noiseredux vs.

Posted on Mar 23rd 2015 at 12:00:00 AM by (noiseredux)
Posted under PC

In the past year I've put a lot of time and money into upgrading my PC so that it can play the newest "hotness." I've upgraded my motherboard and CPU to make overclocking available. I've upgraded my GPU so that the latest, graphically intensive games are no sweat. I've upgraded my RAM and my SSD so that everything moves along quicker. And yet, the game I've spent the most time with in 2015 so far is a digital remake of a board game. In fact, while recently going through my Steam wishlist, I realized that the game I was most excited about was actually an expansion to Talisman: Digital Edition. Sure, bigger titles have been released like Evolve and Elder Scrolls Online, but I really just wanted to add another little piece of the board to Talisman.

So here's the thing, I've never been a huge board game fan. I mean, I enjoy a good board game. And in my youth I did in fact spend time playing Dungeons & Dragons with friends, as well as the TSR Marvel game, after first cutting my teeth on The New Dungeon. So I'm not a stranger to board games by any means. It's just that in my adult life, I find a lot less time for them. For one thing, it's not always easy to get a group together to play. And then there's the time that goes into setting the game up, and teaching everyone how to play. But it had not previously occurred to me how easy it would be to launch a digital board game, click "new game," and have fun playing against three AI opponents.

I discovered Talisman totally by accident. I have a group of guys I play online games with once a week, and we try to switch up genres constantly. Two of my buddies had been into Talisman since it came out in 2014 and suggested we do that one. "A board game? Really?" was my reaction and then they pointed out that I already owned it. I looked at my Steam library, and sure enough, I had forgotten I was gifted a copy during the holidays. I consider myself open-minded to trying new gaming experiences, so I installed it and we gave it a go. I was immediately addicted. The ability to play online with three friends made it great. Since they were already familiar with the game, they were able to walk me through it as we played. Even though we were clicking on a dice icon to roll, and looking at digital cards, the human interaction made it feel truly like we were sitting around a table playing together.

I must go off on a tangent here and tell a great (to them) story that came from that gaming session. I was the only one who was unfamiliar with the game that night. And it went on for three hours. I was actually doing quite well, and had landed very close to the end of the game. I had just finished my move, and figured it would be a good time to run to the bathroom. It's located just outside my game room, and I knew that the three of them still had to make their moves. I was back at my desk in about 3 minutes and was looking at a message that said, "You took to long." If you don't do anything for 30 seconds while it's your turn, the AI takes over and makes your move for you. So there I was, sitting helpless, watching as the computer beat the game for me. It was an infuriating way to end the game. Especially since it resulted in nothing but laughter from them.

Talisman really does everything right in moving a board game to the digital realm. The aforementioned multiplayer is a must, but so is the option to substitute in AI-controlled characters. There are many options to help determine how you want to play and tweak rules each session. Do you want a short or long timer? What do you want the end-game to be? Can players use Runestones that they've acquired from previous games or is everyone on level playing field? Maybe there's only one Talisman card in the entire deck - a card that is needed to get to the end of the board - so everyone must fight over it? Are players forced to play a random character (like in the original board game), or maybe they can choose from 3 random cards, or even just pick who they want? In short, the game allows you to make it as casual or as hardcore as you and your company wish. The ongoing DLC - board expansions, characters, decks of cards, etc - just makes sense. You can keep the base game or expand it as you desire. And if one person has any of these expansions, they're available to everyone they are playing with, since it's his board and you're playing it on his table.

Looking around the internet, it seems like tabletop games on PC are on the rise. If you're not aware of Tabletop Simulator, it's fascinating. The game is currently in Early Access on Steam, but already has thousands of mods available for it. The idea is simple: they give you a table, an online multi-player server, and the tools to build your own game. As such, thousands of modders have already taken to re-imagining their favorite board or card games in this environment. I've taken a look through the mod listings, and already found that old favorite The New Dungeon is available. If this is what happens in the beta, it's going to be interesting to see what the game looks like when it's officially released as a finished product.

Likewise, CD Projekt Red has moved into the tabletop scene as well, recently delivering The Witcher Adventure Game. As funny as it sounds, I'm far more interested in delving into this one than the long anticipated Witcher III. In fact, I hope more publishers take aim at digital board games. Can you imagine XCOM: The Board Game: The Video Game? I sure can.

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Seem like an interesting game, so thanks for the review. The problem that I have encountered in my very limited experience with downloadable board/card games, especially those with campaigns like Magic, is that they become a money pit for upgrades that are necessary to surpass a certain level of the campaign and move on (at least a little further). I like the multiplayer facet of this game and the fact that everyone can play the expansion as long as one person owns it.
Your opening paragraph really made me laugh, noise.  I too spent some money getting a flash-bang PC rig, then immediately starting playing seven year-old games.  Amazing.

Up until now I would have balked at the though of a digital board game, but after reading your article I realize I find the idea of a digital board game titillating, if anything because you don't have to spend all that time setting up the game.  And Tabletop Simulator!  I seem to remember that game being on sale recently and completely passing it by, and now when I look at the amazing games on the Steam Workshop page I want to thump the table in disgust.  Fallout Risk?  Pathfinder?  HeroQuest!?! 
"It was an infuriating way to end the game. Especially since it resulted in nothing but laughter from them. "
Just because you lost, dont take it out on us.

Singlebanana - Many digital boardgames (not ccgs) are one time investments.  Some handle DLC very well, like Talisman only requiring one person to own it and everyone gets access, some do it via micro transactions and are limited per player - Ascension.  But when you compare the cost to buy all the digital content, vs buying the base game retail, a lightbulb may go off. 

Since it is the game of the day, lets take Talisman for example.  Talisman and and the season pass will run you $80 right now.  Sure, thats a ton of money for a digital boardgame, but Talisman the boardgame is $40 if bought online and $60 at most FLGS.  Add in one big expansion, say Dungeon, and you are at $80, add in the reaper, $100, Highlands, $140, etc.  Or lets take a look at Ascension, the Dominion like game now on Steam.  It is $50 to get it all on Steam, or $50 to get the base set on retail. 

Bombatomba, I have played talisman physically maybe a dozen times in my life, I have played the digital version maybe 200 hours between my phone and pc.  We typically play with all expansions, since there is no setup or take down, and just go.  It is awesome.  Sadly Tabletop has some setup and can be janky when it comes to controls, but it gives new life to old titles that most people cant play.  But it has not gone on sale cheap enough for noise or myself to pick it up.

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