Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Ameritrashin' Heritage: The Risk/Talisman Connection

Not too long ago I heard the opinion espoused that all AT games essentially boiled down to one of two games (or a combination thereof): Risk and Talisman. This was intended as a derogatory statement, as though to say, "Your little AT games are mired in the same ol' same ol' and lacking the innovation seen in the most recent Eurogames."

I naturally wanted to initially refute that argument. Talisman is a game that is nearly 25 years old; Risk is double that in age and is one of THE whipping boys for "Bad" game examples. Think about the Risk comments you may have read over the years...they generally aren't pretty.

(My take on Risk, by the way, is that it is an important game that has been obsoleted entirely by its offspring. But that's probably neither here nor there).


But then that leads you to think about your favorite games to use as an example. Axis and Allies? Uh...yeah, you can see the Risk heritage in there. Runebound? Much more elaborate, but Talisman is clearly its inspiration. Blood Feud in New York? Risk. Descent? That was inspired by Heroquest but there are those who argue that Heroquest itself is a progeny of Talisman.

It's as though once Gygax's ideas were lifted and put in a compartmentalized game form, any evolution that took place after that point is irrelevant. You're a board game with a fantasy theme. Wham--you are Talisman Jr., thanks for playing, good night.

(This of course carries the stigma of being compared to Talisman in the minds of nostalgic gamers, and seemingly no amount of improvement in gameplay during that time could *possibly* equal the great Talisman. So know your place, Runebound).

And don't get me started on Quest for the Dragonlords...




Two Roads Diverged

It's the age old battle, of course...which do you value more? Theme, or gameplay? Never mind the fact that many games provide both, on the ideological battlefield all games boil down to a see-saw battle of theme vs. gameplay.

There's no denying that German games have seen great strides in the innovation of game mechanics. I clearly remember playing Settlers for the first time and just having this alien feeling as though I was taking part in something I couldn't quite grasp and was altogether new.

At that point, innovation becomes the thing...never mind the fact that the Eurogames market has also fallen into a seeming pattern of stagnation ("It's Puerto Rico meets Caylus meets Settlers!") and worse, simplification (the SdJ winners since the turn of the century have grown more and more distressingly simple-minded). It's just that since American-style games have had a long lineage, they fell into stagnation "earlier", and thus such opinions were formed.




Guilty...Provisionally

That's not to say that these accusations are without merit. Who of us hasn't sat down to an Ameritrash game and been told, "It's Heroquest meets sci-fi" and instantly been able to expect what's coming? Who hasn't seen a billion games with a map of the world or area and plastic troops on it arrayed by area, in which some dice will be thrown and these piles diminished or increased?

Sure, AT publishers can be guilty of pumping up production to make up for a seeming lack of innovation. Heroscape is a brilliant game, but not intensely innovative in terms of gameplay--it uses the hit dice system of Heroquest, the hex movement rules of countless miniatures games before it, and cribs a bit from the world of CCGs with wild and fantastic themes and powers. Heroscape grabbed attention precisely because it presented this package in a beautiful and relatively affordable package.

Is that a bad thing? Personally, I don't think so. It's a nice combination of simple rules and attractive production that works for me...and of course, during games of this you get your Ameritrash moments such as an army of mechs facing down an Orc riding a dinosaur and William Wallace (let's face it, that's who that guy is) and his clan going to town on some Samurai.




Whither Innovation?

That leads me to two thoughts on the subject of innovation. First, if we assume that theme-minded gamers are more concerned with themes that appeal to them, the need for innovation is diminished. If I want a sci-fi themed game, it's the theme itself that I'm after--the rules merely need to be adequate (and sometimes, familiarity is a bonus). I look at the map and see my plastic armies--if you fill me in on the combat, we're ready to go inside of ten minutes. To that degree the rules don't inhibit your ability to be immersed in theme.

Secondly, if we take the assumption that our games are generally inspired by Risk and Talisman--that we are constrained to play games with armies clashing and fantasy or sci-fi themes--what this does is allow the Ameritrash style of game to come full circle.

Think about it; currently a lot of Euros are caught in the spiral of Action Points/Auctions/Tile Placement and by extension trying to slap themes on these that will appeal to gamers or seem different in a sense. "Yes, this has auctions, but this time you're bidding for the rights to build sewers!" The limitless themes of the Euro in which many different themes can be grafted onto the same basic mechanics may keep Eurogames in a stagnant state as themes are chased and innovation diminishes. I've seen few Euros released over the past few years that weren't described as "Euro X meets Euro Y with a splash of Euro Z".



The Theme's the Thing?

What has happened, though, is that Ameritrash games have already been through that valley of stagnation. Due to the nature of Ameritrash fans, the list of "acceptable" genres and themes are pretty well defined. And thanks to the Euro explosion that did bring with it tons upon tons of innovative game concepts and ideas, we're seeing AT games cleaned up and borrowing from these innovations to make them better games. Even better than this, we're seeing more AT games from publishers overseas, such as the upcoming Tannhauser (bringing it's Hellboy-inspired theme with it, but with a different take on a miniatures skirmish).

Not to mention the influx of hybrids, rapidly becoming the grail of game design. Appealing themes that fit the mechanics with medium complexity, decent rule sets, and enticing to both crowds?

Maybe AT games, having benefited greatly from the innovations that Euros initially brought with them, can now give back in return their Risk- and Talisman-induced marriage of theme and mechanics. Maybe AT can finally be comfortable in its own skin, accepting of an understood limitation in theme, and we can watch as game designers continue to crawl under the hood and fine-tune the Ameritrash machine.

Now pass me those dice--my little plastic warrior is about to smash that plastic dragon.

54 comments:

ubarose said...

Euro designers and AT designers are both stuck in a rut. They need to start stealing shamelessly from one another.

I'm waiting for something like the marriage of Talisman and Tikal. An adventure game with a fresh theme, action point allowance and tile placement; but also restless natives, poison darts, snake pits, ambushes, attacking the temple guards.

Screw 3 action points to swap treasures with another player. Make it 3 action points to jump another player, beat him senseless (die roll) and grab his treasure.

Change is coming and it is going to be fun.

Ken B. said...

That sounds like Dungeon Twister, but with cards for combat instead of dice. Have you tried that, ubarose?

Shellhead said...

I admit that there are a lot of AT games that appear to be derived from either Risk or Talisman at a basic, mechanical level. If it's a simplistic wargame, it's Risk-like. If there are elements that approximate role-playing, it's Talisman-like. But that is an extreme over-simplification that ignores some fairly original games. And, as you said, theme is more important to us AT gamers anyway.

Fury of Dracula may bear a faint resemblance to Talisman based on the simplified rpg approach, but that doesn't do justice to the really neat hidden movement rules at the heart of the (FFG version of the) game.

Slasher: the Final Cut may have each player playing a character, but it otherwise doesn't even remotely resemble Talisman (or Risk) in any other respect. It takes some basic CCG concepts and utterly subverts them into an innovative gaming experience.

Nuclear War is one of the oldest AT games not named Risk, but it is absolutely a completely different game.

Naval War, and it's demonic grandchild, Creatures & Cultists, is another AT game that is not even remotely similar to Risk.

And then there are the hybrids, which may have recognizable elements in common with Risk or Talisman, yet also have definite Euro elements. They too deserve separate recognition from either Risk or Talisman.

Ken B. said...

Oh, I agree with you that we've got some outliers that defy categorization; that's the nature of, well, anything.

My spiel was...even if this idea were true--that all AT games are descendants of one of these two games--is this a bad thing?

Nonamnon said...

Ken,

I quite enjoyed this 'spiel', as you have named it.
I don't think it is necessarily a bad thing, and I think that the point you make about the hybrid being the grail is well illustrated with one of my favorites - TI3:Shattered Empire.

Mr Skeletor said...

What the hell is a hybrid.

Anonymous said...

Talisman sucks ass and all copies of it should be burned.

Anonymous said...

Oooo! I can do that too!!!

Puerto Rico sucks ass and all copies of it should be burned.

Anonymous said...

That's the best you can do? Just repeat what I said but substitute Puerto Rico? Lame. But I guess it's better than the typical BGG Ned Flanders response "Heey Diddly Do! Don't Diddly Don't be mean to people like that"

Ken B. said...

What the...who invited the Anonymice?

Anonymous said...

Talisman sucks ass and all copies of it should be burned.


It does suck ass . . . but I like the way that feels so I still play it.

Jan Lucas said...

anonymous gets the award for stupidest comment on Fortress yet.

Ubarose rocks for her comment:

"I'm waiting for something like the marriage of Talisman and Tikal. An adventure game with a fresh theme, action point allowance and tile placement; but also restless natives, poison darts, snake pits, ambushes, attacking the temple guards.
Screw 3 action points to swap treasures with another player. Make it 3 action points to jump another player, beat him senseless (die roll) and grab his treasure."

That's the game I've always wanted - not Diamant.

adrianbolt said...

Talisman is allegedly original?!!

It's one Monopoly board inside another combined with Dungeon!

ubarose said...

"adrianbolt said...
Talisman is allegedly original?!!

It's one Monopoly board inside another combined with Dungeon!"

Talisman (1983) was a milestone in adventure/dungeon type games. Compared to other attempts of the time to translate RPGs to a board game, Talisman was "elegant". I remember being amazed that you didn't have to write anything down or look anything up on a chart. Just as CIV lite is the dream of many of today's gamers, MAGIC REALM lite was what many gamers of the early 80's were looking for. To appreciate it, you need to compare it to DUNGEON (1975) and MAGIC REALM (1978). The former was too simple, the later too complex. Talisman hit the sweet spot in the middle. People who think that Talisman is derivative, usually don't realize that most of the better known adventure/dungeon games were published after Talisman.

adrianbolt said...

I remember being unimpressed because it was far from the first and therefore hardly a milestone. I DID compare it to Dungeon, certainly think it derivative, and fully realise the relative dates.

How about The Vanquished Foe (which BGG has as 1972 which is incorrect), Citadel (1976), Sorcerer's Cave (1978), DeathMaze (1979), and Valkenburg Castle (1980)? I can recall playing two others but not the names offhand.

So that's NINE all of which predate talisman by a minimum of three years.

(Help - I was hoping to get a tenth!)

Tom Hazlett (Southernman) said...

adrianbolt said...
Talisman is allegedly original?!!

It's one Monopoly board inside another combined with Dungeon!


That sounds pretty original to me :-)

ubarose said...

adrianbolt, is English your first language? A milestone is a significant point in the progress or the development of something. By definition a milestone is not the first, nor does it need to be wholly original. In fact, since it is a point in the process, it is always derivative of what came before. What makes it a milestone is it's impact on what comes after. As Ken said, "Not too long ago I heard the opinion espoused that all AT games essentially boiled down to one of two games (or a combination thereof): Risk and Talisman. " TALISMAN is a milestone precisely because of it's influence on the game design that came after it. It has influenced game designers in both large and small ways. How many games, both AT and Euro, track player information with tokens rather than with paper and pencil? Combat resolution charts and tables are obsolete in adventure games. You don't have to cross reference what happens on a board location with a description in a booklet, roll the die and then look up a paragraph on another page. Everything is written or represented symbolically on the board or on a card/tile. It's trivial, but it shows the impact of TALISMAN. Consider FFG's version of ARKHAM HORROR. You don't look at that and immediately trace it's roots back to MAGIC REALM or THE VANQUISHED FOE. No, you look at it and think, Richard Launius clearly played TALISMAN.

Michael Barnes said...

I've played TALISMAN with Richard Launius, so I can witness for the prosecution.

hughthehand said...

Ken, awesome article. This is what keeps me coming back here, even though I'm a euro fan.

I will be the first to agree that euros are in a period of stagnation. This will be the first Origins I attend, where there is only one game I really want...WoW: Minis. And that is not a euro...I don't think...is it?

But, innovation does come, it just takes leaps. When I first got into board gaming about 10 years ago, I loved Settlers...then it was Tikal, then Carc., then Puerto Rico.

Since then though I have felt, like you describe, as though it is just a rehash of the mechanics in those games. I think both sides, AT and euro get to those humps, and it becomes difficult to get over them. It is easier to make the tried and true than to be truly innovative.

It will come...just not last year, or this one so far. I like Pillars of the Earth, but it steals mechanics from other games. I like Caylus, but same there. Notre Dame? Ok game, not as good as what a lot of euro fans are saying it is. And that has nothing new.

I'm waiting for the next game that puts out a really new mechanic and grabs me the way Settlers, Carc, Tikal and PR did.

Maybe this is what will bring all of us closer to "just playing games" as both camps merge into the true "hybrid" everyone thinks is here. I don't think it is yet, but its getting close. How do I know? Because I am a euro fan drooling to see what happens with the Starcraft boardgame. It has the theme, mostly likely the plastic, and hopefully the new euro mechanic that will blend it all together.

Liumas said...

'Wither' ???

Holy friggin' crap.

Exactly the sort of word I expected to see at Fortress Ameritrash.

(not)

:D

Fellonmyhead said...

ubarose, you've lost the plot if you think that the mechanisms in Talisman are not derivative. All the elements you say make it a milestone were done before the game came out; long before and in many cases all in the same game. That those games were not FRPG themed is neither here nor there.

You don't stop looking at a game's history because of its genre; milestone my arse. You want milestones? Then you should look at what Adrian suggested; in particular Sorcerer's Cave.

How many games have subsequently employed modular boards, track player information using cards and tokens, resolve combat (with some strategy involved) without referencing charts and tables, have everything written on a card or on the board and/or allow fixed movement rates for the players?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying some of what Talisman did wasn't redone later; but let's not kid ourselves, that stuff wasn't derived from Talisman any more than it was derived from Talisman's illegitemate father - Monopoly.

No, Talisman was not a milestone; Talisman was more like a detour.

Mr Skeletor said...

Talisman was a milestone because it was popular.

Think about it.

adrianbolt said...

I wondered why my comment didn't appear immediately when I published it late last night. Since it's now eight hours later, I guess it got waylaid by some more aggressive bits as it wended its way down those lonely early morning fibre optic byways.

ubarose: Sarcasm, such a great way to have an intelligent discussion. And I just love it when someone has to resort to pedantry as a line of argument. (Yes, the word "therefore" is superfluous, I thought I'd edited it out. So shoot me.) Congratulations on your definition of milestone; now perhaps you could look up the word "significant" and consider it's meaning in relation to another word: "opinion". You say "a milestone is a significant point" yet the very next sentence contradicts this with "by definition a milestone is not the first". So do you think Neil Armstrong's one small step was a milestone or not? A better question would be do you really want to waste time on this pedantic nonsense?

Regarding "track player information with tokens" I think about half of the games I mentioned did this. Ditto for not using CRTs. I disagree that decreasing the amount of looking up by better board/card information is trivial, but I don't think that makes Talisman a milestone. On a side note I thought Tikal was one as it was the first game I played without anyone reading the rule book first; it was all on the play aid which I thought elegant. Of course Tikal might not have been the first game chronologically to do that. 'Fraid I can't consider FFG's ARKHAM HORROR because the reviews didn't impress me enough to buy and/or play it. I enjoyed the original, though I suspect that's irrelevant.

This thread is reminiscent of something else. I post a semi-tongue in cheek comment and get a patronising response. I then give a more serious reason why Talisman didn't stand out for me and get an insulting reply. Just like BGG... I thought one of the reasons F:AT started was due to people getting sick of the way different opinions were stamped on. If I'm an opinionated minority within an opinionated minority then I'll have to do a Barnes, leave and set up a website somewhere else. I could call it Th:In - Thortress:Ingland.

Tom Hazlett (Southernman) said...

Adrianbolt - the only likeness to BGG is that you are a thin-skinned nonce who has got upset about someone having a diametric opinion to yours ... pick up your toys, straighten that bow tie and carry on posting with everyone else - or just fuck off, no one is making you post here where nasty people disagree with you.
I enjoyed reading your posts but haven't the time to wipe your tears away.

Thortress:Ingland said...

mr skeletor: I agree! I was wondering whether to suggest that but thought I'd written enough.

Games Workshop were starting down their only in-house games road. They stopped selling anything by other companies and ended up selling figures to teens. GWs marketing team started flexing their muscles and Talisman was in the right place at the right time. There were lots of magazine reviews, lots of articles in White Dwarf, more presence at conventions, and more GW events. They started churning out expansions. (We could go off on a tangent here and plot a path to CCGs and Magic and argue the toss over whether or not that is a milestone and why.) Everything was booming, the hobby expanding, what a future it would be, GW world-domination! (Only to be nuked by Magic.) In summary I would suggest the milestone was GW marketing strategy, not Talisman itself.

ubarose: Your milestones will be different to mine. You played different games in a different sequence. I remember Empire of the Petal Throne and White Bear, Red Moon because of the rich world backgrounds. There's Cosmic Encounter and Sorcerer's Cave for the rules. Awful Green Things and Creature That Ate Sheboygan for being played a lot and sheer damn fun! And of course, Shogun and Fortress American were extremely good games in every respect (and are still outstanding). Or English games like Man-eater and Space Crusade for theme. I think we need a variation on a common Internet acronym: Your Milestones May Vary.

thortress:ingland said...

tom: If you think that then you're an idiot. I'm just defending my opinion and trying to be entertaining at the same time. Of course I'm going to carry on posting, should I just put on my politicians pointy hat and do a dramatic u-turn and bend over and take it up the ass? Sod that!

We're talking opinions here. Neither ubarose or myself is right or wrong. I don't expect to change her stance and I very much doubt she expects to change mine. I do expect to get a better understanding of Talisman though!

Tom Hazlett (Southernman) said...

I do think that and I'm very much not an idiot - so you are actually wrong on something. I'm not judging your opinion on Talisman but rather your holier-than-thou middle class Oxfordshire attitude.

You can take it up the arse if you want (those pommie private schools have a lot to answer for) but, also, that was not what I said.

Ken B. said...

Adrian, what you're seeing here is exactly what you're talking about--you and ubarose are putting your opinions forth in an intelligent manner. No one is stomping anyone's opinions.

On BGG, you'd put a counter-opinion out there and you'd get trampled on by a sea of "me too" people who think they know what they're talking about and delight in burying your opinion that deviates from whatever the "norm" is.

What we've got here is uba and you going toe to toe in the forum, but backing up your opinions with real words instead of empty platitudes you've heard from someone else. I think that's great, and proof that F:AT is working, not the other way around.

Ken B. said...

As for "Whither"...yeah, don't forget, I'm Dr. Franklin Cobb, PhD of Ameritrash Studies.

I'll definitely put more words like "ass", "shit", and "Wankle Rotary Engine" in my next post. That should help.

Tom Hazlett (Southernman) said...

Ahhhhh - the 'Wankel Rotary Engine' .... now we surpass boardgaming and move to a higher plane.
Memories from my youth of those Mazda coupes and sedans with their mouth-watering looks and those engines that just went faster and faster no matter how many people you squeezed into them - but (devastatingly) too expensive to buy and to run (we never had fuel as cheap as in the US).

Mr Skeletor said...

Just like BGG... I thought one of the reasons F:AT started was due to people getting sick of the way different opinions were stamped on.

There is an animal farm reference in there somewhere.

Anyway if this place is becoming like BGG when is the women only forum coming? We have to protect the women from the sexual predators that are all over the board gaming culture.

Ken B. said...

Yeah, like Poor Ol' Steve Avery. That dude's a lech, yo

thortress:ingland said...

tom: So I'm wrong about something, hardly a surprise. I've been wondering why on earth you think I'm upset, because I'm not taking this personally and would hope neither you or ubarose are either. Given you only commented on my 'reminiscent' paragraph, I've been rereading it to spot the holier-than-thou-ness. Honestly, I'm not sure. You're making me think it's heavy-handed, but I tend to exaggerate to illustrate a point. And I was unable to resist the truly awful F:AT Th:In pun!

ken: Perhaps I've still got some adjusting to do, losing some of the BGG hyper-sensitivity. I'm glad there isn't a horde, er, herd of 'me too' meeples here and hopefully this will be the land of the norm free for a long time. Being able to write at length here means the headline contributors writing quality has evolved immensely, this is seriously professional. I was intrigued enough by your "proof that F"AT is working, not the other way round" and reread the whole post. It's true. But the insults colour things more than they should, anyone know a good ointment so I can grow a thicker skin?

Pat H said...

I'm with Thortress on this one. GW is the devil and happened to be "right place at the right time" if you will. Much of what Talisman brought forward could quite easily have been done by someone else but GW was in the right position at the right time - and then look at what they've done.

Also I'm not sure if I'd place Talisman between Dungeon & Magic Realm.

I will argue that it is more difficult to trace the origins of Risk than it is to Talisman.

Personally I like CRT's anyways and have no problem with them.

Tom Hazlett (Southernman) said...

Adrian - 'insults' are just a by-product of the different style of this site, which also includes no banning and the acceptance of anonymice posts ... thicker skin is really just a state of mind.

As I said before, I enjoyed reading your posts and you should continue to post here as long as you feel comfortable that this site is of interest to you.

thortress:ingland said...

A further thought on innovation being in the eye of the beholder. I remember reading in Counter magazine about how Alan Moon created the Wertung card and changed gaming. (Can't recall the game - anyone know?) I was thinking 'I'm sure I've come across that card concept before'. YMMV.

mr skeletor: Good suggestion as long as you're going to be fair and have a sexual predators forum as well! But there's a far, far more important forum needed, the social contract forum. There is a burning desire in some gamers to discuss such hot topics as "Player Elimination: Satan's Greatest Tool" and "Playing to Win: Fostering Aggression in the Nations Youth?".

tom: I love the style of the site, it's refreshing, people can be frank in their opinions here. No doubt the more I post, the more I'll get into it. Not sure about Anonymous though; if I considered hiding behind it that would lead me to thinking it shouldn't be said in the first place. In my mind an Anonymous post tends to get translated into 'ridicule this'. The site is very comfortable thanks, definitely thought provoking. And unexpected! I dislike Games Workshop due to the deleterious effects on the hobby, yet here I am posting more than I ever have before on Talisman of all things!

Ken B. said...

RED WARRIOR NEEDS FOOD BADLY~!

ubarose said...

Mr Skeletor said...
Anyway if this place is becoming like BGG when is the women only forum coming? We have to protect the women from the sexual predators that are all over the board gaming culture.


I think that calling the pitiful man-boys who live in their parent's basements "predators" is a bit much. They are more an annoyance, like a fly crawling on the TV screen that need to be swatted away every so often.

Tom Hazlett (Southernman) said...

Adrian - Because we give absolutely no weight to anything most of the anonymice say it is really cheap entertainment if your day has been slow .... and bad luck with the 'Lost Caverns of Tsojconth Limited Edition Tournament' <:-(

redbeard said...

One great thing about Talisman is the encouragement -in the rules, no less- to create your own house rules. Suggested alternate rules (such as using only one Talisman in a game) make for a surprising amount of variation.

As was suggested above, that sweet spot that Talisman hit enabled RPGers to play during downtime between gaming sessions. My RPG group in college played Talisman a lot; we considered it heavy enough in theme to feel like you're playing an RPG, yet it was light enough to enable us to consume the cheap beer that college students were known for: Keystone, Old Style, Milwaukee's Best, Burger and Little Kings.

ubarose said...

Ken B. said

. . . that all AT games essentially boiled down to one of two games (or a combination thereof): Risk and Talisman.


If this statement is true, then TALISMAN had a major impact on the development of AT gaming. The definition of significant is major impact. The definition of milestone is a significant event in the development of something. Therefore, TALISMAN is a milestone, means Talisman had a major impact on the development of AT gaming. If you want to argue semantics any further, you can take it to an "English Grammar and Vocabulary" forum.

If you disagree that that all AT games essentially boiled down to one of two games (or a combination thereof): Risk and Talisman, you can debate it with Ken.

Bored now.

Fellonmyhead said...

ken b:- "On BGG, you'd put a counter-opinion out there and you'd get trampled on by a sea of "me too" people who think they know what they're talking about and delight in burying your opinion that deviates from whatever the "norm" is."

Right, so FATties are in-your-face, no-holds-barred critics who couldn't take a bit of in-your-face, no-holds-barred criticism?

Alright, I'm being a little over the top; but there's nothing stopping the same thing happening here and where will you all be then?

mr skeletor:- "Talisman was a milestone because it was popular."

I think that's a viewpoint I can accept; I'll concede it was a milestone, but I can't say it was original.

ubarose:- "If this statement is true, then TALISMAN had a major impact on the development of AT gaming."

I still think it was simply a detour from the path already being taken; how many of its contemporaries were employing ever more simplistic and/or elegant systems, minis, and confrontational themes?

ubarose:- "Bored now."

Best avoid Talisman if your attention span suffers that much...;)

thortress:ingland said...

tom: Thanks for the commiserations re Tsojconth. If only my foresight of three decades past had worked as well as my hindsight does now. That and being rich enough to afford a vast Raiders of the Lost Ark style warehouse so I never would have had to get rid of any games. But for those two minor factors I could be ebaying my way to early retirement! So far I've only looked at the first two T&T auction pages, which does have a plus side: looks like it might be worth selling my MERP books and early issues of Dragon. If only there was an RPGGeek website where I could investigate market prices...

ubarose: Let's try to get you unbored. Obviously your comments have got me thinking. Tie in my Wertung observation and I have a different take on significance.
What if we look at it on the basis of the first appearance of a specific game mechanic? Games are already talked about as a mix of game x and game y, BGG has a sort for Games>Mechanics although the categories are fairly broad. Could a game be analysed with increased granularity? Modern Art has, what, five different auctions? You could track the Sealed Bid back through time and discover Sigma File has something in common with it. You could find out if any game has both Sealed Bids and Wertung cards. You could list all the attributes of the early dungeon/adventure games, go forward in time and discover whether Talisman really did distill them all into an elegant whole. And then further forward to see how big an influence it had.
Trouble is, it sounds good in theory... I can see two ways of implementing this: Aldie does a serious reworking of the search-by-mechanic function or some dedicated soul thinks it'll lead to a Phd. I can also see that it would be of extreme interest to game designers trying to create something new.

Ken B. said...

Fellonmyhead--huh? Are we taking criticism "badly?" 'Cause I sure don't see it. Makes a nice talking point, though.

Rliyen said...

Also I'm not sure if I'd place Talisman between Dungeon & Magic Realm.

I would, although it would not be in the exact midpoint. The original dungeon was very simplistic and very hard for certain character types. Magic Realm, on the other hand, went in the opposite direction at warp speed; giving you a slew of different character types, but bogging you down with a lot of accounting and a high learning curve combat/magic system. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love Realm, but you have to have people with a lot of patience and a lot of prior experience in playing it to fully enjoy it. Don't expect a newbie player to enjoy it at the first sitting.

Talisman is not smack dab in the middle between the two, but it has a melding of both. A variety of characters to choose from (Realm), simple combat system (Dungeon), different spells (Realm). Lots of different treasures (both). Great theme (both).

All in all, I would put the game near the middle, favoring the Dungeon side, though.

Mr Skeletor said...

Alright, I'm being a little over the top; but there's nothing stopping the same thing happening here and where will you all be then?

On top of the food chain.

I think that's a viewpoint I can accept; I'll concede it was a milestone, but I can't say it was original.

It's a milestone simply because it's a common point of reference that most gamers know. Even were it original, there is nothing really innovative in it that no one would have thought up eventually anyway. The game is really just roll, move, draw a card. No thinking out of left field in that design really.

Tom Hazlett (Southernman) said...

Adrian - on rpgs check out http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/172054

You do realise that you're about 20mins away ...so don't make me angry, you wouldn't like me when I'm angry (my dice fly true and very fast) ... keep on posting ;-)

Fellonmyhead said...

"(my dice fly true and very fast)"

I can vouch for that - Tom's dice do fly true and fast - it's the landing that's the problem!

ubarose said...

P.S. to Adrian.

"Is English your first language?" was not meant as an insult. It was an honest question. I probably should have specified "American English." I finally figured out that your first language is British English, isn't it? Based on what you & Thortress:Ingland posted, I'm guessing that "milestone" has a different connotation in American English than in British English, which makes our whole conversation much less bewildering.

Ken B. said...

Does anyone here speak jive?

dolemite said...

Well, I sure as hell do you sapsuckin', dilapidated muthafucka!

Thortress:Ingland said...

tom: Thanks for the link, I'll check it out. Nice to hear there's another gamer nearby, though thankfully just out of dice range!

ubarose: Yes to British English. I only switched to thortress:ingland for this blog entry, everyone can rest easy knowing the dire pun will fade into the past. TH:IN will be finished (which I don't speak by the way). I believe it isn't a difference in connotation, I think it's down to personal gaming experience.

Anonymous said...

Huh? What about these:

Titan, Dune, Cosmic Encounter, Twilight Imperium, Queen's Gambit, Epic Duels, DungeonQuest, Robo Rally.

There are many more.

Ken B. said...

From your list, the Dungeon-style games are attributed to Talisman; Twilight Imperium and Dune are considered "as Risk" to the untrained eye (dubious as that may be, in TI's case I can see it...our ships meet, we throw dice, some of them are removed...)

I do think that the "skirmish-style" games like Queen's Gambit and Epic Duels (among many others) probably have their own offshoot, but if you really, really boil it down you get down to the Talisman/HeroQuest style game where characters move around, throw dice at each other, and try to remove enemies from the board. In fact, it's very much HeroQuest-ish now that I think about it, just lacking the ability to "improve" your characters.

I mean...they have Hit Points, no? That line of thinking will definitely take you right back to the "fantasy board game" realm pretty quickly.