Adventure Games, Part Four: Talisman vs. Runebound

Talisman 4th EditionAs we near the end of September, the release of the new, fourth edition of Talisman is just a few days away, and thus I’ve decided to take the opportunity to return to an old series of articles that I’ve written on adventure games, and compare how the old relates to the new.

A Brief History of Talisman

First, a brief history of Talisman. Although it was by no means the earliest adventure game — that accolade probably going to TSR’s Dungeon! (1975) — it was the first adventure game that was really, greatly successful.

Talisman’s first edition was released by Games Workshop in 1983. It was followed a short time later by a better quality, but otherwise similar second edition. These games had the same core ideas: you played a unique character who you could improve by gaining Strength, Craft, and items. You tried to get enough power to make your way to the center of the board, then kill all the other players through the magical Crown of Command.

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Anatomy of a Genre: Card Games & Randomness

Recently my Thursday night gaming group has had the opportunity to play some top quality card games, among them Tichu and the German Doppelkopf. Comparing and talking about these games led to interesting discussions of the the element of randomness in card games, which I offer up here for additional thoughts and comments.

The Heart of Randomness

Our conversation got started with one of players saying that Doppelkopf was too random.

The thing is … almost any card game is random. It’s a necessary and implicit part of the process. You take 52 cards (or whatever) and divide them up among the players. For a standard 4-player game that represents 635,013,559,600 different possibilities. In other words, sometimes you’re going to get a really bad hand and sometimes you’re going to get a really good one.

That’s life. Or at least a card game.

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