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Subject: Why Talisman is better than Runebound rss

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Lengthy post ahead and, no, this is not really a full review of either game.


Background

I own both Runebound 2nd Edition and Talisman Revised 4th Edition and have played both games extensively. Note that I only purchased both games a short time ago, so there is no nostalgia factor here clouding my judgement. In other words, I did not "grow up" with Talisman. I will be contrasting both of the two base games (no expansions) to demonstrate why Talisman is far superior to Runebound in many ways.

There are a few other comparable games out there which I have yet to play (Prophecy, Return of the Heroes, and Magic Realm), but this comparison does not cover these games

First and foremost, I want to get something out of the way. Both Talisman and Runebound are games meant to be played immersively (A nice recent post here discussing what this means). Playing games like this as a simple card or strategy game metacognitively will usually decrease your enjoyment. These types of games are usually described as Role-playing "lite" games, meaning they require a minimal amount of "getting into character" to get the most out of them. My judgement on the two games will revolve heavily around this concept.


Game Board

The first aspect I want to address is the actual mechanic of the board

This is something that was very surprising to me when I first played Talisman. I had always assumed that Runebound's geographical "map" of the world would be, without question, superior to the old-school Monopoly-style board of Talisman. Afterall, I thought, "a world map where you could actually travel north, east, south and west" sounded much more realistic and more strategic than moving around in circles with no coherent sense or purposed of direction.

After playing a few games of Talisman I finally realized that Runebound's game board is no more realistic or strategic than Talisman's board. In Runebound, all of the effort spent on making a world actually look coherent is wasted because there really are no meaningful game mechanics that make use of. Traveling toward the green marker to the north is no more significant or meaningful than traveling to the green marker to the south. Other than your town card draws, traveling to a city in the west is no more interesting than traveling to a city in the east.

It's a shame really, because there could have been quite a lot of story and setting worked into each of the towns in the game. Unfortunately, each town is only as interesting as the item and ally cards drawn for it, so there really is nothing that makes one village more interesting than another, other than the decision for how you will spend your gold.

Also, the fact that PVP is so jarringly weak, and turns take so long to complete that it compounds the poor board design (more on this later).

As for Talisman and the reason why I was surprisingly impressed by the board, was the fact that it doesn't try to create the illusion of a true geographically realistic game world as Runebound does. In fact, as I played Talisman, I found myself using my imagination far more to fill in the gaps of exactly "where" and "how" things were unfolding within the story. While making a decision of where to travel after rolling the die to move my character, I don't merely see a Village to the right and a Chapel to the left with a Dragon sitting beyond that. My mind's eye begins to fill in the blanks of how the world actually appears. So I may, for example, imagine the safety of a Town to the far northeast, while "hearing rumors" of a great Dragon who stalks the forest countryside to the West striking fear into the hearts of the Holy Men at the great Chapel.

Talisman varies its terrain in a manner that reminds you of a classic fantasy novel or movie, that progressively becomes more dangerous. It seems to have been designed to feel like the world has real geographic regions which actually feel different, and are not there simply as an illusion.

It's difficult to explain, but while playing Talisman my imagination is instantly fired off into a magical world with vast landscapes and perpetual adventure. While, on the other hand, I see Runebound's world plainly, only as it sits before me, plastered on a piece of cardboard with colored tokens lying about. It doesn't spark anything magical.


Storytelling

Ever since I was a kid I have been a huge fan of these kind of games. I don't like playing a board game unless some sort of meaningful story has been told that I can keep fond memories of. And while both Runebound and Talisman tell a story, they execute it in profoundly different ways. I'd like to break each of these differences down and explain why Talisman is the better storyteller.

First off, Runebound has a manufactured, preconcieved, definite setting. The Rune- universe was designed by Fantasy Flight and can be seen in several of their game lines as well as Runebound's numerous expansions. To be blunt, that, right there is a problem for a game of this nature. While it's not as big of a problem for other games, such as World of Warcraft: The Adventure Game because it already stems from another media's established Intellectual Property, and is therefore identifiable to many who have played the MMO, this makes Runebound's Lore a difficult pill to swallow.

Runebound practically requires you to have immersed yourself in the universe before playing to be able to understand the back-drop context of anything going on. For myself (and I suspect many others), I had no clue when I first played, that the game was part of a greater universe, as this was the first FF game I had ever purchased. Who were these characters? Who are these Villains? Who made up these crazy monsters? How are these towns imporant? And, ultimately, why in the world am I bothering to save this world? The specific, non-identifiable, setting is already a serious handicap for making an interesting story, especially for newcomers.

Not only must you do your homework to get "into" the "RuneX" line's universe, but the setting is very alien in its approach to fantasy. It's dark, grim, and there are practically no fantasy tropes here or any other races or monsters that we're used to. Now, this may simply be a matter of taste, but this makes introducing the game to newcomers very difficult. FF also limited itself into a niche market by going this direction. Not a good idea, IMO for a non-RPG, casual board game like this with no established IP from another, bigger, media source.

The story generated through playing the game itself is the crux of the issue that I want to get to, however. The problem with Runebound is that there really is no variation to the story each time you play. There are different monsters, different items, and a few different characters to decide from, but there is very little to do other than fight monsters and buy equipment over and over and over again. Sure, occasionaly there appears an information card describing what is supposedly happening in the world at large, but the overarching story never changes and the same combat grinding pattern resumes thereafter with rarely anything to break up the monotony in-between.

Finally, Runebound's world and story actually gets worse and worse as time goes by while playing. Not only do character turns get exponentially longer, but the amount of things to actually "do" decreases. This is a very, very bad combination because the world and story becomes more stagnant as time goes by. I've only finished about 1/4 of the games I've played in Runebound, not because the players were killed off, but because we all became bored to tears of the combat grinding (and after about 5 hours, it's really time to do something else). Not only does Runebound become more boring during each play, but over time, once you've seen the same story, it's like pulling teeth for you to want to see it again.

Now Talisman doesn't suffer from near as many problems in it's storytelling. The first thing that makes Talisman special and very replayable is the fact that the setting is generic high fantasy fare. You're going to be able to find just about anyone in the world who will enjoy it in one way or another. We've all seen Lord of the Rings, we all know what Elves, Dwarves, Wizards and Knights are. The world setting is very bright and friendly as well, you're not going to scare your mother away quite as easily by invoking bad 1980s memories of evil D&D like Runebound wil.

Talisman doesn't worry about a strict fantasy story that needs to be told again and again and again. It simply allows the players to create their own story through each play, dispensing with event or story cards altogether. Unlike Runebound, where the world slowly becomes more boring over time, Talisman's world gets richer and richer with each passing turn. Plains fill up with bandits, forests crawl with Bears, and the ruins become guarded with Trolls and Dragons. Once a player finally reaches the Crown of Command, it becomes a race to the finish, with others trying to do their best to stay alive. Characters begin dying and a 6 player game turns into a 4 player game, then a 2 player game...and on to a frantic, exciting finish.

In Talisman, nobody truly knows the story which will be told by the end of the game upon starting off: Perhaps nobody will survive at all. There is far more to see and do than just grind monsters, there are encounters, combat and non-combat alike, of every sort imaginable. And it is this type of storytelling that gives people a real reason to want to come back again for more.


Player Interaction

Now, to start off, neither game is a shining example of player cooperation, competition or player interaction in general. If you want a game steeped in this, you're really just playing the wrong game. However, it's worth pointing this out since I see Runebound fans constantly use this as a major bullet-point of why Runebound is a great game.

With player interaction in Runebound, to be brutally honest, there really is none. First of all, even if a player really wanted to share or fight another player, they would -each- have to make a concerted effort to traverse the world map to get to them. Without any movement enhancing buffs, this will take you a few turns. Remember, turns typically last between 5-10 minutes. Playing with 4 players, you're looking at burning a staggering (10-20 minutes * 3 turns) 30-60 minutes of game time just to meet up with one another. If it's a close game, in that time, the other players will have defeated 3 enemies and have raised their own stats considerably. When this much extra time has been given to your opponents, it becomes extremely difficult to catch up.

Losing considerable time and competitiveness is only part of the picture that makes interaction non-existent. The other question to ask yourself, is why you would even want to attack or trade with a friend to begin with. The point of the game is to be the first to find three Runes or defeat Margath, so handicapping or possible killing yourself by fighting someone just doesn't make sense. Throw in the insane amount of time this game takes to play, and you're probably going to be begging for your friend to win anyway - just to put you out of your misery.

Indirectly, player interaction is nonexistent as well. When your turn only comes around every 20 minutes or so, you're going to the bathroom, playing the Wii, or getting something to eat. Why put yourself through the misery of watching people roll their dice for half an hour, during your valuable free time? Not to mention, the only thing that you can actually watch is fight after fight, after fight again.

It's not an understatement when I say that Runebound feels like separate players playing their own game, only you are all sharing the same board. You might as well play the game alone...but then, what's the point?

Talisman has far more interaction. Indirectly, the game is pretty interesting while simply watching what happens to other players. Turns usually take only about 10 seconds, so the action really never stops. In Talisman there is far, far more to encounter than just monsters. Watching your friend cringe as he turns into a toad, then runs into a Dragon, only after having his items turn to rust while hunting in the dungeon is far more entertaining than endless combat fights.

Because downtime is so low, it really makes a lot more sense to try to beat up on the other players at the table, especially if they are the toughest and they have something you want to take - like a Talisman or a cool, magical object.


Replayability

Runebound has a lot of expansions, a lot more even than Talisman. Sounds great, huh? Well not really. See, the problem with the board expansions is that they are stand-alone. Unless you've got your own made-up house rules, you're collection really only gets as good as your next expansion by itself. Tired of all the static stories, and monster grinding in your Runebound collection? Well, that's too bad, there isn't much of a remedy for it. Add to the fact the problem created in that the board expansions are set in only one single biome. This means that if you play, "The Frozen Wastes", all you get is snow and ice. If you play "Sands of Al-Kalim"...well all your gonna get is desert.

Talisman, on the other hand, only gets better and better as you add expansions. Your world grows in size and scale, and the number of permutations get larger and larger for the number of different ways the story can change. You can visit forests, deserts, mountains, dungeons, and snow-scapes all in a single game with hundreds of cards to draw from. Also, it is worth mentioning that Talisman has far more fan-made expansions and variants because of the length of time it has had.

In the experiences I've had, I would estimate that the play duration in Talisman is about 1 hour per person at the table, granted that all players understand the mechanics and do not need assistance for card reading, etc. So with 4 players playing, your game will probably last roughly 4 hours. Games are not short by any stretch, but not horrendous either.

Runebound's time seems to increase by multiples of 2 for each player you add. A 2 player game lasts about 4 hours, a 3 player game lasts about 6, a four player game lasts 8, etc. This is absolutely terrible for replayability. It's going to be incredibly difficult to convince your friends to want to sit down to play when it means it will require allocating nearly an entire day for a single four player game.


Rebuttals

I'd like to take a minute to also address some of the critisism leveled against Talisman and why many of the major ones are unfounded.

At the top of the list of problems many use accuse Talisman of having is the level of randomness the game revolves around. On the surface it would seem that this would be a real problem:

1. Movement is based on dice rolls and one's character can only move to the board location indicated by the die result.

As much as this sounds like a big deal, it really isn't. Again, as I've stated above, Runebound only creates a poor illusion of choice when it comes to board movement. Sure, one could cheaply state, "but in Runebound I can move in any direction, and my die rolls give me WAY more options that Talisman's single D6 roll". This is very flawed logic because even though movement is more varied and there are more directions to move in, in Runebound, the mechanics (cards, towns, monsters) are only as interesting as the type of cards you have drawn. In Runebound, there are really only two places to move (not including player interaction which, as stated above, really doesn't exist): cookie-cutter villages with completely random loot, or monsters to battle against. Period.

In Talisman, though you are limited to bi-directional movement on a D6, there are far, far more choices to be made as to where you can decide to end up. Do I choose to move to the Mage who will grant me a new spell, or do I make the decision to fight past the Sentinal? Do I choose to use my spell of "Water Walking" which will allow me to get to the castle to win my reward by dropping off the princess, or do I decide to use a spell to destroy my friend's Talisman card instead?

You see, contrary to the notion that Runebound is far more "strategic" and "deep" than Talisman, in reality Talisman has far more choices, is far more strategic, and most importantly, has funner decisions to make.

2. Adventure cards and Spell cards are drawn at random, meaning that there is as much of a chance of drawing a Dragon or a Talisman on the first turn as there is on the last turn.

Yes, it is true that all cards are drawn at random. But so are Runebound's cards per creature level (green, yellow, purple, and red), so there really is no argument to be made here. Talisman gains the upper hand, however, since there is a much wider, more diverse, selection of cards to be discovered, leading to far more interesting decisions in the long run.

The scope of randomness from card draws is slightly smaller in Runebound because you can decide which monster level to fight (although, comparably, the static region space encounters get more difficult the further you go in Talisman). However, rather than make the game more strategic as was intended, it actually makes the game more boring and unrealistic. Name a classic fantasy story where the character actually got to choose to fight the monsters that he could deal with. I can't think of any. Most good stories deal with characters overcoming incredible odds at the most in-opportune times. Talisman does this, Runebound does not.

The accusation that Runebound is less random than Talisman is false. It would seem that they are equally random. The key difference lies with the fact that Talisman creates far more interesting, and far deeper decisions based on the random encounters the game provides.

3. Character abilities in Talisman are shallow and unimaginative compared to Runebound.

I honestly don't know where this stereotype has come from. Just a couple play-throughs of both games reveals how flavorful and unique the characters are in Talisman. In Runebound, most character stats revolve around abilities that get used only during, or just before combat. And, in every case, each character has only 1 single "special ability" to use. This means that over the course of the game, you only have 1 single ability to use and it will most likely only ever be needed during combat encounters. I'm sorry, but this is just plain boring.

Runebound characters also have skills. These are even worse than their special ability because: #1 again, they can really only be used during combat, and #2 they are used very, very rarely, when a monster's card calls for a particular skill test to be tested. Rolling for menial skill tests are not much fun to begin with anyway.

Talisman's characters differ from each other in myriad of ways. Not only do they all have non-combat abilities to be used as often as you'd like, but their abilities are extremely unique from each other. Warriors get to roll two dice to select from in combat, Prophetesses (Prophetai?) can select from two cards from a deck at once, Assassins can backstab other players or monsters, Mage's never run out of spells, Elves get bonuses while in the woods, and on and on. Selecting a new character in Talisman means that your game will be very different from your last.

4. Talisman may have a great world, but Runebound's combat mechanic is where it shines.

It is true that Runebound's combat rounds are innovative and pretty deep and I am willing to concede this one point. Unfortunately, the combat is also its own downfall. Having 3 different divisions during each fight (missle, melee, and magic), and being able to focus your character's strength on each sounds interesting on paper, but in practice it is merely cumbersome and far too lengthy. Watching your friend play by himself in combat for the umpteenth time becomes incredibly boring after only a short while.

To speed this up, I've seen the suggestion to play your rounds simultaneously or at least have your movement planning done while the other player is fighting. Sure, this speeds things up a bit, but then why are you playing a board game with other people if you aren't even watching their turns? Isn't that why we play board games over, say, a single player video game?

Talisman's combat is very quick, but can still be highly strategic when spells, weapons and other abilities come into play. The combat here has the "it" factor - it's strategic enough to still have depth, but yet is still highly entertaining and quick enough to watch other players enjoy their turn.

5. The craft ability in Talisman is basically worthless, strength is used far more.

This is minor, but I hear this complaint brought up all the time, especially when challenging the Sentinel on the bridge which has a Strength of 9. The counter-argument is that characters with high craft get spells, including some that give you several ways of crossing the bridge without strength (water-walking and evasion spells). Not only that, but there are a high quantity of adventure cards such as rafts, events and other evasion cards which help here. I've never felt at a disadvantage when using a Craft-based character


Conclusion

Like I stated above, I have come to both Runebound and Talisman with an objective comparison. I only discovered Talisman a couple years ago, and was not exposed to it during my youth. I have played both games quite a few times (although Talisman has gotten most of my time recently for obvious reasons), and understand their strengths and weaknesses. It is my conclusion that Talisman is much deeper, more strategic, more immersive, and most importantly, more fun than Runebound in many ways.

Runebound can be summed up as a very long combat-based game in a bland, unintersting world. Your character moves from battle to town and back to battle again with practically nothing in between to break up the monotony. The end-game is simply more of the same with the final encounters having nothing interesting to differentiate them from any other regular fight.

Talisman is a game world which gets increasingly interesting as time progresses in the game. Encounters are varied and thematic, and the character-building is just as interesting as Runebound, except that player interaction itself actually exists. The end-game is fun and exciting and really makes you feel like you're in a classic fantasy movie such as Lord of the Rings or The Neverending Story.

To illustrate my point, I'd like to finish this post off with a recent game I played in Talisman that I will never forget. Over Christmas I purchased "The Reaper" Expansion and had a chance to play the game with family. As the Mage, near the end of the game, I decided to battle my son's character, the Warrior since both of us were competing to enter the Valley of Fire to go after the Crown. We had a nice little fight and my Mage won, and I decided to take his shield instead of his life. He was a little distraught and a turn later happened to draw a card which he immediatly played to turn all of my equipment to wood. His vengeance was complete, when on the following subsequent turn, he was able to randomly draw another shield to make up for the one he had lost. What are the chances that, in a span of only 3 turns, our fortunes could be completely reversed? All I could say was, "wow!".

In the same game, several turns later, my Mage was finally inside the Portal of Power and was standing, forebodingly, at the Plain of Peril. After a series of unfortunate events and bad choices on my part my character was, at this point, extremely weak. As Gandalf would say my success at getting to the Crown of Command was at best, "A fool's hope".

Now, here is where it gets freaky. The Reaper, up to this point, having never even been used, was standing on the Black Knight square and it was my son's turn to roll movement. He end up rolling a 1 and, rolling for the Reaper, (to my horror) he rolls a 2 and moves Death himself onto my square. With a smile on my son's face, I hesitantly roll for The Reaper and miracuously land a 6, as the Reaper says, "I have plans for you". As many of you know, landing a 6 on The Reaper while standing in the Valley of Fire is about the best possible roll you can have in Talisman - it means I can move to any square in the region. My Mage magnificantly reached the Crown of Command and makes quick work of the remaining characters in the game. Game over.

I have never had anything even remotely like this happen during a game of Runebound. Was my game possessed by the spirits of dead Talisman players of old? Was it just sheer luck that produced this incredible list of events? I don't think it was either, I think these results came about because of great mechanics, sound design, and years of polish to an already fun core system. Because of this, those of us that played had a lot of fun and got a great story that even Hollywood would be proud of.

Runebound bravely attempted some interesting changes to the RPG-lite game model, but I think ultimately failed at achieving what it set out to do. Talisman still Commands the Crown.
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Rauli Kettunen
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lumin wrote:
In the same game, several turns later, my Mage was finally inside the Portal of Power and was standing, forebodingly, at the Plain of Peril. After a series of unfortunate events and bad choices on my part my character was, at this point, extremely weak. As Gandalf would say my success at getting to the Crown of Command was at best, "A fool's hope".

Now, here is where it gets freaky. The Reaper, up to this point, having never even been used, was standing on the Black Knight square and it was my son's turn to roll movement. He end up rolling a 1 and, rolling for the Reaper, (to my horror) he rolls a 2 and moves Death himself onto my square. With a smile on my son's face, I hesitantly roll for The Reaper and miracuously land a 6, as the Reaper says, "I have plans for you". As many of you know, landing a 6 on The Reaper while standing in the Valley of Fire is about the best possible roll you can have in Talisman - it means I can move to any square in the region. My Mage magnificantly reached the Crown of Command and makes quick work of the remaining characters in the game. Game over.


I think he cheated a bit, seeing as how the Reaper can never be on the Inner Region (or at least the figure can't move there, Death is already present on the Inner Region). Or a houserule.
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Dam the Man wrote:
lumin wrote:
In the same game, several turns later, my Mage was finally inside the Portal of Power and was standing, forebodingly, at the Plain of Peril. After a series of unfortunate events and bad choices on my part my character was, at this point, extremely weak. As Gandalf would say my success at getting to the Crown of Command was at best, "A fool's hope".

Now, here is where it gets freaky. The Reaper, up to this point, having never even been used, was standing on the Black Knight square and it was my son's turn to roll movement. He end up rolling a 1 and, rolling for the Reaper, (to my horror) he rolls a 2 and moves Death himself onto my square. With a smile on my son's face, I hesitantly roll for The Reaper and miracuously land a 6, as the Reaper says, "I have plans for you". As many of you know, landing a 6 on The Reaper while standing in the Valley of Fire is about the best possible roll you can have in Talisman - it means I can move to any square in the region. My Mage magnificantly reached the Crown of Command and makes quick work of the remaining characters in the game. Game over.


I think he cheated a bit, seeing as how the Reaper can never be on the Inner Region (or at least the figure can't move there, Death is already present on the Inner Region). Or a houserule.


Ah, you're right. It was my first time playing with The Reaper expansion, so I didn't know. But, I don't think it makes the outcome any less interesting. Had I rolled a lower number, the outcome would have been just as devastating as it was awesome. Plus, it was a nice way for the planned attack to back-fire and get retribution for turning my equipment to wood.
 
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Garth Boucher
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I agree with many of your criticisms of Runebound. The issue for me is that that I play exclusively solitaire. Played solo, Runebound is satisfactory because when it gets tedious (as you noted in your post), you simply put it away and resume when the craving hits again.
I see that only 15% of 60 (or so) voters recommended playing Talisman solo. This is why I don't own it. Have you tried Talisman solo? If you have, I'd be curious what you think.
 
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Simon Lundström
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Now who are these five?
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Didn't read all (have to work), but very very nice post. Very. I probably agree with the large part, but even for those who don't, this is a fabulous post.

One point only: I've seen that Talisman takes about 30–40 minutes per player. 2-p games are usually over in an hour for us.

I could probably comment more on your post, but I don't have time now. Still, great effort. That there is no specific spotlight for great articles like this that is a flaw on BGG.
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Stephen Collazo
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Agree... your article made for very enjoyable reading. I will disclose that I'm completely biased as I do not own Runebound, only own Talisman (4th ed, no expansions). It's a favorite w/my kids and every time I play the game, I discover that I like it just a little bit more (clearly my "immersion" engine is not functioning w/all pistons firing... my kids don't have that problem!).

Thanks again for taking the time to write and post your article.

 
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Ed Browne
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garthasl wrote:
I agree with many of your criticisms of Runebound. The issue for me is that that I play exclusively solitaire. Played solo, Runebound is satisfactory because when it gets tedious (as you noted in your post), you simply put it away and resume when the craving hits again.
I see that only 15% of 60 (or so) voters recommended playing Talisman solo. This is why I don't own it. Have you tried Talisman solo? If you have, I'd be curious what you think.


I play Talisman solo by playing more than one character. It's pretty easy to keep track of.
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Jin TS
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I feel the same too. Talisman, IMHO, is much much more enjoyable than Runebound, as i own both. Also, i started to play Talisman 6-7 years ago while i bought Runebound back in 2009, and so i'm not a fanboy or sort of for either to begin with. I somehow don't find Runebound fit my taste at all. U can check out my reviews just to prove my point.

Anyway, great post and if u post this in Runebound's game page, i think u may get lots of "hot" replies.. laugh
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Jan-Willem Schmidt
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garthasl wrote:
I agree with many of your criticisms of Runebound. The issue for me is that that I play exclusively solitaire. Played solo, Runebound is satisfactory because when it gets tedious (as you noted in your post), you simply put it away and resume when the craving hits again.
I see that only 15% of 60 (or so) voters recommended playing Talisman solo. This is why I don't own it. Have you tried Talisman solo? If you have, I'd be curious what you think.


I play Talisman solo. I usually play one character and I use one other character to chase my hero. Works fine for me.
 
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Ron
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ASL ... yes, this is my Desert Island Game. If I have to give up all my 3000+ games and only allowed to keep one, this would be it. This bloody game stood the test of time. Around for more than 25 years - simply the best.
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thumbsup A wonderful comparison!
I also have and play both games, but in my case, the 'Talisman Nostalgic Factor' is extremely huge laugh
Great reading, thanks!
 
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garthasl wrote:
I agree with many of your criticisms of Runebound. The issue for me is that that I play exclusively solitaire. Played solo, Runebound is satisfactory because when it gets tedious (as you noted in your post), you simply put it away and resume when the craving hits again.
I see that only 15% of 60 (or so) voters recommended playing Talisman solo. This is why I don't own it. Have you tried Talisman solo? If you have, I'd be curious what you think.


I honestly have never played Talisman solo, because as soon as someone sees me get it out, they all want to join in. I have played Runebound by myself a few times, but only because everyone had dropped out by the end.

I thought Runebound would be a better game played solo, because things would move so much faster. However, I soon realized that a lot of the mechanics fall apart when you play alone.

This is something that I didn't mention in my post, but I probably should have. Runebound suffers from a lot of "dead" turns, meaning that your movement can result in landing on a space with absolutely nothing. So not only are you spending a lot of your time watching others play, but you end up doing nothing on your own turn much of the time (especially in the late game). Ouch.

So what happens in a solo Runebound game is that you end up simply moving your own character piece from one hot-spot to the next, because why bother rolling to move onto a dead space, if it's just you playing alone? So, in the solo game, the movement mechanic falls apart which leads to many of your movement enhancing cards and abilities become useless as well...which THEN leads to your stamina becoming practically useless. If your stamina is useless, then you end up using it more to game the system by trading it in for health (when a card provides for it). So this is why I don't think Runebound works as a multi-player or single-player game very well.

I can't say if playing Talisman solo would be a whole lot better, but I can at least guarantee that there would be no "dead" turns to worry about. Every space on the board has something interesting going on.
 
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Garth Boucher
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
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lumin wrote:

So what happens in a solo Runebound game is that you end up simply moving your own character piece from one hot-spot to the next, because why bother rolling to move onto a dead space, if it's just you playing alone?


Using Mr Skeletor's solo rules, you have to roll on the threat track (thereby possibly increasing the threat level) every turn - even if you land on a dead space. So moving around efficiently is important.

Well, I think you - and the others that have chimed in - have convinced me to pick up Talisman.
 
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Santi Velasco
Spain
San Juan de Aznalfarache
Seville
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lumin wrote:

I own both Runebound 2nd Edition and Talisman Revised 4th Edition and have played both games extensively. Note that I only purchased both games a short time ago, so there is no nostalgia factor here clouding my judgement. In other words, I did not "grow up" with Talisman. I will be contrasting both of the two base games (no expansions) to demonstrate why Talisman is far superior to Runebound in many ways.

I agree with you, and though I have played and like both of them, I ultimately felt that Runebound fell into the old adage "If it isn't broken, don't fix it".

Quote:

Talisman has far more interaction. Indirectly, the game is pretty interesting while simply watching what happens to other players. Turns usually take only about 10 seconds, so the action really never stops. In Talisman there is far, far more to encounter than just monsters. Watching your friend cringe as he turns into a toad, then runs into a Dragon, only after having his items turn to rust while hunting in the dungeon is far more entertaining than endless combat fights.

Because downtime is so low, it really makes a lot more sense to try to beat up on the other players at the table, especially if they are the toughest and they have something you want to take - like a Talisman or a cool, magical object.

Funnily enough, we have a lot of absolutely ruthless, vicious, name-calling player interaction in our Talisman games, but we attack other characters in very few occasions. How so? spells. Our games are always a spell fest in which we continually throw each other everything but the kitchen sink. That is why I think rather the opposite of what the majority thinks. I don't like strenght types because I feel the spell limitation is a big disadvantage.

Quote:

Again, as I've stated above, Runebound only creates a poor illusion of choice when it comes to board movement. Sure, one could cheaply state, "but in Runebound I can move in any direction, and my die rolls give me WAY more options that Talisman's single D6 roll". This is very flawed logic because even though movement is more varied and there are more directions to move in, in Runebound, the mechanics (cards, towns, monsters) are only as interesting as the type of cards you have drawn. In Runebound, there are really only two places to move (not including player interaction which, as stated above, really doesn't exist): cookie-cutter villages with completely random loot, or monsters to battle against. Period.

In Talisman, though you are limited to bi-directional movement on a D6, there are far, far more choices to be made as to where you can decide to end up. Do I choose to move to the Mage who will grant me a new spell, or do I make the decision to fight past the Sentinal? Do I choose to use my spell of "Water Walking" which will allow me to get to the castle to win my reward by dropping off the princess, or do I decide to use a spell to destroy my friend's Talisman card instead?

I never thought of RB that way before, but I think you're spot on. It doesn't really make any sense to have the choice between green dot A or green dot B, if there is the same card waiting for you there. The board spaces on Talisman are far more suggestive.
 
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John Brady
United States
Arlington
Virginia
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I agree with some of your comparisons, but that doesn't necessarily translate to "better" for me. I enjoy both games quite a bit, but prefer Runebound hands down for solo play. For whatever reason, I feel much more invested in the character in Runebound when I play solo than Talisman. I also prefer the specific locale thing that Runebound gives you with the big box add ons like Sands of Al-Ahkim.

Most of this just boils down to personal preference, though, so whatever floats your boat!
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Rod Taylor
Australia
Sydney
NSW
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I own both Talisman and Runebound. I'd say that given the choice I'd go with Talisman every time now.

When I first got Runebound, I played a number of solo games to learn the rules, and I really enjoyed it, but when it got to the table with a group (all fantasy RPG fans) it just fell flat for us. It was slow and the theme didn't come through well at all. This same group also enjoys Descent, so the Terrinoth setting itself isn't the problem.

More recently, I picked up Talisman, and it has been a big hit with that same group. I think the stories that come through during the game have a big effect on the RPG side of our personalities.
Having said that, I've also tried Talisman solo, and it lacks something when playing alone. Firstly, the board fills up faster with a lot of players, and secondly the interaction between players and their characters is a big part of the game (for us anyway).

Even a single card can change the flavor of a whole session. For example, a dragon that appears early in the game will make everyone wary of straying too close, until one brave soul steps up to defeat it... Or gets toasted in the attempt

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Aswin Agastya
Indonesia
Bekasi
Jawa Barat
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Excellent comparison. I'm also a new Talisman player with zero nostalgia factor who's rating it a 10.
 
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James Burns
United States
Dupont
Pennsylvania
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Yes,some of the Adventure Variants for Runebound are not that great for they are just hack and slash ,but that is why I like tweaking with the rules.

I also prefer MR Skeletor rules for solo play and they work for multiplayer as well. I have used other rules then when the timer runs out the RED challenges start to come after you.

I didn't care for Talisman because it just seemed the like same game every time. Move ,kill monster, grind.. ,but I didn't feel that way in Runebound for the timer made each turn choice valuable.
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Neil Edmonds
United States
Washington
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Do you need more card ideas for the D&D Adventure System games?
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I didn't have a problem with Runebound's theme. The little bits of flavor text on the cards built up the universe. It's probably my favorite part of the game along with the artwork. It felt like I was discovering a new place. Once I played a few games I understood some of the major monsters and deities in the game.

I didn't buy any of the game changing expansions. I just bought the $10 booster packs that were compatible with the base Runebound game. Adding the boosters mixes up Runebound quite a bit. The market stack is HUGE and the encounter decks roughly doubled in size.

I just wish Runebound's level grinding didn't take so long. It's a bad design decision considering it's a "race to the finish" game. The death penalties are also quite steep. My group uses a graduated system that doesn't apply the full rulebook penalties until you hit blue & red encounters.

Talisman feels very monopoly like when I play it. I missed out on the game back in the 80s and was overjoyed to see a 4th edition. Once I bought it I was underwhelmed. It felt a lot like a classic kid's boardgame with a fantasy theme. Roll a die, you must move that many spaces either left or right. Now roll a die, if you roll higher than the monster you win. The real kicker was when my 10 year old god son, who loves Munchkin and Betrayal at House on the Hill, said Talisman "was boring."

I have to give Fantasy Flight major props. They preserved the original game play of Talisman while introducing expansions that weren't just retreads of the original Talisman sets. The production quality is top notch.

I'm also not knocking fans of Talisman. I understand why people like the game. It just wasn't for me. Arguing over whether Talisman or Runebound is better is kind of like arguing over whether the original Star Trek or the Next Generation is the better show. Both have their adherents and the latter wouldn't have existed without the former. I'm happy both games and TV shows exist because they each have their own dedicated fan base.



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Ron
Austria
Vienna
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ASL ... yes, this is my Desert Island Game. If I have to give up all my 3000+ games and only allowed to keep one, this would be it. This bloody game stood the test of time. Around for more than 25 years - simply the best.
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Autoduelist wrote:
SNIP ... is kind of like arguing over whether the original Star Trek or the Next Generation is the better show.


This should not even be asked! Everyone will happily tell you, that the Classic Star Trek is the better show
("Duck & Cover" gulp)
 
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