CIOASIISAG Part 11 – Talisman: The Magical Quest Game

I love this game.

It’s a fantasy board game that was released by Games Workshop, where you attempt to work your way through 3 regions of a board to get to the Crown of the Command, and then win the game by making all the other players bow to your will. The game mechanics are fairly simple, you play as one of a bunch of fantasy types (Troll, Wizard, Thief etc…) each with their own rules variations and 4 stats – Strength, Craft, Gold and Life. Your aim is get your Strength and/or Craft high enough to enter the final region and undergo the trials to get the crown. As you go around the board you take adventure cards that act as random events you encounter. There’s a high random element in how the cards flow and how your dice roll (everything is on a D6). The key to winning is in three things:

  • Gambling – there’s a lot of random elements to the game, but because the odds are so easy to calculate – normally number plus D6 versus another number plus another D6, or a roll against a chart with D6 or 2D6 options – and some gambling elements are static – there’s various spaces where you can roll a die and get positive or negative alterations to your character (extra stats or turned to toad). The only unknown random elements are the cards decks. Which brings me to point two.
  • Deck Knowledge – Knowing what cards are in the deck is a huge advantage. The adventure card deck is large and varied enough that exact memory of it’s composition is unlikely. However certain useful cards are either unique or in low numbers and so controlling their presence on the board is useful. For instance, the horse and cart card allows a player to have unlimited Item cards compared to the normal four. There are two horse and cart cards in the deck, so it’s useful to get both, or get one and rapidly put the other in the discard pile (it will resurface when the deck is depleted, the discards shuffled and the deck made fresh again). Of course you may not get to draw the horse and cart card. Which brings me to point three.
  • Player Vs. Player – You can attack other players and take their lives, gold or items. Also a number of characters in the game have abilities you can use on other players. This can be a vital key in winning. There’s the chance that in doing so, all the other players may turn against you, but I’ve found that once you start messing up other people’s play, if you keep it up aggressively it can turn the game for you.

The Luck/Strategy balance is probably leaning heavily towards luck, if only to prevent the PvP elements becoming too overbearing and preventing the endgame being reached. But the visibility of the luck aspect allows the players a lot of control over how big a risk they choose to take each turn.

The 2nd edition is the version I’m most familiar with, though I’ve never owned it myself, two of the gaming groups I’ve been a part of have had access to a copy. The 3rd edition made it more Warhammer-y and less recognisable as Talisman. The exhorbitant prices the 2nd ed. was getting on eBay made it look unlikely I’d get my own copy, but thankfully GW have seen the light and last month released the 4th edition. This is based on the 2nd, down to the artwork being reinterpretations of Gary Chalk’s great art from the 2nd Ed. And it looks to have fixed the two rules that bothered me from the 2nd ed., namely you can earn Craft as easily as Strength (before it was harder, though random increases favoured Craft slightly.) and it has eliminated Spell Deck burn.

Characters can cast spells, and certain characters have abilities that mean they always have a set number of spells. The spells are a deck of shuffled cards similar to the  adventure deck, each card representing a spell. Certain spells were described as “cast as required”. This meant certain characters could burn through the spell deck, casting spell after spell after spell, in search of the particular spell they desired. It held up the game flow and was more than a little unfair. Now, apparently, you can only cast the spells you start your turn with and I assume you restock your hand at the start of your turn, to avoid cumbersome bookkeeping.

An aside: between getting excited about the release of 4th Edition Talisman and playing far too much Tetris, my mind has now become preoccupied with the idea of the balance of Luck and Strategy in games now (all games should aspire to the balance Tetris has btw).  So – “RANDOM STRATEGIES” – sounds like a great name for something. In fact it sounds so great I think I must have encountered it in some sort of games writing before.

Anyone have any ideas where? Dragon? GM Magazine? White Dwarf?

Be Sociable, Share!

PURORESU WEDNESDAY – HUSTLEMANIA 2007 – Razor Ramon HG vs. Bob Sapp

Photos from the clash of the century here

What a short post.

Here’s the music vid recap of Hustle House 27 to make up for that:


I believe this is the one where YinLing gave birth an egg that would later hatch into Monster-bono (played by former sumo wrestler Akebono).

Why did YinLing lay an egg?

Well, she was inadvertently impregnated when the Great Muta sprayed the green mist into her crotch! God bless HUSTLE.

Late breaking edit. I failed to notice that Scott Norton also wrestled Keroro Gunso at Hustlemania!

Be Sociable, Share!

Detroit Metal City

After reading that this manga called Detroit Metal City was being made into a live action feature film and a Studio 4C animation I decided to see if I could check out the manga via the evil powers of the internet.

OK it was the Studio 4C bit that got me interested.

It’s a gag manga by Kiminori Wakasugi that runs in Young Animal about a three piece metal band “Detroit Metal City”, in particular the lead singer Johannes Krauser II.

It’s not so much a parody of metal bands as a comedy of manners, though there there’s parody there too. Krauser is actually timid country boy Soichi Negishi, who maintains a double life as the supposed demon lord Krauser, a creature of metal, straight from hell. Most of comedy comes either from Negishi having to balance his two identities, or his innate politeness overwhelming his common sense and forcing himself to don the Krauser guise and behave in ridiculous shock metal ways.

For instance the strip the picture above comes from involves Negishi anonymously getting in a flame war on a DMC fan forum, that leads the fans to think an event is going to happen at Tokyo Tower. Not wanting the fans to be disappointed and riot, he goes along to try and calm them down, but ends up “raping” the Tokyo Tower instead to his fans rapturous delight.

It’s a ridiculous series, and unsurprisingly for a Young Animal title, the punchlines to each strip are invariably crude. But the reason that crudity works so well is the inherent sweetness of Negishi.

He’s only dry humping national monuments to make people happy and to stop any violence!

Be Sociable, Share!

MAD MONDAYS – Yasunori Miyazawa

Fresh stuff courtesy of youtube user suteakamad

This time it is Yasunori Miyazawa, and as usual AniPages Daily has far more than I can possibly say on the guy. From watching this video though, I can say I really like the scenes in which people (and puppets) are being flung around like, well, puppets. I really need to check out which ever bit of Popolo Crois has all the bits that keep cropping up again and again in these clips (though I think some of them are cut scenes from the games).

The Dylan-esque music is White Light by Gene Clark.

Be Sociable, Share!

Chowder

“You take the moon and you take the sun
You take everything that seems like fun”

Chowder is the new cartoon by CH Greenblatt that began airing on Cartoon Network this month. And it’s wonderful and awesome. And wonderfully awesome. It’s my favourite thing right now.

It’s about an apprentice chef, Chowder, who lives in Marzipan City. Food related hilarity ensues in two 10 minute servings per episode. It’s got a wonderful squidgy organic look to it’s movement and character expressions, and it uses that trick with static textures that Gankutsuou did. Only with a lot more restraint. And there’s puppets and stop motion too. It’s funny and charming in way I’ve not seen since Spongebob, and deserves the all success that show had.

Be Sociable, Share!

Baccano!

Still not got that last arc of Mononoke watched, but I have just finished Baccano!

Well, the TV episodes, there are some DVD exclusive episodes to come.

What I loved about Baccano! is the structure of the thing.

The story isn’t deep in the slightest. It’s a homage to early 20th century pulps and often has a positively sadistic relish in it’s violence. It’s only really interested in thrills, fun characters and situations, and is packed full of all three. What sets it apart is how well the stories are structured. Based on the events of at least 3 different novels, it juggles the events effectively. In fact rather just looking at it from logistical point of view (“How do we fit 3 novels into a 13 ep. anime?”), the way the stories and the episodes are layered both on top of each other is joy to behold.

Last year’s The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzimiya‘s non linear storytelling often felt like a game of 5-Card Nancy, with it’s episodes just thrown out there in any old order. With Baccano! there seems to have been a great deal of thought about what bits of which story to put in which episode, and in which order within the episode. It’s like 13 delicious trifles made of gangsters, thieves and alchemy. All stacked on top of one another. The trick of making the first episode a clip show of episodes you were yet see was a stroke of genius (in fact some clips featured a scene that didn’t appear in the series as broadcast at all). With each episode, you could go back and watch that episode again and try to make more sense of it.

The animation varied greatly, I think there was a couple of episodes where it stunk the whole way through, but in general it was competent with occasional flashes of brilliance in the direction. And even when it stunk it wasn’t stinking because they weren’t trying, more like they weren’t up to what they were trying to do. Because of that it’s not something I’d consider buying in single volumes, but I’d fork out for a box set if it was to get licensed.

From an acting point of view, Masaya Onosaka (Vash The Stampede, Don Patch, Spandam) has good chemistry with Sayaka Aoki as the two characters who could possibly described as “leads”, the idiot thieves Isaac and Miria. If not the leads, they certainly steal the series. Keiji Fujiwara (Maes Hughes, Shin-Chan’s Dad) also gets to chew scenery in fun fashion with the OTT murderer Ladd Russo. Morita Masakazu impresses in his role too.

All in all, a splendid little pulpy series that’s well worth a look.

…though if you are squeamish about sadistic violence (example – eyes burnt out with a hot poker), you might want to give it a miss, as the latter half of the series gets a bit gorey.

Be Sociable, Share!

Beowulf

I went to see it this morning.

It’s bad.

The dialogue is fine, and vocally the performances are pretty good. The plot however takes a fair few liberties with the story, particularly in the last 2/3rds of the film. Seeing as the story has lasted since the 8th century, is there really any need to tamper with the original plot?

The motion capture is pretty horrid. Characters who don’t have big bushy beards particularly suffer from look like inhuman mannequins. Movement, particular rapid movement looks horribly jerky. You can get away with it in special effects sequences in live action, but the problem is the entire film is a special effect sequence and so your eye is drawn to it again and again.

It’s best evidenced in the final third of the film when there’s a lot of running. The running doesn’t look like normal human running, it looks like normal human running filmed, and then frames have been removed. I’ve seen 3 frame walk cycles in traditional animation that looked more like running that the running did here.

And this is why mo-cap fails in comparison with animation or live action. Whereas animation is the creation of an illusion of reality, motion capture is taking a real performance, and making it more artificial. It’s ruining performances. John Malkovich’s in particular in the case of this film.

Be Sociable, Share!

Yig

Not been many updates this week as I have been “busy” watching Mononoke. I’m away from the internets for the next few days, but I shall be writing about how awesome this show is when I return Monday.
Be Sociable, Share!