Right after our first play of Talisman 4th edition with the new Highland expansion comes the announcement of The Sacred Pool, another small expansion with no board and 4 characters (none of which I could tell by the cover of the box). Looks like it adds some more alternate ending cards to throw in the mix, quest rewards (instead of using the Dungeon reward cards when you complete a warlock’s quest) and a few more characters and a new twist: being able to become neutral rather than just good and evil.
As for Highlands– the board is a lot like the Dungeon, and while the creatures are weaker, the Highland deck has a lot of zany movement cards that make a run to the end of board a bit trickier than the Dungeon. It’s a good expansion but it’s not the City board I’ve been waiting for. What’s more, trinkets are a great addition to the game, and I hope they incorporate them into the other decks as soon as they can. The alternate endings are the best and now we have 5 randoms and the Warlock’s Quest as the sixth. Though the ‘Boss’ ones are boring (fight a 12/12 creature), the rest of them are good fun. We drew the Battle Royal card to end our game and it was a hoot. The Vampiress, easily the weakest of the three characters left in the fight, had a spell that would have allowed her to win if any of the other characters rolled a 1, but it didn’t happen.*
One thing Highland’s does not solve is that there’s still no use for gold– once you have 4-5 you’ll never find anything to spend it on unless you are really down on your luck with losing lives. Having a stack of 15-20 is ridiculous but happens quite often.
As for the new characters–we had almost all of them out during our first play. The Valkyrie isn’t all that great (as well as being weaker than the 2nd edition version), and the Highlander himself is laughable, but the Alchemist, Sprite and Vampiress are powerhouses to be sure. We didn’t get out the Rogue (who’s 4th edition incarnation now has boobs!). The sizes of the miniatures seem even SMALLER than the Dungeon expansion– though these were fairly cool sculpts if you can look past that they are less than 25mm and made of some shitty soft un-paintable plastic. As Talisman is a Games Workshop game at it’s core, it’s sad to see them not putting out a set of miniatures– even if they were cast offs from their other lines.
*Our first Highland game was played with our dear friend John, who Talisman, the entire staff at Fantasy Flight and Games Workshop, as well as the gods of luck at Talisman all hate with a passion that is astonishing to watch– he had 3 characters killed during the game and quite remorselessly at that.