A few days ago “Talisman: Digital Edition” was the free app of the day on the Amazon App Store, and over the weekend I’ve played it quite a bit on my phone and tablet. And I can tell you that with three AI opponents the experience is kind of like a cross between arbitrarily picking equipment, spells, and monsters out of the Player’s Handbook and Monster Manual and being repeatedly kicked in the kidneys. There is such a high degree of randomness in Talisman that most of the time gameplay consists of your character being whisked around the board by the result of a die roll as you attempt to steer him towards the random event that you feel has the least potential for disaster. It’s a lot like Chutes and Ladders, but for fantasy geeks.
Having said all that, I’ve learned that I must like being kicked in the kidneys because I can’t seem to put the game down. I can’t wait to see what the dice and the adventure deck have in store for my character on the next turn. This is not a game for sore losers or strategy purists, no sir. This is a game for people with a sense of humor who find joy in seeing what happens next, whatever that is. It’s a game for people who like fantasy adventure and who have a little bit of idle time to kill, and who are okay with their characters being transformed into toads and having their talismans stolen right before the finally claw their way into the Valley of Fire. It’s for people who can reach the Crown of Command, roll a three or less on a d6 six times in a row – giving two other characters a chance to reach the Crown and thus transform your character from the would-be king of the world into the one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest – and accept all of this as just a part of life. Quite possibly it’s a game for sadomasochists, or people with a gambling addiction, or a debilitating compulsive disorder.