Excitement! Battleblock Theatre was released onto a very expecting public recently and I had the good fortune to NOTICE it on XLBA in order to que it for download. Needless to say, anything related to the Castle Crashers team is likely to be pure gold– and it is. I had to peel myself off the TV to stop playing (due to crying and screaming of childrens). Unfortunately, the game is too difficult for young kids without any experience with Contra or Mega Man– but the skills built in Battleblock will carry a child through a lifetime of side scrolling gaming. While my daughter said she will never play the game again due to her failed jumping at all times, I will likely build a level just for them in the level editor to ease them into the genre.
That said, the height of nerdery this weekend was (finally) a game of Talisman 4th edition with the City expansion. While the city was the worst of the 2nd edition expansions, Fantasy Flight has done good work bringing the board into the 4th edition paradigm. Essentially, if you have a lot of gold, you go to the city to buy stuff or get transport to where you need to go. It’s much easier to get around in and still has a jail as well as three guilds that can be joined (no Sheriff). Just a few games back I was complaining that there were ways to accumulate tons of gold but no good place to spend it that was readily available. Sure you may have gotten lucky and pulled a trainer and the like from one of the decks, but until City came around, gold was only used for healing up lives lost and buying a horse when available. With all the expansions, the Adventure deck is so gigantic it’s rare that you will see the same cards at all in many games. We have not, since the second expansion or so, flipped the Adventure deck– and this happened quite a bit in the older versions of the game. This makes games more surprising, but you certainly can’t count on some of the core items (Wand, Ring, Unicorn, Runesword, Warhorse) coming up. With City, you now have more control over your item build for your character. It will be easier to say” ‘for this game, I would like to get X and Y objects to help me win’ and go and get them rather than just hoping they will come up. The new full plate is pretty cool (4+ armor save and +1 strength).
Comparison with 2nd edition’s City brings up the question of “advanced” careers in Talisman which were not included in the new City expansions. As Talisman was a GW game and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay has a career advancement system, 2nd edition Talisman added in the idea of advanced careers that can be purchased to upgrade your hero. There were not a lot of choices here but there were two in particular that were a bit of rapening if used correctly. First was the High Mage. Any high-craft hero could become the high mage by simply depositing a magic item in the city. This gave a character two (!?) spells per turn and added and additional 2 craft. Remember, unlike the new addition, players could not turn in defeated monsters for Craft so that 2 Craft is pure gold in 2nd editions. What’s more since 2nd ed. Talisman Dragons added a ton of magic items to the game, it was an easy thing to get some shitty magic trinket and suddenly be the most powerful spellcaster in the game with a quick trip to the city. Most underpowered/low tier characters would immediately attempt to do this as their first set of moves in the game. While still not on par with the Monk (who is laughably underpowered in 4th edition), Astropath or Prophetess, the High Mage was boss of almost all the other characters since the 2 craft bonus put him above all of the craft-attackers like the Ghoul, Wizard or Sorceress. All that said, I do not miss the advanced characters. It was a neat idea for the game, but wasn’t built into the entire system (I could easily see a talisman clone where the entire character leveling was choosing new careers) so felt like a bit of a shoddy addon– a much loved shoddy addon mind you.
I hope to get another Talisman game in this year– the next purchase in that line is Talisman Dragons which seems a bit overly complicated for what it brings to the table. What next for 4th edition? It’s got to be Timescape. There’s no other place to go!