What I Am Up To—Summer 2016

So, four months later, I’m not actively writing any of my own fiction. Just a little here and there. Notes. Ideas as they come to me. That kind of thing. It’s a combination of factors, but I’m not exactly idle in a writing capacity…

What I’ve been doing a lot of instead is working on a number of projects for various companies. I did a crowdfunding campaign for Malka Media—a PTSD documentary which sadly didn’t get nearly the traction my last collaboration with the studio (Back in Time) did.

Currently I’m working in my familiar freelance senior writer role with USAopoly (I’ve worked on a number of games for them in the past) doing some writing, revising, editing, proofing, process research, etc. Nothing concrete to talk about (of course, there’s a great deal which doesn’t get discussed until games hit shelves) but just touching on all aspects of writing across the company. The interesting part of this being that I am actually in the office for this role, which is a change of pace and environment.

Also relevant to me (but not writing, since I mainly read when I do this) is the upcoming camping trip we have in the San Bernardino National Forest. We’re all looking forward to it. It’ll be our last trip before the kids are officially “school age”—Ash hits school in early August!

Geekssential #2: Talisman

Last week’s inaugural Geekssential was about television. This week, we’re going with a boardgame. Not just any boardgame. A classic now in its (revised) fourth incarnation since its release in 1983.


Talisman Revised 4e

Sexy cover art, no?

A Magical Quest

At the heart of this game is a simple thing: a quest. Namely, the quest to reach the Crown of Command. Make it before everyone else, and you win. It’s that simple.

Oh, if only it were that simple…

The truth is, it’s not. The game board is full of creatures trying to kill you, events which threaten to set you back, and—worst of all—the other players. Getting through any one of those things in a round is bad enough, but there’s a pretty decent chance you could be faced with all three by the time your next turn rolls around.

Luckily, there’s a lot of resources one can draw upon to lighten the burdens they face. Useful treasure and spells abound in Talisman, and more importantly: each player has special abilities to help them out. These abilities come from the class the player has been dealt (or selected, depending on how your “friends” prefer to play) and can make or break the game depending on how well they’re used.

Talisman Troll

The Troll is a good example. He’s an all brawn (no brains) character which happens to be brutally hard to kill, and is able to heal one life an average of once every six turns if he wants to. Playing the troll to cast spells is usually a bad plan. Playing him to smash the crap out of anything he sees is pretty stupidly effective.

With 14 characters to choose from, there’s plenty of tactical variation to each game’s play. But if after a while that’s not enough, there’s more where that came from.

Decades of Development

In the years since Talisman was created, it has been under active development for quite a few of them. Currently it is being heavily developed, and has a wide array of expansion content available as a result.

Want expansions? Talisman: The Reaper, Talisman: The Dungeon, Talisman: The Frostmarch, Talisman: The Highland, Talisman: The Sacred Pool, Talisman: The Dragon, Talisman: The Blood Moon, and Talisman: The City each offer up additional rules, cards, board space, characters (38 in total!), and more. You’d need to try hard to have games work out the same each time after stocking up on all the extras…particularly because even with just the base game it’s rare to see things work out the same way twice—or even similarly.

Iconic Status in Geek Culture

While not every single nerdy thing featured on television ends up there because it is ingrained in geek culture, Talisman’s appearance on The Big Bang Theory is no accident. Have a look at the boys trying to avoid conflict by burying their heads in the sand of a magical quest…

Talisman is a great game which is a load of fun, but really works best with four players. I can highly recommend adding it to your collection.

Talisman on BoardGameGeekBuy Talisman on Amazon