Category Archives: Random Fun

Holiday Talisman – Now with Pay 2 Win

We have a New Year’s tradition among some local friends of playing the Talisman board game.  This is no casual gathering, but an all-out annual quest for questing…  with nearly every expansion the game becomes a behemoth that barely fits on the dining room table.  The Monopoly-like board of the base set is extended in every direction with dungeons and towns.  Tiny little special encounter and item decks are stacked everywhere…  The main adventure deck, swole with expansion cards, is so massive that we break it into three piles so it won’t topple over.  

There’s a delightful insanity to Talisman’s hodge-podge of fantasy themes, like Tolkien and Gygax thew up in a Milton-Bradley factory.  Werewolves.  Faeries.  Dragons with swords for scales.  It’s also completely unbalanced and random as hell.  Did I say it’s the best game?  It’s also the worst game!  Every roll of a six-sider or draw of a card could result in a game-winning boon or a soul-crushing return to square one.  And the behemoth keeps growing…  people keep buying new expansions, so by now a game takes at least six hours…  Hence the once a year tradition.

Jim, the owner of this pile of cardstock insanity, was looking for ways to make these evenings of hilarity even more memorable.  How could we make Talisman even worse?  The answer was clear:  Pay to Win

Pay to reroll a die!  Pay to stop on a square!  Escape a dungeon!  Cheat death!  We embraced the pain and proceeded on our long evening of questing.

The game was just as random as ever.  People would gather massive arsenals of equipment, just to be turned into a toad and drop it all on the ground.  Talismans (Talismen?) were gained both through mighty deeds and by randomly tripping over one.  The dragon fight at the end to gain the Crown of Command was the usual madness, and as usual an unbeatable card combination helped seize the day.

I gotta admit though, all these little one-dollar kicks to the privates actually made Talisman a bit better.  We could fix our random failings.  Sure, sometimes we put a couple bucks in and got a worse result, but that was part of risk-reward.  Around 2AM we staggered home, some 30 bucks filling the money jar, paying forward into the next game night.   However, I’m not sure how we can top this next year:  Loot boxes?

Climbing Back into Productivity

It’s been a crazy autumn.  My work life has been crazy in the march to polish Brass Tactics for its February 22nd release date on Oculus Rift…  The game was supposed to come out in October (and we were ready to go) but Oculus wanted to pay us to add some more pizzazz and customization features…  Who were we to say no to that?  As a result, we have more levels, a big helping of new units, customizable loadouts and unit colors, and the game is looking a fair amount better because we were able to refine our UI, lighting and materials.  Pretty cool, but things have been a bit nutty.

Among all this, my wife and I headed off around Halloween to Australia and New Zealand for our 20th wedding anniversary, which was a blast.  A couple weeks later things got weirder, however, as we hosted some friends for Thanksgiving dinner…

For some of the meal prep I was using a brand new mandolin slicer on some potatoes for a delicious potato dish.  And those things are really sharp…  As in, I sliced off two of my fingertips.  Doh.

I guess it takes about 7 weeks to grow fingertips back…  The human body is pretty amazing.  (Or maybe I’m part lizard.) In the meantime, typing is kind of a pain in the butt…  which is irritating because the 11-day holiday break is always the absolute best time to get coding done.  I hope to be back in the swing of things (with still bandaged fingers) a little after New Years.  Dammit.