In some of my social media postings, I have mentioned that Potion Explosion worked better for me in app form because it was too fiddly on the table.
This brings to mind something that I’ve thought about quite a bit.
What other board games have apps (either on iOS or Steam) that are preferable to playing the board game?
The crown jewel of that, for me, is Ascension. Deckbuilders in general work great as apps because you have no cards to wreck while shuffling and all of the shuffling/dealing is done for you. And you don’t have to put out more money for sleeves.
What’s not to like?
But there’s one game that I really think of when I think of board games that I have no interest in playing on the table but will easily play the electronic version.
That game is the Games Workshop classic, Talisman.
First, the app is just phenomenal and Nomad Games has done a marvelous job with it. They support it, put out plenty of bug fixes, and are working diligently at putting out all of the expansions. To date, they’ve released three of the big box expansions (expansions that add to the board) as well as four or five small box expansions (expansions that just add characters and cards).
The interface is wonderful, with finger or mouse swipes (depending on platform) having you go through your list of spells or equipment with ease. It always asks you to confirm your move before completing it, to make sure you didn’t click on the wrong spot.
And the graphics are stellar. Take a look at this luxuriousness.
The board is readable, you can see the spaces really easily. Once you know the game, you won’t even need this, but you can always click on a space to find out what it will do (either make you draw adventure cards or some other effect).
The season pass is well worth the money so that you get all of the expansions for a lot less than you would buying them separately. And there’s still more to come.
This may sound like a review of the app, and it kind of is.
But what about the subject of this blog?
Talisman works for me as an app, but at its heart it’s a roll and move adventure where you have a character, and you roll a die to see where you go. You roll a die to see if you defeat the monster, You roll a die to see if you’ve been turned into a toad. You roll a lot of dice over your time in the game.
And if you’re playing a full game, that die rolling could easily take you into the 2-4 hour mark.
Where you’re really doing nothing but rolling dice.
Depending on your character, you start out with 2-4 strength and 2-4 craft (maybe there is a character that has 1 in one of those attributes, I don’t remember). To get to the center and fulfill the victory conditions (there can be many different goals, depending on which expansions you have), you really should have 12+ in at least one of those attributes in order to succeed. You can gain a point in one of them by defeating monsters with the attribute and then turning 7 points worth of “trophies” in for a point. Also, some spells and other cards will give you a boost.
But it can take a long time.
Putting this out on the table with all the boards? It’s a huge table hog (I have seen it played, though haven’t played it myself) and there is a lot of card effects to remember (I did watch it for a little bit). The people I’ve seen play it were at it for quite a while, and it was just dice rolling and card flipping basically.
They seemed to be enjoying themselves, and more power to them.
I don’t think I could sit through it.
But as an app?
When you leave the game, it saves where you are. This is perfect, giving you a chance to fire up the app, play a few turns, and then go away again.
The AI can be strange at times (I once saw the Elf, who can move directly from woods square to woods square, keep moving back and forth for no apparent reason), but it is fun to play against.
It does have multiplayer, though I’ve never tried it. It’s not asynchronous, as some of the spell effects and other interrupts would make that hard to do. I don’t know if I’d be up for a multiplayer game just because while you wouldn’t be physically rolling dice and turning cards over, the time issue is still there.
But against the AI, this game is a classic.
It’s one of the games that I’ve been playing the longest, ever since I bought it. Sure, sometimes I move away from the game for a while. But I always come back to it. Especially when a new expansion comes out.
All of the things that keep me away from the tabletop version are strengths for me as an app.
I love this game and heartily recommend it as a nice way to spend some time.
(Originally published on Game Informer in the User Blog section)