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Subject: A Talisman of Doom rss

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Neil Maher
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This is my first session report so please be gentle. It is a report on how our very first games night could also be our last, a lesson on why only those who want to play should play and why the Wheaton rule should be known and understood by everyone.

Over the last number of months I have introduced some games into work at lunchtime – Discworld, The Resistance, Forbidden Island, Hey! That’s My Fish and Citadels. They had gone down well and everyone expressed an interest in having a games night to play some of the longer games. One of the group volunteered to host the night and requested that we play Talisman, as she had played it many years ago and it was a favourite of her teenage years.

In the lead up to the game everyone read the rules or at least attempted to and come last Friday night we had a group of 6 all prepped for Talisman. I had played it once before with my wife and had found it a dull experience but I thought that playing with 6 should make it livelier. I did forewarn everyone of the randomness of Talisman and I also brought along some other games just in case.

We arranged to meet at 7:30 but the gaming only got going at 9 and we were in fact a group of 8 rather than 6. One person just wanted to observe and our host’s husband teamed up with one of the others. The character cards were dealt out and soon we had the assassin, the druid, the fighter, the prophetess, the sorceress and the monk bumbling around happily.

Well, mostly happily. While everyone else got into character and were stealing cards with spells, running from Dragons, picking up a Talisman with their first card from the adventure deck and so forth, our fighter was complaining (after one turn) that the game was boring and too random. As the game progressed (and I as the assassin rolled from field to field and onto plains with nary a monster to fight) the husband’s complaints against the game got louder and fruitier. He then disappeared for about 20 minutes, came back and began complaining even louder while stating that the designers must have been on drugs and the game is unbalanced (at least one of his complaints were valid!). His wife kept telling him that he was destroying one of her cherished gaming memories and to calm down.

We had the druid, the monk and the prophetess battering at the portal of power by this stage while the sorceress was playing a blinder with her spells (and the wand she had robbed from me). The fighter was stumbling around in the corner of the board avoiding fights (!) and the assassin continued to dally about in fields. Then the husband threw one of the dice across the room where it got stuck behind the bookshelf and after recovering it he cursed the game some more.

The atmosphere had by this stage gone from enjoying a silly fantasy romp to embarrassment and the shuffling of feet rather than cards. The druid made it into the inner circle but got sent back to the Warlock’s cave. I decided to end the game there and then (the Druid won by the way on points) with the intention of going home.

But our host asked to play King of Tokyo. I had only recently got the game and had read the rules only once but we set it up and began to play. The atmosphere was tense (but not in a ‘hey! This game is really exciting’ way) and our host’s husband started building pyramids with energy cubes and getting snotty with people asking for them before falling asleep at the table. Nobody made an effort to win, in fact people were trying to lose, and the game was quickly over (I don’t even know who won!). I packed up the games (I had also brought BattleStar Galactica and Dominion) and scurried off home as quickly as I could.

So our first games night, in my opinion, did not go as planned. Yes, Talisman is a marmite game so perhaps it was inevitable that there would be incidents of rage and perhaps I am too sensitive. All in all if there is to be another games night with this group the ‘don’t be a d*ck’ rule will be recited by everyone as a pledge to the gaming gods.
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Alex F
Israel
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Well, this should be engraved on a stone slab and put over the door:

"Any board game is only as good as the company of people you play it with."

Let it fall on the culprit on his way out as a reminder of ruining a game night.

Sorry to hear about your experience. Talisman is a favorite of ours.


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Dan Buman
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Harlan
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I have had some game nights ruined, not by the game, but by people that seemingly did not WANT to have fun.
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Angry Augury
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It's even sadder to read your tale of woe with more detail this time, Nirumaru. It's a pain when one or more players seemingly try to sabotage everyone's fun but it's a nightmare when said player is the host or their (in)significant other.

I hope your second session report has a happier conclusion.
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Neil Maher
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Thank you! His behaviour really brought the evening down and today no one is talking about the night. Even our host barely made a reference to it. Nights like that are what make people want to get out of gaming. On my way out he said " you're welcome back any time just don't bring that piece of f*** s*** game with you".

I suppose it's time to dust off The Game of Life and Monopoly........
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Rauli Kettunen
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I would've loved to be a spell-cycler in that game and just cycled for Random spell to cast at the fighter devil . "Hop along little toad!"
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Neil Maher
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Actually something like that did happen - I think a spell was cast or a card was drawn that removed all of the fighter's strength and this resulted in further rage on the fighter's part.

Now I have no idea if we applied the card/spell correctly but it had gotten to the point of not caring. The game wrapped up in the next round. The fighter had also cursed his team-partner (2 people technically played fighter) for buying a sword while he was out of the room.

edited for spelling
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Craig Bocketti
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Clifton Park
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Nirumaru wrote:
Thank you! His behaviour really brought the evening down and today no one is talking about the night. Even our host barely made a reference to it. Nights like that are what make people want to get out of gaming. On my way out he said " you're welcome back any time just don't bring that piece of f*** s*** game with you".

I suppose it's time to dust off The Game of Life and Monopoly........
Wow what a dick! It really sucks when you have a group and one person ruins it for everyone. I had a guy that used to bang the table and throw dice. Funny he doesn't get invited to game night anymore.
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Brian Cox
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Sugar Land
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Is the gentleman with the BroStache invited to this party?
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All I could think while reading this report is that Talisman is not supposed to be taken seriously, and you all should've had some beers while playing.

Unfortunately, it sounds like the only guy drinking was this angry-drunk husband.

Next time, you host it and remember who you should NOT invite.
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Neil Maher
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Actually everyone except those driving were having beers, there was also an immense amount of pizza. Certainly our hosts were generous with drinks and food (which was one of the positive things of the night). I think if the husband had not had an attitude everyone would have enjoyed themselves a lot more... I mean it's Talisman- it's a fun chaotic game with loads of unfair randomness.
 
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Chris Tannhauser
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San Diego
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*If you encounter the squid in the desert, it is a flying squid.
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Very sorry to hear about your rough night... but now you've ticked that box and can move on. Welcome to the next level!

As for Talisman, yes, it's definitely Marmite with stripper glitter in it—not for everyone, not even for some who think they're a good time. Part of the problem, I believe, is the description setting up false expectations:

It's a fantasy adventure game you win by getting to the Crown of Command!

Only two bits of that are true. A much better description would be:

Life is hard and the Gods are cruel; we toil for their amusement and even our best, most heroic efforts are but castles in the sand before the rushing tide. The Crown of Command dangles as a carrot on the end of a very beaty stick, existing only to see who will neck-stab whom for the illusion of control. We go now, doughty adventurers, hopping across this stage as toads to make the Gods—and perhaps ourselves—laugh. In the end, some lucky bastard will "win"—though he or she will most likely be consumed in capricious flames whence the curtain falls on this pointless shadow play.

Also, I think four is the sweet spot with this. Six has felt like too many in the past, and I love this game.

Better luck next time!
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Blank Francis
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Dude sounds like the ideal person to never play games with again.
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Plaid Dragon
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Nirumaru wrote:
.....Then the husband threw one of the dice across the room where it got stuck behind the bookshelf and after recovering it he cursed the game some more.

The atmosphere had by this stage gone from enjoying a silly fantasy romp to embarrassment and the shuffling of feet rather than cards. ....and scurried off home as quickly as I could...

So our first games night, in my opinion, did not go as planned....
I'm sure we've all had a bad experience on par with this at one time or another.

My own was years ago in a different type of board game. This person went out of his way to be overbearing, rude, and condescending. It got to be so bad that I just told him one evening that "I'd had enough of him" and effectively chose not to participate with him in any further gaming from that point on.

It's very unfortunate when people don't recognize that everyone is coming together as a group for a day/night of enjoyment. To behave in such a terrible way to the detriment of all others present is inexcusable.

I guess since he was the host that made it sort of hard to openly confront him about it. His wife should have stepped in and put a stop to it. She's the only one who really could do so given if anyone else commented on his behavior the evening would probably have gotten worse.

I hope you don't have to go through anything like that again. Talisman is one of the more entertaining games I've ever played and shudder at the thought of someone like you describe ruining it for everyone.
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