stack, or distribute them more evenly in the entire deck? I've finally figured that at the very least if I add a small box other than the Reaper I'll always keep them towards the top so we can actually experience the additional cards rather than dilute them through the entire Adventure Deck, but that'll also depend on whether the cards from Frostmarch and Sacred Pool stay in the deck or not. I think I'm also worried about having to go through too much setup/teardown, having to rearrange and reshuffle cards constantly as opposed to leaving things mixed in, but that's probably just laziness.

Thanks for all the feedback and suggestions! Next up will be The City, probably with the regular board and The Highland in the mix. Potentially considering either The Harbinger or Nether Realm considering how powerful those City cards are, but we'll see. I'm a bit iffy on the Nether Realm now that I have it, as a lot of the cards seem to be purely based on the luck of what you roll as opposed to actually being able to beat it. I'd be a bit miffed dying to something because I rolled a 5 for my attack roll and it got a 6, even if I beat it otherwise.

Speaking of, does anyone here play with any houserules on when a character dies? We really don't like a character having to start from square one when they die, because if it happens during the middle of the game they're basically out anyway. I know there needs to be some penalty for dying, but losing absolutely everything seems rather harsh. At this point I'm thinking at least letting them keep Strength and Craft points, while forcing them to lose Objects, Followers and Gold on the space where they died. It doesn't start them completely over, but it does make for an uphill battle (and if they died outside of combat with another character, a race to get all that sweet loot).

Edited by Servillo

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1 hour ago, Servillo said:

1. I may not bother with that one because we like being able to decide if using a Fate is even worth the cost on a low roll, as opposed to risking it being wasted because we don't know yet if the enemy is going to roll a six and take a life no matter what.

2. I'm definitely going to suggest the house rule for the Reaper, Werewolf, and Harbinger (whenever we play with the latter two), and I may finally bit the bullet and pull the Talisman cards from the regular decks, forcing us to use Warlock Quests. I may keep the cards like the Hermit, I may not, but I've been considering that for a while now, and I think it would be a very beneficial change.

3. So for your reorganization, what do you consider a good balance of cards? With only three players we typically only go through a few dozen Adventure cards in any given game, so that might limit how much I'd be able to stack things for a more even experience.

4. And when you add in additional expansions, do you mix those in with your initial stack, or distribute them more evenly in the entire deck?

5. Speaking of, does anyone here play with any houserules on when a character dies? We really don't like a character having to start from square one when they die, because if it happens during the middle of the game they're basically out anyway. I know there needs to be some penalty for dying, but losing absolutely everything seems rather harsh. 

1. That's how I play too, we reroll only after the enemy made his roll.

2. We have houserules all NPC characters heavily. We also removed all talismans from decks, kept the hermit thou.

3. I have a table on what should be in the adventure deck for it to work best. %s of card types, power of enemies, etc. I can't tell you right now because I'm not home. What I can tell you is we removed a lot of cards (over 100) from the adventure deck and added a ton of new ones, mostly enemies.

4. I play with everything permanently in so I can set up the game quickly.

5. Yes. I added this rule:

A character that joins the game after start of the game, begins with a number of Strength counters equal to the number of Strenght counters on another character who has the least amount of them, and with a number of Craft counters determined the same way.

 

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1 hour ago, Bludgeon said:

1. That's how I play too, we reroll only after the enemy made his roll.

2. We have houserules all NPC characters heavily. We also removed all talismans from decks, kept the hermit thou.

3. I have a table on what should be in the adventure deck for it to work best. %s of card types, power of enemies, etc. I can't tell you right now because I'm not home. What I can tell you is we removed a lot of cards (over 100) from the adventure deck and added a ton of new ones, mostly enemies.

4. I play with everything permanently in so I can set up the game quickly.

5. Yes. I added this rule:

A character that joins the game after start of the game, begins with a number of Strength counters equal to the number of Strenght counters on another character who has the least amount of them, and with a number of Craft counters determined the same way.

 

3 and 4 are the biggest points I have questions about. Definitely eager to see that table you've got; custom building and adventure deck sounds a bit more interesting for sure. For your fourth point, how do you keep things from either being too diluted (Firelands cards not having much impact as an example), or when you don't want to play with a particular expansion? Again to use the Firelands as an example, will you go through and pull the cards out, or do you just ignore any card that comes up and have a person draw another one?

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I have this thing I call challenge system. Things like Dragons, Harbinger, Reaper, Firelands, Werewolf, Nether, and others are not in the game by default. There's a deck of challenge cards that can make those things come into play for some time, but never two at once (let alone all of them).

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You know, I'm suddenly realizing my biggest sticking point is Firelands. Frostmarch and Sacred Pool (I assume) are easy enough to leave in the deck. Blood Moon I imagine could be as well, since it's just more Halloween themed with the challenge being the Werewolf. And Harbinger, Dragon, and Nether Realm all keep their decks separate. It's Firelands that has to be shuffled into the main Adventure deck, either getting dilute overtime by keeping it shuffled in (and always playing with it) or having to fish the cards out after every game. And the only other expansions with Adventure cards have so few that I can easily handle either digging them out or just leaving them in and ignoring them when they pop up.

But maybe making custom Adventure decks like you do for each game would work better. I'd at least like to try it, assuming I can still sneak a peek at those tables you mentioned that give a good breakdown of what to put in.

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